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


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Rob's Blog (Older Entries)

In Chronological Order

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I've been blogging since even before 27 September 1999, starting
with journal entries in the section devoted to my work on
CompuServe's Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum, 
but below are the oldest ones I've salvaged from there.

(My current blog is here.)

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27 September 1999

I'm delighted to announce the sale of one new short story, and 
five reprints.  

Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers have bought my 6,300-word 
short story "The Shoulders of Giants" for their anthology 
STAR COLONIES, to be published by DAW next year.

Meanwhile, Edo van Belkom, the editor of genre-fiction titles for 
Canada's Quarry Press (one of Canada's most prestigious literary 
presses), has bought reprint rights to my stories "Just Like Old 
Times" (marking this story's seventh English-language 
publication) and "Peking Man" for his anthology AURORA AWARD 
WINNERS.  "Just Like Old Times" was originally commissioned for 
Mike Resnick's anthology DINOSAUR FANTASTIC, and "Peking Man" was 
originally commissioned for Ed Kramer's DARK DESTINY III.  The 
anthology will be out next month in trade paperback.

And Peter Sellers (president of the Crime Writers of Canada) has 
bought reprint rights to "Just Like Old Times" (the story's 
eighth seventh English-language publication) for his anthology 
(and a companion to the above) ARTHUR ELLIS AWARD WINNERS.  The 
Arthurs are the Canadian mystery-fiction awards.  That anthology 
should be out before the end of the year.

And Peter Sellers, as my coeditor on the book OVER THE EDGE: 
STORIES BY MEMBERS OF THE CRIME WRITERS OF CANADA, has bought 
reprint rights to my Hugo Award-nominated story "The Hand You're 
Dealt" for that book.  That story originally appeared in the Tor 
anthology FREE SPACE, edited by Brad Linaweaver and Edward E. 
Kramer.

Meanwhile, Edo van Belkom (again!) has bought reprint rights to 
my HOMer-Award winning story "Above It All" for an all-horror 
special issue of CANADIAN HORROR FICTION, a special anthology 
under the aegis of CANADIAN FICTION MAGAZINE, one of Canada's 
leading literary magazines.   "Above It All" originally appeared 
in the anthology DANTE'S DISCIPLES, edited by Peter Crowther and 
Edward E. Kramer.

Like all authors, I love reprint sales -- found money is the best 
kind <grin>.

=================================================================

27 September 1999

The dates have been set for next year's Taddle Creek Summer 
Writers' Workshop at the University of Toronto:  Friday, June 30, 
to Monday, July 3, 2000 (at Hart House, on the U of T main campus 
right smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto).

For many Canadians, Monday, July 3 is a holiday (since Canada Day 
falls on a Saturday in 2000), so in theory most people can do 
this four-day workshop with only one day taken off from work.

I will be returning to teach science-fiction writing.  A sterling 
crop of mainstream Canadian literature writers will be teaching 
other forms; those writers are Barry Callaghan, Stephanie 
Bolster, Austin Clarke, Douglas Fetherling, M.T. Kelly, Erin 
Moure, and Molly Peacock.

The workshop will see participants spending morning sessions 
workshoping with the writer of their choice; afternoon sessions 
on various topics of general interest given by the various 
writers; evening social events and readings.  Last year's tuition 
was Cdn$400 (less than US$270); next year's rate should be 
similar.  Groups are small, and there's plenty of opportunity to 
network with all the teachers and students.

I have to say, I had just the greatest time teaching this last 
year, and my students really seemed to enjoy it, too.  I'll post 
full details and registration information when it becomes 
available in January 2000.

=================================================================

28 September 1999

I'm delighted to announce that I will be the Guest Speaker at the 
Jefferson Community College North Country Writers' Festival, to 
be held at the Watertown, New York, campus (way upstate in New 
York, near the Canadian border on the west end of Lake Ontario) 
of Jefferson Community College, part of the State University of 
New York, Tuesday, April 25, to Thursday, April 27, 2000.  The 
conference theme will be "Different Worlds," and will center 
around science-fiction writing.

I'll provide more details as we get closer to the date.  The 
college's web site is at www.sunyjefferson.edu.

=================================================================

29 September 1999

An amazingly hot and humid day today in Toronto ... but a good 
day, nonetheless.

Orson Scott Card is in town today, promoting ENDER'S SHADOW.  
Carolyn and I had a terrific dinner with him and a few of the 
fine folk from H.B. Fenn this evening.

=================================================================

30 September 1999

Had one of those classic wannabe-writer phone calls just now; I 
find myself getting more and more terse with these guys.  
(There's a president of a local amateur writers' club who seems 
to think he should give out my number to everyone who wants to 
write SF.)  I hate being rude to people under any circumstances, 
but, gee whiz, this guy was a particular classic.

His first question was:  "Would you like to collaborate?"  I 
replied by simply saying "No."

His second question was:  "Would you introduce me to your agent?"  
I replied also with the single word "No."

His third question was:  "Is this a one-off phone call, or can I 
call you repeatedly?"  My answer, of course, "It's a one-off."

He then asked some more general questions -- the ones they always 
ask, about copyright and manuscript format and how much they'll 
get paid.  I answered briefly, but then he came back to the 
collaboration question again.  By this point, I was probably 
quite curt.  I said, "I've spent twenty years honing my skills 
and building my name as a professional writer; you bring nothing 
of value to the table, and it's insulting to suggest that I 
should simply give you everything I've attained."

And, of course, he hinted around repeatedly that I should read 
something he's written to let him know if it's any good.

I really, really do try to live by Heinlein's edict, and pay 
forward whenever I can, but, good golly, this sort of intrusion 
does get tiresome.

=================================================================

1 October 1999

Just a note to remind y'all of my two Guest of Honor stints in 
October.

October 8-10, I'm Guest of Honor at Context XII in Columbus, 
Ohio.

October 29-31, I'm Guest of Honor at Concinnity in Ottawa, 
Ontario.

In between those two Guest of Honor stints, I'm Master of 
Ceremonies at the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention in 
Fredericton, New Brunswick, October 15-17 . . .

=================================================================

2 October 1999

Had a wonderful day today.  Went to York University's Glendon 
College, where they teach a course in "Religion and Science 
Fiction."  The class had just finished reading my Far-Seer, so I 
went to meet the students.

They were a terrific group, and one student made what I thought 
was a truly insightful observation:  she pointed out that there 
is a tendency in my work for God to appear as nonanthropomorphic 
(such as the false god known as the "Face of God" in Far-Seer, 
and the more-or-less true God, the Watcher, in Fossil Hunter).  
She opined that this might in fact by related to my upbringing as 
a Unitarian -- Unitarians being a Christian denomination who 
reject the divinity of Christ (which is why they are Unitarians, 
as opposed to Trinitarians), in other words, who reject the 
anthropomorphizing of God. The professor, Paul Fayter, is doing a 
critical study on my work, and said he would incorporate the 
student's idea.  I must say the idea surprised me -- I hadn't 
been conscious of any impact that particular aspect of my 
upbringing had had on my work, but it certainly seems to make 
sense.

I always find going to classes that have been studying my books 
particularly energizing.  And, lucky me, I get to do another one 
this month:  Toronto's Humber College teaches my THE TERMINAL 
EXPERIMENT, and I'm going to drop in for a visit there.  Early 
next year, I'm going to a different SF course at York; in that 
one, they teach Factoring Humanity.  York and the University of 
Toronto have a real rivalry going, so it will be interesting to 
see how the York students take to a book set at U of T ...

=================================================================

6 October 1999

Had lunch today with my editor, David G. Hartwell, and fellow 
writer Terence M. Green (David is visiting Toronto).  The good 
news is that Tor's trade paperback reissue of my first novel 
Golden Fleece has been printed!  It should start showing up in 
stores over the next few weeks.

I'm delighted to have this book back in print!

=================================================================

7 October 1999

Carolyn and I are off to Columbus, Ohio, tomorrow, where I'll be 
Guest of Honor at ConText XII.  We're really looking forward to 
it!

As most of you know, I sell copies of my books, old and new, 
directly through my web site.   Yesterday was the biggest single 
day for book orders I've ever had -- twenty-two assorted titles, 
from seven different customers!

Tonight is the Toronto SF community's monthly pub night; Carolyn 
and I are looking forward to that -- we've missed the last couple 
of events because we've been out of town.

=================================================================

11 October 1999

Carolyn and I had a fabulous time this weekend.  I was Author 
Guest of Honor and she was Poet Guest of Honor at the SF 
convention Context XII in Columbus, Ohio.

It was a FABULOUS convention.  Mike Resnick had characterized it 
as the Readercon of the Midwest, and that's bang on target.  I've 
been to SF conventions with five times as many people where there 
were fewer actual readers.

The hotel was an older one, but its facilities were just fine. 
Sadly, though, it's slated to be demolished in two weeks.  The 
staff was very pleasant, despite the fact that they were all soon 
to be out of work.  The bartenders were particularly liberal with 
the mixed drinks, seeing no reason not to drain their bottles 
before the closing came.

There was a great group of other writers present, including old 
friend Ron Sarti, Maureen McHugh (who I finally met face to 
face), Jack Nimersheim, Yvonne Navarro, J.R. Dunn, Carol 
Ottolenghi-Barga, Linda Dunn, Geoffrey Landis, Mary Turzillo, 
and others.

I gave a very well received reading of the opening chapter of 
Calculating God; this is the third time I've read that at a con, 
and people seem to really like it -- I sure hope they like the 
rest of the book as much!

My Guest of Honor speech -- "The Future is Already Here:  Is 
There a Place for Science Fiction in the 21st Century?" was also 
very well received, which was nice.  Ron Sarti went so far as to 
say it was the best GoH speech he'd ever heard.

I was on lots of panels.  One of the best was on the impacts of 
genetic research:  very lively, very informative.

A special treat was getting to see the new Tor edition of GOLDEN 
FLEECE for the first time:  Sally Kobee from Larry Smith 
Booksellers had managed to get five in time for the convention 
(it was just printed last week) and they all sold out, along with 
lots of copies of my other books.  The new edition looks 
absolutely terrific; I'm thrilled with it.

Another nice thing:  THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH did a huge (2/3 page), 
very flattering article about me and my work in last Wednesday's 
edition -- the books reporter there turns out to be a big fan of 
my work.

The only downside to the convention was the trip down:  we were 
flying aboard a Dash-8, a little Turbo prop (the only direct 
flight from Toronto to Columbus), and there was tons of 
turbulence, owing to bad weather.  On the other hand, the trip 
back last night was very relaxing and pleasant, with the plane 
almost completely empty.

This is the first of five consecutive weekends I'm spending at SF 
conventions:  next weekend, I'm off to Fredericton, New Brunswick 
for the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention, at which 
I'm toastmaster.

=================================================================

11 October 1999

So I get a nice invitation to be a program participant at Boskone 
in Massachusetts in February 2000, and I say to myself, February 
in 2000, well, sure, I can't think of anything I'm doing then, 
but before saying yes, I check my electronic time-planner just to 
be sure, and what do I discover but that Toronto's Ad Astra 19 
will be held the same weekend as Boskone next year, and I'm 
already committed to being at Ad Astra.

Ad Astra used to be a summer convention, but they've moved to 
February because of hotel troubles.  I just wished they'd picked 
a different weekend! Boston and Toronto are close enough to each 
other that attending both would have been a real possibility for 
lots of people.

=================================================================

12 October 1999

As some of you may know, except for advances on books, authors 
basically get paid twice a year -- when royalty checks are issued 
in April and October.  Well, today was payday, at least as far as 
the titles represented by my old agent, Richard Curtis, was 
concerned.  It's nice to see that all of my in-print books that 
he represents (Starplex and Illegal Alien from Ace, as well as 
The Terminal Experiment from HarperPrism), are still generating 
nice royalty amounts.

For those curious about how such things work, the April royalty 
payment covers the preceeding July to December, and the October 
payment covers the preceeding January to June.

=================================================================

14 October 1999

We all make mistakes, but I just ran across one of Isaac Asimov's 
that made me smile.

In his introduction to the 1987 Signet anthology ISAAC ASIMOV'S 
NEANDERTHALS, he writes, "In 1911, a nearly complete skeleton of 
Neanderthal man was studied by a French scientist, Pierre Boule."

Nope.  Pierre Boulle -- with two L's -- wrote the novel PLANET OF 
THE APES; it was Marcellin Boule who studied the Neaderthal 
fossil.

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15 October 1999

I'm off to Fredericton, New Brunswick, today for the Canadian 
National Science Fiction Convention -- the CanVention -- at which 
I'll be Master of Ceremonies.

The Aurora Awards will be presented at a banquet there.  My 
Factoring Humanity is a nominee, but even if I don't win, I'd say 
the chances are good that I'll be bringing back a trophy or two 
anyway.  I'm the designated accepter for Robert Charles Wilson in 
the novel category, both David Shtogryn and Edo van Belkom in the 
short-story category, Edo van Belkom (again) in the "Other" 
category for his interview collection NORTHERN DREAMERS, Chris 
Krejlgaard for PARSEC magazine, also in the "Other" category, and 
Lloyd Penney in one of the fan categories.  (Fredericton is a 
LONG way from Toronto <grin>, so not too many of the nominees 
from here are making it out there.)

Tanya Huff is the convention's Guest of Honor -- and a better 
choice I can't think of; she was born in the Maritimes, and so is 
the only significant Atlantic Canadian SF writer.  She and I are 
on the same flight from Toronto (she has to take a train in to 
Toronto from where she lives, out near Kingston, Ontario, where 
she lives now, to get the flight).  Tanya and I have been friends 
for twenty years, but don't see each other nearly often enough.  
It'll be great to get to sit with her for a couple of hours and 
just chat.

I'm staying in Fredericton until Monday morning, so that I can do 
the Dead Dog party Sunday night.  Talk to y'all when I get back!

