Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SF writers at Gartner Security Summit

Booked my outbound flight today for the Gartner IT Security Summit in Washington, DC, June 2-4, 2008, at which I'll be chairing a panel discussion by science-fiction writers Arlan Andrews, Greg Bear, Robert J. Sawyer, and Bruce Sterling. More info is here.

Speaking of flights, tomorrow morning I'm off to Montreal for the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, where I'll be reading from Identity Theft and Other Stories on Saturday night, May 5, 2008.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Booklist loves Identity Theft

Go me! The American Library Association's magazine Booklist -- one of the buying bibles for bookstores as well as libraries -- has a review coming in its May 14, 2008, edition of my new short story collection Identity Theft and Other Stories. Says reviewer Carl Hays:
"As fellow Canadian SF author Robert Charles Wilson points out [in the introduction to the book], Sawyer's fiction possesses a remarkable down-to-earth quality that appeals to readers of all nationalities. Yet Sawyer's collection showcases not only an irresistibly engaging narrative voice but also a gift for confronting thorny philosophical conundrums. At every opportunity, Sawyer forces his readers to think while holding their attention with ingenious premises and superlative craftsmanship."
Not a bad birthday present at all! (Today is my 48th birthday ...)
The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The Savage Humanists

This morning I handed over to our typesetter the tenth volume under the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. This one is an anthology entitled The Savage Humanists, edited by Fiona Kelleghan of the University of Miami; we'll be publishing it later this year.

We have high hopes for this book in the academic market (it's got a 17,000-word scholarly introduction by Fiona Kelleghan, plus her notes on each story), as well as good bookstore sales.

The back-cover copy says:
What if we were modified neurologically so we could only tell the truth? What if aliens beamed us proof that God didn't exist? What if the sideshow freak you're seeing is really a visiting alien? What if a teleportation accident created a duplicate you?

Meet the Savage Humanists: the hottest science-fiction writers working today. They use SF's unique powers to comment on the human condition in mordantly funny, satiric stories, each accompanied by commentary by renowned SF scholar Fiona Kelleghan.

Every author in this anthology has been nominated for the Hugo or Nebula Awards -- or both! -- and many have won. In these pages, you'll find the top names in the SF field: including Jonathan Lethem (author of the novel Gun, with Occasional Music), James Morrow (The Philosopher's Apprentice), Kim Stanley Robinson (Red Mars), Robert J. Sawyer (Rollback), and Connie Willis (The Doomsday Book), plus Gregory Frost, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, and Tim Sullivan.

"Fiona Kelleghan is an expert on humor in genre fiction." -- Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda in The Washington Post

FIONA KELLEGHAN has published SF criticism in Extrapolation, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Science Fiction Studies, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and SFRA Review. She is a librarian at the University of Miami.
Fiona Kelleghan

Photograph: Fiona Kelleghan

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, April 28, 2008 goes big time into science fiction

I'm thrilled to be part of's new science-fiction initiative. All my titles are here, and the press release is below:

Audible Announces New Imprint and Exclusive Agreements with Orson Scott Card and Other Top Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers

Audible Frontiers imprint launches with 25 exclusive audiobooks, including 10 Hugo Award winners from award-winning science fiction & fantasy authors

NEW YORK--The leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment, Audible, Inc., an, Inc. subsidiary (NASDAQ:AMZN), today announced a major new science fiction and fantasy initiative that will give fans exclusive access to their favorite authors and deliver exclusive content.

Highlights of this new initiative include:

Audible Frontiers imprint and exclusive production agreements:

Audible is launching its original science fiction and fantasy audio imprint, Audible Frontiers, backed by a series of exclusive production agreements with today’s most-popular writers. The goal of Audible Frontiers is to expand greatly the number of audiobooks available to science fiction and fantasy fans. As a result, Audible is bringing to audio for the first time works by Jack Campbell, Harry Turtledove, Joe Haldeman, Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick, Allen Steele, Connie Willis, Simon R. Green, Sean Williams, and other authors. These titles include more than a dozen Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novels and novellas.

