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Rob's Blog: July 2002 to December 2004
Friday, December 31, 2004
Carolyn and I got a new big-screen TV on December 13: a 50-inch
Sony Grand WEGA LCD rear-projection HDTV set; it's lovely. Since
getting it, we've watched a bunch of movies on it: Gladiator,
The Fifth Element, Bruce Almighty, Thunderbird 6, The Princess
Bride, Miss Congeniality, and Dark City. We've also begun
watching, in order, the episodes of the original Star Trek --
they look magnificent!
Friday, November 26, 2004
I sent out the following newsletter to the 2,449 people on my
email mailing list today. If you'd like to be added to the
mailing, list just E-mail me.
Hello, Robert J. Sawyer reader!
You're most likely getting this note because you've written to me
in the past about my science-fiction novels. I hope you don't
mind this update -- I only send such things out a couple of times
a year. If you'd prefer not to receive future updates, just
email me at email@example.com, and I'll drop you from the
In this mailing:
* HYBRIDS paperback!
* A science-fiction cruise!
* News about MINDSCAN, my next novel!
* Rob wins SF's largest cash prize!
* Writers' workshops with Rob!
* And more!
Hybrids, the concluding volume of my "Neanderthal Parallax"
trilogy, is now out in mass-market paperback from Tor. It's a
November 2004 title, and you should be able to find it in
bookstores everywhere, and through online retailers.
Of course, if you'd like an autographed copy, you can get that
directly through my website: Autographed Copies
Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Mass-market
paperback, November 2004. ISBN 0-765-34906-X.
THE QUINTAGLIOS ARE BACK!
Also in bookstores: a handsome new trade-paperback edition of
FAR-SEER, the first volume of my "Quintaglio Ascension" trilogy.
The second volume, FOSSIL HUNTER, will be reissued in March 2005,
and the third, FOREIGNER, will be out in August 2005.
Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Trade
paperback. May 2004. ISBN 0-765-30974-2.
Fossil Hunter by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Trade
paperback. March 2005. ISBN 0-765-30973-4.
Foreigner by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Trade
paperback. August 2005. ISBN 0-765-30972-6.
My first short-story collection, Iterations, previously only
available in Canada, is now out in a handsome trade-paperback
edition across the United States. It's in many bookstores, and
also available through Amazon.com and BN.com, and other dealers, such as
Iterations by Robert J. Sawyer. Red Deer Press, Calgary. ISBN
I still have copies of the Quarry Press hardcover first edition
of ITERATIONS; if you'd like an autographed one, see:
Also just out in hardcover is RELATIVITY, a collection of my
essays and speeches about science fiction, rounded out with eight
short stories, and all 12 of my "On Writing" how-to columns. It
won't be widely available in stores, but you can order it
directly from the publisher: ISFiC Press
RELATIVITY by Robert J. Sawyer. ISFiC Press, Chicago. ISBN
AUDIOBOOKS and EBOOKS
Fictionwise.com has a terrific MP3 audio-book production of my
short "Shed Skin."
Fictionwise also has a bunch of my short stories, in all standard
ebook formats (with more to come through the first half of 2005).
There's also an unabridged reading of THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT
available on audio cassette from Recorded Books.
MY NEXT NOVEL
My next novel, MINDSCAN, is finished. It will be published in
April 2005 in hardcover by Tor. Information, including the
opening chapters, is now on my website: Mindscan
OCEAN CRUISE WITH ROB!
Join me for the DELL MAGAZINES SCIENCE FICTION CRUISE -- with the
editors of ANALOG and ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION magazines, plus
Carolyn and me, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Connie Willis,
and James Patrick Kelly. The dates are May 21-28, 2005, and you
can learn all about it at:
Science Fiction Cruise
THE ROB AND BOB TOUR!
Robert Charles Wilson and I are touring together in support of
the release of our next novels -- my MINDSCAN and Bob's SPIN,
both from Tor -- next April. Tour dates and cities are:
* Monday, April 18: Winnipeg, Manitoba.
* Tuesday, April 19: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
* Wednesday, April 20, and Thursday, April 21: Calgary.
* Friday, April 22: Vancouver, British Columbia.
* Saturday, April 23: Victoria, British Columbia.
* Sunday, April 24: Portland, Oregon.
* Monday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 26: San Francisco.
* Friday, April 29: Kitchener, Ontario.
* Saturday, April 30: Sarnia, Ontario.
* Sunday, May 1: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
* Monday, May 2: Detroit, Michigan.
* Tuesday, May 3: London, Ontario.
The full tour schedule will eventually be on my website at:
Rob's upcoming appearances
THE WORLD'S TOP CASH PRIZE FOR SCIENCE FICTION
I just won it! You can read all the details here:
Premio UPC Press Release
I have two writing workshops coming up in 2005: one in Toronto,
and the other in Banff, Alberta:
* I'll be leading a five-day science-fiction and fantasy writing
workshop at the University of Toronto July 18-22, 2005.
* And I'll be leading a week-long science-fiction and fantasy
writing workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts in the
ski-resort town of Banff, Alberta, September 18-24, 2005.
If you'd like to be sent more information about these workshops
when it becomes available, just drop me an email:
DISCUSSION GROUP AND WEB SITE
There's a lively RJS online discussion group. Please feel free
to join us: Discussions
And, of course, don't forget to visit my web site, which now has
over one million words of material: Website main page
If your company or organization needs a keynote speaker who can
talk about the future, science in society, and so on, I've been
doing a lot of such things lately (including, in the last couple
of months, the Ontario Professional Engineers Awards Banquet, the
Canadian Association of Science Centres Annual Meeting, the
Second International Symposium on Physical Sciences in Space, and
BioMedex 2004). Find out more about booking me for your event
through my speakers' bureau, Speakers' Spotlight.
Finally, if you, or someone you know, went to Northview Heights
Secondary School with me, please get in touch! I'm part of a
committee organizing a reunion for the graduating class of 1979.
That's it! I'll write you again in April 2005, when Mindscan is
out in hardcover.
All best wishes!
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
I won the world's top cash prize for science fiction
today. You can read all about it here. Woohoo!
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
As always, busy times. Today, Robert Charles Wilson and I, plus
our wives, went up to the offices of H.B. Fenn and Company, Tor's
Canadian distributor, to plan out the April 2005 joint "Rob and
Bob" tour for our new novels. His is called Spin, and mine is
Mindscan. We'll be going to (in order):
* Winnipeg, Manitoba
* Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
* Calgary, Alberta
* Victoria, British Columbia
* Vancouver, British Columbia
* Portland, Oregon
* San Francisco, California
* Kitchener, Ontario
* Ann Arbor, Michigan
* Detroit, Michigan
* London, Ontario
Other news: the typesetting page proofs for Mindscan have
arrived, and Carolyn is busily going over them. Also fresh in
today's mail: the page proofs for my story "The Eagle Has
Landed," which will appear in Mike Resnick's I, Alien, coming
from DAW in April.
Last weekend, we were in Chicago, for WindyCon XXXI, where I was
author guest of honor. Programming head Steven H. Silver named
the panels after my books: "Starplex," "Humans," "Frameshift,"
and so on. My favorite was one I wasn't even scheduled to be on,
but ended up moderating: "Calculating God," about whether one
can be religious and also a science-fiction fan. I was sitting
in the audience, having just had an impromptu lunch in the Green
Room with Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno. I'd followed
Brother Guy into the panel room, and Gene Wolfe, also a panelist,
saw me and called on me to come moderate. It was a fascinating
At WindyCon, my 20th book, Relativity, was launched. It's a
gorgeous hardcover collection of my speeches and essays about
science fiction, rounded out with eight short stories (four never
before collected), a foreword by Mike Resnick, a scholarly paper
about my work by Valerie Broege of Vanier College, and even a
cryptic Sawyer-themed crossword, also by Valerie Broege.
The other highlight of the con was dinner Saturday night at Harry
Caray's, one of Chicago's best steakhouses, with John Helfers, an
editor for Five Star and Techno-Books; his wife Kerrie; author
Jody Lynn Nye; and her husband, editor Bill Fawcett. The dinner
resulted in two short-story commissions for me, one from John,
the other from Bill. So, yet more work to do! Back to the
Wednesday, October 6, 2004
I guess most people would say I live an interesting life -- and
I'm certainly very grateful for it.
Yesterday (Tuesday), I had a two-hour lunch with Susan Murdoch
and Deb Nathan, two key players at Toronto's Pebblehut
Productions. Pebblehut has optioned film rights to both End of
an Era and Hominids, and they wanted to bring me up to date on
their efforts to get these projects made.
Yesterday evening, I was off to the City Hall for Mississauga,
the city I live in. Mississauga is Canada's sixth largest city
and home to 680,000 people. I was presented with a "Civic Award
of Recognition," in honour of my literary achievements in the
science-fiction field. The award was presented by Mayor Hazel
McCallion, who, incidentally, is the oldest serving mayor in
Today (Wednesday) as I write this, I'm on a plane flying to
Montreal for the annual meeting of the World Science Journalists
Association. Jay Ingram, the host of Discovery Channel Canada's
Daily Planet, asked for me to join him on a panel this afternoon
about explaining complex science to the public. Tomorrow
(Thursday), I'm off to the studios of TVOntario to do my fifth
installment of the afternoon woman's show, More to Life, hosted
by the vivacious Mary Ito. We'll be talking about the nature of
reality and whether we really exist. The show goes live at 1:00
Then, on Friday morning, I'm off to the Canadian Broadcasting
Centre in downtown Toronto -- the national headquarters of the
CBC -- to appear live on CBC Radio One's flagship morning show,
Sounds Like Canada, hosted by Shelagh Rogers (Shelagh will be in
the Vancouver studios, and we'll be linked by satellite). I'll
be talking about the science-journalism conference and the art of
explaining science to the public. My segment will air at around
10:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Yesterday's award, today's panel, tomorrow's TV appearance, and
Friday's radio appearance all are very gratifying: they
underscore a significant mainstream acceptance in Canada of
science fiction. It's been a long, hard fight to achieve that,
and it's wonderful to see it repeatedly validated.
Rounding out the next few days: after the appearance on More to
Life, I'm having lunch with an old high-school buddy, John
Pellatt, one of the principal writers of the Ned's Newt animated
Thursday evening, it's "First Thursday," the monthly
science-fiction fandom pub night in Toronto (we meet at The
Pickle Barrel in Atrium on Bay; new faces are always welcome --
ask for the reservation in the name of "Yvonne"). Later Thursday
evening, it's off to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the
opening ceremonies of Bouchercon 2004, the World Mystery
Convention, being held in Toronto for the first time in 12 years.
I'll spend all day Friday and Saturday at Bouchercon, then Sunday
I fly out west, for a visit to Calgary (and the offices of Red
Deer Press, which publishes the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint)
and then to Saskatoon, where I'm a guest speaker at the
Saskatchewan Writers Guild annual meeting.
Meanwhile, this month I start work on my seventeenth novel, which
has the working title of Webmind. Last week, I sent the final,
copyedited manuscript for my sixteenth novel, Mindscan, back to
Tor; I'll only see the book once more before it's published, and
that will be when the typesetting proofs show up for final
proofreading. Mindscan will be out in hardcover in April 2005.
More details on the award:
On Tuesday, October 7, 2004, in a public ceremony at the council
chambers of Mississauga City Hall, Robert J. Sawyer received the
"Civic Award of Recognition" from Mayor Hazel McCallion in honour of
his international success in science fiction.
Also honored at the ceremony were weightlifter Akos Sandor and sailor
Mike Wolfs, two 2004 Canadian Olympic athletes who live in Mississauga.
With a population of 680,000, Mississauga is Canada's sixth largest
city, and is the home of what is often erroneously referred to as
Toronto International Airport; at 83, Mayor McCallion is the oldest
serving mayor in North America.
