Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Karina Sumner-Smith: Eligible for the Campbell

If you haven't done your 2007 Hugo nominating ballot yet, do so! Deadline is this weekend. Among those eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer this year is my friend Karina Sumner-Smith, who lives here in Toronto. You want proof that she's worthy of the Best New Writer award? It's just been announced that one of her stories is a Nebula Award finalist. Way to go, Karina!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, February 26, 2007

More Book Lover's Ball photos ...

... this time also including lots from the literary-themed fashion show that concluded the evening. Check them out.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Karl Schroeder and Rob Sawyer read together ...

... this very Wednesday, February 28, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Runnymede Public Library in Toronto, 2178 Bloor Street West (Runnymede & Bloor). Admission is free.

This "Literary Lunch" is the final official event of Keep Toronto Reading month. I believe Karl will be reading from Sun of Suns; I haven't decided what I'll read yet, but I promise a different reading than the one I'm doing at Toronto's Ad Astra SF convention next weekend.

(That's Karl, above, speaking at the Merril Collection; photo by Andrew Specht.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

My Tor books

All fourteen of the books I've had published by Tor are still in print. You can see Tor's own online catalog them here, including excerpts from most of them.

(And the main Tor web site page about me is here.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Virginia in the news

I was already looking forward to my trip to Richmond, Virginia, in April to be Guest of Honor at RavenCon, but now I'm looking forward to it even more. Congratulations, Virginia! You've done a wonderful thing.

Virginia Apologizes for Role in Slavery

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Yo, Toronto: Ad Astra is next weekend!

Toronto's annual science-fiction convention, Ad Astra, is coming up in six days (March 2-4, 2007).

I'll be there, doing a bunch of programming, reading a chapter with naked people in it from Rollback, launching Phyllis Gotlieb's new novel Birthstones (which I edited), and just hangin' out and having fun. Come on out! It should be a blast.

(The launch for Phyllis is at 8:00 p.m. Friday night; my reading is Saturday at 11:00 a.m.)

Author Guests of Honour are Phyllis Gotlieb, Stephen Jones, and Cory Doctorow; Fan Guests of Honour are my great friends Lee and Chris Knight (pictured above); Ed Beard, Jr., is the Artist GoH. So come on down to South Park, and have yourself a time!

The Ad Astra Website

Note: the con is very close to the Ontario Science Centre, which currently has Marvel's Science of Superheroes exhibition on; that's where I'll be Friday afternoon.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

So much for slowing down ...

One of my New Year's resolutions was to try to slow down the pace of my life a bit. But I see I have 14 flights scheduled in the next 90 days -- gak!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Unearthed: Unearth

Cleaning my home today, I stumbled across Volume One, Number One, of Unearth: The Magazine of Science Fiction Discoveries, dated Winter 1977 -- almost 30 years ago.

This magazine, which was edited by John M. Landsberg and Jonathan Ostrowsky-Lantz was, according to the editorial, "a market solely for writers who had not yet made a sale, where their work would not have to compete with that of established authors ... the only prozine to work exclusively with unpublished writers."

The front cover of this first issue says "Introducing" followed by these names:

Paul Di Filippo, Chris Dornan, K.W. MacAnn, Daniel C. Smith, Debra Thrall, and Danny Williams.

Now, I remember reading this magazine thirty years ago, and I surprised myself to find that I even remember some of the stories. What I hadn't remembered was Paul's biographical note at the back of the magazine:

"Paul Di Filippo has announced that he is leaving science fiction for greener pastures. He has vowed that 'Falling Expectations' is the last SF story he will ever write."

We're all very lucky that that did not turn out to be the case. :)

More on Unearth

Paul Di Filippo's website

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

I've been Interrobanged!

The student newspaper at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, where I spoke recently, has this to say about my visit, in a very nice article by Ashley Houghton.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, February 23, 2007

Astronomy lecture in Calgary

The Calgary Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is hosting Robert J. Sawyer for the evening of Thursday, March 15, 2007, for the annual Peter Sim Lecture.

Astronomy and Science Fiction

Exploring strange new worlds happens as often at a writer's keyboard as it does at an astronomer's eyepiece. From exploring the worlds of our solar system to the planets of other stars, from bases on Mars to the heat-death of the universe, science-fiction writers always get there first, and Canada's leading SF writer will be our tour guide as we look at some of their-and his-visions.

