Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

NASFA 40th anniversary coming up

by Rob - January 4th, 2015.
Filed under: Milestones, NASFA.

I’m hoping Google searches will bring some people here:

On October 16, 1975, Robert J. Sawyer, Richard Gotlib, and Ted Bleaney founded NASFA, the Northview Association for Science Fiction Addicts, based at Northview Heights Secondary School in Willowdale (later North York; later still, Toronto), Ontario, Canada.

We’re having a 40th anniversary reunion party on Saturday, October 24, 2015, at the home of Robert J. Sawyer and Carolyn Clink in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, starting at 3:00 p.m.

All past members of NASFA (“Nasforians,” as we called ourselves) are invited and encouraged to attend. (And we’re defining “members” loosely here: if you were an occasional attendee or just fondly remember the NASFA gang from your days at Northview Heights, you’re more than welcome to attend!)

For address and directions, email me at

NASFA was a major part of my life: I met my wife there, as well as and many of the people who are still my very best friends, a fact attested to by how many of my books are dedicated to NASFA members:

Our staff sponsors were Robert E. Howley and Joe Marcynuk.

(The photo above shows Bob Howley and Rob Sawyer at Northview’s 50th reunion in May 2007.)

NASFA also had a spinoff / alumni group for several years called SST: The Society for Speculative Thinking. All former SST members are welcome at this reunion, as well!

NASFA organized three one-day science-fiction conventions in Toronto:

  • NASFACON, in 1977, with Judith Merril as one of the Guests of Honour;

  • NASFACON TWO, in 1979, with Phyllis Gotlieb as a GoH;

  • and NASFACON THREE, in 1982, with John Robert Colombo among the GoHs.

By the way, the 20th anniversary NASFA reunion is where I got the idea for my novel FlashForward, which deals with people having foreknowledge of what their lives will be like 20 years in the future.

If you’re a former member of NASFA or know any NHSS alumni from that era (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983), please help spread the word.

Carolyn and I hosted NASFA reunion parties in 1985 (10th anniversary), 1990 (15th anniversary), 1995 (20th anniversary), 2000 (25th anniversary), 2005 (30th anniversary), and 2010 (35th anniversary) — and we’re doing it again here in 2015 (40th anniversary). We’re very much looking forward to seeing old friends!

Here are some of my reminiscences about NASFA, taken from a 10,000-word autobiography of me published in Gale’s Contemporary Authors in 2004:

In October 1975, when I was beginning Grade 10, I made friends with a guy named Rick Gotlib, who was in my Latin class (yes, Latin was an oddball choice — but I thought it would help me to understand scientific terms; I was planning on becoming a scientist). We both had an interest in science fiction, and spent one lunch period trying to stump each other with trivia questions. Rick and I figured there had to be other science-fiction fans in the school, and so decided to start a science-fiction club: the Northview Association for Science Fiction Addicts, or NASFA (Afsan, the main character in my novels Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner, is NASFA spelled backwards).

The first meeting was a great success, and, to our surprise and delight, a large number of pretty girls joined the club — an unexpected bonus. I’d never really had female friends prior to this — the street I’d grown up on was filled with boys — but suddenly I did. Most of the people who joined the club were older than Rick and I were (back then, Ontario High School went to Grade 13, meaning some of our members were eighteen at the beginning of the year, and nineteen by the time it ended).

And then a miracle occurred: the teachers went on strike. For months, Northview Heights Secondary School — and all the other high schools in Ontario — were closed. But we decided to keep holding NASFA meetings anyway during that period, once a week at different people’s houses.

It was an unusual situation: a couple of Grade 10 boys hanging out with boys and girls in Grades 11, 12, and even 13. But since there were no classes to worry about during the strike, we were treated as equals; all that mattered was how clever or funny we could be. Indeed, to my astonishment, I soon found myself dating a gorgeous girl named Lorian Fraser who was two grades ahead of me — quite a heady experience for a guy who, in junior high, had been very awkward around girls.

I’d hung around with some bad kids in junior high, but had avoided getting entangled in the smoking, drinking, and drugs they were experimenting with. There’s always been something in me that was averse to peer-group pressure: when bell-bottomed pants came into style in the late 1960s, I refused to wear them, making my mother drive me all over town looking for stores that still had straight legs. And, until I was in my 20s, I never wore blue jeans, despite the fact — or more precisely, because of the fact — that everybody else was wearing them.

But the science-fiction crowd in high school never got into trouble. Not one of us smoked, no one was using drugs, and only a few occasionally drank. (Robert Charles Wilson, another SF writer and one of my closest friends, noted recently that I’ve never developed adult vices: to this day, I don’t drive and I don’t drink, but I’ve got a real fondness for chocolate milk, potato chips, and pizza.)

Still, we members of NASFA had incredible amounts of fun, and I felt intellectually stimulated all the time. Several members of the club talked about wanting to write science fiction, but it seemed clear that I was the only one who was really serious about it, and in the summer after grade ten, I made my first-ever submission to a science-fiction magazine. The story, quite rightly, was rejected, but I wasn’t discouraged. On the contrary, I was rather impressed by the simplicity of the process: anyone, anywhere, could send in a story, and it would be seriously considered for publication.

If you were a NASFA member, come to the reunion. Until then, live long and prosper!
Robert J. Sawyer online:

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