Sunday, May 31, 2009

June 2009 events: Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina

Robert J. Sawyer June 2009 events -- all are free and open to the public:
  • Bookstore Reading & Signing from Wake
    McNally Robinson
    3130 8th Street East
    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
    Thursday, June 4, 2009, 7:30 p.m.

  • EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Launch Party
    Featuring a reading by Robert J. Sawyer
    Venturion Art Gallery
    Suite 104A
    214 - 11 Avenue SE
    Calgary, Alberta
    Saturday, June 13, 2009, doors open at 6:15 p.m.; events begin at 7:00 p.m.

  • Bookstore Reading & Signing
    Book & Brier Patch
    4065 Albert Street
    Regina, Saskatchewan
    Saturday, June 20, 2009, 2:00 p.m.

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Wake book trailer now on my site

It's been up on YouTube and the Penguin Canada site for a while, but my buddy Marcel Gagné gave me some extra server space to host more multimedia files on Carolyn and my websites, and so I've now got a hi-res version of the book trailer for Wake on my own website. Have a look. (It's just 70 seconds long, and is only a 7 megabyte file.)
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One appointment left on my first Saturday at CLS

Want a free critique of your manuscript -- and happen to be in Saskatoon?

My first three critiquing days are all booked solid now, except for one appointment on Saturday, June 6 -- I need someone to take the 3:00 p.m. slot for a critique (I don't want to fall behind schedule my first week!).

Normally, I require manuscripts (up to 5,000 words in RTF or Word DOC) to be submitted 72 hours in advance, but if you grab this appointment, as long as I have the manuscript by 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, June 5, you're fine. Any takers?

More info on my residency is here.
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May 2009: An Amazing Month!

What a month this has been!

For all of May -- starting Friday, May 1 -- I was "Author of the Month" at McNally Robinson, Canada's second-largest bookstore chain.

Independently, both The Toronto Star (on Saturday, May 2) and The Globe and Mail (on Monday, May 4) had me as answers to clues in their crossword puzzles this month.

On Saturday, May 2, I got to go to a press preview of the new Star Trek movie -- and loved it.

On Wednesday, May 6, I gave an invited talk at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Penn about the science behind my novel Wake.

On Friday, May 8, ABC picked up the TV series Flash Forward, based on my novel of the same name, for 13 episodes, to air starting this fall.

On Thursday, May 14, the Winnipeg Free Press, the largest-circulation newspaper in Manitoba, devoted the entire front of its Entertainment section to a profile of me.

The following week, Wake hit #1 on the Hardcover Fiction bestsellers list in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Also that week, the June 2009 edition of Communications of the ACM, the glossy magazine of the largest educational and scientific computing society, devoted its last page to me and Wake.

On Wednesday, May 20, the Waterloo Region Record, a major Canadian daily newspaper, ran a profile of me on Page 1 of the Front section.

On Monday, May 25, I gave the closing keynote address at the annual meeting of the Canadian Science Writers' Association.

On Wednesday, May 27, I gave a talk about the science behind Wake at Google Waterloo -- with the talk video-conferenced to all Google facilities worldwide.

And on Friday, May 29, Calculating God won the Audio Publishers Association's Audie Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Audiobook of the Year.

And much more! See all of my May 2009 blog entries here.

May 2009 "Author of the Month" Robert J. Sawyer at the McNally Robinson store in Toronto; this photo by Carolyn Clink also ran in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 14, 2009.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sawyer talks about the web waking up at Google

On Wednesday, May 27, 2009, Hugo Award-winning science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer spoke at Google Waterloo, in a talk that was broadcast to Google facilities worldwide, about the science behind the World Wide Web gaining consciousness -- the theme of his new novel Wake. (Wake is set in Waterloo.)

You can listen to Rob's talk right here; he's introduced by Google's Alex Coman.

It was an amazing day. In addition to giving his talk, Rob, Hugo Award-nominated SF writer Paddy Forde, and science-fiction poet Carolyn Clink were given a great tour of new Google products, had one of those famous Google lunches, and participated in a fascinating roundtable discussion about the Web and sentience.

Rob has also been a guest at the Googleplex -- Google's worldwide headquarters -- twice: last month, when he was on book tour for Wake, and in August 2006, where he led a brainstorming session about the web gaining consciousness as part of the first-ever Science Foo Camp. That's Stewart Brand of the Long Now Foundation, Google co-founder Larry Page, and SF writer Greg Bear at that session below:

More about Wake
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Sawyer addresses Canadian Science Writers' Association

On Monday, May 25, 2009, Robert J. Sawyer gave the closing keynote address at the annual meeting of the Canadian Science Writers' Association (Canada's professional organization of science journalists), which this year was held in Sudbury, Ontario.

Rob's 52-minute talk to the CSWA (including Q&A session) is now available right here. (Matthew Dalzell of the Canadian Light Source introduces Rob.)
An excerpt: "In fact, those of us who are writing science fiction are by and large enormously well-versed in science, enormously careful about science, and I think serve an enormously important societal role in the public discourse about science." -- Robert J. Sawyer

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Calculating God wins the Audie Award!

My friend Alethea Kontis is in New York City at the Audie Awards and reports that Calculating God by one Robert J. Sawyer just won the 2009 Audie Award from the Audio Publishers Association for best Science Fiction or Fantasy Audio Book of the Year!

I'm super-proud of the team at that produced the audio version as an original production for their Audio Frontiers series, including narrator Jonathan Davis.

(I had thought about going down to NYC for the Audies and BookExpo America, but just couldn't get away, what with moving to Saskatoon for two months this Monday morning.)

Still: yahoo! The full list of all winners in all categories is here.

You can get the production of Calculating God right here.

The full list of nominees was:
Calculating God, by Robert J. Sawyer, Narrated by Jonathan Davis, Audible, Inc.

Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke, Narrated by Eric Michael Summerer, Audible, Inc.

Ghost Radio, by Leopoldo Gout, Narrated by Pedro Pascal, HarperAudio

Skybreaker, by Kenneth Oppel, Narrated by David Kelly, Full Cast Audio

Sunrise Alley, by Catherine Asaro, Narrated by Hillary Huber, Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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What's green and white and red all over? The U of S alumni magazine!

The University of Saskatchewan's alumni magazine is called Green & White, and the Spring 2009 issue has a nice little piece about my stint (which begins this Monday!) as Writer-in-Residence at the Canadian Light Source. It says:
Taking Up Residence

Award winning Canadian science-fiction writer, Robert J. Sawyer, will call the Canadian Light Source synchrotron (CLS) home for the summer. Sawyer states he will be immersed into the life of the CLS to get the “sensory experience of how scientists argue, eat lunch, their social activities ... and you can’t get that on the VIP tour.” Sawyer will spend time working on his own projects, including his next book Wonder (the third book in the WWW trilogy) and an episode for the first season of a TV show based on his novel Flash Forward to be aired on ABC. About half of his time will be dedicated to mentoring other writers on a first come first served basis.
The article is online here and the whole magazine is available for free as a PDF here (I'm on page 8). Kudos to the magazine for a fine bit of close-cropping on the photo of me that they ran, by the way:

(The Canadian Light Source is located on the University of Saskatchewan's campus.)

Many thanks to my friend Ian Wasserman for drawing this article to my attention.
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Wake audio book an Editors' Pick

I'm pleased to see that the audiobook of Wake is one of's Best (So Far!) of 2009 Editors' Picks -- one of 19 audidiobook titles -- and the only science-fiction one! -- to be so honored.

You can get all my audiobooks here.
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Karen Gillan new companion for Doctor Who

Readers of my fiction occasionally think they can tease out details about my private life from what I write. One such surmise I hear periodically is that I must have a thing for red-headed women (they cite Lenore from Rollback and Tess from End of an Era).

I neither confirm nor deny this, but instead simply post the first official photo of the new companion for the Doctor, and say, "Yowza!"
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Wake has "a most satisfying ending"

MostlyFiction Book Reviews has posted a terrific review of Wake; the review is by Ann Wilkes, and says, in part:
Sawyer's treatment of the awakening of a consciousness from a man-made construct (in this case the web) coupled with the awe and wonder of a blind person's journey to sight is brilliant.
And the review ends thus:
Without revealing the ending, I have to say it had one. So many authors of multi-volume works don't bother tying up enough of the loose ends to keep the reader satisfied at the end of any but the last volume. When we have to wait at least a year for the next installment, I think the author owes us one. Sawyer came through with a most satisfying ending -- not even rushed. Wake also ends with a perfect last line. But no peeking!
You can read the full review right here (and read an interview Ann Wilkes did with me here).

More about Wake.

Other reviews of Wake

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lovely review of my Neanderthal books

The business blog Knights on the Road has just posted a very nice review of all three volumes of my Neanderthal Parallax trilogy (Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids).

You can read the review, by Reg Nordman, here.

Healthy day!
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

RJS on the Dr. Howard Gluss Show

Robert J. Sawyer appeared on the Dr. Howard Gluss Radio Show on May 12, 2009, talking about consciousness, computers, his new novel Wake, and his older novel Flash Forward.

The interview is now available online as a two-part podcast:

Part 1 (11 minutes 30 seconds)

(when the break begins at the 11:30 mark, the rest of the MP3 is ads -- time to swtich to part two at the link below)

Part 2 (5 minutes 30 seconds)

Howard Gluss, Ph.D., is a psychologist. His show originates in Los Angeles.
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Richard Curtis on the Kindle and the blind

As always, Richard Curtis -- a leading literary agent -- has words of measured wisdom on the furor over the disabling of text-to-speech on the Amazon Kindle. You can read what Richard has to say on this topic in his blog at E-Reads.