The scroll presented to Sawyer reads:
City of Mississauga
Civic Award of Recognition
Robert J. Sawyer
for your accomplishments in science fiction writing
Your hard work and dedication has resulted in 29
writing awards at the national and international
levels. Through the time and energy you have
devoted to numerous novels, short stories and
articles, you have earned success as one of the
world's most popular science fiction writers.
On behalf of the members of Council and residents
of the City of Mississauga, congratulations on this
special achievement and best wishes for future
Mayor Hazel MaCallion
October 5, 2004
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Racing to get a bunch of things done before I head off to the
World Science Fiction Convention in Boston tomorrow. This
morning I completed a 5,000-word short story I've been working on
for a while. It's called "Flashes."
Also, worked on the manuscript for Karl Schroeder's short-story
collection The Engine of Recall, which will be published by Red
Deer Press under the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint in February
2005, and sent the final computer file off to production.
And Carolyn and I went over the galley proofs for Relativity, the
collection of my essays and stories to be published by ISFiS
Press in November, in conjunction with my Guest-of-Honorship at
Plus, of course, packing!
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Australian SF writer K. A. Bedford is in Toronto, promoting his
new novel Orbital Burn, published by Calgary's Edge Press. He
gave a reading tonight at the World's Biggest Bookstore (which
isn't really) in Toronto. I made some introductory remarks, and
then Adrian -- that's what the A stands for; the K is a mystery
-- gave a nice reading. After, eleven of us, including Adrian
and his wife Michelle, went out for dinner.
Meanwhile, Aurora Award-winning Toronto author Karl Schroeder has
sold his first short-story collection, The Engine of Recall, to
Robert J. Sawyer Books, in a deal negotiated by agent Donald
Maass. The collection will be published in Spring 2005, and
features a brand-new novelette entitled "Alexander's Road" plus
an introduction by Stephen Baxter.
Monday, August 23, 2004
I'm back home in Toronto after twenty-five days on the road. The
trip began on Wednesday, July 28, 2004, and took me to various
locations in Colorado; to Calgary, Alberta; to Vancouver and
Sechelt, British Columbia; and to Los Angeles.
First up, the business news, then details of the trip.
On July 27, the day before the trip began, I shipped off my final
revisions on Mindscan, my sixteenth novel, which Tor will publish
in hardcover in April 2005. (This is my twentieth book overall:
sixteen novels, three anthologies I co-edited, and my short-story
On July 26, I delivered the final manuscript for Relativity, a
limited hard-cover collection of essays, speeches, and short
stories which will be published by ISFIS press to coincide with
my Guest of Honor appearance at WindyCon in Chicago this
November. (This is my twenty-first book.)
On July 28, my agent and I came to terms with Toronto's Pebblehut
Productions to option film rights to two of my novels: Hominids
and End of an Era. Pebblehut is best known for producing the
Nero Wolfe Mysteries on A&E, and the Monkees biopic Daydream
Believers. The options are two separate deals, so either project
can advance separately.
One more thing: Asimov's and Analog have announced their
first-ever science fiction cruise, to be held in March 2005
aboard a Carnival cruise ship. Besides the editors of both
magazines, the guests include Robert J. Sawyer (hey, that's me!),
Connie Willis, Rebecca and Kevin J. Anderson, and James Patrick
Kelly. Full information is at:
Anyway, on to the trip report!
My mother is an American, born in a small town in Minnesota but
raised in Berkeley, California. From Wednesday, July 28, to
Wednesday, August 4, Carolyn and I were in Colorado for a reunion
of my mother's family -- none of whom actually live there (go
figure). About 70 relatives showed up (including my brother Alan
and his wife, four of my five cousins, my only uncle and aunt,
and lots more). The reunion lasted for three days, and was held
at "The Village of Breckenridge" in the ski-resort town of
Breckenridge. The rest of the time, Carolyn did sightseeing in
Colorado, including Dinosaur Ridge, and the Denver Natural
History Museum. Rural Colorado is incredibly beautiful, and we
had a great time.
On Wednesday, August 4, Carolyn flew back to Toronto, but I
headed up to Calgary. Wednesday evening was the annual barbecue
for the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, the Calgary
writers' workshop I've been associated with since 1996. As
always, the barbecue was held at the home of the parents of Robyn
Herrington -- but there was a bit of a melancholy cast to the
event this year, because Robyn had passed away in May. Robyn's
parents are going to hold the barbecue at their place in
The trip to Calgary was anchored by attending Con-Version,
Calgary's annual SF convention. I wasn't a special guest this
year (although I have been five times in the past); rather, I was
attending on my own nickel. On Friday morning, the convention
had arranged a behind-the-scenes tour of the Calgary Zoo. We got
to scrub the elephants, and feed them peanuts from our hands.
Friday evening, the convention began with a wonderful concert by
Canadian musical-comedy troupe The Arrogant Worms. Sadly, Spider
Robinson, who was co-Canadian Guest of Honor, along with his wife
Jeanne, was hospitalized on Thursday, and missed the entire con.
On Saturday afternoon, the launch of the second book published
under Red Deer Press's Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint took place:
we debuted the beautiful hardcover of Andrew Weiner's Getting
Near the End; Andrew came out from Toronto for the launch, which
went spectacularly well.
After the convention, I stayed in Calgary for four days.
Highlights included a group outing to see the remake of The
Manchurian Candidate, which I thought was excellent, and a trip
to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, in Drumheller. I've
been to the Tyrrell many times, but always enjoy it. Many thanks
to Danita Maslankowski who drove our little group there.
On Thursday, I flew from Calgary to Vancouver, then took a float
plane from Vancouver to Sechelt, British Columbia, for the 22nd
Annual Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts. I'd
previously been a reader there in 2000, and was delighted to be
invited back. My reading was Chapter 22 from Humans (the Vietnam
memorial scene) and it was very, very well received -- one woman
told me it was the best reading she'd heard in ten years of
attending this festival.
Saturday night, I had dinner with my friend Edgar Award-winning
mystery writer Peter Robinson and his wife Sheila.
Monday, I took the ferry down to Vancouver, and hustled off to
finally see the live-action Thunderbirds film, before it
disappeared from theaters. My thoughts: It's got a tremendously
good heart, and is true to the original even in fine points of
trivia (only real Thunderbirds fans previously knew that Brains's
real name was Hiram Hackenbacker, or that Lady Penelope's full
name was Penelope Creighton-Ward). Each Thunderbird vehicle gets
its moment in the sun, as do such stalwart pieces of rescue
equipment as the Mole and the Firefly. Really, the whole thing
is utterly charming -- a love letter to the original series.
Tuesday, Vancouver native Bonnie Jean Mah -- one of my writing
students from Banff -- took the day off work to spend time with
me. We went to the White Dwarf, the Vancouver science-fiction
specialty store, then on to Science World, where we saw a great
Omnimax film about coral reefs and attended a special James Bond
exhibition, which was very nifty. In the evening, Bonnie Jean
and I went out for a wonderful dinner on Granville Island.
Wednesday, it was off to the Vancouver Art Gallery to special see
exhibitions on Andy Warhol, Emily Carr, and contemporary
west-coast artists. Then I headed to the Vancouver Aquarium in
Stanley Park, where I enjoyed the beluga show and the dolphin
show, plus the rain-forest exhibit.
Thursday, I flew to Los Angeles, as a guest of L. Ron Hubbard's
Writers and Illustrators of the Future contest; the organizers
are interested in having me become a judge. They treated me
fabulously and I had an amazing time. I had lunch Thursday with
Anne McCaffrey and her son Todd, then attended the final session
of the week-long writing workshop Tim Powers runs for contest
winners, seeing my friends Yoji Kondo (who writes as Eric
Kotani), Kevin J. and Rebecca Anderson, and Catherine Asaro.
Thursday evening, there was a wonderful rooftop barbecue with the
winners and judges at the Manor Hotel. John Travolta showed up
briefly, but I was too busy chatting with Larry Niven to notice.
Friday morning, August 20, was the rehearsal for awards ceremony,
at the very swanky Beverly Hills Hotel. There, I saw Pamela
Anderson, talking on her cell phone. She saw me looking at her,
and gave me a big smile and a wave. My heart is still beating
Friday, I had lunch with Frederik Pohl, Yoji Kondo, and their
wives. Then I went off to visit the offices of Harmony Gold, the
producers of Robotech, whom I did some consulting for once upon a
time. It was great to see my old friend Tommy Yune, and I was
given some very cool Robotech swag.
Back at the Manor Hotel, I put on my tuxedo (provided by the
organizers for the occasion) and headed back by limo to the
Beverly Hills Hotel for the awards ceremony.
At the cocktail party beforehand, I had a nice chat with shuttle
astronaut Story Musgrave, the fourth astronaut I've met (Marc
Garneau, Buzz Aldrin, and Bjarni Tyggvason were the others). I
sat next to Lydia van Vogt -- the widow of SF legend A. E. van
Vogt -- during the banquet. Also at our table were Kevin and
Rebecca Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle.
During the ceremony, I presented two of the writing awards.
Michelle Stafford, who plays Phyllis on The Young and the
Restless, was in the audience; I introduced myself, and we had a
nice chat. Also in attendance: Martin Kove, who played Isbecki
on Cagney and Lacey. At the end of the evening, I road back to
the hotel with New York Times bestselling romance writer Jo
Saturday morning, August 21, I had a wonderful brunch with two
old friends: Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, who are now
executive story editors on Star Trek: Enterprise. Then it was
off to the Borders bookstore at Sunset and Vine for a mass
autographing session. Anne McCaffrey was clearly the star, but I
sold far more books than I expected to, and the whole thing was
Saturday evening, it was off to dinner with my old high-school
buddy Asbed Bedrossian; Factoring Humanity is dedicated to him.
Sunday morning, August 22, my film agent, Vince Gerardis, picked
me up at the Manor Hotel, and we went out for a great breakfast
meeting, then he dropped me at LAX and, after twenty-five days
away, I flew back home to Toronto. Whew!
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Busy times as always, but things are going well.
Mike Resnick has accepted my 25,000-word novella "Identity
Theft." It will appear next year in an anthology of six
hard-boiled detective SF novellas entitled Down These Dark
Spaceways. The other contributors are Mike himself, Catherine
Asaro, David Gerrold, Jack McDevitt, and Robert Reed. The book
will be offered exclusively by the Science Fiction Book Club.
Earlier this week, I sold Chinese rights to both Starplex and
Golden Fleece -- woohoo!
I'm working my tail off on final revisions for Mindscan; they're
due one week from today.
Wednesday, July 7, 2004
Been working like a demon trying to get things done; an enormous
number of deadlines occur this month -- gak! Among the things on
my plate: finishing final revisions on Mindscan; finishing a
25,000-word hardboiled SF detective novella for Mike Resnick;
going over galleys for the second Robert J. Sawyer Books title
(Andrew Weiner's Getting Near the End); and doing individual
story and article introductions for Relativity, the collection of
my writings being published in conjunction with my guest-of-
honorship at Windycon in Chicago this November.
Still, Carolyn and I took a break today to see Spider-Man 2,
which was quite terrific. But it's mostly been nose to the
grindstone for me of late. Although I enjoy summer, I can't wait
until this one is over, 'cause then I'll have only one project to
focus on: my next novel for Tor. I'm learning lessons about
overextending myself, and am actually getting good about saying
This past weekend was Toronto Trek 18. I did a reading from
Mindscan, which was well received. Also had a fascinating lunch
with an SF writer from Cuba, who happened to be visiting Toronto.