“Science fiction is all about exploring strange new worlds -- and doing it in new ways! I'm excited to be part of Audible's initiative, and applaud them for recognizing what Hollywood has long known but few others seem to have grasped: the most popular entertainment today is science fiction,” said science fiction favorite Robert J. Sawyer.

Orson Scott Card Selects:

In an exclusive relationship, Audible is launching a monthly recommendation program with Hugo Award-winning Orson Scott Card, the author of the classic Ender’s Game, and one of the industry’s best-selling writers. Card will provide exclusive audio critiques of each selection.

“It's easy for great novels and novellas to get lost in the bookstore -- not everything can get front-of-store display!” Card said. “That's what I'll be doing with ‘OSC Selects’ - moving new and classic sci-fi and fantasy right to the front, so fans will have a better chance of noticing terrific stories performed by first-rate readers.”

“Orson Scott Card Selects” kicks off with the April selection, Star Born by Andre Norton.

Guest Editors:

Each month, a different prominent science fiction and fantasy writer will write an exclusive guest column for Audible customers, highlighting great listens in the Audible catalogue. Best-selling author Ben Bova will be the inaugural Guest Editor for April.

“Audiobooks have opened a new dimension to the enjoyment of good fiction, and I'm happy to be part of the Audible team that brings the best in science fiction (and other genres) to this new and growing audience,” said Bova.

In addition, through content relationships with HarperCollins, Macmillan Audio, Recorded Books, Blackstone Audio, Harlequin, and Wonder Audio, Audible is pleased to offer digital exclusives from John Scalzi, Vernor Vinge, Jay Lake, Philip K. Dick, Philip Jose Farmer, Kim Stanley Robinson, Maria V. Snyder, and many more.

The Audible science fiction and fantasy catalogue now exceeds 1,500 titles. Visit for more than 100 exclusive and digital exclusive titles and more than 50 Hugo and Nebula Award winners.

About Audible

Audible ( is the leader in spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Content from Audible is downloaded and played back on personal computers, CDs, or AudibleReady computer-based and wireless mobile devices. Audible has over 40,000 audio programs from more than 470 content providers that include leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Audible is the preeminent provider of spoken-word audio products for Apple's iTunes Store. Audible,, AudibleListener, AudibleReady and AudibleKids are trademarks of Audible, Inc. or its affiliates. Other product or service names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, significant amount of indebtedness, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect's financial results is included in's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, and subsequent filings.

Robert J. Sawyer titles at

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Matthew Hughes review-a-thon

I had the great pleasure of publishing a novel by Canadian author Matthew Hughes late last year: The Commons, under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint from Red Deer Press / Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

A portion of that book, published as a standalone novella, was up for the Nebula Awards given this past weekend; Matt didn't win, but his work is without question award-calibre, and I said as much in a blurb I just provided for his next book, coming from Britain's terrific PS Publishing:
"Matthew Hughes's Template is many things -- including a template others should follow to produce outstanding writing. Hughes has been the best-kept secret in SF for far too long: he's a towering talent, and Template is his best work to date. Bravo!"
And now James Nicoll is trying to organize a blogosphere review-a-thon for Matt's new book. See James Nicoll's LiveJournal for all the details.

Photo above: Stephanie Stewart (US marketing director for Fitzhenry & Whiteside), editor Robert J. Sawyer, and author Matthew Hughes at the World Fantasy Convention, 2007.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nebula winners announced

The winners of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's 2007 Nebula Awards were announced this evening at a banquet in Austin, Texas. Of course, I congratulate all the winners, but I'm particularly happy for two good friends who won: Nancy Kress and Ted Chiang.

Novel: The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)

Novella: "Fountain of Age" by Nancy Kress (Asimov's, Jul07)

Novelette: "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang (F&SF, Sep07)

Short Story: "Always" by Karen Joy Fowler (Asimov's, Apr/May07 issue)

Script: Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic)

Damon Knight Grand Master for 2008: Michael Moorcock

SFWA Service Award: Melisa Michaels and Graham P. Collins

Author Emeritus: Ardath Mayhar

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

What I've been up to

Things I've been doing ...

