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Over the past couple of years I’ve made fifteen of my science fiction and fantasy short stories available in affordable e-book form (the e-anthologies Disastrous!, Body Of Opinion and other stories plus the series Beyond: The Stars, Beyond: Time, and Beyond: Technology, can all be purchased through my bookstore). But I know that a lot of readers are still devoted to physical books. So I decided to gather all of those 15 stories into one tasty paperback.

BEYOND: Stories Beyond Time, Technology, and the Stars is now available to buy through Amazon and other online retailers. Your favourite independent bookstore can also order it through the book distributor Ingram. It’s 362 pages of thoughtful and imaginative fiction that I think any SFF fan will love, but one thing I didn’t include (and maybe that was a mistake) was an Afterword explaining how each story came about. Lots of readers enjoy those—I do too.

So here, for what it’s worth, is a brief look at the stories and my reflections on them.

“No Walls”: This wasn’t my first story sold but it was the first one to make it into publication, in the Canadian magazine Neo-opsis Issue #18, so it will always have a special place in my heart. I even named my publishing company after it (lots of wider meaning, after all). As a fan of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, I hit on the variation of a man who suddenly gains the ability to walk through walls. But what real benefit could such a gift provide, except to a criminal? Or a secret operative. The story was rejected by editors a few times, and I realized that it needed to be darker, grittier. So if you’re squeamish, I apologize for the torture scenes, but without high stakes there’s no high drama!

“Shakedown”: My first science fiction novel manuscript is an SF thriller called The Primus Labyrinth, inspired by the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage about a submersible and crew shrunk to microscopic size to travel through the bloodstream of a scientist and save his life. I don’t think shrink rays will ever be possible, so I wanted a more realistic way such an adventure could take place. My novel is very different from the movie, and my literary agent is currently gauging interest among publishers. But I originally considered self-publishing it, and thought that getting a prequel story published would help promote the novel. “Shakedown” is that prequel, about my prototype nanoscopic submersible and its first pilot, and the question: could a human mind ever cope with reality at a microscopic level? It was published in the anthology Canadian Tales of the Fantastic (2011).

“The Long Commute”: Most time travel stories focus on going back to a single momentous event and putting all of history at risk. But what if time has a kind of inertia instead, and it takes many small changes to have an impact on the timestream? Would there be people whose job was to do that every day? I was intrigued by the possibilities of  mixing a mind-bending concept with a daily routine. I also borrowed a character’s name from the family of a US president at the time, but then decided that a more overt link would be too corny.

“Lockdown”: It’s a huge expenditure of resources to support criminals in prisons, but the public must be protected. The answer? A device that temporarily paralyzes a parolee if he or she even thinks of committing another crime. Mind you, that would put the criminal at the mercy of passersby, and I have a feeling that could get ugly (as the story shows). That was the focus when I first wrote “Lockdown” but, as with “No Walls”, there needed to be more drama. So I threw in a dash of revenge for seasoning.

“A Taste Of Time”: This one could not be more different from “Lockdown”. It’s a contemporary fantasy story about an old woman with sad memories and a cheerful young girl with an insatiable craving for wild blueberries. I’ve spent many happy hours picking wild blueberries myself and, knowing that the bushes can pick up flavours from the soil and surroundings (as wine grapes do), I speculated about what other things such berries might impart. The story was not only published by On Spec magazine (#88 vol 24 no 1 June 2012) accompanied by a feature author interview, but, to my delight, was also chosen for On Spec’s 25th Anniversary anthology Casserole Diplomacy and Other Stories. Talk about being in great company!

There are ten more stories in the collection and I'll write about them in a few days. In the meantime, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or in Canada to Chapters/Indigo or Or if you're devoted to an indy bookstore, ask them to order it through the book distributor Ingram. Enjoy!



Good news this week is the release of the anthology Casserole Diplomacy and Other Stories: An On Spec 25th Anniversary Retrospective by Tyche Books. It includes my story “A Taste Of Time” (in fact, the blueberries in the bottom right corner of the cover would be mine, I believe). To have a story chosen as one of the best representatives of such a high quality magazine from the past twenty-five years is an incredible honour. Once I’ve had a chance to read the anthology, I’ll certainly put a detailed review on my Goodreads page, but frankly, as a reader, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this book sight unseen. It’s guaranteed to be a showcase of Canadian speculative fiction without many equals, and that means a juicy read, to say the least.

That brings me to the bad news of the past week, the news that the Canada Council for the Arts has turned down On Spec’s application for funding for 2015. This means a loss of up to $25,000 to cover production costs (including paying writers). Certainly a shock to the Canadian SF community (and very unfortunate timing, to have the elation over the launch of the anthology punctured by such a disappointing decision). But even harder to understand was the jury’s criticism of the magazine’s quality of writing and production values.

On Spec holds a special place in my heart because my very first short story sale was to them, a story called “The Wind Man”. That was a tremendous validation because I had great respect for the quality of writing that On Spec consistently displayed. In fact, “The Wind Man” didn’t end up being my first published story because On Spec’s commitment to thorough proofing and editing took more time than other publications. On Spec doesn’t just supply the mind-expanding ideas and lustrously-imagined landscapes of good science fiction and fantasy, but also the richness of literary prose. For the Canada Council jury to criticize the quality of writing in the magazine is mystifying. Some of my compatriots in Canadian science fiction have suggested it’s because of an age-old prejudice that genre writing of any kind cannot rise to the level of “literary fiction”. I hope it isn’t that. One would think that in light of work by David Mitchell, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, and so many others, such a bias would once and for all have been put to rest.

