Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

The best-ever academic conference on Canadian science fiction!

by Rob - September 13th, 2023.
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Ten years ago today, on September 13, 2013, the biggest and best academic conference about Canadian science fiction ever held began.

McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, hosted the three-day conference entitled “Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre — A Conference in Honour of Robert J. Sawyer’s Archival Donation to the University Library Collections.”

My archives, which were certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board as being of “outstanding significance and national importance,” were added then to McMaster’s extensive archival holdings, which include:

• a massive collection of Bertrand Russell material,

• a large H.G. Wells collection,

• and extensive material related to Canadian literature, including the papers of Pierre Berton, John Robert Colombo, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat, and publisher Jack McClelland.

As the flyer for Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre put it:

The biggest and best academic conference ever focusing on Canadian science fiction:

Authors? We got ’em: Hugo Award-winner Robert J. Sawyer, Aurora Award-winner Julie E. Czerneda, Aurora Award-winner Élisabeth Vonarburg, and Hugo Award-winner Robert Charles Wilson.

Editors? The most important ones in the history of Canadian SF: Order of Canada member John Robert Colombo (editor of the seminal Other Canadas) and Hugo Award-winner David Hartwell of Tor Books.

Academics? Of course! From all over North America! In all areas of academic study! Just a small sampling of the speakers:

  • James Christie, Faculty of Theology, University of Winnipeg, on “Remembering the Future: Science Fiction and the Emerging Art of Dialogue Theology”
  • Carrie J. Cole, Department of Theater and Dance, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, on “Science and the Staging of the Speculative Imagination: Interdisciplinary and Intertextual Performance Strategies”
  • Herb Kauderer from Hilbert College, Hamburg, New York, on “Fedora Hats and the Great Gazoo: Pop Culture References in Robert J. Sawyer’s novels Triggers and Red Planet Blues
  • James A. Novak, Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo, on “Consciousness in the works of Robert J. Sawyer”
  • Wendy Gay Pearson from Western University, London, Ontario, on “Queer Time, Postcoloniality, and Canadian SF”
  • Amy J. Ransom from Central Michigan University on “Hockey & Science Fiction in Canada: A Combination Seen Rarely But in Québec”
  • Sherryl Vint from University of California Riverside, on “To Corrupt and Control the Present in Order to Win the Future: Continuum as Post 9/11 Television”

In total, 35 papers were accepted for the conference, and a dozen of them are online at McMaster; there’s a link to them on the conference website, which also had the original call for papers, the PDF of the program book, and links to post-conference coverage:

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