Friday, June 30, 2006

TVOntario cancels More2Life, Studio 2

TVOntario has cancelled both More2Life and Studio 2. I was a frequent guest on the former, and an occasional guest on the latter. Both shows were great at promoting books and authors.

My last appearance on More2Life was on June 20, 2006. I'm very sad about this. Mary Ito and her staff were absolute joys to work with. (More2Life used to style its name as More To Life.)

Toronto Star coverage is here and here and here.

It also seems that Saturday Night at the Movies, for which I often did commentaries about SF films, will also be overhauled.

I'm very sad -- almost as sad as I was when TVOntario cancelled Prisoners of Gravity, back in 1994.

"Shed Skin" audio book

My Hugo Award-nominated short story "Shed Skin" -- which was the basis for my novel Mindscan -- has been professionally produced as a 47-minute audio book by Deuce Audio, read very nicely by Stephen Hoye. You can get it for $2.99 from a variety of vendors:

Fictionwise (MP3 standard or high-quality formats)

Telltale Weekly (MP3, Ogg Vorbis, or AAC formats)

Paperback Digital (High-quality MP3 format)

Conquer the World Records

As you can see at Fictionwise, the vast majority of buyers have rated this production "great" -- and I agree! I'm really pleased with the job Deuce did.

If you're unfamiliar with the vendors above, you can find out more about them by going to their main pages:


Telltale Weekly

Paperback Digital

Conquer the World Records

"Shed Skin" first appeared in 2002 in the limited edition Bakka Anthology and was reprinted in 2003 in Analog.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Phyllis Gotlieb -- how cool is that!

I am honoured and thrilled to have just acquired the latest novel by Phyllis Gotlieb for my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint.

In the 1960s, Phyllis was the only significant Canadian science fiction writer; in a profile of her in Maclean's, I was quoted as calling her "the grandmother of us all." Her most-recent book was Mindworlds, published by Tor; her first novel was Sunburst, after which the Canadian award for fantastic literature is named.

Phyllis's new novel is Birthstones, and it is a wonderful far-future, off-Earth, spaceships-and-aliens novel set in Gotlieb's famed Galactic Federation. We'll be releasing it in the spring of next year.

Website anniversary

Today is the eleventh anniversary of my website going online -- yes, it's older than! My site at has over 530 documents, over one million words of text, and over 25,000 internal hyperlinks.
"The largest genre writer's home page in existence." --Interzone

"Widely believed to have been the first science fiction author site." --Reuters

"It's not a home page -- it's a mansion page!" --John Robert Colombo

"The most elaborate and interesting of any web site created by a Canadian writer." --The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature

"An enormous amount of content; a wealth of material." -- Science Fiction Age

Check it out! Drop by for a visit.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rob interviewed about blogging

The current issue of Here's How!, a Canadian consumer-electronics magazine that's given away for free at various retailers, has a full-page interview with me (with nice photo) about blogging.

You can get Here's How! for free at: Bay Bloor Radio, Black’s Photography, Compusmart, East Hamilton Radio, foto source, Future Shop, Henry’s Cameras, Kromer Radio, London Drugs, Simply Computing, Soundsaround, Sound Designs, 2001 Audio Video, and Visions Electronics. The issue with me in will be available until July 31, 2006.

A Kid at Heart

That's the title of a new interview with me by Giampietro Stocco of Genoa, Italy, which is now online here in English (and his English-language homepage is here).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nice pictures of the North of Infinity II launch

In editor Mark Leslie's blog.

Ancient humans and the dawn of consciousness

A number of people have drawn this BBC science story to my attention, which reports on the discovery of what might be a human necklace, and might be 90,000 or 100,000 years old. In my "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy (beginning with Hominids), I make much of the so-called "Great Leap Forward" -- the notion that modern human consciousness emerged spontaneously some 40,000 years ago. Artifacts of personal adornment dating back to 90,000 or 100,000 years ago might -- as one email correspondent put it -- "debunk" this.

Maybe. But we've been down this road before. In the 1970s, it was the "Clan of the Cave Bear" -- the belief, now completely discredited, that Neanderthals worshipped cave bears. In the 1990s, we had the Neanderthal bone flute -- except it wasn't a flute at all; it was just a bone gnawed by a predator. There was also the so-called Neanderthal/modern hybrid child, a pretty wild assertion to make without a skull.

