Saturday, May 31, 2008

SF Crowsnest reviews Rollback

SF Crowsnest reviews Rollback right here, saying:

"The sensitivity of the issues involved here is likely to get this book up for awards in the coming months and you might as well be in on the ground floor and say you've got there before the judges. A compelling read."

The review is by Geoff Willmetts.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

SF Crowsnest reviews Identity Theft

... right here.

Identity Theft and Other Stories by Robert J. Sawyer. Red Deer Press, 2008. Buy an autographed hardcover from the author here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Interesting tools

Working furiously on a bunch of projects, including Watch, the sequel to Wake. I've been using the index-cards feature of Celtx, a way-cool open-source free media preproduction package, to plot it out. Celtx is a Canadian project (yay, team!), based in St. John's, Newfoundland. The index-card feature is the closest simulation to actually using 3x5 cards on a physical bulletin board that I've seen for Windows (and, yes, I like it better than the Scene Navigator in FinalDraft, which I also own).

And on another project -- one about which I'll say more later -- I'm collaborating for the first time with Google Docs, which I must say is also way cool. (The team members are also doing their scheduling with Google Calendar.)

Tomorrow, I'm off to Washington, DC, for three days to chair a keynote panel at the Gartner IT Security Summit.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Boarding the Enterprise at

There are many hundreds of Star Trek books, but -- the official website, run by Gene Roddenberry's son Rod -- has chosen to stock only two commercially published bookstore-distributed books.

One of them is the (excellent) Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenbery.

And the other is Boarding the Enterprise, edited by David Gerrold and Robert J. Sawyer.

You can see it at here, and read my introduction to the book here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Most stylish SF TV show ever ...

... was Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's UFO, filmed in 1969, but set in 1980. YouTube's got the opening credit sequence (with Barry Gray's wonderful theme music) here.

NOTE: Click on the "Watch in high quality" link just below the "Views" hit counter.

Really, quite an ambitious undertaking: cars, fashions, hairstyles, all created for a coherent future (and not using the usual SF-show copout of having everyone wear the same basic uniform).

(Barry Gray also did the theme song to Fireball XL5, which you can hear here.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

VCON, here I come!

Having accumulated a big pile of frequent-flyer miles, I decided to use some of them today to book a flight to Vancouver, British Columbia, for VCON 33, the Vancouver SF convention being held October 3-5, 2008. (I was surprised that I could book a flight all the way from Toronto to Vancouver and back using only 25,000 Aeroplan miles ...)

Look for me at the Buffy Musical singalong ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Aurora Awards in the Senate!

The remarks below were made today in Canada's Senate by The Honourable Nick G. Sibbeston (pictured above), Senator for the Northwest Territories, and will be recorded in Hansard, the official parliamentary transcripts:
Honourable Senators, on Sunday, May 18th, the Aurora Awards, honouring the best in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing in both English and French, were awarded in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

These Awards, which are voted on by fans of the field, are in their twenty-eighth year and have recognized many of the greats of Canadian science fiction -- people who have gone on to win many international awards as well. One multiple award winner, Robert J. Sawyer, was recently named one of the 30 most influential people in Canadian publishing.

This year the winner for Best English Novel went to Toronto writer Nalo Hopkinson for her book, The New Moon's Arms. One of Ms. Hopkinson's earlier novels, Brown Girl in the Ring, was featured this year on CBC's Canada Reads.

I am particularly pleased to tell honourable senators that one of the other winners this year was my own policy advisor, Hayden Trenholm, who won for best English Short Story for his novelette, "Like Water in the Desert." Mr. Trenholm also had his science fiction novel, Defining Diana, published earlier this year. I congratulate him and others for their writing skills.

My relationship with Mr. Trenholm goes back to the 1980s when I was a government minister and leader in the Northwest Territories. He was my assistant and policy adviser. Later, when I returned to politics as a member of the Senate, he rejoined me and is my policy adviser today. I have always admired his brilliance, his knowledge of the North and his political acumen, which he provides capably to my office.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The least-well-known Hugo-winning novel

As a best-novel Hugo Award-winner myself (not to mention a current nominee in that category), I like to think that winning SF's big one ensures immortality for the book.

But one book is sometimes called the "lost" Hugo winner, because it's rarely been in print since its win: They'd Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley took the second-ever best-novel Hugo Award in 1955 (following Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man and preceding Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star).

But now the good folks at have made They'd Rather Be Right as an ebook, in all standard formats (what they call Multiformat, with no DRM). You can get it here.