The meeting is open and free to the public; in fact, the public is strongly encouraged to attend. So come on by and hear a fantastic speaker on a favourite topic!

Where: Discovery Dome at the Telus World of Science (formerly the Calgary Science Centre)

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Details

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Carolyn is more suspicious than I am

So, on February 6, I went to the local Canadian passport office, to renew my Canadian passport; the office is upstairs in a mall near my home.

I noticed as I entered the office that there was a sign on the outside wall of the office advertising a place in mall that took passport photos. Odd, I thought: you need to have your passport photos in advance of coming in, because the back of one of them has to be signed by your guarantor; nobody could show up at the office still needing photos, unless, maybe, they were just popping in to pick up the forms (which you can pick up lots of other more convenient places, such as post offices).

I waited a couple of hours for my number to be called (writing away on my laptop, of course!), went up to one of the clerks, and presented my old passport, birth certificate, completed application, and photos.

"These photos are pretty bad," the clerk said. I thought he was making the standard joke that if you look like your passport photo, you're not well enough to travel -- and I said as much.

"No," he said, "you should get them re-done." I protested that the photos had been taken by the Canadian Automobile Association; they take tons of passport photos, and surely these met the required specifications.

"No, there's a shadow," the clerk said. "Where?" asked I. "Well, you can't see it in this light, but it's there -- they might reject this at the head office. Are you sure you don't want to go downstairs and get another set of photos taken?"

"If you can point to what's actually wrong with these photos, so that I can see it, all right," I said, "but I want to see what's wrong so that if the same thing's wrong with the new ones I can tell the photographer on the spot."

"Well," he reiterated, "you can't see it, but there's a shadow behind your head; it'll make your ears look longer, and they might reject your passport applicaton -- then you'll have to come back and stand in line again. But you don't have to stand in line here again if you get new photos today; I'll give you a card that'll get you to the front of the line when you come back."

I declined -- if he couldn't show me what was wrong, I said I was willing to take my chances. And, of course, my passport showed up today via registered mail, having sailed through the rest of the process.

Me, I just thought the clerk was being an officious twerp, and I don't have a lot of patience with such people. But Carolyn thinks the clerk was getting kickbacks from the photographer in the mall. That had never occurred to me; she's more suspicious than I am.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Looking for a keynote speaker?

I do lots of keynotes about science, technology, and the future (in fact, I'm off to do one today) -- and Speakers' Spotlight, the speakers' bureau I work with, has just revamped its web page about me.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

How's this for a Guest of Honor line-up?

* Michael Bishop
* Kathleen Ann Goonan
* Joe Haldeman
* Jack McDevitt
* Mike Resnick
* Robert J. Sawyer

Not too shabby, eh? :) We'll all be at the 20th anniversary Oasis in Orlando, Florida, May 25-27, 2007. The con sent me my etickets for the fligths today, so -- woohoo!

(All of us are returning Guests of Honor from previous Oasis conventions.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, February 19, 2007

Even more photos from the Book Lover's Ball ...

... are on the blog of Quill and Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal (some of the photos are by Carolyn Clink!). Check them out!

(To get the joke caption of the final photo, you have to have read Stephen Henighan's column in Geist, which has made quite a stir. The Giller is Canada's top big-money literary award; the GTA is the Greater Toronto Area.)

In truth, David Leonard, Geoffrey Taylor and I were just chatting about how pleasant the banquet had been ...

Writers of the Future winners

I'm a judge for the Writers of the Future contest, and the winners for the fourth quarter of 2006 have just been announced:

1. Andrea Kail from New York, NY
2. Edward Sevcik from Austin, TX
3. John Burridge from Eugene, OR

I've only today learned the names of the authors, since we don't see them when we're judging the manuscripts. This quarter had fabulously good stories, but I'll say here right now that Andrea Kail's "The Sun God at Dawn, Rising from a Lotus Blossom" is a total knockout -- this is a Hugo-caliber story, folks. It'll be worth the cost of the anthology (which will be published in August) all by itself.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Photos from the Book Lover's Ball

Here are a few photos from Thursday night's Book Lover's Ball in Toronto

Robert J. Sawyer and Carolyn Clink: Carolyn bought a new dress and new shoes for the occassion

Robert J. Sawyer and Harold Fenn: Harold's company, H.B. Fenn, distributes Tor Books in Canada; I owe much of the success I've had to this man

Allan Fotheringham and Robert J. Sawyer: if you didn't want to come in black tie, you could come in a literary costume; here's Allan promoting his new book about US politics

Robert J. Sawyer and Mary Ito: Mary is the host of CBC-TV's Living in Toronto; she's dressed as Anna Karenina

David Leonard (senior publicist for Penguin Canada), Geoffrey Taylor (artistic director for the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront), author Robert J. Sawyer

Margaret Atwood and Canada's ambassador to Japan via LongPen videoconference from Tokyo

The Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award, presented to Robert J. Sawyer. The glass trophy, from Birks, has an open book and the TPL logo laser-etched in its interior.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, February 18, 2007

AI and Sci-Fi: My, Oh, My!

