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


SFWRITER.COM > Blog (old)

Rob's Blog: July 2002 to December 2004


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

Friday, December 31, 2004

Carolyn and I got a new big-screen TV on December 13:  a 50-inch
Sony Grand WEGA LCD rear-projection HDTV set; it's lovely.  Since
getting it, we've watched a bunch of movies on it:  Gladiator,
The Fifth Element, Bruce Almighty, Thunderbird 6, The Princess
Bride, Miss Congeniality, and Dark City.  We've also begun 
watching, in order, the episodes of the original Star Trek -- 
they look magnificent!

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

Friday, November 26, 2004

I sent out the following newsletter to the 2,449 people on my
email mailing list today.  If you'd like to be added to the 
mailing, list just E-mail me.

===

Hello, Robert J. Sawyer reader!

You're most likely getting this note because you've written to me 
in the past about my science-fiction novels.  I hope you don't 
mind this update -- I only send such things out a couple of times 
a year.  If you'd prefer not to receive future updates, just 
email me at sawyer@sfwriter.com, and I'll drop you from the 
mailing list.

In this mailing:

* HYBRIDS paperback!
* A science-fiction cruise!
* News about MINDSCAN, my next novel!
* Rob wins SF's largest cash prize!
* Writers' workshops with Rob!
* And more!

===

HYBRIDS PAPERBACK!

Hybrids, the concluding volume of my "Neanderthal Parallax" 
trilogy, is now out in mass-market paperback from Tor.  It's a 
November 2004 title, and you should be able to find it in 
bookstores everywhere, and through online retailers.  

Of course, if you'd like an autographed copy, you can get that 
directly through my website:  Autographed Copies

Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer.  Tor Books, New York.  Mass-market 
paperback, November 2004.  ISBN 0-765-34906-X.

===

THE QUINTAGLIOS ARE BACK!

Also in bookstores:  a handsome new trade-paperback edition of 
FAR-SEER, the first volume of my "Quintaglio Ascension" trilogy.  
The second volume, FOSSIL HUNTER, will be reissued in March 2005, 
and the third, FOREIGNER, will be out in August 2005.  

Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer.  Tor Books, New York.  Trade 
paperback.  May 2004.  ISBN 0-765-30974-2.

Fossil Hunter by Robert J. Sawyer.  Tor Books, New York.  Trade 
paperback.  March 2005.  ISBN 0-765-30973-4.  

Foreigner by Robert J. Sawyer.  Tor Books, New York.  Trade 
paperback.  August 2005.  ISBN 0-765-30972-6.

===

COLLECTIONS!

My first short-story collection, Iterations, previously only 
available in Canada, is now out in a handsome trade-paperback 
edition across the United States.  It's in many bookstores, and 
also available through Amazon.com and BN.com, and other dealers, such as 
Mysterious Galaxy.

Iterations by Robert J. Sawyer.  Red Deer Press, Calgary.  ISBN 
0-889-95303-1.

I still have copies of the Quarry Press hardcover first edition 
of ITERATIONS; if you'd like an autographed one, see:  
Autographed Copies

===

Also just out in hardcover is RELATIVITY, a collection of my 
essays and speeches about science fiction, rounded out with eight 
short stories, and all 12 of my "On Writing" how-to columns.  It 
won't be widely available in stores, but you can order it 
directly from the publisher:  ISFiC Press

RELATIVITY by Robert J. Sawyer.  ISFiC Press, Chicago.  ISBN 
0-9759156-0-6.

===

AUDIOBOOKS and EBOOKS

Fictionwise.com has a terrific MP3 audio-book production of my 
short "Shed Skin."

Fictionwise also has a bunch of my short stories, in all standard 
ebook formats (with more to come through the first half of 2005).  

There's also an unabridged reading of THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT 
available on audio cassette from Recorded Books.

===

MY NEXT NOVEL

My next novel, MINDSCAN, is finished.  It will be published in 
April 2005 in hardcover by Tor.  Information, including the 
opening chapters, is now on my website:  Mindscan

===

OCEAN CRUISE WITH ROB!

Join me for the DELL MAGAZINES SCIENCE FICTION CRUISE -- with the 
editors of ANALOG and ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION magazines, plus 
Carolyn and me, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Connie Willis, 
and James Patrick Kelly.  The dates are May 21-28, 2005, and you 
can learn all about it at:  

Science Fiction Cruise

===

THE ROB AND BOB TOUR!

Robert Charles Wilson and I are touring together in support of 
the release of our next novels -- my MINDSCAN and Bob's SPIN, 
both from Tor -- next April.  Tour dates and cities are:

 * Monday, April 18:  Winnipeg, Manitoba.
 * Tuesday, April 19:  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
 * Wednesday, April 20, and Thursday, April 21:  Calgary.
 * Friday, April 22:  Vancouver, British Columbia.
 * Saturday, April 23:  Victoria, British Columbia.
 * Sunday, April 24:  Portland, Oregon.
 * Monday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 26:  San Francisco.
 * Friday, April 29:  Kitchener, Ontario.
 * Saturday, April 30:  Sarnia, Ontario.
 * Sunday, May 1:  Ann Arbor, Michigan.
 * Monday, May 2:  Detroit, Michigan.
 * Tuesday, May 3:  London, Ontario.

The full tour schedule will eventually be on my website at:  
Rob's upcoming appearances

===

THE WORLD'S TOP CASH PRIZE FOR SCIENCE FICTION

I just won it!  You can read all the details here:  
Premio UPC Press Release

===

WRITING WORKSHOPS

I have two writing workshops coming up in 2005:  one in Toronto, 
and the other in Banff, Alberta:

* I'll be leading a five-day science-fiction and fantasy writing 
workshop at the University of Toronto July 18-22, 2005.

* And I'll be leading a week-long science-fiction and fantasy 
writing workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the 
ski-resort town of Banff, Alberta, September 18-24, 2005.  

If you'd like to be sent more information about these workshops 
when it becomes available, just drop me an email:

E-mail Rob

===

DISCUSSION GROUP AND WEB SITE

There's a lively RJS online discussion group.  Please feel free 
to join us:  Discussions
And, of course, don't forget to visit my web site, which now has over one million words of material: Website main page === PUBLIC SPEAKING If your company or organization needs a keynote speaker who can talk about the future, science in society, and so on, I've been doing a lot of such things lately (including, in the last couple of months, the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards Banquet, the Canadian Association of Science Centres Annual Meeting, the Second International Symposium on Physical Sciences in Space, and BioMedex 2004). Find out more about booking me for your event through my speakers' bureau, Speakers' Spotlight. === HIGH-SCHOOL REUNION Finally, if you, or someone you know, went to Northview Heights Secondary School with me, please get in touch! I'm part of a committee organizing a reunion for the graduating class of 1979. E-mail me. === That's it! I'll write you again in April 2005, when Mindscan is out in hardcover. All best wishes! Rob ================================================================= Wednesday, November 24, 2004 I won the world's top cash prize for science fiction today. You can read all about it here. Woohoo! ================================================================= Wednesday, November 17, 2004 As always, busy times. Today, Robert Charles Wilson and I, plus our wives, went up to the offices of H.B. Fenn and Company, Tor's Canadian distributor, to plan out the April 2005 joint "Rob and Bob" tour for our new novels. His is called Spin, and mine is Mindscan. We'll be going to (in order): * Winnipeg, Manitoba * Saskatoon, Saskatchewan * Calgary, Alberta * Victoria, British Columbia * Vancouver, British Columbia * Portland, Oregon * San Francisco, California * Kitchener, Ontario * Ann Arbor, Michigan * Detroit, Michigan * London, Ontario Other news: the typesetting page proofs for Mindscan have arrived, and Carolyn is busily going over them. Also fresh in today's mail: the page proofs for my story "The Eagle Has Landed," which will appear in Mike Resnick's I, Alien, coming from DAW in April. Last weekend, we were in Chicago, for WindyCon XXXI, where I was author guest of honor. Programming head Steven H. Silver named the panels after my books: "Starplex," "Humans," "Frameshift," and so on. My favorite was one I wasn't even scheduled to be on, but ended up moderating: "Calculating God," about whether one can be religious and also a science-fiction fan. I was sitting in the audience, having just had an impromptu lunch in the Green Room with Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno. I'd followed Brother Guy into the panel room, and Gene Wolfe, also a panelist, saw me and called on me to come moderate. It was a fascinating discussion. At WindyCon, my 20th book, Relativity, was launched. It's a gorgeous hardcover collection of my speeches and essays about science fiction, rounded out with eight short stories (four never before collected), a foreword by Mike Resnick, a scholarly paper about my work by Valerie Broege of Vanier College, and even a cryptic Sawyer-themed crossword, also by Valerie Broege. The other highlight of the con was dinner Saturday night at Harry Caray's, one of Chicago's best steakhouses, with John Helfers, an editor for Five Star and Techno-Books; his wife Kerrie; author Jody Lynn Nye; and her husband, editor Bill Fawcett. The dinner resulted in two short-story commissions for me, one from John, the other from Bill. So, yet more work to do! Back to the grindstone ... ================================================================= Wednesday, October 6, 2004 I guess most people would say I live an interesting life -- and I'm certainly very grateful for it. Yesterday (Tuesday), I had a two-hour lunch with Susan Murdoch and Deb Nathan, two key players at Toronto's Pebblehut Productions. Pebblehut has optioned film rights to both End of an Era and Hominids, and they wanted to bring me up to date on their efforts to get these projects made. Yesterday evening, I was off to the City Hall for Mississauga, the city I live in. Mississauga is Canada's sixth largest city and home to 680,000 people. I was presented with a "Civic Award of Recognition," in honour of my literary achievements in the science-fiction field. The award was presented by Mayor Hazel McCallion, who, incidentally, is the oldest serving mayor in North America. Today (Wednesday) as I write this, I'm on a plane flying to Montreal for the annual meeting of the World Science Journalists Association. Jay Ingram, the host of Discovery Channel Canada's Daily Planet, asked for me to join him on a panel this afternoon about explaining complex science to the public. Tomorrow (Thursday), I'm off to the studios of TVOntario to do my fifth installment of the afternoon woman's show, More to Life, hosted by the vivacious Mary Ito. We'll be talking about the nature of reality and whether we really exist. The show goes live at 1:00 p.m. Then, on Friday morning, I'm off to the Canadian Broadcasting Centre in downtown Toronto -- the national headquarters of the CBC -- to appear live on CBC Radio One's flagship morning show, Sounds Like Canada, hosted by Shelagh Rogers (Shelagh will be in the Vancouver studios, and we'll be linked by satellite). I'll be talking about the science-journalism conference and the art of explaining science to the public. My segment will air at around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. Yesterday's award, today's panel, tomorrow's TV appearance, and Friday's radio appearance all are very gratifying: they underscore a significant mainstream acceptance in Canada of science fiction. It's been a long, hard fight to achieve that, and it's wonderful to see it repeatedly validated. Rounding out the next few days: after the appearance on More to Life, I'm having lunch with an old high-school buddy, John Pellatt, one of the principal writers of the Ned's Newt animated series. Thursday evening, it's "First Thursday," the monthly science-fiction fandom pub night in Toronto (we meet at The Pickle Barrel in Atrium on Bay; new faces are always welcome -- ask for the reservation in the name of "Yvonne"). Later Thursday evening, it's off to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the opening ceremonies of Bouchercon 2004, the World Mystery Convention, being held in Toronto for the first time in 12 years. I'll spend all day Friday and Saturday at Bouchercon, then Sunday I fly out west, for a visit to Calgary (and the offices of Red Deer Press, which publishes the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint) and then to Saskatoon, where I'm a guest speaker at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild annual meeting. Meanwhile, this month I start work on my seventeenth novel, which has the working title of Webmind. Last week, I sent the final, copyedited manuscript for my sixteenth novel, Mindscan, back to Tor; I'll only see the book once more before it's published, and that will be when the typesetting proofs show up for final proofreading. Mindscan will be out in hardcover in April 2005. More details on the award: On Tuesday, October 7, 2004, in a public ceremony at the council chambers of Mississauga City Hall, Robert J. Sawyer received the "Civic Award of Recognition" from Mayor Hazel McCallion in honour of his international success in science fiction. Also honored at the ceremony were weightlifter Akos Sandor and sailor Mike Wolfs, two 2004 Canadian Olympic athletes who live in Mississauga. With a population of 680,000, Mississauga is Canada's sixth largest city, and is the home of what is often erroneously referred to as Toronto International Airport; at 83, Mayor McCallion is the oldest serving mayor in North America. The scroll presented to Sawyer reads: City of Mississauga Civic Award of Recognition Presented to Robert J. Sawyer for your accomplishments in science fiction writing Your hard work and dedication has resulted in 29 writing awards at the national and international levels. Through the time and energy you have devoted to numerous novels, short stories and articles, you have earned success as one of the world's most popular science fiction writers. On behalf of the members of Council and residents of the City of Mississauga, congratulations on this special achievement and best wishes for future success Mayor Hazel MaCallion October 5, 2004 ================================================================= Tuesday, August 31, 2004 Racing to get a bunch of things done before I head off to the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston tomorrow. This morning I completed a 5,000-word short story I've been working on for a while. It's called "Flashes." Also, worked on the manuscript for Karl Schroeder's short-story collection The Engine of Recall, which will be published by Red Deer Press under the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint in February 2005, and sent the final computer file off to production. And Carolyn and I went over the galley proofs for Relativity, the collection of my essays and stories to be published by ISFiS Press in November, in conjunction with my Guest-of-Honorship at WindyCon. Plus, of course, packing! ================================================================= Thursday, August 26, 2004 Australian SF writer K. A. Bedford is in Toronto, promoting his new novel Orbital Burn, published by Calgary's Edge Press. He gave a reading tonight at the World's Biggest Bookstore (which isn't really) in Toronto. I made some introductory remarks, and then Adrian -- that's what the A stands for; the K is a mystery -- gave a nice reading. After, eleven of us, including Adrian and his wife Michelle, went out for dinner. Meanwhile, Aurora Award-winning Toronto author Karl Schroeder has sold his first short-story collection, The Engine of Recall, to Robert J. Sawyer Books, in a deal negotiated by agent Donald Maass. The collection will be published in Spring 2005, and features a brand-new novelette entitled "Alexander's Road" plus an introduction by Stephen Baxter. ================================================================= Monday, August 23, 2004 I'm back home in Toronto after twenty-five days on the road. The trip began on Wednesday, July 28, 2004, and took me to various locations in Colorado; to Calgary, Alberta; to Vancouver and Sechelt, British Columbia; and to Los Angeles. First up, the business news, then details of the trip. On July 27, the day before the trip began, I shipped off my final revisions on Mindscan, my sixteenth novel, which Tor will publish in hardcover in April 2005. (This is my twentieth book overall: sixteen novels, three anthologies I co-edited, and my short-story collection Iterations.) On July 26, I delivered the final manuscript for Relativity, a limited hard-cover collection of essays, speeches, and short stories which will be published by ISFIS press to coincide with my Guest of Honor appearance at WindyCon in Chicago this November. (This is my twenty-first book.) On July 28, my agent and I came to terms with Toronto's Pebblehut Productions to option film rights to two of my novels: Hominids and End of an Era. Pebblehut is best known for producing the Nero Wolfe Mysteries on A&E, and the Monkees biopic Daydream Believers. The options are two separate deals, so either project can advance separately. One more thing: Asimov's and Analog have announced their first-ever science fiction cruise, to be held in March 2005 aboard a Carnival cruise ship. Besides the editors of both magazines, the guests include Robert J. Sawyer (hey, that's me!), Connie Willis, Rebecca and Kevin J. Anderson, and James Patrick Kelly. Full information is at: www.sciencefictioncruise.com Anyway, on to the trip report! My mother is an American, born in a small town in Minnesota but raised in Berkeley, California. From Wednesday, July 28, to Wednesday, August 4, Carolyn and I were in Colorado for a reunion of my mother's family -- none of whom actually live there (go figure). About 70 relatives showed up (including my brother Alan and his wife, four of my five cousins, my only uncle and aunt, and lots more). The reunion lasted for three days, and was held at "The Village of Breckenridge" in the ski-resort town of Breckenridge. The rest of the time, Carolyn did sightseeing in Colorado, including Dinosaur Ridge, and the Denver Natural History Museum. Rural Colorado is incredibly beautiful, and we had a great time. On Wednesday, August 4, Carolyn flew back to Toronto, but I headed up to Calgary. Wednesday evening was the annual barbecue for the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, the Calgary writers' workshop I've been associated with since 1996. As always, the barbecue was held at the home of the parents of Robyn Herrington -- but there was a bit of a melancholy cast to the event this year, because Robyn had passed away in May. Robyn's parents are going to hold the barbecue at their place in perpetuity. The trip to Calgary was anchored by attending Con-Version, Calgary's annual SF convention. I wasn't a special guest this year (although I have been five times in the past); rather, I was attending on my own nickel. On Friday morning, the convention had arranged a behind-the-scenes tour of the Calgary Zoo. We got to scrub the elephants, and feed them peanuts from our hands. Friday evening, the convention began with a wonderful concert by Canadian musical-comedy troupe The Arrogant Worms. Sadly, Spider Robinson, who was co-Canadian Guest of Honor, along with his wife Jeanne, was hospitalized on Thursday, and missed the entire con. On Saturday afternoon, the launch of the second book published under Red Deer Press's Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint took place: we debuted the beautiful hardcover of Andrew Weiner's Getting Near the End; Andrew came out from Toronto for the launch, which went spectacularly well. After the convention, I stayed in Calgary for four days. Highlights included a group outing to see the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which I thought was excellent, and a trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, in Drumheller. I've been to the Tyrrell many times, but always enjoy it. Many thanks to Danita Maslankowski who drove our little group there. On Thursday, I flew from Calgary to Vancouver, then took a float plane from Vancouver to Sechelt, British Columbia, for the 22nd Annual Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts. I'd previously been a reader there in 2000, and was delighted to be invited back. My reading was Chapter 22 from Humans (the Vietnam memorial scene) and it was very, very well received -- one woman told me it was the best reading she'd heard in ten years of attending this festival. Saturday night, I had dinner with my friend Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Peter Robinson and his wife Sheila. Monday, I took the ferry down to Vancouver, and hustled off to finally see the live-action Thunderbirds film, before it disappeared from theaters. My thoughts: It's got a tremendously good heart, and is true to the original even in fine points of trivia (only real Thunderbirds fans previously knew that Brains's real name was Hiram Hackenbacker, or that Lady Penelope's full name was Penelope Creighton-Ward). Each Thunderbird vehicle gets its moment in the sun, as do such stalwart pieces of rescue equipment as the Mole and the Firefly. Really, the whole thing is utterly charming -- a love letter to the original series. Tuesday, Vancouver native Bonnie Jean Mah -- one of my writing students from Banff -- took the day off work to spend time with me. We went to the White Dwarf, the Vancouver science-fiction specialty store, then on to Science World, where we saw a great Omnimax film about coral reefs and attended a special James Bond exhibition, which was very nifty. In the evening, Bonnie Jean and I went out for a