Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Off to World Fantasy Convention in Calgary!

Leaving first thing in the morning. Hope to see a bunch of you there!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Well, I didn't want to have to do it, but it became a necessity: I wrote today to both of my charming, wonderful editors -- Ginjer Buchanan in New York and Laura Shin in Toronto -- and asked for deadline extensions on Watch and Wonder, the second and third volumes of my WWW trilogy.

The extensions actually won't affect the publication dates of these books. Both Ace and Penguin Canada are planning to release volumes of the trilogy in successive Aprils (of 2009, 2010, and 2011). But my contractual deadline for Watch was just two weeks away now (way earlier than necessary for an April 2010 publication), and I'm nowhere near done.

I'm behind for a bunch of reasons, including some very cool professional ones that I'm not at liberty to talk about just now, but really are quite exciting.

Anyway, I won't get much writing done for the next few days. Tomorrow, I'm off to give a keynote to the Grey-Bruce Health Network about the future of health care, and Thursday, Carolyn and I fly to Calgary for the World Fantasy Convention. Hope to see some friendly faces there!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Atlas of Cyberspace

My Calgary friend H. Don Wilkat sent me this link this evening to the wonderful book The Atlas of Cyberspace, by Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin. I already own it in hardcopy, but it's now available as a free download as well. Way cool!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Alibi Archives come to life

Roman Frillarte, a fan of my work, drew to my attention the debut of "My Mobile Witness," not unlike the Alibi Archives that appear in my novel Hominids and its sequels.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I love it when they try to get me to do their homework

A letter I received today:
In what ways would you consider The Terminal Experiment philosophical? What themes or messages are you trying to convey in The Terminal Experiment? What does the book say about the human condition?
Can't blame the guy for trying ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ian Randal Strock's book

Many in the SF business know and love Ian Randal Strock, formerly of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, editor of Artemis, and now editor of SF Scope.

Ian's first book comes out tomorrow: The Presidential Book of Lists: From Most to Least, Elected to Rejected, Worst to Cursed: Fascinating Facts About Our Chief Executives. It's from Ballantine, so should be in stores everywhere, or you can get it from or as an ebook from

Way to go, Ian!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Pure Speculation

... was lots of fun! I was Guest of Honour at this small convention in Edmonton this past weekend.

I had blast doing a joint reading with Thomas Wharton, enjoyed defending Robert Charles Wilson's Spin against Canticle for Liebowitz and Dune on an SF-survivor panel, had a terrific GoH interview (conducted by Barb Galler-Smith), and loved spending time with old friends Barb Galler-Smith (who also got me to and from the airport), Kirstin Morrell, Randy McCharles, Val King, James Beveridge, Minister Faust, Diane Walton, Danica LeBlanc, and Susan MacGregor of On Spec, Brian Hades and Justyn Perry from Edge, my writing student Eileen Bell, Cath Jackel, Ty Templeton, Tracy Cooper-Posey, and many others. I also enjoyed getting to know Brittany Trogen, a new (and very fine) writer who had been an intern recently at Analog, and Barb's friend Paulette.

Plus, it was wonderful to see my old friend Val Toronchuk Mitchell; Val and I had been students together at Ryerson 1979-82, and the year after we graduated, she and I worked together for the School of Radio and Television Arts as "Lab Assistants" -- instructor/demonstrators, me in TV studio stuff and Val in video-tape recording. We were quite the team back then, but hadn't seen each other in -- gak! -- 25 years. Incredibly, neither of us had aged a day ...

Most dramatic part of the whole trip, though, was right at the beginning. I was on the toilet at Pearson (Toronto's airport), when the announcement came over the PA: "This is the final boarding call for Flight 177 to Edmonton; all passengers should now be on board; the aircraft door is about to close." I came barreling out of john, and ran, ran, ran to the gate -- only to find that the stupid gate attendant had triggered the wrong message; she had meant to play the one that said, "This is a pre-boarding announcement ..."

