Friday, January 30, 2009

Turkeys can't fly, but I can fly to Turkey

Go figure.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The conference I'm speaking at in Istanbul

For those who are curious, there's now an English-language version of the brochure for the conference I'm attending next week in Istanbul, Turkey. You can download the PDF here.

(The brochure also gives some background on previous conferences in this series.)

My keynote address at this conference for business leaders is entitled "The Science-Fiction Mindset in Business," and will include discussions of understanding the accelerating rate of change and how to reasonably extrapolate what to expect in the next few decades.

The conference website is here, and more information about me as a keynote speaker is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Supernatural Investigator publicity photo

T-minus 2 hours and 26 minutes ...

Vision TV has released the above publicity photo (click for a larger version). Photo: "Robert J. Sawyer hosts Supernatural Investigator."

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


It begins

We just lost one of the big-four US science fiction and fantasy magazines: Realms of Fantasy, edited by Shawna McCarthy, is closing down. SF Scope (which more and more these days is first with breaking news) has the scoop.

Meanwhile, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction recently switched from 11 issues a year to bimonthly -- but at least it has survived (and because the issues are fatter, only lost 10% of its total annual content). Analog and Asimov's resized, too, and that resulted in 10% reduction of content in each of their issues, as well.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Have I taught you nothing?

The opening of an email I just received:
Dear Editor:

I am seeking the publication of my young adult novel, TITLE, complete at 168,000 words.
My reply:
You'll never get anywhere like this. My guidelines say no YA, and nothing over 100,000 words -- I didn't read anything beyond that in your letter. I wish you luck, but, believe me, all editors just chuck emails that begin "Dear Editor" (our names aren't that hard to find), especially when they show a complete disregard for the guidelines of or an unfamiliarity with the publisher being approached.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Tuesday is RJS Night on Vision TV!

This Tuesday, January 26 -- tomorrow, as I write this -- I'll be featured not once but twice on Canada's Vision TV.

At 10:00 p.m. Eastern time / 7:00 p.m. Pacific, the half-hour documentary Dude, Where's My Flying Car?, heavily featuring Rob, airs as the debut episode of the series I Prophesy.

And, immediately following, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time / 7:30 p.m. Pacific, the first episode of Supernatural Investigator, the series I'm hosting, airs.

There are repeats twice on Wednesday: see the schedule here.

The trailer for Supernatural Investigator is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Amazon and ebooks

My friend Virginia O'Dine just drew this to my attenion: has notified its publisher and author clients that it plans to cease offering e-books in the Microsoft Reader and Adobe e-book formats.
They're only going to be selling Kindle ebooks (for the hardware device they make) and Mobipocket -- and owns Mobipocket.

Man, I'd love to see that lawsuit: Microsoft suing Amazon over monopolistic business practices!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Quill & Quire notes Supernatural Investigator

Supernatural Investigator, the TV series I'm hosting for Canada's Vision TV, debuts tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at 10:30 p.m Eastern time / 7:30 p.m. Pacific time.

Quill & Quire, Canada's publishing trade journal, notes that fact today -- and the final paragraph of their coverage is a hoot.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bibliographies in novels

An academic on a listserver I read just asked about bibliographies in SF&F novels. My reply:
I sometimes include a bibliography. The one from my novel Hominids (Hugo winner, 2003; Tor Books) is online here.

And the one from my novel Mindscan (John W. Campbell Memorial Award winner, 2006; Tor Books) is online here.

But it's hardly a new practice. For instance, the horror novel The Night Stalker by Jeff Rice, basis for the Kolchak movies and TV series, first published in 1973, has an extensive bibliography (mostly about vampirism) including, cutely, a couple of made-up citations attributed to one of the characters.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Charter of the United Nations



  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,


  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and

  • to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and

  • to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and

  • to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,


Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

Charter of the United Nations

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Hail, Caesar!

Hey, didja know that Gordon Jump -- Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson himself from WKRP in Cincinnati -- was in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes? He plays the auctioneer who sells Roddy McDowall's Caesar to Governor Breck, saying:
Lot eight: one male chimpanzee in early prime and perfect physical condition. Under observation, appeared so familiar, obedient, docile and intelligent with humans that conditioning was not considered necessary, but can be provided on request. What am I bid for this superb specimen?
Well, Governor Breck's got nothing on me! I just won an auction on eBay for this 12-inch fan-made resin statue of Caesar:

A statue, you say? That's right -- because the very last shot of the very last film in the series, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, of a statue of Caesar.

That original life-size statue lived for many years in Roddy McDowall's garden, but he donated it to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, where it now stands serenely in the Roddy McDowall Memorial Rose Garden:

Unlike with Governor Breck, I don't think my winning Caesar in an auction is ultimately going to cause my downfall ... well, at least not until Carolyn finds out! ;)

(click plaque for larger image)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Skeptic Henry Gordon dies

Eric McMillan, the Chair of Skeptics Canada, reports:
With great sorrow, we report that Henry Gordon has passed away.

Henry was a professional magician, journalist, book author, and leading Canadian skeptic. He was a founder and chair of the Ontario Skeptics, a precursor to Skeptics Canada, for which he remained chair emeritus and a respected member. He was also a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), now CSI. He was well-known internationally for his exposures of Uri Geller, Shirley Maclaine and other paranormal practitioners in his books, articles and television appearances.
I was quite an admirer of Henry, and even named an institute after him in my first novel, 1990's Golden Fleece. In a scene written March 14, 1989, I wrote [from the point of view of a scheming artificial intelligence]:
I made a mini-backup of myself so that I could undertake the interactive dialogue necessary for testing. I let the backup play inquisitor, while I, on the lowest and most simplistic level, tried to access the Aaron Rossman memories I had recorded. It was a tricky process, involving as much learning about Aaron's particular style of recording information as it did fine-tuning my ability to access specific facts.

The discovery by Barnhard and his group at the Henry Gordon Institute in 2011 that each human seemed to use a unique encoding algorithm put an end to the claims of psychics, mind readers, and other charlatans. Oh, it could be demonstrated that humans did indeed give off electromagnetic signals that corresponded to their thoughts. And, indeed, if one had sufficiently acute sensing devices and the ability to screen the weak signal from the background EM noise, then, yes, one could detect that energy. But the fact that every individual used a different encoding algorithm and key, and, indeed, that many individuals used multiple algorithms depending on the kinds of thoughts they were thinking -- the alpha and beta waves of the EEG being the crudest indication of that -- meant that even if you could pick up the thought signals, which seemed impossible without direct physical contact with the person's head, you couldn't decipher the thoughts without massive number crunching.

Number crunching, of course, is something I have a knack for.
Given who Henry was, it would be wrong to say he's passed on or to wish that he might rest in peace. Henry is gone, pure and simple -- and the world is poorer for it.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

K.A. Bedford wins Aurealis

I mentioned K.A. Bedford's Time Machines Reapired While-U-Wait in this post.

The book has just won Australia's Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year -- congratulations, Adrian! And congratulations to Brian Hades of Calgary's EDGE, which published the book. Woot! This is truly a case of nice guys finishing first!

The full list of Aurealis winners is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Oldest Author Website

Hey, New York Times!

My friend Stephen Kotowych points out that this article in the Sunday, January 25, 2009, New York Times [but online since yesterday] says, "Back in 1996, [Brad] Meltzer built what was arguably the first author Web site for his first novel ..."

Poppycock, says I! My website has been online since Wednesday, June 28, 1995. I've never claimed it was the first author website, but it's often referred to as the first science-fiction author website (and Reuters called it that many years ago in an article) and the first Canadian author's website.

I had a website, with multiple hyperlinked pages (the main page of which was index.htm), on June 28, 1995 -- not just a page, but a multipage site (separate pages for bio, each of my novels, etc., all hyperlinked -- a web site).

Granted, it wasn't the 550 pages that my site now has -- but still it was a site.

In fact, checking my journal for the day my site went online -- Wednesday, June 28, 1995 -- I recorded that my site debuted with "thirteen linked pages (six novel excerpts, three short stories, photo, awards and honours, review excerpts, and latest news)."

Oh, and the initial wordcount of those 13 pages: 23,000 words. It was a substantial website from day one.

By July 1, 1995 -- three days later -- I added another 22 pages, bringing the total number of pages to 35 pages, and the total wordcount to 58,000.

And here's the first fan letter I got on the site, dated July 19, 1995:
Date: 19-Jul-95 04:06 EDT
From: Mike Lenius
Subj: R.J.S. Web Site

I checked out your Web Site yesterday and I just have to say that it is far and away the best Author's Page on the net. In fact there was so much information available that I will most likely have to make a few more trips before I finish reading everything that I want to. (as if I wasn't busy enough) : )

I especially enjoyed reading your short stories, I hope more authors will follow your lead as even the most ardent fan has trouble locating short stories unless they are published together as Anthologies. This is too bad as many authors are at their best when they keep it short and sweet.

The other portion of your Site that also impressed me was the "first chapters" section. Placing the first chapter and back cover blurb from each of your books is great advertising, at the very least it worked on me.

So, how hard would it have been for the crack journalists at the New York Times to find out if any author websites predated 1996? Well, how 'bout a quick Google search on "author website 1995" (without the quotation marks). Oh, look, lo and behold, right there on the first page of results is my website, and this snippet of text: "Author of 17 SF novels. Sample chapters from each book, full-text short stories, ... This web site online since 28 June 1995 — it's older than!"

"Arguably" should not be used as a substitute for "I'm too lazy to check." Perhaps the New York Times style guide should be updated to include that fine distinction. :)

The original URL of the main page of my multi-page website on June 28, 1995, was:

Its current home, of course, is at

(I'll make it even easier for the next person researching this topic by including all the keywords that might be useful so this message can be easily found via search engines: first author website; first author web site; first author homepage; first author home page; oldest author website; oldest author website; oldest author homepage; oldest author home page; author website 1995; author web site 1995; author homepage 1995; author home page 1995.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


eBay feedback: 400, 100% positive

I'm pleased to see that my eBay feedback score just passed 400, with 100% positive ratings, and that my detailed ratings (Item as described; Communication; Shipping time; and Shipping and handling charges) are all five stars. Carolyn deserves most of the credit, as she runs our eBay store, selling signed copies of my books.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Our best look yet at the Enterprise from the upcoming movie

... is in the above image of Playmates' toy version coming in May (click the picture for a larger version). More info at, including close-ups of the toy phaser, communicator, and tricorder, also coming in May.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Rob interviewed -- in the travel section!

Papers, please! Today's National Post -- a Canadian daily newspaper -- has a brief interview with me (formatted horribly in the online edition, I must say) in the travel section. You can read it online (at least for a while) here.

In theory, the hardcopy edition also has a passport-style photo of me -- but at -18 degrees Celsius right now, I'm not going out to the National Post box on my street corner to find out!

(At least online, the freelancer who did the interview didn't get credit, so let me tip my hat to the writer here: the piece is by Jesse Kinos-Goodin.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Friday, January 23, 2009

Yeah, I like Feist. Wanna make something out of it?

As I said here, I like that iPod commercial with Feist's song "1 2 3 4." And if you like that commercial, too, you'll love this spoof of it from Mad TV. (The original ad is here.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

RJS tally: 25 books

I've now finished 18 novels, and, as of yesterday, have finished editing my fourth anthology, and I have three collections (including one, Relativity, that's mostly nonfiction). That's a total of 25 books.