I'm on the Scientific Advisory Board for the Lifeboat Foundation, which is a group dedicated to safeguarding humanity. They've just done up a beautiful web page featuring my article AI and Sci-FI: My, Oh, My!. Check it out! :)

Rollback Book Tour

The itinerary is set for my book tour for Rollback, my new novel. I'll be in seventeen cities in April and May:

Albany, NY
Calgary, AB
Camp Hill, PA
Denver, CO
Edmonton, AB
Honeoye Falls, NY
Kitchener, ON
London, ON
Milford, NH
Oshawa, ON
Sarnia, ON
Saskatoon, SK
Richmond, VA
Toronto, ON
Vancouver, BC
Washington, DC
Woodbridge, ON

Here are the events:

Sat 14 Apr 2007: * Bakka Phoenix Books, 697 Queen Street West, Toronto ON, Canada, 3 p.m. OFFICIAL CANADIAN PARTY LAUNCH!

Sun 15 Apr 2007: * Write Book & Gift, 19 North Main Street, Honeoye Falls NY, US, 3 p.m. OFFICIAL US LAUNCH PARTY!

Mon 16 Apr 2007: * Flights of Fantasy, 488 Albany-Shaker Road, Loudenville NY, US, 7 p.m.

Tue 17 Apr 2007: * Toadstool Bookstore, Lorden Plaza, Rte 101, Milford NH, US, 7 p.m.

Wed 18 Apr 2007: * Barnes & Noble, 58 South 32nd Street, Camp Hill PA, US, 7 p.m.

Thu 19 Apr 2007: * Library of Congress, West Dining Room, Madison Building, 101 Independence Street SE, Washington DC, US, 12 p.m. (talk on "Science Fiction as a Mirror for Reality")

Fri 20 Apr to Sun 22 Apr 2007: * Guest of Honor at Ravencon 2007, Richmond VA, US.

Mon 30 Apr 2007: * White Dwarf, 3715 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver BC, Canada, 7 p.m.

Tue 1 May 2007: * Audreys Books, 10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton AB, Canada, 7:30 p.m.

Wed 2 May 2007: * McNally Robinson, 120 8th Avenue SW, Calgary AB, Canada 7 p.m.

Thu 3 May 2007: * Saskatoon Inn and Conference Centre, 2002 Airport Drive, Saskatoon SK, Canada, 7:30 p.m. (giving the Mary Donaldson Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the Saskatoon Public Library)

Wed 9 May 2007: * Oshawa Public Library's McLaughlin Branch, 65 Bagot Street, Oshawa ON, Canada, 7 p.m.

Thu 10 May 2007: * Coles, Royal Bank Plaza, 200 Bay Street, Toronto ON, Canada, 12 p.m.

Thu 10 May 2007: * Pierre Berton Resource Library, Vaughan Public Libraries, 4921 Rutherford Road: Woodbridge ON, Canada, 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Fri 11 May 2007: * Chapters, 135 Gateway Park Drive, Kitchener ON, Canada, 7 p.m.

Sat 12 May 2007: * Guest of Honor at GenreCon 2007, Sarnia Branch, Lambton County Library, 124 Christina St. South, Sarnia ON, Canada (Rob will be there from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.)

Sat 12 May 2007: * Chapters North London, 86 Fanshawe Park Road East, London ON, Canada, 3 p.m.

Sun 18 May 2007: * Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver CO, US, 7:30 p.m.

More details are here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, February 16, 2007

North America's largest library honours Rob

Science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer has just received the Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award. Established in 2001, this is one of Canada's top book-related honours.

The award, which includes a cash prize of $2,500 and a crystal sculpture, was presented in front of a sold-out audience of 640 at the second annual Book Lover's Ball, a gala, $350-a-plate black-tie event held at Toronto's Liberty Grand on Thursday, February 15, 2007. Among those on-hand were Toronto Mayor David Miller and legendary Canadian authors Allan Fotheringham and Peter C. Newman. The master of ceremonies was Seamus O'Regan, co-host of Canada AM.