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CTV buys Canadian rights to Flash Forward

The Globe and Mail is reporting that CTV, Canada's largest commercial television network, has bought Canadian rights to Flash Forward, the ABC TV series based on the novel of the same name by Robert J. Sawyer.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nice fan mail from the Pacific Northwest

Got a nice letter today from a person in the Pacific Northwest whose father, blind since birth, gained sight in adulthood after a cataract operation. The letter made my day; it said in part:
Wake has a poignant scene where Caitlin is "seeing" for the first time. I related to that scene so strongly because of my father's first month of vision. Learning what a carrot was by LOOKING not feeling. Learning that a carrot is ORANGE and that Orange looks like this ...

Your writing of that scene and many others as they relate to blindness was so spot on that I was compelled to write to you and ask where you got your research. My parents use JAWS software and many other gadgets you mention. Thank you for being true and sensitive in your storyline.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Star Trek credits not newbie friendly

Despite all the attempts to make the new Star Trek movie as friendly as possible for people unfamiliar with the franchise to follow, the ending credits actually assume a lot of Star Trek knowledge if you want to figure out who played whom.

Winona Ryder is credited as playing "Amanda Grayson," a name never heard in the film (and a last name that's a real piece of trivia, only uttered a single time, in the animated Star Trek). Ben Cross is credited with playing "Sarek," a name never heard in the film. Jennifer Morrison is credited with playing "Winona Kirk," a character whose first name is never heard in the film (but comes from the Star Trek novels). Simon Pegg is credited as playing "Scotty," a nickname heard only obliquely in the film. And Karl Urban is credited as playing "Bones," a nickname only heard in passing near the end of the film.

Easier-to-follow credits would have called the characters "Spock's Mother," "Spock's Father," "Kirk's Mother," "Scott" (or "Montgomery Scott," since the full name is spoken by the older Spock in the film), and "McCoy" (or "Leonard McCoy," since the character does introduce himself by his full name).

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Upcoming SF conventions with RJS

  • 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

  • Guest of Honour
    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

  • Guest of Honor
    Capricon 30
    Wheeling (Chicago), Illinois
    February 11-14 (four days), 2010

  • Program Participant
    Ad Astra
    Toronto, Ontario
    March 27-29, 2010

  • Guest of Honor
    OSFest 3
    Omaha, Nebraska
    July 23-25, 2010
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sawyer in Sudbury tomorrow

Tomorrow -- Monday, May 25, 2009 -- I'm off to Sudbury, Ontario, to give the closing keynote address at the Canadian Science Writers Association's annual meeting, and am also doing a free public reading and signing for Wake at the Chapters superstore, 1425 Kingsway Road, Sudbury, at 7:00 p.m. If we're lucky, Ponter Boddit will drop in!

(I'm very fond of Sudbury. Not only is my Hugo Award-winning Hominids set there, but I received an honorary doctorate a couple of years ago from Sudbury's Laurentian University.)

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Robert J. Sawyer tribute zine

Alan White produced the wonderful tribute fanzine Flashing Forward with Robert J. Sawyer as part of promoting the terrific SF convention Xanadu Las Vegas at which I was author Guest of Honor last month. You can download the amazing zine as a PDF file right here. Needless to say, I'm incredibly flattered.
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Is Robert J. Sawyer a part of Canadian literature?

I was asked that question ten years ago by a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English at the University of Western Ontario, who was preparing a paper on the relationship between Canadian SF and Canadian Literature. By Canadian literature, he said he meant:
  • the tradition of Canlit and its canon, from Wacousta and Roughing it in the Bush through the Confederation Poets, Frederick Philip Grove, Hugh MacLennan, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, and more recent writers such as Nino Ricci, Anne Michaels, etc.;

  • the literary institutions that support that tradition (publishers, the Canada Council for the Arts, literary journals, Canadian Literature scholarly journals, university English departments and high school Canlit courses, etc.); and

  • the contemporary [Canlit] writing community
The academic asked within that definition of Canadian Literature:
  • How I saw my relationship to Canadian Literature?

  • Whether I was influenced by Canadian Literature?

  • Whether I saw myself as writing in the tradition of Canlit or in the tradition of SF?
The academic clearly had an agenda back then (we SF writers were not part of "real" Canadian literature, he felt). Here's the response I sent him in May 1999; I hope my answers made him think. (Of course, I could say even more today.)

I am a Canadian writer, born in Ottawa, raised in suburban Toronto, educated entirely at Canadian institutions, and currently residing in Thornhill, Ontario. Being part of Canadian literature is, I firmly believe, my birthright.

That said, my chosen art form — science fiction — is one in which there is very little domestic Canadian publishing. In English, there simply is no author who has published twelve science-fiction novels in Canada (the number I have placed with major U.S. publishers); it would be impossible for me to have published the books I have by staying with domestic publishing houses. (I have, however, had five-figure-per-novel advances offered me by Canadian publishers, including Random House Canada and HarperCollins Canada, who wanted to add me to their domestically published Canadian-fiction lists.)

Of course, I have studied Canadian literature (including a full-year course in this topic taught by Dr. Margaret Morris at Ryerson in 1979-80; it's perhaps noteworthy that it was in this class that I first met Tanya Huff, a major Canadian fantasy writer, who has been a close friend ever since), and I am familiar with what you term "the canon" (indeed, I used an epigram from Margaret Laurence's The Diviners as a chapter head in my novel End of an Era) — although I reject the notion of there being a canon of Canlit other than the totality of ambitious written works in all fields and genres produced by Canadian authors.

I'm lucky enough to have had considerable success outside of Canada's borders, but if one were to delete all of that from my curriculum vitae, I think you'd find what's left is a resume indistinguishable from that of a reasonably successful Canlit writer.

My work has been anthologized alongside that of Margaret Atwood, Katherine Govier, Douglas Fetherling, Timothy Findley, Geoffrey Ursell, Lesley Choyce, and W.P. Kinsella in the anthology Ark of Ice (Pottersfield Press), and as an anthologist, I have published work by Robertson Davies (in Crossing the Line).

Canadian authors I consider particularly influential on my own work include Davies, Martha Ostenso, Susannah Moodie, Stephen Leacock, and Marie-Claire Blais, as well as contemporary Canadian novelists Terence M. Green, Eric Wright, and Carol Shields [and I went on to write the introduction for the most recent edition of Frederick Philip Grove's Consider Her Ways, published by Insomniac Press].

I have studied creative writing at university (a full year course, again with Tanya Huff as a fellow student, under Marianne Brandis at Ryerson, 1981-82); and, in turn, I now teach creative writing from time to time at both Ryerson and the University of Toronto (indeed, this summer I am teaching at the University of Toronto's Taddle Creek Writers' Workshop alongside Barry Callaghan, Austin Clarke, Douglas Fetherling, and M.T. Kelly).

I speak occasionally to Ontario high-school English classes through The Writers' Union of Canada's "Writers in the Schools" program, and served (alongside Katherine Govier, Susan Musgrave, Rick Salutin, Daniel Poliquin, and Lorna Crozier) as a writer-in-electronic residence through the Writers' Development Trust's "Wired Writers" program (and have also been writer-in-residence for Maclean's Online, and am currently hosting the "Writers' Studio" on [now].

My first fiction publication was in a Canadian literary journal (White Wall Review, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, 1980), and I subsequently served as co-editor of that journal (1982); I have also been a contest judge for Prairie Fire, and I have a story of my own coming up in Canadian Fiction Magazine.

In addition, my work is widely taught in Canadian post-secondary institutions (including The Terminal Experiment at the University of Toronto [English department], York University [Multidisciplinary Studies department], and the University of Waterloo [Philosophy department]); Illegal Alien (in a survey of Canadian novels at Humber College); Frameshift (at Ryerson Polytechnic University); and Starplex (at Dalhousie University, in the course Modern Canadian Literature, English 4357R, taught by Patricia Monk, Ph.D.). The full list of required texts in Dr. Monk's course is:
  • Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale,
  • Robertson Davies's Fifth Business,
  • Margaret Laurence's The Fire-Dwellers,
  • Hugh MacLennan's The Watch That Ends the Night,
  • Robert J. Sawyer's Starplex,
  • Sheila Watson's The Double Hook, and
  • Jack David and Robert Lecker's anthologies
    Canadian Poetry Volumes 1 and 2.
I have read at the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors (and am currently a consultant to Harbourfront both on cultural components of the 2008 Toronto Olympics bid and on the future of literary programs at Harbourfront), at the Winnipeg Writers Festival, and at the National Library of Canada (plus all the usual Toronto-area literary venues, such as the Idler Pub, the Rivoli Café, and the Hart House Library at the University of Toronto).

I am a past member of the Canadian Authors Association, and served as keynote speaker at their 76th Annual Meeting in 1997; I am a current member of The Writers' Union of Canada (and served on its membership committee in 1996-97). The Richmond Hill (Ontario) public-library board currently has an application before the Canada Council for the Arts to have me be their writer-in-residence in 2000; they sought me out for this position, rather than the other way around [and in March 2000, the Canada Council chose to fund my residency as one of only five library residencies they were underwriting for 2000].

I am profiled in The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature and Canadian Who's Who, have been profiled in Books in Canada magazine, and a caricature of me (as part of a series of caricatures of distinguished Canadian authors) appeared as the cover illustration on the May 1993 issue of Quill & Quire (a publication that, incidentally, has awarded my work three starred reviews, denoting books of exceptional merit). I was interviewed repeatedly by Peter Gzowski on CBC Radio's Morningside and have appeared repeatedly on TVOntario's literary books program Imprint.

The Globe and Mail called my novel Illegal Alien "the best Canadian mystery of 1997" [review published in the 13 December 1997 edition] and The Ottawa Citizen put my novel Factoring Humanity on their list of 1998's top nine works of fiction (novels or short story collections, by authors of any nationality) [list published in the 29 November 1998 edition].

I have co-edited three anthologies for small Canadian literary presses (Tesseracts 6, co-edited with Carolyn Clink for The Books Collective, Edmonton [1997]; Crossing the Line, co-edited with David Skene-Melvin for Pottersfield Press, Nova Scotia [1998]; and Over the Edge, co-edited with Peter Sellers also for Pottersfield [in press]).