He'd done a Spanish translation of Golden Fleece years ago; it
was a joy to finally meet him.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Busy week! Last Saturday morning (June 12), I was in Calgary. I
flew from there to Toronto, arriving home Saturday afternoon.
Marcos Donnelly and his wife Vikki stayed over at my place
on Saturday evening; Marcos is the author of the first book under
the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint, Letters from the Flesh.
Sunday morning, I headed in early to the Metro Toronto Convention
Centre for BookExpo Canada. I was a breakfast speaker (on the
same program with Phillip Margolin, Susan Swan, and Will
After that, I did a panel for librarians about the marketing of
genre fiction. (I also heard directly from the president of the
Ontario Library Association that I will be the featured author
at their SuperConference 2005 -- booked through Speakers'
Then it was up to the trade-show proper. Red Deer Press was
giving away 200 copies of their beautiful new trade-paperback
edition of my short-story collection Iterations, while I
autographed. I had a huge line-up, which was very gratifying.
Next was lunch with Dennis Johnson, Red Deer's publisher.
At 1:30, it was back to the Red Deer booth so that Marcos
Donnelly could sign Letters from the Flesh; the response from
the book trade to the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint has been
I also spent Monday at BookExpo Canada, schmoozing. Over the
two days, I got to spend some good face time with Greg Gatenby,
the former head of the Harbourfront International Festival of
Authors; Geoffrey Taylor, the current head; Brian Bethune, the
books editor for Maclean's; Doug Gibson, the publisher of
McClelland & Stewart; Harold and Sylvia Fenn, who run the
Canadian distributor of Tor Books, and more. Way cool.
Tuesday, Moses Znaimer, ex-president of MuchMusic, Space, and
a dozen other Canadian broadcasting concerns, called to offer me
a free pass to IdeaCity 2004, his three-day think-tank /
schmoozefest. Passes cost $2,500 at the door, but Moses had a
few left, and I'd been a speaker the previous year, plus he likes
me. I jumped at the chance, and spent Wednesday there. I had
lunch with Darlene Lim, Canadian Mars-exploration expert now with
the NASA Ames Research Centre in Mountain View, California, and
spent a coffee break with Sook-Yin Lee, the host of CBC Radio
One's "Definitely Not the Opera."
I wish I could have gone back to IdeaCity today, but I'm just too
busy with other things -- including working on a 20,000-word
hard-boiled-detective SF novella for an original anthology Mike
Resnick is editing for the Science Fiction Book Club; dealing
with the submissions that have piled up for Robert J. Sawyer
Books (I rejected eight of them today), and more.
Tomorrow (Friday), I'll be writing all day, then head off to my
brother-in-law David's place for his DAVE -- "Dave's Annual
Vacuuming Excuse" -- the name he gives to his birthday
celebration. Then Saturday, it's off to Calgary again, for a
trip that includes a side journey to the Oakanagan Valley of
British Columbia for the Shuswap Lake International Writers
Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Since signing up with Speakers' Spotlight, a major Canadian
speakers' bureau, my speaking career has taken off very nicely.
In the last month, I've done talks for BioMedex 2004 (a
conference of researchers and financiers in the biopharmaceutical
industry) and for the Canadian Space Agency (as keynote speaker
at the Second International Conference on Physical Sciences in
Space). And on this coming Friday, I give the opening talk at
the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Science
Centres. The money is good, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
Did a drop-in signing today at the Chapters superstore at Bayview
Village Shopping Centre in north Toronto, and was pleased to note
that The Terminal Experiment is now in an 8th printing. Woohoo!
Meanwhile, the hardcover of Hybrids is in its second printing.
I delivered my sixteenth novel to Tor recently. My working title
was Action Potential, but the sales force didn't like that, so
it's been retitled Mindscan. It had originally been scheduled
for January 2005, but has been rescheduled now for April 2005,
which makes me happier. I didn't want to be touring in the
middle of winter, and no one buys books in January (they're too
busy reading the ones they got for Christmas). Also, Mindscan is
now scheduled for the same month as Spin, the next novel by my
great friend (and fellow Torontonian) Robert Charles Wilson, and
that will let us do some touring together).
Monday, May 3, 2004
A very good friend of mine died this morning. I am off to
Calgary tomorrow for the funeral. I submitted the following
obituary to all the appropriate SF sources:
Robyn Herrington (1961-2004)
Robyn Meta Herrington, active member of both SFWA and SF Canada,
passed away today in Calgary, Alberta, after a courageous
multi-year battle with cancer.
Robyn's short fiction appeared in such places as On Spec,
Talebones, Adventures of Sword and Sorcery,
Parsec, and in Mike Resnick's DAW Anthologies Return of
the Dinosaurs (her first sale), Women Writing Science
Fiction as Men, and New Voices in Science Fiction; one
of her stories was produced by CBC Radio as part of its "Alberta
Anthology" series. Her genre poetry appeared in Tesseracts
6 and Chiaroscuro, and she was working on a novel.
Robyn was an acquisitions editor for Edge Science Fiction and
Fantasy, and was instrumental in bringing Australian writer K. A.
Bedford's first novel, Orbital Burn, to market.
Robyn was a beloved mainstay of Calgary's SF&F workshop, the
Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, where she was known for
insightful, compassionately presented critiques. She was also a
frequent member of the committee for Con-Version, Calgary's
annual SF convention (including in 2002, when Con-Version was the
CanVention -- the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention),
and was often involved with the con's writers' workshop and
annual short-story contest.
Robyn was born in Melbourne in 1961, and grew up in Elizabeth
Fields, South Australia; she moved to Calgary 25 years ago. She
was employed as a graphics designer by the University of Calgary
(and edited the publication New Currents In Teaching
Technology there). She was also an accomplished glass
blower, and an inveterate traveler.
Robyn had time to draft her own eulogy before passing. At her
request, it will be read at her funeral by her friend and mentor,
Robert J. Sawyer. The service will be held later this week in
Calgary. Robyn is survived by her husband Bruce Herrington,
universally known in Calgary as "the wonder spouse," her parents,
and sister Sandy VanDamme.
Her home page is at http://www.ucalgary.ca/~rmherrin/
Monday, April 19, 2004
Woohoo! I received today my first copy of the new edition of my
1992 novel Far-Seer, just out from Tor -- and it looks GORGEOUS.
The cover is the same art of Afsan from the original 1992
The book is a trade paperback (large-format paperback), and it
just looks fabulous: the layout and design of the cover (thanks
to Tor's brilliant art director, Irene Gallo), the interior
layout and typography, and so on. Just gorgeous.
Far-Seer is volume one of "The Quintaglio Ascension." Volume
Two, Fossil Hunter, is coming back into print in January 2005, to
coincide with the hardcover release of Action Potential, and
Volume Three, Foreigner, will be out later in 2005.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
The final Hugo Award Ballot for 2004 was released yesterday, and
-- woohoo! -- I'm on it. Humans is one of five finalists for the
Best Novel of the Year. I'm totally thrilled. As I'm sure
everyone reading this knows ('cause I've hardly kept it a secret
<grin>), I won the Best Novel Hugo last year for Hominids,
the book to which Humans is the sequel.
(It's not unheard of for a book and its sequel to win
back-to-back Hugos. Orson Scott Card did it with Ender's Game
and Speaker for the Dead ...)
Also on the ballot is one of my very best friends, fellow
Torontonian Robert Charles Wilson (for the remarkable Blind
Lake). Bob and I and our wives are doing a road-trip to Boston
together for the World Science Fiction Convention this year,
which is where the Hugos will be presented on September 5.
Meanwhile, Saturday's National Post -- one of Canada's two
national newspapers -- had a nice little review of Iterations
(which has just been re-released in trade paperback by Red Deer
Press): "Abounding with innovations in plot, character and
setting, Iterations (Red Deer Press, 303 pp., Cdn$22.95) is
Sawyer's first collection of previously published stories and a
fair microcosm of his 15-novel (and counting) career."
As if all of that wasn't enough for one day, I also got invited
on Saturday to be Guest of Honor at BayCon, a large (2000+
people) SF convention to be held May 27-30, 2005, in San Jose,
California. Needless to say, I said yes -- and am totally
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
Ad Astra -- Toronto's annual SF convention, held this past
weekend -- was very good this year, and I certainly was in a
wonderful mood all weekend, although I'm sure that had as much to
do with great things in my life external to the convention as
anything that happened there.
The convention started with a bang for me: at 7:00 p.m. Friday
night, we had the book-launch party for Letters from the Flesh
by Marcos Donnelly, the first title in the new "Robert J. Sawyer
Books" imprint from Calgary's Red Deer Press. We were booked
into a lovely venue called the Reflections Room, and had maybe 70
people show up.
Dennis Johnson, Red Deer's Publisher, flew in from Calgary for
the event, and Marcos Donnelly and his lovely wife Vikki, plus a
slew of other writers and readers from the Rochester, New York,
area (where Marcos lives) came as well, on top of tons of locals.
Red Deer sprang for refreshments.
I served as MC for the launch, standing on a chair telling
everyone about how RJS Books came to be, likening Dennis Johnson
to the Grinch ("Why, if I can't buy an SF imprint, I'll make one
instead!"). And I introduced Marcos (who did a terrific,
animated reading from the book) and Dennis.
We sold 30 hardcovers, which is great for a book launch. Robert
Charles Wilson, one of Ad Astra's Guests of Honour, bought a copy
-- more about that later.
Also nice was that the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) sales rep for
distributor Fitzhenry and Whiteside was on hand; Fitz and Whits
represents the new RJS Books line (as well as the recent reprint
of Iterations from Red Deer). She said, much to my pleasure,
that she'd just been blown away by the good-will I have among
booksellers; everyone she'd been in to sell books to had
responded very warmly to my name, and many had commented on what
a nice guy I am. Gawrsh ... :)
After that, I was off to my first panel on "Cognitive Science and
AI" -- right up my street these days, as I race to finish ACTION
POTENTIAL. One of the other panelists was fellow Tor/Hartwell
author Karl Schroeder, and we always riff well off each other, so
that was great.
But the panel room was too small -- way too small! That was a
complaint heard all weekend -- the rooms only had seating for
about 30; most events ended up standing-room only. Fortunately,
Ad Astra will supposedly be at a different hotel next year.
Then it was the "meet the pros" party (back in the Reflections
room), where I hooked up with the other author Guest of Honour,
my great friend C. J. Cherryh and her writing partner, the super
Jane Fancher, who is also a great buddy of mine.
Throughout the party, and, indeed, throughout the weekend, maybe
two dozen people commented on how much weight I've lost, and that
certainly made me feel good :).
We had five house guest staying with us during Ad Astra: Al
Katerinsky and Herb Kauderer from Buffalo, New York; Herb's
girlfriend Isobelle from Montreal; and Hayden and Liz Trenholm
from Ottawa. We gathered them all up at about 11:15, and we had
a convoy of cars back to Carolyn and my place.
Saturday morning, I'd arranged for Red Deer publisher Dennis
Johnson and me to take Patrick Neilsen Hayden, the head of SF/F
publishing for Tor, and Teresa Neilsen Hayden, a consulting
editor and formerly managing editor of Tor, out for brunch.
Dennis is something of a newbie to the SF industry, although a
very experienced publisher, and Patrick and Teresa regaled us
with stories of the US marketplace, key personalities in the book
trade, and so on. It was terrific.
That segued to a lunch with two of Carolyn and my great friends,
Nick DiChario (CALCULATING GOD is dedicated to him) and Rick
Wilber (and Rick's 13-year-old daughter Samantha). Rick is a
mystery/SF writer who normally lives in Florida, but he was also
the leader of the study tour of Ireland that Carolyn and I
participated in last summer (I was Featured Instructor for the
University of South Florida/National University of Ireland's
Galway Summer School in Contemporary Writing, from July 3 to 23
last year; we traveled all over Ireland with nine terrific
students). So it was fabulous to see Rick.
