As we enter the season where a lot is traditionally said about family, about giving, and about hope, we're often called upon to come out in support of one cause or another, generally very worthy, dedicated to helping others through troubled times. Looking out at that vast sea of the charities, fundraisers, and calls for support though, we, as fans, don't usually see any that speak directly to the family of science fiction and fantasy. But this year, I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of sf-related causes that are in need of your support.
The first is a fundraiser for author Spider Robinson and his daughter Terri. As some of you may be aware, Terri's fighting stage 4 cancer, and given the how expensive healthcare is in the US, you can guess how much of a financial toll this has taken on the family. It's been a rough couple of years for old Spider... first losing Jeanne to cancer back in 2010 (a blow which has severely affected his writing), then having to deal with Terri's diagnosis, and then a heart attack this past summer. This poor guy isn't just singing the blues, he is the blues, and yet, seeing him a VCon this past October, he's doing his damnedest to keep going and find a smile here and there, at a time when most of us would just pack it in. It's not often that we, as fans, get to show an author in a meaningful way how grateful we are for all of the hours of entertainment, thought, and perhaps wisdom he or she has given us, but this time we do have that opportunity. Consider following the link above and helping Spider and his family out.
The second is a call for subscription to, and support for, OnSpec Magazine. Back in August, word came down the pipe that after years of support, the Canada Council (Canada's federal government-backed grant organization for the arts), in its infinite wisdom, decided to cut funding to OnSpec in 2015. Flimsy excuses were given by the masters of culture at the Council, but it's pretty clear that the literati can't bear to fund something as low-brow as speculative fiction (despite many of Canada's past and present big-name authors having slummed it in the genre ghetto from time to time, whether they wanted to admit it or not). Stories of this kind of snobbery abound (so many that they would drag this particular post light years off topic), and I guess, with sf being so prevalent in pop culture right now, it was only a matter of time until the guardians of Can-Lit purity struck back. Since then, the magazine has managed to pull together enough support and make a few changes to allow it to keep operating. But it still needs your help. So what to do? Obviously, if you're a Canadian, or a landed immigrant paying taxes here, you can certainly write to the Council registering your displeasure and requesting that they overturn their decision. Fat lot of good that'll do, but you're welcome to try (I directed a tweet at the Council's Twitter account this summer before leaving for LonCon, but, not surprisingly, received no response). You could do one better, and write to the federal Heritage Minister — since the Council is funded by Ottawa — or your local Member of Parliament and say that, as a taxpayer, you'd like them to look into the situation and, acting on the instructions of taxpayers, request that the Council to overturn its decision. Or, since the die has been cast, you can skip the communications campaign that's surely doomed to be ignored, and just go straight to supporting OnSpec directly. Follow the links above and you can make a donation, or, even better, subscribe! It is, after all, a speculative fiction magazine, and magazines are meant to be subscribed to (unless you've got a time machine and you're going back a hundred years or so to the settler era, when magazines and seed catalogues were necessary fixtures in outhouses for more than just reading)! Every quarter, you'll get pages of awesome that'll showcase new talent in the field. I've been a subscriber for years (well, my wife has bought me a subscription for years as an ongoing birthday or Christmas present), and it's always a treat to find out where its stories will take me. The cover art's usually pretty cool too. Best part is, you don't have to be a Canuck to be a subscriber, they'll mail the mag anywhere in the world, and they've got an online subscription option too — all you have to be is someone who loves good speculative fiction — well, and someone with a few extra bucks to buy a subscription. But really, it's quite affordable, and worth every penny. Show your support and subscribe now.