And I have made a point of supporting small literary magazines: I made a special arrangement with the U.S. editor who had commissioned my story "Just Like Old Times" to have it first appear in On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of Speculative Writing, Summer 1993 edition; that story went on to win both the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award and the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award ("the Aurora"). In addition, I wrote a column for three years for On Spec. I've also been published in TransVersions, a small-press magazine published at the time in British Columbia [it's now published in Toronto], and that story went on to be an Aurora finalist.

As a reviewer, I've contributed to The Canadian Book Review Annual, The Globe and Mail, and The Ottawa Citizen. I'm also a contributor to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Books in Canada, and Canadian Author & Bookman, Quill & Quire, and Aloud (the newsletter of the Harbourfront Reading Series), and I am quoted in The Dictionary of Canadian Quotations, edited by John Robert Colombo.

I'm cognizant of those within the Canlit establishment who pooh-pooh writers who are enjoying commercial success, darkly hinting that although the books may sell well in stores, they aren't "grantworthy." Well, it is true that my books do sell well in stores, and it is true that I'm lucky enough not to require government subsidies in order to pursue my art, but to silence these critics I nonetheless did apply in 1993 for an Ontario Arts Council grant, specifically to demonstrate that there was nothing inherently ungrantworthy about my work; Books in Canada magazine sponsored my application. I received the grant I applied for, and the novel produced under that grant — The Terminal Experiment  — went on to win the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award for Best Novel of the Year, to win the Aurora Award, and to be a finalist for the Hugo Award; the book has been translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, and Spanish.

All the above is a preamble to responding directly to your question, "Do you see yourself as writing in the tradition of Canlit or in the tradition of SF?" It's a false dichotomy in my view; my work belongs squarely in both camps, and, as I believe the foregoing demonstrates, has been embraced by both. I'll end with a couple of questions of my own: have I ever thought about giving up science fiction? Yes, repeatedly — because of the sales limitations, the stigma associated with the genre, the desire to reach a wider audience, and the constraints sometimes imposed by the conventions of the genre. Have I ever thought about giving up being a Canadian writer, exploring Canadian characters, themes, and settings? Never.

Postscript: In March 2008, Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal, named Robert J. Sawyer one of the "The CanLit 30: The most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing." Only two other authors made the thirty-name list: Margaret Atwood and Douglas Coupland.

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And speaking of libraries ...

... just got a nice fan letter from a library patron in Salt Lake City:
Let me preface my praise with the fact that I have read all your works. I have just finished your latest book Wake. (no more than 8 min. ago) I found it wonderfully refreshing and deeply interesting. You are an artist. I thank you for continued infusion of literary excellence into my local library.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Can't wait for the next two in the series.
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North Perth Public Library blog on my Waterloo event

My event in Waterloo for Wake on Thursday was terrific (and my friend Marcel Gagné saved the day by getting the sound system working with literally seconds to spare).

And now the North Perth Public Library has put an entry about my event in their blog. Check it out.
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New Facebook profile picture

Science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer at work.

That's the Sixteen-12 Collectibles' Thunderbird 1 at the left, a DinoStoreus Triceratops skull in front of that, and the Master Replicas' 33-inch U.S.S. Enterprise at right, and beneath the Enterprise that's X-Plus's Robby the Robot.

I made this my new Facebook profile picture earlier this week. Photo by Carolyn Clink.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

"Random Musings" blogger reviews Wake

And very nicely, too, I might add. Check it out!
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This is so cool. Craig Rintoul of Bookbits took a 90-second audio clip out of the interview he recently did with me about Wake and produced a computer-animated version of me giving the pitch for the novel. You have to see this! (And pay attention to the things in the background!)

(And Craig's full interview with me -- with neat graphics, but not animated is here.)
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Wake in major computing publication

I worked very hard to come up with a plausible scenario for the World Wide Web gaining consciousness for my novel WWW: Wake, and I'm thrilled to have a chance to share some of that background with the members of the Association for Computer Machinery, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society. The last page of the June 2009 issue of ACM's glossy monthly magazine Communications of the ACM is a fanciful piece by me entitled Webmind Says Hello that outlines some of the notions I was playing with in my novel.

If you're one of the 83,000 members of that organization -- or go to just about any university (almost all subscribe to CACM), you can read my piece. I'm quite proud of it, and also proud of the other professionals who have taken notice of the work I've put into this novel, such as the Center for Congitive Neuroscience at Penn, which had me in to give a talk earlier this month, or Google Waterloo, which is having me in to give a talk next week.

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Wake #1 Winnipeg Bestseller!

McNally Robinson, the bookstore chain based in Winnipeg (the capital city of the province of Manitoba), has just released its bestsllers list for the week of May 17, 2009, and Wake by Robert J. Sawyer is #1 in hardcover fiction. Woohoo!

The Winnipeg Free Press, the major daily newspaper in Winnipeg, uses the McNally Robinson list as their own bestsellers' list, so I'll be #1 on that list this weekend, too. W00t!

Of course, I owe all this to (a) being McNally Robinson's "Author of the Month" chainwide for May; (b) the wonderful event I had at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg six days ago; (c) all the good folks who bought my book from the McNally Robinson dealers' table at Keycon, Winnipeg's SF convention, last weekend; (d) the wonderful profile of me on the front page of the Free Press's Entertainment section last Thursday; and (e) my appearance on CBC Radio in Winnipeg. In other words, to answer the question about whether book tours and promotion are actually worth doing, see above. :)

(Oh, and speaking of #1, Wake previously hit #1 on the Technothrillers bestseller list. Yay!)

Since the list as shown above is a graphic, here it is in text, so search engines can find it:

For the Week of May 17th (2009)
Titles in Green Manitoba Author


1. Wake
Robert J. Sawyer. Science Fiction.

2. Assegai
Wilbur Smith. Fiction.

3. Stripmalling.
Jon Paul Fiorentino. Fiction.

4. The Gargoyle.
Andrew Davidson. Fiction.

5. Wicked Prey.
John Sandford. Fiction.

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World's Biggest Bookstore interviews Rob

Jessica Strider, a bookseller at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, recently interviewed Robert J. Sawyer for her blog Sci-Fi Fan Letter. You can read the whole interview right here.

Among the questions and answers:
What was the hardest scene for you to write?

I've written lots of gut-wrenching scenes over the years, and some of those have been very difficult to write emotionally, but the hardest scenes I've ever had to write creatively are in Wake: much of the novel is told from a first person point of view by the consciousness that is waking up in the background of the World Wide Web. Making those scenes plausible and captivating was very difficult to do. I ended up using a lot of interesting linguistic tricks to pull it off, and I was delighted when my brother-in-law, David Livingstone Clink, who is a very accomplished poet, said that they read like poetry.
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Federations interview

John Joseph Adams recently interviewed me about my story "The Shoulders of Giants," which appears in his just-released anthology Federations. Among the things I say:
Those who’ve read my recent novels have seen that I don’t have much interest in antagonists; I think the idea that all fiction is fundamentally about conflict, and you need a good guy and a bad guy is simply not true; my latest novel Rollback has no antagonist, for instance, and I don’t really think there’s one in my upcoming Wake, either. Well, I wrote “The Shoulders of Giants” in 1999, when I was experimenting with making exciting fiction that only had good guys in it; that was a challenge, but I like to think I pulled it off.
You can read the whole interview right here.

Federations is available in print everywhere, and Fictionwise just released it as a multi-format ebook -- woohoo!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Holy cow! I'm on the front page of The Record!

The problem with reading newspaper articles online is that you miss seeing the layout of the article in the actual printed paper. To my astonishment and delight, it turns out that the article about me and my novel Wake in today's Waterloo Region Record, a major Canadian daily newspaper, is on THE FRONT PAGE!

The article begins on A1, and is continued on A2. You can read the full text right here, and my commentary about the article here.

Click images for larger versions
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Waterloo Setting a "No-Brainer"

That's the headline for the article about me, my novel Wake, and why it's set in Waterloo, Ontario, that appears in today's edition of The Waterloo Region Record, the major daily newspaper serviing the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario.

And, indeed, it really was a no-brainer: people would accuse me of making up a Canadian city that was home to the world's top physics think tank (Perimeter Institute), a place that Stephen Hawking is coming to visit; that is home to the makers of the one device the President of the United States has said he can't live without (Research in Motion, who make the BlackBerry); that has one of the world's leading facilities for research into quantum computing (the Institute for Quantum Computing); that has a major Google facility, that has a world-class math department (at the University of Waterloo); that has a major public-policy think tank, and is surrounded by Mennonites who reject high technology. I literally could not have made this place up -- but it really exists, in all its myriad wonder, just a hour west of where I live now, and it was my home in the summer of 1980.

You can read the whole article (by Brent Davis) right here.

And don't forget to come see me in Waterloo tomorrow night!

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The Globe and Mail already loves Flash Forward

The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper has a list today by TV critic John Doyle of "10 shows I adore already," his picks for the new TV season. Flash Forward, based on my novel of the same name, is on the list. Check it out.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One thousand autographs!

Actually, 1,050 -- the number of autographs I recently finished signing for The Easton Press, which is producing a signed, numbered leather-bound limited edition of Wake.

The edition is limited to 900 copies; the extra sheets were in case any got damaged during binding. Whew!
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Busy, busy, busy

Over the weekend, I was in Winnipeg for an appearance at McNally Robinson (which totally rocked) and Keycon (ditto). Did interviews there for the local CBC radio station and for National Geographic Online.

Today, I was off to Humber College in Toronto to speak to Cynthia Good's class in the Creative Book Publishing Program there. Also, did a lengthy interview for the Kitchener-Waterloo Record (major Canadian daily newspaper -- it'll be in tomorrow's (Wednesday's) edition.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Waterloo, where I've got four media interviews lined up (two TV, two radio), to promote Wake and my Thursday evening event there, plus will try to bang out a guest editorial for On Spec magazine on my netbook computer while Carolyn does the driving.