Well, let's see ... the days are flying by, but how am I occupying them?

On Tuesday, April 15, 2008, I finished revisions on Wake, my eighteenth novel. Yay! Go me! :)

On Wednesday, April 16, 2008, Carolyn and I picked up Joe and Gay Haldeman (who were in Toronto, staying with our great friends Mike Glicksohn and Susan Manchester). I recorded an interview with Joe for the CBC (being banked for future use); it went really well.

Then it was lunch at Eastside Mario's, more or less across the street from the CBC Broadcasting Centre, with CBC producer Fergus Heywood and fellow SF authors Pat Forde and Suzanne Church, plus Joe and Gay; a wonderful time.

Then it was off to Bakka-Phoenix, so Joe could sign stock; there, I had my first bookstore sighting of my own new short story collection Identity Theft and Other Stories (the launch for which will be at Bakka-Phoenix on Saturday, May 10, at 3:00 p.m.). Then I arranged Carolyn and my flights for the San Diego Comic-Con, at which I'm special guest this year.

Thursday, April 17, 2008, was my lovely wife's 50th birthday. I spent the day getting oodles of stuff done: finishing "The Story So Far" synopses for the upcoming
Analog serialization of my 18th novel, Wake; doing editorial work on the next book from Robert J. Sawyer Books (about which more soon in another post); and more.

Carolyn's brother David was our house guest that night (and we watched Madagascar on DVD -- Carolyn's birthday; Carolyn's pick), so we could all get an early start heading down to Niagara Falls, New York, for Eericon 10 (at which Joe Haldeman and Sephera Giron were guests of honor). Carolyn rendezvoused there with Susan Manchester and they went on a shopping expedition on Friday afternoon, while Dave and I hung around the con for great conversations.

As I've said elsewhere, Eeriecon is the best-kept secret in SF: a wonderful, mostly literary, SF con. As Larry Hodges said to me, you normally have to go to a Worldcon to attend a panel with a line-up of participants including Joe Haldeman, Nancy Kress, James Alan Gardner, and Robert J. Sawyer. :) Next year's Guest of Honor: Vernor Vinge.

Eeriecon celebrated Carolyn's birthday big time: posters announcing it everywhere (including the elevators), a big cake on Friday night, and more. As con chair Joe Fillinger said to me in an email after the con, "We didn't make a big deal of it, Carolyn IS a big deal to all of us. She is one of the sweetest and nicest people I have ever met and I know you realize how lucky you are to have her. (Is it even conceivable that there is anyone in the world that might dislike her?)." So true! And it's not just my loving-husband's eyes: nobody could believe that she was 50; she looks a decade or more younger.

Monday, April 21, was more fandom: the "Third Monday" fannish pub night at Toronto's Orwell's pub. As always a great time (although regulars Lloyd and Yvonne Penney were muchly missed -- they were off in Las Vegas celebrating their wedding anniversary).

Tuesday, I did an interview for Britain's Kerrang! Radio ("The Night Before" with Nick Margerrison) about Calculating God (the book that just keeps on attracting interest -- it was also released as an audio book by this week). I also wrote an essay for entitled "Science Fiction Road Trip," which will be featured on their website in June.

Wednesday was the annual "Local Authors' Night" organized by the Friends of the Mississauga Public Library -- quite a pleasant evening. Also did some interesting stuff related to a possible future writer-in-residence gig, and some stuff with my Hollywood agents and others about a possible TV project ... more later about both if they actually materialize. ;)

Thursday, April 24, was one of those stunningly beautiful, perfect days Toronto has in the spring and the fall. But I spent most of it setting up a "new" computer. I have two work stations in my home: one in my office, and another in the living room. I tend to use the former more in the summer, and the latter more in winter (because it's in front of the fireplace).

The office workstation has been based for two years now around a Dell D410 laptop (with docking station, two external monitors, wireless keyboard, and mouse, and obligatory-for-Rob La-z-boy recliner), which I dearly love, and I decided my living-room station needed a new computer, and so I retired my old Acer Travelmate 600TER there (which had given great service for 7.5 years, but had become a bit flaky of late, and had a noisy hard drive) with a second Dell D410 laptop, which I bought off of eBay: the second unit was used, but in mint condition. I spent most of the day setting it up and installing software.