Here are the 20 that are all my own fiction, totaling about 1.8 million words:

It's a start. :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Star Trek: The Original Series coming to Blu-Ray in May

Well, I've been saying for a while that I wouldn't buy a Blu-ray disc player until the remastered original Star Trek was available in that format.

To coincide with the release of the new J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie, Season One of The Original Series is coming to Blu-ray in May 2009. Reports are that the set will contain both the original versions of the episodes and the new remastered versions (with CGI special effects).

Since the five original Planet of the Apes films are already on Blu-ray, I'm going to have to make the plunge come the spring.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Frameshift trade paperback 2nd printing

Woot! Just received from Tor a copy of the 2nd trade-paperback edition of my novel Frameshift.

Frameshift was originally published in hardcover in 1997. It was (a) my first-ever bookstore hardcover, and (b) my first title for Tor Books. It is also one of my personal favourites of my books. It had a good life in hardcover, a good life in mass-market paperback, and is now doing well in trade paperback, as this second printing attests.

Among other cool things, Frameshift was a Hugo Award finalist, won Japan's Seiun Award for best foreign novel of the year, is the book that got me on Rivera Live with Geraldo Rivera (to talk about the Human Genome Project), and was recently a "summer reading" pick in the journal Science.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Distant Early Warnings

This evening I delivered the manuscript for the anthology Distant Early Warnings: Canada's Best Science Fiction, edited by me, to be published by Red Deer Press under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint this summer.

Included are stories by Hugo Award winners Spider Robinson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Robert Charles Wilson, Hugo nominees Paddy Forde, James Alan Gardner, Nalo Hopkinson, and Peter Watts, and Aurora Award winners Julie E. Czerneda and Karl Schroeder.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Rob's email newsletter

Sent to people on my email update list this evening; if you'd like to be added to the list, send me a note:

News from Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer

* ABC filming pilot based on FLASH FORWARD
* Rob hosts Canadian TV series: debuts TUESDAY
* New novel WAKE coming in April
* WAKE Canadian book tour cities announced

ABC, the most-watched television network in the United States, begins filming a one-hour TV series pilot based on Rob's novel FLASH FORWARD in Los Angeles on February 21, 2009.

The pilot script was written by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins) and Brannon Braga (Star Trek, 24), and David is directing. Rob is serving as consultant, and will be writing one of the first-season episodes.

"ABC might finally have launched a strong companion to LOST with FLASH FORWARD." -- THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Flash Forward TV Series


This Tuesday evening, January 27, 2009, the TV series SUPERNATURAL INVESTIGATOR hosted by Rob premieres coast-to-coast in Canada on Vision TV. This seventeen-part half-hour series airs at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time / 7:30 p.m Pacific time.

Supernatural Investigator

[Promo video starts playing automatically]

But, actually, you should tune in to Vision half an hour earlier this Tuesday.

Why? Because leading into the first episode of SUPERNATURAL INVESTIGATOR that same Tuesday evening, January 27, is the debut of the new half-hour documentary series I PROPHESY.

The first episode, "Dude, Where's My Flying Car?" has Rob exploring science fiction's attempts to predict the future. I PROPHESY airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern / 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

I Prophesy

[Promo video starts playing automatically]


Rob's 18th novel WAKE comes out in April 2009. The US release date is April 7 from Ace Science Fiction. The Canadian release is April 14 from Penguin Canada.


Rob will be touring coast-to-coast in Canada to promote the release of WAKE. There will be a launch party in Toronto, of course, and Rob will be doing readings and signings in these other Canadian cities:

* Monday, April 20: Vancouver
* Tuesday, April 21: Calgary
* Thursday, April 23: Edmonton
* Saturday, April 25: Moncton
* Tuesday, April 28: Montreal
* Wednesday, April 29: Ottawa
* May (date to be set): Waterloo
* Saturday, May 16: Winnipeg
* Monday, May 25: Sudbury
* Thursday, June 4: Saskatoon
* June (date to be set): Regina

Once we have the venues in place, the tour schedule will be added to Rob's appearance calendar:



Finally, for those nominating for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards, I have some suggestions here:

Awards Suggestions






The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now!

Okay, I confess I bought a copy of The Fiction Writer: Get Published, Write Now! for three resaons. First, I was curious about what a new Canadian small press might be up to. Second, my friend Virginia O'Dine designed the cover. And third the author is Nina Munteanu, whom I've always enjoyed running into at conventions. So, what the heck, a few clicks of the mouse, a little money gone from my PayPal account.

The book arrived on Monday (more about why that's important in a moment), and I've got to say I'm really impressed. It's beautifully printed and bound, and it's a substantial work: 264 pages.

Nina has one novel to her credit -- the excellent Darwin's Paradox -- but I'm always leery of how-to-write books by people early in their careers. In this case, though, I'm very impressed. Yes, indeed, Nina shares the hard-won knowledge she's accumulated in having her first novel brought to market. But she also quotes, summarizes, and comments on the writing advice of lots of seasoned pros, myself included. She provides references at the end of each chapter, and lots of fascinating tidbits. I'm thoroughly enjoying the book, and even learning a thing or two!

Now, why is the date I got my copy important? I pre-ordered the book, and I believe that I got one of the very first copies -- and, as I say, I received it on Monday, January 19, 2009. But the copyright date says 2008. Pixl Press says there was a delay in printing. This book is really a 2009 book, and I'm urging the Aurora and Hugo Award administrators to recognize it as such: it's got a real shot at the Aurora to be given next year for "Best Work in English (Other)," and deserves consideration for the Hugo Award for Best Related Book, too.

Congratulations, Nina!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Yeah, but is it eligible?

A friend of mine was wondering aloud recently if his anthology -- edited by Canadians, but with stories by Canadians, Americans, and Brits -- was eligible for the Aurora Award, or whether the administrators might disqualify it for being "insufficiently Canadian." My response:
Go ahead and nominate your book. The Aurora administrators don't routinely overrule the will of the masses; that is, they'd have to make a case to disqualify something if it was nominated by enough people to make the final ballot -- and why would they do that?

Yes, they'll reject things that were published in the wrong year, because that clearly violates the rules, but beyond that the rules are deliberately vague so that the will of the people can be heard.

If enough people nominate something so that it makes the final ballot, I'd be surprised if the Aurora administrators felt any need (or, indeed felt they had any mandate) to disqualify it -- unless, as I say, it was clearly from the wrong year.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Rob on CBC Radio's The Point

I was interviewed today on CBC Radio One's afternoon show The Point with Aamer Haleen about my upcoming gig as Writer-in-Residence at the Canadian Light Source.

The interview is now online. Go here, select "Part 2," and I come on at the 00:16:13 mark (move the little slider to skip ahead).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Supernatural Investigator promo online

The 17-part TV series Supernatural Investigator, which I'm hosting for Canada's Vision TV, premieres THIS COMING TUESDAY, January 27, 2009. You can watch the promo for the show online right here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BookExpo Canada

I have very fond memories of BookExpo Canada, the annual publishing tradeshow in Toronto.

In the summer of 1982, I worked at Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store. It was a summer job -- I'd just graduated from Ryerson with my degree in Radio and Television Arts, and I had a job back at Ryerson starting in September, helping to teach television studio production. And my boss, John Rose, did something extremely kind: he took me with him to BookExpo Canada (known back then as the Canadian Booksellers Association convention). He paid me my day's wages, paid my admission, and showed me around. He knew I wanted to be a writer, and he wanted me to get a feel for how book publishing and distribution worked.

And once I became a writer, I often did signings at BookExpo Canada -- first for BeJo (then the Canadian distributor for Ace Science Fiction), then for HarperCollins (who did The Terminal Experiment), and for the last decade for H.B. Fenn and Company, Tor's Canadian distributor (and, in 2002, when I was signing Hominids, I had the longest line-up -- 320 people -- of anyone at the show that year, including the New York Times bestsellers publishers had brought in from the States). BookExpo Canada was always one of the highlights of my year.

But, as has been widely publicized, BookExpo Canada has been in upheaval; publishers just aren't convinced of its value of late, and although I'd been hoping to have an event for Wake there this year, it's just not going to happen. Penguin Canada just announced that its not attending BookExpo Canada. H.B. Fenn, Random House, and Scholastic Canada have pulled out, too. It's the end of an era, and I'm sad.

My last signing at Book Expo Canada, for Rollback in 2007. The line goes right around the bend and off into the distance.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

The God of Audio hates me

So, I often go days without getting phone calls -- I mean, voice is so last millennium. But yesterday and today, I've been recording audio: portions of Wake that I'm reading for, plus me reading the entire first chapter myself to put on my website at And the damn phone has just not stopped ringing.

And now, as if that was not enough, the fire alarm has just gone off in my condo tower, and, of course, it'll keep going until the fire department arrives (with their sirens blaring) and investigates the cause. Ugh!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How a day can evaporate

Lessse, got up nice and early ... but what the heck did I accomplish?

Well, I wrote 1,700 words of answers for a by-email interview for a Turkish national news agency (as a lead up to my keynote address in Istanbul on February 2).

I wrote 900 words of answers for a by-email interview by John Joesph Adams to support the release of his anthology Federations, which contains a story by me.

I wrote 1,000 words of answers for a by-email interview for the Italian SF site (in support of the recent release of my Humans in Italy).

I wrote the 1,000-word introduction to Distant Early Warnings: Canada's Best Science Fiction, an anthology I'm editing that will come out this summer (and about which more later).

I wrote up a brief comment about my virtual book-tour appearance in Second Life for an article to appear in Baen's Universe.

I recorded my parts for the production of Wake (I'm voicing a small role).

I finalized arrangements for my accommodations in Saskatoon this summer for my stint as writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source.

And, oh, yeah, I did some work on Watch, the novel I'm currently writing.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

And speaking of Audible ...

I just recorded a small portion of the multiple-cast unabridged reading of my next novel, Wake.

I am the voice in the novel of the "Online Encylopedia of Computing," and I recorded my parts with my brand-spanking new Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone, which Wired recently recommended, and I picked up new on eBay for the bargain price of US$130 (list is US$249).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Audiobook of Hominids for $4.95

Until Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time has the unabridged audiobook of my Hugo Award-winning Hominids (as well as 70-odd other first volumes in series) on sale for only US$4.95. To get Hominids go here.

This version features an exclusive audio introduciton by yours truly.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Smart quotations marks, em dashes, and e-books

Over at the fascinating blog, David Rothman asks:
Many and perhaps most e-books use straight, typewriter-style quotes rather than smart quotes—the directional kind. At least one major e-book company wants publishers to avoid smart quotes, at least when offering certain formats, to reduce the technical challenges.

But would you be more likely to recommend a book to a friend if it came with smart quotes, real dashes and other trimmings?
My reply:

They're important -- and publishers are being short-sighted in ignoring them. When I try to get people to share my enthusiasm for ebook reading, many reject the experience at a glance. They can't articulate WHY they like printed books better; they just know that they DO. But surely one of the reasons they DO is the care with which material is presented on the printed page.

The irony is that small-screen ebook readers often default to (or indeed have no choice but) full justification, which looks awful on narrow line lengths, as if THAT was the heart and soul of good typography, and then give us typewriter quotes and hyphens for em dashes -- two if we're lucky, one if we're not.