Plus tons of other stuff; I'm really looking forward to getting away to Saskatoon for a couple of months!
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National Geographic Online interviews RJS

In a nice little piece about using lasers to communicate with submarines right here.
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Now booking writer-in-residence appointments in Saskatoon

They're going fast! I'm only doing 30 or so one-on-one hour-long consultations while I'm writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon in June and July, and I've just booked the first six appointments. If you want one -- absolutely free! -- email me at

I'll read up to 5,000 words of manuscript (which you need to submit a minimum of 72 hours in advance of your appointment as a Word DOC (not .DOCX) or RTF file, and I'll spend an hour going over it with you in person. All appointments must be face-to-face, and they must take place at the Canadian Light Source. I'm offering daytime and evening appointments on weekdays and weekend appointments during the day.

(If you don't have a manuscript and just want an hour-long chat with me to ask questions, that's cool, too.)

More about my residency is here.
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Hey, Waterloo, Wake Up! :)

My new novel Wake is set in Waterloo, Ontario -- Canada's computing and high-tech capital -- and to celebrate that, I'm doing a reading and Q&A at The Waterloo Entertainment Centre on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $10 (to defray facilities rental) or free if you buy a copy of Wake from Words Worth Books in Waterloo either in advance of the event or at the beginning of the event. It'll be a blast -- come on out! More info is here.

Pictured: the apartment building at 11 Austin Drive in Waterloo that Carolyn and I lived in back in the summer of 1980; ours was the basement unit to the right of the front door, behind the tree.
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Gliksins ate Neanderthals

Fascinating article about, among other things, Homo sapiens dining on Homo neanderthalensis in Britain's Daily Mail.

Of course, I said we were the cause of the Neanderthals demise in my novel Hominids and its sequels. :)
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Flash Forward timeslot: Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern

So says TV By The Numbers, which has the whole ABC fall schedule, as announced yesterday, here.


8:00 p.m.: “Flash Forward”

9:00 p.m.: “Grey’s Anatomy”

10:00 p.m.: “Private Practice”

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Monday, May 18, 2009

SF Site reviews Wake

SF Site is the wonderful web site run by Rodger Turner. It's just posted a review of my novel WWW: Wake as the lead review for their Mid-May 2009 issue; the reviewer is Michael M. Jones, and it's a particularly gratifying review because, praise aside, Jones clearly gets the book. :)

The whole review is here.

Some excerpts:
Now, the idea of a digital intelligence forming online is not a new one, by any means. But I daresay most of the people tackling such a concept automatically assumed, as I always did, that such a being would not only have access to the shared data of the Internet, but the conceptual groundings needed to understand it. And that's where Robert J. Sawyer turns this into such a fascinating, satisfying piece. In a deliberate parallel to the story of Helen Keller, he tackles the need for building a common base of understanding, before unleashing an education creation upon the Web's vast storehouse of knowledge.

More than that, Sawyer is an author who's not afraid to make his readers think. The topics invoked in this book cover a wide range, from math to theories of intelligence, from what it's like to be blind, to cutting edge technology. He incorporates the myriad resources available online, including Livejournal, Wikipedia, Google, Project Gutenberg, WordNet, and perhaps the most interesting site of all, Cyc, a real site aimed at codifying knowledge so that anyone, including emerging artificial intelligences, might understand.

He ties in Internet topography and offbeat musicians, primate signing and Chinese hackers, and creates a wholly believable set of circumstances spinning out of a world we can as good as reach out to touch. There's quite a lot to consider, and Sawyer's good at making it accessible to the average reader.

Sawyer has delivered another excellent tale.
More about Wake
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Two nice fan letters about Wake just received

One of them says:
I finished reading Wake and I wanted to tell you that your book and your ending are superb. I was wondering (without knowing it) as I read the book how you would end it, how it could be "self-contained" yet leave us at a place ready for the middle W in the trilogy. You pulled it off as if it were easy! Congratulations. I thoroughly enjoyed Wake including the ending and am eager to read the next book.

And the other says:
01001000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01010010 01101111 01100010 00101100 00001101 00001010 01011001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101110 01100101 01110111 00100000 00100000 01100010 01101111 01101111 01101011 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100010 01100101 01100001 01110101 01110100 01101001 01100110 01110101 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01110111 01110010 01101001 01110100 01110100 01100101 01101110 00101110 00100000 01001001 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101011 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01100001 01110010 01110100 00100001 00001101 00001010 01011001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100110 01110010 01101001 01100101 01101110 01100100 00101100 00001101 00001010 00101101 00101101 01001100 01100101 01110011

I have the coolest fans ... ;)
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sacramento Book Review loves Wake

Sacramento Book Review reviews Wake by Robert J. Sawyer right here, saying in part:
From an author who has written many books and has won just about every award a science fiction author can comes one of the most original and fascinating novels to be published in a long time. It’s one of those books that has just as much right to be on a fiction shelf with other literature classics.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bookbits creates a Wake book trailer

Craig Rintoul of Bookbits came by yesterday and recorded an audio interview with me about Wake, which he's now whipped into a nifty book trailer for the novel. You can watch it on YouTube. Many thanks, Craig! (Runtime: 6 minutes.)

(Penguin Canada's trailer -- of a very different sort -- for Wake is also on YouTube; it runs 70 seconds.)
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Major RJS profile in today's Winnipeg Free Press

Morley Walker, the long-time books editor of The Winnipeg Free Press, has a major, lengthy profile of Robert J. Sawyer on page 1 of today's (Thursday, May 14, 2009) Entertainment section.

(The Free Press, a major Canadian daily newspaper, is the largest-circulation paper in Manitoba.)

You can read it online right here.

An excerpt:
Robert J. Sawyer [is] Canada's most successful science-fiction author. In the last decade, as his own career has exploded, Sawyer has become one of Canada's go-to guys for science explanations and prognostications.

As the author of novels that synthesize and dramatize the latest scientific thinking, he is often called Canada's answer to Michael Crichton, the late American author of such books as Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain.

"I like that analogy, except for one thing," Sawyer says. "Crichton had a pessimistic view of science and technology. I am very pro-science."

Winnipeg novelist David Annandale praises Sawyer for creating engaging characters and setting them in fast-paced narrative that contains accessible scientific speculation.

"He has, I think, one of these enthusiasms for science that is genuinely joyful," says Annandale, who teaches English and film at the University of Manitoba.

"And this translates into a drive to pass on to the reader a similar passion."
The article ends with me saying: "I love my job. In the best atheist sense of the word, I feel blessed."

And then there's the sidebar, which says:
Close Encounters of the Sawyer Kind

Robert J. Sawyer was born April 29, 1960, in Ottawa. Raised in Toronto, he resides in Mississauga with his wife, poet Carolyn Clink.

In the last 20 years, he has sold 20 science-fiction novels to U.S. publishers, and his books have been translated into 14 languages.

He is one of only seven writers in history -- and the only Canadian -- to win all three of the world's top science-fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo (in 2003 for Hominids), the Nebula (in 1996 for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (in 2006 for Wake).

He has also won a record 10 Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (Auroras), as well as an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada.

He's also won the top science-fiction awards in China, France, Japan and Spain; in total he has received 41 national and international awards for his writing.

In 2008 was named one of the "30 most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing" by Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal.

He is "by any reckoning, among the most successful Canadian authors ever," according to Maclean's.

He has made almost 500 radio and TV appearances, including Canada AM, NPR's Science Friday, and Rivera Live with Geraldo Rivera.

His award-winning website,
, was the world's first science-fiction author website and has been called "the best author's page on the Internet."

ABC-TV has just purchased 13 episodes of a new sci-fi series called Flash Forward, based on Sawyer's 1999 novel. It stars Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) and John Cho (Star Trek).

May 2009 "Author of the Month" Robert J. Sawyer at the McNally Robinson store in Toronto; this photo by Carolyn Clink ran in the Winnipeg Free Press on May 14, 2009.

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Flash Forward promo from Lost season finale

... is on YouTube alreday. It's awesome. Check it out! (Click the "HQ" in the lower right to see it in high quality.)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Asimov's loves DiChario

In the July issue of Asimov's Science Fiction, Paul Di Filippo gives a rave review to Nick DiChario's Valley of Day-Glo, which was published under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. The review says, in part:
Nick DiChario has written a new bonkers novel, Valley of Day-Glo (Robert J. Sawyer Books, trade paper, $15.95, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-88995-415-1), which channels the proud and seminal shades of Robert Sheckley and George Alec Effinger into a vivid and unique tale of some outrageous and bizarre post-apocalypse doings involving a handful of hapless survivors. DiChario's dry wit and antic imagination propels this weird odyssey at an unflagging pace, and carries the reader effortlessly along.

You can read the whole review right here.
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Hardcore Nerdity interviews Rob

Adrienne Kress, Robert J. Sawyer, Lesley Livingston
Yes, my job is way better than your job  ... ;)

Lesley Livingston of the wonderful website Hardcore Nerdity interviewed me just before the start of my Toronto book launch for Wake on Thursday, April 30, 2009 -- and now our conversation is online as a podcast right here (runtime: 15 minutes, 27 seconds).

Lesley, by the way, is an author in her own right; her new novel is the great YA fantasy Wondrous Strange.
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Waterloo: The Centre of the Universe

A posting to the blog of Waterloo's Words Worth Books

I've long known that Waterloo was a special place. I lived there in the summer of 1980 -- has it really been almost 30 years? -- and was immediately aware of how much intellectual excitement there was in your city. Of course, the fact that there were two universities helped a lot.

Still, even I, a science-fiction writer, didn't predict a future in which one of the world's top high-tech companies (Research in Motion), or the world's leading physics think-tank (The Perimeter Institute), or one of the planet's top quantum-computing facilities (Institute for Quantum Computing) would all soon be there.

But now, as a science-fiction writer, I can think of no better place to set a novel than Waterloo, and that's precisely where my new book Wake is set.

Wake is the story of Caitlin Decter, a 15-year-old math genius whose father works on quantum gravity at the Perimeter Institute. It's the first volume of a trilogy; I've already finished the second book, Watch, and in it some CSIS agents tell Dr. Decter not to leave town, to which he replies: "Where would I go? This is the centre of the universe."