=================================================================

21 October 1999

The Canadian National Science Fiction Convention in Fredericton, 
New Brunswick, this past weekend was great fun.  It was a VERY 
small convention -- Fredericton is pretty darn remote and very 
expensive to fly to.  Just 75 people, give or take.  But 
nonetheless I had a fabulous time.  Tanya Huff, one of my 
favorite people, was Guest of Honor, and we were on the same 
flight to/from Toronto on the way out and the way back, so we got 
to spend lots of time chatting.

I gave yet another reading of the opening of Calculating God, 
and, yet again, it was very well received.  I was also Master of 
Ceremonies for the Aurora Awards, which came off very well this 
year.  Factoring Humanity came in second; the winner -- 
deservedly so -- was DARWINIA by my good friend Robert Charles 
Wilson; it was an honor to accept the trophy on his behalf.  For 
short fiction, Edo van Belkom got the nod for his 
alternate-history story "Hockey's Night in Canada;" I was also 
Edo's designated accepter.  And in the "Other" category, the 
anthology ARROWDREAMS, in which Edo's story appeared, took the 
award.

(Monday night -- the day after the con -- Carolyn and I hosted 
our quarterly party for Toronto-area SF professionals; we had a 
particularly good turnout -- almost ran out of sandwiches and did 
run out of pizza! -- and the highlight of the evening was me 
re-presenting the Aurora trophies to Edo and Bob.)

The Fredericton crew put on a terrific buffet banquet prior to 
the awards ceremony on Saturday night, and this year's Aurora 
trophies were the nicest I'd ever seen (they were the standard 
Franklyn Johnson design, but Frank had done an exceptional job on 
the workmanship this year).

After MCing the Auroras, I was master of ceremonies for the 
masquerade.  I kept the audience occupied while we waited for the 
judges' decisions with a spontaneous Canadian science-fiction 
trivia quiz ("Name Terence M. Green's 1987 short-story 
collection."  "What's the name of the SF specialty store in 
Vancouver, British Columbia?"  "Name the member of the Stratford, 
Ontario, Shakespeare company who provided the voice of HAL 9000."  
etc. etc.  Lots of fun.)

Sunday was the CanVention business meeting, which lasted three 
hours. Although there was much controversial stuff -- including a 
proposal that died without a seconder to give the French Aurora 
Awards a separate ballot, different deadline, and separate awards 
ceremony -- the meeting was actually almost congenial, and very 
productive.

Considerable discussion ensued about the fact that the only bid 
to be designated as next year's CanVention was the con "TT2000" 
-- where TT, historically, has stood for Toronto Trek.  Now, 
Toronto Trek has a sterling reputation as a media con, but there 
was much debate about whether they were an appropriate venue for 
presenting the Auroras.  There was also concern that this date 
might conflict with Readercon (the 2000 Readercon date is listed 
as "TBA" on their web site).  Ultimately, though, the TT2000 bid 
was accepted.

Two substantive changes to the Aurora rules passed (although they 
have to be ratified at next year's CanVention to become 
official):  novels, which previously had been eligible for two 
years will now only be eligible for one year, a recognition of 
the fact that there are now so many good Canadian SF novels 
published each year that we don't have to worry about having a 
problem coming up with five decent nominees (this year's ballot 
was an example:  all the works were 1998 books, and of the five 
nominees, two were also Hugo finalists, two more were World 
Fantasy Award finalists, and one of the WFA finalists was also a 
top-ten GLOBE AND MAIL bestseller in Canada).

The other change will require works to receive at least five 
nominations (instead of the current minimum of two) or a minimum 
of 10% of all nominations cast in that category, whichever is 
higher, to appear on the ballot, and any category that has fewer 
than three nominees will be declared vacant for the year, with no 
award given.  This won't affect the English pro awards, but may 
have an impact on the fan and French awards.

The big topics of gossip at the con was the fact that a member of 
SF Canada (a ten-year-old writers' group) had absconded with all 
of the organization's funds, putting the group's future in real 
jeopardy (gee, and I thought I'd had problems to deal with when I 
was SFWA president!).

The hotel was excellent -- an older, but rather classy hotel, 
with a staff that really seemed delighted to have the con on 
site.  Sunday night, I had dinner with a couple of Fredericton 
friends not attending the con, then headed back for a very 
pleasant dead-dog party.  Right next door to the hotel was the 
local art gallery, with three fabulous Salvidor Dali paintings, 
including one that was two stories high.  Very impressive.

All in all, a great weekend!

=================================================================

21 October 1999

I've been visiting the halls of academia.

Yesterday, I returned to my alma mater, Ryerson Polytechnic 
University in Toronto, to give a talk to an organization called 
the LIFE Forum ("Learning Is For Ever"), a group of retired 
faculty members.  I gave a talk about SF, then signed books.  
After that, I was interviewed for an hour and a half by a 
reporter for the Ryerson student newspaper, who had certainly 
done her homework!  She had lots of excellent questions to ask 
me.

We then went over to the World's Biggest Bookstore (the world's 
first book superstore, just a block from Ryerson).  To my 
delight, they had a total of 104 mass-market paperbacks by me on 
hand (assorted The Terminal Experiment, Frameshift, ILLEGAL 
ALIEN, and Factoring Humanity), plus 21 hardcovers of 
FlashForward.  Quite an impressive display!  Of course, I signed 
all the copies before I left.

That evening, Carolyn and I went out to Pearson (Toronto's 
airport) to meet John Mansfield, the chair of the 1994 World SF 
Convention, for dinner; John had a six-hour stopover on his way 
to England.  We had a great time!

Today, I met this morning with Peter Sellers, to put the final, 
final touches on the anthology of mystery fiction we've been 
editing for the Crime Writers of Canada.  Then I went down to 
Humber College, to give a reading and talk. They teach THE 
TERMINAL EXPERIMENT there -- and, to my delight, I was told that 
the bookstore had sold out 130 copies of the book, the largest 
number (and the only 100% sell-through) they've ever had for a 
novel in the campus bookstore in a single semester.

After that, it was up to the beautiful McMichael Canadian 
Collection -- one of Canada's most important art galleries -- for 
a book launch for the 10th annual EARLY HARVEST anthology of 
writing and art by young adults in Vaughan (the city I actually 
live in, just north of Toronto); Carolyn and I edited the 1994 
and 1995 editions.

All in all, a busy -- but very pleasant -- couple of days!

=================================================================

24 October 1999

Many of you who attend eastern US/Canada cons will know my 
brother-in-law, the affable David Livingstone Clink.  Well, I'm 
pleased as punch to announce that David, who, like his sister and 
my wife, Carolyn Clink, is already quite an accomplished poet, 
has just sold a poem called "First Contact" to Stanley Schmidt at 
ANALOG.

For more on Dave and his work, see his web site at: 
www.poetrymachine.com

=================================================================

24 October 1999

I've finished the third of the five conventions I'm doing on 
consecutive weekends.  Because of other commitments (Carolyn's 
poetry writers' workshop, and a 20th anniversary party for the 
Harbourfront International Festival of Authors), we are not 
attending the con today (Sunday).

Primedia was SMALL -- highest badge number we saw was 1293, and 
they started numbering at 1200 -- but nonetheless we had a great 
time.  I gave another reading of the opening of Calculating God, 
and, to my astonishment, it had the highest turnout, I'm told, of 
any panel/reading/etc. at the con, about 30 people.  It went over 
very well.

More interesting, though, was the presentation Michael Lennick 
and I did later on Saturday afternoon.  This one was entitled 
"Illegal Alien: From Novel to Screenplay."  Michael, as some of 
you may recall, is the screenwriter adapting my novel ILLEGAL 
ALIEN for film.  Usually, the author has no input into this 
process, but I am a consultant on this film, and so have been 
kept in the loop an inordinate amount.  Everybody thought the 
panel was fascinating, talking about what things in the book had 
to be changed in order to make it work as a screenplay or a film.  

Despite the small size of the convention, lots of good people 
were on hand, including a significant percentage of the buying SF 
editors in Canada:  Edo van Belkom, who runs the SF line for 
Quarry Press; Sally Tomasevic and Marcel Gagne, who run 
TRANSVERSIONS; Don Hutchison, the editor of the NORTHERN FRIGHTS 
anthology series; and Julie E. Czerneda, who edits a line of 
anthologies using SF stories to teach high-school science for 
textbook publisher Trifolium Books.  So, a good con to do 
business at.  

Saturday night, twelve of us had a fabulous dinner out at a 
nearby all-you-can-eat Italian buffet, then returned to the con 
for a double book launch (for a small-press horror/romance by 
Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, and the latest title from DAW Books by 
Julie E. Czerneda).

Sadly, there was no SF book dealer in the dealers' room; only a 
horror-book dealer (and, judging by the appreciative murmurs Edo 
van Belkom kept making over the stock, a good one, at that).  So, 
I ended up selling copies of my own books directly after my 
panels; I never do that if there's a dealer present -- I never 
undercut a dealer -- but, since there wasn't, we moved a bunch of 
books, which was nice.  (I always have some car stock with me.)

Next con, starting in just five days:  Concinnity, in Ottawa, at 
which I'm Guest of Honor.

=================================================================

25 October 1999

The party this evening for the 20th anniversary of the 
Harbourfront International Festival of Authors was fabulous.  
Lots of great food, and lots of great conversation.  I had a nice 
chat with mystery writer Sara Paretsky about the trouble 
genre-fiction writers have getting respect; a good conversation 
with Philip Marchand, Canada's top book critic; a pleasant cat 
with the host of the Canadian TV show about books (who said that 
the panel discussion Nalo Hopkinson and I did about SF earlier 
this year was widely regarded by the show's producers as the best 
panel they had last season); a fascinating discussion with a 
writer from Pakistan who had been jailed for criticizing the 
authorities; and more.

But there's no rest for a busy writer.  Today, I also reviewed 
the entire copyedited manuscript for Calculating God, reviewed 
the galleys for a short story I have coming up in an anthology, 
and read about 35 pages of a fairly technical book I'm working my 
way through as research for my next novel, plus did about two 
hours of work finishing up the anthology OVER THE EDGE that I'm 
co-editing.

Not bad for a Sunday ... <grin>.

=================================================================

26 October 1999

Today was a blast.  SATURDAY NIGHT -- a Canadian magazine that's 
sort of the northern counterpart of THE NEW YORKER -- had five 
Canadian SF writers participate in a 2.5-hour video conference, 
brainstorming about the process of imagining the future.

In Toronto, Nalo Hopkinson and I, plus two editors from SATURDAY 
NIGHT, were hooked up with Spider Robinson and Don H. DeBrandt in 
Vancouver and Elisabeth Vonarburg in Chicoutimi.  As you might 
expect, the conversation was quite lively, and ranged all over 
the map.  And it had been far too long since I'd seen Spider, 
Don, or Elisabeth, so it was great to spend a couple of hours 
with them, in a virtual sense.

We had two TV monitors in our room; Nalo and I could see Spider 
and Don on one, and Elisabeth on the other; similar setups were 
available to the other participants.

The fruits of all this -- an edited transcript of the session -- 
will appear in the January 2000 issue of SATURDAY NIGHT magazine.

=================================================================

27 October 1999

Today was a day for photographs.

The new issue of the NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION arrived, 
with a nice photo of me and Carolyn, and Stephen Baxter and his 
wife, at the Worldcon in Australia.

And I spent the afternoon down at Toronto's lakeshore having a 
new author photo taken of me (by renowned Canadian horror writer 
and journalist Michael Rowe); my last author photo (that 
hand-on-chin shot that appears in The Terminal Experiment, 
Illegal Alien, Factoring Humanity, and FlashForward) was taken 
five years ago, and, although striking, always seemed a bit dour 
to me.

But it was also a day for paintings ...

Lesley Choyce, the publisher of Pottersfield Press, called my 
editing partner Peter Sellers today to say that he'd secured 
rights to an Alex Colville painting to use on our anthology OVER 
THE EDGE.  Colville, born in 1920, is one of the absolute top 
painters in Canada, so this is a real coup.

=================================================================

29 October 1999

I'm off to my fourth consecutive weekend of con-going.  This 
weekend, I'm Guest of Honor at Concinnity, a convention in 
Ottawa.

Speaking of Ottawa, on Monday, November 15, at 8:00 p.m., at the 
National Library of Canada, Terry Brooks and I will be reading, 
introduced by Charles de Lint.  Admission is just two dollars, 
100% of which will be donated to an Ottawa literacy group.

Just finished reviewing the transcript of the SATURDAY NIGHT 
video conference.  It's surprisingly readable.  The article will 
be in the January 2000 issue.

=================================================================

3 November 1999

I was guest of honor at Concinnity in Ottawa this past weekend. 
It was a tiny convention -- Ottawa has been without a con for a 
few years, since the collapse of CanCon, and this was an attempt 
to get a new one off the ground.  Publicity left much to be 
desired:  they never managed to get a listing in LOCUS's 
convention calendar, and the proprietor of the local SF shop told 
me that flyers first showed up in his store three days before the 
con.

Ah, well.  That didn't stop those of us in attendance from having 
a good time.  For a change, I didn't read from Calculating God -- 
too many of those at the con had already heard me read the 
opening at other conventions.  Instead, I read "Fallen Angel," a 
horror story I'd written for Ed Kramer's forthcoming anthology 
STRANGE ATTRACTION.  I must say, that's one fun story to read 
aloud; I hope to get to read it again soon.

Saturday night was a combination STAR TREK jeopardy game and 
charity auction; I was both the auctioneer and a contestant.  I 
won handily (yes, I know such worthless information as the fact 
that Kirk was born in Iowa; his quarters are on deck 5; the 
Vulcan eden is named Sha-ka-ree in honor of Sean Connery; and 
Malachi Throne played both Commodore Mendez and Romulan Senator 
Pardek).

Carolyn and I left the con just before 1:00 p.m. on Sunday 
afternoon, and did the six-hour drive to Rochester, New York, 
where we had dinner with friends Nick DiChario and Mary Stanton. 
We spent most of yesterday evening and most of today with them, 
as well, while staying at my father's vacation home on 
Canandaigua Lake.  Tomorrow, we head out for the seven-hour drive 
to Milford, Pennsylvania, where I'm signing at Toadstool Books 
that evening (Wednesday) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

=================================================================

3 November 1999

I'm going to be in Canada's capital city of Ottawa on Monday, 
November 15, at 8:00 p.m.  