The utter sloppiness with which most books are converted to ebooks is shameful. Yes, yes, yes, stuff like making each footnote into a hyperlink might be labor intensive, but getting the quotation marks right shouldn't be; they were presumably right in the original typesetting files. The slapdash efforts put forth by even some of the biggest commercial publishers in producing ebooks are shameful.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Bob May: The Man Inside the Robot

I attend a lot of science-fiction conventions, of course. At some, you find actors from past SF TV shows selling autographed photos of themselves. In my whole life, I have bought precisely one such: on Sunday, November 25, 2007, at LosCon 34 in Los Angeles I met Bob May, the actor who was inside the Robot costume on Lost in Space, and had him sign the above photo of him and the robot suit for me. (Click the photo for a larger version.)

Bob May died yesterday. He was 69.

I have huge fondness for the Robot, as this excerpt from my novel Rollback attests:
"All right," said the robot. "Have you chosen a name for me yet?"

Sarah lifted her shoulders and looked at Don. "Gunter," he said.

"Is that G-U-N-T-H-E-R?" asked the robot.

"No H," said Don. And then, unable to help himself, "Get the H out."

"My little boy," Sarah said, smiling at Don. She'd said that often enough over the years, but, just now, it seemed to hit a little too close to home. She must have noticed his quickly suppressed wince, because she immediately said, "Sorry."

Still, he thought, she was right. He was a kid at heart, at least when it came to robots. And his absolute favorite when he was growing up, as Sarah well knew, was the robot from Lost in Space. He got miffed whenever people called that robot Robby, although Robby, the robot from the movie Forbidden Planet, did bear a passing resemblance to the one from Lost in Space -- not surprising, given that they were both designed by the same person, Robert Kinoshita. The Jupiter 2's robot was mostly just referred to as "the Robot" (or the "bubble-headed booby" and a hundred other alliterative insults by Dr. Smith). Still, many hardcore Lost in Space fans called it B-9, which was the model number it gave for itself in one episode. But Don had always contended that the barrel-chested automaton with vacuum-cleaner hoses for arms was actually named GUNTER, because another episode contained a flashback, showing the robot in its original packing crate, which was labeled "General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot." Despite pointing this out to people for -- God, for over seventy years now -- Don hadn't won many converts. But at least now there was a robot in the world who indisputably had that name.

Of course, thought Don, Sarah understood all this. She'd grown up watching Lost in Space, too, although what she'd loved most about it were the photos of real nebulas and galaxies used in space scenes ("Astronomical Photographs Copyrighted 1959 by the California Institute of Technology," the card on the ending credits said). But, he realized sadly, none of this would mean anything to Lenore or anyone else who was as young as he felt.

Here's my collection of Lost in Space robots:

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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The Promised Land

Today -- Monday, January 19 -- is this year's celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Tomorrow -- Tuesday, January 20 -- a black man will become President of the United States.

We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.

And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I have seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 3, 1968,
Memphis, Tennessee

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wake opening chapters now online

There are now pages devoted to my next novel, Wake, on my website at, including:Wake will be published in hardcover in April 2009.

And you can read all my blog posts about Wake here (including this post).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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More on pros and cons: choosing panels

A few days ago, I was asked about how a pro might get the most out of attending a science-fiction convention. I gave my advice here, but another point just occurred to me.

I was just directed to the lengthy list of panel topics from which to choose those I wanted to be part of at Norwescon, a con I'll be attending in April 2009 in Seattle. In making my choices, I realized I was picking ones that made it possible for me to cite work of my own in relation to the discussion (not that that's all I'm going to do, but I do want audience members who feel I've had something witty and intelligent to contribute to be able to find a specifically related novel by me to enjoy). Here are some of my picks, and the novel of mine that is obviously connected to the topic to be discussed:

SCI15 Robots' Rights
The real reason we want AI is that we want perfect slaves. Whether they be butlers, bodyguards, intelligent sex toys or whatever, we want Jeeves-like competence with hard-wired loyalty and obedience and without the moral issues involved in enslaving people. But is there a paradox in that? Is it possible for machines (i.e., any combination of hardware and software) to be smart enough to do what we really want them to do without also being self-aware enough to have "human" rights?

(My novel Wake, which is being released just days before Norwescon begins.)

SCI04 The Science of Immortality
Some scientists think that the human lifespan is set at a point around 120 years. Others are coming up with creative ways to extend that point out to centuries, or even millennia. Which theories on extending life are the most popular, and which are the most provocative? What individuals and companies are pursuing the dream of eternal life? And when will you be able to get your own "longevity pill" or stroll on down to the clinic for an "immortality treatment"?

(My Hugo Award-nominated Rollback)

SCI18 Order in the (Alien?) Court!
What happens when you're accused of a crime on another planet? How have writers handled this in the past--from Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, will Travel to the Klingon court in The Undiscovered Country? Is it possible to write about methods of dispensing justice without depending on Terran history? Is the idea of justice itself an Earth concept?

(My Seiun Award-winning Illegal Alien)

SCI43 Backups: Eternal Life or Eternal Death?
Let's say we could record a person's mind and play it back into a new body, so that the new person couldn't be told from the old. Would that lead to immortality? Or would it lead to an endless series of deaths followed by the creation of a new person who just thinks he's the old one? Essentially, what does it mean to be oneself?

(My John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning Mindscan)

WRI70 Alternate Prehistory
Do new discoveries in paleontology offer ideas for alternate history? Is this prehistory an untapped resource for alternate history?

(My Hugo Award-winning Hominids)

So, yes, as a pro, by all means pick topics that excite you, but if you are hoping that panel participation might actually sell a book or two, do choose panels that are relevant to your work.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rob's suggested nominees for the Hugo and Aurora Awards

I've posted thirteen messages with suggestions for this year's Hugo Awards (the top international honours in science fiction) and Aurora Awards (the Canadian national SF awards). You can see them all here.

Attending and supporting members of last year's World Science Fiction Convention in Denver and this year's one in Montreal may nominate for the Hugos.

Any Canadian may nominate (for free!) for the Aurora Awards -- the ballot is here and more information about the awards is here.

The Canadian SF Works Database provides info about additional works by Canadians that are eligible for both awards. It's a Wiki, so if you know of any omissions, feel free to add them in.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


My writing students for the Hugo and the Aurora

This is the thirteenth and final post in a series of blog posts in which I've discussed people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
Last year, 2008, was a good one for my writing students.

I mentioned back in November 2008 that Tony Pi [who was my student at the University of Toronto in 2001] has stories all over the place (and I also mentioned that he's eligible for the John W. Campbell Award), and that Douglas Smith [Ryerson University 1997] had his first collection, Impossibilia, out from PS Publishing.

And I've already crowed about Hayden Trenholm's novel Defining Diana from Bundoran Press [Ifwa workshop in Calgary 1996]; he also had a story entitled "Love In its Season" in the Summer 2008 On Spec.

Also in 2008, my student Edward Willett [Banff Centre 2003 and 2005] had his first mass-market SF novel, Marseguro, published by DAW (and picked up by the Science Fiction Book Club).

Susan Forest [Ifwa workshop 2003] had a terrific short story called "Back" in the June 2008 Analog.

Matthew Johnson [University of Toronto 2005] had short story "Another Country" in the April-May 2008 Asimov's, and the short story "Lagos" in the August 2008 Asimov's.

And Randy McCharles, whom I've recommended for a fan Aurora for his work on the World Fantasy Convention, and who has taken more workshops with me than anyone else [Ifwa 1996, Ifwa 2003, and Banff Centre 2006], had his first major pro publication this year: the novelette "Ringing the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta" in Tesseracts Twelve, edited by Claude Lalumière.

I draw all of them to your attention for the Hugo and Aurora Awards.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


How to tell science fiction from fantasy

It's easy.

This is science fiction:

And this is fantasy:

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Wondrous Strange

Yes, yes, yes, we all know that my Wake has the most beautiful cover of any book coming out in 2009. But the second most beautiful cover is doubtless that for Wondrous Strange, the debut novel by my dear friend Lesley Livingston. It's a YA urban fantasy published by HarperCollins.

She launched it at a Toronto pub on Thursday evening, and the event was fabulous. Bakka-Phoenix was on hand selling books, Lesley did an amazing reading, and the whole place was hopping. Here's Lesley on YouTube talking about the book, and that's me and Lesley below at the launch.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

An unintentional comment on the state of the publishing industry

The lead story at Locus Online right now, in its entirety, is this:
Del Rey editor Liz Scheier was laid off yesterday and will be joining the growing ranks of newly unemployed editors -- her position at the company officially ends January 23, 2009. Get more news like this in each monthly issue of Locus Magazine -- Subscribe!
Sadly, that's probably exactly right. We'll see many more news stories very much in the same vein in the months to come.

My heart goes out to Liz and all the others being let go.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Kotowych, Pi, and Sellar for the Campbell

This is the twelfth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
On the Hugo ballot, you also get to nominate for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. According to the Canadian SF Works Database wiki, three Canadians are eligible for nomination this year, and I commend their work to your attention:Click on their names above to visit their websites and learn more about their work.

I note with beaming pride that both Stephen Kotowych and Tony Pi have been my writing students. Additional information about Stephen is here, and more about Tony is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Friday, January 16, 2009

Taral for the Hugo

This is the eleventh in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
It astonishes me that Taral Wayne and I have known each other for over thirty years. Taral will be the Fan Guest of Honour at the Worldcon in Montreal this year. He's been nominated seven times previously for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist, and he's won the Rotsler Award, just this past year.

It would certainly be odd if he weren't on the Hugo ballot for Montreal. If you haven't encountered his work before, see here and here, and have a look at his Wikipedia entry here. Also, fellow Toronto-based Hugo winners Mike Glicksohn and Robert Charles Wilson offer appreciations of Taral here.

For the Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist:
  • Taral

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Got me a netbook

Pretty much bought on a whim, but will prove very handy on my loooong flight to Turkey in 14 days' time, not to mention on the book tour for Wake: my first netbook, an Acer Aspire One, model AOA150-1049.

Specs: Intel Atom Processor N270 1.60GHz, 802.11b/g WLAN, 1GB DDR2, 160GB hard drive, 8.9" WSVGA (1024x600 pixels), Integrated Webcam, Windows XP Home. I got it in black, and this model comes with a six-cell (5 hour battery); I also bought a third party nine-cell (7.5 hour battery), and non-glare screen protector because, like so many computers these days, it came with a glossy screen that you could use as a shaving mirror.

Otherwise, though, it's an absolutely terrific computer, with a very crisp display, and it runs WordStar just fine. :) And, unlike some of its competitors (such as the Asus Eee PC models through the end of 2008), it has an absolutely standard keyboard layout.

(Netbooks are very small notebook computers; this one's about the size of a hardcover book, and weighs 2.5 pounds.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Escape from the Planet of the ... Humans?

Yes, indeed! The Italian edition of my novel Humans just came out from Urania, and they've given it the Italian title Fuga dal pianeta degli umani, which is indeed Escape from the Planet of the Humans, a lovely homage to one of my favorite films, Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Access Copyright on the Google Settlement

Access Copyright is the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency.
Attention Canadian Copyright Holders:

An Important Message to all Canadian Publishers, Authors and Heirs of Authors about the Google Settlement

This settlement has the potential to affect every copyright owner in Canada. It is important to read the following message and forward it onto other copyright owners that you know.