It certainly is in a very real sense for me. In fact, I got some of the biggest news I ever had while I was in Waterloo last Friday: I'd come there to help my friend Marcel Gagné celebrate his birthday by going to see the (way cool) new Star Trek movie with him, and after, back at his place, I checked my email, and received the wonderful news that ABC -- the most-watched television network in the United States -- had just ordered 13 episodes of a TV series based on my novel Flash Forward. As my character Caitlin would say, "Sweet!"

I spend a lot of time in Waterloo (and not just because my novel Hominids was the Waterloo Region "One Book, One Community" choice a couple of years ago), and I will be back again next week, on Thursday, May 21, doing a reading and talk at the Waterloo Entertainment Centre, 24 King Street North, starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free if you buy Wake at the start of the event or in advance from Words Worth Books; otherwise, admission is $10 to defray facilities rental. Please came out and say hello!

"Wildly thought-provoking. The thematic diversity — and profundity — makes Wake one of Sawyer's strongest works to date." —Publishers Weekly (starred review, denoting a book of exceptional merit)

"Sawyer's erudition, eclecticism, and masterly storytelling make Wake a choice selection." —Library Journal

"Clashes between personalities and ideologies fuel Wake's plot, but they're not what the book is about. It's about how cool science is. Sawyer has won himself an international readership by reinvigorating the traditions of hard science fiction, following the path of such writers as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein in his bold speculations from pure science." —National Post

"A fast-paced and suspenseful story full of surprises and humour." —The Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"It's refreshing to read a book so deliberately Canadian in a genre dominated by Americans, and it's easy to see why Sawyer now routinely wins not only Canadian science fiction prizes but also international accolades. His fans won't be disappointed, and readers picking up his work for the first time will get a good introduction to a writer with a remarkable backlist." —Winnipeg Free Press

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First time in 26 years a major US network has based a series on a Canadian novel

1983: HOTEL comes to ABC

2009: FLASH FORWARD comes to ABC

In the 500-channel universe, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the big-four American broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox -- still dominate in terms of audience size. Nothing on cable comes close in audience reach as far as dramatic television is concerned.

And it's with considerable delight and pride that I note that the Flash Forward TV series is the first time in over a quarter of a century that a big-four US network has based a TV series on a Canadian novel.

The last -- and, I believe, only previous -- time was in 1983, with the series Hotel, based on Arthur Hailey's novel of the same name (although Hailey was not born in Canada, and he left Canada for good in 1965, he was a Canadian citizen).

Now, as it happens, two of my favourite ABC TV series when I was a teenager were based on novels, but by Americans: The Six Million Dollar Man was based on the novel Cyborg by Martin Caidin, and The Night Stalker was based on a novel by Jeff Rice. Having my novel become a series on ABC, of all places, is extra-special to me because of that.
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The ABCs of WWW

Douglas Adams famously observed that the World Wide Web was the only thing ever for which the abbreviation took three times longer to say than the full name ("World Wide Web" is three syllables, but "WWW" is nine).

But, man, reading all the coverage of the Flash Forward TV series in the trades, it's getting fatiguing to keep seeing ABC (three syllables) referred to as "the alphabet network" (six syllables), which is something Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and othes seem to really like doing. :)
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The best spaceship captains are Canadians

As I've long said, the best spaceship captains are Canadians: Leslie Nielsen (J.J. Adams, Forbidden Planet), William Shatner (James T. Kirk, ST:TOS), Lorne Greene (Adama, the original Battlestar Galactica), and Douglas Rain (HAL 9000, effectively in charge of Discovery in 2001) -- not to mention Keith Lansing in my novel Starplex. ;)

Now we can add to that list Bruce Greenwood, who plays Captain Christopher Pike in the 2009 movie version of Star Trek. He was born in Noranda, Quebec, in 1956, and studied philosophy and economics at the University of British Columbia.
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SFScope reviews Wake

Ian Randal Strock -- formerly of Analog magazine and Science Fiction Chronicle (and one of those who tried out for the job of book reviewer at Analog in the wake of Tom Easton's departure; the job went to Don Sakers) -- reviews my novel Wake over at SF news site SFScope.

The review includes a quite lengthy and detailed plot synopsis, which covers pretty much right to the end of the book -- a fair bit more synopsizing than most other reviewers would consider appropriate, so spoiler warning on reading it all. But he concludes:
Sawyer's story-telling style is almost invisible to the reader; he doesn't get in the way of his own story, and writes short, punchy chapters that keep the reader saying "just one more". (It's the type of book I love when I've finished, but hate while I'm reading, because I can't put it down.) His characters are fully realized, and I always finish his books wanting more.
The whole review is here, but, again, spoiler warning on the synopsis; if you just want Strock's analysis, read only the first and last paragraphs. :)
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Star Trek Imax

Star Trek is playing at the Imax theatre a kilometre from my home, and so, what the heck, went to see the film for the third time today (and the first time in Imax). It is stunning on the big screen -- the clarity and detail is amazing (in a real Imax theatre, at least).

I'm amazed by how good the makeup on the Vulcan ears is -- it's flawless, no matter how big you see it. But why are the computer displays at the Vulcan school in English instead of Vulcan? ;)

And, yes, the film is just as enjoyable on a third viewing as a first; this one will become a classic.
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Today's National Post

Okay, yeah, I don't live in B.C. (British Columbia), but I'm not complaining. :) Here's the front page of the "Arts & Life" section of the Tuesday, May 12, 2009, edition of Canada's National Post, a major daily newspaper distributed coast-to-coast:

The actual article by Mark Medley appears on page A3 and runs the entire height of the page, including another photo of me. It begins thus:

The rest of the text is pretty much the same as what the paper put online yesterday (and that version will stay publicly visible forever, since it was in one of the paper's blogs); the actual text that appeared in the print edition is here (but it'll eventually be locked behind the subscribers-only wall).

The article ends with a mention of my current novel Wake (which the National Post separately reviewed here), and a photo -- nice to see Carolyn getting a photo credit in a national newspaper!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Calculating God reviewed at Curled Up

Curled Up With a Good Book has a lovely review of my Calculating God right here (and you can read more about the novel here).

The review, by Ray Palen, concludes:
Compelling to the final page, Robert J. Sawyer’s Calculating God is not to be missed by fans of science fiction, religious history, philosophy or even thriller fiction, an intelligent and challenging work that is quite comparable to Sagan’s classic Contact.

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RJS eBay store closed in June and July

My eBay store -- through which I sell autographed copies of my books -- will be closed for June and July 2009, because I'll be off in Saskatoon being writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source. I'll be fulfilling orders received through Friday, May 29, 2009 -- and then won't be taking new orders until August. Just FYI. ;)

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Mississauga News article

Mississauga, where I live, is Canada's sixth largest city, with a population of 704,000; it's eastern border is Toronto's western border.

And the Mississauga newspaper is called The Mississauga News, and today they put online this nice piece about the Flash Forward TV series.

(The above photo is the Mississauga News's file photo of me, taken 27 November 2004.)
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National Post on the Flash Forward TV series

A wonderful piece by the terrific Mark Medley is online here. And note my comment, added at the end:
Many thanks for the terrific article. A small clarification, if I may. The article says, "HBO was keen at first, but passed after reading the pilot." In fact, HBO is still very keen, and retains a financial interest in the show.

It's not that HBO read the pilot and lost enthusiasm; quite the contrary -- they read the pilot, loved it, and said this could run for a hundred episodes. At HBO they tend to do just a handful of episodes of anything a year; they felt the scope of Flash Forward was something a broadcast network, doing 22 episodes a year and with bigger budgets per episode, could better do justice to.

Oh, and check out the National Post's review of my latest novel, Wake, right here.

(National Post is a major Canadian daily newspaper, headquartered in Calgary.)

Photo: series star Joseph Fiennes and Robert J. Sawyer on the set of Flash Forward
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And it's a wrap on Supernatural Investigator

Just got back from the S-VOX studios in downtown Toronto, where I recorded my voice-over narration for the final episode of Supernatural Investigator, the half-hour weekly series I host for Vision TV.

This was my last duty on the series -- it's been a blast being part of it! We still are on the air into June (Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern / 7:30 p.m. Pacific, coast-to-coast in Canada), so please keep watching! Our remaining episodes:

The Seducers
Tues., May 12, 2009, 10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT
A journey into the secretive underworld of "the Seducers" -- men who use a mysterious power known as NLP to lure women into bed. Produced by Elevator Films.

Detour on the Road to Atlantis
Tues., May 19, 2009, 10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT
Have ocean explorers found clues to the whereabouts of the lost civilization of Atlantis? Produced by Arcadia Entertainment Inc.

It's in the Stars
Tues., May 26, 2009, 10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT
For thousands of years, astrology has influenced both Western and Eastern cultures. But can the position of the stars really influence earthly affairs? Produced by Sorcery Films Ltd.

FINAL EPISODE: The White Mountain Abduction
Tues., June 2, 2009, 10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT
Narrated by Robert J. Sawyer (in addition to hosting)
What happened to Barney and Betty Hill on the night of September 19, 1961? Their niece investigates the world's most famous case of alleged alien abduction. Produced by Paradocs.

(Full episode guide is here.)

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Nice bit of fan mail

Got a nice bit of fan mail just now, in response to the news about the series order for Flash Forward. He says:
Here's hoping someone will read the wonderful novel Wake and turn it into a movie as well. I enjoyed it immensely and can hardly stand waiting for its sequels. Amazing and interesting premise that's wonderfully executed. It evoked such an emotional response I can hardly express how much I enjoyed it. Way to go.
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More Ottawa Photos

My friend Stephanie Wilson in Ottawa sent me some lovely pictures she took at my launch party for Wake at the Clock Tower Pub on my birthday, Wednesday, April 29, 2009:

A trademark over-the-top RJS reading. :)

The wonderful folks at Perfect Books got me a birthday cake!