(I know ebooks don't really have covers, but I will point out that in their mocked-up cover art for this book, they left co-author Frank Riley's name off ... making him, sadly, the forgotten author of the forgotten Hugo winner ...)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Calculating God 8th printing

Apologies to those who've been looking for my Hugo Award-nominated Calculating God over the last little while. Demand has exceeded supply -- but Tor is going back to print (for an 8th mass-market printing!), and it should be back in stores shortly (and will absolutely be available for teachers who wish to use it this fall in courses).

(And, of course,'s new audiobook version is still available right here.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, May 26, 2008

Eric Layman obituary

The Globe and Mail devoted a half-page to an appreciation of my recently departed friend Eric Layman on Saturday. It's free to read it right now, although sometime soon it will be put behind the Globe's pay-for-old-content wall. Check it out while you can.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Charles Lindbergh and the quest for immortality

Some of the issues explored in my current Hugo Award-finalist Rollback are also addressed in a new nonfiction book called The Immortalists by David M. Friedman. The BBC has a print interview with Friedman here about aviator Charles Lindbergh's "deranged" quest for immortality ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Star Trek director Joseph Pevney passes on has the scoop here. Pevney directed 14 episodes -- more than any other director -- including some of the Original Series' very best:

Amok Time
The Apple
City on the Edge of Forever
The Deadly Years
The Devil in the Dark
Friday's Child
The Immunity Syndrome
Journey to Babel
The Return of the Archons
A Taste of Armageddon
The Troulbe with Tribbles
Wolf in the Fold

He was 96. Rest in peace.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

More Stephen J. Greene RJS fan art

Last June, I posted here about the terrific fan art for my Quintaglio books done by Stephen J. Greene.

Stephen has now done a very nice piece of fan art based on my Aurora and Arthur Ellis Award-winning 1993 short story "JUst Like Old Times." Check it out here.

Many thanks, Stephen!

(Oh, and the actual story is here.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Me and Bobby McKee ...

I'm off to take famed Hollywood script consultant Robert McKee's "Story" seminar this weekend: three 9:00-to-9:00 days, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It's actually my second time taking it; my buddy Herb Kauderer is taking it with me this time (Carolyn did it last time with me, back in the fall of 2003). McKee is the author of the book Story and was featured in the movie Adaptation.

The Toronto McKee seminar

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Classic cylon robots as CGI

Fascinating discussion of the guest appearance by the classic cylon design in flashbacks for the new Battlestar Galactica can be found here at Darth Mojo.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Quotable Rob Sawyer

Somebody over at The Quotations Page is a fan of my novel Calculating God, I see. That site lists seven quotes from the book, including one I had cause to repeat to a friend recently: "Honor does not have to be defended" -- you've either got it, or you don't, and if you do no one can take it from you.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Hominids half-price at

Until Tuesday, May 27, 2008, at 11 AM EDT, the unabridged recording of the Hugo Award-winning novel Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer is half-price at Click here for the special price.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Shelving books in electronic bookstores

Interesting discussion going on in the Fictionwise Yahoo! Groups newsgroup; I began it based on having a frustrating shopping experience at yesterday. My posts:

I've just gone through 1,100 Secure Mobipocket titles filed under "Science Fiction" on the Fictionwise ebook store -- and hundreds of Star Trek titles were scattered in amongst the regular SF. Real bookstores don't scatter the Star Trek (or other media tie-in) titles in with the original SF. Might Fictionwise consider moving the Star Trek books to their own category? It's hardly as though anyone looking for a Star Trek novel suddenly says, "Oh, wow, you mean I could be reading Philip K. Dick's Valis instead?" Nor does anyone looking for some new science fiction to read suddenly say, "Oh, wow, you mean they've got Star Trek books, too? Well, to hell with that LeGuin I was thinking of buying!" :) Lumping Star Trek and original science fiction together doesn't help anyone, and makes searching tedious.

This is NOT a question of elitism, Gary. It's a question of helping people find what they're looking for efficiently.

I love Star Trek (and, indeed, edited a book in honor of its 40th anniversary with David Gerrold). But I do look forward to your reasoned argument for why Fictionwise should not do what just about every brick-and-mortar bookstore does -- that is, I look forward to your explanation of why lumping them all together with no way to sort one from the other is better and more efficient.