There is a proposed landmark settlement to lawsuits brought against Google separately by book authors and the Authors Guild, and publisher representatives of the Association of American Publishers alleging that the scanning/digitization of books for its Google Book Search program infringed copyright in the United States.

Access Copyright is involved in the proposed settlement by working closely with a U.S. firm that is implementing the class action notice program.

We encourage you to read the full Notice about the settlement, which has detailed information about the settlement, important terms, the claims process, and key dates. Want to know more first? Read this article prepared by Access Copyright to understand why you should care about the Google settlement.

Access Copyright's Google Settlement Seminars:

To help Canadian copyright owners understand the implications of this settlement, Access Copyright is offering seminars on the settlement.

Web-based seminars will be offered on the following dates (all times in Eastern Standard Time):

Thursday, January 22, 2009 9:30 a.m. -- noon

Monday, January 26, 2009 9:30 a.m. -- noon

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 1 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m.

Based on demand, we may add additional web-based seminars in February. Please stay tuned for more details.

A seminar on the Google settlement will also be held at Access Copyright's offices at One Yonge Street in Toronto on Thursday, February 12, 2009 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

If you're interested in participating in any of these seminars, please email us [] with your contact details and which session you want to attend. Please note that space for all seminars is limited so it is important to reserve your spot as soon as possible. We will follow-up up via return email to confirm your attendance and provide any additional information you may need, including access information to the Web-based seminar.

If you have any general questions, please contact us at 416-868-1620 (toll-free 1-800-893-5777) or email us at

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Lloyd Penney for the Hugo and Aurora

This is the tenth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
You know why Locus -- the trade journal of the science-fiction field -- is called that? It's a pun. See, it started off as a fanzine -- an amateur publication -- and the heart and soul of many fanzines is the part where letters of comment (responses to earlier issues) are printed; in fact, one of the standard ways to get a fanzine is by having sent in a letter of comment.

Well, "letter of comment" is a mouthful, and fans just love abbreviations, so instead, they're usually called a "LoC" or "loc," and that abbreviation can be employed as both a noun and a verb, so Locus's title was an inviation for people to send in letters of comment: "LoC us!" Cute, huh?

The Hugos have a category for Best Fan Writer, and the Auroras have one for Best Fan (Other). A clever, voluminous letterhack (as those who write a lot of LoCs are affectionately known) is eligible for both those awards, and Canada has one particularly diligent letterhack: long-playin' Lloyd Penney.

In years gone by, you'd have to get an awful lot of fanzines to see Lloyd's output, but this is the online era, and Lloyd took my suggestion a while ago, and established an online repository for his clever, heartfelt, warm LoCs. You'll find them here.

For the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer:
  • Lloyd Penney
For the Aurora Award for Best Fan (Other):
  • Lloyd Penney for fanzine letters of comment
(For trivia fans, Lloyd Penney is tuckerized [another long-standing fannish tradition -- it means he appears as a character] in my novel Illegal Alien, and my novel Hybrids is dedicated to Lloyd and his wife Yvonne.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Ryerson at 60

I'm a proud alumnus of Ryerson University in Toronto (where I earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Radio and Television Arts, graduating in 1982).

And I guess Ryerson's pretty proud of me, too. In 2002, they gave me their Alumni Award of Distinction, one of (as of now) only 50 alumni out of over 100,000 to be so honoured.

And the mutual love affair continues: in honour of Ryerson's 60th anniversary, the Office of University Advancement commissioned me to write an essay about the University's future. It appears at the end (page 15 of 16) of Ryerson at 60: Proud Past, Unlimited Future, a beautiful full-colour insert that was included with the Winter 2009 edition of Ryerson's Alumni magazine.

Click here to download the insert and read my essay.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Text from the Wake US dustjacket


Robert J. Sawyer was born in Ottawa and lives just outside of Toronto, Canada. He has won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novel. Visit his Website at

Photo by Carolyn Clink

Jacket design by Rita Frangie

Jacket photos:
"Teenage Girl" Steven Biver/Getty
"Light Trails" John Lund/Getty

Visit our website at

An Ace Book
Published by the Berkley Publishing Group
A Division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street
New York, New York 10014



Praise for WWW:WAKE

"Once again, Robert J. Sawyer explores the intersection between big ideas and real people. Here the subject is consciousness and perception — who we are and how we see one another, both literally and figuratively. Thoughtful and engaging, and a great beginning to a fascinating trilogy."

Robert Charles Wilson, Hugo Award-winning author of Spin

"Cracking open a new Robert Sawyer book is like getting a gift from a friend who visits all the strange and undiscovered places in the world. You can't wait to see what he's going to amaze you with this time."

John Scalzi, John W. Campbell Award-winning author of Old Man's War

"In Wake, Robert Sawyer gives us not only an entertaining novel but also a new way of looking at the World Wide Web. A superb work of day-after-tomorrow science fiction — I enjoyed every page."

Allen Steele, two-time Hugo Award-winning author of Coyote Horizon

"Unforgettable. Impossible to put down."

Jack McDevitt, Nebula Award-winning author of The Devil's Eye

ISBN 978-0-441-01679-2


Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Author



"Sawyer gives us not only an entertaining novel but also a new way of looking at the World Wide Web ... Superb."
Allen Steele


Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Author



During his decades-spanning career, award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer has "undoubtedly cemented his reputation as one of the foremost science fiction writers of our generation" (SF Site). Now he adds to his impressive body of work with an imaginative and mind-blowing new trilogy of the web — and its awakening ...

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind.

When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.

But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the world wide web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it's getting smarter ...

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Wake US dustjacket

Voilà! My US editor Ginjer Buchanan just sent me the final version of the dustjacket for my novel Wake, which will be released April 7, 2009, in hardcover by Ace Science Fiction in the States.

Shown above is the final front cover (slightly revised from what I'd posted before), and if you click on the cover or here, you'll see the full dust jacket (front cover, back cover, and flaps, including all the copy). Your browser will probably shrink it to fit your window; click on the graphic and it should zoom to full size. Note: this is a 4.5 megabyte file.

I am totally, totally thrilled. I've had lots of nice dustjackets over the years, but I think this is the most stunningly beautiful cover I've ever had. Hats off to the amazing Rita Frangie, who designed the dustjacket.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Video of Rob on TVOntario's The Agenda

Robert J. Sawyer, Don Tapscott, and others on TVOntario's The Agenda with Steve Paikin discuss "Your Brain and Technology" (38-minute video, first broadcast January 14, 2009).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

RJS past and present

By coincidence, two old friends got in touch today.

T. Jackson King, a science-fiction writer I've known since the early 1990s, emailed to say he's established a new web site, and, as part of the contents has resurrected a 1993 interview he did with me for Science Fiction Chronicle.

And Gene Wilburn, whom I've known since the 1980s when we both freelanced for the same computer magazines, including InfoAge, wrote to point out that he commented on my appearance last night on TVOntario's The Agenda with Steve Paikin in this blog post, in which, among other things, he says:
Rob made the salient point that humans evolved on the African Savannah where multitasking was essential to survival. While searching for food, or hunting, you also had to be alert to sounds and motions, such as poisonous snakes, hunting eagles, and lions, all of whom may be hunting you. His thesis is that humans evolved to be multitasking, and that the past fifty years or so, with people glued to the boob tube, have been an aberration rather than the norm.
T. Jackson Kings's website is here, and the main page of Gene Wilburn's blog is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

R.I.P., Señor Armando

All the press coverage about the passing today of the very talented Ricardo Montalbán is mentioning his work on Fantasy Island and Star Trek. And, of course, I loved his portrayal of Khan.

But you know what his best work was? The role of Señor Armando in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the fourth film in the series. (He was also in the third, playing a younger version of the same man, but that was a flamboyant performance.)

In Conquest, the darkest film in the series, he was really called upon to act, and he rose beautifully to the challenge, playing the world-weary father figure to Cornelius the chimpanzee as a man of integrity and honor; he brilliantly underplays the role, one of only two sympathetic humans in the entire film.
Police officer: "Circuses are past history."
Armando: "Not while I live and breathe."
Rest in peace, Señor Montalbán.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Patrick McGoohan passes

"Where am I?"

"In the Village."

"What do you want?"


"Whose side are you on?"

"That would be telling. We want information. Information! Information!"

"You won't get it."

"By hook or by crook, we will."

"Who are you?"

"The new Number Two."

"Who is Number One?"

"You are Number Six."

"I am not a number -- I am a free man!"

(maniacal laughter)

Patrick McGoohan, star, creator, producer, and writer of The Prisoner, one of the most amazing TV shows of all time, passed away yesterday. He was 80.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Making a positive impression at an SF convention

A fellow writer just emailed me to say she'd been invited to do her first Guest of Honor stint at a science-fiction convention, and she asked me, since I've often been a GoH, for how to make the best impression so as to increase her readership. Here's what I had to say:
First, congratulations! That's wonderful!

The best way to attact readers is just be open, warm, inviting, and accessible. Talk to anyone and everyone. Give your attention to whoever is with you; don't always be looking to get somewhere else. Relax, enjoy, be a fun person. Attend the evening room parties. If you're dining with a group, and you see someone from the convention dining alone, ask him/her to join your table. Hang around the dealers room. Don't force it: don't push yourself or your work. Just make people think, "Wow, that's a nice, intelligent person," and trust that they'll track down your work.

That said, have a flyer for the freebie table that tells people where to find your work, and get business cards directing them to your blog / website. I get mine from

Have a look here. I show you that not to show off, but so that you can get a sense of what sort of behavior at cons results in positive feedback.

Most of all: have fun!

And -- again! -- congratulations!

Also, see here.
The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

They love me in Surrey!

Just received a beautiful thank-you card from the organizers of the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference, in Surrey (Vancouver), British Columbia, with a nice selection of quotes from the evaluation forms submitted by attendees about my Friday-night keynote address "The Writer's Story":

"Rob Sawyer was a passionate and inspiring keynote."

"Robert Sawyer on Friday evening -- excellent! Inspiring, motivational, well-organized, well-presented."

"Loved Rob Sawyer's keynote!"

"Robert Sawyer keynote was excellent, inspiring to writers."

"Can't speak highly enough of Robert Sawyer as a motivational speaker!"

"RJ Sawyer's keynote speech was my personal highlight of the conference."

Woot! I'll be back again at SiWC this year: October 23-25, 2009.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Michael Berman for the Aurora Award

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
I've already mentioned that Neo-Opsis and On Spec deserve your consideration for the Aurora Award for Best Work in English (Other) this year. Here's another suggestion for that same category.

Back in 2005, there was a wonderful academic conference at Brock University entitled "The Uses of the Science Fiction Genre." I gave the keynote address.

Michael Berman, a philosophy professor at Brock, has collected papers inspired by that conference into a terrific book published in 2008: The Everyday Fantastic: Essays on Science Fiction and Human Being, from Cambridge Scholars Publishing. You can find out more about it here, and if you download this sample PDF, you can read the table of contents, Michael's introduction, and my essay.

From the publisher:
The Everyday Fantastic is an anthology born in love. The love is for science fiction, in all its myriad forms: novels, television, movies, music, art, etc. Many writers from a plurality of disciplines, professions and walks of life share this disposition. This attitude cuts across national boundaries and has even outlasted the vagaries of popular culture fads. This collection of essays draws upon these feelings in terms of the different ways science fiction is engaged in different disciplines, viewing the genre beyond mere entertainment.