All of these have been discredited, and I wouldn't be the least surprised if this necklace is discredited, too. First, of course, because the aging is suspect: the 100,000-year figure doesn't come from carbon-dating the shells (which could have been ancient, anyway, by the time they acquired holes), but rather from the sediment in the shell. Yeah, well, these are small shells found inside a cave; they're going to be pounded down into the dirt by generations of human and nonhuman cave inhabitants; where they happened to end up doesn't tell us much about where they started.

And, second, because, like the supposedly clearly-caused-by-humans holes in the so-called bone flute, these hole might turn out to have another cause (such as birds pecking into the shells to eat the mollusk within, or even autistic-style perseverative behavior; the relationship between the dawn of consciousness and autism, with its compulsive, repetitious actions such as, oh, say, pounding holes in shells, is something I might touch on in my next book).

And, third, of course, two shells does not a necklace make -- and that's all that have been found together.

Of course, I'll watch this story with interest, but whenever someone wants to push a date back this far, I'm a hard sell. Like the now discredited Martian meteorite with supposed fossils in it (yes, it's really from Mars; no, it doesn't contain any fossils), this sort of announcement always gets major news coverage, and if/when it's eventually disproven, that's almost never reported with the same fanfare.

Geeky sidenote: don't the shells (top) really look like Sleestak skulls from Land of the Lost (bottom)?

Toronto is knee-deep in cons!

SF/F/related conventions in Toronto this year (2006):

  • Ad Astra (general SF)
  • FilkOntario (filk-singing)
  • Anime North (anime -- and by far the largest of the cons)
  • Corflu (fanzines)
  • Gaylaxicon (gay-friendly general SF con)
  • The Gathering of the Fellowship (Lord of the Rings -- this coming weekend)
  • TT (Toronto Trek)
  • SFX (Science Fiction Expo -- with Shatner and Nimoy, coming in August)

Whew! Granted, CorFlu and Gaylaxicon move from city to city each year, and won't be back in T.O. in 2007, and the Gathering of the Fellowship is probably a one-off, but we do have the World Horror Convention next year.

Despite good intentions, I've only made it to Ad Astra so far. But I am at a lot of cons in other cities. Details are here.

Dave Duncan dedicates book to Robyn Herrington

As some of you know, my upcoming novel Rollback is dedicated to my great friend, the late Robyn Herrington, and Robyn is also in that book's acknowledgments. Robyn died two years ago, after a long battle with cancer.

Well, I just got a copy of my friend Dave Duncan's first Tor novel, Children of Chaos (June 2006 hardcover), and I see with delight that Dave has dedicated his novel to Robyn, too:
This book is dedicated to the memory of
Robyn Meta Herrington
who loved it and helped make it.

Well done, Dave!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Monday Spotlight: Larry Niven

I'm going to be busy all day tomorrow, so here's this week's Monday spotlight, highlighting one of the 500+ documents on my website at, a few hours early ...

In August, I'm heading out to Calgary for Con-Version 22, this year's installment of one of my favourite SF conventions. One of this year's guests of honour is Larry Niven, and that puts me amind of this tribute to Larry Niven I wrote five years ago for the program book of another convention.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hominids plugged on Planetary Society radio

My friend Dennis Pettit (after whom Afsan's apprentice Pettit in Foreigner is named) just drew this Planetary Society radio program to my attention; it first aired on June 12, 2006, and is now available for download and as an MP3 podcast.

The show includes an interview with Dr. Art McDonald of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. At about the eight-minute mark in the 29-minute program, this exchange occurs:

Host: ... you could probably have rented your lab out as a science-fiction film site.

Dr. Art McDonald: Actually, in an interesting side topic, our lab has been the subject of a Hugo-winning science-fiction novel called Hominids by Robert Sawyer.


More information about the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Quintaglio globe

The coolest thing ever ...

A fellow named Patrick J. O'Connor, who lives in Chicago, made this wonderful globe for me of the Quintaglio home world from my novels Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner. Sitting on the base are two figures of Afsan: on the left, he's young as he is at the beginning of the trilogy; on the right, he's old and blind, being helped along by his seeing-eye lizard, Gork. :)

I totally adore this globe. It sits right next to my Hugo trophy in the display case in my living room.