Hell's bells, to take your approach further, why not do this: I get irritated when science fiction is dissed, so let's move all the SF into Fictionwise's "Classic Literature" section. That'll show the elitists, won't it? Much, much better to force people to wade through what they categorically (pun intended) aren't looking for, just to make a political point, no? ;)

You've cited two numbers here, Steve: 99% and 100%. I'll cop to the 100% -- yes, Mobipocket does the same customer unfriendly thing you do (and you should be happy that I'm more familiar with your store than theirs, since it means you're getting more of my money) -- but I take exception to the 99%, and so do Barnes and Noble, Borders, and just about every other brick-and-mortar bookstore you can point to: their research tells them that book buyers want to have the Star Trek novels separate from the SF (usually at the end of the SF section, instead of mixed in willy-nilly). My own experience working in an independent science-fiction bookstore was also that our customers wanted them separate.

You didn't answer my questions, and presumably you have the hard numbers to do so: Do most buyers routinely buy Star Trek from the SF section, or from the separate Star Trek section? Do most shopping baskets contain a mixture of both Trek and original SF?

If most Trek sales come from the SF category, why do you bother to separate out Trek at all? If most Trek sales come from the Trek category, why do you give special privilege to Star Trek (its own section plus listing them all in SF as well), but not give us the converse -- the option of an SF listing without Star Trek? Why the asymmetry?

And you also didn't respond to my point about online searching: you force customers to look at books that you've already tagged in your database as belong to a definable category: you, the retailer, can identify Trek books automatically (or else you wouldn't be able to put them in their own category in addition to SF). In what way is it appropriate to the spirit of customize-for-the-specific-customer online retailing to deny the customer the right to select that same tag in his or her searches, and have it excluded from the results listed? It's trivial from a programming point of view, no?

If I could do an advanced search that allowed me to do "-bundle,-trek" to exclude short-story bundles and Star Trek while looking at the science-fiction section, I'd be a happy camper.

(By the way, when we're through with this discussion, I wouldn't mind bending your ear about the inappropriateness of putting computer/consumer-electronic how-to and "Dummies" books in the same category as "Science." The person looking for the latest popular physics book by, say, Michio Kaku isn't at all interested in The Complete Idiot's Guide to Project Management with Microsoft Project 2003, but you've got them on the same shelf. Yes, other etailers may do it that way; no, brick-and-mortar stores don't -- and with good reason.)

Dajala wrote, "Easy to find = a better browse to sale conversion ratio."

Exactly! At the moment, I'm a frustrated customer. I looked at 1,100 secure Mobipocket listings yesterday -- one thousand, one hundred -- and got so irritated by having to wade through what seemed to be hundreds of Trek novels, that I ended up buying just seven books; if my consumer experience had been less frustrating, I'd have bought more. I was looking to get about 20 books or so (taking advantage of the current 25%-rebate sale to load up my new iRex iLiad for my summer travels), but got tired of wading through stuff I didn't want that Fictionwise would not let me exclude from my searches, and gave up.

And, realistically, how many customers are going to look at 1,100 listings in a single day? I'm more patient than most people shopping online are ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Aurora Awards business

Note: These are not the official Canvention / Aurora Award minutes; they're just my notes and comments on what went down at the business meeting in Winnipeg yesterday.

It only took eleven years, but some reforms for the Aurora Awards very similar to ones I first proposed right here were passed. For one, assuming next year's business meeting ratifies these changes, the unwieldy "Best Long-Form Work in English" will become "Best Novel."

Back in 1997, I'd suggested that "a minimum of ten nominations be required to be named an Aurora finalist, and that any category with fewer than three finalists be declared vacant for the current year." Well, we didn't quite get that tough, but the new rules require a minimum of five nominations to become an Aurora finalist, and categories with fewer than two nominations will be declared vacant. This is a very positive change in my view.

Also, a more recent notion that I and others had put forward, namely that people have to pay to nominate, also passed. Previously, it was free to nominate but people had to pay to vote; this change brings the policy in line with that used by the Hugos: you have to be pay whenever you enter the awards process: if you want to nominate, you pay the membership fee (which is nominal -- this year, it was five dollars) at that time (and then you can vote later for free); if you just want to vote, you can pay the membership fee at the voting stage. No one has to pay the fee twice. (The purpose of this is to raise the level of commitment to the process by those participating at the nominating stage.)

Also passed: a motion to reinstate eligibility of clubzines (magazines and newsletters published by SF clubs) in the best fanzine category.

The previous prohibition had given us the odd situation this year of having only one finalist in the fanzine category, and so for the first time in the history of the Aurora Awards, "No Award" won, not [in my estimation] as a comment on the quality of Opuntia, the nominated zine, but rather in protest over the lack of choice being offered voters.