wonderful dinner on Granville Island. Wednesday, it was off to the Vancouver Art Gallery to special see exhibitions on Andy Warhol, Emily Carr, and contemporary west-coast artists. Then I headed to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, where I enjoyed the beluga show and the dolphin show, plus the rain-forest exhibit. Thursday, I flew to Los Angeles, as a guest of L. Ron Hubbard's Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest; the organizers are interested in having me become a judge. They treated me fabulously and I had an amazing time. I had lunch Thursday with Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd, then attended the final session of the week-long writing workshop Tim Powers runs for contest winners, seeing my friends Yoji Kondo (who writes as Eric Kotani), Kevin J. and Rebecca Anderson, and Catherine Asaro. Thursday evening, there was a wonderful rooftop barbecue with the winners and judges at the Manor Hotel. John Travolta showed up briefly, but I was too busy chatting with Larry Niven to notice. Friday morning, August 20, was the rehearsal for awards ceremony, at the very swanky Beverly Hills Hotel. There, I saw Pamela Anderson, talking on her cell phone. She saw me looking at her, and gave me a big smile and a wave. My heart is still beating fast! Friday, I had lunch with Frederik Pohl, Yoji Kondo, and their wives. Then I went off to visit the offices of Harmony Gold, the producers of Robotech, whom I did some consulting for once upon a time. It was great to see my old friend Tommy Yune, and I was given some very cool Robotech swag. Back at the Manor Hotel, I put on my tuxedo (provided by the organizers for the occasion) and headed back by limo to the Beverly Hills Hotel for the awards ceremony. At the cocktail party beforehand, I had a nice chat with shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave, the fourth astronaut I've met (Marc Garneau, Buzz Aldrin, and Bjarni Tyggvason were the others). I sat next to Lydia van Vogt -- the widow of SF legend A. E. van Vogt -- during the banquet. Also at our table were Kevin and Rebecca Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle. During the ceremony, I presented two of the writing awards. Michelle Stafford, who plays Phyllis on The Young and the Restless, was in the audience; I introduced myself, and we had a nice chat. Also in attendance: Martin Kove, who played Isbecki on Cagney and Lacey. At the end of the evening, I road back to the hotel with New York Times bestselling romance writer Jo Beverly. Saturday morning, August 21, I had a wonderful brunch with two old friends: Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, who are now executive story editors on Star Trek: Enterprise. Then it was off to the Borders bookstore at Sunset and Vine for a mass autographing session. Anne McCaffrey was clearly the star, but I sold far more books than I expected to, and the whole thing was quite pleasant. Saturday evening, it was off to dinner with my old high-school buddy Asbed Bedrossian; Factoring Humanity is dedicated to him. Sunday morning, August 22, my film agent, Vince Gerardis, picked me up at the Manor Hotel, and we went out for a great breakfast meeting, then he dropped me at LAX and, after twenty-five days away, I flew back home to Toronto. Whew! ================================================================= Wednesday, July 21, 2004 Busy times as always, but things are going well. Mike Resnick has accepted my 25,000-word novella "Identity Theft." It will appear next year in an anthology of six hard-boiled detective SF novellas entitled Down These Dark Spaceways. The other contributors are Mike himself, Catherine Asaro, David Gerrold, Jack McDevitt, and Robert Reed. The book will be offered exclusively by the Science Fiction Book Club. Earlier this week, I sold Chinese rights to both Starplex and Golden Fleece -- woohoo! I'm working my tail off on final revisions for Mindscan; they're due one week from today. ================================================================= Wednesday, July 7, 2004 Been working like a demon trying to get things done; an enormous number of deadlines occur this month -- gak! Among the things on my plate: finishing final revisions on Mindscan; finishing a 25,000-word hardboiled SF detective novella for Mike Resnick; going over galleys for the second Robert J. Sawyer Books title (Andrew Weiner's Getting Near the End); and doing individual story and article introductions for Relativity, the collection of my writings being published in conjunction with my guest-of- honorship at Windycon in Chicago this November. Still, Carolyn and I took a break today to see Spider-Man 2, which was quite terrific. But it's mostly been nose to the grindstone for me of late. Although I enjoy summer, I can't wait until this one is over, 'cause then I'll have only one project to focus on: my next novel for Tor. I'm learning lessons about overextending myself, and am actually getting good about saying "no." This past weekend was Toronto Trek 18. I did a reading from Mindscan, which was well received. Also had a fascinating lunch with an SF writer from Cuba, who happened to be visiting Toronto. He'd done a Spanish translation of Golden Fleece years ago; it was a joy to finally meet him. ================================================================= Thursday, June 17, 2004 Busy week! Last Saturday morning (June 12), I was in Calgary. I flew from there to Toronto, arriving home Saturday afternoon. Marcos Donnelly and his wife Vikki stayed over at my place on Saturday evening; Marcos is the author of the first book under the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint, Letters from the Flesh. Sunday morning, I headed in early to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for BookExpo Canada. I was a breakfast speaker (on the same program with Phillip Margolin, Susan Swan, and Will Ferguson). After that, I did a panel for librarians about the marketing of genre fiction. (I also heard directly from the president of the Ontario Library Association that I will be the featured author at their SuperConference 2005 -- booked through Speakers' Spotlight, natch.) Then it was up to the trade-show proper. Red Deer Press was giving away 200 copies of their beautiful new trade-paperback edition of my short-story collection Iterations, while I autographed. I had a huge line-up, which was very gratifying. Next was lunch with Dennis Johnson, Red Deer's publisher. At 1:30, it was back to the Red Deer booth so that Marcos Donnelly could sign Letters from the Flesh; the response from the book trade to the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint has been fabulous. I also spent Monday at BookExpo Canada, schmoozing. Over the two days, I got to spend some good face time with Greg Gatenby, the former head of the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors; Geoffrey Taylor, the current head; Brian Bethune, the books editor for Maclean's; Doug Gibson, the publisher of McClelland & Stewart; Harold and Sylvia Fenn, who run the Canadian distributor of Tor Books, and more. Way cool. Tuesday, Moses Znaimer, ex-president of MuchMusic, Space, and a dozen other Canadian broadcasting concerns, called to offer me a free pass to IdeaCity 2004, his three-day think-tank / schmoozefest. Passes cost $2,500 at the door, but Moses had a few left, and I'd been a speaker the previous year, plus he likes me. I jumped at the chance, and spent Wednesday there. I had lunch with Darlene Lim, Canadian Mars-exploration expert now with the NASA Ames Research Centre in Mountain View, California, and spent a coffee break with Sook-Yin Lee, the host of CBC Radio One's "Definitely Not the Opera." I wish I could have gone back to IdeaCity today, but I'm just too busy with other things -- including working on a 20,000-word hard-boiled-detective SF novella for an original anthology Mike Resnick is editing for the Science Fiction Book Club; dealing with the submissions that have piled up for Robert J. Sawyer Books (I rejected eight of them today), and more. Tomorrow (Friday), I'll be writing all day, then head off to my brother-in-law David's place for his DAVE -- "Dave's Annual Vacuuming Excuse" -- the name he gives to his birthday celebration. Then Saturday, it's off to Calgary again, for a trip that includes a side journey to the Oakanagan Valley of British Columbia for the Shuswap Lake International Writers Festival. ================================================================= Tuesday, June 1, 2004 Since signing up with Speakers' Spotlight, a major Canadian speakers' bureau, my speaking career has taken off very nicely. In the last month, I've done talks for BioMedex 2004 (a conference of researchers and financiers in the biopharmaceutical industry) and for the Canadian Space Agency (as keynote speaker at the Second International Conference on Physical Sciences in Space). And on this coming Friday, I give the opening talk at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Science Centres. The money is good, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Did a drop-in signing today at the Chapters superstore at Bayview Village Shopping Centre in north Toronto, and was pleased to note that The Terminal Experiment is now in an 8th printing. Woohoo! Meanwhile, the hardcover of Hybrids is in its second printing. I delivered my sixteenth novel to Tor recently. My working title was Action Potential, but the sales force didn't like that, so it's been retitled Mindscan. It had originally been scheduled for January 2005, but has been rescheduled now for April 2005, which makes me happier. I didn't want to be touring in the middle of winter, and no one buys books in January (they're too busy reading the ones they got for Christmas). Also, Mindscan is now scheduled for the same month as Spin, the next novel by my great friend (and fellow Torontonian) Robert Charles Wilson, and that will let us do some touring together). ================================================================= Monday, May 3, 2004 A very good friend of mine died this morning. I am off to Calgary tomorrow for the funeral. I submitted the following obituary to all the appropriate SF sources: Robyn Herrington (1961-2004) Robyn Meta Herrington, active member of both SFWA and SF Canada, passed away today in Calgary, Alberta, after a courageous multi-year battle with cancer. Robyn's short fiction appeared in such places as On Spec, Talebones, Adventures of Sword and Sorcery, Parsec, and in Mike Resnick's DAW Anthologies Return of the Dinosaurs (her first sale), Women Writing Science Fiction as Men, and New Voices in Science Fiction; one of her stories was produced by CBC Radio as part of its "Alberta Anthology" series. Her genre poetry appeared in Tesseracts 6 and Chiaroscuro, and she was working on a novel. Robyn was an acquisitions editor for Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, and was instrumental in bringing Australian writer K. A. Bedford's first novel, Orbital Burn, to market. Robyn was a beloved mainstay of Calgary's SF&F workshop, the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, where she was known for insightful, compassionately presented critiques. She was also a frequent member of the committee for Con-Version, Calgary's annual SF convention (including in 2002, when Con-Version was the CanVention -- the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention), and was often involved with the con's writers' workshop and annual short-story contest. Robyn was born in Melbourne in 1961, and grew up in Elizabeth Fields, South Australia; she moved to Calgary 25 years ago. She was employed as a graphics designer by the University of Calgary (and edited the publication New Currents In Teaching Technology there). She was also an accomplished glass blower, and an inveterate traveler. Robyn had time to draft her own eulogy before passing. At her request, it will be read at her funeral by her friend and mentor, Robert J. Sawyer. The service will be held later this week in Calgary. Robyn is survived by her husband Bruce Herrington, universally known in Calgary as "the wonder spouse," her parents, and sister Sandy VanDamme. Her home page is at http://www.ucalgary.ca/~rmherrin/ ================================================================= Monday, April 19, 2004 Woohoo! I received today my first copy of the new edition of my 1992 novel Far-Seer, just out from Tor -- and it looks GORGEOUS. The cover is the same art of Afsan from the original 1992 edition. The book is a trade paperback (large-format paperback), and it just looks fabulous: the layout and design of the cover (thanks to Tor's brilliant art director, Irene Gallo), the interior layout and typography, and so on. Just gorgeous. Far-Seer is volume one of "The Quintaglio Ascension." Volume Two, Fossil Hunter, is coming back into print in January 2005, to coincide with the hardcover release of Action Potential, and Volume Three, Foreigner, will be out later in 2005. ================================================================= Sunday, April 11, 2004 The final Hugo Award Ballot for 2004 was released yesterday, and -- woohoo! -- I'm on it. Humans is one of five finalists for the Best Novel of the Year. I'm totally thrilled. As I'm sure everyone reading this knows ('cause I've hardly kept it a secret <grin>), I won the Best Novel Hugo last year for Hominids, the book to which Humans is the sequel. (It's not unheard of for a book and its sequel to win back-to-back Hugos. Orson Scott Card did it with Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead ...) Also on the ballot is one of my very best friends, fellow Torontonian Robert Charles Wilson (for the remarkable Blind Lake). Bob and I and our wives are doing a road-trip to Boston together for the World Science Fiction Convention this year, which is where the Hugos will be presented on September 5. Meanwhile, Saturday's National Post -- one of Canada's two national newspapers -- had a nice little review of Iterations (which has just been re-released in trade paperback by Red Deer Press): "Abounding with innovations in plot, character and setting, Iterations (Red Deer Press, 303 pp., Cdn$22.95) is Sawyer's first collection of previously published stories and a fair microcosm of his 15-novel (and counting) career." As if all of that wasn't enough for one day, I also got invited on Saturday to be Guest of Honor at BayCon, a large (2000+ people) SF convention to be held May 27-30, 2005, in San Jose, California. Needless to say, I said yes -- and am totally thrilled! ================================================================= Tuesday, April 6, 2004 Ad Astra -- Toronto's annual SF convention, held this past weekend -- was very good this year, and I certainly was in a wonderful mood all weekend, although I'm sure that had as much to do with great things in my life external to the convention as anything that happened there. The convention started with a bang for me: at 7:00 p.m. Friday night, we had the book-launch party for Letters from the Flesh by Marcos Donnelly, the first title in the new "Robert J. Sawyer Books" imprint from Calgary's Red Deer Press. We were booked into a lovely venue called the Reflections Room, and had maybe 70 people show up. Dennis Johnson, Red Deer's Publisher, flew in from Calgary for the event, and Marcos Donnelly and his lovely wife Vikki, plus a slew of other writers and readers from the Rochester, New York, area (where Marcos lives) came as well, on top of tons of locals. Red Deer sprang for refreshments. I served as MC for the launch, standing on a chair telling everyone about how RJS Books came to be, likening Dennis Johnson to the Grinch ("Why, if I can't buy an SF imprint, I'll make one instead!"). And I introduced Marcos (who did a terrific, animated reading from the book) and Dennis. We sold 30 hardcovers, which is great for a book launch. Robert Charles Wilson, one of Ad Astra's Guests of Honour, bought a copy -- more about that later. Also nice was that