Next up was a panel on writing scams, which I moderated. It went
fine (although, really, if you just remember Rob's rule --
money always flows to the writer, never the other way around --
you'll be fine). And at 4:00 p.m., there was an autograph
session; that went fine, too.
On hand for the autographing was Janis Ackroyd, my new publicist
at H. B. Fenn (Canadian distributor for Tor Books); my old
publicist, the wonderful David Leonard, had been hired away a
couple of week ago. It was terrific to meet Janis, who seems
super, and I had fun introducing her to other Tor and Warner
authors (Fenn represents both in Canada). It was also fun to get
a peek at the list of authors that she was supposed to meet that
Fenn had provided her with, because it was annotated with
physical descriptions to aid her in identifying them (no
description for me, though; Janis had already seen me on TV, so
she knew what I looked like).
Next it was drinks with my great writing buddy Terence M. Green
(FRAMESHIFT is dedicated to him and his wife Merle) and my
brother-in-law, poet David Clink; fabulous chat. And that segued
into dinner with David, Liz and Hayden, friend Rebecca Simkins,
and others, in the hotel bar. And then it was a fun evening of
making the party circuit through the hotel.
Although Liz, Hayden, Al, Herb, and Isobelle were all still
staying at our place, Carolyn and I took a hotel room at the con
for Saturday night.
Sunday morning, I had brunch with Ed Covannon and his friend Joe,
both of whom work at Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York (and
had come in part for Marcos's book launch). Ed and Joe both work
in the skunk works at Kodak, doing pie-in-the-sky new-product
development, and Ed has a couple of times had me and other SF
authors do "ideation" sessions for Kodak about future imaging
products. In fact, the Companions in the Neanderthal Parallax
trilogy came out of one of those sessions, when I quipped that
the imaging product I most wanted was a personal black-box
Then it was my reading, which was TOTALLY packed, and as one
audience member wrote afterwards to me: "Your reading was
superb, by the way, a fine example of `The Right Way To Do It.' I
noticed that even when you'd been reading for 20 minutes, one
could have heard a pin drop in that room. You could have read
for hours and not lost us."
That meant a lot to me, because what I was reading from was the
opening parts of ACTION POTENTIAL, my current novel-in-progress.
Not only was it the first reading I'd given from it, it was the
first time I'd read any of the book in hardcopy (as opposed to on
my computer screen). I was somewhat nervous about how it would
be received, but the audience laughed at all the jokes and got
misty at all the sad bits, and I felt enormously pumped at the
end of the reading.
We then had twenty-minutes of Q&A, which got into lots of deep
topics, including whether or not souls exist. (It was actually a
bit tricky, because a good friend of mine was in the audience,
and she'd recently lost her spouse ... I didn't want to be
dismissive of any beliefs that might give her comfort. But it
all went fine.)
Immediately after, and in the same room, I gave a solo talk,
"What's Wrong with the Skeptical Movement These Days." Man, I
was on fire -- the talk, given entirely extemporaneously, just
rocked, I thought, and a lot of people seemed to agree. Only
downside: after two hours of pretty solid talking, my voice was
It was then off to my great friend Robert Charles Wilson's Guest
of Honour speech. Unlike my talk of the previous hour, Bob had
carefully scripted his speech ... and it was fabulous: very,
very funny (Bob is incredibly wry, in his writing and in person).
He just HAS to publish the talk; it was that good.
During the Q&A session afterward, Bob spoke passionately about
Marcos Donnelly's Letters from the Flesh. As I mentioned Bob
had bought a copy on Friday night at the launch, and, despite all
his GoH duties, had managed to read half of it by this point. He
said it was one of the best, most charming SF books he'd read in
years, and praised Marcos for having written it and me for having
published it. Woohoo!
Carolyn missed all of the above. Sunday afternoon was the last
meeting of the academic year of her poetry writing workshop, the
University of Toronto's "Algonquin Square Table," and she'd gone
off to that.
I had one more panel after that -- the last panel of the con. I
was moderating, with the two GoHs on either side of me: C. J.
Cherryh and Bob Wilson. Even though it was the last event on
Sunday afternoon, the room was still packed.
Then Hayden, Liz, and I drove back to my place, and had very
pleasant drinks waiting for Carolyn to get home. When she did,
the four of us went out to dinner at Canyon Creek, a great
steakhouse very near our home, and although the service was off
(very unusual for them), the food was terrific.
We then all went back to Carolyn and my place. The weekend
before, I'd been in Calgary, and had had a small part in an
amateur production of "Once More, With Feeling," the BUFFY THE
VAMPIRE SLAYER musical; it had been put on by members of IFWA,
Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, for which I'd
twice before facilitated workshops. I'd never seen the musical
before that, but thoroughly enjoyed it then, and the next night,
a bunch of Ifwits and I watched the original on DVD. It's truly
terrific, and when I saw a copy for sale at Ad Astra, I couldn't
resist buying it.
So, Sunday night, Carolyn, Hayden, Liz, and I all watched the
musical; I was the only one who had seen it before, but we all
thought it was terrific. Hayden and Liz stayed over Sunday night
(Herb, Isobelle, and Al had gone home directly from Ad Astra).
All in all, a terrific weekend!
Friday, March 19, 2004
I'll be in British Columbia twice this summer attending writers'
First up is:
The Shuswap Lake International Writers' Festival
June 25-27, 2004
Salmon Arm, BC
(at the north end of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of
More info (although the site isn't up to date):
Then I'm off to:
The 22nd Annual Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts
August 12-15, 2004
More info: www.writersfestival.ca/
These are actually two quite different events. The Sunshine
Coast Festival is an event for READERS, with authors giving major
readings, books being sold, and so on -- a bit like Toronto's
Harbourfront International Festival of Authors, but in a way, way
more beautiful venue.
Shuswap, on the other hand, is actually aimed at WRITERS who want
to learn more about their craft; this year, they're having a
special emphasis on science fiction and fantasy, and on poetry.
For the SF/F stream, besides me, they've got Jack Whyte and Matt
Hughes, plus (probably) a couple of others to be announced.
We'll be doing some limited manuscript critiquing, a panel on
SF/F, and some specific 70- to 90-minute workshops. The two
workshops I'm doing are:
EXTRAPOLATION: This workshop will explore techniques for taking
things that are happening today and turning them into exciting
fictional visions of tomorrow. We'll explore science fiction's
two standard thought modes: "What if?" and "If this goes on ..."
We'll look at how to cast ahead both scientifically and
sociologically, discussing everything from predicting future
technologies to what family life may be like decades from now.
And we'll look at ways to keep up-to-date with the rapid pace of
change in science and technology, and how to spot story ideas in
the science pages of your local newspaper or weekly newsmagazine.
CONSTRUCTING CHARACTERS: The heart and soul of good fiction --
including science fiction -- is believable characterization.
We'll discuss how to find the right characters to populate your
stories, how to pick an appropriate viewpoint, and how to bring
life to your fictional people. We'll also look at the special
challenges of creating nonhuman characters such as alien beings
and thinking machines.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
I spent three hours at the CBC Broadcasting Centre today,
recording my material for the third pilot of "Faster Than Light,"
the radio series about science fiction that I've been developing
with Joe Mahoney for a couple of years. Fergus Heywood has now
come on board as joint producer with Joe, and he's been a real
Today's session started with me doing a lengthy interview with
Julie E. Czerneda, one of Canada's best SF writers. Julie is
bubbly and witty, and the interview went very well. We'll only
use a portion of it in the pilot; the rest will be saved for use
if we actually get the go-ahead to make this series.
The session at the CBC went fabulously. I got a bit depressed on
the way home, though. I came home via the Go Train -- southern
Ontario's intercity public-transit service. The driver came on
the P.A. with the announcement that the train ahead of us on the
tracks had hit and killed a pedestrian at a crossing. Very, very
sad, and the sort of thing that provides some perspective on
whatever little problems one might have in one's own life.
Anyway, besides the interview with Julie, the new "Faster Than
Light" pilot includes a full-cast dramatization of Richard
Matheson's "Born of Man and Woman," a mini-documentary on aliens
in SF movies, a commentary by me on the concept of "the other" in
science fiction, and a bunch of other cool things. It's being
turned in to the powers-at-be at the CBC next Tuesday ... and
then we wait, with fingers crossed, to see if the show will be
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
One of the reasons I'm self-employed is that I hate meetings.
But today I attended a seven-hour (!) meeting at the Canadian
Broadcasting Centre, the national headquarters of CBC Radio and
Television. The topic: a new pilot for "Faster Than Light," the
radio program I've been developing with Joe Mahoney at the CBC
for two years now (it was February 20, 2002, when Joe and I had
our first meeting about this project).
Our first pilot aired September 22, 2002, and had a great
audience response. But wheels move slowly at the CBC. Earlier
this month, the powers-that-be decided to give us the money to do
another pilot. Today's meeting was with a brain trust of CBC
producers to discuss directions for an eventual series. And
despite my hatred for meetings, this one was wonderfully useful
and productive -- we worked right through a (catered) lunch and
got an enormous amount accomplished.
We'll be pulling together a new pilot by the end of March, and,
if we're successful, we'll hopefully be on the air this summer
for a ten- or twelve-week test run. "Faster Than Light" will be
hosted by me and will feature dramatic readings of SF stories,
radio dramas based on existing SF stories, author interviews,
commentaries, and more. Fingers crossed!
In the evening, Carolyn and I and our friends Sally and Marcel
went to see the Canadian documentary film The Corporation,
which was fascinating -- but awfully long at 2 hours and 25
minutes. Still, much food for thought.
Other news: I agreed today to be an Author Guest at the
convention Toronto Trek 18, to be held July 2-4, 2004.
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Well, I'm back from Philadelphia. I was flown down to be guest
speaker at the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society's monthly
meeting. PSFS is the oldest extant science-fiction club in the
world, and monthly out-of-town speakers have been a staple of
their programming for years.
My talk was structured around the fact that two of my closest
friends, Sally Tomasevic and Marcel Gagne, had just a week before
announced that they were expecting a baby boy. Marcel and I, of
course, had immediately started planning out how we'd make sure
the little fellow (who I suggested should be named Leonard James
Akaar Gagne) would grow up to be a science-fiction fan.
But I wondered, in my talk, if, when that boy had grown to be as
old as I (and his father Marcel, who is only two weeks younger
than me) am now, would there be such a thing as science fiction?
I cast back 40 years to look at what SF was doing back then,
explored its current state, and tried to extrapolate what, if
any, societal impact and importance it will have in the future.
The audience was, fortunately, wonderfully receptive and
supportive, and laughed at all my jokes.
The next day, my wonderful host, Oz Fontecchio, took me to lunch,
then to the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences (which has a
great dinosaur gallery), and then to a wonderful dinner.
Sunday (today) was uneventful, except that my scheduled fight
from Toronto was canceled because of mechanical problems with the
aircraft; I got bumped to a flight on another carrier, in another
terminal, but ended up spending an extra hour and twenty minutes
in the Philadelphia Airport. Ah, well. It gave me a chance to
get some writing done on Action Potential.
Monday, February 9, 2004
On Thursday, February 5, I flew to Calgary, some 2700 km from
Toronto. Using an old Poqet PC Plus MS-DOS palmtop, I wrote
1,300 new words of Action Potential during the flight, and
read most of an issue New Scientist. The plane was only
half-full, and I ended up with a row of three seats to myself.
Red Deer Press had a limousine driver waiting for me, who looked
an awful lot like Jerry Pournelle. He took me to the University
of Calgary, where Red Deer Press has its offices. Red Deer has
started a new science-fiction imprint, Robert J. Sawyer Books,
but this was the first time I'd been to their offices, which at
the moment are on the eighth floor of the library tower at the
university (the press has an association with the university).