Meanwhile, the editor of a [very fine] clubzine was given the "Fan Other" award, essentially moving clubzines into that category at the expense of those other fans -- letterhacks, filkers, costumers, etc. -- the category was intended to honour. Note, though, that the definition of fanzine has now been broadened to explicitly include blogs.

I also made an ad hoc motion (but one that I hope will set a precedent) that passed: in two categories this year, there were multiple individuals who won: Best English (Other) and Best Short-Form Work in French were won by pairs of people (Julie E. Czerneda and Jana Paniccia for the former; Yves Meynard and Jean-Louis Trudel under their joint pen name Laurent McAllister for the latter); my motion that additional trophies be immediately commissioned so that each pair of the team will get one passed.

(As it happens, this year with one category having no nominees and another having "No Award" win means that the total number of trophies will be the same as normal -- 10 -- but I do think future cons should budget based on the possibility of ties or collaborative wins.)

A number of other proposals that had been floated in the weeks leading up to the Canvention, including increasing the number of pro Aurora Awards and allowing song lyrics (including filk) to compete for the professional short-form category, were withdrawn, and I think that's all to the good.

My hat's off to Aurora chair Clint Budd, who proved very willing to listen to suggestions both in the weeks leading up to the CanVention and at the business meeting. And I must stay that David Strang, who was the CanVention chair this year, pulled off a really fine ceremony, complete with banquet. Meanwhile, the courtly and efficient Michael Walsh ran his usual civil and tight business meeting, and should be commended.

The Aurora Awards next year will be presented at the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal.

For my own part, I don't expect to be nominated -- I have no new novel in 2008, and no short stories being published this year, and, as it happens, the two 2008 Robert J. Sawyer Books titles coming are both by Americans and so aren't eligible. Which means I can relax and enjoy the ceremony: Keycon set a very high bar for this; Anticipation is going to have to work hard just to equal the quality of the Winnipeg event.

My hearty congratulations to all of this year's winners. Canadian prodom and Canadian fandom can proudly point to them all as examples of our very best.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, May 19, 2008

Aurora Award winners

My congratulations to Nalo Hopkinson, whose The New Moon's Arms took the English Long-Form Aurora Award this year; it was an honour to be on a ballot with such a fine book, and I'm thrilled to see Nalo win her first Aurora. Way to go, Nalo!

I was also honoured to be the presenter of the Lifetime Achievement Aurora to Dennis Mullin, the recently retired administrator of the Auroras. This was the first Lifetime Achievement Aurora to be given since 1986, and was richly deserved. And I was thrilled to accept Julie E. Czerneda and Jana Paniccia's award in the Best English (Other) Category. And, of course, it was delightful to see my writing student Hayden Trenholm win the Best Short-Form Work in English trophy.

TV personality Liana K did a great job as master of ceremonies; Tanya Huff gave a wonderful speech at the awards banquet; and Clint Budd did sterling work running the awards this year.

The winners of the 2008 Prix Aurora Awards were announced Sunday 18 May 2008 at Keycon 25 in Winnipeg:

Lifetime Achievement:
Dennis Mullin

Best Long-Form Work in English:
The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson (Warner)

Best Long-Form Work in French:
Cimetière du musée by Diane Boudreau (du Phoenix)

Best Short-Form Work in English:
"Like Water in the Desert" by Hayden Trenholm (Challenging Destiny)

Best Short-Form Work in French:
"Sur la plage des Èpaves" by Laurent MacAllister (Solaris)

Best Work in English (Other):
Under Cover of Darkness edited by Julie E. Czerneda & Jana Paniccia (DAW)

Best Work in French (Other):
No nominations.

Artistic Achievement:
Lar deSouza

Fan Achievement (Fanzine):
No award.

Fan Achievement (Organizational):
Penny Lipman

Fan Achievement (Other):
Paul Bobbitt (editor of The Voyageur)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coming this fall: a new Gorn figure!

I love the Gorn from classic Star Trek. He probably has the highest ratio of toys-made-of-him to actual-screen-time of any character in television history :) and I own most of them.

The best likeness to date is the Art Asylum version -- but Mego has a new one coming this fall (that's a prototype for it pictured above), and I'll be first in line to get one. :) More details at the always interesting

I shall be merciful and quick ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

McNally Robinson loves Identity Theft

The official review from Canada's McNally Robinson bookstore chain is here.

As it happens, I'm signing at their Winnipeg Grant Park store this Saturday, May 17, 2008, at 2:00 p.m.