I'll be reading in the auditorium of the National Library of 
Canada on Wellington Street.  The reading, sponsored by Leishman 
Books, has a $2 admission charge, with all funds gathered donated 
to Ottawa literacy groups.  

The evening, being billed as "A Fantastical Event," features:

                        Robert J. Sawyer
                 Nebula Award-winning author of 
            THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT and FLASHFORWARD

                          Terry Brooks
      Author of STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE and
                        ANGEL FIRE EAST

             both readers introduced by Ottawa's own
                         CHARLES de LINT
                Author of SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING

For more information, contact Leishman Books at (613) 722-8313.

=================================================================

5 November 1999

I am delighted to announce that my agent, Ralph Vicinanza, has 
completed negotiations with David G. Hartwell at Tor for a new 
three-book contract for yours truly.  These will be my 
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth novels.  

The first of the three will be called NEANDERTAL PARALLAX.  
Everyone -- my agent, my publisher, and moi -- seems quite 
pleased with the outline, and I'm now heavily into doing research 
for the book.  

On top of that, Tor has bought reprint rights to my long 
out-of-print time-travel novel End of an Era; they will be 
re-releasing the book in trade paperback.  I'm really delighted 
about this because End of an Era remains, to this day, my 
favorite of all my novels.  (End of an Era, by the way, won both 
this forum's HOMer Award for Best Novel of the Year and Japan's 
Seiun Award for Best Foreign Novel of the Year.)

Tor is the only publisher I've worked with for the last couple of 
years, and, with this new deal, they handily surpass Ace as the 
publisher to have done the largest number of titles by me:  Ace 
did six of my books (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner; End
of an Era; Starplex; and Illegal Alien).  Tor has now contracted 
for a total of seven new novels by me (Frameshift, Factoring 
Humanity, FlashForward, Calculating God, Neandertal Parallax, and 
the prosaically titled Novel #14 and Novel #15), plus the 
trade-paperback reprints of Golden Fleece and End of an Era, for 
a total of nine Sawyer books to have the Tor logo on their 
spines.

I'm extremely grateful to David G. Hartwell and Tor publisher Tom 
Doherty for their ongoing support of me and my work.  Although 
I've done four two-book contracts before, one of those (Far-Seer 
and End of an Era) was for two already-completed manuscripts), 
and another (Frameshift and Factoring Humanity) had one of the 
two books already written.  I've never before had the luxury of a 
THREE-book contract, especially with none of the books yet 
written.  It's nice, in a volatile market, to have some job 
security for the next couple of years, and I'm very thankful for 
it.

=================================================================

9 November 1999

I've been having the most fantastic time on the road.

Wednesday night, Carolyn and I were in Milford, New Hampshire, 
where I signed at The Toadstool Bookshop, a wonderful 
general-interest bookstore with a large SF section.  I've never 
been treated better at a signing.  Factoring Humanity was their 
number-one SF bestseller for October 1999 (and is number three on 
their year-to-date SF bestsellers' list), and prior to my arrival 
they'd sold 32 hardcovers of FlashForward -- a terrific number 
for a single store.

I read a bit from FlashForward, and chatted with a very 
interesting group of people, and, of course, signed books.  

The next day -- Thursday -- Carolyn and I went to Providence, 
Rhode Island.  We spent the afternoon at Brown University, 
meeting with Philip Lieberman, the world's leading expert on 
Neandertal speech capabilities.  He showed us casts of skulls, 
and casts of various primate vocal tracts.  Fascinating stuff!

Thursday evening through Sunday, Carolyn and I were at the World 
Fantasy Convention in Providence.  I had only once before been to 
a WFC -- in 1984, when it was in Ottawa -- and, frankly, I don't 
remember much of that one.  I'd stayed away from WFCs because I'd 
thought, as an SF writer, there wouldn't be much for me.  But I 
had a terrific time -- not quite as good as I'd had at Worldcon, 
but still really, really fine.  (WFC has been described as being 
like Worldcon but without the fans -- it's very heavily skewed 
towards pros and serious book collectors -- but I like fans.)

I had great chats with many writers and editors, including, of 
course, my agent Ralph Vicinanza and his associate Chris Lotts 
(who had details of the sale of Frameshift and Factoring Humanity 
to Spain for me), David G. Hartwell and Jim Minz from Tor, Tor 
publisher Tom Doherty, Betsy Mitchell from Warner, John Helfers 
from Tekno-Books, anthologist Ed Kramer, Warren Lapine from DNA, 
Ian Randall Strock from Artemis, Robert Vardeman, Robert 
Silverberg, Josepha Sherman, Allison Baird, James Hartley, Ron 
Collins, Sean Russell, Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris, and 
lots more.  I don't think I'll go next year -- Corpus Christi is 
a little far afield -- but I'll certainly go to the WFC the year 
after in Montreal.

At the WFC, John Helfers gave me the good news that my short 
story "The Shoulders of Giants" will be the lead story in the 
anthology STAR COLONIES, edited by Marty H. Greenberg and him, 
coming from DAW early next year.  And both John and Ed Kramer 
commissioned new stories from me at the con, which was nice -- 
I've now got a total of four short-story commissions I have to 
fulfill, the most, I think, I've ever had at one time.

My old buddy Bob Eggleton was there, and I told him that Tor 
would be reissuing End of an Era in trade paperback.  He 
immediately sought out Irene Gallo, Tor's art director, and got 
the job of doing the cover, which delights me.

Bob had five cold-cast bronze busts of Toroca, the main character 
from my 1993 novel Fossil Hunter, in the art show; they were 
terrific, and Carolyn and I bought one (the others all sold, as 
well).  (Bob did the cover for Fossil Hunter.)

After the WFC, Carolyn and I drove to Princeton, New Jersey, 
where we spent Sunday night.  (In the car on the way, I wrote a 
500-word piece on SF conventions for THE OTTAWA CITIZEN's books 
section; it will appear in the Sunday, November 14, edition.)

On Monday morning, we went to Princeton University.  I'm 
co-hosting (with the fabulous Gillian Deacon) a special for the 
Discovery Channel Canada about the millennium; it will air 
Sunday, January 2, coast-to-coast in Canada.  Gill is doing the 
historical stuff -- what happened in the last millennium -- and 
I'm doing the futurism stuff -- what will happen in the next 
millennium.

For that, my producer flew down from Toronto to join us, and we 
videotaped me interviewing Dr. Joe Tsien, created of the Doogie 
mice that grabbed headlines around the world back in September 
(the Doogies have an extra gene that gives them enhanced memory, 
and apparently superior intelligence).  And, yup, I got to see 
the Doogies.  (On Tuesday, we tape more for that special at the 
National Air and Space Museum in Washington.)

After Monday's taping, Carolyn and I took the train into Penn 
Station in Manhattan, and went up to the American Museum of 
Natural History.  We spent a good long time talking with Ian 
Tattersall, the curator of anthropology, and got a nice 
behind-the-scenes tour with Gary Sawyer (no relation), the senior 
technician.  

Man, I love this job!

=================================================================

15 November 1999

In theory, my little article about SF conventions appeared in 
today's OTTAWA CITIZEN (Sunday, November 14, 1999), but I haven't 
seen it yet.

Carolyn and I are still on the road.  Picking up the trip report 
where I left off (in New York City on Monday, November 8) ...

On Tuesday, November 9, we arrived in Takoma Park, Maryland, a 
suburb of Washington D.C.; we stayed for two days with Roger 
MacBride Allen, his wife Eleanore Fox, and their son Matthew. 
They have a beautiful house on an acre of land, with a separate 
guest house out back -- which is where Carolyn and I stayed.

That afternoon, we went into the National Air and Space Museum 
(part of the Smithsonian Institution), where I recorded my "stand 
ups" for the Millennium documentary I'm co-hosting for The 
Discovery Channel Canada.  We did the shots of me standing in 
front of Columbia, the Apollo XI command module.  Just call me 
Mr. One-Take:  it was a fairly long standup, but I pulled it off 
in a single take -- although we did a couple more for safety's 
sake.

Afterwards, Carolyn and I headed down the Mall, while the 
Discovery crew gathered "B roll" (the stuff I'm going to talk 
about in voice-over narration).  We went to the Korean War 
Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial -- three 
that always move me every time I see them.  (The Washington 
Monument is currently entirely enclosed in metal scaffolding -- 
it looks sort of like it's covered by a Borg condom.)

That night, Carolyn and I went to Catherine Asaro's house for a 
wonderful home-cooked dinner -- which, after over a week on the 
road, was much appreciated!  I think Catherine and I could have 
gone on talking shop all night long; we had a great time.

The next day, Carolyn and I headed out to the Library of 
Congress, where we got the VIP behind-the-scenes tour before my 
talk.  The talk was very well received; every one seemed to find 
it very interesting, and we had a lively Q&A session afterwards 
that could have gone on much longer, if we'd had the time.

Surprise guests in the audience:  Dick Lynch, coeditor of the 
frequently Hugo-nominated fanzine MIMOSA; Farah Mendlesohn, one 
of the editors of the British SF critical journal EXTRAPOLATIONS.

After, 14 of us (including Dick and Farah) went out to a fabulous 
Chinese restaurant -- the best Chinese food I've ever had.

Carolyn and I then did something utterly fannish:  we went to 
find the part of the Senate office buildings used as the 
establishing shot for Oscar Goldman's office on THE SIX MILLION 
DOLLAR MAN.

We then headed back to Takoma Park, for more fascinating shop 
talk, this time with Roger.  That evening, we took Roger, 
Eleanore, and Matthew out for dinner.

Thursday morning -- the Veteran's Day holiday -- we headed to the 
home (!) of Rick Potts, the director of the Human Origins Project 
at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian 
Institution.  Considering that Rick didn't know me from Adam -- 
or any other putative ancestor <grin> -- it was extraordinarily 
kind of him to take time out on his holiday to have Carolyn and 
me over to his house to chat about Neandertals.

There, we met up with my old buddy Michael Brett-Surman, the 
dinosaur specialist at the Smithsonian.  We went back to his 
place for three fabulous days.  Mike and his wife are great SF 
fans, and they live on two acres of land very close to the 
Chancellorville civil-war battle field (at which Stonewall 
Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops, leading to the 
loss of his arm, and, shortly thereafter, his death).  Mike gave 
as a great tour of the battlefield.

The CBC really wanted me to be in Toronto to do an installment of 
"One on One with Peter Mansbridge" -- a talk show hosted by the 
anchor of the CBC's national nightly TV newscast.  They offered 
to fly me from Washington to Toronto, and then back down to 
Washington again after the interview, which would have taken 
place at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, but I didn't want to take time out 
from seeing Mike and Kim to do that.  Still, it's nice to be 
wanted!

On Saturday night, we all drove out to Maclean, Virginia, to 
rendezvous with Jim Gurney, the author of DINOTOPIA.  Jim was on 
the tail-end of a five-week (!) book tour promoting the latest 
DINOTOPIA book.  We all went out to a terrific Turkish 
restaurant.  It turned out that Jim had recently done a 
Neandertal reconstruction for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, so we had a 
great time chatting about both Neandertals and dinosaurs.  We 
were joined by Jim's publicist at HarperPrism, who is now working 
with Josette Kurey, who used to be my publicist at Tor ...

(By coincidence, about two weeks ago I was offered the job of 
writing one of the DINOTOPIA young-adult novels; I was flattered, 
but I turned it down -- I've got plenty on my plate as it is.)

We spent Sunday driving from Virginia to my dad's vacation home 
on Canandaigua Lake, where we spent the night.

Tomorrow, we'll head back to Toronto -- although I'll only make 
it as far as the airport.  Carolyn will drop me there, and then I 
fly to Ottawa for Monday night's readings by me and Terry Brooks 
at the National Library of Canada, introduced by Charles de Lint.

I've gotten a lot of work done on the road, thanks to my trusty 
laptop (I'm writing this in the car, while Carolyn drives), but I 
am looking forward to getting home, at least for a little bit. 
But it's only for a little bit:  two weeks today we leave for 
Barcelona, Spain, so that I can give the keynote address at this 
year's Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya "Premio UPC de 
Ciencia Ficcion" award ceremony.

=================================================================

17 November 1999

Final installment of my trip report:

Monday was a crazy day:  we left upstate New York around 9:30, 
and drove to Toronto.  Carolyn dropped me off at Toronto's 
airport on her way back to our home, and I flew to Ottawa (it's 
just a one-hour flight), getting in about 5:00 p.m.

At 6:00 p.m., I met Terry Brooks and his wife Judene at Wilfrid's 
in the Chateau Laurier hotel, and we had a lovely dinner in 
advance of our reading/signing at the National Library.

We got a crowd of 125 people, which was nice ... and even nicer, 
there were hardly any wookiee-heads present.  Perhaps because the 
event didn't start until 8:00 p.m. on a school night, very few of 
Terry's STAR WARS readers showed up.  Charles de Lint read 
briefly, then introduced me, then Terry.  We each read for about 
20 minutes (I read from FlashForward), then did a Q&A session 
(one guy asked Terry a lengthy question about Jar Jar Binks, 
which began, "Would you care to comment on ..."  After the 
questioner was finally finished, Terry simply said, "No," to a 
big round of applause).

But I must say I got the biggest laugh of the evening.  Terry and 
Charles had both commented on the fact that I'm somewhat younger 
than either of them.  I got even when one of the questions from 
the audience was, "What did you read as schoolboys?"  My 
response:  "Charles de Lint and Terry Brooks."  It brought the 
house down.

Afterwards, we all signed books for what I thought was a 
surprisingly long time.  The sponsoring bookstore, Ottawa's 
Lieshman's, seemed very pleased with sales.  (And the had the 
Canadian debut of the trade paperback edition of Golden Fleece on 
hand, which was great.)