the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) sales rep for distributor Fitzhenry and Whiteside was on hand; Fitz and Whits represents the new RJS Books line (as well as the recent reprint of Iterations from Red Deer). She said, much to my pleasure, that she'd just been blown away by the good-will I have among booksellers; everyone she'd been in to sell books to had responded very warmly to my name, and many had commented on what a nice guy I am. Gawrsh ... :) After that, I was off to my first panel on "Cognitive Science and AI" -- right up my street these days, as I race to finish ACTION POTENTIAL. One of the other panelists was fellow Tor/Hartwell author Karl Schroeder, and we always riff well off each other, so that was great. But the panel room was too small -- way too small! That was a complaint heard all weekend -- the rooms only had seating for about 30; most events ended up standing-room only. Fortunately, Ad Astra will supposedly be at a different hotel next year. Then it was the "meet the pros" party (back in the Reflections room), where I hooked up with the other author Guest of Honour, my great friend C. J. Cherryh and her writing partner, the super Jane Fancher, who is also a great buddy of mine. Throughout the party, and, indeed, throughout the weekend, maybe two dozen people commented on how much weight I've lost, and that certainly made me feel good :). We had five house guest staying with us during Ad Astra: Al Katerinsky and Herb Kauderer from Buffalo, New York; Herb's girlfriend Isobelle from Montreal; and Hayden and Liz Trenholm from Ottawa. We gathered them all up at about 11:15, and we had a convoy of cars back to Carolyn and my place. Saturday morning, I'd arranged for Red Deer publisher Dennis Johnson and me to take Patrick Neilsen Hayden, the head of SF/F publishing for Tor, and Teresa Neilsen Hayden, a consulting editor and formerly managing editor of Tor, out for brunch. Dennis is something of a newbie to the SF industry, although a very experienced publisher, and Patrick and Teresa regaled us with stories of the US marketplace, key personalities in the book trade, and so on. It was terrific. That segued to a lunch with two of Carolyn and my great friends, Nick DiChario (CALCULATING GOD is dedicated to him) and Rick Wilber (and Rick's 13-year-old daughter Samantha). Rick is a mystery/SF writer who normally lives in Florida, but he was also the leader of the study tour of Ireland that Carolyn and I participated in last summer (I was Featured Instructor for the University of South Florida/National University of Ireland's Galway Summer School in Contemporary Writing, from July 3 to 23 last year; we traveled all over Ireland with nine terrific students). So it was fabulous to see Rick. Next up was a panel on writing scams, which I moderated. It went fine (although, really, if you just remember Rob's rule -- money always flows to the writer, never the other way around -- you'll be fine). And at 4:00 p.m., there was an autograph session; that went fine, too. On hand for the autographing was Janis Ackroyd, my new publicist at H. B. Fenn (Canadian distributor for Tor Books); my old publicist, the wonderful David Leonard, had been hired away a couple of week ago. It was terrific to meet Janis, who seems super, and I had fun introducing her to other Tor and Warner authors (Fenn represents both in Canada). It was also fun to get a peek at the list of authors that she was supposed to meet that Fenn had provided her with, because it was annotated with physical descriptions to aid her in identifying them (no description for me, though; Janis had already seen me on TV, so she knew what I looked like). Next it was drinks with my great writing buddy Terence M. Green (FRAMESHIFT is dedicated to him and his wife Merle) and my brother-in-law, poet David Clink; fabulous chat. And that segued into dinner with David, Liz and Hayden, friend Rebecca Simkins, and others, in the hotel bar. And then it was a fun evening of making the party circuit through the hotel. Although Liz, Hayden, Al, Herb, and Isobelle were all still staying at our place, Carolyn and I took a hotel room at the con for Saturday night. Sunday morning, I had brunch with Ed Covannon and his friend Joe, both of whom work at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York (and had come in part for Marcos's book launch). Ed and Joe both work in the skunk works at Kodak, doing pie-in-the-sky new-product development, and Ed has a couple of times had me and other SF authors do "ideation" sessions for Kodak about future imaging products. In fact, the Companions in the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy came out of one of those sessions, when I quipped that the imaging product I most wanted was a personal black-box recorder. Then it was my reading, which was TOTALLY packed, and as one audience member wrote afterwards to me: "Your reading was superb, by the way, a fine example of `The Right Way To Do It.' I noticed that even when you'd been reading for 20 minutes, one could have heard a pin drop in that room. You could have read for hours and not lost us." That meant a lot to me, because what I was reading from was the opening parts of ACTION POTENTIAL, my current novel-in-progress. Not only was it the first reading I'd given from it, it was the first time I'd read any of the book in hardcopy (as opposed to on my computer screen). I was somewhat nervous about how it would be received, but the audience laughed at all the jokes and got misty at all the sad bits, and I felt enormously pumped at the end of the reading. We then had twenty-minutes of Q&A, which got into lots of deep topics, including whether or not souls exist. (It was actually a bit tricky, because a good friend of mine was in the audience, and she'd recently lost her spouse ... I didn't want to be dismissive of any beliefs that might give her comfort. But it all went fine.) Immediately after, and in the same room, I gave a solo talk, "What's Wrong with the Skeptical Movement These Days." Man, I was on fire -- the talk, given entirely extemporaneously, just rocked, I thought, and a lot of people seemed to agree. Only downside: after two hours of pretty solid talking, my voice was incredibly raw. It was then off to my great friend Robert Charles Wilson's Guest of Honour speech. Unlike my talk of the previous hour, Bob had carefully scripted his speech ... and it was fabulous: very, very funny (Bob is incredibly wry, in his writing and in person). He just HAS to publish the talk; it was that good. During the Q&A session afterward, Bob spoke passionately about Marcos Donnelly's Letters from the Flesh. As I mentioned Bob had bought a copy on Friday night at the launch, and, despite all his GoH duties, had managed to read half of it by this point. He said it was one of the best, most charming SF books he'd read in years, and praised Marcos for having written it and me for having published it. Woohoo! Carolyn missed all of the above. Sunday afternoon was the last meeting of the academic year of her poetry writing workshop, the University of Toronto's "Algonquin Square Table," and she'd gone off to that. I had one more panel after that -- the last panel of the con. I was moderating, with the two GoHs on either side of me: C. J. Cherryh and Bob Wilson. Even though it was the last event on Sunday afternoon, the room was still packed. Then Hayden, Liz, and I drove back to my place, and had very pleasant drinks waiting for Carolyn to get home. When she did, the four of us went out to dinner at Canyon Creek, a great steakhouse very near our home, and although the service was off (very unusual for them), the food was terrific. We then all went back to Carolyn and my place. The weekend before, I'd been in Calgary, and had had a small part in an amateur production of "Once More, With Feeling," the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER musical; it had been put on by members of IFWA, Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, for which I'd twice before facilitated workshops. I'd never seen the musical before that, but thoroughly enjoyed it then, and the next night, a bunch of Ifwits and I watched the original on DVD. It's truly terrific, and when I saw a copy for sale at Ad Astra, I couldn't resist buying it. So, Sunday night, Carolyn, Hayden, Liz, and I all watched the musical; I was the only one who had seen it before, but we all thought it was terrific. Hayden and Liz stayed over Sunday night (Herb, Isobelle, and Al had gone home directly from Ad Astra). All in all, a terrific weekend! ================================================================= Friday, March 19, 2004 I'll be in British Columbia twice this summer attending writers' festivals. First up is: The Shuswap Lake International Writers' Festival June 25-27, 2004 Prestige Inn Salmon Arm, BC (at the north end of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia) More info (although the site isn't up to date): www.shuswapwritersfest.ca/index1.html Then I'm off to: The 22nd Annual Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts August 12-15, 2004 Rockwood Centre Sechelt, BC More info: www.writersfestival.ca/ These are actually two quite different events. The Sunshine Coast Festival is an event for READERS, with authors giving major readings, books being sold, and so on -- a bit like Toronto's Harbourfront International Festival of Authors, but in a way, way more beautiful venue. Shuswap, on the other hand, is actually aimed at WRITERS who want to learn more about their craft; this year, they're having a special emphasis on science fiction and fantasy, and on poetry. For the SF/F stream, besides me, they've got Jack Whyte and Matt Hughes, plus (probably) a couple of others to be announced. We'll be doing some limited manuscript critiquing, a panel on SF/F, and some specific 70- to 90-minute workshops. The two workshops I'm doing are: EXTRAPOLATION: This workshop will explore techniques for taking things that are happening today and turning them into exciting fictional visions of tomorrow. We'll explore science fiction's two standard thought modes: "What if?" and "If this goes on ..." We'll look at how to cast ahead both scientifically and sociologically, discussing everything from predicting future technologies to what family life may be like decades from now. And we'll look at ways to keep up-to-date with the rapid pace of change in science and technology, and how to spot story ideas in the science pages of your local newspaper or weekly newsmagazine. CONSTRUCTING CHARACTERS: The heart and soul of good fiction -- including science fiction -- is believable characterization. We'll discuss how to find the right characters to populate your stories, how to pick an appropriate viewpoint, and how to bring life to your fictional people. We'll also look at the special challenges of creating nonhuman characters such as alien beings and thinking machines. ================================================================= Wednesday, March 17, 2004 I spent three hours at the CBC Broadcasting Centre today, recording my material for the third pilot of "Faster Than Light," the radio series about science fiction that I've been developing with Joe Mahoney for a couple of years. Fergus Heywood has now come on board as joint producer with Joe, and he's been a real asset. Today's session started with me doing a lengthy interview with Julie E. Czerneda, one of Canada's best SF writers. Julie is bubbly and witty, and the interview went very well. We'll only use a portion of it in the pilot; the rest will be saved for use if we actually get the go-ahead to make this series. The session at the CBC went fabulously. I got a bit depressed on the way home, though. I came home via the Go Train -- southern Ontario's intercity public-transit service. The driver came on the P.A. with the announcement that the train ahead of us on the tracks had hit and killed a pedestrian at a crossing. Very, very sad, and the sort of thing that provides some perspective on whatever little problems one might have in one's own life. Anyway, besides the interview with Julie, the new "Faster Than Light" pilot includes a full-cast dramatization of Richard Matheson's "Born of Man and Woman," a mini-documentary on aliens in SF movies, a commentary by me on the concept of "the other" in science fiction, and a bunch of other cool things. It's being turned in to the powers-at-be at the CBC next Tuesday ... and then we wait, with fingers crossed, to see if the show will be picked up. ================================================================= Tuesday, February 24, 2004 One of the reasons I'm self-employed is that I hate meetings. But today I attended a seven-hour (!) meeting at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, the national headquarters of CBC Radio and Television. The topic: a new pilot for "Faster Than Light," the radio program I've been developing with Joe Mahoney at the CBC for two years now (it was February 20, 2002, when Joe and I had our first meeting about this project). Our first pilot aired September 22, 2002, and had a great audience response. But wheels move slowly at the CBC. Earlier this month, the powers-that-be decided to give us the money to do another pilot. Today's meeting was with a brain trust of CBC producers to discuss directions for an eventual series. And despite my hatred for meetings, this one was wonderfully useful and productive -- we worked right through a (catered) lunch and got an enormous amount accomplished. We'll be pulling together a new pilot by the end of March, and, if we're successful, we'll hopefully be on the air this summer for a ten- or twelve-week test run. "Faster Than Light" will be hosted by me and will feature dramatic readings of SF stories, radio dramas based on existing SF stories, author interviews, commentaries, and more. Fingers crossed! In the evening, Carolyn and I and our friends Sally and Marcel went to see the Canadian documentary film The Corporation, which was fascinating -- but awfully long at 2 hours and 25 minutes. Still, much food for thought. Other news: I agreed today to be an Author Guest at the convention Toronto Trek 18, to be held July 2-4, 2004. ================================================================= Sunday, February 22, 2004 Well, I'm back from Philadelphia. I was flown down to be guest speaker at the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society's monthly meeting. PSFS is the oldest extant science-fiction club in the world, and monthly out-of-town speakers have been a staple of their programming for years. My talk was structured around the fact that two of my closest friends, Sally Tomasevic and Marcel Gagne, had just a week before announced that they were expecting a baby boy. Marcel and I, of course, had immediately started planning out how we'd make sure the little fellow (who I suggested should be named Leonard James Akaar Gagne) would grow up to be a science-fiction fan. But I wondered, in my talk, if, when that boy had grown to be as old as I (and his father Marcel, who is only two weeks younger than me) am now, would there be such a thing as science fiction? I cast back 40 years to look at what SF was doing back then, explored its current state, and tried to extrapolate what, if any, societal impact and importance it will have in the future. The audience was, fortunately, wonderfully receptive and supportive, and laughed at all my jokes. The next day, my wonderful host, Oz Fontecchio, took me to lunch, then to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences (which has a great dinosaur gallery), and then to a wonderful dinner. Sunday (today) was uneventful, except that my scheduled fight from Toronto was canceled because of mechanical problems with the aircraft; I got bumped to a flight on another carrier, in another terminal, but ended up spending an extra hour and twenty minutes in the Philadelphia Airport. Ah, well. It gave me a chance to get some writing done on Action