(I wanted a spare Dell D410 anyway; I don't like widescreen laptops [the normal screen aspect-ratio is better for writing], and I prefer matte-finish to glossy-finish screens, and I want to stick with XP Pro rather than go to Vista for the foreseeable future, and it's getting very hard to find laptops that aren't widescreen and don't have LCDs that you could use as a shaving mirror, and, of course, most ship with Vista now.)

Friday, April 25 (yesterday), 2008, Carolyn and I picked up my friend (and former writing student) Bev Geddes at Toronto's airport. She'd flown in for a weekend rendezvous with her boyfriend, the Hugo and World Fantasy Award-nominated author Nick DiChario, who lives in Rochester, New York; they're staying with us through Sunday night. And this meant I had the great pleasure of presenting to Nick the first copies of his new novel, Valley of Day-Glo, the latest title from Robert J. Sawyer Books. It is a truly beautiful book (cover and interior design by Karen Petherick Thomas), and Nick was delighted; for me, the greatest thing about being an editor is seeing the author's face light up when they hold their book in their hands for the first time.

Last night, Nick and Bev took Carolyn and me out to dinner at Canyon Creek, one of our favourite restaurants, and then we stayed up late talking writerly stuff, and having a blast.

So, good times -- but busy!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Calculating God and others at

Hot on the heels of their release of The Terminal Experiment, has just released unabridged recordings of my novels Calculating God, Hominids, and Hybrids (with Humans coming soon). The new readings are by Jonathan Davis.

Check 'em all out right here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, April 20, 2008

RJS e-Mail Newsletter

I sent out this e-mail newsletter today to the people on my email-notices list; if you'd like to be added to that list, drop me a note at sawyer at sfwriter dot com.


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 and I'll drop you from this mailing list. :)

In this issue:
  • New short-story collection
  • Book launches in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Rochester
  • Hugo Nomination for ROLLBACK!
  • Aurora Nomination for ROLLBACK!
  • American Library Association top-ten list!
  • and RJS
  • Praise for ROLLBACK
  • Coming next: WAKE
  • Book Rob as a speaker


Just out: IDENTITY THEFT AND OTHER STORIES by Robert J. Sawyer, with an introduction by Robert Charles Wilson, published by Red Deer Press.

"A collection of great stories; highly entertaining and thought-provoking -- this book has something for almost any science-fiction fan." -- QUILL & QUIRE

Seventeen short stories, each with an individual introduction by me.

The book is in stores now, and,,, and are all shipping it.

More info



Reading from IDENTITY THEFT at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival
Saturday, May 3, 2008, at 8:30 p.m.:
More info

IDENTITY THEFT launch party
Saturday, May 10, 2008, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Bakka-Phoenix Books
697 Queen Street West (just west of Bathurst in Downtown Toronto)

Launch party at science-fiction convention Keycon on Friday night, May 16, 2008
Readings and signing on Saturday, May 17, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. by Robert J. Sawyer,
Nick DiChario, and Hayden Trenholm at McNally Robinson Grant Park

Launch party for IDENTITY THEFT and Nick DiChario's new novel VALLEY OF DAY-GLO (which I edited), plus Nancy Kress's NANO COMES TO CLIFFORD FALLS:
Saturday, June 21, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Barnes and Noble, 3349 Monroe Avenue, Pittsford (Rochester), NY



I'm thrilled that my novel ROLLBACK -- now out in mass-market paperback from Tor -- is one of five finalists for this year's HUGO AWARD (the top honor in the science-fiction field) for Best Novel of the Year.

More about Rollback

For those who are interested in how the Hugos work: to vote, you need a "Supporting Membership" in the current year's World Science Fiction Convention. (If you also wish to attend the convention, which this year is in Denver August 6-10, you'll need a "Full Attending Membership." I'll be there, of course; World SF Conventions are wonderful!):

Worldcon info

The online Hugo ballot, with the list of nominees in all categories, is here:

Online Hugo ballot

Printable Hugo ballt



If you are, or become, a member of this year's World Science Fiction Convention, you can get FREE electronic copies of ROLLBACK, plus three other Best Novel nominees (Ian McDonald's BRASYL, John Scalzi's THE LAST COLONY, and Charles Stross's HALTING STATE).

