Amanda Dawson


“Legacy” takes place in the near future, where a combination of gene editing and government population control has given rise to ‘designer babies’ — embryos that are altered to exhibit desirable traits, such as hair and eye colour. Adrienne — the story’s protagonist — desperately wants to be a mother, but she and her husband come to blows over how much their future child should be altered to suit societal preferences. In a world where competition between individuals is fierce, Adrienne must decide what is best for both herself and her baby. “Legacy” explores the social, psychological, and domestic impacts that mainstream gene editing practices could have in a future society.

Amanda Dawson is a writer from Saskatoon. She has had her work published in The Molotov Cocktail, Drunk Monkeys, Spring, and Reflex Fiction, among others. She is especially interested in women’s stories in science fiction and fantasy.

Cynthea Masson

Alchemy and The Alchemists' Council

My reading will combine excerpts from The Alchemists’ Council series alongside traditional alchemical concepts. One such concept will be the Rebis (or Alchemical Hermaphrodite) — a perfected conjunction of male and female related to the Philosopher’s Stone. As both an English professor and a Canadian author, I intend to introduce this relatively new fantasy series to an audience of readers/scholars. The political and philosophical conflicts at the centre of the books, in addition to the LGBTQ2S+ characters and their engagement with environmental concerns, make the books particularly suitable for university classes on speculative fiction. Canada’s ECW Press published the trilogy (The Alchemists’ Council, The Flaw in the Stone, and The Amber Garden) in 2016, 2018, and 2020. Accolades for the series include two Independent Publishers Book Awards: the Gold Medal for Fantasy in 2017 (Book One) and the Bronze Medal for Fantasy in 2019 (Book Two).

Cynthea Masson is a professor in the English Department at Vancouver Island University, where she teaches writing and literature courses. Her novels (The Alchemists’ Council, The Flaw in the Stone, and The Amber Garden) are anchored in concepts of medieval alchemy.

Jaclyn Morken

"The Pit"

After a nuclear disaster drives the city of Caelum underground, citizens are forced into three sublevels. The Peak, with all of its amenities and privileges, is for the most obedient. The Pit, far below, is for the worst criminals. And in the Core, which holds everyone in between, lives a boy who dreams of the sun. Ced is the twelve-year-old son of an alleged criminal, “Tossed” with his family to the Core before he could walk. Every day, he dreams of the sun. But the surface is still too dangerous, and even The Peak is unattainable, because no one ever earns their way up after they’ve been Tossed. Except one woman, whose escape Ced never should have seen, who claims that he and others like him have been left to fade away, out of sight. That seeing the sun — the real sun — is not as impossible as he was told.

Jaclyn Morken is an emerging writer and editor from Saskatoon. She holds an MFA in Writing and BA Honours in English from the University of Saskatchewan. Her writing can be found in BlackFlash Magazine, antilang., F(r)iction Log, and River Volta Review of Books. Jaclyn writes fantasy and speculative fiction.

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