Potential. ================================================================= Monday, February 9, 2004 On Thursday, February 5, I flew to Calgary, some 2700 km from Toronto. Using an old Poqet PC Plus MS-DOS palmtop, I wrote 1,300 new words of Action Potential during the flight, and read most of an issue New Scientist. The plane was only half-full, and I ended up with a row of three seats to myself. Red Deer Press had a limousine driver waiting for me, who looked an awful lot like Jerry Pournelle. He took me to the University of Calgary, where Red Deer Press has its offices. Red Deer has started a new science-fiction imprint, Robert J. Sawyer Books, but this was the first time I'd been to their offices, which at the moment are on the eighth floor of the library tower at the university (the press has an association with the university). Although I'd met publisher Dennis Johnson twice before, this was my first time meeting the rest of the Red Deer staff, all of whom seemed to be wonderful people. Later, Dennis, his promotions manager Lisa, I went to The Keg (a steakhouse) for dinner. After dinner, Lisa dropped me off at the central branch of the Calgary Public Library. I read my short-story "Immortality," and Timothy J. Anderson and Candas Jane Dorsey read, as well. I'd previously read with Candas, but had never had the opportunity to read with Timothy before. He's a professional actor, and his presentation was absolutely terrific. Usually, when I go to Calgary, I immediately hook up with the IFWits: members of IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, a group I have a association with going back to 1996. But, unfortunately, IFWA's regular monthly workshopping meeting was the same time as our reading, so only a few IFWits came. But after the readings, Danita Maslankowski took me off to the pub where the other IFWits congregate after their meeting, and I spent an enjoyable hour catching up with old friends. Then it was off to my hotel. With the time-zone change, the long flight, and the late hour, I fell asleep at once, and slept very well. Friday morning, Candas, Timothy, and I were picked up by staff from Mount Royal College, and we were whisked off to the campus for the conference "SF and Social Change" at which I was giving the keynote address, and Candas and Timothy were also presenters. My keynote went over very well indeed. I spoke for 40 minutes about whether science fiction has successfully been an agent of social change, or only a commentator on social change. The response was very gratifying. Several IFWits had signed up for the two-day seminar, which consisted of double tracks of academic papers. I attended most sessions, although bowed out of one to check my email and do some writing on Action Potential. Friday night was a terrific impromptu group dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory, and Saturday night, there was a fabulous, pre-arranged dinner for 25 at a local Chinese buffet. After that, a bunch of us adjourned to a terrific coffee shop called Bad Ass, where we stayed chatting and laughing until after midnight -- except for a battery-hunting expedition about 9:30 p.m. by the lovely Kaye Mason and the equally lovely Anna Maria Bortolotto (the lithium back-up battery on one of my palmtop computers had died, and someone had wisely observed that airport security people might confiscate it if I couldn't demonstrate it booting up upon request). The next morning, it was back home to Toronto. All in all, a fabulous trip. ================================================================= Wednesday, February 4, 2004 When I'm working on a first draft, as I am now for Action Potential, I try to do 2,000 words a day. Today, though, I was on fire -- producing 3,100 words before lunch. Yesterday, I received my "Collectors Award" trophy from Barry R. Levin for Most Collectable Author of the Year. It's gigantic -- by far the biggest trophy for writing I've ever seen. It's an art deco design -- a Lucite skyscraper supporting a five-inch diameter travertine sphere that represents a planet. Absolutely breathtaking. Tomorrow, I'm off to Calgary for three days -- giving the keynote address at a conference on science fiction and social change at Mount Royal College; visiting with Red Deer Press (the publisher of the new Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint), and having a dinner with the members of IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, a great group of people who I've twice led workshops for and who have become very special friends over the years. ================================================================= Friday, January 30, 2004 Progress is continuing nicely on Action Potential, my next novel. I'm at about 70,000 words, with three months left to finish the book (which will weigh in at 100,000 words). Indeed, I had a nice conceptual breakthrough this week that's going to add a very wonderful dimension to the novel. Action Potential deals with the nature of consciousness, and so Carolyn and I decided today to attend the sixth conference in the series "Toward a Science of Consciousness" at the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson; the conference runs April 7 to 11. Andrew Weiner delivered his revisions today for Getting Near the End, the second novel in the new Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. I'm just delighted at how smoothly everything is going with this line of books. The logo for the imprint, finalized earlier this week, is here. I'm pleased to see in the February Locus that Hominids is back on the paperback bestsellers' list (data period: November 2003), presumably thanks to its Hugo win. Indeed, Tor is going back to press for a second paperback printing, and will be adding a "Hugo Winner" starburst to the front cover (as well as correcting two minor typos). Got word today that my good friend Masayuki Uchida, who has been my translator since day one in Japan, has received the contract to translate all three Neanderthal Parallax novels for Hayakawa. Received a wonderful new piece for my collection of SF memorabilia today: a MasterReplicas recreation of the Phaser 2 pistol from the original Star Trek -- a pricey little item, but absolutely gorgeous. I'm very pleased with it. Today's mail also brought my contributor's copy of the new DAW anthology Space Stations, edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and John Helfers, and containing my new story "Mikeys." Here's the opening paragraph: Damn, but it stuck in Don Lawson's craw -- largely because Chuck Zakarian was right. After all, Zakarian was slated for the big Mars surface mission to be launched from Earth next year. He never said it to Don's face, but Don knew that Zakarian and the rest of NASA viewed him and Sasim as Mikeys -- the derisive term for those, like Apollo 11's command-module pilot Mike Collins, who got to go almost all the way to the target. ================================================================= Tuesday, January 20, 2004 I made a very brief trip to Ottawa Sunday and Monday, to do some consulting for the Canada Council for the Arts. Yesterday, evening I had dinner with the Hon. Mauril Bélanger, who is the Canadian Liberal Party's Deputy Government House Leader and the Party Whip. Mauril is a big science-fiction fan, and we had a great time chatting about SF, Canada's future in space, and more. Today, I went to the University of Waterloo, to give a talk to undergraduate physics students (all four years, as part of a combined lecture series). It went very well indeed, and afterwards Carolyn and I were taken out to lunch at what UW calls in a very egalitarian fashion the University Club (most other campuses call their similar facility the Faculty Club, which of course galls administrative and support staff). ================================================================= Friday, January 16, 2004 The January issue of Locus, the trade-journal of the science- fiction field, contains a full page ad from announcing the following: THE 16th ANNUAL COLLECTORS AWARDS: BARRY R. LEVIN SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY LITERATURE, A.B.A.A. On behalf of its staff and worldwide clientele of collectors of rare and first editions of science fiction, fantasy, and horror is pleased to congratulate the winners and proud to present to ROBERT J. SAWYER the Collectors Award for 2003 for MOST COLLECTABLE AUTHOR OF THE YEAR and to CHARNEL HOUSE the Collectors Award for 2003 for MOST COLLECTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR the Lettered State of THE BOOK OF COUNTED SORROWS by Dean Koontz and to ROBERT SILVERBERG the special Lifetime Collectors Award for A CAREER OF ASTOUNDING CREATIVITY THAT HAS SO AIDED THE COLLECTABILITY OF FANTASTIC LITERATURE The Collectors Awards are presented annually in January for the science fiction, fantasy, or horror author and book deemed "most collectable" by our firm's prestigious clientele. The awards take the form of solid travertine spheres (the special award being obsidian) representing a planet, which rests on a Lucite pedestal -- a fitting award for an author or publisher who spends an entire career creating worlds for others. Updated Thursday, May 25, 2006: Here's a list of winners to date of the Collectors Award for Most Collectable Author of the Year: 2005 (18th annual): Jack Vance 2004 (17th annual): Susanna Clarke 2003 (16th annual): Robert J. Sawyer 2002 (15th annual): Neil Gaiman 2001 (14th annual): J. K. Rowling (2nd time) 2000 (13th annual): J. K. Rowling (1st time) 1999 (12th annual): Neal Stephenson 1998 (11th annual): Peter F. Hamilton 1997 (10th annual): Stephen Baxter 1996 (9th annual): Stephen King (3rd time) 1995 (8th annual): Lois McMaster Bujold 1994 (7th annual): Anne Rice 1993 (6th annual): Michael Crichton 1992 (5th annual): Stephen King (2nd time) 1991 (4th annual): Dan Simmons 1990 (3rd annual): Stephen King (1st time) 1989 (2nd annual): Salman Rushdie 1988 (1st annual): Dean R. Koontz I'm absolutely thrilled to be in such august company. Many thanks, Barry Levin! [The award was discontinued after its 18th presentation. As Barry R. Levin wrote to me in an email in 2014, "By the time the 2006 awards should have come out, my wife Sally Ann (O.B.M.) had passed away. It had always been a joint project of ours and I just did not have the heart to go on with them alone."] ================================================================= Sunday, January 11, 2004 New Science Fiction Imprint Announced: ROBERT J. SAWYER BOOKS Hugo and Nebula Winner Sawyer to Edit Line First Books Acquired Now Open for Submissions Dennis Johnson, publisher of Red Deer Press of Calgary, Alberta, has announced its new science-fiction imprint: Robert J. Sawyer Books. Sawyer will serve as editor for the line, which will consist of at least three books per year, and he will write introductions for each book released. The first acquisitions: Letters from the Flesh by Marcos Donnelly of Brockport, New York (which will be published in hardcover in May 2004), and Getting Near the End by Andrew Weiner of Toronto (September 2004). Guidelines are online at: www.sfwriter.com/rjsbooks.htm The Red Deer Press website: www.redddeerpress.com ================================================================= Wednesday, January 7, 2004 Today, Hayakawa Publishing Company of Tokyo bought Japanese rights to the entire "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy: Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids. Yay! And the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America released its 2003 Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot today. My Humans is one of fifteen novels on the list; after the first round of voting by SFWA members, that will be knocked down to the five finalists. Also today, I was the "house guest" on CBC Radio One Toronto's afternoon drive-time show Here and Now with Avril Benoît. Avril and I chatted for two hours, interspersed with other guests and news, weather, and traffic reports. It was great fun. ================================================================= Wednesday, December 31, 2003 Toronto's Bakka-Phoenix Books, founded in 1972 as Bakka Books and the world's oldest surviving science-fiction specialty store, has announced its 2003 Bestsellers List, compiled by the store at the request of Canadian Bookseller magazine: The top-five bestselling books of 2003 at Bakka-Phoenix were: 1. Humans by Robert J. Sawyer in paperback (Tor/Fenn) 2. Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer in hardcover (Tor/Fenn) 3. Long Hot Summoning by Tanya Huff in hardcover (DAW) 4. Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer in paperback (Tor/Fenn) 5. Well of Lost Plots by Jasper FForde in trade paperback (Hodder) Yippee! ================================================================= Tuesday, December 30, 2003 Carolyn and I had a great Christmas holiday, spending time with family and friends. (Christmas Eve was somewhat non-traditional, with Carolyn's brother David coming over for a viewing on DVD of the Richard Burton / Clint Eastwood World War II drama Where Eagles Dare -- probably not the best holiday fare, but we had a good time anyway.) Well, 2003, is coming to a close. For me, it'll always be a special year: nothing in my career will ever compare with winning the Hugo Award for Hominids. I'm still on Cloud Nine about that. Other highlights of the year include winning the Seiun for Best Foreign Novel (for Illegal Alien) and the Aurora for Best Short Work in English (for "Ineluctable"), plus being writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy. Below is a list of all the SF I had published in 2003: NOVELS: Humans, Tor Books, New York, February 2003. Hominids, Tor Books, New York, September 2003. SHORT FICTION: "Come All Ye Faithful," Space Inc., edited by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books, New York, July 2003. "Immortality," Janis Ian's Stars, edited by Janis Ian and Mike Resnick, DAW Books, New York, August 2003. "On The Surface," Future War, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff, DAW Books, New York, April 2003. "Relativity," Men Writing Science Fiction as Women, edited by Mike Resnick, DAW Books, New York, November 2003. "The Stanley Cup Caper," The Toronto Star, Sunday, August 24, 2003, page M1. Work is coming along very nicely on my sixteenth novel, Action Potential, which Tor has scheduled for January 2005. It's a big show of faith on Tor's part: they've never scheduled a novel om mine that I haven't yet finished before. My deadline is April 30, 2004, and a "January 2005" hardcover should be out by early December 2004, so they're planning to have the book in stores book just seven months after I turn it in. I'm quite pleased by their enthusiasm! I received today my contributor's copy of the anthology Microcosm edited by Gregory Benford. It's a mass-market paperback original from DAW, dated January 2004. The book looks great. My story is called "Kata Bindu," and it's one I'm quite pleased with. I've also received reports that the trade paperback of Factoring Humanity is now out; that's an Orb title (Tor's classic trade-paperback imprint) for January 2004. So the new year is off to a good start, even though it hasn't officially begun: a story in the January/February 2004 Analog ("Shed Skin"), my new story "Kata Bindu" in Microcosms, and the reissue of an older novel, Factoring Humanity. Happy New Year, Everyone! ================================================================= Thursday, December 25, 2003 Merry Christmas, Everyone! Here's the text of Rob and Carolyn's 2003 Christmas Letter: The best thing that will probably ever happen to Rob in his career occurred this year: he won the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award -- the top international honour for science fiction -- for the best novel of the year. The winning book was Hominids, first volume of Rob's "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy. The Hugo was voted on by readers