More info

(Many thanks to John Scalzi for organizing this!)



In addition to its Hugo nomination, ROLLBACK is also a finalist for this year's Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards ("the Auroras").

Any Canadian may vote for the Auroras; the voting fee -- which helps defray the cost of manufacturing the lovely trophies -- is $5:

Aurora ballot



To my delight, the America Library Association has named ROLLBACK one of the year's ten best SF novels:

More info



AUDIBLE.COM -- the world's largest provider of audio books -- has just released an unabridged recording of my Nebula Award-winning THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT -- with more to come!

Over the next few months, they'll also be releasing CALCULATING GOD, HOMINIDS, HUMANS, and HYBRIDS. This link will always take you to the full list of RJS titles at



"Thoroughly entertaining; one of those books you can't put down. Truly engrossing human drama -- characters that are totally realistic. It's got mainstream appeal but is also a great read for fans of thought-provoking science fiction."
Five stars [out of 5]" --SF SIGNAL

"A story that is so poignant I found myself in tears. ROLLBACK has become one of my favorite science fiction novels; Sawyer has written another classic." --THE DAVIS ENTERPRISE, Davis, California

"ROLLBACK is a story about love and commitment, about humanity at its most basic -- a novel to be savored by science-fiction and mainstream readers alike."

"A dynamite science fiction novel; a wholly satisfying story." --JANUARY MAGAZINE

"Above all, the author's characters bear their human strengths and weaknesses with dignity and poise. An elegantly told story for all libraries; highly recommended." --LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review, denoting a work of exceptional merit)

"ROLLBACK gets my vote as SF novel of the year. A joy to read." --JACK McDEVITT, author of Odyssey

"A brilliant premise; a riveting book. Highly emotional and original -- a complex story with sympathetic and believable characters." --ROMANTIC TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"A reminder of why Sawyer is one of our most highly regarded writers of speculative fiction, able to handle the demands of the heart and the cosmos with equal skill." --QUILL & QUIRE

"I highly recommend Robert J. Sawyer's ROLLBACK. It's a shoo-in to be short-listed for next year's major awards."

"Sawyer, who has won Hugo and Nebula awards, may well win another major SF award with this superior effort." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review, denoting a work of exceptional merit)



I've finished writing WAKE, the first volume of my upcoming WWW trilogy about the World Wide Web gaining consciousness. The book will be published in hardcover in March or April of 2009 by Ace Science Fiction in the US and Penguin in Canada.

Prior to that, the full text will be serialized in ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT, the world's #1 best-selling English-language SF magazine, starting in the "November 2008" issue (which goes on sale in early September):



As a science-fiction writer and futurist, Robert J. Sawyer has given KEYNOTE ADDRESSES for many corporations, associations, and government groups:

More info






Upcoming Appearances


ROBERT J. SAWYER, Science Fiction Writer

Hugo Award winner for Hominids

Nebula Award winner for The Terminal Experiment

John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner for Mindscan

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The living nightmare of Wi-Fi

I've been having no end of lost connections to the Internet with the Wi-Fi router in my home ... ugh I installed a firmware update tonight, and hopefully that will help.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, April 18, 2008

Off to Eeriecon 10

Off to one of my favorite conventions -- Eeriecon, a small but high-energy con in Niagara Falls, New York. The fun begins this evening. Guests of Honor this year are Joe Haldeman and Sephera Giron. Details are here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rewatching The Time Warrior

My all-time favourite Doctor Who serial is "The Time Warrior," written by Robert Holmes for Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor.

It's packed with firsts: new opening credits, the unveiling of the diamond-shaped Doctor Who logo, the revelation that the Doctor's home planet is Gallifrey, the introduction of the Sontarans, and the introduction of one of the most-popular companions in the history of the series, Sarah Jane Smith.