Margaret Atwood joined the proceedings from the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo via LongPen — the remote-control autographing and video-conferencing device she helped invent. Atwood was last year's winner of the TPL Celebrates Reading Award and, by way of passing the torch, she used the LongPen to autograph a copy of her latest novel to Sawyer. Other previous winners include authors Dennis Lee and Kenneth Oppel, and the provincial educational television network, TVOntario.

The Toronto Public Library is the largest and busiest library system in North America, and the second largest in the world. "The Award is one of the key means by which we strive to re-emphasize the importance of literacy and reading, and the continuing relevance of the Library," says Josephine Bryant, the Chief Librarian, who presented the award to Sawyer.

Says Sawyer: "Science fiction still struggles in some places for respectability, but that's never been the case in Toronto. The Toronto Public Library is known world-wide for its support of the genre." The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, one of TPL's special collections, has the largest SF holdings of any public library in the world. "If someone who writes about the future might be termed a prophet," adds Sawyer, "then the old adage about a prophet not being honored in his own country is false, at least here."

According to Maclean's, Canada's weekly newsmagazine, "By any reckoning, Sawyer is among the most successful Canadian authors ever." The Ottawa Citizen calls him "the dean of Canadian science fiction," and The Montreal Gazette has dubbed him "Canada's answer to Michael Crichton."

The Book Lover's Ball program book had this to say about Sawyer:
From haunting the stacks of the North York Central Library in the 1960s, through working at a Toronto independent bookstore in the 1980s, to being writer-in-residence at various Ontario libraries (including TPL's own Merril Collection) in the 21st century, Rob has devoted his life to reading and writing. He has served on literary advisory boards for the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront and the Toronto Olympics bid committee. Rob frequently mentors emerging authors, and has taught writing at the Banff Centre, Humber College, Ryerson, and the University of Toronto.
Sawyer is one of only seven writers in history (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the world's top awards for best science-fiction novel of the year: the Hugo (SF's "people's choice" award, which he won for Hominids); the Nebula (the field's "academy award," for The Terminal Experiment); and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (SF's major juried award, for Mindscan).

A full table of representatives from Tor Books, Sawyer's New York publisher, and H.B. Fenn and Company, Tor's Canadian distributor, were on hand at the Book Lover's Ball to cheer Sawyer's award, as was his wife, poet Carolyn Clink. Sawyer's seventeenth novel, Rollback, comes out in April 2007.

The text of Rob's acceptance speech is online.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith

Air Canada managed to get me on a later flight, after my earlier flight from Vancouver was canceled because of an impending snow storm in Toronto, and so I'm now home safe and sound in freezing Mississauga (quite a contrast to the balmy weather in Victoria).

I've been on the road for five days, but it feels longer; I'm exhausted, and will sleep in tomorrow. (If I had my druthers, I'd stay in tomorrow, sitting by my fireplace, but I have to go out and pick up my tuxedo for the Book Lover's Ball on Thursday ...)

It was on this trip to Victoria that I discovered that Anna Nicole Smith had passed away. I was sorry to hear that; her life had turned out to be such a sad struggle. And then it occurred to me that I actually mention her (not unkindly) in Rollback. There will doubtless be those who will comment on what they perceive as insensitivity in this -- naifs who think books appear in stores within days or weeks of their authors finishing them. But, of course, Rollback was finished long ago (on April 24, 2006, to be precise), and was serialized in Analog months before Anna Nicole's passing. I hope she rests in peace.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Professional Courtesy

So, I was at an event today during which four authors, from four different publishers, were addressing booksellers. Each of us was to have 10 to 12 minutes to speak.

The first guy said right up front that he wasn't going to bother to keep track of his time, and rather would leave it up to the MC to cut him off -- which is a very aggressive thing for a speaker to do. And when the MC did finally tell him his time was up (long after it actually had been), the author said, "Well, then, this is a good place to stop" -- and promptly went on for two more minutes.

The second person, a woman, did her ten minutes -- and then announced -- FREE! BONUS! -- she was going to read five typeset pages from her novel on top of that. I actually objected from the audience -- five pages is between 1,500 and 2,000 words, and that takes nine to twelve minutes to read aloud properly; she relented, and only read three pages.

