Some of us have been waiting with baited breath to see the contents of the first volume of the joint ChiZine/Tightrope venture Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. I am one of those people, and both the Table of Contents and the Honourable Mentions are now live!.
Though my Future Lovecraft story “Rubedo, an Alchemy of Madness” made the Honourable Mentions list (which is unutterably fucking awesome!), waiting for this volume has been more about seeing the breadth of work covered in the volume – a volume in which a huge number of friends had their work reprinted in the ToC or listed in the Honourable Mentions.
For those of you who are Canadian you’re probably already aware of the truly extraordinary depth of literary talent Canada produces, across a wide range of genres. It may be less apparent to those of you living outside Canada, since much of the excellent work done here doesn’t have wide, or pervasive non-national distribution. The Big 3 Spec Fic mags (Asimov’s, Analog, and Fantasy & Science Fiction) are all American. Many of the other pro markets online and in print (Clarkesworld, Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Bull Spec, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, One Buck Horror, Redstone Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Nightmare, TOR.com, and Cemetery Dance, among others) are largely rooted in America as well. Compare that with the two Canadian-run pro rate mags: ChiZine (Chiaroscuro Magazine), and AEScifi. That’s a lot of focus on the American market. Likewise, there aren’t really that many pro rate fiction mags in Britain or Austalia, as well. They are there, but it’s a much smaller contingent than the American market for non-novel length fiction.
This is not to say there aren’t a wide array of spec fic markets in the semi-pro category, operating across the globe. Because there are. But they all suffer from pretty much the same stigma: there is a tendency on the part of newer writers, and a majority of readers, to associate pro rate payment with awesome. Which is, of course, not universally true, nor, by any stretch of the imagination, exclusively so. All fiction markets have a mandate. Most of the American pro rate markets cater, primarily, to a readership interested in science fiction. Horror and fantasy, and the bulk of work that is less easily classified, occurs primarily in the semi-pro markets as well as slipping into the pros where possible.
And we’re just talking about adult spec fic, never mind the pro markets that cater to YA, YP, and MG readerships. But we’re wandering into territory that requires a much longer post. Which I will potentially at some point actually write. But for now, back to the point:
Many readers outside of Canada are probably not familiar with a wide swath of the Canadian writership. Which is a shame, because there’s an unbelievable number of talented people kicking around this country. Odds are that whether you’re Canadian or not you probably don’t know you’re reading a Canadian author much of the time. We don’t, for the most part, go out of our way to advertise it because often it’s simply immaterial to what we’re doing. But, we’re prolific. No, I mean really prolific.
Which is why a showcase catering specifically to the best of Canadian Spec Fic is such a fantastic idea. Because it showcases authors you would never think were Canadian. And also shows you the depth of the field. Sandra Kasturi (of ChiZine) and Halli Villegas (of Tightrope), both editors and authors in their own right, have assembled a spectacular body of Canadian works in the anthology, pulling from both fiction and poetry. And the Honourable Mentions are no less impressive. Indeed, the word ‘stellar’ would not be amiss when describing the quality of the work covered in both the ToC and the Honourable Mentions.
The wait is almost over. Imaginarium 2012 will be available in July, and I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on it.
Also, as an aside, it turns out I really do spend a ridiculous amount of time invested in this field since while looking at the ToC I knew, off the top of my head, where 75% of the stories and poems originally appeared. Which probably has to do with the fact that I track this kind of thing for the Canadian SF List (which I will eventually be amending as has been mentioned here previously). But it’s still interesting to me, nonetheless.
And, of course, it’s worth repeating that the Honourable Mention is completely fucking awesome :)
For no better reason than the fact that it makes me absurdly happy.