Although I'd met publisher Dennis Johnson twice before, this was
my first time meeting the rest of the Red Deer staff, all of whom
seemed to be wonderful people. Later, Dennis, his promotions
manager Lisa, I went to The Keg (a steakhouse) for dinner. After
dinner, Lisa dropped me off at the central branch of the Calgary
Public Library. I read my short-story "Immortality," and
Timothy J. Anderson and Candas Jane Dorsey read, as well. I'd
previously read with Candas, but had never had the opportunity to
read with Timothy before. He's a professional actor, and his
presentation was absolutely terrific.
Usually, when I go to Calgary, I immediately hook up with the
IFWits: members of IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction Writers
Association, a group I have a association with going back to
1996. But, unfortunately, IFWA's regular monthly workshopping
meeting was the same time as our reading, so only a few IFWits
came. But after the readings, Danita Maslankowski took me off to
the pub where the other IFWits congregate after their meeting,
and I spent an enjoyable hour catching up with old friends.
Then it was off to my hotel. With the time-zone change, the long
flight, and the late hour, I fell asleep at once, and slept very
Friday morning, Candas, Timothy, and I were picked up by staff
from Mount Royal College, and we were whisked off to the campus
for the conference "SF and Social Change" at which I was giving
the keynote address, and Candas and Timothy were also presenters.
My keynote went over very well indeed. I spoke for 40 minutes
about whether science fiction has successfully been an agent of
social change, or only a commentator on social change. The
response was very gratifying.
Several IFWits had signed up for the two-day seminar, which
consisted of double tracks of academic papers. I attended most
sessions, although bowed out of one to check my email and do some
writing on Action Potential.
Friday night was a terrific impromptu group dinner at The Old
Spaghetti Factory, and Saturday night, there was a fabulous,
pre-arranged dinner for 25 at a local Chinese buffet. After
that, a bunch of us adjourned to a terrific coffee shop called
Bad Ass, where we stayed chatting and laughing until after
midnight -- except for a battery-hunting expedition about
9:30 p.m. by the lovely Kaye Mason and the equally lovely Anna
Maria Bortolotto (the lithium back-up battery on one of my
palmtop computers had died, and someone had wisely observed
that airport security people might confiscate it if I
couldn't demonstrate it booting up upon request).
The next morning, it was back home to Toronto. All in all, a
Wednesday, February 4, 2004
When I'm working on a first draft, as I am now for Action
Potential, I try to do 2,000 words a day. Today, though, I was
on fire -- producing 3,100 words before lunch.
Yesterday, I received my "Collectors Award" trophy from Barry R.
Levin for Most Collectable Author of the Year. It's gigantic --
by far the biggest trophy for writing I've ever seen. It's an
art deco design -- a Lucite skyscraper supporting a five-inch
diameter travertine sphere that represents a planet. Absolutely
Tomorrow, I'm off to Calgary for three days -- giving the
keynote address at a conference on science fiction and social
change at Mount Royal College; visiting with Red Deer Press (the
publisher of the new Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint), and having
a dinner with the members of IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction
Writers Association, a great group of people who I've twice led
workshops for and who have become very special friends over the
Friday, January 30, 2004
Progress is continuing nicely on Action Potential, my next novel.
I'm at about 70,000 words, with three months left to finish the
book (which will weigh in at 100,000 words). Indeed, I had a
nice conceptual breakthrough this week that's going to add a very
wonderful dimension to the novel.
Action Potential deals with the nature of consciousness, and so
Carolyn and I decided today to attend the sixth conference in the
series "Toward a Science of Consciousness" at the Center for
Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson; the
conference runs April 7 to 11.
Andrew Weiner delivered his revisions today for Getting Near the
End, the second novel in the new Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint.
I'm just delighted at how smoothly everything is going with this
line of books. The logo for the imprint, finalized earlier this
week, is here.
I'm pleased to see in the February Locus that Hominids is back on
the paperback bestsellers' list (data period: November 2003),
presumably thanks to its Hugo win. Indeed, Tor is going back to
press for a second paperback printing, and will be adding a "Hugo
Winner" starburst to the front cover (as well as correcting two
Got word today that my good friend Masayuki Uchida, who has been
my translator since day one in Japan, has received the contract
to translate all three Neanderthal Parallax novels for Hayakawa.
Received a wonderful new piece for my collection of SF
memorabilia today: a MasterReplicas recreation of the Phaser 2
pistol from the original Star Trek -- a pricey little item, but
absolutely gorgeous. I'm very pleased with it.
Today's mail also brought my contributor's copy of the new DAW
anthology Space Stations, edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and
John Helfers, and containing my new story "Mikeys." Here's the
Damn, but it stuck in Don Lawson's craw -- largely
because Chuck Zakarian was right. After all,
Zakarian was slated for the big Mars surface
mission to be launched from Earth next year. He
never said it to Don's face, but Don knew that
Zakarian and the rest of NASA viewed him and Sasim
as Mikeys -- the derisive term for those, like
Apollo 11's command-module pilot Mike Collins, who
got to go almost all the way to the target.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
I made a very brief trip to Ottawa Sunday and Monday, to do some
consulting for the Canada Council for the Arts. Yesterday,
evening I had dinner with the Hon. Mauril Bélanger, who is the
Canadian Liberal Party's Deputy Government House Leader and the
Party Whip. Mauril is a big science-fiction fan, and we had a
great time chatting about SF, Canada's future in space, and more.
Today, I went to the University of Waterloo, to give a talk to
undergraduate physics students (all four years, as part of a
combined lecture series). It went very well indeed, and
afterwards Carolyn and I were taken out to lunch at what UW calls
in a very egalitarian fashion the University Club (most other
campuses call their similar facility the Faculty Club, which of
course galls administrative and support staff).
Friday, January 16, 2004
The January issue of Locus, the trade-journal of the science-
fiction field, contains a full page ad from announcing the
THE 16th ANNUAL
BARRY R. LEVIN
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY LITERATURE, A.B.A.A.
On behalf of its staff and worldwide clientele of collectors of
rare and first editions of science fiction, fantasy, and horror
is pleased to congratulate the winners and proud to present
ROBERT J. SAWYER
the Collectors Award for 2003 for
MOST COLLECTABLE AUTHOR OF THE YEAR
the Collectors Award for 2003 for
MOST COLLECTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
the Lettered State of
THE BOOK OF COUNTED SORROWS
by Dean Koontz
Lifetime Collectors Award
A CAREER OF ASTOUNDING CREATIVITY
THAT HAS SO AIDED
THE COLLECTABILITY OF FANTASTIC LITERATURE
The Collectors Awards are presented annually in January for the
science fiction, fantasy, or horror author and book deemed "most
collectable" by our firm's prestigious clientele.
The awards take the form of solid travertine spheres (the special
award being obsidian) representing a planet, which rests on a
Lucite pedestal -- a fitting award for an author or publisher who
spends an entire career creating worlds for others.
Updated Thursday, May 25, 2006: Here's a list of winners to date
of the Collectors Award for Most Collectable Author of the Year:
2005 (18th annual): Jack Vance
2004 (17th annual): Susanna Clarke
2003 (16th annual): Robert J. Sawyer
2002 (15th annual): Neil Gaiman
2001 (14th annual): J. K. Rowling (2nd time)
2000 (13th annual): J. K. Rowling (1st time)
1999 (12th annual): Neal Stephenson
1998 (11th annual): Peter F. Hamilton
1997 (10th annual): Stephen Baxter
1996 (9th annual): Stephen King (3rd time)
1995 (8th annual): Lois McMaster Bujold
1994 (7th annual): Anne Rice
1993 (6th annual): Michael Crichton
1992 (5th annual): Stephen King (2nd time)
1991 (4th annual): Dan Simmons
1990 (3rd annual): Stephen King (1st time)
1989 (2nd annual): Salman Rushdie
1988 (1st annual): Dean R. Koontz
I'm absolutely thrilled to be in such august company. Many
thanks, Barry Levin!
[The award was discontinued after its 18th presentation. As
Barry R. Levin wrote to me in an email in 2014, "By the time
the 2006 awards should have come out, my wife Sally Ann (O.B.M.)
had passed away. It had always been a joint project of ours and
I just did not have the heart to go on with them alone."]
Sunday, January 11, 2004
New Science Fiction Imprint Announced:
ROBERT J. SAWYER BOOKS
Hugo and Nebula Winner Sawyer to Edit Line
First Books Acquired
Now Open for Submissions
Dennis Johnson, publisher of Red Deer Press of
Calgary, Alberta, has announced its new
science-fiction imprint: Robert J. Sawyer Books.
Sawyer will serve as editor for the line, which will
consist of at least three books per year, and he will
write introductions for each book released.
The first acquisitions: Letters from the Flesh by
Marcos Donnelly of Brockport, New York (which will
be published in hardcover in May 2004), and Getting
Near the End by Andrew Weiner of Toronto (September
Guidelines are online at:
The Red Deer Press website:
Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Today, Hayakawa Publishing Company of Tokyo bought Japanese
rights to the entire "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy: Hominids,
Humans, and Hybrids. Yay!
And the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America released
its 2003 Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot today. My Humans is one
of fifteen novels on the list; after the first round of voting by
SFWA members, that will be knocked down to the five finalists.
Also today, I was the "house guest" on CBC Radio One Toronto's
afternoon drive-time show Here and Now with Avril Benoît.
Avril and I chatted for two hours, interspersed with other guests
and news, weather, and traffic reports. It was great fun.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Toronto's Bakka-Phoenix Books, founded in 1972 as Bakka Books and
the world's oldest surviving science-fiction specialty store, has
announced its 2003 Bestsellers List, compiled by the store at the
request of Canadian Bookseller magazine:
The top-five bestselling books of 2003 at Bakka-Phoenix were:
1. Humans by Robert J. Sawyer in paperback (Tor/Fenn)
2. Hybrids by Robert J. Sawyer in hardcover (Tor/Fenn)
3. Long Hot Summoning by Tanya Huff in hardcover (DAW)
4. Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer in paperback (Tor/Fenn)
5. Well of Lost Plots by Jasper FForde in trade paperback
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Carolyn and I had a great Christmas holiday, spending time with
family and friends. (Christmas Eve was somewhat non-traditional,
with Carolyn's brother David coming over for a viewing on DVD of
the Richard Burton / Clint Eastwood World War II drama Where
Eagles Dare -- probably not the best holiday fare, but we had a
good time anyway.)
Well, 2003, is coming to a close. For me, it'll always be a
special year: nothing in my career will ever compare with
winning the Hugo Award for Hominids. I'm still on Cloud Nine
about that. Other highlights of the year include winning the
Seiun for Best Foreign Novel (for Illegal Alien) and the Aurora
for Best Short Work in English (for "Ineluctable"), plus being
writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library's Merril
Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy.
Below is a list of all the SF I had published in 2003:
Humans, Tor Books, New York, February 2003.
Hominids, Tor Books, New York, September 2003.
"Come All Ye Faithful," Space Inc., edited by Julie E. Czerneda,
DAW Books, New York, July 2003.
"Immortality," Janis Ian's Stars, edited by Janis Ian and Mike
Resnick, DAW Books, New York, August 2003.
"On The Surface," Future War, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and
Larry Segriff, DAW Books, New York, April 2003.
"Relativity," Men Writing Science Fiction as Women, edited by
Mike Resnick, DAW Books, New York, November 2003.
"The Stanley Cup Caper," The Toronto Star, Sunday, August 24,
2003, page M1.