The third fellow finished on time, but then instead of getting off stage announced, "You know, I just feel like doing a Q&A," and although no one volunteered any questions at first, he waited until people did ask him a couple.

And then it was my turn -- and we were now running late, of course. I got up, talked for nine minutes, and, I truly believe, left them wanting more ... which is the whole idea.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Dragon Page on Rollback

A great podcast. Check it out here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

And here's the article on splitting the genres

A little while ago
, I had a post here about being asked for a quote about a New Jersey bookstore separating SF and fantasy. Here's the resulting article, from the Trentonian.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, February 9, 2007

Great time in London

Carolyn and I had a wonderful day today at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, a two-hour drive from our home in Mississauga. I gave two readings and talks there.

The first one, at 2:00 p.m., was mostly for the Fanshawe faculty and students; the second one was open to the public, and co-sponsored by the London Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

At the first reading, I read the scene from Mindscan in which the new version of Jake wakes up, seeing in full colour for the first time. At the second reading, I read my short story "The Eagle Has Landed" from Mike Resnick's DAW anthology I, Alien, and a bit from my upcoming novel Rollback.

Before the first reading, we were taken to lunch at Saffron, the wonderful restaurant run by students in culinary studies at Fanshawe, and then a photography student there took me off to a studio to take an official portrait of me to hang in the College's gallery of visiting writers -- cool!

About 200 people came to my first event, and it went very well. We then headed off to the North London Chapters superstore, where I signed stock (of which they had lots) and set up a signing there for Rollback, for Saturday, May 12, at 3:00 p.m.

Then it was back to Saffron for a cocktail party in my honour and a private dinner with members of the Royal Astronomical Society -- and we all went outside to see the stunning sight of Venus and a quite-prominently-visble naked-eye Mercury in the western sky.

Starting at 8:00 p.m., I did my second reading of the day. We only had about 60 people in the audience, but they were very appreciative, and asked lots of good questions. At 10:00 p.m. Carolyn and I hit the road for the drive back to Toronto. Unfortunately we had to drive through a snow storm for part of it.

At both the afternoon and evening events, the Fanshawe College bookstore was on hand, and my books sold very well indeed.

All in all -- except for the drive home -- an absolutely terrific day! Many thanks to Fanshawe, the London Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts for sponsoring my readings (and for having the cheque ready)! Our wonderful host for the day was Ingrid Hutchinson-Young of the Language and Liberal Studies Department. She treated us like visiting royalty, and we had a fabulous time.

But now -- sleep. I have to be at the airport tomorrow (Friday) morning at 8:30 a.m. for a trip that will take me to Calgary for the annual social of IFWA, the writers' group there, and then to Victoria for the British Columbia Book Fair; Tor and H.B. Fenn (Tor's Canadian distributor) are kindly sending me there so that I can pitch Rollback to B.C. booksellers.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards

Mark R. Kelly has just posted the annual update to his monumental Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards, a huge database listing award wins and nominations for awards major and minor; it's really an amazing piece of work, and must have taken an awful lot of time and effort to compile.

The summary page about yours truly is here, and you can see how I'm doing compared to other writers here. Mark shows me as having 87 nominations and 30 wins.

(I actually -- cough, cough -- have more award nominations and wins than that, since Mark's tally only lists science-fiction awards, and not such things as the Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, which I've won once and been nominated for three times, the Ryerson University Alumni Award of Distinction, the $1,000 Mississauga Established Literary Artist Award, and so on; my own tally is 98 nominations and 38 wins -- not that anyone's counting ...)

Anyway, Mark's index is a lot of fun to poke around in, and, I'm sure, a very useful tool for librarians, researchers, and readers.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Sharing a birthday

The official pub date for my next novel, Rollback, is April 3, 2007, and, as I've already noted here, the novel has received a starred review, denoting a book of exceptional merit, from Publishers Weekly.

Well, I'm pleased as punch to see that my good buddy Allen Steele has a new novel being published the very same day, and that it, too, just got a starred review from PW.

(I haven't seen the text of Allen's review yet, but I know it got a star because of this very useful site called Overbooked.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, February 5, 2007

They love me in China ...