On MORE 2 LIFE again

I'll be a guest on TVOntario's More 2 Life with Mary Ito tomorrow, Thursday, June 22, 2006, for their "Mind Over Matter" segment. The show airs from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

TVOntario is the public broadcaster in Ontario, Canada; on most cable systems, it's channel 2. This is my ninth appearance on More 2 Life to date.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Ottawa Citizen piece is online

My op-ed piece for The Ottawa Citizen about space colonization is now online here.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Robert J. Sawyer Books submission guidelines

I've been getting a spate of submissions to Robert J. Sawyer Books, the line of books I edit for Calgary's Red Deer Press, and almost all of them are unsuitable, meaning the submission was a waste of the author's time and mine.

If you want to submit to my line (or any other publisher's line), read the guidelines. In my case, they boil down to this:

  • Your book must be science fiction (not fantasy);
  • Your book must be a novel (not an anthology or short-story collection);
  • Your book must be stand-alone (not part of a series);
  • Your book must be 100,000 words or less;
  • Your book must be about something thematically -- not just action-adventure.

And, of course, it should also be well-written. Granted, authors might not be the best judge of that in relation to their own work, but they can surely figure out whether their books are appropriate for me based on the other five criteria. Except, apparently, many can't.

North of Infinity II Book Launch

There will be a launch party for the anthology North of Infinity II edited by Mark Leslie at Bakka-Phoenix in Toronto, Saturday, June 24, 2006, at 3:00 p.m. Full details are in this Word document and this entry in Mark's blog. My story "Forever" appears in this anthology, and I'll be at the launch.

Toronto: A Writer's Tour

Toronto is a great city to visit in the summer -- and for those who think Canada is cold, I'll point out that it was 34 Celsius / 93 Fahrenheit here yesterday.

Back in 2002, I was asked by the people putting together the then-upcoming World Science Fiction Convention in Toronto to write up a literary walking tour of the city. For those who might be visiting Hog Town (as we affectionately call it) this summer, I'm providing my Writer's Tour of Toronto as this week's Monday Spotlight, highlighting one of the 500+ documents on my website at

Sunday, June 18, 2006

SFRA Review

The Science Fiction Research Association publishes a wonderful newsletter called SFRA Review, filled with reviews and critical articles about science fiction. Every issue from 2001 to 2005 is available as a PDF for free here (scroll down).

These particular issues have very interesting reviews of books by me:

  • Calculating God: #253 (July-August 2001). PDF document. (See page 34.)

  • Hominids: #258 (May-June 2002). PDF document. (See page 17.)

  • Humans: #262 (January-February 2003). PDF document. (See page 26.)

  • Mindscan: #272 (April/May/June 2005). PDF document. (See page 23.)

Aurora Award voting deadline

Just a polite reminder that the voting deadline for this year's Aurora Awards is June 26.

I'm nominated in all three pro categories, a very rare occurrence for anyone:

  • Best Long-Form English for Mindscan.

  • Best Short-Form English for "Identity Theft," which you can read here.

  • Best Other English for "Birth," the radio drama I did with Michael Lennick and Joe Mahoney.

The voting ballot is here.

One must be a Canadian citizen, not necessarily living in Canada, or a permanent resident to vote. Voting fee is Cdn$6, which helps defray the cost of manufacturing the trophies.

More information about the Auroras is here.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Bumped to Tuesday

My Op-Ed piece in The Ottawa Citizen on Stephen Hawking has been bumped to next Tuesday, June 20.

Ottawa Op-Ed

Those of you in Ottawa (Canada's capital city) might want to pick up the The Ottawa Citizen newspaper this Saturday, June 17, 2006. I have an op-ed piece in there about Stephen Hawking's suggestion earlier this week that humanity needs to establish space colonies in order to ensure the survival of the species. (In Canada, the big weekend editions are on Saturday, not Sunday.)

An "op-ed" piece is an article that appears OPposite the EDitorial -- an opinion piece that is the opinion of someone other than the newspapers' editors. David Watson, who handles op-eds for the Citizen, asked me to write the article on Tuesday, and I was thrilled to do so.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Montreal events (and why I love Canada)

I'll be doing two readings in Montreal this fall:

Monday, October 16, 2006, at 6:30 p.m.
Fraser-Hickson Library
4855 Kensington Avenue
Montreal, Quebec H3X 3S6
(514) 489-5301

Tuesday, October 17, 2006, at 6:30 p.m.
Jewish Public Library
1, carre Cummings Square (5151 Ste Ste-Catherine)
Montreal, Quebec H3W 1M6
(514) 345-2627

The two readings are sponsored by the Canada Council for the Arts -- the funding was approved yesterday. I get $250 per reading (total: $500), plus up to $600 in travel expense (not including accomodation; the host libraries are separately paying for that). It's a wonderful program.