I stayed overnight in Ottawa at the Radisson.  To my delight, the 
coffee shop was closed for renovations, so I had breakfast in La 
Ronde, the revolving restaurant on the roof of the Radisson, with 
a fabulous view of Canada's capital; La Ronde normally isn't open 
until lunch.

I spent Tuesday following up on offers made in a couple of fan 
letters I'd received in the last year.  One was from a scientist 
who worked for the National Research Council of Canada:  he said 
if I was ever in Ottawa, I should give him a call.  Well, of 
course, I set it up weeks ago, but I spent the morning and lunch 
at the NRC, getting a terrific behind the scenes tour, including 
having my entire clothed body scanned in 3D, and turned into a 
manipulatable computer file, and visiting their virtual-reality 
lab, which really is cutting edge, allowing you to interact with 
the projected objects.

Meanwhile, another fan letter had been from Mauril Belanger, a 
Member of Canada's Parliament.  He'd written to say how much he'd 
been enjoying my books, so I went to see him at the House of 
Commons, and afterwards had dinner with him and his wife in the 
Parliamentary Dining Room.  Way cool!  Sheila Copps, Canada's 
Minister of Culture, came over to say hello while we were eating.

After that, I flew back to Toronto.  All told, I was on the road 
for nineteen days.  It was a terrific trip -- Guest of Honor in 
Ottawa; guest lecturing in Rochester; signing in New Hampshire; 
the World Fantasy Convention; meeting with Neandertal experts at 
Brown University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the 
Smithsonian; my talk at the Library of Congress; filming 
documentary footage for The Discovery Channel Canada at Princeton 
and the National Air and Space Museum; touring Civil War 
battlefields; dinners with writers Nick DiChario, Marcos 
Donnelly, and Mary Stanton; Catherine Asaro; Roger MacBride 
Allen; James Gurney; and Terry Brooks; staying at the home of a 
Smithsonian paleontologist; reading at the National Library of 
Canada; visiting the National Research Council of Canada; and a 
dinner with a member of parliament.  

As I say, a terrific trip -- but I'm glad it's over, and I'm 
delighted to be back home.

=================================================================

17 November 1999

The Discovery Channel Canada has a nifty web site, which includes 
a section called THE SEX FILES, that deals with the science of 
human reproduction.

Well, if you go to the link below, you'll find an article about 
what SF writers think sex will be like in the future; it contains 
interviews with Robert J. Sawyer, Melissa Scott, Phyllis Gotlieb, 
and Ben Bova.

    http://exn.ca/html/templates/mastertop.cfm?ID=19991116-51

=================================================================

19 November 1999

The bad news is that my trusty Lexmark Optra R+ printer needs 
service. It's been acting up for a few days, and this afternoon 
I'm taking it in to Lexmark Canada's headquarters, which, 
fortunately, is only a few kilometers from my home.

It's been a GREAT printer, and I've got tons of accessories for 
it, including a duplexer, envelope feeder, lower paper tray, and 
more, that, unfortunately, don't fit the later Lexmark models; I 
sure hope it can be fixed for a reasonable cost.

=================================================================

19 November 1999

Found a nifty CD-ROM a couple of days ago:  STAR TREK: THE NEXT 
GENERATION COMPANION -- A SERIES GUIDE AND SCRIPT LIBRARY.

Yup, you read that right:  script library.  The full teleplays 
for all 178 episodes of ST:TNG are on this one CD, a real bargain 
for those, like me, who like to read scripts.  (Also included are 
the video trailers for all episodes, as well as episode summaries 
and production notes.)

I found it at a Best Buy in Virginia; it's just US$19.95 -- or 
just ELEVEN CENTS per script.  A real bargain.  (And, yes, you 
can print out the scripts, in standard script format, if you want 
to read them in hardcopy.)

(There's also a version for DEEP SPACE NINE.)

=================================================================

24 November 1999

My baby is home!

My Lexmark Optra R+ is back home from being serviced, safe and 
sound.

Although I do have a second printer -- an Epson Stylus Color 600 
-- I've really missed the Optra.  When you've gotten used to 16 
pages per minute -- meaning an entire novel in manuscript format 
can be printed out in 25 minutes -- having to use a slow, noisy 
inkjet can drive you batty.

Just for the record, Lexmark Canada's service people were very 
knowledgable and very pleasant to deal with.

=================================================================

24 November 1999

Busy day today!

At 11:00 a.m., I arrived at the CBC Broadcasting Centre, and 
recorded a four-minute commentary about life in the next century; 
the text of the commentary will be posted on the CBC Newsworld 
soon (it may indeed already be up there, at www.cbc.ca), and me 
reading the commentary will be aired on The Arts Tonight on CBC 
Radio at some point soon.

At noon, I went to Ontario Place (a park on Toronto's lakeshore), 
where they have a big geodesic dome that houses an Imax theatre.  
There I was interviewed for a TV documentary that will air early 
in 2000; the documentary is part of a series on architecture, and 
this installment was about domes.  I talked about domed cities as 
a motif in science fiction.

Then at 2:00, it was off to meet a print journalist who is doing 
a profile on me.

I got home around 4:00 p.m. -- then went to work writing!  I did 
2,150 words this evening on a new short story (commissioned for a 
Marty Greenberg anthology).  

Tomorrow (Wednesday) should be a little less hectic:  I write all 
day until about 5:00 p.m., then I'm off to meet a writer who is 
doing a book about how creative people use the Internet for 
research; he wants to interview me for that.  Then it's off to 
the book launch for the short story collection by my friend Peter 
Sellers (the guy I co-edited an anthology with this earlier 
year).

Thursday, all I've got on my plate is a luncheon date with Rob 
Howard, the marketing manager for H.B. Fenn (Tor's Canadian 
distributor) -- but it'll take an hour to get up to Fenn and an 
hour to get back, plus at least an hour for lunch.  Still, while 
I'm at Fenn, I'll pick up some copies of the trade paperback of 
Golden Fleece.  The rest of the day will be spent writing.

Friday, I'm with the Discovery Channel Canada people all day, 
doing the remaining "standups" for the documentary on the 
Millennium that I'm co-hosting for them that airs January 2 (and 
sometime between now and then I have to memorize my lines!).

Saturday is a day of writing, followed by an evening party for my 
father's 75 birthday.

And Sunday, I leave for Spain for a week.

Life be good ...

=================================================================

25 November 1999

Peter Sellers's book launch last night was quite nicely done.  It 
was held at a pub called Vox, which was closed to the public for 
the launch.  Peter had booked a nice jazz trio to entertain for 
the evening.

I finished a good draft of my story for Marty Greenberg's FAR 
FRONTIERS anthology today; I'm calling the story "Star Light, 
Star Bright."

I also finished the little collaborative story I'm doing with 
Stephen Leigh.

Tonight, Carolyn and I are off to the gala opening party for a 
new Chapters superstore.

=================================================================

26 November 1999

The new Chapters store, at 2400 Yonge Street in Toronto, is 
FABULOUS -- one of the nicest I've seen.  And the grand-opening 
party was JAMMED; they couldn't have fit many more people in 
there, even though it's a 35,000-square-foot store.  We had a 
fabulous time, and did a fair bit of business with various 
people.

=================================================================

26 November 1999

Miserable day today!  We did the shoots for my remaining 
"stand-ups" for the Discovery Channel Canada special I'm 
co-hosting -- but it was pouring rain in Toronto, and I had to 
wear the same light-weight jacket I'd worn in the other shots we 
did earlier.  I'm chilled to the bone right now.  Still, we put 
the six stand-ups in the can, plus recorded all my voice-over 
narration (in a mercifully warm studio).

I've just got one studio day left, then my work on this special 
is done.  It will air January 2.

================================================================= 

27 November 1999

The December 1999 / January 2000 issue of SATURDAY NIGHT magazine 
is now out; SATURDAY NIGHT is the closest thing there is to a 
Canadian counterpart of the NEW YORKER.  It has a huge 
circulation:  besides newsstand and subscription copies, this 
issue also went out for free with home delivery copies of 
newspapers across Canada yesterday, including THE NATIONAL POST 
and the VANCOUVER SUN.

This issue contains the transcript of the videoconference I did 
on October 23 with Nalo Hopkinson, Spider Robinson, Don DeBrandt, 
and Elisabeth Vonarburg.  The introduction begins:

       SATURDAY NIGHT issued a challenge to five of 
       Canada's most celebrated science-fiction writers:  
       to predict the future by creating, together, a 
       story of life in Canada in 2067.  First, they 
       explained why the assignment was wrongheaded, 
       condescending, and displayed a grasp of science 
       fiction that clearly hadn't progressed beyond 
       reruns of THE TWILIGHT ZONE ... and then they came 
       up with a twisted tale of tiny robots, emotional 
       freak shows, a futuristic Howard Stern, and a 
       strange trip into tomorrow ...

The piece actually turned out quite well.  Instead of photos of 
the five authors, they used pen-and-ink caricatures off us, by 
Ottawa artist Ron Sutton.  The ones of me and Spider look 
particularly good.  The whole article runs seven pages.  All in 
all, very nice.

=================================================================

28 November 1999

Received a whack of reviews of my novels from Tor today, from 
magazines and newspapers big and small:

On Factoring Humanity:

       BRATTLEBORO REFORMER (Brattleboro, Vermont):  
       "Robert Sawyer handles the `first contact' scenario 
       with more panache and plausibility than was done in 
       the book and movie CONTACT.  Sawyer knits up a lot 
       of philosophical loose ends in this book -- 
       entertaining science fiction as well as food for 
       thought." 

       THE DAVIS ENTERPRISE:  "Some hard SF confines 
       itself to examining the science of the story -- 
       delving into the theory and the minutia of what's 
       happening -- while the better stuff focuses on how 
       science affects both the people most closely 
       involved, and humanity as a whole.  Sawyer usually 
       writes the latter sort, and that's what makes this 
       one of his best novels.  The tension between Kyle's 
       acute distress and Heather's solid scientific 
       investigation is compelling, and you're likely to 
       stay up late just to finish the book.  Highly 
       recommended." 

       THE DENVER POST:  "Sawyer writes books with truly 
       original ideas.  He is adept at presenting novel 
       scientific possibilities that resonate with the 
       lives of his characters."

       SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS:  "A scientifically brilliant 
       science fiction novel that weaves a plot with 
       several twists into a scientist's discovery of 
       travel through a realm beyond previous human 
       imagination.  The novel capitalizes on its use of 
       accurate facts and the incorporation of current 
       events to give the reader a context for its story.  
       Factoring Humanity is a book that, while 
       maintaining a spellbinding plot, stays true to the 
       science fiction tradition, giving fans of the genre 
       and others who normally don't read sci-fi an 
       interesting, informative novel."

-----------------------------------------------------------------

On FlashForward:

       COMICS CORNER:  "FlashForward presents disturbing 
       questions.  Robert Sawyer once again challenges his 
       readers to think and think deeply.  By focusing on 
       the effects of the experiment on a small group of 
       individuals he brings his frightening vision of 
       tomorrow heavily to bare on his readers.  
       FlashForward is a flash of genius."

       THE DAVIS ENTERPRISE:  "Sawyer's strength lies in 
       combining human-sized problems with cutting-edge 
       science ... he does a masterful job of blending 
       them here."

       THE DENVER POST:  "Sawyer presents scientific 
       scenarios that directly affect his characters' 
       lives.  The science-humanity interplay illuinates 
       both the ideas and the characters."

       SUNDAY HERALD (Nevada, Missouri):  "Entertaining 
       and thought-provoking.  Sawyer -- a crisp, incisive 
       writer with a playful and keen imagination -- 
       generates plenty of action from his psychological 
       and paradoxical whatifing.  Excellent sci-fi."

       NEWS (Tuscaloosa, Alabama):  "Science fiction 
       readers are in for a treat with FlashForward; a 
       great read."

       THE ORLANDO SENTINEL:  "FlashForward is another of 
       the author's intriguing thought-experiment science 
       fiction novels in the vein of Factoring Humanity.  
       Sawyer's book is both intellectually and 
       dramatically satisfying."

       STARLOG:  "An excellent SF novel, a perfect blend 
       of cosmic speculation and human drama, and Sawyer's 
       best book yet.  FlashForward's plot lets Sawyer 
       muse on true love, free will, quantum reality and 
       the nature of consciousness while telling a funny, 
       wrenching tale of fallible humans in a mystifying 
       universe."

=================================================================

7 December 1999

Hola, everyone!  Carolyn and I are back home after a week in 
Barcelona, Spain.  We had a fabulous time, despite a few 
glitches.

The reason for the trip was so that I could give the keynote 
address at the ninth-annual Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficcion 
awards ceremony at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC); 
as some of you may recall, I've won prizes in that contest the 
last three years in a row, so they asked me to give the talk. 
Previous speakers have included Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, John 
Gribbin, Marvin Minsky, Gregory Benford, and Stephen Baxter.  I 
must say, the UPC was quite generous, both in covering travel 
expenses and hotel, and in the fee for the speech; they really 
are a classy outfit.

My speech, "The Future is Already Here: Is There a Role for 
Science Fiction in the 21st Century?" was very well received.  I 
gave it in English, of course, but simultaneous translation into 
Spanish and Catalan was provided via earpieces.  Since Spanish 
takes about 30% more words to say the same thing, I had to 
deliver the speech at something slower than my normal pace, so 
that the translators could keep up, but no one seemed to mind.

The winners of the UPC awards this year were all Spanish-language 
authors, but one was from Colombia, rather than Spain.  Our own 
Mike Resnick was an honorable mention.

I did three press interviews while I was there.  One, in La 
Pais, Spain's major daily newspaper, has appeared already.  I 
don't really know what it says <grin>, but they devoted a lot of 
space to it -- close to a full page.  The other, in another 
paper, will appear next week, and the third, for the Spanish SF 
magazine BEM, will appear sometime after that.

