Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Northview Heights reunion

by Rob - May 6th, 2007.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

The by-plane across-Canada part of the Rollback book tour ended when I touched down at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2007.

Carolyn picked me up at the airport — but we didn’t go home. Instead, we headed through awful rush-hour traffic to Le Parc, a conference centre, for the Friday Night gala part of the 50th-anniversary reunion for our high school, Northview Heights Secondary School, which opened its doors in 1957. (We paused en route at Carolyn’s brother David’s place, so I could shower and change into my suit.)

Northview meant a great deal to me. I had lots of friends, lots of fun, always had a girlfriend, was active in many things (co-founded the science fiction club; founded and edited the school newspaper, The Northview Post; was the voice of the morning announcements in my final year; and ended up as valedictorian), and enjoyed an eclectic array of courses (Latin, Film Studies, an independent studies biology course for which I got to research dinosaurs). So, it was with great happiness I returned to the school this weekend to see old friends and reminisce.

I must say it was gratifying how many people — even from decades other than when I attended the school — recognized me and came up and told me how much they liked my books. In fact, the Saturday night entertainment in Northview’s wonderful theatre was hosted by Art Nefsky, who explained in his opening remarks how he got the job being emcee: “We contacted Howie Mandel’s agent [Mandel now hosts Deal or No Deal, and was at Northview a few years before I was], but he’s in Vegas; Harvey Atkin hosted last night at the gala, so we couldn’t ask him to do it again; Robert J. Sawyer is brilliant — but can he sing and dance? — and so you’re stuck with me.” :)

As part of an auction to raise funds to help renovate the school, I donated this: “You’ve won the right to have a supporting character named after you or a friend or relative of your choice in Wake, the next novel by Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer. We’ll work out the details — which physical characteristics and personality traits you’d like me to spotlight — but I reserve the right to kill your character in a manner of my choosing, if the plot demands it!”

The high bid was $450, and the winner was alumnus Stephen Bloom, who wants me to included his mother Anna Bloom in my next book.

Det-Yenalb himself! The high priest in my novel Far-Seer is named for my old friend Ted Bleaney, seen here at the Friday night banquet

The reunion continued all day Saturday at the school. No sooner had I arrived than I ran into Northview’s other Hugo Award winner. That’s me on the left, and Mike Glicksohn, who won the best-fanzine Hugo Award in 1973, on the right. I’m Northview class of 1979; Mike was class of 1964.

And — gak — that’s what I looked like in 1979, at 19 years of age (back then, Ontario, unique among jurisdictions in North America, went to Grade 13 in high school); resemblance to Rasputin, the mad monk, is purely coincidental.

All three Sawyer boys went to Northview. That’s my older brother Peter D. Sawyer, now 52, on the left, and my younger brother Alan B. Sawyer, now 45, on the right; Robert J. Sawyer, in the middle, just turned 47.

Both Clink girls went to Northview, too. That’s Carolyn, my wife, on the left, and her younger sister Pat Beckett (who was called Patsy Clink back in the day) on the right. Pat was my first girlfriend; we dated the year I was in grade 10.

In Grade 13 (1978-79), my friend Rick Gotlib and I shared an office, because we were the heads of the student government. Posing outside the office door: my girlfriend from that year, Anne Ptasznik, who is now a very fine playwright.

Speaking of girlfriends, that’s Lorian Fretz (formerly Lorian Fraser), who was my girlfriend in 1978; her son Geoffrey was one of my writing students a couple of years ago at the University of Toronto

I swear we all used to have hair! Alan Getgood, Robert J. Sawyer, and David Livingstone Clink in the 1970s decade room at the reunion. All three were members of NASFA, the Northview Association for Science Fiction Addicts, and David is now my brother-in-law. Afsan, the name of the main character of my novel Far-Seer, is NASFA spelled backwards.

English teacher Robert E. Howley, the staff sponsor for NASFA, and Robert J. Sawyer, its co-founder.

How cool is this! A bunch of my books on the shelf of my own high school’s library!

Lory Corso and Donna Beach, who I’ve known since my days at Churchill Public School

Robert J. Sawyer, Neil Schechtman; Neil and I were in kindergarten together. Neil’s mom is Emmy Award-winning make-up artist Beverley Schechtman.

One of the absolute highlights of my high-school years was a school trip to Rome in March 1977; here’s a little reunion from that trip: Anita Auerback, Robert J. Sawyer, Lori Beckerman, Richard M. Gotlib (Rick co-founded NASFA with me)

A quick dinner break at Swiss Chalet (a barbecue-chicken place near Northview that we all remembered from the 1970s). Anne Ptasznik, Carolyn Clink, Gillian Clinton.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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