Work is coming along very nicely on my sixteenth novel, Action
Potential, which Tor has scheduled for January 2005. It's a big
show of faith on Tor's part: they've never scheduled a novel om
mine that I haven't yet finished before. My deadline is April
30, 2004, and a "January 2005" hardcover should be out by early
December 2004, so they're planning to have the book in stores
book just seven months after I turn it in. I'm quite pleased by
I received today my contributor's copy of the anthology
Microcosm edited by Gregory Benford. It's a mass-market
paperback original from DAW, dated January 2004. The book looks
great. My story is called "Kata Bindu," and it's one I'm quite
I've also received reports that the trade paperback of Factoring
Humanity is now out; that's an Orb title (Tor's classic
trade-paperback imprint) for January 2004. So the new year is
off to a good start, even though it hasn't officially begun: a
story in the January/February 2004 Analog ("Shed Skin"), my new
story "Kata Bindu" in Microcosms, and the reissue of an older
novel, Factoring Humanity.
Happy New Year, Everyone!
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Merry Christmas, Everyone! Here's the text of Rob and
Carolyn's 2003 Christmas Letter:
The best thing that will probably ever happen to Rob in his
career occurred this year: he won the World Science Fiction
Society's Hugo Award -- the top international honour for science
fiction -- for the best novel of the year. The winning book was
Hominids, first volume of Rob's "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy.
The Hugo was voted on by readers from all over the world, and
presented at this year's World Science Fiction Convention, which,
for the first time in 30 years, happened to be in Toronto.
The Hugo Award rocketship is a standard design, but the trophy's
base is at the discretion of the city hosting the convention, and
so this year depicted a maple leaf doubling as rocket exhaust.
The Canadian media went ape over Rob's win -- it was even the
front-page lead story in The Ottawa Citizen, the
largest-circulation newspaper in Canada's capital city.
Hominids was published in 2002 -- but Rob had two other books
released this year: Humans (which made it to the top-ten
mainstream hardcover bestsellers list in The Globe and Mail:
Canada's National Newspaper) and Hybrids. These two books
complete Rob's "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy. But he's not out
of work: Earlier this year he signed a new contract with Tor for
a pair of standalone novels; these will be his 17th and 18th
(Still, just to show that life shouldn't be too good, Rob tore
some ligaments in his left ankle in June, and spent weeks walking
first with crutches and then with a cane. But he's fine now.)
As usual, we did a lot of traveling this year. We were in (among
other places) Memphis, Winnipeg, Orlando, Calgary, Ottawa, and
Montreal. But the big trip this year was to Ireland. We were
invited along as guest faculty on a three-week study tour for
students from the University of South Florida. We had a fabulous
time traveling all over the Emerald Isle with a terrific group of
nine kids plus Rick Wilber, the professor who organized the trip.
In April, May, and June, Rob was Writer-in-Residence at the
Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy,
part of the Toronto Public Library; he was the first person to
hold that post since famed SF editor Judith Merril herself back
in 1987. Rob also spent a week in Banff, Alberta, teaching SF
Carolyn is still busy with her poetry workshop at the University
of Toronto, and got over her nervousness to do a great job
teaching poetry fundamentals to students in Ireland. She was Poet
Guest of Honour at Minicon, a science-fiction convention in
Minneapolis in April. She's also active on the Board of Directors
of our condominium. Carolyn is getting more and more into playing
golf, and enjoyed many great games with her brothers David and
Kevin this summer. Carolyn's youngest brother Brian and his wife
Sandi had their second child, Abigail, in September.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Saturday, December 13, 2003
Chapters and Indigo -- Canada's largest booksellers -- have
released their 2003 Best of the Year lists, including separate
best-SF and best-Fantasy lists. These are lists by authors of
I am delighted to report that my Humans is number one on the
science fiction list, and that my Hybrids is number two! (Number
one on the fantasy list is WOLVES OF THE CALLA: DARK TOWER V by
Stephen King; number two is CERULEAN SINS by Laurell K. Hamilton.
(All titles on the lists are being discounted 30% through
The full lists are online at:
And here they are, in plain text:
Robert J. Sawyer
Robert J. Sawyer
3. Pattern Recognition
4. Dune: The Machine Crusade
Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
6. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
7. The Speed of Dark
8. Darwin's Children
9. Star Wars: Shatterpoint
Matthew Woodring Stover
10. Drowning World
Alan Dean Foster
11. The Crystal City
Orson Scott Card
12. Acorna's Rebels
1. Wolves of the Calla: Dark Tower V
2. Cerulean Sins
Laurell K. Hamilton
3. High Druid Of Shannara Jarka Ruus
4. Naked Empire
5. Crossroads of Twilight
6. The Lone Drow: The Hunter's Blades Trilogy Book II
R. A Salvatore
7. Paladin of Souls: A Novel
Lois McMaster Bujold
8. The Elder Gods
9. Kushiel's Avatar
10. War Of The Flowers
11. Golden Fool
13. The White Dragon: Part One of In Fire Forged
Monday, December 1, 2003
Yahoo! Humans is number three on the Paperback Bestseller's List
published in the SF trade journal Locus this month.
Carolyn and I had flu shots today -- they're free for everyone in
Ontario. We spent the evening snuggled up on the couch, each of
us reading ebooks on our PDAs with a fire going in the fireplace.
Carolyn is reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, and I'm just
finishing off Kiss the Girls by James Patterson.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
On Monday, Carolyn and I took possession of a treadmill, which
now looks out over the world from one of our penthouse windows.
Of course, our condo building has lots of fitness facilities --
including two treadmills of its own -- but I wanted something in
our own home. It's a lovely unit, and I'm enjoying using it
(just for walking; not running -- but considering how badly
damaged my left foot was just a few months ago, it's nice to be
walking briskly without pain). I'm listening to downloaded audio
books from Audible.com as I walk; I'm currently listening to an
excellent essay collection called The Next Fifty Years.
Yesterday, despite a vow not to do any talks or readings during
the workweek this academic year, I made an appearance in a
technical-writing class at Seneca College's York University
campus. I made the exception because I was essentially being
show-and-tell for a very good friend, Marah Searle-Kovacevic.
She and two of her classmates were doing a presentation on jobs
for writers, and I had quite an interesting trip down memory
lane telling the class about how I'd started off writing for a
trade journal called Broadcaster, edited the license
application for the Canadian TV service Vision TV, edited
advertorial reports for The Financial Times of Canada,
written tons of office-automation case studies, and all the
others sorts of writing I'd done during the 1980s, before
switching over to writing SF full-time.
Yesterday, I got asked to return to the Sunshine Coast Festival
of the Written Arts in Sechelt, British Columbia in August 2004.
I'd read there once before, and had a fabulous time, so I said
yes in a nanosecond. I'm very much looking forward to it.
Also yesterday, I read through the galley proofs of my new short
story "Mikeys," coming up in the DAW anthology Space Stations
edited by Martin Harry Greenberg and John Helfers.
Today, a photographer came over to shoot my picture for an
article about ebooks coming up in the Canadian technology
magazine Backbone; I was interviewed at length for that
article, since I love ebooks both as a reader and a writer. (My
current favourtie ebook reading platform is a Sony Clie SJ-20
using Palm Reader Pro.)
Carolyn and I went to see a local theatre production of Cabaret,
which was absolutely first rate.
Currently, I'm reading Kiss the Girls by James Patterson --
the first book of his I've read; it's quite a page-turner. I'm
also reading the just released Consciousness: A Guide to the
Debates, as research for my current novel (the one I was
calling Skins but am now, at least for the time being, am
calling Action Potential).
Sunday, November 9, 2003
Busy times, as always!
Carolyn and I took Robert McKee's famed "Story" screenwriting
seminar over Hallowe'en weekend. McKee is based in L.A., but he
was in Toronto. The seminar started at 9:30 a.m. on the Friday,
and went to 8:40 p.m. that night; Saturday, it started at 9:00
a.m. and went to 9:00 p.m.; Sunday, it lasted from 9:00 a.m. and
went to 8:45 p.m. My bum was totally numb by the end!
McKee is immortalized in the movie Adaptation (in which he's
played by an actor). He's a very dramatic speaker. Carolyn
learned a lot about the craft of story structuring, and I
certainly enjoyed a very lively, pointed refresher. On the
Sunday, we spent six hours going through Casablanca pretty much
scene by scene. Casablanca is my all-time favorite movies, so
this was thoroughly enjoyable.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were spent with the usual writing
business in Toronto. (And on Tuesday, we had our carpets cleaned
-- we've got a lot of carpets, and their all champagne-white. We
entertain a lot and they certainly were in need of cleaning.)
On Tuesday, I received the electronic version of the
January/February 2004 issue of Analog, the world's best-selling
SF magazine; this issues contains my short story "Shed Skin."
Subscribers should be receiving their copies of the print edition
around now, and it'll be in bookstores soon.
Thursday morning, bright and early, Carolyn and I headed off by
car to Albany, New York. We arrived there about 4:30 in the
afternoon, and went out for an Italian dinner (at which the
portions were obscenely large) with members of the local SF club.
From 7:00 to 9:00 I did a reading/signing/talk at Flights of
Fantasy, Albany's SF specialty store. The turnout was great.
After that, we drove to Saratoga Springs, for the New York
Library Association's annual meeting, where I was giving the
"noted author" luncheon address. We arrived late, the hotel was
overbooked, and we got bumped to a suite in a heritage-site hotel
inside a state park, with the first hotel picking up 100% of the
much-larger tab. (Still, Carolyn said the hotel reminded her of
a submarine: Sure, it looks great on the surface, but as soon as
you get inside, it's "Dive! Dive! Dive!"
Friday, we arrived at the New York Library Association's meeting,
and looked around the trade show. Then I gave the luncheon
address. My 40-minute talk was entitled "The Many Flavors of
Science Fiction," and it was extremely well received -- I can't
remember the last time I'd had such sustained applause. After
the talk, the organizers sold a ton of my books, and, after
signing them, Carolyn and I hit the road, heading to Keene, New
Hampshire, to drop in briefly at the used-SF store run by my
friend Judith Klein-Dial. We then headed to Milford, New
Hampshire, where I did a signing at a party celebrating my Hugo
win at the Toadstool Bookshop there.
After the signing/party was over, we drove another 2.5 hours to
Montpelier, Vermont. The temperature had dropped a lot, and it
was now bitterly cold. We stayed in a hotel overnight, then
motored up to Montreal, arriving there just before noon for
Con*Cept, a one-day science-fiction convention. (Con*Cept used
to be a three-day con, but had fallen on hard times; we'd decided
to go just to show our support.) It was a terrific, very well
run convention, and it was great to meet some of the members of
the Robert J. Sawyer Yahoo! newsgroup face to face. I was on a
panel on the intersection of science fiction and fantasy, and
another on global warming, and there was an event called "An Hour
with Robert J. Sawyer," at which I did a reading (of my story
"The Eagle Has Landed," forthcoming in Mike Resnick's anthology
I, Alien), and a Q&A session.
Carolyn and I ended up having dinner with two of the Guests of
Honor: fantasy writer Dave Duncan from Calgary, and British
actor Michael Sheard, who played Admiral Ozzel in The Empire
Sunday morning, the convention ended with a terrific brunch, and
we hit the road for the 560 km journey back home.
As I said above, busy times. But really pleasant, productive,
fun times, too ...
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Well, well, well. Carolyn and I went to the Royal Ontario Museum
on Sunday to see the special Art Deco exhibit, and, when done,
dropped by my old stomping ground, the dinosaur gallery.
For the first time since the "new" dinosaur gallery opened 30
years ago, some changes have been made. In my 2000 novel
Calculating God, I wrote:
The centerpiece of the old gallery was a Corythosaurus,
a huge duckbill standing erect. There was something
wonderfully Canadian, although I didn't understand it as
such at the time, about the ROM's showcase dinosaur being a
placid vegetarian instead of the ravenous T. rexes or the
fiercely armed Triceratopses that were the major mounts at
most U.S. museums; indeed, it wasn't until 1999 that the ROM
put a T. rex cast on display, over in the kid's Discovery
Gallery. Still, that ancient Corythosaurus mount was wrong.