The papers collected here engage the fundamental questions explored in science fiction. Many of the essays were originally presented at an interdisciplinary conference in October 2005 at Brock University, highlighted by Robert J. Sawyer’s engaging keynote address. Additional chapters were in part inspired by these presentations. These essays represent a wide array of voices from the humanities, social sciences and sciences, and address a comparable range of topics and the media that use the science fiction genre.
For the Aurora Award for Best Work in English (Other):
  • Berman, Michael. The Everyday Fantastic. Cambridge Scholars Publishing

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Farah Mendlesohn for the Hugo

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
So, Hugo Award-winning science-fiction critic John Clute is in Toronto right now, and he joined a group (including Robert Charles Wilson and myself) for dinner last night. It was, of course, most pleasant, and it drove home an interesting reality: that the science-fiction and fantasy fields are flat, in a way that most other fields of endeavor are not. Athletes don't socialize with sports reporters, actors don't pal around with theatre critics, restaurateurs prefer to eat without the restaurant reviewer present. But in SF&F everyone socializes, even if sometimes the opening lines of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds echo through people's minds:
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
Not so long ago, another Hugo Award-winning SF&F critic was also in Toronto, my friend Farah Mendlesohn, whom I first met when I gave a talk at the Library of Congress in 1999. Farah, John, Bob, and I will all meet up again soon, at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando in March, where authors will again be put under the microscope.

And, still, yet, one wonders do authors really care what academics think of their work? Do academics actually give a damn what the subjects of their scholarship think about their assessments? While wearing those hats (author, critic), the most healthy and productive answer for each is probably "no."

But in that flat field of science fiction and fantasy, most of us wear at least one other hat, too: we're also fans, and fandom cares enough about the field of writing about SF&F to have established a Hugo Award for "Best Related Book," defined as "Any work whose subject is related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time in book form during the year in question, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text."

And, lo and behold, there were a couple of standout works that meet the above criteria published last year. The one that had better distribution, and therefore has a real shot at the Hugo in this category, was by the aforementioned Dr. Mendlesohn: Rhetorics of Fantasy, described by its publisher thus:
Transcending arguments over the definition of fantasy literature, Rhetorics of Fantasy introduces a provocative new system of classification for the genre. Utilizing nearly two hundred examples of modern fantasy, author Farah Mendlesohn uses this system to explore how fiction writers construct their fantastic worlds. Mendlesohn posits four categories of fantasy -- portal-quest, immersive, intrusion, and liminal -- that arise out of the relationship of the protagonist to the fantasy world. Using these sets, Mendlesohn argues that the author's stylistic decisions are then shaped by the inescapably political demands of the category in which they choose to write. Each chapter covers at least twenty books in detail, ranging from nineteenth-century fantasy and horror to extensive coverage of some of the best books in the contemporary field. Offering a wide-ranging discussion and penetrating comparative analysis, Rhetorics of Fantasy will excite fans and provide a wealth of material for scholarly and classroom discussion.

Includes discussion of works by over 100 authors, including Lloyd Alexander, Peter Beagle, Marion Zimmer Bradley, John Crowley, Stephen R. Donaldson, Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, Gregory Maguire, Robin McKinley, China Mieville, Suniti Namjoshi, Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Sheri S. Tepper, J.R.R. Tolkien, Tad Williams.
As critic Brian Attebery said,"Mendlesohn goes well beyond a survey to offer new and often surprising readings of works both familiar and obscure. A fine critical work that offers fresh insights on almost every page."

And it does indeed do just that: a fascinating, insightful, argument-provoking, entertaining, cogently presented work, fully worthy of the Hugo Award.

Farah, as it happens, is programming director for the Montreal Worldcon, where the Hugos will be given this year. It would be wonderful if, when the con was over, she had to fight with the security screening people at Montreal's Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport about why she wanted to take a giant rocket-shaped thing aboard the plane as carry-on luggage ...

For the Hugo Award for Best Related Book:
  • Mendlesohn, Farah. Rhetorics of Fantasy. Wesleyan University Press.
(The other nonfiction book I'm enthused about is Canadian Michael Berman's The Everyday Fantastic, which I discuss in a separate blog post, and am suggesting for the Aurora Award.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wake to be a Main Selection of the SFBC

Woot! I'm thrilled to announce that my next novel, Wake, will be a Main Selection of the Science Fiction Book Club!

This is my second Main Selection in a row (after Rollback).

I'm totally delighted about this. :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait: Put two shrimps on the barbie!

On Thursday, August 26, 2004, I was called upon to welcome visiting Australian SF writer K.A. Bedford on behalf of the Canadian SF scene at his reading and signing at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, and we've been friends ever since. Although he lives Down Under, he's published here in Canada (he was "discovered" by the wonderful Robyn M. Herrington of Calgary, to whom my novel Rollback is dedicated).

The latest book by Adrian (as he's known) is Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, and it has just been nominated for not one but two major awards: Australia's Aurealis and the United States's Philip K. Dick (an award for which I myself was a juror in 1995). Here's the press release from his publisher -- way to go, Adrian!

Time Machines isn't eligible for the Aurora -- it's the nationality of the author, not the publisher, that counts -- but it most certainly is eligible for the Hugo ...

Canadian Book by Australian Author
Shortlisted for Two Top Book Awards
[Calgary, AB, January 13, 2009]

EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing is proud to announce that Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, by Australian author K.A. Bedford, has been shortlisted for both the Aurealis (Australia's premier award for science fiction literature) and the Philip K. Dick (for distinguished original science fiction) AWARDS.

The Aurealis Awards are in their fourteenth year as Australia's premier awards for speculative fiction.

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction.

EDGE publisher Brian Hades stated in an interview today, "We are extremely proud of Adrian. This is his fourth novel, and he is proving to be the new voice in science fiction we've all been waiting for."

Author Bedford comment on his back-to-back listings by simply stating, "I'm gobsmacked!"

Bedford recently completed a North American promotional book tour for Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait stopping in Denver, Colorado, to attended the World Science Fiction Convention and Calgary, Alberta, where he was the author Guest of Honour.

About the Novel:
Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait: In the future, Aloysius "Spider" Webb will journey to the End of Time. For now, Spider must be content with repairing broken time machines, rebuilding his life and avoiding the lunatic antics of his boss, Dickhead McMahon.

Spider's life is status quo until he discovers, inside a broken second-hand time machine, the corpse of a brutally murdered woman from the future. The Department of Time and Space steps in to manage the situation leaving Spider asking a lot of questions that only lead to more questions; unsettling evidence, brewing trouble, and the knowledge that Spider himself might be involved in an epic battle for control of time itself.

Will his knowing the future be a curse or a blessing? Will Spider Webb find out how things turn out before they happen? And, with his new found knowledge, who will Spider trust?

It will all happen before the End of Time!

About the Author:
K.A. Bedford was born in Fremantle, Australia in 1963. He attended Murdoch University, in Perth and studied Writing, Theatre, and Philosophy, before becoming actively involved in the Australian SF community. Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait is his fourth novel. He lives with his wife, Michelle, near Perth, Australia.

Presentation of the Awards:
The Aurealis Award will be presented at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia on Saturday 24 January 2009.

The Philip K. Dick Award will be presented on Friday, April 10, 2009 at Norwescon 32 at the Doubletree Seattle Airport Hotel, SeaTac, Washington.

About the Aurealis Awards:
The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995 by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis Magazine, to recognize the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

The Aurealis Awards have a significant history behind them now. Since the Awards' first ceremony, both the field of literature and the vibrancy of the Australian speculative fiction community have grown substantially. The extensive list of past winners and finalists is not only a great guide to a basic bookshelf selection of the best Australian works; it is also a useful survey of more than a decade's worth of significant topics and themes, a who's who of the genre locally and the growth of the Australian publishing industry's commitment to the genre. Winners will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane on Saturday 24 January 2009.

For more information on the Aurealis Awards, please visit their website:

About the Philip K. Dick Award:
The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society.

More Information on the Book:
For further information on Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait please visit our webpage.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


On TVOntario Wednesday night

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, January 14, 2009), I'll be part of a panel discussion on TVOntario's flagship current-affairs program The Agenda with Steve Paikin, discussing what being online does to the human brain and our concepts of socialization. It's all part of the show's "Mysteries of the Mind" week. The hour-long program airs at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

(The screen capture is from a previous appearance by me on this show.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

James Alan Gardner for the Hugo and Aurora

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.

Those of you who've read my novel Wake as it was serialized in Analog will have encountered the open-source competitor for Google known as Jagster. As I wrote:
In the tradition of silly Web acronyms ("Yahoo!" stands for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle"), Jagster is short for "Judiciously Arranged Global Search-Term Evaluative Ranker" -- and the battle between Google and Jagster has been dubbed the "Ranker rancor" by the press ...
But the name Jagster is really a homage to my great friend James Alan Gardner of Kitchener, Ontario, the finest SF short-fiction writer Canada has ever produced.

And in 2008, the Jagster published one of his very best short stories ever: "The Ray-Gun: A Love Story," in the February 2008 Asimov's. The piece begins in typical Gardner fashion: "This is a story about a ray-gun. The ray-gun will not be explained except to say, 'It shoots rays.'"

I had the privilege of workshopping this story prior to its publication, and was blown away. Since it came out, others have sung its praises, too. See, for instance, this review over at the always-interesting SF Gospel blog from January 6 of last year, which concludes, "This early in the year, we already have a strong contender for next year's Hugo for Best Novelette."

I didn't see a better story all year long. Gardner Dozois has picked it up for his annual Year's Best Science Fiction, and Rich Horton has grabbed it for his Science Fiction: The Best of the Year.

It's one of only nine novelettes to have made SFWA's Preliminary Nebula Award ballot. It deserves a place on the final Nebula ballot ... and on the final Hugo ballot, too (and it'll be criminal if it's not on the Aurora Award ballot). I recommend it without reservation:

For the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Aurora Award for Best Short Form Work in English:You can read the whole wonderful story online here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Monday, January 12, 2009

Rollback the "One Book, One Brant" choice

Woot! Woohoo!

My latest novel Rollback has just been selected by the County of Brant, Ontario, for its annual One Book, One Brant community-wide reading program.

The program is sponsored by the County of Brant Public Library and the Friends of the Library. Brant includes the city of Paris, Ontario, and several smaller communities.

I'll be appearing at the main library branch, 12 William Street, Paris, Ontario, on Sunday, March 1, 2009, at 1:30 p.m., at the conclusion of the reading program.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Vision TV: Sci-Fi and Supernatural Tuesdays!

We got your Quantum Leap, we got your Poltergeist, we got Rob Sawyer hosting Supernatural Investigator, and we've got a new documentary featuring Rob on science fiction's attempts to predict the future!

Starting January 27, Tuesdays are Science Fiction and Supernatural Nights on Canada's Vision TV!

The Vision TV press release is here, and also reproduced below.
TORONTO, Jan. 12, 2009 /CNW/ - On Tuesday nights in 2009, VisionTV will journey to the distant future and delve deep into otherworldly realms.

Beginning on Tuesday, Jan. 27, Canada's multi-faith and multicultural television network premieres two original new Canadian documentary anthology series that will take viewers to worlds far beyond our own.

The 17-part series I Prophesy: The Future Revealed, airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, examines the predictions of present-day oracles. Combining dramatizations, CGI sequences, and interviews with world renowned scientists, authors and intellectuals, the I Prophesy documentaries consider the possible futures that may await us: from a world in which physical sex no longer exists and humans live for a thousand years, to doomsday scenarios in which our civilization is erased by asteroid collisions or epic floods.

