[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
ROBERT J. SAWYER
Hugo and Nebula Winner


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Backgrounder

ROBERT J. SAWYER

Copyright © 2006 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.


JUMP TO: [Novels] [Short Stories] [Awards and Honors] [Talks and Readings] [Teaching Writing] [Canadian Science Fiction] [Media Coverage] [Quotes] [Praise] [Agents]

Novels

Robert J. Sawyer  — "Canada's best speculative fiction writer, by far" (About Books); "the dean of Canadian science fiction" (The Ottawa Citizen); "Canada's answer to Michael Crichton" (The Montreal Gazette); "the standard bearer for the SF genre in Canada" (The Sudbury Star) — has sold seventeen science fiction novels to major New York publishers, and has won thirty national and international writing awards.

Robert J. Sawyer novels:

In addition to these U.S. editions, his bestselling novels are also published in Britain, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, and Turkey.

Ten of Sawyer's books have been selections of Doubleday's Science Fiction Book Club and five have been serialized in Analog, the world's top-selling science-fiction magazine.


Short Stories

Since 1980, Sawyer's short fiction has appeared in Analog, Amazing Stories, The Village Voice, and many anthologies, including Ark of Ice (alongside Margaret Atwood, W. P. Kinsella, and Timothy Findley), 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories (co-edited by Isaac Asimov), Free Space, Janis Ian's Stars, The Hard Science Fiction Renaissance, and Northern Stars.


Awards and Honors

  • Winner, World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year: Hominids (2003).

  • Winner, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award (the "Academy Award" of Science Fiction) for Best Novel of the Year: The Terminal Experiment (1996).

  • Winner, John W. Campbell Memorial Award (the world's top juried prize for science fiction) for Best Novel of the Year: Mindscan (2006).

  • Eight-time finalist, Hugo Award (Science Fiction's International "People's Choice" award) for Best Novel of the Year: Wake (2010), Rollback (2008), Humans (2004), Calculating God (2001), Factoring Humanity (1999), Frameshift (1998), Starplex (1997), and The Terminal Experiment (1996).

  • Two-time finalist, Hugo Award for Best Short Story of the Year: "Shed Skin" (2005), and "The Hand You're Dealt" (1998).

  • Finalist, Hugo Award for Best Novella of the Year: "Identity Theft" (2006).

  • Finalist, Nebula Award for Best Novel of the Year: Starplex (1996).

  • Nine-time winner of Canada's Aurora Science Fiction Award. Best Novels of 1999 (FlashForward), 1996 (Starplex), 1995 (The Terminal Experiment), and 1990 (Golden Fleece); Best Short Stories of 2002 ("Ineluctable"), 2000 ("Stream of Consciousness"), 1996 ("Peking Man"), and 1993 ("Just Like Old Times"); Best Other of 2003 (Relativity: Essays and Stories).

  • Three-time winner, Seiun Award (Japan's highest science-fiction honor) for Best Foreign Novel of the Year: Illegal Alien (2002), Frameshift (2001), and End of an Era (1996).

  • Three-time winner, Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción (Spain's highest science-fiction honor, and the world's largest cash prize for science fiction): "Identity Theft" (2004), FlashForward (1998) and Factoring Humanity (1997).

  • Winner, Le Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire (France's top honor in science fiction) for Best Foreign Short Story of 1996: "You See But You Do Not Observe."

  • Six-time winner of the Homer Award for Best Novel of the Year, voted on by the 30,000 members of the CompuServe Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum: Starplex (1996), The Terminal Experiment (1995), End of an Era (1994), Fossil Hunter (1993), and Far-Seer (1992).

  • Two-time winner of the Homer Award for Best Short Story of the Year: "Above It All" (1996) and "You See But You Do Not Observe" (1995).

  • Winner, Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story of the Year: "Just Like Old Times" (1993).

  • Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year as chosen by critic Orson Scott Card in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Golden Fleece.


Talks and Readings

Sawyer has given public readings at over 100 venues, including the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors, the Winnipeg Writers Festival, the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, and and the National Library of Canada.

He has spoken at the Library of Congress, the McLaughlin Planetarium, six times at the Ontario Science Centre, at dozens of libraries and universities, and at annual meetings of many associations.

Sawyer was keynote speaker at the 1997 Conference of the Canadian Authors Association, and he's been Guest of Honor at science-fiction conventions from Los Angeles to Halifax, and as far away as Tokyo.


Teaching Writing

Sawyer has taught science-fiction writing at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College, the National University of Ireland, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Odyssey Workshop, and he's been a "Writer in Electronic Residence" for the national high-school workshop Wired Writers.

His "On Writing" column appeared for three years in each issue of On Spec magazine.

He spent two months in 2009 as the Writer in Residence at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron in Saskatoon. In 2006, he was the Edna Staebler Writer in Residence at the Kitchener Public Library; in 2003, he was Writer in Residence at the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy; and in 2000, he was the Writer in Residence at the Richmond Hill (Ontario) Public Libraries.