We know now that hadrosaurs almost certainly couldn't stand
up like that; they probably spent most of their time as
Every time I went to the museum as a kid, I made a
point of looking at that skeleton, and the others, and
reading the placards, and struggling with the vocabulary,
and learning as much as I could.
We still have that skeleton at the ROM, tucked to the
side of the Cretaceous Alberta diorama, but there's no
explanatory text associated with it anymore. Just a small
Plexiglas sign that disingenuously glosses over the
erroneous stance, and says little else:
Corythosaurus excavatus gilmore
A crested hadrosaur (duck-bill) mounted in
an upright alert posture. Upper Cretaceous,
Oldman formation (approximately 75 million
years), Little Sandhill Creek, near
Of course, the "new" Dinosaur Gallery was a
quarter-century old now. It had opened before Christine
Dorati had come to power, but she considered it a model of
what our displays should be like: don't bore the audience,
don't weigh them down with facts. Just let them gawk.
That's changed now. Gone, at last, is the hoary old
Corythosaurus mount -- the dinosaur that inspired my interest in
paleontology. Gone, too, is a more recent -- and more
anatomically correct -- mount of Lambeosaurs, another duckbill,
this one named for the great Canadian paleontologist Lawrence
Taking their place is the Tyrannosaurus rex that had previously
been in the children's Discovery Gallery, now closed for
renovations. It's a fine mount, but the net effect is that the
ROM has two fewer dinosaurs on display now. (Another change:
the Dinosaur Gallery's lovely Albertosaurus -- another signature
Canadian genus -- is gone, replaced by a much smaller
Ornithomimus, moved from the opposite side of the hall to make
more room for the T. rex.
Also changed: there's now a nice exhibit of Burgess Shale
fossils just outside the Dinosaur Gallery. Lots more renovations
are underway, and the spot where Hollus's shuttle landed in the
opening of Calculating God is now filled in with a temporary
building for the workers doing the renovations.
Still, the biggest change of all since the time of Calculating
God is one we can't yet see. As I wrote in the beginning of that
The alien's shuttle landed out front of what
used to be the McLaughlin Planetarium, which is right
next door to the Royal Ontario Museum, where I work.
I say it used to be the planetarium because Mike
Harris, Ontario's tightfisted premier, cut the
funding to the planetarium. He figured Canadian kids
didn't have to know about space -- a real forward-
thinking type, Harris.
Ding-dong! The witch is dead! Although Harris himself stepped
down a couple of years ago, his gang, the "Progressive
Conservative" party, had stayed in power ... until this month.
Last Thursday, Ontarians overwhelmingly voted the bastards out of
power. The Progressive Conservatives went from two back-to-back
majorities to just 24 seats in the new Parliament. The Liberals
(not a dirty word in Canadian politics!) got three times as many,
72 seats, and form the new government. Let's hope this province
goes back to having, as its tourism jingle once proudly
proclaimed, "hopes as high as the tallest tree."
Saturday, September 13, 2003
On Saturday, August 30, at a little before 10:00 p.m. Eastern
Time, my life changed forever -- my Hominids won the World
Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year.
I'm totally and completely thrilled. There's a press release
available here. The photo above shows Tor Books publisher Tom
Doherty, on the left, and me holding my Hugo trophy, just after
Earlier that same day, I won Canada's top SF award, the Aurora,
for my novelette "Ineluctable," and Japan's Seiun Award for best
foreign novel of the year for Illegal Alien.
All of this excitement happened at the 61st annual World Science
Fiction Convention, which was being held, for the first time in 30
years, in Toronto.
Before, during, and after the convention we had house guests -- a
total of thirteen different people moving in and out over the
span of fourteen days. But every one of them was a joy, and
Carolyn and I had a great time playing host.
Since my Hugo win, the media has been very attentive. The Ottawa
Citizen -- the largest-circulation newspaper in Canada's capital
city -- had my win as their lead story: front section, page
one, above the fold. The Toronto Star, Canada's largest-
circulation newspaper, gave the story half a page on page 2 of
the front section, above the fold. I did a marathon session of
phone interviews with local CBC Radio One stations across
Canada, and have done lots of other radio, TV, and print
interviews. And the attention hasn't let up; just yesterday, I
did four more interviews.
There have also been a lot of intriguing creative opportunities
put before me since the win: editing my own Canadian publishing
imprint, hosting a Connections-like series pilot for a
Canadian specialty channel, writing a screenplay based on
Hominids. I'm still mulling over which, if any, I'm going
to pursue, but it's amazing to see doors flying open right now.
Other news: Hybrids, the concluding volume of the Neanderthal
Parallax trilogy, had its hardcover launch at the World SF
Convention, and that went very, very well. Meanwhile, the
paperback of the second volume, Humans, is now
out. And I just reviewed the galleys for my short story
"Shed Skin," which will be in the January/February 2004 edition
My ankle is still healing, slowly but (I hope!) surely. Other
than that, all things are wonderful these days.
Thursday, July 31, 2003
It's been a wonderful summer so far -- except for one thing. I
took a fall on some stairs on June 18, and tore some ligaments in
my left ankle. I've progressed from walking with a crutch (for
two weeks) to walking with a cane (for three weeks) to, as Monday,
walking with no aid at all. It's been frustrating, but I am
Still, it was no fun having to hobble around Ireland, where
Carolyn and I spent the first three weeks of July. But I didn't
let the injury get in the way of having fun -- and we did indeed
have a lot of fun. Carolyn and I were traveling with our good
buddy and fellow SF writer Rick Wilber, plus nine university
students (six girls and three guys), all of whom were a joy to
spend time with. It was a truly great trip.
As soon as I got back, though, it was off on my NEXT trip -- this
one to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, for the Festival of Words. It
was a great festival, and I had a terrific time. The icing on
the cake was getting bumped up to Executive Class on the way
home. I spent the time on the plane writing cover copy for the
new edition of Far-Seer, forthcoming from Tor. Here is it:
"A brilliant parable of the nature of scientific investigation,
and its relation to art and faith." -- S. M. Stirling
ROBERT J. SAWYER
The Quintaglio Ascension Trilogy, Volume 1
"A sense of wonder that hasn't prevailed since the days of
Heinlein." -- Books in Canada
World-Building in the tradition of Hal Clement
Sixty-five million years ago, aliens transplanted Earth's
dinosaurs to the moon of a gas-giant world. Now, intelligent
saurians -- the Quintaglios -- have emerged. Afsan, the
Quintaglio counterpart of Galileo, must convince his people
of the truth about their place in the universe before tidal
forces rip the dinosaurs' new home apart.
"A tour de force. Vastly enjoyable, beautifully realized."
Without question, Far-Seer will be remembered as one of the
year's outstanding SF books." -- The Toronto Star
"Fans of well-drawn biological speculation should forget Jurassic
Park and go for this series." -- Vector
The Classic of Hard Science Fiction by
the Nebula Award-Winning Author of
Hominids and Calculating God
Sunday, June 8, 2003
Weekend? What's that? <grin>
Friday night, I did a late-night by-phone interview with a radio
station in Boston. Ironically, the guest they'd had on just
before me that evening was F. Paul Wilson, whose wonderful new
novel SIMS I had just finished reading.
Saturday morning, it was off to the Merril Collection for five
more writer-in-residence appointments.
Today, I did an hour-long signing at Book Expo Canada, a trade
show. We gave away 200 hardcovers of HUMANS, plus a few dozen
bound galleys of HYBRIDS. As soon as I finished my signing, I
hurried off to the BookTelevision stage at the conference centre;
BookTelevision is a Canadian specialty TV channel. I did a
panel discussion with Michael Coren about the status of religion
in society at the beginning of the new millennium. Michael is an
evangelical Christian, but also a very articulate and bright man,
so we had some great head-butting. The half-hour discussion will
air shortly on the Book Television's RICHLER INK, hosted by
Daniel Richler (Mordecai's son).
After that, I took a cab to the annual general meeting of the
Humanist Association of Toronto, where I was the guest speaker.
I spoke for almost two hours about religion and anti-religion in
science fiction. The talk was extremely well received, and I
sold out of the books I'd brought along (I'd brought copies of
CALCULATING GOD and HOMINIDS, so I quipped that I had something
for deists and atheists alike).
Then it was back down to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (the
venue for the upcoming Toronto WorldCon) for more of Book Expo
At the end of the day, I was a presenter at the Canadian
Booksellers Association's Libris Awards. I got to give the
Campus Bookseller of the Year trophy, which went to the
University of Toronto bookstore.
Needless to say, I'm exhausted. I'm going to curl up with the
book I'm currently reading (Edgar Rice Burrough's AT THE EARTH'S
CORE, which I've never read before), and call it a night.
Monday, May 26, 2003
Carolyn and I just got back from four days in sunny Orlando,
Florida, where I was Guest of Honor at the science-fiction
convention Oasis 16. The convention t-shirt sported a lovely
scratch board rendering of Hollus, the main alien character from
my novel Calculating God; I liked it so much I bought the
original from the artist.
We had a fabulous time, including spending a lot of time with our
buddies Jack and Maureen McDevitt, hanging out in the terrific
con suite, and just generally enjoying a very well-run
Other news: I'm pleased to announce that I'm a triple nominee
for this year's Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (the
Auroras). My novel Hominids is a finalist in the Best Long-Form
Work in English category. My novelette "Ineluctable," first
published in Analog is a finalist in the Best Short-Form Work in
English category. And Faster Than Light, the radio series pilot
I hosted for CBC is a finalist in the Best Other Work in English
Category. The winners will be announced at Torcon 3, the World
Science Fiction Convention being held in Toronto this year.
Monday, May 19, 2003
Sorry to be offline so long! I've been out of town: Carolyn and
I just returned today from Winnipeg, where I was Author Guest of
Honour and Carolyn was Poetry Guest of Honour at the 20th annual
Keycon SF convention. (And our friend Jolly Blackburn was Artist
Guest of Honour.)
It was a wonderful convention -- but very unusual in a number of
respects. For one thing, Manitoba doesn't have many SF writers
of its own ... so instead of the usual array of panels, all of my
programming events were solo items. For my reading, I read "Shed
Skin" which first appeared in The Bakka Anthology, and which
Stanley Schmidt has just bought reprint rights to for Analog.
The Winnipeg con committee were truly terrific people, and they
treated us very well. (Next year's Author GoH at Keycon will be
my friend Dave Duncan.)
Carolyn and I are off to Orlando Thursday morning; I'm Guest of
Honor at the SF convention Oasis 16 there this weekend.
Last week, I did a reading along with new authors Caitlin Sweet
and R. Scott Bakker at the Hart House Library at the University
of Toronto. We had a full house, and it went really well.
Other good news: I'm going to have a significant presence at the
American Libraries Association convention in Toronto next month.
Not only is the Toronto Public Library showing me off, since I'm
currently their Writer-in-Residence, but my publisher, Tor Books,
is throwing a fancy dinner in honour of three of their Canadian
authors -- myself, Karl Schroeder, and Candas Jane Dorsey -- on
the Saturday night of the conference. Way cool!
Finally, I've found a new author whose work I'm really enjoying:
Dan Brown. He's not a science-fiction writer per se, but his
work might very well appeal to fans of my stuff. In the last
week I've read his novels ANGELS AND DEMONS and THE DA VINCI CODE
(the latter a current NEW YORK TIMES and GLOBE AND MAIL
bestseller). They were both fascinating, and had a lot of the
sort of philosophical debate I try to put in my books. ANGELS
AND DEMONS is set in large part at CERN, the European Centre for
Particle Physics. I recommend both these books; they're
incredible page turners.