from all over the world, and presented at this year's World Science Fiction Convention, which, for the first time in 30 years, happened to be in Toronto. The Hugo Award rocketship is a standard design, but the trophy's base is at the discretion of the city hosting the convention, and so this year depicted a maple leaf doubling as rocket exhaust. The Canadian media went ape over Rob's win -- it was even the front-page lead story in The Ottawa Citizen, the largest-circulation newspaper in Canada's capital city. Hominids was published in 2002 -- but Rob had two other books released this year: Humans (which made it to the top-ten mainstream hardcover bestsellers list in The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper) and Hybrids. These two books complete Rob's "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy. But he's not out of work: Earlier this year he signed a new contract with Tor for a pair of standalone novels; these will be his 17th and 18th books. (Still, just to show that life shouldn't be too good, Rob tore some ligaments in his left ankle in June, and spent weeks walking first with crutches and then with a cane. But he's fine now.) As usual, we did a lot of traveling this year. We were in (among other places) Memphis, Winnipeg, Orlando, Calgary, Ottawa, and Montreal. But the big trip this year was to Ireland. We were invited along as guest faculty on a three-week study tour for students from the University of South Florida. We had a fabulous time traveling all over the Emerald Isle with a terrific group of nine kids plus Rick Wilber, the professor who organized the trip. In April, May, and June, Rob was Writer-in-Residence at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, part of the Toronto Public Library; he was the first person to hold that post since famed SF editor Judith Merril herself back in 1987. Rob also spent a week in Banff, Alberta, teaching SF writing. Carolyn is still busy with her poetry workshop at the University of Toronto, and got over her nervousness to do a great job teaching poetry fundamentals to students in Ireland. She was Poet Guest of Honour at Minicon, a science-fiction convention in Minneapolis in April. She's also active on the Board of Directors of our condominium. Carolyn is getting more and more into playing golf, and enjoyed many great games with her brothers David and Kevin this summer. Carolyn's youngest brother Brian and his wife Sandi had their second child, Abigail, in September. Happy Holidays, Everyone! ================================================================= Saturday, December 13, 2003 Chapters and Indigo -- Canada's largest booksellers -- have released their 2003 Best of the Year lists, including separate best-SF and best-Fantasy lists. These are lists by authors of all nationalities. I am delighted to report that my Humans is number one on the science fiction list, and that my Hybrids is number two! (Number one on the fantasy list is WOLVES OF THE CALLA: DARK TOWER V by Stephen King; number two is CERULEAN SINS by Laurell K. Hamilton. (All titles on the lists are being discounted 30% through chapters.indigo.ca) The full lists are online at: And here they are, in plain text: SCIENCE FICTION: ================ 1. Humans Robert J. Sawyer 2. Hybrids Robert J. Sawyer 3. Pattern Recognition William Gibson 4. Dune: The Machine Crusade Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson 5. Ilium Dan Simmons 6. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom Cory Doctorow 7. The Speed of Dark Elizabeth Moon 8. Darwin's Children Greg Bear 9. Star Wars: Shatterpoint Matthew Woodring Stover 10. Drowning World Alan Dean Foster 11. The Crystal City Orson Scott Card 12. Acorna's Rebels Anne McCaffrey 13. Evolution Stephen Baxter FANTASY: ======== 1. Wolves of the Calla: Dark Tower V Stephen King 2. Cerulean Sins Laurell K. Hamilton 3. High Druid Of Shannara Jarka Ruus Terry Brooks 4. Naked Empire Terry Goodkind 5. Crossroads of Twilight Robert Jordan 6. The Lone Drow: The Hunter's Blades Trilogy Book II R. A Salvatore 7. Paladin of Souls: A Novel Lois McMaster Bujold 8. The Elder Gods David Eddings 9. Kushiel's Avatar Jacqueline Carey 10. War Of The Flowers Tad Williams 11. Golden Fool Robin Hobb 12. Angelica Sharon Shinn 13. The White Dragon: Part One of In Fire Forged Laura Resnick ================================================================= Monday, December 1, 2003 Yahoo! Humans is number three on the Paperback Bestseller's List published in the SF trade journal Locus this month. Carolyn and I had flu shots today -- they're free for everyone in Ontario. We spent the evening snuggled up on the couch, each of us reading ebooks on our PDAs with a fire going in the fireplace. Carolyn is reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, and I'm just finishing off Kiss the Girls by James Patterson. ================================================================= Wednesday, November 26, 2003 On Monday, Carolyn and I took possession of a treadmill, which now looks out over the world from one of our penthouse windows. Of course, our condo building has lots of fitness facilities -- including two treadmills of its own -- but I wanted something in our own home. It's a lovely unit, and I'm enjoying using it (just for walking; not running -- but considering how badly damaged my left foot was just a few months ago, it's nice to be walking briskly without pain). I'm listening to downloaded audio books from Audible.com as I walk; I'm currently listening to an excellent essay collection called The Next Fifty Years. Yesterday, despite a vow not to do any talks or readings during the workweek this academic year, I made an appearance in a technical-writing class at Seneca College's York University campus. I made the exception because I was essentially being show-and-tell for a very good friend, Marah Searle-Kovacevic. She and two of her classmates were doing a presentation on jobs for writers, and I had quite an interesting trip down memory lane telling the class about how I'd started off writing for a trade journal called Broadcaster, edited the license application for the Canadian TV service Vision TV, edited advertorial reports for The Financial Times of Canada, written tons of office-automation case studies, and all the others sorts of writing I'd done during the 1980s, before switching over to writing SF full-time. Yesterday, I got asked to return to the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, British Columbia in August 2004. I'd read there once before, and had a fabulous time, so I said yes in a nanosecond. I'm very much looking forward to it. Also yesterday, I read through the galley proofs of my new short story "Mikeys," coming up in the DAW anthology Space Stations edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and John Helfers. Today, a photographer came over to shoot my picture for an article about ebooks coming up in the Canadian technology magazine Backbone; I was interviewed at length for that article, since I love ebooks both as a reader and a writer. (My current favourtie ebook reading platform is a Sony Clie SJ-20 using Palm Reader Pro.) Carolyn and I went to see a local theatre production of Cabaret, which was absolutely first rate. Currently, I'm reading Kiss the Girls by James Patterson -- the first book of his I've read; it's quite a page-turner. I'm also reading the just released Consciousness: A Guide to the Debates, as research for my current novel (the one I was calling Skins but am now, at least for the time being, am calling Action Potential). ================================================================= Sunday, November 9, 2003 Busy times, as always! Carolyn and I took Robert McKee's famed "Story" screenwriting seminar over Hallowe'en weekend. McKee is based in L.A., but he was in Toronto. The seminar started at 9:30 a.m. on the Friday, and went to 8:40 p.m. that night; Saturday, it started at 9:00 a.m. and went to 9:00 p.m.; Sunday, it lasted from 9:00 a.m. and went to 8:45 p.m. My bum was totally numb by the end! McKee is immortalized in the movie Adaptation (in which he's played by an actor). He's a very dramatic speaker. Carolyn learned a lot about the craft of story structuring, and I certainly enjoyed a very lively, pointed refresher. On the Sunday, we spent six hours going through Casablanca pretty much scene by scene. Casablanca is my all-time favorite movies, so this was thoroughly enjoyable. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were spent with the usual writing business in Toronto. (And on Tuesday, we had our carpets cleaned -- we've got a lot of carpets, and their all champagne-white. We entertain a lot and they certainly were in need of cleaning.) On Tuesday, I received the electronic version of the January/February 2004 issue of Analog, the world's best-selling SF magazine; this issues contains my short story "Shed Skin." Subscribers should be receiving their copies of the print edition around now, and it'll be in bookstores soon. Thursday morning, bright and early, Carolyn and I headed off by car to Albany, New York. We arrived there about 4:30 in the afternoon, and went out for an Italian dinner (at which the portions were obscenely large) with members of the local SF club. From 7:00 to 9:00 I did a reading/signing/talk at Flights of Fantasy, Albany's SF specialty store. The turnout was great. After that, we drove to Saratoga Springs, for the New York Library Association's annual meeting, where I was giving the "noted author" luncheon address. We arrived late, the hotel was overbooked, and we got bumped to a suite in a heritage-site hotel inside a state park, with the first hotel picking up 100% of the much-larger tab. (Still, Carolyn said the hotel reminded her of a submarine: Sure, it looks great on the surface, but as soon as you get inside, it's "Dive! Dive! Dive!" Friday, we arrived at the New York Library Association's meeting, and looked around the trade show. Then I gave the luncheon address. My 40-minute talk was entitled "The Many Flavors of Science Fiction," and it was extremely well received -- I can't remember the last time I'd had such sustained applause. After the talk, the organizers sold a ton of my books, and, after signing them, Carolyn and I hit the road, heading to Keene, New Hampshire, to drop in briefly at the used-SF store run by my friend Judith Klein-Dial. We then headed to Milford, New Hampshire, where I did a signing at a party celebrating my Hugo win at the Toadstool Bookshop there. After the signing/party was over, we drove another 2.5 hours to Montpelier, Vermont. The temperature had dropped a lot, and it was now bitterly cold. We stayed in a hotel overnight, then motored up to Montreal, arriving there just before noon for Con*Cept, a one-day science-fiction convention. (Con*Cept used to be a three-day con, but had fallen on hard times; we'd decided to go just to show our support.) It was a terrific, very well run convention, and it was great to meet some of the members of the Robert J. Sawyer Yahoo! newsgroup face to face. I was on a panel on the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, and another on global warming, and there was an event called "An Hour with Robert J. Sawyer," at which I did a reading (of my story "The Eagle Has Landed," forthcoming in Mike Resnick's anthology I, Alien), and a Q&A session. Carolyn and I ended up having dinner with two of the Guests of Honor: fantasy writer Dave Duncan from Calgary, and British actor Michael Sheard, who played Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back. Sunday morning, the convention ended with a terrific brunch, and we hit the road for the 560 km journey back home. As I said above, busy times. But really pleasant, productive, fun times, too ... ================================================================= Tuesday, October 7, 2003 Well, well, well. Carolyn and I went to the Royal Ontario Museum on Sunday to see the special Art Deco exhibit, and, when done, dropped by my old stomping ground, the dinosaur gallery. For the first time since the "new" dinosaur gallery opened 30 years ago, some changes have been made. In my 2000 novel Calculating God, I wrote: The centerpiece of the old gallery was a Corythosaurus, a huge duckbill standing erect. There was something wonderfully Canadian, although I didn't understand it as such at the time, about the ROM's showcase dinosaur being a placid vegetarian instead of the ravenous T. rexes or the fiercely armed Triceratopses that were the major mounts at most U.S. museums; indeed, it wasn't until 1999 that the ROM put a T. rex cast on display, over in the kid's Discovery Gallery. Still, that ancient Corythosaurus mount was wrong. We know now that hadrosaurs almost certainly couldn't stand up like that; they probably spent most of their time as quadrupeds. Every time I went to the museum as a kid, I made a point of looking at that skeleton, and the others, and reading the placards, and struggling with the vocabulary, and learning as much as I could. We still have that skeleton at the ROM, tucked to the side of the Cretaceous Alberta diorama, but there's no explanatory text associated with it anymore. Just a small Plexiglas sign that disingenuously glosses over the erroneous stance, and says little else: Corythosaurus excavatus gilmore A crested hadrosaur (duck-bill) mounted in an upright alert posture. Upper Cretaceous, Oldman formation (approximately 75 million years), Little Sandhill Creek, near Steveville, Alberta. Of course, the "new" Dinosaur Gallery was a quarter-century old now. It had opened before Christine Dorati had come to power, but she considered it a model of what our displays should be like: don't bore the audience, don't weigh them down with facts. Just let them gawk. That's changed now. Gone, at last, is the hoary old Corythosaurus mount -- the dinosaur that inspired my interest in paleontology. Gone, too, is a more recent -- and more anatomically correct -- mount of Lambeosaurs, another duckbill, this one named for the great Canadian paleontologist Lawrence Lambe. Taking their place is the Tyrannosaurus rex that had previously been in the children's Discovery Gallery, now closed for renovations. It's a fine mount, but the net effect is that the ROM has two fewer dinosaurs on display now. (Another change: the Dinosaur Gallery's lovely Albertosaurus -- another signature Canadian genus -- is gone, replaced by a much smaller Ornithomimus, moved from the opposite side of the hall to make more room for the T. rex. Also changed: there's now a nice exhibit of Burgess Shale fossils just outside the Dinosaur Gallery. Lots more renovations are underway, and the spot where Hollus's shuttle landed in the opening of Calculating God is now filled in with a temporary building for the workers doing the renovations. Still, the biggest change of all since the time of Calculating God is one we can't yet see. As I wrote in the beginning of that book: The alien's shuttle landed out front of what used to be the McLaughlin Planetarium, which is right next door to the Royal Ontario Museum, where I work. I say it used to be the planetarium because Mike Harris, Ontario's tightfisted premier, cut the funding to the planetarium. He figured Canadian kids didn't have to know about space -- a real forward- thinking type, Harris. Ding-dong! The witch is dead! Although Harris himself stepped down a couple of years ago, his gang, the "Progressive Conservative" party, had stayed in power ... until this month. Last Thursday, Ontarians overwhelmingly voted the bastards out of power. The Progressive Conservatives went from two back-to-back majorities to just 24 seats in the new Parliament. The Liberals (not a dirty word in Canadian politics!) got three times as many, 72 seats, and form the new government. Let's hope this province goes back to having, as its tourism jingle once proudly proclaimed, "hopes as high as the tallest tree." ================================================================= Saturday, September 13, 2003