The I Prophesy documentaries were produced for VisionTV by Arcadia Entertainment Inc., Henry Less Productions and Partners in Motion Inc.

Supernatural Investigator, airing Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT, takes a critical look at paranormal phenomena in an attempt to separate fact from fiction. Each half-hour documentary follows an expert investigator as he or she brings rigorous, real-life scrutiny to a search for the truth behind so-called supernatural happenings. Canada's foremost science fiction writer, Hugo Award winner Robert J. Sawyer, hosts the 17-part series.

The Supernatural Investigator documentaries were produced for VisionTV by Arcadia Entertainment Inc., Elevator Films, Ocean Entertainment Ltd., Paradocs, Riddle Films Inc. and Sorcery Films Ltd.

VisionTV's Tuesday night lineup also features the science-fiction drama series Quantum Leap (9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT) and Poltergeist: The Legacy (weeknights at 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT).


I Prophesy: The Future Revealed
Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 27, 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT

"Dude, Where's My Flying Car?" - Over the past century, science fiction authors have often proved uncannily accurate in their predictions. Can today's generation of SF writers offer useful clues about the shape of tomorrow? In this premiere episode, Hugo Award-winning Canadian science fiction novelist Robert J. Sawyer (Hominids) ponders which of our contemporary fantasies may end up as reality. Will robots do our household cooking and cleaning? Will humanity colonize other worlds? And, most important: will we finally get flying cars? Produced by Arcadia Entertainment Inc.

Supernatural Investigator
Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 27, 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT

"The Antichrist" - Does the Antichrist walk among us? Are we nearing the End of Days? Surprisingly, belief in the Biblical prophecies of an Antichrist remain alive and well in the 21st century. In this episode, Halifax-based paranormal filmmaker Michael MacDonald searches high and low for the world's most notorious villain. Produced by Ocean Entertainment Ltd.

Joan Jenkinson is the VisionTV Executive Producer and concept creator for both series. For more information on VisionTV programming, please visit

For further information: Media Contact: David Todd, Media Relations Manager, VisionTV, Phone: (416) 368-3194, ext. 207, Email:

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Why there's no Aurora Award for ... whatever

People kvetch that we don't have an Aurora Award for whatever their favourite art form is, and recently someone put forth the silly argument that the reason we don't is because of the cost of making trophies.

Poppycock. The reason we don't have Aurora Awards for every possible form of expression is that no one has taken the initiative to show that we acutally need them. In 1997, I was part of a committee struck by SF Canada to comment on the Aurora Awards; the committee failed to turn in a report, but I posted my comments online, and I raise the same points at every Aurora (CanVention) business meeting when someone suggest a new category:
Periodically, new Aurora categories are suggested. Among those put forth recently include best graphic novel, best TV show or movie, best poem, and best web site — many presumably with separate French and English trophies to be presented. I believe there already are too many Aurora Awards; adding more simply cheapens the value of each one. However, when a new category is proposed, I believe the proposer should be required to put forth mock ballots listing full slates of credible nominees for the previous three years in the suggested category: if five truly award-caliber works cannot be found in each of the preceding three years in a proposed award category, clearly there is insufficient quality work being done in that area in Canada to justify an annual competitive award for it.
In the eleven subsequent years, no one has even once risen to that challenge. Being nominated should be an honour in and of itself; you shouldn't be nominated just because you're one of only a handful of people who worked in a given area in the year in question. Nominations are for outstanding work, not every work; this isn't nursery school where you get a ribbon just for showing up.

You want a new category? Get crackin' on the paperwork. I'll be there at the CanVention business meeting at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal. Put your mock ballots on the table, and, if they really do contain works that are award-calibre, I'll be the first to vote in favour of a new award category; hell, I'll even second the motion for you. But if you put in a proposal for a new category but no mock ballots to prove the proposal's worth, I'll vote against it, and so, I bet, will just about everyone else in the room.

(In point of fact, almost no one who complains about the Auroras ever shows up at the business meetings. Complaining is easy; actually working to sustain and improve something is hard.)

(My full set of comments from 1997 on the Auroras.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


SFWA Pressbook on Supernatural Investigator

The SFWA Pressbook -- the news service of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America -- has just put up a release entitled Robert J. Sawyer hosts Supernatural Investigator.

Older SFWA Pressbook articles about RJS:

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Identity Theft for the Aurora

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
Okay, okay, what about little ole me? Well, although I didn't publish a novel in 2008, I do have something eligible for the Aurora Award in the Best Long Form Work in English category: my new collection Identity Theft and Other Stories.

The book, published simultaneously in hardcover and trade paperback by Red Deer Press, includes the Hugo finalist "Shed Skin," the Nebula finalist "Identity Theft," the Aurora winners "Biding Time" and "Ineluctable," and 13 others [Table of Contents].

The book spent two months on the Locus bestsellers list, and both months was the only single-author short-story collection on any of the Locus lists (hardcover, mass-market paperback, trade paperback, media-related, or gaming-related).
"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

For your consideration for the Aurora Award Best Long-Form Work in English:
  • Sawyer, Robert J. Identity Theft and Other Stories. Red Deer Press.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Caitlin gets a boob job

My friend Debi Ancel is a librarian in Montreal, and she just forwarded me the Library of Congress catalog information for Wake, my upcoming novel about 15-year-old blind math genius Caitlin Decter. Among the Library of Congress subject headings are "Women mathematicians" and "Implants, Artificial."

Hee hee.

(The full list of subject headings: "Blind women," "Women mathemeticians," "Implants, Artificial," "World Wide Web," and "Artificial intelligence.")

By the way, Debi gave me the terrific T-shirt below, after I said I preferred the term "philosophical fiction" to "science fiction." It identities me as the "World's Best Phi-Fi Author." :)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

WATCH: The Soundtrack, Part 2

Another track from the soundtrack for my upcoming novel Watch, the sequel to Wake, which I'm writing right now: "Good Morning Starshine" from the musical Hair (YouTube video clip). The song is alluded to in the book. :)
Good morning, starshine!
The Earth says hello ...
(Previous entry: the theme from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Stanley Schmidt for the Hugo

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
Okay, folks, y'all have been very good to me when it comes to the Hugos over the years. You nominated my novels The Terminal Experiment, Starplex, and Rollback for the Hugo; you nominated my short story "Shed Skin" for the Hugo, and you gave me the best-novel Hugo for Hominids, and, if I'm lucky, next year, you might be kind enough to nominate my new novel Wake for the Hugo, too.

But you know what all those works have in common? Stanley Schmidt, the editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, edited every single one of them. The Terminal Experiment (under its original title of Hobson's Choice), Starplex, Hominids, Rollback, and Wake all first appeared in Analog (as did my 2002 Aurora Award-winning novelette "Ineluctable"). You can't be a Robert J. Sawyer fan without also being a fan of Stanley Schmidt.

And yet, despite being the longest-serving short-fiction editor in the SF field, despite editing what has in every year of his tenure been the world's number-one bestselling English-language science-fiction magazine, despite being the only major SF&F magazine editor to write an editorial himself for each issue, despite his tireless mentoring of new writers, such as (to name an obvious example from this past year) Calgary's Susan Forest -- despite all that, Dr. Schmidt has never won a Hugo. That's criminal.

It goes without saying that Stan will be nominated for a Hugo this year -- he's nominated every year. But don't just nominate this wonderful, self-effacing, brilliant, hard-working, caring editor. Vote for him..

Some of my previous blog posts about Stan:For the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, Short Form:
  • Schmidt, Stanley. Analog Science Fiction & Fact

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Reminder: Canadian SF Works Database

Marcel Gagné and I founded the Canadian SF Works Database in 2007 as a resource for those interested in nominating for Canada's Aurora Awards, and for those who want to know what Canadian works are eligible for international science fiction and fantasy awards.

If you are a creator, please make sure your creations are listed. The database is a Wiki; anyone may add to or edit its contents.

If you're a fan or reader who wants to participate in the awards process, please visit the database to remind yourself of all the wonderful people and things that are eligible for nomination.

The list of English publications from 2008 (the ones eligible for the Auroras and Hugos to be given this year) is here.

Canadian SF Works Database

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hayden Trenholm for the Aurora

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
In the previous post in this series, I talked about a book I'd published under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint, Nick DiChario's A Small and Remarkable Life. Nick's an American, so his book isn't eligible for the Aurora. In fact, both of the books I published last year were by Americans (the other was the anthology The Savage Humanists edited by Fiona Kelleghan).

But there were some great small-press Canadian-authored SF novels published last year, and my favourite was Defining Diana by Hayden Trenholm, brought to us by the good folks at Bundoran Press in Prince George, British Columbia.

Their gorgeous trade paperback sports this blurb from me:
Hayden Trenholm is a true original; an exciting new voice, tinged with sly wit. Defining Diana will grab you on the first page and won't let you go.
Hayden's proven he's an award-calibre writer: he won last year's Best Short Form Work in English Aurora Award (and in 1992, he won the 3-Day Novel Writing Contest). There's an excellent interview with Hayden by Ed Willette here.

I'm the proud owner of the very first signed copy of Defining Diana -- a gift from Hayden (I was MC at the book-launch party for the novel held at Toronto's Ad Astra). And -- lucky me! -- right now I'm reading the terrific sequel, Steel Whispers, in manuscript.

Defining Diana definitely deserves your consideration for this year's Aurora Award for Best Long Form Work in English:

  • Trenholm, Hayden. Defining Diana. Bundoran Press.

(Pictured: Author Hayden Trenholm and editor Virginia O'Dine of Bundoran Press at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg in May 2008, where Hayden, myself, and Nick DiChario did a joint signing.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Analog electronic back issues with Wake

Did you miss any of the four installments of my novel Wake as it was serialized recently in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine? The electronic versions of the four issues in question are all still available for a while longer from price gets you all these format: Adobe Acrobat (PDF), Adobe Acrobat Large Print (PDF), eReader (PDB), Palm Doc (PDB), Rocket/REB1100 (RB), Microsoft Reader (LIT), Franklin eBookMan (FUB), hiebook (KML), Sony Reader (LRF), iSilo (PDB), Mobipocket, Kindle Compatible (MOBI), and OEBFF Format (IMP).

(Or you can buy the hardcover when it comes out in April 2009!)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Nick DiChario for the Hugo

This is the third in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration for the Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year:

Valley of Day-Glo by Nick DiChario, published by my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint.

There's no question that Nick is an award-caliber writer: he's been nominated for the Hugo twice, for the World Fantasy Award, and for both Campbell Awards (the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of 1993, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year for his previous RJS Books title, A Small and Remarkable Life.

Rather than me sing the praises of Valley of Day-Glo, I'll let Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Nancy Kress do it. Here's the introduction she wrote for Nick's book:

By Nancy Kress

Twenty pages into reading Valley of Day-Glo, I sent Nick DiChario an email: "Am reading your novel. You have a very warped mind." Nick forwarded the message to his publisher with a copy to me, saying "Look! A cover blurb!"

Does Nick really have a warped mind? Not to look at him or talk to him at a party. He's courteous, affable, a good listener. He has always displayed these qualities, and I've known him since he was twenty-one.