Stephanie Wilson (pictured with me) gave me a birthday present: a box of Girl Guide cookies -- yum!

Photos copyright 2009 by Stephanie Wilson.

More photos from that night are here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Rob interviewed on Alamo AM

For eleven years now, Mike Shinabery, a radio broadcaster and journalist in Alamogordo, New Mexico, has been doing lengthy, meaty radio interviews with me -- Mike does his research, knows his science, and is himself an SF fan.

Last month, on April 9, 2009, he had me on his morning show on KSRY AM 1230 for 40 minutes talking about my new novel Wake -- my tenth time on his show!

You can listen to the whole thing right here. (Mike's co-host is Jean Vallance.)

Mike Shinabery

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Rob returns to the Howard Gluss Radio Show

I'll be the guest for half an hour this Tuesday night, May 12, 2009, on The Howard Gluss Radio Show, starting at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time (8:00 p.m. Pacific), talking about my novel Wake. The show is based in Los Angeles, but you can listen online anywhere in the world. :)

More info is here, and my previous appearnce on Dr. Gluss's show is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Time and the Fiction of Robert J. Sawyer

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Fiona Kelleghan of the University of Miami presented an excellent paper entitled Time and the Fiction of Robert J. Sawyer: Flash Forward to the End of an Era at the 30th annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida.

You can listen to the whole thing right here (Prof. Kelleghan is introduced by Daniel Creed of Florida Atlantic University). Running time: about 15 minutes.

Time and the Fiction of Robert J. Sawyer: Flash Forward to the End of an Era

By Fiona Kelleghan
University of Miami

Robert J. Sawyer frequently bends time in his novels and short stories, and always in service of finding deep human truths or making profound philosophical points.

From exploring time dilation in his Aurora Award-winning novel Golden Fleece and the short stories "Relativity," "Where the Heart Is," and "The Shoulders of Giants" (featured in Hartwell & Cramer's The Hard SF Renaissance) ...

... to actual travel through time in the Seiun Award-winning End of an Era, the Hugo-nominated Starplex, and his short stories "If I'm Here, Imagine Where They Sent My Luggage," "Just Like Old Times" (winner of both Canada's top SF award and it stop mystery-fiction award), "You See But You Do Not Observe" (a Sherlock Holmes pastiche that won France's Le Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire for year's best foreign short story), and "On the Surface" (a sequel to H.G. Wells's The Time Machine) ...

... to figurative time travel as with the rolling back of ages in his latest novel, the Hugo nominated Rollback ...

... to the Delphic glimpses of the future given to all of humanity in his Aurora Award-winning novel Flash Forward (and the ABC TV series pilot based on it) ...

... to the sideways treks in time to parallel worlds in his Hugo Award-winning Hominids and its sequels and short stories such as "Iterations" and "Lost in the Mail," few writers have more thoroughly explored the distorting lens of time displacement as a way of uncovering larger realities and providing penetrating insights into characters.

[The short stories not hyperlinked above are available from]

Also available in audio form: Prof. Kelleghan's 2008 ICFA paper "The Intimately Human and the Grandly Cosmic: Humor and the Sublime in the Works of Robert J. Sawyer."

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


The Toronto Star on Wake and RJS

The Toronto Star -- Canada's largest circulation newspaper -- has an article about Robert J. Sawyer and his novel Wake in the Sunday, May 10, 2009, edition; the article is by Philip K. Dick Award-finalist Minister Faust.

Faust says, in part:
Best known as the author of the Hugo Award-winning Hominids, Sawyer is Canada's answer to near-future science-ponderer Michael Crichton. He's also a pacifist, whose oeuvre is at odds with much of science fiction, supposedly the literature of big ideas but which so often descends to war-porn and genocidal wish-fulfilment.

Sawyer's success proves that science fiction doesn't have to be that way. Frequently against an unabashedly Canadian backdrop, Sawyer's tales engage issues as diverse as the existence of God, Neanderthal ethics and techno-immortality. His career of delivering provocative novels, without murder as the key dramatic device, proves that the genre formerly known as the "scientific romance" is as relevant as ever, if not more.
The whole article is here.

Sawyer also appeared on Minister Faust's Edmonton radio show recently; that audio interview is here.

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

John Klima could use your help

There's nothing harder than being a freelancer in today's publishing climate, and having a new child just makes it even more difficult. Check out John Klima's blog.

(John is the editor of the Hugo Award-nominated fanzine Electric Velocipede and did the recent interview with me for the website.)
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

Penguin Canada's edition of Wake going into a second printing!

On Thursday, May 7, I was in at Penguin Group (Canada)'s offices for some meetings, and received the wonderful news from Don Robinson, Vice President of Sales, that just twenty-three days after the Canadian release of Wake, Penguin Canada is going back to press for a second hardcover printing. W00t!

Of course, Penguin has done a great job getting the book out there, but I also have to thank Canada's independent booksellers, and the two chains -- Chapters/Indigo and McNally Robinson (where I'm Author of the Month chain-wide for May) -- who have all gotten behind the book.

Needless so say, I'm thrilled!
"Sawyer is one of the most successful Canadian writers ever. He has won himself an international readership by reinvigorating the traditions of hard science fiction, following the path of such writers as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein in his bold speculations from pure science. Clashes between personalities and ideologies fuel [Wake's] plot, but they're not what the book is about. It's about how cool science is. Sawyer has marshalled a daunting quantity of fact and theory from across scientific disciplines and applied them to a contemporary landscape — with due regard to cultural and political differences, pop culture, history, economics, adolescent yearnings, personal ambition and human frailty. —National Post (Calgary)

"Sawyer paints a complete portrait of a blind teenage girl, and imagines in detail — from scratch — the inside of a new being. Almost alone among Canadian writers, he tackles the most fundamental questions of who we are and where we might be going — while illuminating where we are now." —The Ottawa Citizen

"A fast-paced and suspenseful story full of surprises and humour." —The Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"It's refreshing to read a book so deliberately Canadian in a genre dominated by Americans, and it's easy to see why Sawyer now routinely wins not only Canadian science fiction prizes but also international accolades. His fans won't be disappointed, and readers picking up his work for the first time will get a good introduction to a writer with a remarkable backlist." —Winnipeg Free Press

More about Wake
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Podcast: Sawyer neurosciences talk at Penn

On Wednesday, May 6, 2009, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer gave an invited 90-minute talk at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience [pictured] at the University of Pennsylvania ("Penn"). Sawyer was the first science-fiction writer ever invited to speak at the Center.

Sawyer's talk delved into the cognitive science, neuroscience, and other areas that informed the portrayal of a sentient World Wide Web in his 2009 novel Wake and the uploaded consciousnesses in his 2005 John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning novel Mindscan.

SPOILER WARNING: His talk contains major spoilers for both books, giving away significant plot points; please do not listen to the talk until you've read these books. (However, he talks about them separately -- first Wake, then Mindscan.)

The talk is here as an MP3 file.

"Thank you again for making the trip to Penn! It was wonderful to finally meet you, after enjoying so many of your books. Your talk exceeded my fondest hopes -- it was so clear and interesting and provocative! -- and the group adored it."

-- Martha J. Farah, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

"I enjoyed your talk immensely. It fit the bill perfectly in showing how excellent speculative hard science fiction can be informed by and inform those of us in the cognitive neurosciences."

-- Anjan Chatterjee, M.D.
Professor of Neurology

Information on booking Robert J. Sawyer as a speaker is here.

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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They like me! They really like me!

(To quote Sally Field, for the humor-impaired ...)

So, Capricon --- a major Chicago-area science-fiction convention -- polled its attendees to see which Guests of Honor from their previousw 29 years they'd most like to have come back for the 30th year. I'm honored and thrilled to be one of those chosen. Capricon 30, a four-day con in February 2010, will have these author guests of honor:
  • Frederik Pohl
  • Spider & Jeanne Robinson
  • Robert J. Sawyer
Yay! (I was Author Guest of Honor at Capricon 17 in 1997.)

Meanwhile, they want me back in Nebraska! I'll be Author Guest of Honor at OSFest 3, to be held in Omaha, Nebraska, July 23-25, 2010 (next year); Pierre and Sandy Pettinger, and other key members of Nebraska fandom, fondly remembered me being Guest of Honor at Andromeda 2 in Lincoln in 1995, and want me back. Cool!

(And, just for the record, both of these invitations came before the Flash Forward TV series was picked up.)

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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You know you've really made it when ...

... the account manager at your bank contacts you because he's read the news story about your TV series pick-up and wants you to come in to discuss what you're going to do with all that money. ;) Took less than 12 hours from when the news broke ... :D

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Wake book trailer

Penguin Group (Canada) has produced a nifty 70-second book trailer for Robert J. Sawyer's novel Wake.

You can watch the trailer here on YouTube, and learn more about the novel on Rob's website and at Penguin's new site.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Friday, May 8, 2009

Flash Forward picked up for 13 episodes

W00t! The Hollywood Reporter and Variety and TV Guide are all reporting that late today (Friday, May 8, 2009), ABC gave a series order for Flash Forward, the TV show based on my novel of the same name.

The Hollywood Reporter says it's a 13-episode order, which is a big commitment (many shows only get six-episode initial orders).

Carolyn and I happen to be in Waterloo, Ontario, right now, having a nice evening at the home of friends Marcel Gagné and Sally Tomasevic -- so we're all celebrating now. :)

See the articles here, here, and here.

Left to right: David S. Goyer (who directed the pilot), Robert J. Sawyer, Brannon Braga (who co-authored the pilot script with David)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Autographed copies of Wake in Kitchener-Waterloo

Wake is set in Kitcener-Waterloo, Ontario, and now you can get signed copies there, either at Words Worth Books in Waterloo, or the Chapters superstore on Gateway Blvd. in Kitchener, as well as the Chapters at the north end of Waterloo.

