Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Ten Years of Waterloo Region’s “One Book, One Community”

by Rob - April 21st, 2011.
Filed under: Hominids.

My Hugo Award-winning novel Hominids was the “One Book, One Community” reading choice in 2005 for Waterloo Region in Ontario (which consists of Canada’s high-tech centres of Waterloo and Kitchener, plus smaller towns and surrounding Mennonite farming communities). This year is the tenth anniversary of the program, and I was asked to provide a comment about my involvement. Here’s what I had to say:

As far as I can tell, when Waterloo Region chose my Hominids for its “One Book, One Community” reading program in 2005, it was the first time that any such program in North America had selected a book that was published as science fiction. 

Yes, many community-reading programs had done what are clearly science-fiction books: Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, George Orwell’s 1984, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are all popular with such programs — but they’re published without the words “science fiction” appearing on the book. I felt that doing a novel clearly labeled as science fiction was a huge breakthrough for my field, and I was honoured and thrilled.

For me, the most touching moment was at my final public event, when a ninety-year-old woman came up to me and said, “Yours was the first science-fiction book I ever read, and my only regret is that it will also be the last.” She knew she didn’t have long left to live, and no one had ever given her a reason to read science fiction before, but she’d loved my novel’s exploration of real-world issues through a distorting lens.

So, for that — for bringing not just my work but my genre to a whole new audience — I will always be grateful to Waterloo Region’s “One Book, One Community” program.


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