More about Identity Theft and Other Stories is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Eric Layman passes on

A fixture of Toronto SF fandom, and a mainstay of the science-fiction club U.S.S. Hudson Bay, Eric Layman passed away recently. A poet and a thinker, Eric could be cantankerous, but he was always courtly toward my mother, who sometimes attended meetings of that same club. He won an Aurora Award in 2004 for his fan writing.

Eric was born in December 1943 in New Westminster, British Columbia, and died April 27, 2008, in Toronto, unexpectedly, after a brief bout of pneumonia. A bio of him, published in 2000 in the club newsletter, is here.

The last time I saw him was at the Hudson Bay meeting on April 12, 2008, a special filk-concert meeting he'd organized for the club. The photo of Eric above was taken by me at a party at my place on January 14, 2006.

Eric was intelligent and talented and passionate, and my friend. He's already missed.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


More e-ink devices announced

The Astak Mentor line of electronic-ink ebook readers was formally announced yesterday, although they're not yet shipping. Also rumored: support for the eReader (formerly Palm Reader) format, now owned by Fictionwise, my favorite ebook-reading platform (and with the best/fairest/least-awkward DRM scheme around). Some more info is here. Interesting times in the ebook market.

Looking at the photos of the 9.7-inch unit, and the specs on the Astak website, I see they're touting a non-glare screen, which, of course, is essential, but they've put the unit in a glossy black chassis -- which will reflect light back into the reader's eyes. The Amazon Kindle and the iRex iLiad both were sensibly designed with matte-finish housings; I hope Astak will rectify this before they go into production. Ergonomics are hugely important to the reading experience, after all.

(Plus, an ebook reader has to be handled a lot, and glossy finishes show fingerprints ...)

Me, I'm lovin' my iRed iLiad ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stan Schmidt for the Hugo!

Stan's the man!

I received the latest progress report from Denvention, this year's World Science Fiction Convention, today here in Canada, and it contains the Hugo voting ballot. So it's a good time to remind people of all the reasons, back at the nomination stage, that I suggested it's high time Stanley Schmidt got a Hugo.

This year, 2008, is the 30th anniversary of Stanley Schmidt becoming editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Despite Analog being consistently the English-speaking world's #1 best-selling SF magazine for that entire period, Stan has never won a Hugo Award for Best Editor.

Stan's own web page is here. In addition to 2008 being Stan's 30th anniversary as editor of Analog, it's also his 40th anniversary as a published SF writer. Besides actually editing Analog (and in a very hands-on fashion, working diligently with his writers), it should be noted that Stan is the only editor of a major SF magazine to write an editorial for each issue, and his editorials are in themselves worth the cost of the magazine.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sacremento News & Review loves Rollback

A very kind review is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Free public event in Winnipeg!

Not one, not two, but three science-fiction authors will be appearing at McNally Robinson Grant Park in Winnipeg this Saturday afternoon, May 17, at 2:00 p.m. Come here Robert J. Sawyer, Nick DiChario, and Hayden Trenholm read and talk about the state of SF.

I'll be reading from Identity Theft and Other Stories, Nick will be reading from Valley of Day-Glo, and Hayden will be reading from Defining Diana.

McNally Robinson has a great review of Nick's book here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, May 12, 2008

Earthquake in China

Death toll currently at almost 10,000. The quake's epicenter was just 100 km north of Chengdu, where the International Science Fiction Festival I attended was held last year. I'm hoping for the best for all my wonderful friends there.

News is everywhere on the net, including here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Orthopedic Horseshoes

Herb Kauderer and Al Katerinsky, who live in Western New York, have a show on Think Twice Radio called Orthopedic Horseshoes. They interviewed me for half an hour -- without any prep, I must say: I was simply asked cold, "What makes you cranky?"

And off we went, discussing (as the web site says), "gas prices & red herrings, a national vision for all mankind or at least for energy policy, loving America, the military draft, JFK’s legacy, Uncle Sam and the Tar Baby, and who really puts money in your pocket."

Check it out here. You want the show for "5/9/08," which Americans think is May 9, 2008 ... ;)

(And, yes, attentive readers of my books will recognize Al's name: the disease Katerinsky's Syndrome in my novel Mindscan is named after him ...)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Keycon Schedule

Next weekend -- Friday, May 16, to Monday, May 19, 2008 -- I will be at Keycon in Winnipeg. Not only is it this year's CanVention -- the Canadian national SF convention, at which the Aurora Awards will be presented -- but it's also the 25th anniversary of Keycon (and, in those 25 years, I'm the only person to twice have been Guest of Honour there, in 2003 and in 2006).