This is my second Canada Council-sponsored mini-tour this year; in February, I was in Edmonton, thanks to them. My tax dollars at work -- for me! :)

CBC Radio One blitz this afternoon

I'm doing a hastily arranged series of by-phone radio interviews for CBC Radio One this afternoon, to talk about Stephen Hawking's idea, presented in Hong Kong on Tuesday, that humanity must move into space to save itself.

Most of these are being recorded, at the Toronto times indicated; they'll air once edited later in the day.

Bernard Graham - Producer
Jeff Collins - Host

Salome Awa - Producer & Host

Quebec City
Peter Black - Producer
Jacquie Czernin - Host

Joanne Skidmore - Producer
Colin Grewar - Host

Catherine Pigott - Producer
Norbert Poitras - Host

Laura Green - Producer
Jo-Ann Roberts - Host

Thunder Bay
Gerald Graham - Producer & Host
Heather McLeod - Producer & Host

Wes Wilson - Producer
Margaux Watt - Host

Karen Burgess - Producer
Priya Ramu - Host

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rare Trek images

As anyone who has read my novels knows, I'm a huge Classic Star Trek fan. Today, I stumbled across one of the most interesting sites I've ever seen about the fine details fo the original show. Check out Star Trek History to see what the Tholian and the Melkotian actually looked like, lots of great close-ups of the original filming miniatures, and much, much more.

Monday, June 12, 2006

BookExpo Canada

Busy three days, all related to BookExpo Canada.

On Saturday, Danita Maslan, author of the novel Rogue Harvest, which I published under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint, flew to Toronto from Calgary, and Carolyn and I picked her up at the airport. Saturday night, we hosted a reception for the authors I've published under my imprint, which was a huge success.

Sunday morning, we headed down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (same place the 2003 Worldcon was held) and did a group signing at the Fitzhenry and Whiteside booth at BookExpo Canada. All of my authors were on hand: Marcos Donnelly, Andrew Weiner, Karl Schroeder, Danita Maslan, and Nick DiChario, plus Terence M. Green, whose book I will publish next.

We had the single best giveaway at all of BookExpo this year, by far: normally, if you stand in line at a booth for an autographing, you get one book (and all the books are free at BookExpo -- the idea is to get them into the hands of booksellers, so they'll learn about your wares). But those lucky people who came to the Fitzhenry and Whiteside booth got SIX books each -- two hardcovers and four trade paperbacks.

Sharon Fitzhenry really wanted to show the industry that Robert J. Sawyer Books had arrived, and so everyone got an autographed copy of my short-story collection Iterations (the book that began my association with Red Deer Press, which is now owned by Fitzhenry and Whiteside) and an autographed copy of Karl Schroeder's short-story collection The Engines of Recall and an autographed copy of Marcos Donnelly's novel Letters from the Flesh and an autographed copy of Andrew Weiner's novel Getting Near the End and an autographed copy of Danita Maslan's novel Rogue Harvest and an autographed copy of Nick DiChario's novel A Small and Remarkable Life.

Later that afternoon, there was a celebration of Fitzherny's 40th anniversary -- woohoo!

Sunday night, we took Danita back to the airport, but I went into BookExpo again today (the trade show runs for two days). Ran into lots of great people. Among others I chatted with Ruth and John Robert Colombo, Rick Blechta, the president of the Crime Writers of Canada; Brian Bethune, the books editor for Maclean's; Martin Levin, the books editor for The Globe and Mail; lots of people from H.B. Fenn and Company (who just signed a new six-year agreement to keep distributing Tor books in Canada); Michelle Sagara West (who was autographing copies of her latest reissue from BenBella); agent John Pearce; Cynthia Good, who used to be publisher of Penguin Canada; Jonathan Schmidt, formerly of Tor and now managing editor of Key Porter Books; two recent Canadian Writers of the Future prize winners; big-name fan Lloyd Penney, who was working at the show; and many, many more. All in all, a great few days -- but exhausting!