And don't forget that I'm coming to Waterloo soon for a public event:

Reading & Signing
Waterloo Entertainment Centre
24 King Street North
Waterloo, Ontario
Thursday, May 21, 2009, 7:30 p.m.
Hosted by Words Worth Books
IMPORTANT NOTE: Admission is free if you buy Wake at the start of this event, or in advance from Words Worth Books; otherwise, admission is $10 to defray facilities rental. See details here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pictures from the Ottawa Wake event

There was a wonderful book-launch party for Wake in my home town of Ottawa, Ontario, on April 29, 2009, which happened to be my birthday. Hayden and Liz Trenholm took these pictures of the event, which was held at the Clock Tower Pub:

As I blow out the candles on my birthday cake, Pat Cavan (far right) of Perfect Books looks on.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Penguin Group (Canada) has created a gorgeous, Flash-content rich web site to promote my WWW trilogy (the novel Wake, and its forthcoming sequels, Watch and Wonder).

Check out for a nifty book trailer, Wake wallpapers, FAQs, and much more. It's a work-in-progress -- Penguin will be tweaking, expanding, and updating the site continously -- so comments are welcome!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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More Flash Forward promos coming?

I make no comment; I just pass on the news, this time from Entertainment Weekly:
An insider says more promos [for Flash Forward] are planned for the finales of Lost, Grey's Anatomy, and Dancing with the Stars this month.
The whole article is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Robert J. Sawyer, Philosopher?

Booklist: "Sawyer not only has an irresistibly engaging narrative voice but also a gift for confronting thorny philosophical conundrums. At every opportunity, he forces his readers to think while holding their attention with ingenious premises and superlative craftsmanship."

The Canadian Press: "Sawyer's novels are always part science and part philosophical exercise, raising questions of morality and ethics in the future that resonate in the present."

Denver Rocky Mountain News: "Sawyer has quietly become one of our most important science-fiction writers, examining different philosophical and ethical problems that come with advancing technology."

Entertainment Weekly: "Sawyer lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums."

Kitchener-Waterloo Record: "This is Sawyer at his best: compelling characters, an intriguing and involving plot, and deep philosophic themes backed by credible scientific reasoning."

Publishers Weekly: "Sawyer's writing vies for timelessness by plumbing eternal philosophical and ethical questions, albeit in a futuristic setting."

Quill & Quire: "Sawyer's strength as a science-fiction writer is the way he can synthesize complex scientific ideas in an accessible manner and extract philosophical meaning from them."

Sacramento News & Review: "I have a new favorite SF writer. Sawyer commingles hard science (quantum mechanics, anthropology, genetics, evolution) with cultural and philosophical observations (violence, sex roles, law and justice systems, religion) in the sort of brain-teasing, curiosity-piquing fashion that I adore."

Sacramento News & Review (again): "Like all great science fiction, Sawyer's work ultimately stirs up philosophical questions."

Susan Schneider, University of Pennsylvania, in Science Fiction and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell): "If you read science fiction writers like Stanislaw Lem, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Sawyer, you are already aware that some of the best science fiction tales are in fact long versions of philosophical thought experiments."

SFFaudio: "Sawyer is a fantastic structural writer, a craftsman capable of laying out the ideas in just the right order. We get meaty philosophical thought experiments and thus pure HARD SF."

SFRA Review: "Provides the reader with self-searching moral and philosophical speculation, as well as solidly grounded scientific theory that characterizes good hard-science science fiction."

SF Signal: "[Sawyer's work is] a great springboard for philosophical discussions on morality and ethics, man's place in the universe, abortion, and more."

SF Site: "When it comes to blending cutting-edge science with complex philosophical ruminations, there are few authors more talented than Robert J. Sawyer. Sawyer is one of those rare SF authors who is able to approach complex scientific concepts and humanize them with believable characters, rich dialogue and all too real moral and philosophical dilemmas. Sawyer's work is a rich, intelligent and entertaining form of contemporary literature."

SF Site (again): "Sawyer is one of a handful of Science Fiction authors working in the field today who is able to blend together a myriad of philosophical, moral, and even legal concepts, with futuristic extrapolations based on real scientific principles. In essence Sawyer's writing does what the very best Hard Science Fiction should do: it uses complex technological concepts to show us what it means to be human. In short, in all of Sawyer's vast body of work, the science — as entertaining, and thought provoking as it may be — is always a secondary consideration after his well crafted characters and careful study of humanity itself, and it is this purposeful balance that elevates Sawyer's work from Science Fiction escapism into the realm of high literature. In Hard SF in particular it is difficult to create believable characters that the reader cannot help but sympathize with, but Sawyer manages to do it with a skill and clarity that most mainstream literary writers would envy."

Henry Mietkiewicz in The Toronto Star: "Sawyer compels us to think in a concrete way about concepts that we usually dismiss as being too metaphysical to grapple with. As he is clearly aware, the essence of science fiction isn't starships, robots or virtual reality, but a unique philosophical inquiry into the evolution of the human spirit."

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Sacramento News & Review on Wake

Sacramento News & Review reviews Wake:
Sawyer's compassionate writing lets us avoid the trap of assuming monstrosity in difference. As Caitlin and the consciousness of the Web learn to communicate, readers can easily begin to question what it is that makes us human. Like all great science fiction, Sawyer's work ultimately stirs up philosophical questions, and Wake is no exception.
You can read the whole review, published in the May 7, 2009, edition, here.

And more about Wake is here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Major Trek spoilers -- but what witty banter!

Right after the press screening for J.J. Abrams's new Star Trek movie last Saturday, Space: The Imagaintion Station producer Mark Askwith and I went out to lunch at Milestones with the great crew from Hardcore Nerdity, and we recorded our thoughts about the movie, which opens North America-wide in two days, on Friday, May 8. DON'T listen to the podcast until after you've seen the film -- our comments contain major spoilers.

But I will say this: every one of us is a major fan of the original series, and we all totally loved this new film.

You can hear our thoughts here.

Left to right: Adrienne Kress, Robert J. Sawyer, Mark Askwith, Jonathan Llyr, Lesley Livingston, and Joe O'Brien. Background: NCC-1701 no bloody A, B ... um, well, actually it is the A ...:)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Toronto book launch for Wake: Photos

Above: Chris Szego and Aurora Simmons from Bakka-Phoenix Books selling copies of Wake at the launch.

Above: Robert J. Sawyer reading from Wake.

Above: Mark Askwith (producer for Space: The Imagination Station), who interviewed Rob on stage at the launch; Lesley Livingston, author of the YA fantasy novel Wonderous Strange from HarperCollins; and Robert J. Sawyer.

Above: The real Lee Amodeo, who appears as a rock-star character in Wake, with author and Robert J. Sawyer; Amodeo is chair of Toronto's annual science-fiction convention Ad Astra.

Above: Debbie Gaudet (Senior Manager, Publicity for Penguin Canada), Chris Szego (Manger of Bakka-Phoenix Books), and Robert J. Sawyer.

Above: Robert J. Sawyer and fan Troy Perault, who had Rob's autograph tattooed onto his leg after a previous event.

All photos by Carolyn Clink.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Quill Blog has photos of Toronto launch

Quill Blog -- the blog of the Canadian publishing trade journal Quill & Quire -- has some photos of the Toronto launch for my new novel Wake on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at the pub Dominion on Queen. Have a look.

(In the article, Quill Blog calls me, "Robert J. Sawyer -- a.k.a. the Canadian author most likely to have his brain kept alive in a jar for centuries to come.")

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rob lands on Planet S

Planet S is the biweekly arts-and-entertainment newspaper in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I was on the cover of the April 9, 2009, issue, and the cover story was about me.

That story by Ashleigh Mattern, headlined, "Light Speed, Mr. Sawyer -- Engage!," is online here.

(The first word in the article refers to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, just north of Saskatoon, which honours the First Nations inhabitants of the area.)

The cover illustration by Alex Whyte shows a cyborg version of me looming over the Canadian Light Source, Canada's national synchrotron facility, at which I will be writer-in-residence for June and July 2009. (The caption on the cover says, "Fantasy Meets Fact: Sci-fi Guru Sawyer aims phasers at synchrotron!")

Says the article:
Clearly, Sawyer is a dyed-in-the-wool science geek -- but that's exactly what's made him one of Canada's most noted science fictions writers. Much of that success can be attributed to the fact that, no matter what the subject, Sawyer takes great pride in ensuring that the scientific ideas and theories in his works are grounded solidly in fact.
And, of my current novel Wake and its upcoming sequels, I'm quoted in the article as saying:
“Science fiction has too often taken a simplistic, alarmist approach to the concept of artificial intelligence. Well, I for one don’t welcome our new robot masters. This is my attempt to present a positive symbiosis -- a world where humans are no longer the smartest thing on the planet, but in which we find a way of continuing to exist without giving up our essential humanity or individuality.”

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Monday, May 4, 2009

"Are you a religious man yourself?"

A grade-12 student sent me an email today about my novels The Terminal Experiment and Calculating God (the former a Nebula Award winner; the latter a Hugo Award finalist), because she's doing her final project for English class on them. She asked:
I don't mean to ask anything personal, but are you a religious man yourself? Or do you tend to be more like Tom, in 'Calculating God', and not really believe in anything other than science? Or on the flip side, was this book a way for you to explain your reasoning to the idea that a supreme being must exist through Hollus' character?
Here's my response:
I'm not a religious person. It would take proof to convince me that souls, or God, exist -- so I wrote books in which scientists found proof of those things to play with the notion of how skeptical people might react. I'm fascinated by the fact that many skeptics are as dogmatic in their anti-religious beliefs (nothing could convince them that they are wrong) as many religious people are dogmatic in their beliefs. I liked playing with the notion of whether skepticism/atheism was really a reasoned position, or simply another belief system that would endure regardless of the evidence, or lack thereof, for its veracity.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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New Scientist on "The Unknown Internet"

New Scientist just uploaded eight short articles about "The Unknown Internet," including this one entitled "Could the net become self-aware?," which speaks to the themes of my novel Wake.