I haven’t submitted to On Spec in some time because I’m concentrating on long fiction these days, but I would do so again in a heartbeat, and my subscription to the magazine is my best endorsement. If you’re not familiar with On Spec or Canadian SF in general, give it a try. A year’s subscription is a bargain. Or buy the anthology. Or both.

I don’t want to envision a future without On Spec.


The official announcement has been made, so I can finally mention that my short story “A Taste Of Time” has been chosen for On Spec magazine’s Silver Jubilee anthology. I was happy enough to have it published in the magazine last year, but to be chosen from among 25 years of past issues is quite an honour. Unfortunately, the anthology won’t be published until August 2014! Here’s the link for the table of contents.


My newest published story has just appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic. It’s a light fantasy story called “A Taste Of Time” about a little girl who loves to pick blueberries, but something strange is going on—she knows things she has no right knowing. Equally exciting, the story is accompanied by a feature author interview with me—an extensive interview done by Roberta Laurie. Thanks for making me sound interesting Roberta!

Since On Spec is a top-notch fiction magazine that consistently presents a very high quality of writing, it’s always flattering to be a part of it, and the feature interview is great exposure.

If you can’t find a copy of the latest On Spec at your favourite book or magazine store, ask for it. Or you can buy online through their website (where they were thoughtful enough to include a link to my own website).

Next up: my story “Once Upon A Midnight” inspired by Edgar Allan Poe will be published in Tesseracts 16: Parnassus Unbound due out in September from Edge Books, along with such notables as Robert J. Sawyer, Kevin J. Anderson, Sean Costello, and Neil Peart (yes, the drummer for Rush!) The Tesseracts series has a venerable history, and I’m ecstatic to be included. And then my novel Dead Air will be published in October by Scrivener Press. Good times.


I’m sure every writer knows the feeling: it seems to take forever from the time a story is sold until it finally appears in print. So today’s a good day.

My story “Tartarus Rising” is part of an anthology of disaster stories called “Doomology: The Dawning of Disasters” from the Library Of Science Fiction Press, and the anthology was just made available through yesterday. I haven’t held a copy in my hands, so I’m really looking forward to getting my copy and reading it. I love disaster stories, and this anthology features 23 of them, so I hope it finds a great audience. You can find the cover art on an earlier posting from November (below).

My story “The Wind Man” will be included in the Winter edition of On Spec: the Canadian magazine of the fantastic which, according to their website, is due out “Soon, very soon.”

In the meantime, another story of mine called “Shakedown” has picked up an honourable mention in a Canadian SF contest, which includes an anthology publication. But I’ll refrain from giving details until the publisher posts all of the information officially.

All in all, a good month so far. Although waiting for the next story to hit print will still feel like forever.

Print Versus Digital Magazines

After waiting for months to learn when my story “The Wind Man” would be published in On Spec magazine, I got word last week that it will be in the upcoming Winter issue slated for publication in January. Along with the notification was a request for permission to have the story included in the digital version of the magazine. For all the times I’ve gone to the On Spec website, I hadn’t realized they offered a digital version. I readily gave my permission—the more readers the better, even if the magazine isn’t offering additional compensation for the e publication.

I’m a book lover—I love all the sensations of a book in my hand, and that includes magazines. When I look for magazines to submit my stories to, I always prefer those that aren’t exclusively electronic, and at least include a print edition or a year-end print anthology. It just seems to make the publication more “real” to me. Literally, a more solid publishing credit. Yet I’ve subscribed to Analog in digital format for two years. I read it on my KOBO reader. I read a few other magazines that way, too. Does that make me a hypocrite? I hope not.

Some people will clearly prefer the convenience and lower cost of enjoying their favourite magazines with an ereader, and I certainly don’t want to miss out on that readership. There’s also something to be said about saving paper, and the environmental costs of delivering physical packages. But I can’t help it, I also want my published writing to have an element of permanence—a lasting presence—that I just can’t associate with a digital file on an electronic device. Not yet, anyway.

Whichever form of reading material you prefer, I hope you’ll look for the Winter issue of On Spec, either at your bookstore, newsstand, or online at . “The Wind Man” is a light fantasy about a restless wanderer with an unusual curse. I think you’ll enjoy it.


Being a writer involves a lot of learning: much of it to learn the craft, some of it to learn research details to give a story authenticity. I don’t mind that—I’ve always loved learning. But one of the most necessary skills for a writer to learn, and possibly the hardest, is patience.

The waiting is a killer: waiting to hear back about a submission (a lot of that!), then waiting to get a contract, go through the copy-editing process, and above all waiting to see those sweat-infused lines of prose or poetry actually appear in squiggles of print. That’s why writers go grey. Or even bald…in patches.

All of this is a lead-up to say that I still don’t know when my story “The Wind Man” will appear in On Spec ( ). I’ve been listed in the “Upcoming Issues” section for several issues now, so hopefully it will be soon. My story “Tartarus Rising” will be included in the anthology “Doomology: The Dawning Of Disasters” from The Library Of Science Fiction and Fantasy Press, ( but no publication date has been announced yet. It should be soon, too. At least we’ve been able to get a look at the cover art for the anthology. I like it a lot—surreal, with just the right amount of B-movie pyrotechnics. Have a look.

"The Wind Man" in On Spec

My story “The Wind Man” was purchased by On Spec in August of 2009. It tells the story of Skelly Gilgoohen, a lifelong storyteller for whom an old Irish blessing has become a curse. In April of 2010 I corresponded with copy-editor Robin Carson about the story (he loved it), so I’m hoping it will be showing up in the magazine soon. I’ve been listed in the “Upcoming” section at the back of the magazine for a couple of issues now.