Meme Therapy interview

A new interview with me has just gone online at Meme Therapy: Life From a Science Fiction Point of View.

Monday Spotlight: Panel Suggestions

I've been involved in a lot of discussions lately about potential panels for the science-fiction Con-Version 22 in Calgary this August. I have a long-standing special relationship with Con-Version: I was Author Guest at the mini-con Con-Version 21.5 held last summer in conjunction with Westercon, Canadian Guest of Honour at Con-Version 20, Toastmaster at Con-Version 19, Special Guest at Con-Version 15, and Canadian Guest of Honour at Con-Version 14.

Anyway, I pointed them to an existing list of panel topic suggestions I had on my web site, and added a whole bunch of new ones in literary areas, which are appended at the end.

I can't say whether any of these will be on the final programming at Con-Version, but for those who've never been to an SF convention before they give a taste of the sorts of discussions one might expect to see at one, and I offer them up as this week's Monday Spotlight, highlighting one of the 500+ documents on my website at

Convention Panel Suggestions


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Gak! Cut off at the knees!

I plum forgot to renew my subscription to New Scientist, which is my single most important science resource for my science-fiction writing. Not only do I really enjoy the magazine, but I'm constantly turning to the full-text online archives for research. Must renew right away, 'cause now I'm locked out of the archives! Gak!

Ironically, I discovered this on the same day I was contemplating letting my subscription to another weekly science magazine, Science News, lapse. I've subscribed to Science News for 22 years now, but whereas New Scientist makes its archives available for free to subscribers, Science News doesn't (although you can search for the reference online, and then dig through your stack of back issues to find the actual article). That's so last millennium!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

The New Quarterly

The Spring 2006 issue (#98) of The New Quarterly: Canadian Writers & Writing contains a trio of essays about science fiction:

  • "Uncle Hugo's Legacy" by Robert J. Sawyer
  • "The Exuberance of Science Fiction" by James Alan Gardner
  • "Science Fiction's Literay Fusions" by Patrick Forde

The picture of me above (which I like to caption, "Alas, Prehistoric!") accompanies my essay.

Welcome to the Spock Casa!

Two friends sent me this about the same time: film producer Bonnie Jean Mah in Vancouver, and lawyer Ariel Reich in Palo Alto. I just totally love it, especially since I have all the Art Asylum Star Trek action figures that are used in this one-minute promo for Classic Trek on G4 TV:

Star Trek Cribs: The Director's Cut

Monday, June 5, 2006

Monday Spotlight: SF for People Who've Never Read SF Before

As we slide into summer, people's minds often turn to reading. Twelve years ago, I was asked by Now, Toronto's weekly entertainment paper, to suggest some Science Fiction for People Who've Never Read SF Before. I still recommend all the choices on the list, and I offer it up as this week's Monday Spotlight, highlighting one of the 500+ articles on my web site at

Friday, June 2, 2006

Quite a magician, that Jonathan Strange ...

I guess the ad-copy deadline for the June Locus, which arrived in the mail today, was prior to the Nebula Award winners being announced 27 days ago, 'cause the back-cover ad for the forthcoming mass-market paperback of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell calls it "An utterly compelling epic tale that won both the Hugo and the Nebula Award."

Not so. It did indeed win the Hugo, but my buddy Joe Haldeman's Camouflage beat if for the Nebula last month ...

Can't blame the copywriter, though -- my money would have been on Susanna Clarke winning, too. :)

And I'm very pleased to see that the North American paperback will be a Tor book -- I'm always glad to see cash cows in my publisher's stable ... :)

(Susanna Clarke's book did win the Locus Award last year -- and I got to accept on her behalf; it also won the World Fantasy Award.)

GoH in Tennessee

I've just accepted an offer to be one of the author guests of honor at Chattacon 2007, being held January 26-28, 2007, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

In other news, just sold Czech rights to my short stories "Fallen Angel," "Ineluctable," and "Shed Skin." Woohoo!

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Keynote at Surrey

I'm delighted to announce that I will be giving the keynote address at the Surrey International Writers Conference, in Surrey, British Columbia, Friday, October 20, 2006. This is in addition to the seminars and blue-pencil cafe work at the conference. Looking forward to it!