Canadian Science Fiction

Sawyer founded the Canadian Region of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (and later served as that organization's president, the first non-American ever to hold that post). He edits the acclaimed Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint for Red Deer Press, and is The Canadian Encyclopedia's authority on science fiction. With his wife Carolyn Clink, he edited the Canadian science-fiction anthology Tesseracts 6.


Media Coverage

Sawyer has been interviewed for print well over 100 times, including:

[Geraldo Rivera, Rob Sawyer]

Sawyer has done over 300 radio and TV interviews, including:

  • Rivera Live with Geraldo Rivera (CNBC)
  • The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos (CBC-TV)
  • Q with Jian Ghomeshi (CBC Radio)
  • Pamela Wallin Live (CBC Newsworld)
  • W-Five (CTV)
  • Open Mike with Mike Bullard (CTV)
  • Talk of the Nation (NPR)
  • three times on Midday (CBC-TV)
  • twice on Morningside (Canada's highest-rated radio show)
  • twice on Sci-Fi Buzz (Sci-Fi Channel)
  • three times on Benmergui Live (CBC Newsworld)
  • four times on Canada A.M. (Canada's most-watched morning show)
  • 16 times on Prisoners of Gravity (TVOntario and PBS)

Sawyer hosted a 17-part television documentary series for Vision TV called Supernatural Investigator in the Spring of 2009.

In addition, during the 1997-98 season, he was a regular commentator on life in the future for the prime-time television science series @discovery.ca, the highest-rated TV program on the Canadian version of The Discovery Channel.  

Interview Topics

As an author and futurist, Sawyer's writings often tie into major news stories. He's been interviewed about these and many other topics on national television programs:

  • the rise of machine intelligence
  • the possibilities of living forever
  • the cloning of humans
  • the future of the family
  • our fascination with alien life
  • the evidence for life on Mars
  • the popularity of dinosaurs
  • the problems aboard the International Space Station
  • the 50th anniversary of Sputnik
  • the 40th anniversary of Star Trek
  • the 30th anniversary of Star Wars
  • science fiction movie reviews
  • the future of the book
  • the science in science fiction
  • the landing of the shuttle Atlantis
  • the future of NASA.

Sawyer is a trained broadcaster. He's completely comfortable on camera or in front of a mike, and has done many solo interviews, panel shows, and call-in programs.


Themes and Issues

Sawyer's novels are always issue-oriented. Consider:

Mindscan

What does it mean to be human?

Issues:

  • Is a copy of you still you?
  • The widening gulf as Canada grows more liberal and the USA more right-wing
  • Authors' control of copyright
 

Hominids

What if Neanderthals had survived and we had not?

Issues:

  • Was religion inevitable?
  • The downside of agriculture
  • The advantages of no privacy
 

Calculating God

Aliens think they can prove the existence of God

Issues:

 

FlashForward

Everyone gets a glimpse of what the world will be like 21 years later

Issues:

  • free will vs. determinism
  • science and responsibility
 

Illegal Alien

A courtroom drama with an extraterrestrial defendant.

Issues:

  • racism in the courts
  • celebrities and justice
  • the effect on society of contact with aliens
 

Frameshift

A thriller about the Human Genome Project.

Issues:

  • the future of health insurance in the genetic age
  • the misidentification of John Demjanjuk as Ivan the Terrible
  • new reproductive technologies
 

Starplex

An odyssey through billions of years and millions of light-years.

Issues:

  • the origin and ultimate fate of the universe
  • the possibilities for human immortality
 

The Terminal Experiment

A biomedical engineer discovers scientific proof for the existence of the human soul.

Issues:

  • the conflict between science and religion
  • the abortion debate
  • organ transplantation
 

Quotes From Broadcasters Who
Have Interviewed Robert J. Sawyer

"A pleasure having you on the air. You should be doing radio or television yourself — your personality comes through via the microphone, and you have an infectious enthusiasm."

Peter Anthony Holder
Host, CJAD Tonight
CJAD 800 A.M. Montreal


"I have interviewed over 600 writers, and one of the most thoughtful, provocative, and articulate is Robert J. Sawyer. Rob has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and he knows how to deliver what producers want. This knowledge of media, coupled with his wide-ranging and thorough grasp of science and science fiction, makes him an ideal guest. Rob's real gift is the ability to find the most compelling and correct metaphor, guiding viewers effortlessly through a landscape they might otherwise find forbidding or inaccessible. He made more appearances on Prisoners of Gravity (a show about the intersection of science and science fiction which I co-created and co-produced for five seasons) than any other guest — more often than Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, or William Gibson. I have repeatedly recommended Mr. Sawyer to producers with the CBC, Discovery, and CTV and many have called me back to thank me for his name."

Mark Askwith
Producer
TVOntario and Space (Bell Media)


"Robert Sawyer is not only a brilliant writer but also an insightful broadcaster who is as compelling to watch on television as he is to read in print. Robert has mastered the skill of turning his powerful visions of the future into relevant and thought-provoking commentary on the major issues facing us today."

Paul Lewis
Executive Producer
The Discovery Channel


"It was a pleasure to work with you, and I look forward to the next time."