My programming schedule is:

Friday: 8pm to 9pm: Book Launch with Nick DiChario (Nick is launching Valley of Day-Glo and I'm launching Identity Theft and Other Stories)

Saturday: 11am to noon: Reading from Rollback

Saturday: noon to 1pm: Five Most Surprising Developments in the Next 20 Years.

Sunday: Noon to 1pm: The Future of SF&F with Eric Flint.

Sunday: 2pm to 3pm: Promotions? But I want to Write with Virginia O'Dine.

Sunday: 4pm to 5pm: Is it too late to colonize space with Hayden Trenholm and Edward Willett

Monday: Noon to 1pm: The Difference between Canadian and American SF&F with Tanya Huff and Justyn Perry.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Bewitched theme song lyrics

There are lyrics to the theme songs of lots of TV shows that normally aren't heard -- most famously, classic Star Trek (for which Gene Roddenberry wrote lyrics to Alexander Courage's instrumental theme so he could claim half the royalties).

Sometimes the lyrics are very good; I'm rather fond of the lyrics to the 1980s series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which were only heard in the original movie but not in the series. You can see/hear it right here on YouTube.

As I've mentioned before
, I'm also fond of the movie version of the TV series Bewitched. That movie's soundtrack does use the lyrics to the original TV theme ... but, looking at the versions of the lyrics turned up by Google, I noticed that the versions posted don't precisely match the delivery by Steve Lawrence on the movie's soundtrack. And so, for the record, here's what he actually sings:
Bewitched, bewitched, you've got me in your spell.

Bewitched, bewitched, you know your craft so well.

Before I knew what you were doing I looked in your eyes.

That brand of woo that you've been brew-in' took me by surprise.

You witch, you witch, one thing is for sure,

That stuff that you pitch -- just hasn't got a cure.

My heart was under lock and key -- but somehow it got unhitched.

I never thought my heart could be had.

But now I'm caught and I'm kinda glad to be --

To be bewitched.

Bewitched. Bewitched.

Ah, ha ha ha ...

My heart was under lock and key -- but somehow it got unhitched.

I never thought my heart could be had.

But now I'm caught and I'm kinda glad that you --

You do that crazy voodoo.

And I'm bewitched by you.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

As It Happens

On Friday, May 9, 2008, CBC Radio One's very popular As It Happens aired three and a half minutes from my opening comments at the Walrus Magazine debate between me and Hal Niedzviecki. You can listen here -- I come in at the 10 minute, 27 second, mark.

Needless to say, I'm taking a much stronger position in these opening comments than I actually hold; this was a formal, moderated debate -- essentially, "Resolved: Canada should embrace the surveillance society," and my brief was to argue the affirmative.

(Of course, I explore the pros and cons of a surveillance society at length in my Neanderthal parallax trilogy, starting with the Hugo Award-winning Hominids.)

Many thanks to Hal -- who has an excellent article on the surveillance society in the current issue of The Walrus -- for asking for me to be his opponent.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, May 9, 2008

Are science fiction ebook sales declining?

Over in the Fictionwise Yahoo! Groups newsgroup, science-fiction ebook author Darrell Bain has noted that whereas SF titles used to dominate the bestsellers lists at (and, indeed, my own work has hit number-one on various lists there in the past), the current top-ten list has only one SF title on it. Darrell asks, "What's happened to all the science-fiction readers"? My response:

The statistician in me says there may have been no reduction in the number of science-fiction readers at Fictionwise, but, rather, as Fictionwise has added depth in more categories, and now that people other than technophilic early adopters (who tend to be SF readers) are widely using ebook technology, larger numbers of readers of other types of fiction have arrived on the scene, overwhelming the SF sales. Note, for instance, the large number of Harlequin Romances now available at Fictionwise.

Alternatively, the fact that there are more SF writers published by major New York houses giving away their electronic content under Creative Commons licenses than there are writers in any other genre of fiction, plus the fact that SF publishers like Baen and now Tor are giving away ebooks by major writers, means the market for actually selling science-fiction ebooks may have become depressed (not that it was ever very big to begin with). Most of those giving away free content in the SF field do it to drive sales of PRINT editions of the same or similar works, not to drive traffic to ebook merchants.

Pictured: an iRex Iliad, my current ebook reader of choice

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Book launch tomorrow!