Anyway, a great trip, a fine event, and a wonderful time. And now I'm back in Toronto for all of two full days, then it's off to Vancouver on Wednesday for the Surrey International Writers Conference ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"I Love the Planet"

Not quite as cool as "Where the Hell is Matt?," but still absolutely charming: "Boom De Ah Dah."

(That's my buddy Jay Ingram singing the line, "I love the planet.")

And watch carefully for the fellow singing near the end (easier to see in full-screen mode).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WATCH: The Soundtrack, Part 1

Referenced in passing in a scene I'm writing, but, man, this is a beautiful piece of music: the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, written (and conducted in this clip) by Ennio Morricone.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Too obscure?

Anybody besides me able to tell what I'm riffing on here, in a scene I'm working on for my novel Watch? ("Caitlin" is a character's name; otherwise, I'm directly quoting something that resonates with the scene I'm writing):
His voice was its usual monotone. "Caitlin, if I may ..."

"If ...? Oh!" She got out of her chair and let him sit down in front of the keyboard.

(Screen captures added on Wednesday morning after someone got the reference -- see comments section for details.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Turkey, Here I Come! (Or: Hangin' with Erin Brockovich)

On February 2, 2009, I'll be one of five keynote speakers at a management conference in Istanbul, Turkey, entitled "Time to Exit the Labyrinth."

Also on the program: my buddy David Gerrold, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," and -- and how cool is this? -- Erin Brockovich.

More on the conference (in Turkish) is here.

[Update: and even more is here.]

More on me as a speaker is here.

Oh, and here's the scoop on the book about Star Trek David and I co-edited a couple of years ago.


The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site



OMG! So, I've now got copies of the December 2008 Analog in my hot little hands. Of course, my new novel Wake is not on the cover this month, the way it was last month when the serialization began, but I flipped the issue open, to see what interior art they'd come up with.

And I love it! It is so RJS! :) Check it out, if you have a chance ... Hats off to artist George Krauter!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something to be thankful for

My Hollywood agent just emailed to say that the first of what we're hoping will be a great many checks related to the sale of my novel Flashforward to ABC arrived at his office today. Woohoo!

More on the Flashforward TV series is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Go West, Young(ish) Man!

And I will! Yee-haw!
  • Guest of Honour
    Pure Speculation
    Edmonton, Alberta
    October 17-19, 2008

  • Program Participant
    Surrey International Writers Conference
    Surrey (Vancouver), British Columbia
    October 23-26, 2008
    Rob will be offering this three-hour master class on on Thursday, October 23:

    "The Intimately Human and the Grandly Cosmic" — making your science fiction appeal not just to the mind but to the heart as well. The number-one reason mainstream readers don't even try science fiction is they think it has nothing to offer them emotionally: they wrongly believe that it's either too dry and intellectual, or that any character development is sketchy and any character drama is simplistic and juvenile. But the best science fiction is as emotionally complex, as heart-wrenching, as moving, and as uplifting as the best mainstream fiction. Learn how to balance both halves of the term "science fiction" without giving short-shrift to either.

    In addition, he will be doing this 75-minute workshop on Sunday, October 25:

    "Showing, Not Telling." Everyone knows you're supposed to show, not tell — but what does that mean exactly? How do you convey information without coming out and saying it? How can you show emotion without naming it? And when should you tell instead of show?

    And he'll be appearing on panels on "Speculative Fiction" and "Writing Best Sellers," plus giving a keynote address.
  • Program Participant
    World Fantasy Convention
    Calgary, Alberta
    October 30 - November 2, 2008

  • Readings and Talks with Hayden Trenholm
    Prince George, British Columbia
    Tuesday, November 4, and Wednesday, November 5, 2008
    More info

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, October 10, 2008

Prince George goes SF noir!

More details to come, but mark your calendars: Hayden Trenholm, the author of the SF noir novel Defining Diana, and Robert J. Sawyer, author of the SF noir novella "Identity Theft," will be appearing together in Prince George, British Columbia -- home of Canada's wonderful Bundoran Press -- early in November 2008.