We met in 1982 when I was, for the first time ever, teaching a summer writing workshop. I had not yet published very much myself -- one novel and a handful of short stories -- and felt uncertain of myself as a teacher of writing. It was pretty much the blind leading the blind. I can still see Nick, a few other students, and me sitting on the broad shallow steps of the Fine Arts building on the campus where the workshop was held. We're eating potato salad off soggy paper plates and earnestly discussing the state of publishing -- as if any of us actually knew much about it.

Nick knows a lot about it now. He's owned a bookstore, published wonderful stories, collaborated extensively with the very knowledgeable Mike Resnick, been nominated for both a Hugo and World Fantasy award for his lovely story "The Winterberry," and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for his previous novel, A Small and Remarkable Life. There is no doubt in my mind that eventually Nick will win one, or all, of these awards. Meanwhile, we have Valley of Day-Glo.

What to make of this book? In the first paragraph we have Indians named Broadway Danny Rose, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Later on, we have a sacred Jug Dance involving "an original Igloo water cooler" and a sacred text titled Network Marketing in the New Millennium. We have a corpse that steadily rots for 100 pages but occasionally sits up to chime in with comments on the action. We have a very unorthodox cure for sexual dysfunction. Is all that warped or what?

Yes, in that the world of Day-Glo is a distorted one that is highly unlikely as a direct descendant of our own. BUT -- that all-important but! -- in another sense, this world is very much our own. One meaning of "warp," after all, is "a system of spun threads extended lengthwise on a loom." The warp is then woven with the cross-threads, the "woof."

In Day-Glo Nick is weaving a very intricate tapestry indeed. His warp may be fanciful and wildly inventive, but his cross-threads are deadly serious. They are love and the price that love exacts, violence and the grief it causes, striving and the ways that striving can be twisted by the larger world. Nick's tapestry is a life-like design of brilliant, heart-breaking colors, including that imaginative warp. You will be the richer for having viewed it, read it, pondered it. You will be the richer for having spent time with Broadway Danny Rose and shared his search for the Valley of Day-Glo.

Even if you never in your life witness a sacred Jug Dance.

  • DiChario, Nick. Valley of Day-Glo, Robert J. Sawyer Books.
Nick DiChario's website
Nancy Kress's website
The Robert J. Sawyer Books website

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


An anti-Hugo suggestion

A friend sent me an email today suggesting he was going to nominate me for the Hugo for Best Professional Editor (Long Form), for the work I do on Robert J. Sawyer Books. My reply:
That's super-kind of you, but I just don't deserve it. I edited just two books last year (granted, very good ones by Nick DiChario and Fiona Kelleghan -- how could I go wrong?). But I'd die if someone worthy, like Ginjer Buchanan or Susan Allison or Beth Meacham or Lou Anders or Jim Frenkel got squeezed off the ballot because I'd made it on.
Same thing goes for the Auroras, folks, and the "Best Professional (Other)" category. That's where you'd nominate Brian Hades of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, On Spec, Neo-Opsis, the anthologies Tesseracts 12, Michael Berman's excellent chollection of scholarly essays The Everyday Fantastic, and so on. You only get three nominations for the Auroras; don't waste one on me in this category.

(And see The Canadian SF Works Database for other good suggestions.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Friday, January 9, 2009

Randy McCharles for the Aurora

This is the second in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
The Aurora Awards are often called "the Canadian Hugos," but that's only a partially apt analogy.

In point of fact, there's no one-to-one correspondence between categories for the two sets of awards. And while both sets of awards honour both professional and fan activities, only the Aurora Awards have a category for Best Fan Organizational.

That award is to recognize the hard-working folk who work for science-fiction clubs or make science-fiction and fantasy conventions happen here in the Great White North, and in 2008 there was one absolute standout: Randy McCharles, who chaired the 2008 World Fantasy Convention in Calgary.

The Calgary WFC was one of the best conventions ever held in this country, was one of the best WFCs ever, and was a complete success. That Randy managed to pull that off, as chair, without pissing people off is a testament to his good humour and high organizational and administrative skills.

I've sung Randy's praises before, most notably in this appreciation I wrote of him when he was Fan Guest of Honour a few years ago at Vancouver's VCON.

Calgary's conventions have been largely ignored by the Auroras (I'm on record as saying Kirstin Morrell totally deserved this award for her hard work reviving and chairing Con-Version in 2007). It's high time we recognized the hard work by the people in Cow Town, and Randy McCharles's sterling efforts are the perfect opportunity.

He'll be on my nominating ballot, and I urge you to put him on yours.
  • Randy McCharles, chair. World Fantasy Convention, Calgary, 30 October to 2 November 2008
For more on the Auroras, see here.

Pictured: Randy McCharles

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Flash Forward is in good hands

I'm astonished by just how much online and print coverage there's been for the pilot for Flash Forward, the TV series being developed by David S. Goyer and Brannon Braga based on my novel of the same name.

People have been poring over what's purported to be drafts of the script, supposed casting-call notes, and so on, looking for clues, and they're dissecting every word that everyone has said about the series. (It's been fascinating watching the broken-telephone aspect as, for instance, the original coverage in The Hollywood Reporter has been rewritten or summarized for other venues.)

Some online commentators have suggested that any TV show is going to be dumbed down from its source material. That's emphatically not the case here. Brannon and David are staggeringly intelligent guys, and they have put an enormous amount of thought into how to ramp up the concepts in my book.

It's often said that one has to cut out and water down when turning a 350-page novel into a two-hour movie. That may be so, but these guys are taking a 350-page novel as the jumping-off point for a hundred-hour TV series. That requires an expansion of vision.

What they've added to my original notion (and it's a lot) is wonderful, and intelligent, and well-thought-out; what they've changed (and that's a lot, too) is changed in thoughtful, clever ways. If you know my novel, you have a good sense of what thematically Flash Forward is going to be about -- but, trust me, you will be surprised and thrilled by what David and Brannon have come up with (there was a point while reading the pilot script that I literally gasped).

Remember, David S. Goyer will be the showrunner on Flash Forward: this is the guy who reinvented Batman with Batman Begins. He doesn't do slavish adaptation; he does brilliant extrapolation and re-imagining.

It's also often said that Hollywood doesn't really understand science fiction. These guys do. Brannon Braga is a Hugo Award-winner, and deservedly so, for Star Trek: The Next Generation's fabulous finale, "All Good Things ...," which he co-authored with Ronald D. Moore. Brannon also co-authored Star Trek: First Contact, which is a brilliant piece of science fiction.

And both David and Brannon read printed SF. In fact, I daresay that David S. Goyer is better read in the field than I am, and is right up to date on modern stuff. When we first met, we chatted a bit about other things we were each doing, and I mentioned I edited the science-fiction imprint for a Canadian publisher. David asked who I published, and I said, "Well, our most recent book is by Matthew Hughes." And David instantly said, "Oh, yes. He wrote Black Brillion." Which, of course, is right: these guys know their stuff.

So, Flash Forward is in very good hands. And, even if you've read my book, you're going to be pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns. People keep comparing the Flash Forward TV series to Lost, and that's apt in this sense: David and Brannon have crafted something that's as complex, intriguing, and weighty as Lost, and, just as with Lost, if you think you've got it all figured out, trust me -- you don't.

Photo: David, Rob, and Brannon

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Canadian Foundation for Innovation and CBC interview RJS

The Canadian Foundation for Innovation has a terrific interview with me on its website.

And the CBC has a nice news story about me on its website, too.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Wake me when it's over

The Canadian publishing trade journal Quill & Quire's January/February 2009 issue reports in its article "2009 Spring Preview: An advance look at the season's hottest books:"
This could get awkward: two of the season's high-profile novels share a title. Sci-fi giant Robert J. Sawyer has moved to Penguin Canada for Wake ($30 cl., April), an exploration of grief that hinges on the sinking of an offshore oil rig in Newfoundland. Meanwhile, Lisa Moore, Newfoundland native and two-time Giller nominee, offers Wake (House of Anansi Press, $29.95 cl., June), the story of a teenage girl who discovers she can see into another dimension via the Internet.

Hold on -- reverse those last two plot descriptions.
Hee hee hee.

The issue also has a great article about my friend, Prince George science-fiction author Lynda Williams (of Okal Rel Universe fame), and her publisher, Brian Hades's Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy of Calgary.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Promoting your book

A writer asked me today for advice on promoting his upcoming book. I referred him to these pages on my website:

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Brannon Braga talks Flash Forward

SciFi Wire has a nice interview with Brannon Braga about the Flash Forward TV series today. Among other things, Brannon says:
"The core concept is very much the same as Robert Sawyer's novel. That was the impetus for it and the idea of the entire world blacking out at the same time for a discrete amount of time, and everybody on Earth having mysterious visions of the future. Same idea. Obviously, to do a TV show, you have to sustain potentially—and God willing—100 episodes or more; you've got to change the concept a little bit. His novel had people having visions of the future 20 years from now. We change that to five months from now and kind of narrowed down the scope a little bit and made it a little bit more of an intimate epic. But essentially the concept is the same."
You can read the whole interview here, and more about my novel here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Rob on CBC Regina today

I'll be interviewed today live on CBC Radio One Regina's "Blue Sky" with Michelle Higley at 12:50 p.m. Saskatchewan time (1:50 p.m. Toronto time / Eastern time) about my upcoming residency at the Canadian Light Source.

It's 540AM in Regina, or you can listen online here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Writer-in-residence at Canadian Light Source

On April 19, 2005, as part of the Rob and Bob Tour -- the joint book tour for Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan and Robert Charles Wilson's Spin -- Bob and I visited the Canadian Light Source synchrotron facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Out of that visit, the following has come to pass; I will be the first-ever writer-in-residence at this cutting-edge physics-research facility.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- International award-winning science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer will be writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron from June 1 to July 31, 2009. Sawyer, widely regarded as one of Canada's most influential authors and most successful science fiction writers, will use the residency to explore the creative processes at the root of science and art, and increase public discussion of science in Canada.

"Imagination is at the heart of both artistic and scientific endeavours," says Sawyer. "And the science being done in Canada is world-class. The opportunity to immerse myself for two months at one of Canada's -- and the world's -- top scientific institutions will enormously enrich my writing, and I hope my presence will stimulate the imaginations of people at the Canadian Light Source and in the surrounding community. It's a win-win situation."

"This is an amazing opportunity, not only for the staff and national research community of the Canadian Light Source, but also the literary community," says Jeff Cutler, Director of Industrial Research at the Canadian Light Source. "A common thread in Rob's work -- the role that science plays in our humanity and how we understand the universe -- is echoed in our focus on discovery, innovation and progress. The residency is an excellent opportunity to have a world-leading author share in the life of a world-leading science facility."

Sawyer is the author of 20 science fiction novels, which have been published in 15 languages. He is one of only seven authors -- and the only Canadian -- to win all three of the world's top science fiction awards: the Hugo Award (2003) for the novel Hominids, the Nebula Award (1996) for The Terminal Experiment, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2006) for Mindscan. His novel Flashforward is currently in development as a TV series for the U.S. network ABC. He has taught at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and the Banff Centre, and is a frequent commentator on the Discovery Channel and CBC television and radio. Several of his stories are set at Canadian science facilities, such as TRIUMF, SNOLab, and the Royal Ontario Museum.

While at the CLS, Sawyer will be performing the duties typical of a writer-in-residence, such as mentoring writers at the synchrotron and in the community, participating in outreach activities, and developing his own work. His wife, poet Carolyn Clink, will join him in Saskatoon during his residency.