Annette Heist
Producer
Talk of the Nation: Science Friday
National Public Radio


"Great interview! Thanks for being informed, eloquent, and fun. We got a lot of calls afterwards asking about you, your book, etc. Let's be in touch, and let us know when the next book is available. Till then, Thanks again!

Mark Goldberg
Morning Drive-Time Host
KRDO-FM
Colorado Springs, Colorado


"Thanks for talking with me on WBAA's AM920 Magazine. It was a pleasure to talk with you again. You made the scientific theories and issues raised in Calculating God come to life for our listeners. It was an enlightening and enjoyable hour. I look forward to talking with you again."

Dan Skinner
Manager
Public Radio WBAA AM & FM
West Lafayette, Indiana


"Robert J. Sawyer has twice been my guest for the full two hours of KINN's Afternoon Alamogordo. His books encompass so many topical themes, there's never a lack of discussion ideas. Having him on the air is like hitting the warp-drive button: times goes way too fast. Robert Sawyer's the perfect guest: a writer with great ideas, thoughtful topics, and a future vision that can't be ignored."

— Mike Shinabery
Host, Afternoon Alamogordo
KINN-FM, Alamogordo, New Mexico


"When asked who my favourite person in the world to interview is, my answer is always 100% Robert J. Sawyer, because he's so smart and his answers are always killer."

— Teddy Wilson
Host, InnerSpace
Space (Bell Media)


"At last count, I've interviewed Robert J. Sawyer seventeen times, covering ten novels and various awards. He's always entertaining and extremely well-versed in the science behind his stories, whether it's alien messages, computers, dinosaurs, or murder."

Key Day
News Director
CHAY-FM, Barrie, Ontario


"In 139 episodes of Prisoners of Gravity, the one guest we would tape for 30 minutes and have all 30 minutes end up on the air was Rob Sawyer. When we needed a quote on a subject, we'd phone him up, he'd come boogying down to our studio, give us twelve pithy quotes, and go home again."

Rick Green
Host, Prisoners of Gravity
TVOntario


Praise for the Novels of Robert J. Sawyer

"A new novel by Robert J. Sawyer is always a major event." — Quill & Quire: Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews

"A friend of mine used to ask, 'Why are you still writing that spaceship stuff?' Now I can answer. Because this is possible." —  Orson Scott Card in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction on Golden Fleece

"A tour de force. Vastly enjoyable, beautifully realized." —  Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine on Far-Seer

"Thoughtful and compelling; belongs in most science-fiction collections." —  Library Journal on Fossil Hunter

"Sawyer deserves a round of vigorous applause." —  Analog on Foreigner

"Refreshing fun and thought-provoking entertainment." —  Booklist on End of an Era

"A terrific mix of science, technological derring-do, and murder. A great story; a crackerjack novel." —  The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper on The Terminal Experiment

"An enormous grab bag of ideas and a whole lot of fun." —  The New York Review of Science Fiction on Starplex

"Exciting and engrossing." —  Kirkus on Frameshift

"An intriguing mystery and some of the best trial scenes in science fiction. Add another hit to Sawyer's string." —  Science Fiction Chronicle on Illegal Alien

"Sawyer's finest novel to date: scientifically plausible, fictionally intriguing, and ethically important." —  New Scientist on Factoring Humanity

"Terrific, a first-rate philosophical journey. Should have wide appeal." —  Publishers Weekly on FlashForward (starred review)

"Spectacular. This is unusually thoughtful SF." — Publishers Weekly on Calculating God

"One of the year's best." — San Francisco Chronicle on Hominids

"Extremely well done." — Publishers Weekly on Humans

"An anthropological creation worthy of Ursula K. Le Guin." — Science Fiction Weekly on Hybrids

"Sawyer lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums." — Entertainment Weekly on Mindscan

"A novel to be savoured by science-fiction and mainstream readers alike."— The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper on Rollback


Praise for Robert J. Sawyer

"Sawyer is just about the best science fiction writer out there these days." — Denver Rocky Mountain News

"Sawyer is a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." — The New York Times

"Sawyer is Canada's answer to Michael Crichton." — The Montreal Gazette

"Sawyer's novels — intelligent, literate, and immensely readable explorations of the biggest ideas there are — prove that science fiction is now literature." — The Halifax Chronicle-Herald

"Sawyer is a brilliant stylist who depicts daily-life events with a shattered world view." — The Gainesville (Florida) Sun

"Sawyer's novels combine the sheer fun and big ideas of the Golden Age of Science Fiction with modern, literate, flesh-and-blood characterization."
— The Ottawa Citizen

"Sawyer expands his range with every new book; he has elected to forgo the easy path." — Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

"Sawyer is Canada's best speculative fiction writer, by far." — About Books


World Wide Web Site

www.sfwriter.com
Email: sawyer@sfwriter.com


More Good Reading

Rob's Curriculum Vitae
Backgrounder: Science Fiction Awards
Entry on Robert J. Sawyer in Canadian Who's Who
Robert J. Sawyer Novels in the Classroom
Press Release Index
Rob on TV
Radio-TV Interview Report ad for Factoring Humanity
Radio-TV Interview Report ad for Frameshift


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