Monday, August 04, 2014

Unwise Speculation: Funding cut for On Spec magazine

I've just read that the Canada Council for the Arts has decided not to provide funding to On Spec, saying that "the quality of the writing remained low." (Diane Walton, On Spec's managing editor, excerpts some of the letter here.) Apparently for the last several years the Council has been moving towards judging On Spec by the standards of Canadian literary writing (suggesting that they publish "a higher quality of fiction" and publish "better-known" Canadian writers) and the axe has finally dropped.

The timing of this is particularly stinging considering that this year sees the publication of the 25th anniversary collection of stories from On Spec, which is being launched next weekend at When Words Collide. I'm honoured to say that this collection includes "Closing Time," my first published story, and I'm far from the only Canadian SF/F writer to have got my start there. On Spec has been a central part of the Canadian SF community for a quarter century and has played a major role in the growth of Canadian SF in that time.

Here's Diane's summary of the situation: "After twenty-five years, we should know what our own readers want and like. It is painfully apparent the juries at Canada Council do not. But who are we publishing On Spec for? While it has been suggested that perhaps it is time we begin to kowtow to the tastes of these gatekeepers of Canadian literary culture, we simply cannot do this."

The Council's decision is final, but there are things we can do to help On Spec: getting a subscription or buying individual issues or donating money through Patreon. Just as importantly, you can help to show that speculative fiction is an important part of Canadian literature by writing to and expressing your opinion to the Grants for Magazines staff. (I'll be posting mine as an open letter when I'm done writing it.)

Musical bonus: to explain the situation to non-Canadian readers, here's Kari Maaren performing "Can Lit":



Diane Walton said...

Thanks so much for this, Matt. It appears that information on the CC website is incorrect, and thus e-mail to Ms. Vitrac has bounced. So it is best for people to write their comments, if they so wish, and send to and ask that it be relayed to the Grants for Magazines staff.

Diane Walton
Managing Editor, On Spec

Matthew Johnson said...

Thanks, Diane, I've updated the post with that info.