Come one, come all, to Toronto's Bakka-Phoenix Books, 697 Queen Street West (just west of Bathurst), for the launch party of Identity Theft and Other Stories by Robert J. Sawyer, with an introduction by Robert Charles Wilson.

The event is tomorrow, Saturday, May 10, 2008, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., and afterwards Carolyn and I will head of to the Banknote Pub (King and Bathurst) with anyone who wants to join us.
"As fellow Canadian SF author Robert Charles Wilson points out in the introduction, 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." --Booklist

"Sawyer's latest collection is highly entertaining and thought-provoking; the book has something for almost any science-fiction fan. It is a testament to Sawyer's talent that it is not necessary to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy his writing; this is a collection of great stories that just happen to be set in the future." --Quill & Quire

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Clearing my plate

Whew! I've at long last cleared my plate of all sorts of things I'd promised to do.

Over the last little while, I wrote an introduction to Jack McDevitt's new short story collection Cryptic, coming from Subterranean Press; I wrote introductions to two classic pulp reprints coming from the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box (the Polaris trilogy and the Palos trilogy); I did an article on book promotion for the newsletter of The Writers' Union of Canada; I recorded audio introductions for's versions of Calculating God, Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids; I finished my editorial work on Fiona Kelleghan's forthcoming anthology The Savage Humanists; I attended a bunch of meetings at the CBC; attended the "Local Authors Night" sponsored by the Mississauga Public Library; spoke at the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College; spoke to a high-school English class; did a live debate for The Walrus magazine; and oodles more.

But be warned, world! I'm not taking on anything else (well, at least not unless you dangle real money in front of me) for the rest of the year. I've got to work on Watch (the sequel to Wake) plus a couple of other big projects (about which more soon). It's nose-to-the-grindstone time for the Robman. :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Debating Hal

"HAL, I won't argue with you anymore! Open the doors!"

Oops! Wrong Hal. Today I was debating Canadian writer and cultural critic Hal Niedzviecki. We were the entertainment at a $110-a-plate luncheon at the University Club in Toronto, sponsored by Canada's The Walrus magazine, a wonderful glossy newsstand magazine that's a bit like a Canadian Atlantic Monthly.

The debate, about whether we should embrace the surveillance society, was moderated by Carol Off, co-host of CBC Radio One's As It Happens, and the following Q&A was moderated by Ken Alexander, the editor of The Walrus.

H.B. Fenn and Company, my Canadian distributor, generously donated a dozen Robert J. Sawyer novels as a door prize.

This was a high-powered audience. Among those in attendance: Pamela Wallin, Valerie Pringle, Peter Kent, and Brian Stewart. Appropriate sparks flew between Hal and me, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

(Me, I like any event for which they pick me up in a limo ...)

Pictured left to right: Robert J. Sawyer, Carol Off, Ken Alexander, Hal Niedzviecki

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

E-ink device roundup

Today, I spoke to students in the Creative Book Publishing Program at Toronto's Humber College, run by former Penguin Canada publisher Cynthia Good. Great students, great questions, and a great time.

I'd brought along my brand-new iRex iLiad -- and Cynthia has an Amazon Kindle (one of very few in Canada, I'm sure; it's not for sale here) and a Sony Reader. These are three of the most-popular electronic-ink devices currently available, and Carolyn snapped the above photo of them with the camera built into her Palm Zire 71.

Left to right: Amazon Kindle, iRex iLiad, Sony Reader PRS-500

The iLiad has the largest screen, obviously, and is the only one with a touch screen. Next to it, I have to say the plastic Kindle seems rather flimsy, but it's got pretty good ergonomics. This version of the Sony Reader has the worst screen and the worst ergonomics, but there's a newer model now (the PRS-505).

Anyway, I'm delighted with my iLiad -- thanks again, Vanessa and Peter!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Rob live on CBC Radio on Wednesday

From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Wednesday, May 7, 2008, I'll be live in studio in Toronto for CBC Radio One's Ontario Today. We'll be doing a phone-in show about why people like science fiction (and plugging the launch of my new collection Identity Theft and Other Stories, which happens this Saturday afternoon, May 10, at 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Toronto's Bakka-Phoenix Books).

You'll be able to listen live as the show airs by clicking on the "Listen Live" link on this page.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

IEEE's Today's Engineer

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) interviews Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick, and Lawrence Watt-Evans about the relationship between science fiction and real-world engineering in this article by John R. Platt in the magazine Today's Engineer.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, May 5, 2008

OMG, I have the best fans ever!