In the article on self-awareness, Ben Goertzel, who appears in the acknowledgments of Wake, says, "The internet behaves a fair bit like a mind. It might already have a degree of consciousness."

The articles also appear in the May 2, 2009, print edition of the magazine.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Charles Mohapel's pictures of my Montreal event

Charles Mohapel -- the great Canadian photographer of all things science fiction -- came out to my event for Wake at Parragraphe Bookstore in Montreal on Tuesday, April 28, 2009, and took some wonderful pictures, including the ones below. Many thanks, Charles!

Photographs copyright 2009 by Charles Mohapel.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wake book-review roundup

Roundup of reviews to date of the Robert J. Sawyer novel Wake (or WWW:Wake, as the title is styled on the US dustjacket):
"Extremely well written and complex making Tron look like pre-school, this is a terrific first tale in what looks like will be a great trilogy." —

"Wake provides a refreshing intersect of science and real life, of consciousness and perception, of imagination and potential. Sawyer puts the science back in science fiction and does it with panache." —Bitten by Books

"Sawyer's take on theories about the origin of consciousness, generated within the framework of an engaging story, is fascinating, and his approach to machine consciousness and the Internet is surprisingly fresh." —Booklist

"A very entertaining read. Sawyer has written a pretty fast paced novel with Wake. Deceptively so in fact. Although it does not slow the story down he has packed the text with references to developments in information technology, mathematics, physics, linguistics and a number of other fields. Parts of the novel read like Oliver Sacks writing science fiction." —Bookspot Central

"While this is clearly a novel of big ideas, the author never neglects the individual characters. Caitlin, her parents, Dr. Kuroda, and even the kids at school all seem very realistic. Allowing us to follow Caitlin's story from her point of view works perfectly. She's a teenager, so she's moody and very human; but she's a very smart girl, applying knowledge to new situations and grasping abstract concepts with relative ease. She's a great character, with flaws and a sense of humor." —CA Reviews

"Sawyer continues to push the boundaries with his stories of the future made credible. His erudition, eclecticism, and masterly storytelling make this trilogy opener a choice selection." —Library Journal

"Unforgettable. Impossible to put down." —Nebula Award-winner Jack McDevitt

"Wake is about as good as it gets when it comes to science fiction. In Caitlin, Sawyer has created a likable and sympathetic hero. She's smart, sure, but also full of sass, which lends itself to some wildly entertaining reading. Sawyer's combination of writing skill and computing background come together marvelously in this book. The characters are rich and realistic, while the ideas are fresh and fascinating." —The Maine Edge, Bangor, Maine

"When I am asked what my favourite science fiction novel is, invariably the answer is: `The last one by Robert Sawyer.' With the publication of Wake, Rollback must sadly make way for the new title holder. Wake is, in the words of its heroine, made out of awesome." —McNally Robinson, Canada's second-largest bookstore chain

"Wake is a marvelous story [with] a convincing narrative from the AI perspective. What I like best about this novel is Sawyer's casual dropping in of various bits of history that I know, and other bits of current fact that I haven't paid attention to. Eye openers on Chinese politics and insights into research into communicating with chimpanzees make this novel an eclectic reading SF fan's delight. Sawyer's SF story of an Artificial Intelligence dawning in the World Wide Web has the emotional impact of Buffy fighting demons from another dimension." —Jacqueline Lichtenberg in The Monthly Aspectarian

"Sawyer is one of the most successful Canadian writers ever. He has won himself an international readership by reinvigorating the traditions of hard science fiction, following the path of such writers as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein in his bold speculations from pure science. Clashes between personalities and ideologies fuel [Wake's] plot, but they're not what the book is about. It's about how cool science is. Sawyer has marshalled a daunting quantity of fact and theory from across scientific disciplines and applied them to a contemporary landscape — with due regard to cultural and political differences, pop culture, history, economics, adolescent yearnings, personal ambition and human frailty. —National Post

"Sawyer paints a complete portrait of a blind teenage girl, and imagines in detail — from scratch — the inside of a new being. Almost alone among Canadian writers, he tackles the most fundamental questions of who we are and where we might be going — while illuminating where we are now." —The Ottawa Citizen

"The wildly thought-provoking first installment of Sawyer's WWW trilogy explores the origins and emergence of consciousness. The thematic diversity — and profundity — makes this one of Sawyer's strongest works to date." —Publishers Weekly (starred review, denoting a book of exceptional merit)

"A fast-paced and suspenseful story full of surprises and humour." —The Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"Emotionally satisfying and intellectually stimulating. Along with William Gibson's Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, Robert J. Sawyer's Wake presents a unique perspective on information technology. I eagerly await its sequels." —SFFaudio

"A superb work of day-after-tomorrow science fiction; I enjoyed every page." —Hugo Award-winner Allen Steele

"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." —Hugo Award-winner Robert Charles Wilson

"It's refreshing to read a book so deliberately Canadian in a genre dominated by Americans, and it's easy to see why Sawyer now routinely wins not only Canadian science fiction prizes but also international accolades. His fans won't be disappointed, and readers picking up his work for the first time will get a good introduction to a writer with a remarkable backlist." —Winnipeg Free Press

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


All Screens Are Not Created Equal

My op-ed piece "All Screens Are Not Created Equal" -- about computer use, multitasking, and attention deficit -- is now on my website here.

It was first published in The Ottawa Citizen, the largest circulation newspaper in Canada's capital city, on March 20, 2009.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


And if you don't believe me about the new Star Trek film ...

... see what my buddy (and Space: The Imagination personality) Jonathan Llyr has to say about it, over at Hardcore Nerdity.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Minister Faust interviews Robert J. Sawyer

Minister Faust -- one of Canada's leading SF writers (author of Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad from Del Rey), and a renowned Edmonton radio personality -- interviews Robert J. Sawyer about Rob's new novel Wake.

You can listen to the 14-minute interview, which was first heard on Edmonton's CJSR Radio on April 24, 2009, right here.

Says Minister Faust in the introduction:
Robert J. Sawyer is a Canadian Michael Crichton, fascinated with how developments in science will affect present-day and day-after-tomorrow individuals and society. His breadth of comprehension of scientific ideas is astounding, and his deployment of that understanding in his fiction is always exciting, memorable, and debate-provoking.
Among the topics we discuss: the inclusiveness, and ethnic/cultural diversity, featured in my fiction; the challenge of writing a trilogy; my approach to high-level metaphors; and how I managed to capture the voice of a 15-year-old girl.

(And more about Wake is here.)

Update: Minister Faust also interviews Robert J. Sawyer in the 10 May 2009 Toronto Star.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Launch Pad workshop

Carolyn and I will both be attending the NASA-sponsored Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers in Laramie, Wyoming, 14-21 July 2009.

I was given early acceptance to the workshop (along with my friend Andy Duncan, a World Fantasy Award winner), but I'm very proud of Carolyn, who applied on her own, and was accepted on her own merits, based on her poetry in such places as Analog.

The particpants are:

Pat Cadigan
Carolyn Clink
Andy Duncan
Tara Fredette
Owl Goingback
N.K. Jemisin
Julie V. Jones
Marc Laidlaw
Ed Lerner
Brian Malow
Robert J. Sawyer
Gord Sellar
Scott Sigler

Workshop leader: Mike Brotherton
Guest instructors: Joe Haldeman and Phil Plait

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

I'm a crossword puzzle clue!

I'm the answer to clue 36-Down in the May 4, 2009, crossword puzzle in The Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper. The clue is:

Robert ____ (renowned Canadian novelist)

You can access it online here.

Many thanks to my old friend CBC Radio producer Doug MacDonald (who produced "What If? An Exploration of Alternative Histories," a two-hour Ideas documentary series I wrote and narrated in 1990) for bringing this to my attention.

Update: Holy cow! Turns out I was also independently the answer to a clue in the crossword puzzle in The Toronto Star on Saturday, May 2: 76-Down was "Science-fiction author, first writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source (Saskatoon)." How cool is that?

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Hardcore Nerdity on Toronto book-launch party for Wake

Hardcore Nerdity discusses the Toronto launch of Robert J. Sawyer's Wake.

Pictured: Mark Askwith, Robert J. Sawyer

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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RJS neurosciences talk at Penn

Robert J. Sawyer is giving an invited talk entitled "Webmind: When the Web Wakes Up" at the at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, 3810 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, this Wednesday, May 6, 2009, from noon to 1:15 p.m.

The talk deals with some of the science behind Sawyer's current novel, Wake.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Star Trek movie rocks!

Just got out of a press screening of the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. It totally, totally rocked, and succeeds 100% at its dual goals both of appealing to hardcore Trek fans and also being totally enjoyable and accessible to those who have never seen any Trek before. This thing is going to have legs; it'll be one of the huge summer blockbusters of 2009.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


"The author never neglects the individual characters"

A nice review on the CA Reviews blog of my Wake, which says in part:
While this is clearly a novel of big ideas, the author never neglects the individual characters. Caitlin, her parents, Dr. Kuroda, and even the kids at school all seem very realistic. Allowing us to follow Caitlin’s story from her point of view works perfectly. She’s a teenager, so she’s moody and very human; but she’s a very smart girl, applying knowledge to new situations and grasping abstract concepts with relative ease. She’s a great character, with flaws and a sense of humor.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Friday, May 1, 2009

McNally Robinson Author of the Month

Canada's wonderful bookstore chain McNally Robinson has been a great supporter of my work over the years, and I've become friends with many of their booksellers (including Kent Pollard and Ian Goodwillie in Saskatoon, and Chadwick Ginther in Winnipeg).

In honour of the recent release of my 18th novel Wake, McNally Robinson has named me their "Author of the Month" for May 2009 -- woohoo! (That means endcap displays in the stores chain-wide, promotion in their print newsletter, and being featured on their website.)

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to drop by the new McNally Robinson store in Toronto to sign stock, and on Saturday, May 15, I'm signing at the chain's flagship store in Winnipeg at 2:00 p.m.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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