On Spec Vol. 26 No. 1

Just finished the latest issue of On Spec, and there are two particular stories that I want to comment on.

I’ve noticed over the past few years that there is more and more focus in science fiction on post-apocalyptic themes, specifically how we’re going to destroy our world and if we’ll be able to recover from it. These types of questions aren’t new, but they’re at the forefront of our minds in a way that seems unique compared to the past, and I find it really interesting how my fellow writers are able to explore these questions. In this issue of On Spec, there’s a story from acclaimed writer Brent Knowles called “Sin and Toil,” which focuses on a future where the world’s CEOs and business tycoons have been banished to another planet, where they have to terraform the surface and prepare it for the rest of humanity. The idea is that because these men and women are responsible for destroying Earth’s natural environment, they should be responsible for building humanity a new home. It’s a really neat idea, and the character that Knowles explores it through is someone that we can relate to and root for as he grapples with his failures, both to his family and his species.

The other story that I particularly enjoyed was “Nennorluk Goes Down Deep,” by Chris Tarry. I have a bit of a vested interest in stories related to alcoholism, but beyond that I think that Tarry’s story explores the genre of a monster story in a unique way, by focusing on an aging, out-of-work alcoholic who gets involved in a monster hunt because he’s in desperate need of work. The character of Sammy is explored really well, especially through his relationships to the story’s other characters. My only issue is that I felt the story ended really quickly, without delving enough into the letter that Sammy receives from his estranged daughter. Even in the story’s disastrous end, I was waiting to find out why Sammy’s daughter was reaching out to him, but unfortunately the mystery surrounding the letter seems to get dropped. Sometimes, though, the fact that you’re left wanting to know more when a story is finished is the mark of a great story.

You can check out more about Brent Knowles here, and Chris Tarry here.

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