[Tom Doherty, Rob Sawyer] [Ottawa Citizen] On Saturday, August 30, at a little before 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, my life changed forever -- my Hominids won the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year. I'm totally and completely thrilled. There's a press release available here. The photo above shows Tor Books publisher Tom Doherty, on the left, and me holding my Hugo trophy, just after my win. Earlier that same day, I won Canada's top SF award, the Aurora, for my novelette "Ineluctable," and Japan's Seiun Award for best foreign novel of the year for Illegal Alien. All of this excitement happened at the 61st annual World Science Fiction Convention, which was being held, for the first time in 30 years, in Toronto. Before, during, and after the convention we had house guests -- a total of thirteen different people moving in and out over the span of fourteen days. But every one of them was a joy, and Carolyn and I had a great time playing host. Since my Hugo win, the media has been very attentive. The Ottawa Citizen -- the largest-circulation newspaper in Canada's capital city -- had my win as their lead story: front section, page one, above the fold. The Toronto Star, Canada's largest- circulation newspaper, gave the story half a page on page 2 of the front section, above the fold. I did a marathon session of phone interviews with local CBC Radio One stations across Canada, and have done lots of other radio, TV, and print interviews. And the attention hasn't let up; just yesterday, I did four more interviews. There have also been a lot of intriguing creative opportunities put before me since the win: editing my own Canadian publishing imprint, hosting a Connections-like series pilot for a Canadian specialty channel, writing a screenplay based on Hominids. I'm still mulling over which, if any, I'm going to pursue, but it's amazing to see doors flying open right now. Other news: Hybrids, the concluding volume of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, had its hardcover launch at the World SF Convention, and that went very, very well. Meanwhile, the paperback of the second volume, Humans, is now out. And I just reviewed the galleys for my short story "Shed Skin," which will be in the January/February 2004 edition of Analog. My ankle is still healing, slowly but (I hope!) surely. Other than that, all things are wonderful these days. ================================================================= Thursday, July 31, 2003 It's been a wonderful summer so far -- except for one thing. I took a fall on some stairs on June 18, and tore some ligaments in my left ankle. I've progressed from walking with a crutch (for two weeks) to walking with a cane (for three weeks) to, as Monday, walking with no aid at all. It's been frustrating, but I am getting better. Still, it was no fun having to hobble around Ireland, where Carolyn and I spent the first three weeks of July. But I didn't let the injury get in the way of having fun -- and we did indeed have a lot of fun. Carolyn and I were traveling with our good buddy and fellow SF writer Rick Wilber, plus nine university students (six girls and three guys), all of whom were a joy to spend time with. It was a truly great trip. As soon as I got back, though, it was off on my NEXT trip -- this one to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for the Festival of Words. It was a great festival, and I had a terrific time. The icing on the cake was getting bumped up to Executive Class on the way home. I spent the time on the plane writing cover copy for the new edition of Far-Seer, forthcoming from Tor. Here is it: FRONT COVER: "A brilliant parable of the nature of scientific investigation, and its relation to art and faith." -- S. M. Stirling ROBERT J. SAWYER FAR-SEER The Quintaglio Ascension Trilogy, Volume 1 "A sense of wonder that hasn't prevailed since the days of Heinlein." -- Books in Canada BACK COVER: World-Building in the tradition of Hal Clement Sixty-five million years ago, aliens transplanted Earth's dinosaurs to the moon of a gas-giant world. Now, intelligent saurians -- the Quintaglios -- have emerged. Afsan, the Quintaglio counterpart of Galileo, must convince his people of the truth about their place in the universe before tidal forces rip the dinosaurs' new home apart. "A tour de force. Vastly enjoyable, beautifully realized." -- Asimov's Without question, Far-Seer will be remembered as one of the year's outstanding SF books." -- The Toronto Star "Fans of well-drawn biological speculation should forget Jurassic Park and go for this series." -- Vector The Classic of Hard Science Fiction by the Nebula Award-Winning Author of Hominids and Calculating God ================================================================= Sunday, June 8, 2003 Weekend? What's that? <grin> Friday night, I did a late-night by-phone interview with a radio station in Boston. Ironically, the guest they'd had on just before me that evening was F. Paul Wilson, whose wonderful new novel SIMS I had just finished reading. Saturday morning, it was off to the Merril Collection for five more writer-in-residence appointments. Today, I did an hour-long signing at Book Expo Canada, a trade show. We gave away 200 hardcovers of HUMANS, plus a few dozen bound galleys of HYBRIDS. As soon as I finished my signing, I hurried off to the BookTelevision stage at the conference centre; BookTelevision is a Canadian specialty TV channel. I did a panel discussion with Michael Coren about the status of religion in society at the beginning of the new millennium. Michael is an evangelical Christian, but also a very articulate and bright man, so we had some great head-butting. The half-hour discussion will air shortly on the Book Television's RICHLER INK, hosted by Daniel Richler (Mordecai's son). After that, I took a cab to the annual general meeting of the Humanist Association of Toronto, where I was the guest speaker. I spoke for almost two hours about religion and anti-religion in science fiction. The talk was extremely well received, and I sold out of the books I'd brought along (I'd brought copies of CALCULATING GOD and HOMINIDS, so I quipped that I had something for deists and atheists alike). Then it was back down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (the venue for the upcoming Toronto WorldCon) for more of Book Expo Canada. At the end of the day, I was a presenter at the Canadian Booksellers Association's Libris Awards. I got to give the Campus Bookseller of the Year trophy, which went to the University of Toronto bookstore. Needless to say, I'm exhausted. I'm going to curl up with the book I'm currently reading (Edgar Rice Burrough's AT THE EARTH'S CORE, which I've never read before), and call it a night. ================================================================= Monday, May 26, 2003 Carolyn and I just got back from four days in sunny Orlando, Florida, where I was Guest of Honor at the science-fiction convention Oasis 16. The convention t-shirt sported a lovely scratch board rendering of Hollus, the main alien character from my novel Calculating God; I liked it so much I bought the original from the artist. We had a fabulous time, including spending a lot of time with our buddies Jack and Maureen McDevitt, hanging out in the terrific con suite, and just generally enjoying a very well-run convention. Other news: I'm pleased to announce that I'm a triple nominee for this year's Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (the Auroras). My novel Hominids is a finalist in the Best Long-Form Work in English category. My novelette "Ineluctable," first published in Analog is a finalist in the Best Short-Form Work in English category. And Faster Than Light, the radio series pilot I hosted for CBC is a finalist in the Best Other Work in English Category. The winners will be announced at Torcon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention being held in Toronto this year. ================================================================= Monday, May 19, 2003 Sorry to be offline so long! I've been out of town: Carolyn and I just returned today from Winnipeg, where I was Author Guest of Honour and Carolyn was Poetry Guest of Honour at the 20th annual Keycon SF convention. (And our friend Jolly Blackburn was Artist Guest of Honour.) It was a wonderful convention -- but very unusual in a number of respects. For one thing, Manitoba doesn't have many SF writers of its own ... so instead of the usual array of panels, all of my programming events were solo items. For my reading, I read "Shed Skin" which first appeared in The Bakka Anthology, and which Stanley Schmidt has just bought reprint rights to for Analog. The Winnipeg con committee were truly terrific people, and they treated us very well. (Next year's Author GoH at Keycon will be my friend Dave Duncan.) Carolyn and I are off to Orlando Thursday morning; I'm Guest of Honor at the SF convention Oasis 16 there this weekend. Last week, I did a reading along with new authors Caitlin Sweet and R. Scott Bakker at the Hart House Library at the University of Toronto. We had a full house, and it went really well. Other good news: I'm going to have a significant presence at the American Libraries Association convention in Toronto next month. Not only is the Toronto Public Library showing me off, since I'm currently their Writer-in-Residence, but my publisher, Tor Books, is throwing a fancy dinner in honour of three of their Canadian authors -- myself, Karl Schroeder, and Candas Jane Dorsey -- on the Saturday night of the conference. Way cool! Finally, I've found a new author whose work I'm really enjoying: Dan Brown. He's not a science-fiction writer per se, but his work might very well appeal to fans of my stuff. In the last week I've read his novels ANGELS AND DEMONS and THE DA VINCI CODE (the latter a current NEW YORK TIMES and GLOBE AND MAIL bestseller). They were both fascinating, and had a lot of the sort of philosophical debate I try to put in my books. ANGELS AND DEMONS is set in large part at CERN, the European Centre for Particle Physics. I recommend both these books; they're incredible page turners. ================================================================= Monday, April 21, 2003 Just got back from being Guest of Honor at Minicon 38 in Minneapolis, where I had a wonderful time. The big news is that my Hominids is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year. Full details are in this press release. ================================================================= Tuesday, April 15, 2003 On Sunday night, April 13, I got back from eight days and seven nights in glorious Banff, Alberta, where I was leading a week-long science-fiction writing workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts. I had six students: Kaye Mason, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science from Vancouver; Robert Kim Greyson, a high-school English teacher from Calgary; Ernie Reimer, president of a robotics firm from St. John's, Newfoundland; Ed Willett, an established author of young-adult books from Regina, Saskatchewan; Kevin MacIsaac, a computer expert from Fernie, British Columbia; and Ed Hoornaert, the author of two Silhouette romances, from Tucson, Arizona. They were a fabulous group, an absolute joy to work with. I expect them all to get published in SF&F field. As always, the Banff Centre was wonderful, even though this was the earliest in the year I'd ever been there, so the weather was brisk most days, and we had rain and a tiny amount of snow one day. Robyn Herrington -- look for her in the anthology NEW FACES OF SCIENCE FICTION, coming from DAW -- and her husband Bruce picked me up at the Calgary Airport and drove me to Banff; Robyn has three times taken workshops with me -- once in Calgary, and twice in previous sessions at Banff. Our group did lots of manuscript reading, and lots of critiquing, and for me it was very gratifying to see real improvement in the work by the end of the week. On Sunday, Danita Maslankowski -- who had also workshopped with me in Calgary back in 1996 -- picked me and Kaye Mason up at Banff, and drove us the hour and a half back to Calgary, where a dozen or more members of IFWA, Alberta's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, had come out to have a buffet lunch with me at a bar and restaurant called Nick's. It was fabulous to see old friends again -- the workshop I'd done in Calgary years before had been for IFWA -- and, as if to make the event perfect, while we were eating, a little piece about me happened to come on the bar's TV (which was tuned to Space: The Imagination Station). A week ago, I was thinking I really should give up teaching at Banff. The pay is very modest (Cdn$1,000 for eight days of my time), and although the students get a lot of writing done during that time, I get very little writing done, in part because I have to schedule hour-long one-on-one sessions with each student during my spare time. But by the end of the week, I'd changed my mind. The last night, we had a wonderful guitar-accompanied singalong, with Ed Willett -- whom I've previously referred to as the greatest singing voice in Canadian science fiction -- leading us with his wonderful baritone (he's one of the very few singers I know who can do real justice to OLD MAN RIVER). That same night, I had a blast impersonating William Shatner as I sang the theme to SHAFT as he might have rendered it. The whole week was heaven, and I enjoyed every single minute, but after that wonderful final evening, I had an epiphany: I shouldn't think of Banff as a low-paying job, but rather as a vacation that I get paid to take. I'm already looking forward to next year's workshop. Meanwhile, I continue to do media to promote the hardcover release of HUMANS: yesterday I did half an hour by phone on KVON (a San Francisco radio station), and today I did 35 minutes on TVOntario's afternoon TV phone-in show MORE TO LIFE. Other news: On Monday, I received acceptance from ANALOG for my short story "Shed Skin," which first appeared in a 400-copy limited edition of fiction by the people who work now or have worked in the past at Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store. ANALOG almost never buys reprints, but wonderful editor Stan Schmidt agreed to make an exception. "Shed Skin" is a story I'm very proud of, and I'm delighted it's going to get a wider readership. Finally, as of today, I've done 15 of the 60 manuscript critiques I'm supposed to do as writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection, meaning I'm one-quarter of the way through. Also, as of today, the Merril has already received 40 manuscripts for me to critique; my contract calls for me to critique 60 -- so get yours in soon! ================================================================= Wednesday, March 5, 2003 Carolyn and I have had a busy couple of weeks (nothing new about that <grin>). Here's some of what's been happening. On Monday, February 24, I finished a short story called "The Eagle Has Landed" for Mike Resnick's upcoming DAW anthology I, Alien. On Tuesday, February 25, the online newsletter from QUILL&NBSP;& QUIRE, the Canadian publishing trade journal, carried a nice piece about my residency at the Merril Collection: TORONTO LIBRARY GETS SCIENCE-FICTION WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE The Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of science fiction will get its own writer-in-residence this spring: author Robert J. Sawyer. Sawyer, who lives in nearby Mississauga, will occupy the position from Apr. 1 through June 30. He'll run a series of seminars at the Toronto Reference Library and will be available to critique manuscripts in one-on-one sessions. "We made a shortlist and his name came up at the top," says Mary Cannings of the Merril collection. Sawyer has previously served as a writer-in-residence at the Richmond Hill Public Library. The Merril Collection was founded in 1970 after Canadian science-fiction author Judith Merril donated her personal library to the TPL. Although the library system has a regular writer-in-residence program, there has not been a dedicated SF author since Merril herself held the spot in 1987. "She organized the most promising writers who came to see her into a writers' group," remembers Sawyer, noting that authors Edo van Belkom and Karl Schroeder emerged from that group. "I'm hoping my residency will be a similar catalyst." -- Derek Weiler Meanwhile, I've been doing some story consulting for a science-fiction TV series that's in development here in Canada. The producer and the writer of the pilot script came over to my place on Tuesday, and we had a great brainstorming session. That evening, I appeared (pre-recorded) on Vision TV's "Test of Faith," hosted by Valerie Pringle, one of Canada's top TV journalists. The topic was "Could Organized Religion Survive the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life." I was the guy "in the hot seat" for the full hour, taking on questions and comments from the other guests, including Vatican astronomer Chris Corbally. Just to remind me that life shouldn't be TOO good, I got a notice on Wednesday from the Canadian tax authority saying they (thought) they had spotted discrepancies in my 1999 and 2000 taxes. Of course, there actually are no such discrepancies, but Carolyn and I had to spend the afternoon digging through old tax records to prove that. I had to write a lengthy letter full of stuff like this, showing that I had in fact claimed all parts of the Canadian freelance income I'd received, as enumerated on T4A slips that I myself had provided, on my Statement of Income: Re my year-2000 T4A from "CBC/SRC LP (Tor)" for $1,249.17, note that this one T4A covers four individual freelance jobs for CBC Newsworld. These are cited as four separate "Newsworld" payments on my 2000 Statement of Income Received -- $155.50, $155.50, $155.50, and $700.93. As you'll see, these amounts total $1,167.43. There was an additional 7% GST paid on these, which I did not claim as income (because, of course, it is not taxable income) but did disburse to Revenue Canada; that brings the total to $1,249.15. The two-cent discrepancy is clearly a rounding error that accumulated as the four separate transactions were totaled. What a fun way to spend a day. Still, the evening was fun. Carolyn and I went to see horror writer Edo van Belkom and his wife Roberta graduate as members of the Peel Region Police Auxiliary (Roberta was class valedictorian). Thursday, February 27, I went for a two-hour meeting at Space: The Imagination Station (the TV network behind the Canadian series I'm consulting on), which was a lot of fun, then I had lunch with my buddy Mark Askwith (to whom my latest novel, HUMANS, is dedicated); Mark produces the materials that appear between regular programs on Space, such as the daily "Space News" and "Hypaspace." After that, Carolyn and I headed of for a seven-day, six-night trip to upstate New York. We arrived that evening in Rochester, and checked in to the Four Points Sheraton -- but had to get up bright and early the next day, because I was booked for a 6:10 a.m. TV interview on the Rochester CBS affiliate, WROC. The interview went very well, and we immediately went back to the hotel ... and went back to sleep. At 1:00 p.m., after checking out of the hotel, I was interviewed for an hour by Bob Smith of WXXI radio (the Rochester PBS station) about HUMANS. Bob had thoroughly read both HOMINIDS and HUMANS, and his questions were very insightful; we all got some interesting calls from listeners. At 3:00 p.m. I had a meeting with a couple of Rochester-area librarians who were interested in having me give the "Noted Author" luncheon address at this year's New York Library Association annual conference, which will be held in Saratoga Springs in November. The meeting went very well (and on Monday, they formally offered the gig to me, and I accepted). That afternoon, I finished reading Octavia Butler's novel KINDRED, which was this y ear's choice for the "If All of Rochester Read the Same Book" program. I thought it was absolutely first-rate, and very moving. Friday night, February 28, the American book launch for HOMINIDS at Writers & Books, Rochester's literary center. The program director there is my great buddy Nick DiChario, and the launch went very well. They've got a great room there for readings, and since everyone was comfortably seated, I read Chapter 22 of HUMANS (the scene at the Vietnam memorial) in its entirety. At the end, one of the women in the audience asked if there was any way I could get copies of that to George W. Bush and the members of Congress, as they prepare to go to war in Iraq. I just paraphrased the last line of the chapter: "If I thought there was the slightest possibility it would work, I would do so." After the launch, Carolyn and I did the hour-long drive out to Canandaigua Lake, one of upstate New York's Finger Lakes; my family has had a vacation home right on the lake since 1974. On Saturday, March 1, Carolyn and I headed back into Rochester, so I could lead a two-hour discussion at Writers & Books on using time travel as a literary device. I had eight people signed up for the talk, and it seemed to go over well. Afterword, Carolyn and I went out for a Greek meal with Ed Covannon of Eastman Kodak's R&D department; Ed has had me in before for "ideation" sessions about the future of imaging technologies; the Companion implants in my NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX series of novels had come out of such a session we did in March 2000. Also on Saturday, I picked up my e-mail, and found a message waiting from my agent Ralph Vicinanza, saying that Tor had agreed to buy reprint rights to my three "Quintaglio Ascension" novels (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner), to be reissued as individual trade-paperback volumes. I was delighted to hear this. On Sunday, March 2, the space bar on one of the three laptop computers we'd brought along on this trip crapped out; although it was the computer I most liked to use when traveling, I just switched