Of course, we did a lot of sightseeing in Barcelona, including 
seeing Snowflake, the world's only albino gorilla, visiting the 
Roman ruins beneath the present-day city (easily accessible as 
the extensive basement of a museum), and seeing the architecture 
of Gaudi.

The disappointments in the trip were minor:  the Spanish edition 
of my Frameshift was supposed to be out in time for my visit, 
but it wasn't ready yet (I have two Spanish publishers: Ediciones 
B, and Factoria de Ideas -- the latter is doing Frameshift and 
Factoring Humanity).

And I came down with a cold for about two days -- but I can't 
really complain, since I've done a lot of traveling in the last 
year, and this is the first time I've gotten sick (and it really 
wasn't that bad a cold).

Barcelona has a very good subway system, with many more stations 
than the one in Toronto (although the stations are not as clean 
<grin>).  There's no such thing as a non-smoking area in 
restaurants, and the Barcelonans smoke a lot.  The weather was 
great -- in the sixties during the days.  We never had any rain, 
and only one night was really cold.  All in all, a very good 
trip!

Still, it's good to be back home.  Carolyn and I have no major 
trips planned for several months; it'll be nice to stay put for a 
while!

=================================================================

9 December 1999

Got a fascinating commission today:

The weekend editor for THE GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL 
NEWSPAPER, called and asked me to write a short science-fiction 
story explaining what really happened to the Mars Polar Lander.  
Fee: a cool dollar a word. Deadline:  24 hours away (I got the 
assignment at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday; it's due 3:00 p.m. Thursday).

Too good to pass up, I've spent the last few hours pounding out 
the short story.  It will appear in this Saturday's edition of 
THE GLOBE AND MAIL (the big weekend papers in Canada are on 
Saturday, not Sunday).

=================================================================

9 December 1999

Well, my story for THE GLOBE AND MAIL is done.  It's called THE 
BLUE PLANET, and weighed in at 1,400 words.  It should appear in 
this Saturday's edition.

(I actually got it done by noon -- three hours ahead of 
deadline!)

=================================================================

9 December 1999

Just a publicity update:

I am co-hosting (with Gillian Deacon) a two-hour documentary for 
The Discovery Channel Canada.  The documentary is entitled 
"Inventing the Future: 2000 Years of Discovery," and deals with 
the last thousand years of scientific progress and my predictions 
for what the next thousand years will bring.

The documentary will air in prime time (8:00 to 10:00 p.m.) 
coast-to-coast in Canada on Sunday, January 2, 2000.

=================================================================

10 December 1999

Finished another story today -- and this one, in fact, you could 
call a mainstream story if you were so inclined.  It was written 
for a horror anthology being edited by Edo van Belkom, but my 
story has no supernatural elements in it at all.  It's called 
"Last But Not Least," and will be an anthology of young-adult 
horror to be published by Tundra Books (an imprint of McClelland 
and Stewart, Canada's largest publisher) next year.

=================================================================

12 December 1999

Busy, but very pleasant last few days ...

Wednesday, I did my final day of shooting for the Discovery 
Channel Canada documentary; Gillian Deacon and I shot our intros 
and extros, and all the "we'll be right backs" out in a park on 
the shore of Lake Ontario.

Wednesday  night, I wrote most of the story for THE GLOBE AND 
MAIL.  The story wasn't posted on their web site (just as well; 
we never discussed electronic rights when we did the deal), but 
it did indeed appear on page 1 of the "Saturday" section of 
yesterday's GLOBE AND MAIL (and, to my delight, was the first 
thing mention on the paper's page one under "What's inside.").

That's not it for me and the GLOBE, though:  they've also hired 
me, at a very generous rate, to write a 2,000-word article about 
the science of the 21st century; it'll appear in the last edition 
of the year.  That's due in five days, and is going well.

Thursday night, I popped into The Discovery Channel studios to 
record a few additional bits of voice-over narration.

Friday, I finished a good draft of a new short story I'm calling 
ITERATIONS.

Friday night was the book launch for my friend Robert Charles 
Wilson's latest, BIOS, published by Tor.  There was a nice launch 
party down at Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store.  After, Bob, 
Carolyn, and I, plus several other fine folk, went out for pizza 
to continue to celebrate.

Yesterday, I did a signing at a Smithbooks (mall bookstore) in 
Brampton, then went over to Edo van Belkom's place for a pleasant 
evening of conversation.

Today, I'm reading through series bibles for animated TV series; 
one of North America's largest animation studios has hired me to 
write a series bible for a new computer-animated science-fiction 
series.  I'll say more about that project later ...

=================================================================

13 December 1999

Bakka is the world's oldest science-fiction specialty store 
(there were ones founded before it, but they've all gone out of 
business).  It's not a huge store, by any means, but it contains 
a very good selection of new, backlist, and some used science 
fiction, plus an array of small-press items hard to find 
elsewhere.  The address is 598 Yonge Street, a half-block north 
of Wellesley subway (or about six blocks south of Yonge and 
Bloor, the central intersection in Toronto).

Bakka is also a great place to meet writers.  DAW author Michelle 
West (aka Michelle Sagara) and Warner author Nalo Hopkinson are 
both currently on staff there (and Tanya Huff and I both used to 
work there, although in my case it's been 17 years since I worked 
at Bakka ...).

=================================================================

14 December 1999

Nice night last night:  attended a Toronto fandom pub night -- 
and had some FABULOUS chicken wings.

News of the day:  Ralph Vicinanza just sold Italian rights to 
FlashForward.

Did a radio interview today for the CBC about our enduring 
fascination with extraterrestrials.  Tomorrow, I'm recording an 
interview for WBAA-AM, the public-radio station in East Lafyette, 
Indiana.

I've been SO busy that I haven't had a chance to get my hair cut 
since August -- it was getting rather long.  But I got a buzz cut 
today.  Ironically, as a guy with thinning hair, I look like I 
have more hair when it's really short than when its long (at 
least that's what my barber says).

=================================================================

15 December 1999

Howdy, all!

BN.COM, the online service of major U.S. bookseller Barnes and 
Noble, has announced its 1999 "Year's Best" list for Science 
Fiction and Fantasy.  Robert J. Sawyer's FlashForward is listed 
third, with the following review:

       Robert J. Sawyer consistently makes intelligent, 
       mind-blowing science fiction accessible to the 
       mainstream reader with his efficient, easy-flowing 
       prose, his exciting ideas, and his superior 
       character development. Over the past several years, 
       Sawyer's stunning thrillers have produced multiple 
       Hugo and Nebula nominations, enough for most to 
       recognize him as the leader of SF's next-generation 
       pack. His newest novel, the near-future 
       FlashForward, is every bit as good, if not better, 
       than his previously recognized high-tech 
       whirlwinds.

The full list, in the order it appears on the web site:

  Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
  Neil Gaiman, Stardust
  Robert J. Sawyer, FlashForward
  Michael Crichton, Timeline
  Orson Scott Card, Ender's Shadow
  Elizabeth Haydon, Rhapsody
  Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Dune: House Atreides
  Brian Jacques, Marlfox: A Tale from Redwall
  L.E. Modesitt Jr., Gravity Dreams
  Guy Gavriel Kay, Sailing to Sarantium
  George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
  Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky
  Richard Bowes, Minions of the Moon
  Elizabeth Hand, Black Light
  Frank M. Robinson, Waiting
  Terry Goodkind, Soul of the Fire
  Ken MacLeod, The Cassini Division
  Brendan DuBois, Resurrection Day
  Ben Bova, Return to Mars
  Sean McMullen, Souls in the Great Machine
  Thomas Harlan, The Shadow of Ararat

=================================================================

17 December 1999

I'm tickled to announce that I will be a Guest of Honor at V-Con 
25, to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, May 26-28, 2000 
(the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the U.S. Memorial Day 
weekend).

The other GoHs are Spider and Jeanne Robinson (pro) and Lloyd and 
Yvonne Penney (fan).

I'm giving up Mike Glicksohn's annual birthday bash here in 
Toronto for this, so I sure hope it's a great con -- Mike's party 
is always great ...

=================================================================

17 December 1999

Just a note to say, to my astonishment and delight, the Tor Books 
trade-paperback reissue of Golden Fleece is the "By Canadian" 
Feature Book on the main page of ChaptersGLOBE.com, the web site 
operated by Chapters (Canada's leading bookstore chain) and THE 
GLOBE AND MAIL, Canada's National Newspaper.

ChaptersGLOBE.com is discounting Golden Fleece 40%.

   http://www.chaptersglobe.com

=================================================================

18 December 1999

I now claim something that very few other authors can:  the cover 
artist for my next novel is none other than:

                        Michelangelo!

Sample dustjackets for Calculating God arrived today from Tor.  
The cover is fabulous.  Drive Communications, who has been doing 
my covers for Tor, has taken the famous picture of God's hand 
touching Adam's hand from the roof of the Sistine Chapel as the 
basis for the cover.  They've processed it in large pixels, so it 
looks computer generated.  The cover looks AMAZINGLY classy. I've 
liked the designs for all my Tor covers, but this one is the 
best.

The overall color scheme is a lovely copper color (in fact, the 
whole cover is done in just various shades of copper and white -- 
with selective varnishing.

I should have a picture of it up on my web site before the end of 
the weekend.

Which reminds me of a great trivia question I saw on WIN BEN 
STEIN'S MONEY (a show I quite enjoy).

The category was "You're Sistine, You're Beautiful, and You're 
Mine" -- and the question was "What was what was Michelangelo's 
last name.  Had me stumped!

=================================================================

18 December 1999

I was just watching an episode of "Win Ben Stein's Money" on The 
Comedy Network (Canadian cable channel), and an SF reference 
turned up:

The category:     "Electric Sheep Not Found in Adult Bookstores."

The question:     "Name the science fiction writer whose `Do 
                  Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' was turned 
                  into the movie `Bladerunner.'"

Ben's answer:     "Dick."

Host's response:  "Screw you, a**hole ... oh, sorry, I thought 
                  you were making a personal reference."

(The host's response wasn't bleeped on Canadian TV; I don't know 
if they would have bleeped it in the States ...)

=================================================================

22 December 1999

Today isn't just the day on which the moon is closer to Earth 
than it has been in more than a century ...

It's also Carolyn and my fifteenth wedding anniversary!

Yup, we got married December 22, 1984 (back then, lots of 
Canadians used to get married in the last few days of the year, 
because of a nifty tax loophole that no longer exists:  you could 
claim a spouse as a dependant for the entire year based on 
his/her income ... but the tax people only counted the money you 
made after you got married; obviously, if you got married in the 
last few days of the year, your spouse would have only a few days 
worth of income, and even if he/she had a lucrative full-time 
job, they'd still qualify as a dependant).

It's been a fabulous fifteen years, but, in many ways, the last 
thirty months -- since Carolyn quit her job in the printing 
industry and came to work full-time as my assistant -- have been 
the best.  We get to spend lots of time together and we travel a 
great deal.  It really has been fabulous.

We're counting our trip to Spain earlier this month as our 
anniversary celebration, so today's festivities will be low key.  
We're going to see the new Jim Carey movie, MAN ON THE MOON, and 
then out to dinner at our favorite steakhouse.

Although Carolyn and I have been married for 15 years, we've been 
living together for eighteen years, and we've been friends for 
twenty-four years now.  I couldn't imagine life without her, and 
I love her with all my heart.

=================================================================

24 December 1999

We had a great anniversary, despite a few glitches.  We went to 
see MAN ON THE MOON, but the movie was half an hour late 
starting, due to some technical problem.  The upside, though, was 
that an assistant manager was waiting as everyone walked out of 
the theater at the end to hand out passes for a free movie, 
because of the inconvenience.

Then we went out to the parking lot to get our car, and it was 
dead; we waited half an hour for a CAA (counterpart of the AAA) 
tow truck, who towed us off to our mechanics' place (fortunately, 
only about 15 minutes from the theater).  Turned out the ground 
lead to our battery was damaged; he fixed it (for free) in a few 
minutes, and we were on our way.

The moon, at its closest approach, looked fabulous; we watched
it rise while the mechanic fixed our car.

MAN ON THE MOON was a fascinating film, but I'm not sure I 
enjoyed it. Indeed, I found it rather disturbing.  My take is 
that Andy Kauffman seemed to be more mentally ill than anything 
else, but, because he was funny and people were getting rich off 
of him, no one ever got him the help he needed. It's not really a 
comedy film, and there are few laughs.  It's more of a drama 
about a person who happened to be a comedian.

Still, I will say this:  it's a more Philip K. Dickian film than 
either BLADE RUNNER or TOTAL RECALL.

=================================================================

1 January 2000

I'm off to a good start for year 2000.  The year is only twelve 
hours old and I've already had my first publication and my first 
TV appearance.

The publication is a 2,000-word article about what science will 
learn in the next century.  It appears in today's issue of THE 
GLOBE AND MAIL, Canada's National Newspaper.  (In the same issue, 
my friend Spider Robinson engagingly looks at what a typical 
human will be like in the year 3000.)

And I was on TV this morning (and it'll be repeated throughout 
the day) on DISCOVERY CONNECTION, the program The Discovery 
Channel Canada does about upcoming shows.  Of course, I was 
talking about the two-hour documentary INVENTING THE FUTURE: 2000 
YEARS OF DISCOVERY that airs coast-to-coast tomorrow evening at 
8:00 p.m. Eastern on The Discovery Channel Canada.

Happy New Year, everyone!

=================================================================

4 January 2000

Carolyn and I hosted our quarterly party for Toronto's SF 
professionals this evening.  Despite several people sending their 
regrets because of flu or the freezing rain Toronto was hit with 
this evening, we had a good turnout.

But we had a taste of what Y2K would have been like at the end of 
the evening:  the power went off in all of Vaughan (the town I 
live in, just north of Toronto) from 11:00 p.m. until midnight -- 
apparently a car skidded off the icy roads and ran into a key 
transformer or switching station.

