On Speculative Forms

We’ve been talking a lot about genre as we gear up to open our themed issue of antilang. – Succinct Speculations – for submissions. But what about form? “SpecFic” is a bit of a misnomer – it suggests that speculative writing is always fiction, and that’s obviously not true.

Speculative writing is no alien to poetry. In fact, Canada’s “magazine of the fantastic,” On Spec, devotes an entire section to the form. Antilangers (as we fondly call our past contributors) Amy LeBlanc & Taylor Skaalrud have employed the gothic and the supernatural into their poetry submissions for our flash writing contests on Patreon. And Erin Emily Ann Vance has published her wonderful witchy poems with us in antilang. no. 1 & 2 and many other mags.

Another form that synchronizes splendidly with speculative writing is comics, such as Crash & Burn by Calgary-based creators Finn Lucullan & Kate Larking. And there’s always the obvious examples of superhero comics. We haven’t received any comics submissions for any of our previous issues, but we’d really love to see some this time around as the form facilitates a blending of genres, styles, and artistic/literary modes.

portrait-of-max-ernst-1939.jpg!large
Leonora Carrington’s “Portrait of Max Ernst” (1939), a visual embodiment of SpecNF (Fair Use, wikiart.org)

But what of creative non-fiction? Is there such a thing as speculative non-fic? We feel that yes, there is, and furthermore there are multiple ways one could achieve this apparent paradox. A few years back, Edmonton-based novelist and short story writer Jacqueline Baker wrote The Broken Hours, a literary ghost story about the finals days of horror icon / huge racist H.P. Lovecraft’s life. While the book is marketed as a novel, it is deeply research-based and draws heavily from Lovecraft’s personal letters found in archives. It becomes a sort of biography blended with historical fiction and supernatural horror; plus, Jacqueline told us at a recent conference that she loves the idea of speculative non-fiction, so there!

Another style of SpecNF can be found in Numenera, a table-top role-playing game by Monte Cook Games. This narrative-driven science-fantasy RPG is set in the distant future, and most of the core rulebook Discovery reads more like a very interesting encyclopedia than an instruction manual. While non-fiction suggests that the writing’s topic should be ‘real’ (whatever that means), we feel that SpecNF is as much about style and presentation. Besides, who’s to say these worlds aren’t real, floating over or alongside our own, or that they won’t become real, some day?

antilang. Preview: Frances Boyle’s “Beam”

Frances Boyle’s books are Light-carved Passages (poetry) and Tower (a novella). Her poems and short stories have appeared in literary magazines ranging from long-established to brand new projects. Visit www.francesboyle.com.
boyle preview
Finish reading her poem “Beam” here (pages 16-17) and check out her other two poems, “Choler” and “Unrehearsed,” also in antilang. no. 3!

New Work from 32 Contributors!

We’re so excited to launch our latest issues of antilang. and soundbite! Check out some amazing short work from established and emerging writers across Canada and beyond.

Read antilang. no. 3 and listen to soundbite vol. 2 and tell us what you think!

antilang. Preview: Lisa Baird’s “When I think of him now”

Lisa Baird’s pointedly pithy poem is our final antilang. preview, meaning no. 3 is just around the corner! “When I think of him now” is the first of Lisa’s three poems in the issue.baird previewLisa Baird is a poet & a queer white settler living on Attawandaron/Mississaugas of the New Credit territory (Guelph, ON). She’d rather write poems than bios. www.lisabaird.ca.

soundbite Preview: ryan fitzpatrick’s “Why Whatever It Is Sucks”

ryan fitzpatrick is rounding out our soundbite previews, which means we’re just about ready to launch the collected volume! ryan has a second poem appearing in soundbite as well as two others in antilang., so get ready to hear and read a lot more from him.

ryan fitzpatrick lives and writes in Toronto. He is the author of two books of poetry: Fortified Castles (Talonbooks, 2014) and Fake Math (Snare, 2007).

soundbite Preview: Carol Krause’s “The Unseen World Under my Sweater”

A Toronto-based poet and lover of caves, Carol Krause’s writing explores the gift and wound in mental disruption. Carol supports youth to make meaning of their experiences through discussion and art.

You can read more of her work in antilang. no. 3, coming soon!