to another laptop, and got on with my work -- proving it always pays to have a spare computer along <grin>. Although I'd had other writing projects I wanted to do today, I ended up spending two hours writing an 1,800-word memo/critique for the Canadian SF TV series I'm consulting on, plus dealing with some other fiddly stuff that had to be done. On Monday, March 3, I finally got down to what I wanted to work on on this trip: I've contracted with an LA studio to write the series bible for an animated SF series. I got some good work done on it. Just before going to bed, I won an auction on eBay for a replacement keyboard for my laptop (a Compaq Armada M300); it'll be shipped to my home in Toronto, and I'll get that laptop back up and running there. Tuesday, March 4, I finished writing an introduction to a collection of Mike Resnick's essays that will be published by Wildside Press in time for the Toronto Worldcon, then I settled in to a full day of work on the animated series bible, getting 3,100 words added to it. But in the evening, Carolyn and I headed back to Rochester, so I could give a guest talk to a class called "Anthropology and Science Fiction" at Monroe Community College. That went well. Wednesday, March 5, Octavia Butler was in Canandaigua, New York, as part of her whirlwind tour related to the "If All of Rochester Read the Same Book" program. Carolyn and I attended a talk for writers she was giving at the Wood Library in Canandaigua, which was great. Carolyn and I then headed on back home to Toronto (through rain and light snow), with me spending much of the four-hour trip working on the animated series bible on my laptop in the car while Carolyn drove. Whew! ================================================================= Thursday, February 20, 2003 Robert J. Sawyer will be Writer in Residence at The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy (the SF special collection of the Toronto Public Library) from April 1 to June 30, 2003; he will be the first writer to hold this post since Judith Merril herself in 1987. Members of the public can submit manuscripts to be critiqued by Sawyer, who will meet in hour-long one-on-one sessions at The Merril Collection with each author (at no cost to the individual). Sawyer will give a reading in the Beeton Auditorium of the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street) on Tuesday, March 18, at 7:30 p.m.; run a series of noon-hour seminars at the Toronto Reference Library; and more. The Merril Collection, founded in 1970 with the donation by famed writer and editor Judith Merril of her personal SF library, has grown into the world's largest public-library reference collection of science fiction. Lorna Toolis is the collection head. Sawyer, who won the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award for Best Novel of 1995 (for The Terminal Experiment) and has been nominated six times for the Hugo Award, is the author of 15 SF novels, including the just-released Humans. He is on the creative-writing faculties of the Banff Centre for the Arts and the University of Toronto. Manuscripts can be dropped off for the Writer in Residence at: The Merril Collection Lillian H. Smith Branch Toronto Public Library 239 College Street, 3rd Floor Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R5 (416) 393-7748 Manuscript must be in standard manuscript format (see here for details), and should be no more than 15 pages long. The library reserves the right to limit the number of manuscripts accepted. When you drop off your manuscript, the library staff will book an hour-long appointment for you with the Writer in Residence. The Merril Collection is open, and appointments can be scheduled, Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; the library is closed on Sundays and statutory holidays. This Writer in Residence program is sponsored by the Toronto Public Library and the Friends of TPL's South Region. For more information about Robert J. Sawyer's residency, please contact The Merril Collection at (416) 393-7748. Links: The Merril Collection The Friends of the Merril Collection Rob Sawyer's Advice on Writing ================================================================= Saturday, February 2, 2003, at 12:50 a.m. Eastern time At 9:37 a.m. Eastern time on February 1, I was awoken in my bedroom by my wife saying the phone was ringing. (We'd been up late the night before.) We have the ringer off in our bedroom, but she was awake and had heard it from her office, down the hall. Since the bedroom phone is on my night table, not hers, I picked it up. A producer from CBC Newsworld (the public broadcaster's national cable news channel up here) was on the phone and told me that contact had been lost with Columbia. He put me on hold, with the CBC Newsworld audio in the background, while my wife put on the TV, and we flipped back and forth between channels, watching the breaking news. I tried very rapidly to come up to speed on the shocking, horrible, devastating events. I saw the video footage, and my heart sank. At about 9:42 -- just five minutes after waking -- I was on the air, doing a phone interview for live television. The interviewer (I'm sorry, but I don't know her name, or even what city she was in -- Newsworld does production across Canada; I've been on Newsworld many times, but never had been interviewed by this woman) did indeed ask me a question related to whether this was a terrorist attack, and whether it had been arrogant of the Americans to launch a shuttle now. The idea that it was terrorism hadn't even occurred to me -- it looked like a tragic accident, and I was reliving my memories of when Challenger had blown up all those years ago. So, the question took me by surprise. In any event, I told her no, it wasn't arrogance, and added that the Bush administration had very much had a business-as-usual policy post-September 11; I can't remember exactly how I phrased it, but my thought was that if you let terrorists freeze you into doing nothing out of fear, they've won. I wish I remembered her exact words better, and my own, but, like everyone else I was in shock. I'm sure she didn't mean to be offensive, and it was quite clear during our brief interview that she was being distracted by all sorts of chatter in her earpiece (she first introduced me as Robert Fischer, who is a staff reporter the CBC). After finishing interviewing me, she had on Randy Attwood, also by phone; Randy is the former president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. I listened to his interview, but then my wife and I started channel surfing, looking for other coverage; we settled on CNN. I didn't see any more of the Newsworld coverage. I have no direct knowledge of what the reporter said subsequently, but there has apparently been much discussion of it online, including in this blog: The Ghost of a Flea Here are two separate excerpts from that blog: I am watching coverage on different networks. CBC Newsworld just interviewed writer Robert Sawyer for his reflections on the shuttle program and potential causes of the disaster. The Newsworld interviewer asked Sawyer whether the cause was "arrogance" on the part of the U.S. government. (Sawyer said no.) This is one of the most odious questions I can imagine. It took minutes for the CBC to twist a tragedy into a politically motivated theatre of hate. Talk about manufacturing consent. Furthermore... the interviewer linked American "arrogance" explicitly to current potential conflict in the Middle East. My only surprise is the CBC did not manage to sneer at the death of Israel's first astronaut in the same breath. * * * More manufactured consent as the same CBC interviewer introduced the theme of American "arrogance" in an echo-chamber interview with another CBC journalist. She cited a "space expert" - referring to writer Robert Sawyer - in which "over-confidence" in the face of "fear and tension" due to potential hostilities in the Middle East could have lead NASA to go ahead with the flight despite possible damage to one of Columbia's wings. First, Robert Sawyer is a science fiction writer and, while informed and interested in this stuff, is hardly an expert. Second, in my view the CBC interviewer misrepresented her leading question as Sawyer's views. They were not. Sawyer clearly denied the charge of "arrogance" and suggested that at most a kind of over-confidence in a proven and reliable technology may have been a factor. "Fear and tension" in the Middle East had no place in his remarks. As I said above, I didn't hear any of the woman's later comments, but she did ask me whether it was an act of arrogance, and I said it was not. If she ascribed any other sentiment to me later, she was inaccurate. My heart goes out to everyone involved, but especially to the families of these seven brave heroes. ================================================================= Saturday, January 4, 2003 Happy New Year! On Wednesday, January 8, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Canada's Space: The Imagination Station will air the original hour-long documentary In the Mind of Robert J. Sawyer. Check it out! On January 2, I sent what I consider to be the final draft of Hybrids, the concluding volume of my Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, off to Tor. Moshe Feder there has already read it, and pronounced it good; I'm waiting for my editor, David G. Hartwell, to sign off on it. At that point, I'll be out of work -- but hopefully not for long. In November, I had dinner with Dave Hartwell at Philcon in Philadelphia and pitched two new novels at him, one being an expansion of "Shed Skin," my story written for The Bakka Anthology, a 400-copy limited-edition book to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Bakka, Canada's oldest SF specialty store, where I worked in the summer of 1982. David seemed to like both ideas, and I will shortly ask my agent, Ralph Vicinanza, to seek a new contract with Tor. I also spoke to David about getting the Quintaglio trilogy (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner) reprinted by Tor. David will cost out doing them both as a single omnibus volume or as three individual volumes. Either way, they'd be trade paperbacks, which is the format Tor prefers for older titles. Speaking of trade paperback, Tor is going to reissue my Hugo Award-nominated Factoring Humanity in January 2004 (a year from now) as an Orb trade paperback. "Orb" is their line of SF classics, and I'm honoured that they are doing that book -- still the work of mine that I'm proudest of -- under that imprint. Meanwhile, I've been doing a bunch of small projects: updating this web site in preparation for the release of Humans (now just a month away), writing an introduction for a re-issue of David Gerrold's classic time-travel novel The Man Who Folded Himself, forthcoming from BenBella Books, and writing a 10,000-word autobiographical essay for Contemporary Authors. I also have two short-story commissions to fulfill in the next couple of months (for ReVisions, edited by Julie E. Czerneda and Isaac Szpindel, and for I, Alien, edited by Mike Resnick). New foreign editions I received in December: the Spanish edition of Calculating God, the Japanese edition of Illegal Alien, and the French edition of Factoring Humanity. All look fabulous, and I'll try to get cover scans onto my web site in the near future. Finally, I'm delighted to report that Hominids is on the Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot, and was included on the year's best lists published by the San Francisco Chronicle and Borders Books. ================================================================= Wednesday, October 30, 2002 It's been a while since I posted a general update, so here goes. I'm pleased to note that Italian rights to Hominids have sold to Fannucci Editore. I spent yesterday afternoon at the CBC Broadcasting Centre in Toronto recording four four-minute science columns, to air on CBC Radio One morning shows across Canada in November. If these four are well received, this will become a regular gig for me. The four commentaries were on: * Chimps being only 95% genetically identical to us * Nanotechnology * The failure of SETI * God and the brain I'm off to the convention Astronomicon in Rochester, New York, on Friday. It's a small con, but one of my favorites. After that, Carolyn and I will spend a week on nearby Canandaigua Lake. One day during that week, I'm a guest speaker (in an astronomy class, an English class, and a psychology class) at Alfred University, in Alfred, New York, but the rest of the week will be time just to catch up on my reading, something I'm very much looking forward to. ================================================================= Monday, September 30, 2002 It's been a great week. The pilot for Faster Than Light, the program I hosted for the CBC Radio Drama department aired twice coast-to-coast in Canada, and the feedback was wonderful. The CBC brass is now seriously considering commissioning the show as an ongoing series -- possibly as the lead-in to CBC's weekly science show, Quirks and Quarks. Meanwhile, my wife became the first person besides me to read Hybrids, the final volume in my Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, and she liked it very much. I'm still doing revisions, but intend to send a draft off to my editor at Tor within two weeks. The latest bestsellers' list in Locus: The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field came out, and Hominids is on it for a third consecutive month, my longest run to date. Thursday and Friday, I was a guest at the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, where I gave two readings. On Saturday, September 28, my alma mater, Toronto's Ryerson University, presented me with its Alumni Award of Distinction, making me one of only 30 out of 100,000 Ryerson alumni so honored to date. I graduated from Ryerson in 1982 with a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Radio and Television Arts. Because of the main classroom building's rows of student lockers, Ryerson's nickname has long been "Rye High," which I guess makes me now the official Rye High Sci-Fi Guy. Rick Green, host of TVOntario's Prisoners of Gravity, presented the award to me, and Valerie Pringle, ex-host of Canada A.M., was the master of ceremonies. Sunday, September 29, was Toronto's annual Word on the Street open-air book fair. I was there all day, at the SF writers' booth, and sold $1,350 worth of books. Not as good as last year, but still quite nice. And today, the issue of Maclean's: Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine dated October 7, 2002, went on sale, containing my 1,500-word essay "Privacy: Who Needs It?", which expands on the Companion-implant theme of my novel Hominids. I even get my name on the cover of Maclean's, which is way cool. ================================================================= Thursday, September 12, 2002 As some of you know, I've been involved with a pilot for an hour-long science-fiction series being produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio's Radio Drama department. The series is called FASTER THAN LIGHT, and the pilot will air TWICE on CBC Radio later this month: * On CBC Radio One (99.1 FM in Toronto) Sunday evening, September 22, at 10:05 p.m. EST as part of "Sunday Showcase" Note: this broadcast will be in mono * On CBC Radio Two (94.1 FM in Toronto) Monday evening, September 23, at 9:05 p.m. EST as part of "Monday Night Playhouse" Note: this broadcast will be in stereo The FTL pilot has five main components: * A full-cast adaptation of Tom Godwin's classic SF story "The Cold Equations." * Part One of an original SF serial called "Captain's Away" written by Joe Mahoney * A commentary by me on what SF is all about * An interview with author Nalo Hopkinson conducted by me * Poetry interludes by Carolyn Clink And listen for William Davis -- the X-FILES' "Cancer Man" -- doing one of the "You are listening to FASTER THAN LIGHT" station breaks! For FASTER THAN LIGHT, I serve as a combination of Rod Serling and Rick Green ("Submitted for your approval: a boot to the head!"), introducing and extroducing the radio dramas, and also interviewing authors (in the pilot, novelist Nalo Hopkinson and SF poet -- and my wife -- Carolyn Clink, whose poetry is also featured in the pilot). So: check it out! You can also listen on the Internet at the above times: http://www.cbc.ca I had a blast working on this pilot, and really, really hope that the CBC will pick it up as a series. ================================================================= Monday, July 29, 2002 Wow! It's been a busy month. A great month, too, except I was doing so many other things, I didn't get nearly enough work done on Hybrids, my current novel. Ah, well. I'll be hunkering down throughout August on that. From Friday, June 28, until Monday, July 1, I taught SF writing at the University of Toronto's Taddle Creek Writers' Workshop, which, as always, went very well indeed. On Wednesday, July 3, a crew from Bravo! (Canadian arts TV channel) came to my home to videotape a half-hour documentary about me for that channel's "The Writing Life" series. It was great fun. I don't know when it will air yet, but I'll certainly let people know. On Friday, July 5, I recorded my portions of the pilot for "Faster Than Light," a new series being produced by the CBC Radio Drama Department, and hosted by me. The show's is centered around adaptations of classic SF short stories; for the pilot we did Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations." I also did an interview with author Nalo Hopkinson, and a commentary about SF. The pilot will air in September, and I certainly hope the series will be picked up. Also that day, I received my author's copies of the Easton Press "Classics of Science Fiction" leather-bound edition of The Terminal Experiment. Very nice indeed! July 5 to 7 was Toronto Trek, a big Star Trek and media convention, which nonetheless manages to get excellent crowds out to its literary events. I had a fabulous time, and did a very well received reading of my new short story "Come All Ye Faithful," which will be published next year in Julie E. Czerneda's DAW anthology Space Inc. On Monday, July 8, Carolyn and I headed out by car for another leg of the Hominids book tour. We started in Rochester, NY, where I was interviewed for a full hour on the local PBS radio station at noon. I then did a very successful signing at the Barnes and Noble in Pittsford, NY, and went out for dinner afterwards with a bunch of people, including authors Marcos Donnelly, Mary Stanton, and John-Allen Price, all of whom had shown up at the signing. Tuesday, it was off to Albany, New York. We had dinner with members of the local SF club (the gang that puts on Albacon), then I did a reading and signing at Flights of Fantasy, the Albany SF specialty store. Wednesday, July 10, I was in Milford, New Hampshire, signing at the Toadstool. We had a packed house, which was great. Thursday, July 11, we were treated to a tour of one of New Hampshire's prisons for men, which was absolutely fascinating. Then we motored on to Boston, where I did a lackluster signing at Pandemonium, the SF store there. That night, we hooked up for dinner with friends Marcel Gagne and Sally Tomasevic, who were in town for Readercon. Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 14, were taken up by Readercon, which, as always, was excellent. Carolyn and I had dinner Friday night with my editor David G. Hartwell, his wife Kathryn Cramer, and their son Peter. On Saturday night, Toronto fan Hope Liebowitz and I hosted the one and only room party at Readercon, the "Ho Ho Hoedown" (one Ho for Hope; the other for Hominids). It was quite a success. Sunday, I read another forthcoming short story: "Relativity," which will be in Mike Resnick's Men Writing SF as Women. Monday, July 15, we were in Syracuse, where I was interviewed on the local PBS TV station, after a wonderful breakfast with local writer Mark Garland and his wife Jenny. We arrived Monday afternoon at my family's vacation home on Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York, and settled in to do some writing. We were there until Friday morning, July 19. On the way back to Toronto that day, we stopped near Buffalo to record a half-hour for Pulse, the local Fox TV station's Sunday-morning news show. It will air Sunday, August 5. Sunday, July 21, I started my stint teaching writing at Humber College in Toronto by giving a lecture on the writing life. From Monday, July 22, until Friday, July 26, I taught writing -- just general fiction writing, not specifically SF -- at the Humber School for Writers. It was my first time teaching at that venue, and it went very well indeed. On Friday afternoon, July 26, Carolyn and I headed out on the 5.5-hour trip to Pittsburgh, arriving that evening for ConFluence, a small but very nice and very literary SF convention in Pittsburgh. Saturday night, Analog writer Bud Sparhawk, Carolyn, and I were given a fabulous, private behind-the-scenes tour of the robotics labs at Carnegie-Mellon University. God, I love this job! Today (Monday, July 29), I'm finally back in Toronto -- but I've got four interviews to do today from my home: two U.S. radio stations, one Canadian one, and an interview for the Toronto Sun newspaper, which is doing a piece about me for their "Dream Jobs" column ... and, I have to admit, I certainly have just that.


More Good Reading

Current blog: April 2010 to date
More-recent blog entries: January 2006 to April 2010
More-recent blog entries: All of 2005
Older blog entries: June 2001 June 2002
Older blog entries: January to May 2001
Older blog entries: October, November, and December 2000
Older blog entries: July, August, and September 2000
Older blog entries: May and June 2000
Oldest blog entries: September 1999 to April 2000

Rob's Newsletter

Home
Novels
About Rob
Book Clubs
Blog
Events
Short Stories
Press Kit
How to Write
Facebook
Store
Nonfiction
Email Rob
Canadian SF
Twitter

HOME • [Menu]MENU • TOP

[Facebook][Twitter]

Copyright © 1995-2016 by Robert J. Sawyer.