On another topic, I bought myself a new printer today: a 
new-in-box refurbished HP LaserJet 6P, with a one-year warranty, 
on ebay, for US$310.  I've wanted a second laser for a while (my 
main printer is an Lexmark Optra R+, which is a fabulous 
machine), and the 6P seemed like a great choice for use with 
WordStar.  In a separate auction, I picked up another eight megs 
of RAM for the printer for 20 bucks ...

=================================================================

11 January 2000

Well, at long last, my 767 account on CompuServe is dead.  I 
received it over a decade ago, on October 10, 1989, and it lasted 
until yesterday, January 10, 2000.  I certainly can't complain 
about its passing; I resigned as a sysop of the WordStar forum on 
May 24, 1991, and my account sponsor would have been within his 
rights yanking the account back then.  Instead, it endured for 
almost another nine years, for which I was very grateful.

(A 767 account gives unlimited free access to CompuServe, without 
any billing charges at all.  I got mine back when I was an 
associate system operator of the CompuServe WordStar Forum; that 
forum still limps on, but the company that sponsored it, WordStar 
International, is long gone.)

Anyway, I'll still be hanging around on CompuServe, but any mail 
or Forum messages sent to my old account will not be seen by me.

Please DO NOT use these accounts anymore:

  76702,747                   (on CompuServe)
  76702.747@compuserve.com    (via the Internet)
  Rob_Sawyer                  (on CompuServe)
  Rob_Sawyer@compuserve.com   (via the Internet)

Please DO use these accounts:

  102261,1433                 (on CompuServe)   
  102261.1433@compuserve.com  (via the Internet)
  sawyer                      (on CompuServe)   
  sawyer@compuserve.com       (via the Internet)

My permanent E-mail address is:

  sawyer@sfwriter.com

=================================================================

11 January 2000

It's been a week of good news -- and it's only Tuesday!

On Sunday, I received an invitation to be Guest of Honor at 
"Contact Japan 2000," an SF conference to be held in Tokyo in 
November.  Needless to say, I said yes!

On Monday, I received an invitation to the be the featured writer 
at the Writers Guild of Alberta Annual General Meeting and 
Conference in Calgary in October.  I jumped at that, too.

And today, I received acceptance of my story "Wiping Out" for the 
DAW anthology GUARDSMEN (an anthology of space-opera stories told 
with a modern sensibility), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and 
Larry Segriff.

=================================================================

20 January 2000

I've been offline for a bit.  Carolyn and I are in upstate New 
York, on the short of glorious Canandaigua Lake, on a writing 
retreat.

Tor has kept me busy down here:  they sent the typesetting page 
proofs for Calculating God (which looks fabulous -- a very nice 
interior layout to match the dynamite cover), and I'm doing minor 
revisions (at my own volition) on End of an Era before it's 
republished; those are due January 31.

Meanwhile, DAW sent the page proofs for STAR COLONIES, for which 
my "The Shoulders of Giants" is the lead story; they also sent 
along some cover flats for the book, which look fabulous -- a 
great Vincent DiFate painting.  The book goes on sale June 18.

Meanwhile, I'm currently hosting a chat about "The Death of 
Science Fiction?" on ChaptersGLOBE.com, the web site operated 
jointly by Canada's largest bookstore chain, Chapters, and its 
national newspaper, THE GLOBE AND MAIL:  www.chaptersglobe.com.  
Feel free to drop by and add your thoughts.

Last week, we went to see Lois Gresh give a talk about her new 
book THE COMPUTERS OF STAR TREK at a Borders.  Yesterday, I was 
guest speaker in a creative-writing class at the Rochester 
Institute of Technology (where my friend Nick DiChario is adjunct 
professor).  Tonight, we go to the launch party at a different 
Borders bookstore for the latest issue of HAZMAT, a literary 
magazine that Carolyn has a poem in.

=================================================================

20 January 2000

The Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, New Hampshire, has released 
its 1999 SF Bestsellers list; I'm delighted that my Factoring 
Humanity came in number two, beaten only by this year's 
Hugo winner!

Now, yes, I did do a signing at that store back in November, but 
so did all of the other authors marked by asterisks below.  
Indeed, I was so pleased by how the signing went that I've 
arranged to sign again at Toadstool -- this time for the 
Calculating God hardcover -- on Wednesday, July 19, 2000, at 7:00 
p.m.

Here's the list:

  Toadstool Bookshop - Milford
  1999 SF Bestsellers
  (statistics from the 1999 calendar year)

  1. To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis
  2. Factoring Humanity - Robert J. Sawyer*
  3. Mars - Ben Bova*
  4. Briar Rose - Jane Yolen*
  5. Child of the River - Paul McAuley
  6. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
  7. Price of the Stars - Doyle/MacDonald*
  8. Last Dragonlord - Joanne Bertin*
  9. King of Infinite Space - Allen Steele*
 10. Runelords - David Farland
 11. Game of Thrones - George R. Martin
 11. Forever Peace - Joe Haldeman
 13. God's Fire - Patricia Anthony
 14. Darwinia - Robert Charles Wilson
 15. Polgara the Sorceress - David Eddings
 16. Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson
 17. Newton's Cannon - J. Gregory Keyes
 18. Children Star - Joan Slonczeswki
 19. River of Blue Fire - Tad Williams
 20. Mairelon the Magician - Patricia Wrede
 21. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
 22. Knight of the Word - Terry Brooks
 23. Hogfather - Terry Pratchett
 24. Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula LeGuin
 25. Temple of the Winds - Terry Goodkind

=================================================================

25 January 2000

I'm going to be attending my first STAR TREK convention in 
twenty-four years (and my second one total) this summer:  the 
convention Toronto Trek bid for, and won, the right to be 
designated the "Canvention" this year -- the Canadian National SF 
Convention, where the Aurora Awards will be presented ...

An interesting bit of SF history occured at that convention, by 
the way. They had the official launch for Laser Books, a 
paperback SF line published by Harlequin, Canada's -- and the 
world's -- largest publisher.  Laser Books made some marketing 
blunders, and only lasted about two years, but they did publish 
early novels by such later notables as Jerry Pournelle and George 
Zebrowski ...

=================================================================

22 January 2000

This is my year for appearing at mainstream literary festivals.  

I've just accepted an invitation to appear on Sunday, April 9, at 
the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival in Montreal, 
alongside such literary lions as Michael Ondaatje (THE ENGLISH 
PATIENT) and Alberto Manguel.

This is in addition to the other festivals/events I'm doing this 
year:

       Principal Speaker, North Country Writers Festival, 
       Watertown, New York, April 25-27.

       Guest Reader, Sunshine Festival of the Written 
       Arts, Schlet, British Columbia, August 10-13.

       Featured Author, Writers Guild of Alberta AGM, 
       Calgary, Alberta, October 20-22.

What I love is that none of these are science-fiction events; 
they're all established mainstream literary festivals.  Out of 
the ghetto, endlessly orbiting, that's me ... <grin>.

=================================================================

23 January 2000

My writing retreat in upstate New York is going well ...

Interesting day yesterday.  I team-taught for the first time:  
that is, I taught along with two other teachers in the same 
classroom.  Nick DiChario, Mary Stanton, and I gave a full-day 
course called "Breaking Into Genre Fiction Markets" at 
Rochester's Writers and Books.  It was a lot of fun to do, and I 
enjoyed playing off of two other instructors.

The evening was spent at a party at Lois Gresh's place near 
Rochester; a great time was had by all.

It has been BRUTALLY cold down here for the last few days, but 
today, for once, it's reasonably mild.

=================================================================

4 February 2000

As you may have gathered, I'm back from my 24-day writing retreat 
in upstate New York.  While there, I did work outlining and 
researching the novel I'm currently working on, Neanderthal 
Parallax, plus a whack of other stuff, including:

* revising End of an Era for Tor; they will be reissuing the book 
  in about a year's time; 
* finishing my short story "Wiping Out" for the DAW anthology 
  Guardsmen of Tomorrow; 
* proofread galleys for Calculating God; 
* completely redesigned my web site at www.sfwriter.com (adding 
  frames, a cascading style sheet, "You are here" trees to every 
  page, and a new color scheme that matches my letterhead); 
* Did two weeks hosting the Writers' Studio on 
  ChaptersGLOBE.com.com; 
* Was a guest lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology; 
* Co-taught a day-long genre-fiction writing course with Mary
  Stanton and Nick DiChario; 
* Proofread galleys for my story "The Shoulders of Giants," the 
  lead story for the DAW anthology Star Colonies;

and, best of all, I was the honored guest at a three-hour dinner 
for 25 students from the Canandaigua Middle School (Canandaigua 
is the nearest town to the place I go for my writing retreats), 
all of whom had been reading my books either on their own or for 
classwork.  It was, truly, one of the top ten greatest events of 
my professional life.  These young people were so enthusiastic, 
so sharp, and so polite -- it was just incredible.  Truly a 
fabulous evening.

=================================================================

23 February 2000

This past weekend was Ad Astra 19, Toronto's regional SF 
convention.

I have to confess to being dubious of its chances of success.  
The convention had moved from its traditional summer date to 
February, and had picked the same weekend as Boskone.  The 
weather in Toronto was not cooperating; there were numerous 
school closings the opening day of the convention because of a 
snow storm.  And then, to make matters worse, they lost guest 
after guest after guest.  Originally, Bob Eggleton was to be 
artist Goh, but he bowed out; Nancy Kress and Charles Sheffield 
were scheduled to be Author Guests of Honor, then Charles had to 
bow out because of a scheduling conflict, and at the last minute 
Nancy (Charles's wife) had to bow out, too, because Charles was 
having health problems.   

But it turned out to be a FABULOUS convention -- one of the best 
I've been to lately. The quality of panels was remarkably high.  
I was lucky enough to moderate two truly excellent ones:  one on 
religion in SF (with Michelle Sagara West, Julie E. Czerneda, 
Phyllis Gotlieb, and Rev. Paul Fayter) and another, sponsored by 
Eastman Kodak, on the future of imaging (with Peter Watts, Dr. 
Isaac Szpindel, Pat York, Julie E. Czerneda, and Ed Covannon from 
Kodak).

My reading was one of the best attended I've given in Toronto:  
40-plus people; standing room only.  I read "The Shoulders of 
Giants," which will be the lead story in STAR COLONIES, a DAW 
anthology coming in July.  The audience was very appreciative.

Overall, the con was quite well attended, and I'm very much 
looking forward to next year's.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Meanwhile, Carolyn and I are on Canandaigua Lake on another 
writing retreat (these are always a boon for Carolyn's youngest 
brother, since he gets to move out of his mom's house, and into 
our place for a few weeks).  We'll be down here for three weeks, 
so I may be scarce online during that period.  We just got down 
here yesterday, but today was a great day of writing on my next 
novel.

=================================================================

23 February 2000

On January 1, 1998, back when I switched my domain name to 
SFWRITER.COM, I added a hit counter to my web site.  Today, the 
counter passed the 30,000 hit mark -- 30,000 hits in just over 
two years.

Actually, the pace has increased a fair bit in the last few 
months (doubtless due to the overall increase in traffic on the 
web).  A year ago, I was averaging a thousand hits a month; these 
days, I'm averaging 2,000.

If you haven't visited my site for a while, have a look; it had a 
complete facelift last month:  www.sfwriter.com

=================================================================

1 March 2000

Made my flight reservations for Florida today.  Carolyn and I are 
going down to West Palm Beach for 11 days, and we'll be spending 
three of those days at the International Conference on the 
Fantastic in the Arts in Fort Lauderdale (can you say "tax 
deductible"? <grin>).

I'm giving a reading there Friday afternoon, Mach 24, and, I must 
say, I've got a terrific reading slot.  ICFA does readings in 
ninety-minute blocks, with three authors.  I'm hammocked between 
this year's winner of the Crawford Award for Best First Novel (an 
award that will be presented at this conference) and Daniel 
Keyes, the author of FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON (the reading block is 
from 4:00 to 5:30).

Meanwhile, my writing retreat in Upstate New York is going well:  
I've done 20,000 words in the last nine days.  I'm trying to keep 
distractions to a minimum done here, although I am doing a 
half-day of consulting about the future of imaging for Eastman 
Kodak, and I'm giving a guest lecture at St. John Fisher College.  

=================================================================

3 March 2000

I'm pleased to announce that I will be Writer in Residence at the 
Richmond Hill Public Libraries for April, May, and June 2000.

Richmond Hill is a part of Greater Toronto.  The residency is 
paid as if it were a full-time appointment, but 60% of the 
writer's time is to be spent writing; in other words, I'll be 
pulling down a salary to write my current book (good work if you 
can get it <grin>).  

I'll spend the other 40% of the time -- fourteen hours a week -- 
working with aspirant writers on their manuscripts.  Richmond 
Hill residents will be able to submit manuscripts, which I'll 
critique for them in one-on-one private sessions.  There's no 
cost to the residents for this; the money for my salary comes out 
of the library budget and from arts councils.

Writer-in-Residence jobs are few and far between -- the Richmond 
Hill Public Libraries have never had one before --- and I'm 
absolutely thrilled to have this gig.

The residency will conclude with a gala launch party at the 
central library branch for my twelfth novel, Calculating God.

It's going to make for a busy three months, though:  during that 
same period, I'm also teaching for a week in Banff, Alberta; 
appearing at two mainstream writers' festivals (one in Montreal, 
the other in upstate New York); speaking at the Annual General 
Meetings of two writers' associations (including Canada's 
largest, the Canadian Authors Association); being Guest of Honor 
at an SF convention in Vancouver; attending another SF con and a 
mystery-fiction con; giving a futurism talk to executives of a 
life-insurance company; and starting my four-day workshop at the 
University of Toronto.  Whew!

I'm sure it will be terrific, and well worth doing in its own 
right, but, actually, I also think of it as a bit of a stepping 
stone ...

This will be my first residency, and the library I'll be working 
at is only a 20-minute drive from my home.