The BBC has at last released "The Time Warrior" on DVD, including commentary tracks, pop-up text, a half-hour making-of documentary, and (optionally) new CGI special effects.

Carolyn and I watched it, savoring each of the four episodes one per night; it holds up very well indeed. The dialog crackles (echoing Thomas Hobbes, the Doctor refers to Linx, the Sontaran, as "nasty, brutish, and short," while the medieval robber-baron Irongron calls the Doctor, "a long-shank rascal with a mighty nose"), the cast is excellent, and the story line is very clever. Among many other great bits, it contains what I think is the defining statement by the Doctor about what the series Doctor Who is all about:
Sarah Jane: "You're serious?"

The Doctor: "About what I do, yes. Not necessarily the way I do it."
Highly recommended.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Mindscan film option renewed

... for a third year, by Toronto producer Scott Calbeck. I'm delighted!

Mindscan, which won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year, is a story of transferred human consciousness and attempting to define what it means to be human.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The Terminal Experiment at

I mentioned a while back that had issued me a seven-book (!) contract for audio versions of my novels (the entire Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, the entire WWW trilogy, and Calculating God); those are still forthcoming (and the first of them should be out next month).

But has also just released an audio version of my 1995 Nebula Award-winning novel The Terminal Experiment, wonderfully narrated by Paul Hecht. The Terminal Experiment is the story of a biomedical engineer who finds scientific proof for the existence of the human soul.

You can get it (as well as a reading of my Hugo-nominated short story "Shed Skin") right here (a permalink to all the Robert J. Sawyer titles available at

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Neanderthals speak

More or less: a synthesized, simulated Neanderthal vocal tract has now produced the sound of a Neanderthal saying "E." New Scientist has the scoop.

I fondly remember interviewing cognitive linguist Phil Lieberman, who is involved with the research mentioned above, for two hours on November 4, 1999, at his office at Brown University to discuss Neanderthal speech, as I was beginning work on Hominids.

(Neanderthal difficulty in pronouncing the long-E phoneme figures in Hominids and its sequels, and is why Ponter, the Neanderthal, always calls Mary Vaughan "Mare.")

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sawyer in Montreal in May

I'm thrilled to be participating in this year's Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal.

My full schedule is here.

My main event is a solo reading by me, with commentary, hosted by Claude Lalumière.

The event is Saturday, May 3, 2008, at 8:30 p.m., at the Delta Centre-Ville hotel in the Versailles Room (details are here -- see event #112). Admission is $10, and tickets should be purchased in advance.

I'm also on event #22, a panel about time:
"Is writing about another time a variety of travel writing? Lindsey Davis travels back in time to Ancient Rome with her toga-wearing gumshoe Marcus Aurelius Falco. Gary Geddes and Padma Viswanathan moves back into the early twentieth century and Robert J. Sawyer travels into the future in his science fiction. Hosted by Juliet Waters." [Thursday, May 1, 2008, at 5:30 p.m., $10]
And I'm part of #64, which should particularly be of interest to wannabe writers, as I'm participating in it in my guise as editor for Robert J. Sawyer Books:
"So how does that manuscript you're been working on finally get published? This is your chance to find out at our publishers' event, back by popular demand. With Robert J. Sawyer, Kim McArthur, Patricia Aldana, Jon Paul Fiorentino. Hosted by Carolyn Marie Souaid." [Friday, May 2, 2008, at 8:30 p.m.; $5]
Again, my full schedule is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

German Flashforward

Today's mail brought my author copies of the German edition of Flashforward, published as simply Flash. The cover is lovely, I think.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Stanley Schmidt's new book!

Just received a copy of The Coming Convergence by Stanley Schmidt, Ph.D., the editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The book's subtitle is "The Surprising Ways Diverse Technologies Interact to Shape Our World and Change the Future." It's a terrific book, and, on the "Advance Praise for ..." page, you'll find this blurb from me:
Stanley Schmidt is our advance scout, journeying ahead to the glorious, complex future that awaits us all, and he reports back in this fabulous book, chock-full of the same kind of lucid and insightful commentary that has made his Analog editorials must-reading for three decades now. Schmidt gives us the same kind of clear-headed thinking and cleanly written prose that we associated with Asimov and Sagan.

