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Category: Short Stories

A promotional image for Augur Magazine, showing a young person with bird wings walking on water.

Augur Magazine Kickstarter, Years 3-4

A promotional image for Augur Magazine, showing a young person with bird wings walking on water.
A promotional still for Augur Magazine’s Kickstarter campaign for years 3 and 4.

If you’ve paid attention to the Hugo and Nebula awards in the past, you’ve probably noticed people talking about whether a science fiction magazine is a “pro-paying” market. If you stay in the spec-fic community long enough, you learn that this refers to whether a magazine pays what are considered “pro rates” by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

And what’s that all-important pro rate? Eight cents per word.

You want to know something else? Until December 2019 — only 2 months ago! — not a single Canadian literary magazine qualified as a SFWA pro-paying market. Sure, there are plenty of Can-Lit mags, but none of them both paid that market rate and focused on spec-fic.

Until Augur Magazine showed up.

Augur started a few years ago with a mandate to publish spec-fic, slipstream, and magical realist fiction by Canadian and indigenous authors, as well as poetry and art. It’s done that in spades over 6 issues. What’s more, it’s steadily increased its rates – starting from 2 cents a word to reaching that all-important SFWA pro-rate threshold last year.

It did this with the help and support of awesome spec-fic readers who like dreamy, hard-to-categorize fiction. And that’s where YOU come in. Because Augur just launched its newest Kickstarter campaign to fund 2 more years’ worth of magazines, and it needs your help to reach its goal of going beyond the SFWA pro rates and paying 11 cents per word.

It’s already halfway there only 3 days in, which is amazing, and proof that its founder and managing editors clearly have their fingers on the pulse of Canadian spec-fic. So why not take a look and support a group of people who are pretty cool? The closer we all get to meeting their fundraising target, the closer we get to their stretch goals, which sound pretty sweet:

  • Publishing more poetry every year
  • Paying more to graphic artist contributors
  • Creating a print edition of the first 2 years of the magazine
  • Publishing reprints

I’m going to support their Kickstarter now that I have the chance. So I just wanted to signal-boost for a worthy cause. The Augur Magazine Kickstarter ends at the end of February, so let’s make the most of it while we can.

Canadian SF/F Spotlight: “Hehua” by Millie Ho

Fireside Magazine has just released their latest story, “Hehua” by Millie Ho. Ho is a Torontonian who splits her time between Canada and Asia, and has had work published in Uncanny Magazine. The story is one of the last ones selected by Brian J. White, the magazine’s founder, before he stepped down from his role as editor and publisher.

“Hehua” is set in Toronto in the near future when genetic modification for the rich has become the norm – and those who aren’t rich pay the price, one way or another. The story’s trenchant commentary on class, race, employment, incarceration and entitlement mingle to create an intriguing murder mystery.

Plus, there’s at least one element of perverse optimism in the mix: one of the story’s major settings is New Finch Station – a subway station that doesn’t exist yet. A future in which Toronto finally gets its act together and invests in more mass transit? Now I know it’s fiction.

Here’s an excerpt.

Ba’s words rang in my ears whenever I thought about getting an Edit. Maybe he was right. Edits could rewire your entire adult brain, take away your road rage, turn you into a Jeopardy! champion overnight. But they were less reliable than the Wonder Kid procedure, which created designer babies for the one percent, the ones with a boatload of cash to burn on perfectly intelligent, athletic, and beautiful heirs, with choice of skin and eye colour laid out on a self-serve menu, all risk of disease trimmed off their genes before birth.

Edits were for desperate adults and often hit or miss. Sometimes, while walking through the Financial District, I’d see someone get out of an UberPod in a jerky, lopsided way when they were fine just days ago, or say hi to a familiar face at a Starbucks, only to see their glazed eyes slide right off of me, having forgotten all about me.

“The world is getting Edited,” I told Hehua once. We were sitting in the food court far from the Wonder Kid cliques, our seating arrangement an exact replica of our work space upstairs. An ad for an Edit that got rid of anxiety flashed on the TV, which made my teeth ache with temptation once again.

“Wo bu xi huan Edits, they’re so super fickle,” Hehua had said, blowing on her pidu noodles. She giggled when I told her it was actually pronounced “Superficial”.

“Don’t you want to fit in?” I said.

“You should just be you,” Hehua said, then dipped her head over her bowl and slurped loudly.

If you like it, read all of “Hehua” by Millie Ho online here.

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