But there are other residencies elsewhere in Canada that I'm 
interested in, and having one under my belt will make me a much 
more credible candidate for those.  In particular, Carolyn and I 
have our eye on one up in the Yukon, which quarters the writer 
and his spouse in the childhood home of Pierre Berton, one of 
Canada's most popular writers -- we'd love to spend one summer 
(but not winter!) up there.  It's my intention to apply for that 
one for 2001 or 2002.

=================================================================

5 March 2000

The latest enhancement to my web site at sfwriter.com is this:

I've added a little search function, so that you can type in 
keywords, and see a list of all the pages on my site that contain 
those keywords.  Although I think my site is well designed for 
easy navigation, it does have 415 separate pages now, and so it's 
sometimes tricky finding exactly what you want.  Now, though, a 
search on "wordstar" or "isaac asimov" or "homer award" will turn 
up exactly what you're looking for.

The search function is provided by a nifty free web service 
called whatUseek.com.

To try it on my site, just click on "Search" in the navigation 
bar at the left side of the screen.

=================================================================

8 March 2000

We were talking here a bit a while ago about famous Canadians.

One such was John Colicos, the actor, known to genre fans as Kor, 
the original Klingon, from STAR TREK, a role he reprised several 
times on DEEP SPACE NINE, and for playing Count Baltar, the human 
traitor, in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

He lived in Toronto, commuting to Hollywood when working there; 
he was an accomplished Shakespearean actor, best remembered for 
playing King Lear at the Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare 
Festival, and London's Old Vic.

Colicos died in Toronto on Monday at age 71 following a series of 
heart attacks.

I saw him once years ago on the subway in Toronto; I wanted to go 
up to him and tell him how much I enjoyed his work, but I didn't 
do so.  Now I wish I had.

=================================================================

10 March 2000

Signed up today to attend the annual meeting of the 
Paleoanthropology Society in Philadelphia next month ... there 
are a number of fascinating-sounding papers being presented about 
Neanderthals, which should provide excellent grist for the 
NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX project I'm working on.

=================================================================

11 March 2000

My writing retreat in upstate New York has come to an end.  First 
thing tomorrow, Carolyn and I drive back to Toronto (starting 
early to beat some forecasted bad weather).

I was down here for 18 days, one of which I took off to do some 
consulting for Kodak.  My goal was to get 25,000 words of my new 
novel written.  I did that, and more:  I wrote 36,000 words, more 
than one-third of a book.  Of course, it's just first draft, but 
I'm pleased with it.

Tomorrow night, I'm off to a party at writer Robert Charles 
Wilson's place; Sunday, it's my Mom's birthday party.  I'm in 
Toronto for a couple more days after that, then it's off to 
Florida.

=================================================================

14 March 2000

I see Dave Truesdale has elsewhere posted the contents of David 
G. Hartwell's YEAR'S BEST SF 5 anthology, so I suppose I should 
formally announce here that I am tickled pink that my story "The 
Blue Planet" is included in that book.

"The Blue Planet" is the story I wrote under commission to THE 
GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER back in December, 
explaining what really happened to the Mars Polar Lander ...  
(THE GLOBE retitled it "Mars Reacts!" David has restored the 
author's preferred title.)

=================================================================

14 March 2000

Yesterday's mail brought an Italian double-header:  my author's 
copies of the Italian edition of Factoring Humanity ("I 
TRANSUMANI"), plus a contract for an Italian edition of my 
forthcoming Calculating God.

Also in yesterday's mail were two other contracts:  a reprint 
sale of my story "Forever," from Mike Resnick's RETURN OF THE 
DINOSAURS, to NORTH OF INFINITY II, the second in a series of 
Canadian SF anthologies edited by Micheal (sic) Magnini, and the 
contract for my story "Iterations," commissioned by the Canadian 
SF magazine TRANSVERSIONS to help them re-launch under their new 
editorship.

Not a bad day at all, at least as far as the mail was concerned.  
But I also had a major Windows crash on my laptop yesterday -- I 
couldn't even boot to Windows safe mode.  I had to reformat my 
hard drive and reinstall Windows. Fortunately, I could boot to 
the DOS prompt, and managed to get all my new files off my hard 
drive and on to Zip disks (and I'd done a complete backup the day 
before), so nothing was lost.  But it was irritating.

My friend Marcel Gagne, coeditor of TRANSVERSIONS, writes for 
LINUX JOURNAL, and is trying to convince me to switch to Linux, 
which is apparently much more stable than Windows 98.  I'm sorely 
tempted ...

Other news:  Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems is releasing an 
antitechnology manifesto tomorrow, in WIRED; parts have already 
been leaked to the press. THE GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL 
NEWSPAPER commissioned me moments ago to write a 1,000-word 
response/reaction to Joy's position; it will appear in the 
"Comment" section of Friday's GLOBE.

=================================================================

15 March 2000

My article responding to Bill Joy's antitechnology manifesto will 
appear in TOMORROW'S (Thursday's) edition of THE GLOBE AND MAIL: 
CANADA'S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER (not Friday's, as I originally said).  
Look for it on the cover of the Opinion section.

=================================================================

16 March 2000

Just a small note that the Bernae Gunderson, featured (with 
photo) on the front page of today's (Wednesday's) NEW YORK TIMES, 
and tonight on ABC's 20/20, leading the fight against the 
deceptive lending practices of First Alliance, is my cousin ...

(My mother's family is mostly Swedish and Norwegian.)

=================================================================

16 March 2000

A little behind-the-scenes peek:

I thought some of you might be interested in the queries an 
author receives from a translator of his or her work.  Here are 
the questions I was asked today by my Italian translator, who is 
just finishing up his translation of my novel FlashForward (page 
numbers refer to the 1999 Tor hardcover):

-----------------------------------------------------------------

p. 13: Moving up the cube. - Do you refer in advance to the 
Minkowski cube? Or what?  

Yes, I'm referring to the Minkowski cube ... a little 
foreshadowing.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 24: Solid-state microphone. - What do you mean exactly? 

A futuristic technology; a solid block that picks up sounds.  You 
can drop the "solid-state" reference if it's confusing.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

p. 71: Christmas-banquet. - Should be a game of words referred to 
something I ignore. What is it?

Just a screw-up involving translating the menu for CERN's staff 
Christmas dinner into other languages, resulting in inappropriate 
dishes being served.  This is supposed to be a humorous reference 
in the novel.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 105: KEK- Acronym for what? 

I'm not sure, to be honest.  But it's a real particle accelerator 
in Japan.  I checked two sources; neither spelled out the 
acronym.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 110: A blind copy of your message - I use email but I never 
heard this expression.

A blind copy is a copy you get of a message that has gone to 
multiple people -- but your copy doesn't include a list of who 
the other recipients are

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 132: I could use a trip - I don't remember the film 
Casablanca, but what is a trip, in this case?

"Trip" just means a "vacation" in this context -- "I could use a 
vacation."

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 135: Begats - I couldn't find this word in any of the 
dictionaries I have. What does it mean?

In English translations of the Bible, the archaic English word 
"begat" (past tense of "beget") is used to denote parental 
lineages.  If John is the grandfather, and David is the father, 
and Peter is the son, it would say "John begat David, who begat 
Peter."  There are pages and pages of such family-history 
listings in the Bible.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 143: Quadrapole magnets. And (p. 275) Sextupole magnets. - Are 
they magnets with a particular form (4 or 6 poles)?

Yes.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 153: Indeed it's just relativity writ large. - I didn't 
exactly grasp the sense of the phrase

"writ large" is a somewhat pompous English idiom.  It means 
"expressed in a grand sense" (as if you'd written the words in 
big letters on a wall; "writ" is Old English for "written").  
Lloyd might have simply said, "It's just relativity on a grand 
scale" or "It's just relativity taken to the next level."

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 173: HEP - Acronym for what?

High-energy photon (a gamma-ray photon is a HEP)

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 174: High-end stereo and virtual reality decks. - Inventions 
of a not far future, I imagine.

"high-end" in English just means pricey or expensive -- something 
offered to the high end of the marketplace (those people with 
lots of money).  So "high-end stereo decks" already exist, but 
"high-end virtual-reality decks" are yet to be invented.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 197: And that Lloyd had stopped to smell the roses? - Is there 
a hidden meaning, under the literal one?

"stop to smell the roses" is an idiom in English; it figuratively 
means to take time out of one's busy schedule in order to 
appreciate the simple joys of life.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 198: This End Up & following. - Well, I understand these are 
common phrases, but could you explain better?

This End Up:  phrase printed on shipping cartons to show what way 
they should be oriented when placed in a truck.  A carton 
containing a TV set will say "This End Up," for instance, on its 
top.

Best Before Date on Bottom:  appears on containers of perishable 
foods, such as single-serving plastic cups of yogurt, to indicate 
that an expiration date, after which the food should not be 
consumed, has been printed on the bottom of the container.

In order to form a more perfect onion:  this refers to a line 
from the preamble to the United States Constitution:  "We, the 
people of the  United States, in order to form a more perfect 
union ..."  But I changed the word "union" to "onion" (a kind of 
plant) to show that the Japanese clothing manufacturer who had 
put this slogan on a shirt had no idea what the words actually 
meant.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 224: Souls are about life immortal... and religion is about 
just rewards. - This puzzled me a lot. Does it mean that souls 
look for immortality and religion only gives a reward that is not 
what souls are looking for? But this should be in contrast with 
the credo of Mr. Cheung, who is a Christian. I'd like to 
understand the exact sense of the phrase.

"just rewards" is an English expression; the "just" in "just 
rewards" means properly due or merited -- your "just rewards" are 
what you really have coming to you, such as going to heaven or 
hell after death.  

Cheung says:

     "Souls are about life immortal, Dr. Procopides, and religion 
     is about just rewards."

A little less poetically, he could have said:

     "As a religious man, I believe my soul will exist forever 
     after my death, Dr. Procopides, and whether it exists 
     in paradise or damnation depends on what I've done while
     I'm alive."

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

p. 243: At 20 solar masses. - Is solar mass a unity of measure? 

A solar mass is the mass of our own sun; a star of 20 solar 
masses is 20 times as big as our sun.

----------------------------------------------------------------- 

Btw, is there a scientific base for the hypothesis of the novel? 
The FlashForward, I mean. This is just curiosity.

No; I just made it up.

=================================================================

17 March 2000

Just bought a wonderful product:  the CD-ROM archives of the last 
five years of SCIENCE NEWS: THE WEEKLY NEWSMAGAZINE OF SCIENCE.  
It's fabulous:  a total of 5,342 articles and letters, all in 
Acrobat PDF format, all full-text searchable, all on one CD-ROM.

Since I started subscribing to SCIENCE NEWS, back in 1982, it has 
been THE main source of the science information in my novels.  I 
highly recommend this CD!

For information, see http://www.sciencenews.org

=================================================================

18 March 2000

Saw the latest SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE today.  I'm pleased to 
report that my FlashForward is on Don D'Ammassa's (unnumbered) 
list of the Best Science Fiction Novels of the Year for 1999.

(The book was also number three on BN.COM's list of the year's 
best SF, and has qualified for the Preliminary Nebula ballot.)

=================================================================

21 March 2000

Things are going fabulously here in West Palm Beach Florida 
(where I've been since Thursday on another writing retreat).  The 
weather is gorgeous and I'm getting lots of work done.

Tomorrow, Nancy Kress and Charles Sheffield show up; they're 
staying here overnight, then we all head off to Ft. Lauderdale 
for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.

=================================================================

28 March 2000

I'm back home from my writing retreat in West Palm Beach, and the 
International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.

The weather was beautiful, and I had a very relaxing time.  I 
wrote 13,000 new words on NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX prior to the 
conference -- meaning I've now got 50,000 words of first draft; 
given that my deadline is over a year away, I feel I'm in very 
good shape.

The conference was terrific; I'd never been before, but had a 
great time.  Ann Bishop, sadly, wasn't able to attend, meaning 
that the 4:00 p.m. Friday reading slot was just me and Daniel 
Keyes, of FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON fame.  Carolyn and I had a great 
dinner at an Indian restaurant with my editor, David G. Hartwell, 
and his wife and son, and a great lunch with Jennifer Marcus, the 
head of publicity at Tor; we were joined halfway through the meal 
by Brian Aldiss, which was terrific.  Saturday evening, Gordon 
Van Gelder (the editor of F&SF) and I sat with Daniel Keyes for a 
long time, and just listened to Dan spin stories about his 
adventures in publishing and in Hollywood; fabulous.

I was also the guest speaker at the South Florida Science Fiction 
Society meeting on Saturday, and on Sunday, Nancy Kress, Mary 
Stanton, and I did a signing at a Waldenbooks in West Palm Beach.  

All in all, a great trip!

=================================================================

28 March 2000

The nice news at the signing I did in Florida on Sunday is that 
Starplex is now in a fourth printing; this is the first I've seen 
of it.  I'm delighted to see the book is still selling for 
Ace ...

=================================================================

31 March 2000

Tomorrow, my residency at the Richmond Hill Public Library begins 
with a welcoming tea.

Immediately after that, we head off to Niagara Falls, New York, 
for Eeriecon, at which the wonderful MIKE RESNICK and the spiffy 
EDO VAN BELKOM are guests of honor.

=================================================================

8 April 2000

I'm back home -- for one evening -- after a week on the road.  

Eeriecon in Niagara Falls, New York, was fabulous.  Mike Resnick 
really is the consummate Guest of Honor, always available to the 
fans, and staying up to the wee hours to party.  Edo van Belkom 
was the other GoH -- his first stint as such -- and he did a 
great job, too.

The only downside about Eeriecon was its attendance.  I'm 
guessing, but it was maybe 130 people -- down by about 20 from 
last year.  My suspicion is that Ad Astra -- Toronto's regional 
con -- hurt Eeriecon by moving to a February date from its 
historic June date.  Toronto is just 90 minutes from Niagara 
Falls; having two cons so close together geographically and 
temporally presents some problems.  Still, I really did have a 
great time at Eeriecon, as did just about everyone else I spoke 
to there.

Next year's Eeriecon will have yours truly and Samuel R. Delany 
as Author Guests of Honor, plus my lovely wife Carolyn Clink as 
Poet Guest of Honor.  