The Canadian Light Source is Canada's national centre for synchrotron research. Located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the CLS is a powerful tool for academic and industrial research in a wide variety of areas including environmental science, natural resources and energy, health and life sciences, and information and communications technology. CLS operations are funded by the Government of Canada, NSERC, NRC, CIHR, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan. More information.

For more information contact:

Matthew Dalzell
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Light Source Inc
Ph: (306) 657-3739
Cell: (306) 227-0978

Robert J. Sawyer
Robert J. Sawyer has previously been writer-in-residence at the Richmond Hill (Ontario) Public Library; the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy; the Kitchener Public Library; and the Odyssey Workshop. Quotes and comments from previous residency patrons are here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rob's 2009 convention schedule

Here are the science-fiction conventions I'm planning to attend in 2009:
  • Program Participant
    International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts
    Orlando, Florida
    March 18-22, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Ad Astra
    Toronto, Ontario
    March 27-29, 2009

  • Guest of Honour
    Toronto, Ontario
    April 3-5, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Norwescon 32
    Seattle, Washington
    April 9-12, 2009

  • Guest of Honor
    Xanadu Las Vegas
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    April 17-19, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Keycon 26
    Winnipeg, Manitoba
    May 15-17, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Readercon 20
    Burlington, Massachusetts
    July 9-12, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Anticipation: the 67th World Science Fiction Convention
    Montréal, Québec
    August 6-10, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Con-Version 25
    Calgary, Alberta
    August 21-23, 2009

  • Program Participant
    VCON 34
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    October 2-4, 2009

  • Program Participant
    Rochester, New York
    November 6-8, 2009

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

On Spec and Neo-Opsis for the Hugo

This is the first in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.

Last year, at the World Science Fiction convention in Denver, a motion was passed to eliminate the semiprozine category for the Hugo Awards. If that motion is ratified this year at the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, the category will be eliminated, and this will be the final year that the award is given.

The semiprozine category was created essentially to keep Locus, the California-based trade journal of the science-fiction field, from always winning in the best fanzine category. Semiprozines are magazines that are not amateur efforts, but aren't on the same level of commercial enterprise as the prozines ("professional magazines"), such as Analog, Asimov's SF, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Since the category was created, Locus has almost always won this Hugo, and many think that's reason enough to retire the category, hence the current motion.

However, a great many worthy publications have emerged over the years that are also semiprozines, including The New York Review of Science Fiction from the US and Interzone from the UK.

Consider this:
  • No Canadian publication has ever been nominated for the semiprozine Hugo.

  • The Hugos will be given in Canada this year.

  • This may well be the last year in which a Hugo Award is given in this category.

  • English Canada has not one but two world-class semiprozines: On Spec from Edmonton, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Neo-Opsis from Victoria.
Both On Spec and Neo-Opsis are perfect-bound digests printed on quality paper, and, frankly, are physically better products than Analog and Asimov's are these days. Both routinely publish excellent fiction, as well as provocative nonfiction.

Last year, it took just 38 nominations to make the Hugo ballot in the semiprozine category; last year, only seven people bothered to nominate On Spec and some number fewer than five (the threshold figure for which results were reported) nominated Neo-Opsis. Get with the program, people!

I'm going to be nominating both On Spec and Neo-Opsis for the semiprozine Hugo this year (and will also be nominating the NYRSF and the SFWA Bulletin, both of which also are worthy of the award).

If you have an attending or supporting membership in this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, or had one in last year's Worldcon in Denver, you're eligible to nominate, too.

Neo-Opsis and On Spec are terrific Canadian publications. They deserve to be nominated; heck, they deserve to win. I urge you to keep them in mind when making your nominations.

Nominations for the Hugos are open right now -- don't delay, the nominating window is short. Participate -- and maybe one of those shiny Hugo rockets will stay in Canada this year.
  • On Spec, Diane Walton, ed.
  • Neo-Opsis, Karl Johanson, ed.
Remember, this may be their last chance ever to become Hugo finalists, but for all time they'll be able to proclaim "Hugo Award nominee!" on their covers.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Monday, January 5, 2009

The voice of Caitlin is doing unabridged recordings of my novels Wake, Watch, and Wonder. Today was the first recording session for Wake, and actress Jessica Almasy, who is voicing Caitlin Decter, reports that it went well. Other voicing is being done by Aze Fellner, who, like me, turns out to be a fan of Julian Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (which figures in the plot of Wake).

For's existing offerings of books by me, see here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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This is delightful! I know you! All of you!

So, Norman Spinrad just confirmed me as a friend on Facebook. Early next month, David Gerrold and I are giving joint keynote addresses at a conference in Istanbul. A little while ago, George Clayton Johnson left a message on my answering machine to say how much he loved one of my stories. Oh, and every now and then, Harlan Ellison gives me a call, too.

Norman Spinrad, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine." David Gerrold, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles." George Clayton Johnson, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode "The Man Trap." Harlan Ellison, who wrote the classic Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever."

Why is it, despite everything else that's cool in my life, knowing these guys is one of the things I find the most cool of all? I am such a Trekkie!

Live long and prosper, y'all!

Source of this blog posting's title is from "Is There In Truth No Beauty?"

Spock: This is delightful! I know you! All of you! James Kirk, captain and friend for many years. And Leonard McCoy [affectionate laughter], also of long acquaintance. And Uhura, whose name means "freedom." She walks in beauty like the night.

McCoy: [to Kirk] That's not Spock!

Spock: Are you surprised to find that I've read Byron, doctor?

McCoy: That's Spock!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Orion to publish Sawyer in UK and Australia

British and Australian rights to Robert J. Sawyer's new novels Wake, Watch, and Wonder, plus backlist title Flashforward, have gone to Malcolm Edwards at Orion Publishing Group in a handsome deal negotiated by agent Ralph Vicinanza.

(Orion publishes most of its SF under the Gollancz imprint; their other SF&F authors include Stephen Baxter, Arthur C. Clarke, Charlaine Harris, Richard Morgan, Terry Pratchett, and Alistair Reynolds.)


The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

F&SF going bimonthly

Details are here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Flash Forward is going to rock

Just spent 75 minutes on the phone with David S. Goyer, director of the Flash Forward pilot, and co-author (with Brannon Braga) of the pilot script. Not much I can say, except, man, this is going to be a cool show! Filming starts February 21, 2009, in Los Angeles, and Carolyn and I will be heading down to watch some of it.

(Info about my novel Flash Forward is here.)

Pictured: David S. Goyer, Robert J. Sawyer, and Brannon Braga at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, 20 November 2007.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Coming up: Ad Astra

Toronto's annual general-interest SF convention Ad Astra is looming: it takes place March 27-29, 2009. I'll be there, of course, and so will the multitalented Joanne Ellen Hansen (pictured), who is the artist guest of honour this year. She'll be joined by writer GoHs David Drake, Tamora Pierce, and Timothy Zahn, plus an amazing roster of panelists. Come on out and join the fun!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Lover's Ball for 2009 coming up

Once again, I'll be one of the authors at the Book Lover's Ball, the Toronto Public Library's annual black-tie fundraiser. Tickets are $500.

This is the fourth annual event; at the second one, I received the $2,500 Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award; this year's winner will be announced at this year's ball, which takes place on Thursday, February 12, 2009. Here are some photos from the 2007 ball.

Authors confirmed for this year so far are:
  • Tony Aspler
  • Linwood Barclay
  • Christie Blatchford
  • Giles Blunt
  • Wayson Choy
  • George Elliott Clarke
  • Tish Cohen
  • Julie Couillard
  • Anthony De Sa
  • Marina Endicott
  • Joy Fielding
  • MaryLou Finlay
  • Elyse Friedman
  • Catherine Gildiner
  • Richard J. Gwyn
  • Dan Hill
  • Maureen Jennings
  • Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Vincent Lam
  • Stephen Marche
  • The Right Honourable Paul Martin
  • Andrew Pyper
  • Paul Quarrington
  • David Adams Richards
  • C.S. Richardson
  • Peter Robinson
  • Robert Rotenberg
  • Robert J. Sawyer
  • Russell Smith
  • Christina Sorbara
  • Anita Stewart
  • Debbie Travis
  • Jan Wong
  • Alissa York

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

A good way to start the year

The redoubtable John Joseph Adams just bought reprint rights to my 2000 short story "The Shoulders of Giants" for his upcoming anthology Federations (Prime Books). I'm absolutely thrilled, because "Shoulders" is, I think, one of my very best stories.

It was originally published as the lead story in the DAW anthology Star Colonies, which also contained stories by my great Toronto-area friends Robert Charles Wilson and Edo van Belkom.

I'll leave it to John to announce in his own time the other details of the anthology, which will contain a mixture of new and reprint work, but I will say that the line-up of authors he's got is amazing; this will clearly be one of the major anthologies of 2009, and I'm very proud to be part of it.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Happy birthday, Louis Braille!

Louis Braille, who invented the writing system for the blind that bears his name, was born 200 years ago this week.

Caitlin Decter, the main character in my upcoming novel Wake, is blind, and uses Braille. And BBC has a really good article about what it's like to be a Braille user here.

(Oh, and the Wikipedia entry on the Braille system is here.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Aurora Award nominations now open

From Clint Budd, Aurora Award administrator (with a big shout out of congrats to Clint for getting nominations rolling so early!):

THE AURORAS! -- This year at Worldcon!

Aurora Awards website

Nominations open January 1st, 2009, and close February 28th, 2009.

An on-line and a printable nomination form is at here.

Partial list of eligible works at the Canadian SF Works Database.

LITERARY AWARDS: If you are nominating a written work (Novel, Short Story, etc.) that isn't listed in the Canadian SF Works Database PLEASE include Author, Title, Publisher, *Publication Date*, and (if its published in a magazine, anthology etc.) -- the name of the publication. If you know of a website that has all this info -- put in the website address instead -- to save time and space. Please consider adding your nominated work to Canadian SF Works Database.

Just the name of the author or work is not enough.

ART AWARD: if you are nominating an artist, PLEASE list a published or displayed work and where it was published or displayed. JUST THE NAME OF THE ARTIST IS NOT ENOUGH.

FAN ACHIEVEMENT (Publication): PLEASE list the name of the fannish newsletter or amateur publication and the Publisher/Editor's name and contact info.

Note: the rule excluding club fanzines is still in effect. A new amendment was adopted at the last Business Meeting (Keycon 2008) but will have to be ratified at the next Business Meeting (Anticipation/Worldcon 2009).

FAN ACHIEVEMENT (Organizational): PLEASE list the specific organizational achievement that you are nominating the person for. PLEASE list the name of the Organizer nominated, and the event, date and location the event occurred at.

FAN ACHIEVEMENT (Other): PLEASE specifically describe the activity you're nominating for (i.e. "filking" is NOT specific enough -- this is an award for Achievement), the name of the person nominated and contact info.

[Constitution definition: Fan Achievement (other): For Canadian fan activity in the previous calendar year not encompassed by the previous two subsections. For example: multi-media presentation, music, art, apas, fan-writing, etc.]

Aurora Awards website

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

International Year of Astronomy

Welcome to 2009, the International Year of Astronomy! Things are looking up already! :)

I'm amused that "Yours to Discover," the slogan for the IYA, is the same as that for the province of Ontario, where I live:

(And, yes, that's my real license plate.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site