So, I was at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal this past weekend. After my event on Friday night, I ended up going out for dinner with a couple of my local fans there, a man named Peter and a woman named Vanessa (neither of whom I'd ever met before).

The panel I'd been part of that evening had been about the business of publishing, and I'd spoken of my enthusiasm for ebooks. Turns out Vanessa and Peter share this passion -- but they felt I was behind the times using a Palm OS backlit LCD device (my trusty Sony Clie TH55) as my principal ebook-reading device.

Peter and Vanessa are devotees of the iRex iLiad, an electronic-ink device made by a Dutch company (with a much bigger screen than Amazon's Kindle device). I'd only ever seen pictures of the iLiad online (although I've tried a Kindle and a Sony eBook, two of the other e-ink machines currently on the market).

Well, Satuday night, I gave my reading at the festival, and Vanessa came to that (Peter, sadly, had a bad headache, and couldn't make it). After, about a dozen of us who had been at my reading went to the hotel bar for drinks, and Vanessa gave me the most amazing gift, from Peter and herself: a brand-new iRex iLiad. Oh my God!

The iLiad is a stunning device, and the e-ink display is absolutely freakin' gorgeous. The physical unit is much more stylish and beautiful than the klunky-looking Kindle, and, as I said, the screen is bigger:

iLiad: 8.1", 1024x768, 16 shades of gray, touch screen

Kindle: 6.0", 800x600, 4 shades of gray, not a touch screen

Like the Kindle, the iLiad uses the Mobipocket ebook format (among others), and can also read PDFs. Of course, for several years now the major US science-fiction magazines (Analog, Asimov's, and F&SF) have all been available in Mobipocket format from, as well as in PDF (the large-type PDFs from Fictionwise fit the iLiad screen very nicely, and are quite readable on it). I already owned a bunch of great Mobipocket dictionaries, and now have these installed on the iLiad, as well.

Before presenting me with the gift, Vanessa made me promise not to overreact to it, so I'll simply say a very heartfelt THANK YOU to both Vanessa and Peter. I'm very grateful, very touched, and very, very pleased.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Rollback paperback on Locus bestsellers' list

I'm pleased to see the mass-market paperback of my Rollback on the bestsellers' list published in the May 2007 issue of the science-fiction trade journal Locus (covering the data period February 2008), which arrived today.

MAY 2008 (data period: February [Locus site]):

1) White Night, Jim Butcher (Roc) 1 -

2) Iron Kissed, Patricia Briggs (Ace) 3 1

3) Command Decision, Elizabeth Moon (Ballantine Del Rey) 1 -

4) Some Golden Harbor, David Drake (Baen) 1 -

5) Jumper, Steven Gould (Tor) 1 -

6) Feast of Souls, C. S. Friedman (DAW) 1 -

7) Rollback, Robert J. Sawyer (Tor) 1 -

8) Madhouse, Rob Thurman (Roc) 1 -

*) The Outback Stars, Sandra McDonald (Tor) 1 -

10) Whitechapel Gods, S.M. Peters (Roc) 1 -

The full list is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

End of an Era in Korean

I'm delighted to announce that my agent Ralph Vicinanza has just sold Korean rights to my 1994 novel End of an Era to the charmingly named Woonghin Think Big Company; the deal was done in conjuction with Ralph's Korean co-agent, Shin Won Literary Agency.

This brings to 16 the languages my novels are in: Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, and Spanish.

(And, as always, it's wonderful to still be making money for work done so long ago!)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Aurora Award mail-in voting deadline is Friday, May 9

The postmarked-by deadline for paper-mail ballots for this year's Aurora Awards -- the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards -- is this Friday, May 9, 2008. My novel Rollback is one of five finalists in the Best Long Form in English category (and the book is also a current Hugo Award finalist).

Any Canadian may vote; there is a $5 voting fee, which goes to pay for the wonderful trophies designed and built by Edmonton's Franklyn Johnson.

You can get the paper ballot, which lists all the nominees in all the categories, here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Deadline today: Robyn Herrington Memorial Short Fiction Competition

I normally don't approve of contests with entry fees, but it's just six bucks in this case, and so I'm going to plug this one, anyway: "In Places Between: The Robyn Herrington Memorial Short Fiction Competition." Robyn was my friend, my writing student, and a fine writer herself, and my latest novel, Rollback, is dedicated to her. I've repeatedly been a judge for this contest (although won't be this year); if you're not yet eligible for SFWA membership, you can enter. Details are here.

Note: Deadline for submissions is postmarked today. Now you know what to do over your lunch hour. :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site