After Eeriecon, Carolyn and I drove down to Philadelphia for the 
annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society, where I got to 
speak with some of the world's leading Neandertal experts, 
including Erik Trinkaus, Shara Bailey, and Milford Wolpoff from 
the U.S., Anne-marie Tillier from France, and Jakov Radovcic from 
Croatia.  Several very interesting papers were presented on 
Neandertals, too.  I'm very glad I attended the conference.

We listened to a fascinating mix of audio books on our road trip:  
THE BELL CURVE, WHEN ELEPHANTS WEEP: THE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF 
ANIMALS, and MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT: ARGUMENTS ON ABORTION.  All 
were quite thought-provoking; the last was actual trial 
recordings from eight U.S. Supreme Court cases related to 
reproductive rights.

We spent yesterday at my dad's vacation home in upstate New York, 
where I got a good day of writing in, and today we came back 
home, stopping in at the Richmond Hill Public Library to pick up 
the first batch of manuscripts I'm supposed to critique as part 
of my residency there.

Tomorrow, I fly to Montreal for two days to attend a mainstream 
literary festival called Blue Metropolis, where I'm giving a 
reading and sitting on two panels.

Life be good -- but hectic <grin>.

=================================================================

10 April 2000

The news of the day is that my agent Ralph Vicinanza has sold 
unabridged audio rights to my 1995 Nebula Award-winning novel THE 
TERMINAL EXPERIMENT to Recorded Books of Maryland.

Today's mail also brought nice royalty checks for both Starplex 
and Illegal Alien ...

=================================================================

11 April 2000

Speaking of The Terminal Experiment, today's mail brought the 
semiannual royalty check for HarperPrism's edition of THE 
TERMINAL EXPERIMENT ... I love getting paid for work I did years 
ago <grin>.

=================================================================

10 April 2000

The Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal was a lot of 
fun, and for Saturday's events they had an amazing turnout:  
standing-room only in practically every event.  

That day, I was on a panel discussion about the sources of 
inspiration for novels.  Each of the five writers gave a brief 
reading (I read the opening of Calculating God) -- some in 
English, some in French.  

They had a very-well-stocked bookroom, selling books by the 
writers present.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how many 
copies of my books sold after the event, given that it was a 
mainstream literary festival, and this was a general-interest 
panel.  It rained all day, though, so I never made it out of the 
hotel, opting for the excellent Italian buffet in the hotel.

Saturday night, I went up to my hotel room and read the first 
three manuscripts that had come in for critique in my stint as 
Writer in Residence -- and they were also a very pleasant 
surprise.  I'd frankly been nervous about the quality of work I 
might see, but all three were very, very good.  I meet 
face-to-face with the writers later this week.

Sunday, Montreal was hit by a blizzard.  I spent a fair bit of 
time with the head of the Cuban Writers' Union -- and his 
absolute delight at seeing, for the first time in his life, a 
city buried in snow, made the blizzard easier to take, but it had 
a devastating effect on the festival.  As I said, events were 
packed on Saturday, but Sunday saw a very modest turnout (I 
certainly wouldn't have gone outside on a day like that).  I did 
a panel on Sunday about science-fiction, along with Francophone 
SF writers Yves Meynard, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Jean-Louis Trudel, 
and Daniel Sernine, but we, like every other event that day, had 
a tiny audience.

I got to the airport on time for my 6:00 p.m. flight back to 
Toronto, only to find, as I'd feared, that it had been canceled.  
The airport was absolutely packed with travelers.  Fortunately, I 
fly enough that Air Canada calls me an Elite Gold customer, so I 
didn't have to stand in the enormous lines to get booked on a 
replacement flight.  

Instead, I headed off to the Maple Leaf lounge.  I was originally 
told they could get me out on a 9:00 p.m. flight, but that got 
changed to 10:00, then 11:00.  I finally got out at 11:45 on a 
Canadian Airlines flight.  Still, my time at the airport was 
actually quite pleasant -- the lounge is very well-appointed with 
private stereos, big-screen TVs, and open bar, and lots to nibble 
on.  So, although I was at the airport for hours, I at least 
managed to get a lot of work done there.

Today (Monday) is my first real day at home since March 31 ... 
but I won't be home for long.  I leave on Saturday for Banff, 
Alberta, were I'm teaching SF writing for a week.

=================================================================

13 April 2000

Busy times.  A few notes:

* Last weekend in Montreal I gave my 150th public reading.  I 
  read the opening of Calculating God, and a new short-short 
  story, "The Abdication of Pope Mary III," commissioned by and 
  forthcoming in the prestigious British science journal NATURE 
  -- they commissioned the story a while ago, but I asked for 
  them to hold off publishing it until June, so that it would be 
  in the magazine the same time Calculating God was hitting the 
  bookstore shelves.

* Yesterday, I had a terrific lunch with my Canadian publicist, 
  Heidi Winter, at H. B. Fenn, the Canadian distributor for Tor 
  Books.  The Canadian media is showing great interest in 
  Calculating God, which is gratifying.  

* Cities now on the Calculating God book tour:  Richmond Hill, 
  Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, and Sudbury, Ontario; Montreal, 
  Quebec; Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany, New York; 
  Milford, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts; and Vancouver, 
  British Columbia.  I should have an updated itinerary on my web 
  site shortly.

* Tonight, I give a seminar entitled "How Publishing REALLY 
  Works" at the Richmond Hill Public Library, as part of my 
  residency gig.

* I now have my editor's copies of OVER THE EDGE: THE CRIME 
  WRITERS OF CANADA ANTHOLOGY, edited by Peter Sellers and 
  Robert J. Sawyer, and published in trade paperback by 
  Pottersfield Press in Nova Scotia; it looks fabulous, and it 
  got a rave review in THE GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL 
  NEWSPAPER.

* The Japanese edition of Frameshift is now out -- and the cover 
  is gorgeous!  I think all of my Japanese editions have had 
  terrific covers, but this is one of the nicest yet.

* From April 26 to April 28, I'm the Guest of Honor at the North 
  Country Writers Festival in Watertown, New York, sponsored by 
  the State University of New York.

* Saturday morning, I leave for Banff, where I'm teaching SF 
  writing for a week, in some of the most beautiful natural 
  countryside in the world.

Whew!

=================================================================

13 April 2000

I'm pleased to announce that I'm a double nominee for the 
Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (the Auroras) this 
year.

My FlashForward is a finalist in the best English novel category, 
and my "Stream of Consciousness" (from the anthology PACKING 
FRACTION, edited by Julie E. Czerneda) is a finalist in the best 
English short story category.  

=================================================================

22 April 2000

I'm back home after my week in Banff, Alberta, as a faculty
member at the "Writing with Style" workshop.

I had a FABULOUS time -- really, one of the peak professional 
experiences of my life.  My seven students (six females and one 
male) were all enthusiastic, talented, friendly, and fun -- each 
one was an absolute joy to be with.  They ranged in age from 20 
to 70, and came from Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and San 
Francisco.

(In total, there were 56 students and seven faculty members at 
the whole workshop, covering science fiction, poetry, short 
fiction, and memoir writing.)

I've been involved with great workshops before.  What made this 
extra special was the Banff Centre for the Arts.  The scenery -- 
nestled in the Rocky Mountains -- was unbelievably gorgeous, the 
weather was fabulous, the recreational facilities (skiing and 
hiking obviously, but also tennis, squash, swimming, etc. etc. 
etc.) were excellent, the conference facilities were first rate, 
and the meals (terrific all-you-can-eat buffets three times a 
day) were sumptuous.  I describe it as like being on a literary 
luxury cruise that happened to take place on dry land.

The daily readings/seminars by faculty members went very well
(I wowed everyone -- including those who had never read SF
before -- with the opening of Calculating God).

It wasn't particularly lucrative for me as a faculty member, but 
it's an incredible bargain for the students:  Cdn$700 (about 
US$475) for seven days at a mountain resort, accommodation and 
meals included, would have been a real bargain even without the 
workshopping on top.  

I got a lot of excellent writing of my own done in the evening 
(faculty had excellent multi-room apartments), and so did the 
students.  The creative energy level was incredibly high.

On the last day, a bunch of people from Calgary did the two-hour 
drive up to see me; they were members of the Imaginative Fiction 
Writers Association, for whom I'd led a different workshop four 
years ago.  It was really a treat to see them, and very touching 
that they were willing to go that far out of their way to see me 
again.

Mike Resnick has described his definition of heaven as a Worldcon 
that never ends; for me, it might very well be a workshop/writing 
retreat at Banff.

=================================================================

23 April 2000

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY has weighed in very positively on my twelfth 
novel, Calculating God, which should start appearing in 
bookstores next month:

       Sawyer is one of contemporary SF's most consistent 
       performers.  Much of this novel is relatively 
       cerebral, as Jericho and Hollus argue over the 
       scientific data they've gathered in support of 
       God's existence, but Sawyer excels at developing 
       both protagonists into full-fledged characters, and 
       he adds tension to his story in several ways.  This 
       is unusually thoughtful SF. 

=================================================================

25 April 2000

Some of you asked to be notified when more information became 
available about Robert J. Sawyer's four-day science-fiction 
workshop this summer at the University of Toronto.

My workshop will be part of the Taddle Creek Summer Writers' 
Workshop, to be held Friday, June 30, to Monday, July 3, 2000.  
Tuition is Cdn$412 (about US$280), including the Cdn$12 
registration fee.

Full information, including registration forms, is now available 
at:

          http://learn.utoronto.ca/creative/events.asp

I've reported a bug in the online-registration form.  At the 
moment, if you try to register online for "Workshop 6" (the 
science-fiction section), the form comes up with you registered 
for workshops one THROUGH six (with a tuition of six times 
$412!).  I'm told this will be fixed shortly; in the meantime, 
you might apply for the workshop by fax or phone instead.

=================================================================

28 April 2000

Just got back from two days at the North Country Writers Festival 
in Watertown, New York, where I was guest of honor.

The conference was held at Jefferson Community College, part of 
the State University of New York (SUNY) system.  I had a great 
time.

Stephen L. Burns, this year's winner of the Compton Crook Award, 
made a surprise appearance at my reading Wednesday night; first 
time I'd met him.  We had a great chat.

=================================================================

29 April 2000

Today is my 40th birthday.  We're having a party tonight to 
celebrate.  (As Carolyn's invitation said, "It's not a surprise 
party -- at Rob's advanced age, his heart probably couldn't take 
it.")

As it happens, I sold my first novel just before I turned 30, so 
my own personal decades of life, and the decades of my novelist 
career, happen to coincide.

Ten years ago this month, I was at the one-third mark in the 
first draft of Far-Seer, my third novel (I'd already written and 
sold Golden Fleece, and had written End of an Era, which at that 
time was sitting on Brian Thomsen's desk at Warner Questar).  
So, in the ensuing decade, I wrote all of Fossil Hunter, 
Foreigner, The Terminal Experiment, Starplex, Illegal Alien, 
Frameshift, Factoring Humanity, FlashForward, and Calculating 
God, plus two-thirds of Far-Seer, and about half of the first 
draft of my current novel -- or almost exactly a novel a year for 
a decade.  (In addition, I wrote a book's worth of short SF in 
that same period.)  Not overly prolific, but not too shabby.

Meanwhile, a decade ago, I was just finishing up a major 
freelance job I'd been doing for a few years:  editing special 
reports for THE FINANCIAL TIMES OF CANADA newspaper (ten years 
later, that paper is defunct); I'd just received and returned the 
copyedited manuscript for Golden Fleece (ten years later, that 
book has been reissued by Tor in a handsome trade paperback); I 
was being courted by WordStar International to move to Novato, 
California, to work in broad-strokes word-processor product 
development (ten years later, that company is defunct); and the 
Richmond Hill Public Library called to ask me to do a paid public 
reading there (ten years later, I'm the Writer in Residence at 
that library).  

It's been a good decade, and a good forty years (although I just 
got off the phone with my brother-in-law Brian -- Carolyn's 
youngest brother, who is 30 -- who had called to wish my a happy 
birthday.  He said turning 30 had been no big deal for him; I 
thanked him, but said that turning 40 meant I'd likely reached 
the halfway point in my life, to which Brian felt compelled to 
point out that actually I was probably now PAST the halfway 
point ...  Gee, thanks.).

=================================================================

30 April 2000

Hi, Everybody.  Many thanks for the birthday wishes!  The party 
just broke up, and it was a blast.  Nick DiChario and Dave Smith 
came in from Rochester, New York; James Alan Gardner came in from 
Kitchener.  Some big public announcements, too:  Robert Charles 
Wilson announced his engagement to Sharry Walderman (they will 
honeymoon at Worldcon this year); Terence M. Green and Merle 
Casci announced that they are expecting a child.  

It was a terrific party.  My mother-in-law seemed rather awed by 
the presence of Rick Green, formerly host of Prisoners of 
Gravity, and a major TV star in Canada (he currently stars in 
History Bites, a terrific comedy series).

We'd told people not to bring presents, but best-fanzine Hugo 
winner Mike Glicksohn brought me a great one nonetheless:  a 
hardcover of A Canticle for Leibowitz inscribed by him thus:  "A 
copy of the best SF novel that first appeared in 1960 for 
undoubtedly the best SF novelist who first appeared in 1960."

Rick Green brought a great present, too:  a half-dozen critical 
works about SF that his local library had been selling off in a 
discard sale.  Lots of great stuff.

We had a great mix of people in attendance:  one of my 
high-school girlfriends; members of my old high-school SF club; 
my brothers and their wives; two of Carolyn's brothers; various 
writers; friends who aren't part of the SF community; some 
neighbors; and more.  I think it was the most people we've ever 
had in our home, and I must say I feel just absolutely terrific 
tonight.


More Good Reading

Current blog: April 2010 to date
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More-recent blog entries: January to May 2001
More-recent blog entries: October, November, and December 2000
More-recent blog entries: July, August, and September 2000
More-recent blog entries: May and June 2000

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