The page for the book is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, April 7, 2008

Identity Theft in my hands

I received today, hot off the presses, the first copies of my new short-story collection Identity Theft and Other Stories, and I have to say it looks fabulous. Red Deer Press has always been known for beautiful books, and this one is no exception.

The cover and interior design are by Karen Petherick Thomas. Amy Hingston shepherded the book through production. Fiona Kelleghan copyedited the manuscript. Richard Dionne is the publisher of Red Deer Press, and Sharon Fitzhenry, who bought the book, is publisher of the parent company, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. The introduction is by Robert Charles Wilson.

The official launch parties for Identity Theft and Other Stories are:

Bakka-Phoenix Books
697 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario
Saturday, May 10, 2008, at 3:00 p.m.

United States:
Barnes & Noble
3349 Monroe Avenue
Pittsford (Rochester), New York
Saturday, June 21, 2008, at 7:00 p.m.

(The U.S. launch is a joint launch with Nick DiChario for his new novel Valley of Day-Glo, which I edited.)

This is my 19th science-fiction book: I've had 17 previous novels, and this is my second short-story collection (the first was 2000's Iterations, a new edition of which is coming out this month, in a cover that matches the one for Identity Theft).

(I don't count Relativity: Essays and Stories in the tally above, because it's mostly a nonfiction book ...)

Onward to number 20, which will be the novel Wake, coming in the spring of next year ...
The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Getting an agent's attention

A question that showed up in my in-box today:
I have now completed two SF novels and am hard at work on a third. However, I have had no luck whatsoever in piquing the interest of any publishers or agents. Do you have any thoughts on how to attract something more than a momentary "glance" from an agent? I have tried a number of formats for my covering letters, but this seems to have made little difference.
The answer is simple, but not easy. The best way to attract an agent is by having short-fiction credentials. That proves you can write: that you can tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end with a publishable level of competence. When I landed my own first agent, in 1988, I did so by citing short-fiction credentials, including a novelette in the September 1988 Amazing Stories (defunct now, but at one time a major SF magazine, founded by Hugo Gernsback himself).

What you're doing now is like showing up at NHL tryouts and saying, hey, I've never played in a junior league, but give me a shot. Or it's like writing a cover letter for a job: a potential employer will indeed only just glance at such a letter to see if you have appropriate education or previous work experience, and, if you don't, they will set it aside no matter what else you say in the letter.

Short fiction is very much a valid art form in its own right, but it is also the way you prove yourself in this genre. The significant SF&F magazines -- Analog and Asimov's and F&SF in the US; On Spec and Neo-Opsis in Canada; and Interzone in the UK -- are wide open to submissions from anyone, and their editors make their names based in part on the authors they discover and develop. You don't need an agent to submit to any of these magazines, and they seriously consider work from newcomers.

Perhaps you're thinking you don't want to write short fiction; setting aside the fact that that's like saying you don't want to pay your dues, there's still a way around it: find a standalone excerpt from one of your novels, and submit it (rewritten if necessary) as a short story. You've done two novels; you've got on the order of 200,000 words of fiction already written -- surely some 4,000- or 5,000-word chunk of that works well enough on its own to constitute a short story.

Once you've got some short-fiction credentials (or at least one significant one), cite that in your cover letter; it'll make a world of difference. Indeed, if you do well with your short fiction, you may find agents approaching you: my buddy Edo van Belkom is with Joshua Bilmes, a very fine agent, because Joshua approached him after noticing his short fiction.

Now, yes, there are authors who manage to break in without an agent. Typically, these are authors who have submitted manuscripts over-the-transom (unsolicited) to those few publishers who still read such submissions. Tor certainly does, but be warned that their response time for slush (unsolicited manuscripts) is two to three years; I think DAW still reads unsolicited material, too, as does Baen. Once you get an offer, it then usually is easy to acquire an agent (just don't agree to anything until after you are represented).