On Tuesday, November 4, we'll be doing public events in town, and on Wednesday, November 5, we'll be giving talks at the United Nations Bionics Center, which is headquartered in --

What's that? UNBC is the University of Northern British Columbia? Oh. Well, that'll be fun, too ...

Come and see us -- two Aurora winners for the price of ... well, actually, the events are free. :) You'll get to meet the nifty publishers of Bundoran Press, too: Virginia O'Dine and Dominic Maguire.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You must download this

I was recently listing what I think are the four must-read books for fiction writers, and observed that agent Donald Maass wrote two of them. One is the amazing Writing the Breakout Novel, and the other is the best book on being a commercial-fiction writer ever written: The Career Novelist.

And now, Don has made that book available for free as a PDF download. Grab it here, read it, and follow its advice.

(The other two must-have books for SF writers are both by Orson Scott Card: Characters & Viewpoint, and Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy, both from Writer's Digest Books.)

Many thanks to my friend Virginia O'Dine of Bundoran Press for making this download known to me.

(And you can see both Don and me later this month at this year's Surrey International Writers Conference.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Monday, October 6, 2008

Warning: Bambi's mother gets shot

A letter I received today from a library patron (I'm hoping she'll ask the library to ban my books -- nothing is better for sales) ... :)
Since I wrote you, I've devoured another 10 or so of your novels. I'm on Frameshift, and I've been traumatised by Chapter 1 (nazi concentration camp...). You should really preface it with a disclaimer, "dear loyal readers, the following is graphic, but trust me it's not gratuitous, there is a point..." It's only because you've gained my trust in your other novels that I'm going to read the rest of this one. For that matter, I didn't much like the rape scene in the beginning of Hominids either. And in Rollback, why did Hubby have to cheat on Sarah?

If you could please reassure me that there is a point to the graphic depiction of events in the concentration camp, I would be extremely grateful.
My reply:
There is nothing gratuitous in any of my books, in the opinion of myself and of my editors -- gratuitous material (were I ever to try to include any, which I honestly don't think I ever have) would not make it through the editorial process.

Hominids won the Hugo Award for best science-fiction novel of the year; Rollback was nominated for that same award, and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, denoting a book of exceptional merit; Frameshift was also a Hugo finalist and won Japan's top SF award, the Seiun, in the category of best foreign novel. Those things were because of their content, not despite it, you know. :)

As for a disclaimer, here's one: "Warning: This is a book. Open at your own risk."

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

VCON, here I come!

Look for me this weekend at Vancouver's venerable VCON science-fiction convention.

This year, VCON is welcoming a bunch of Guests of Honour Emeriti. In addition to this year's Author GoHs Kelley Armstrong and Patrick Rothfuss, past Author GoHs in attendance include authors Don DeBrandt, Lynne Fahnestalk, Eileen Kernaghan, Jeanne Robinson, Spider Robinsion, and Robert J. Sawyer, plus gaming GoH emerita Lisa Smedman.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Another RJS student gets published

That's Elizabeth Hirst, above, one of my students when I was Writer-in-Residence at the Odyssey Workshop in 2006.

She's sold a story called "Made of the Mist" to AlienSkin. It should be in the next (October-November 2008) issue. Congratulations!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

How to make business cards pay for themselves


I get my business cards from VistaPrint -- and I always pay for the cards, rather than take their free ones that have advertising (usually for their own printing services) on the back.

(Even if you're a fiction writer, you're still a business person -- so present yourself as such; cards with ads for somebody else on the back are just one step above painting a big "L" on your forehead ...)

Anyway, the cards are cheap enough as is, but mine always end up paying for themselves, because whenever I go to a restaurant, I drop one in the fishbowl or box that says "You could win a free lunch." I find my card gets selected somewhere every few months.

Today's free lunch: Swiss Chalet, my favorite barbecue-chicken chain. Woohoo!

* There Is Too Such A Thing As A Free Lunch

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site