... and the royalty checks I just received for Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, Foreigner, and Golden Fleece are proof. :) Woohoo!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Rob in London, Ontario

I'll be giving two free public readings and talks (each one different) at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, this Thursday, February 8, 2007:

2:00 to 2:50 p.m.: Reading plus Q&A

8:00 to 9:00 p.m.: Reading plus Q&A

Both are in D-Building room D-1060. Everybody is welcome!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Research and more research

I do a lot of research for my novels, and so I thought I'd share a list of the nonfiction books currently on my desk, for those who might be interested:

Hoffman, Donald D. Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See.

Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science.

Farah, Martha. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Vision.

Kuijsten, Marcel. Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited (just published by the Julian Jaynes Society)

Minsky, Marvin. The Emotion Machine.

Harris, Sam. Letter to a Christian Nation.

Not entirely coincidentally, I'm off to buy my first pair of bifocals this week ... :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A little email advice

A few months ago I groused about having missed out on a friend's 50th birthday party because the invitation came with a spam-like subject line of "TOP SECRET!!!!"

Well, today I got a important email that actually had the word "SPAM" in the subject line (saying "this is not SPAM"), and just now I received one of the several emails I get each week that have no subject line at all (this one was from a student).

I get a lot of email, and I try to respond to it all in a polite and timely fashion. Just as simple professionalism is the best way to make a manuscript submission, a simple, direct subject line is the best way to package your email. Otherwise, please don't be mad if you don't get a response; I probably didn't even see your message before one of my spam filters swept it away. Thanks!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Holy fava beans!

Look who's coming to the Toronto World Horror Convention! Thomas Harris, the creator of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is coming to Toronto, to receive the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award. Cool!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Safety in the future

I do get quoted in the darnedest places. :) Just received a copy of the January 3, 2007, issue of the Daily Commercial News, which quotes me in a page-one story on health and safety headlined "Safety will lead in technology," by Peter Kenter. Paragraph two begins:
"Everything in the workplace is moving toward safety," says Canadian science-fiction writer and futurist, Robert J. Sawyer."
And the rest of the article is quotes from me, a professor a the University of California at Berkeley (where, just parenthetically, my grandfather used to teach), and someone from MIT. Neat!

(You can read the full story by using my last name as a search term on the newspaper's website.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Speaking of usage issues ...

I mentioned The Chicago Manual of Style's online Q&A a couple of posts back. Well, today I saw this on the BBC Website: "Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia."

This sort of phrasing has always bothered me. Isn't it equally true to just say: "Canada is the largest country in the world after Russia"?

And if it's true to just say "largest," with the qualifier that follows, isn't it equally true to then say "first largest," like so: "Canada is the first largest country in the world after Russia." And, so, aren't "first" and "second" therefore equivalent?

Norman, coordinate! :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, February 2, 2007

Autographed photos

There was a time when the web was young during which lots of people were emailing writers, actors, and so on, asking for autographed pictures. That seems to have died down, but I did always wonder what happened to them after I sent them out. Now I know.

(That photo dates back to the days of Frameshift; it's me inside the giant DNA molecule on the set of @discovery.ca, the nightly science program on Discovery Channel Canada -- and, yes, like a good Canadian, I'm wearing a jacket from Tilley Endurables.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

For grammar and word use fans

These are always fun:

Chicago Manual of Style Q&A, updated monthly.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Another reason I like this job

In what other line of work do you routinely get thanked for things you did 15 years ago? This popped into my email box this morning from New Mexico:

Dear Mr. Sawyer,

I used to be a big SF reader, and somehow fell away from the genre.

But that all changed last month. I discovered the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy. These books could not be put down. They are fantastic. I finished all 3 in record time, for me. This is the best reading experience I've had in 20 plus years. Now, as the weekend approaches, I'll be off to the bookstore for the rest of your books.

It really does feel good to know that work I did that long ago is still giving people pleasure. :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Nobel Peace Prize

I heard on the news yesterday that Al Gore has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Made me think of the great Canadian who won it, Lester B. Pearson, the man after whom Toronto's airport is named (not to mention a starship in my novel Starplex).

And now a new book has come out about this, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events in question: Pearson's Prize: Canada and the Suez Crisis.

Here's what the Globe and Mail has to say about it.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The Creative Review has excellent taste

... as evidenced by this newsletter's very nice article about me entitled "Great Canadian Sci-Fi," in Volume 2, Issue 1 (Winter 2007), on page 5, which you can download here.

(No, I don't go ego-surfing for my name; Google currently has 350,000 references to me, and it would take the rest of my life to look at them all. But the author of The Creative Review was kind enough to draw his publication to my attention. Many thanks, Don!)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site