Trying to set up appointments with agents on a trip to New York is very unlikely to bear fruit. Some agents do show up at major SF conventions: the World Science Fiction Convention is in Denver this year and the World Fantasy Convention is in Calgary; both will have agents in attendance. But whether they'll be approachable is another matter. My own agent goes to the World Science Fiction Convention but doesn't do any programming and hangs out at the hotel bar not wearing his name badge in part so he won't be approached by wannabes.

I wish you the best of luck!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Charlton Heston, R.I.P.

Charlton Heston, who starred in three of the best remembered science-fiction films of the 1960s and 1970s -- Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and The Omega Man -- died yesterday at the age of 84. Rest in peace, Chuck.
Charlton Heston as Col. George Taylor in Planet of the Apes:

And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We're now on full automatic, in the hands of the computers. I have tucked my crew in for the long sleep and I'll be joining them soon. In less than an hour, we'll finish our sixth month out of Cape Kennedy. Six months in deep space -- by our time, that is.

According to Dr. Hasslein's theory of time, in a vehicle traveling nearly the speed of light, the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it, while we've aged hardly at all.

Maybe so. This much is probably true -- the men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You who are reading me now are a different breed -- I hope a better one.

I leave the 20th century with no regrets. But one more thing -- if anybody's listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It's purely personal. But seen from out here everything seems different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man's ego. I feel lonely.

That's about it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbor's children starving?

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Five years ago today, one of my week-long writing workshops at the Banff Centre in the ski-resort town of Banff, Alberta, started. I had six students with me for that week, and a terrific bunch they were! I've kept in touch with all of them to one degree or another since, and I'm just pleased as punch at their writing successes in the interim:

Kim Greyson (part of the 2008 World Fantasy Convention committee) recently had his first (nonfiction) publication; Ernie Reimer has gone on to publish short fiction in several venues, including On Spec; Ed Hoornaert's first SF novel, The Trial of Tompa Lee, is out in hardcover from Five Star; and the irrepressible Edward Willett had his novel Lost in Translation published by Five Star, then re-published by DAW, and his second DAW novel (begun in my class!), called Marseguro, is just out -- and he's sold them a third book.

(Meanwhile, Kaye Mason, also part of that class, has finished a Ph.D. in computer science and now works on way cool stuff at EA, the big computer-games maker, and Kevin McIsaac is active with all sorts of community and charitable things in Fernie, B.C.)

That was one of the best weeks of my life, and I'm so glad my students are all doing so well!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Free e-copies of Hugo nominated novels for Worldcon members

If you're a member of this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Denver, electronic copies (as RTF files, which are readable by almost all word processors) of four of the five best-novel Hugo Award finalists are yours for the asking. See John Scalzi's blog for the details (and many thanks to John for handling distribution!).

Included in the bundle are Ian McDonald's Brasyl, Robert J. Sawyer's Rollback, John Scalzi's The Last Colony, and (if you live in the United States) Charles Stross's Halting State.

(The publisher of the fifth finalist, Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union, declined to participate in this giveaway.)

And let me publicly say what a stand-up, terrific guy John Scalzi is. He didn't have to organize this; he didn't need to make his massively popular web platform available to anyone but himself. But he's a true gentleman. THANK YOU, JOHN!

(Thanks, too, in my case, to my publisher, Tor Books, which controls the electronic rights to Rollback and authorized the use of the book in this program.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Million Dollar Man

... is my buddy S.M. Stirling, formerly of Toronto. Says Steve, "Since it's going to be published in the trade press soon, I can say that the advances for the latest contract have gone well into six figures per book and the overall advance for all six books is in the seven figure range; it's the first time I've signed a contract with the world 'million' in the payout."

And indeed, it is in the trades, including Locus (which arrived here in Toronto today): "S.M. STIRLING sold three Change novels and three books in the new A Taint in the Blood series to Ginjer Buchanan at Roc via Russell Galen in a seven-figure deal."

Steve and I have been friends for over 20 years; as I say, he used to live here in Toronto. I'm absolutely thrilled for him and his wonderful wife Jan.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site