Monday, April 21, 2003
Just got back from being Guest of Honor at Minicon 38 in
Minneapolis, where I had a wonderful time. The big news is that
my Hominids is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novel of
the Year. Full details are in this press release.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
On Sunday night, April 13, I got back from eight days and seven
nights in glorious Banff, Alberta, where I was leading a
week-long science-fiction writing workshop at the Banff Centre
for the Arts.
I had six students: Kaye Mason, a Ph.D. candidate in computer
science from Vancouver; Robert Kim Greyson, a high-school English
teacher from Calgary; Ernie Reimer, president of a robotics firm
from St. John's, Newfoundland; Ed Willett, an established author
of young-adult books from Regina, Saskatchewan; Kevin MacIsaac, a
computer expert from Fernie, British Columbia; and Ed Hoornaert,
the author of two Silhouette romances, from Tucson, Arizona.
They were a fabulous group, an absolute joy to work with. I
expect them all to get published in SF&F field.
As always, the Banff Centre was wonderful, even though this was
the earliest in the year I'd ever been there, so the weather was
brisk most days, and we had rain and a tiny amount of snow one
Robyn Herrington -- look for her in the anthology NEW FACES OF
SCIENCE FICTION, coming from DAW -- and her husband Bruce picked
me up at the Calgary Airport and drove me to Banff; Robyn has
three times taken workshops with me -- once in Calgary, and twice
in previous sessions at Banff.
Our group did lots of manuscript reading, and lots of critiquing,
and for me it was very gratifying to see real improvement in the
work by the end of the week.
On Sunday, Danita Maslankowski -- who had also workshopped with
me in Calgary back in 1996 -- picked me and Kaye Mason up at
Banff, and drove us the hour and a half back to Calgary, where a
dozen or more members of IFWA, Alberta's Imaginative Fiction
Writers Association, had come out to have a buffet lunch with me
at a bar and restaurant called Nick's.
It was fabulous to see old friends again -- the workshop I'd done
in Calgary years before had been for IFWA -- and, as if to make
the event perfect, while we were eating, a little piece about me
happened to come on the bar's TV (which was tuned to Space: The
A week ago, I was thinking I really should give up teaching at
Banff. The pay is very modest (Cdn$1,000 for eight days of my
time), and although the students get a lot of writing done during
that time, I get very little writing done, in part because I have
to schedule hour-long one-on-one sessions with each student
during my spare time.
But by the end of the week, I'd changed my mind. The last night,
we had a wonderful guitar-accompanied singalong, with Ed Willett
-- whom I've previously referred to as the greatest singing voice
in Canadian science fiction -- leading us with his wonderful
baritone (he's one of the very few singers I know who can do real
justice to OLD MAN RIVER). That same night, I had a blast
impersonating William Shatner as I sang the theme to SHAFT as he
might have rendered it. The whole week was heaven, and I enjoyed
every single minute, but after that wonderful final evening, I
had an epiphany: I shouldn't think of Banff as a low-paying job,
but rather as a vacation that I get paid to take. I'm already
looking forward to next year's workshop.
Meanwhile, I continue to do media to promote the hardcover
release of HUMANS: yesterday I did half an hour by phone on KVON
(a San Francisco radio station), and today I did 35 minutes on
TVOntario's afternoon TV phone-in show MORE TO LIFE.
On Monday, I received acceptance from ANALOG for my short story
"Shed Skin," which first appeared in a 400-copy limited edition
of fiction by the people who work now or have worked in the past
at Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store. ANALOG almost never
buys reprints, but wonderful editor Stan Schmidt agreed to make
an exception. "Shed Skin" is a story I'm very proud of, and I'm
delighted it's going to get a wider readership.
Finally, as of today, I've done 15 of the 60 manuscript critiques
I'm supposed to do as writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public
Library's Merril Collection, meaning I'm one-quarter of the way
through. Also, as of today, the Merril has already received 40
manuscripts for me to critique; my contract calls for me to
critique 60 -- so get yours in soon!
Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Carolyn and I have had a busy couple of weeks (nothing new about
that <grin>). Here's some of what's been happening.
On Monday, February 24, I finished a short story called "The
Eagle Has Landed" for Mike Resnick's upcoming DAW anthology I,
On Tuesday, February 25, the online newsletter from QUILL&NBSP;&
QUIRE, the Canadian publishing trade journal, carried a nice
piece about my residency at the Merril Collection:
TORONTO LIBRARY GETS SCIENCE-FICTION
The Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of
science fiction will get its own
writer-in-residence this spring: author Robert J.
Sawyer, who lives in nearby Mississauga, will
occupy the position from Apr. 1 through June 30.
He'll run a series of seminars at the Toronto
Reference Library and will be available to critique
manuscripts in one-on-one sessions. "We made a
shortlist and his name came up at the top," says
Mary Cannings of the Merril collection. Sawyer has
previously served as a writer-in-residence at the
Richmond Hill Public Library.
The Merril Collection was founded in 1970 after
Canadian science-fiction author Judith Merril
donated her personal library to the TPL. Although
the library system has a regular
writer-in-residence program, there has not been a
dedicated SF author since Merril herself held the
spot in 1987. "She organized the most promising
writers who came to see her into a writers' group,"
remembers Sawyer, noting that authors Edo van
Belkom and Karl Schroeder emerged from that group.
"I'm hoping my residency will be a similar
-- Derek Weiler
Meanwhile, I've been doing some story consulting for a
science-fiction TV series that's in development here in Canada.
The producer and the writer of the pilot script came over to my
place on Tuesday, and we had a great brainstorming session.
That evening, I appeared (pre-recorded) on Vision TV's "Test of
Faith," hosted by Valerie Pringle, one of Canada's top TV
journalists. The topic was "Could Organized Religion Survive the
Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life." I was the guy "in the hot
seat" for the full hour, taking on questions and comments from
the other guests, including Vatican astronomer Chris Corbally.
Just to remind me that life shouldn't be TOO good, I got a notice
on Wednesday from the Canadian tax authority saying they
(thought) they had spotted discrepancies in my 1999 and 2000
taxes. Of course, there actually are no such discrepancies, but
Carolyn and I had to spend the afternoon digging through old tax
records to prove that. I had to write a lengthy letter full of
stuff like this, showing that I had in fact claimed all parts of
the Canadian freelance income I'd received, as enumerated on T4A
slips that I myself had provided, on my Statement of Income:
Re my year-2000 T4A from "CBC/SRC LP (Tor)" for
$1,249.17, note that this one T4A covers four
individual freelance jobs for CBC Newsworld. These
are cited as four separate "Newsworld" payments on my
2000 Statement of Income Received -- $155.50,
$155.50, $155.50, and $700.93. As you'll see,
these amounts total $1,167.43. There was an
additional 7% GST paid on these, which I did not
claim as income (because, of course, it is not
taxable income) but did disburse to Revenue Canada;
that brings the total to $1,249.15. The two-cent
discrepancy is clearly a rounding error that
accumulated as the four separate transactions were
What a fun way to spend a day. Still, the evening was fun.
Carolyn and I went to see horror writer Edo van Belkom and his
wife Roberta graduate as members of the Peel Region Police
Auxiliary (Roberta was class valedictorian).
Thursday, February 27, I went for a two-hour meeting at Space:
The Imagination Station (the TV network behind the Canadian
series I'm consulting on), which was a lot of fun, then I had
lunch with my buddy Mark Askwith (to whom my latest novel,
HUMANS, is dedicated); Mark produces the materials that appear
between regular programs on Space, such as the daily "Space News"
After that, Carolyn and I headed of for a seven-day, six-night
trip to upstate New York. We arrived that evening in Rochester,
and checked in to the Four Points Sheraton -- but had to get up
bright and early the next day, because I was booked for a 6:10
a.m. TV interview on the Rochester CBS affiliate, WROC. The
interview went very well, and we immediately went back to the
hotel ... and went back to sleep.
At 1:00 p.m., after checking out of the hotel, I was interviewed
for an hour by Bob Smith of WXXI radio (the Rochester PBS
station) about HUMANS. Bob had thoroughly read both HOMINIDS and
HUMANS, and his questions were very insightful; we all got some
interesting calls from listeners.
At 3:00 p.m. I had a meeting with a couple of Rochester-area
librarians who were interested in having me give the "Noted
Author" luncheon address at this year's New York Library
Association annual conference, which will be held in Saratoga
Springs in November. The meeting went very well (and on Monday,
they formally offered the gig to me, and I accepted).
That afternoon, I finished reading Octavia Butler's novel
KINDRED, which was this y ear's choice for the "If All of
Rochester Read the Same Book" program. I thought it was
absolutely first-rate, and very moving.
Friday night, February 28, the American book launch for HOMINIDS
at Writers & Books, Rochester's literary center. The program
director there is my great buddy Nick DiChario, and the launch
went very well. They've got a great room there for readings, and
since everyone was comfortably seated, I read Chapter 22 of
HUMANS (the scene at the Vietnam memorial) in its entirety.
At the end, one of the women in the audience asked if there was
any way I could get copies of that to George W. Bush and the
members of Congress, as they prepare to go to war in Iraq. I
just paraphrased the last line of the chapter: "If I thought
there was the slightest possibility it would work, I would do
After the launch, Carolyn and I did the hour-long drive out to
Canandaigua Lake, one of upstate New York's Finger Lakes; my
family has had a vacation home right on the lake since 1974.
On Saturday, March 1, Carolyn and I headed back into Rochester,
so I could lead a two-hour discussion at Writers & Books on using
time travel as a literary device. I had eight people signed up
for the talk, and it seemed to go over well. Afterword, Carolyn
and I went out for a Greek meal with Ed Covannon of Eastman
Kodak's R&D department; Ed has had me in before for "ideation"
sessions about the future of imaging technologies; the Companion
implants in my NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX series of novels had come out
of such a session we did in March 2000.
Also on Saturday, I picked up my e-mail, and found a message
waiting from my agent Ralph Vicinanza, saying that Tor had agreed
to buy reprint rights to my three "Quintaglio Ascension" novels
(Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner), to be reissued as
individual trade-paperback volumes. I was delighted to hear
On Sunday, March 2, the space bar on one of the three laptop
computers we'd brought along on this trip crapped out; although
it was the computer I most liked to use when traveling, I just
switched to another laptop, and got on with my work -- proving it
always pays to have a spare computer along <grin>. Although I'd
had other writing projects I wanted to do today, I ended up
spending two hours writing an 1,800-word memo/critique for the
Canadian SF TV series I'm consulting on, plus dealing with some
other fiddly stuff that had to be done.
On Monday, March 3, I finally got down to what I wanted to work
on on this trip: I've contracted with an LA studio to write the
series bible for an animated SF series. I got some good work
done on it. Just before going to bed, I won an auction on eBay
for a replacement keyboard for my laptop (a Compaq Armada M300);
it'll be shipped to my home in Toronto, and I'll get that laptop
back up and running there.
Tuesday, March 4, I finished writing an introduction to a
collection of Mike Resnick's essays that will be published by
Wildside Press in time for the Toronto Worldcon, then I settled
in to a full day of work on the animated series bible, getting
3,100 words added to it. But in the evening, Carolyn and I
headed back to Rochester, so I could give a guest talk to a class
called "Anthropology and Science Fiction" at Monroe Community
College. That went well.
Wednesday, March 5, Octavia Butler was in Canandaigua, New York,
as part of her whirlwind tour related to the "If All of Rochester
Read the Same Book" program. Carolyn and I attended a talk for
writers she was giving at the Wood Library in Canandaigua, which
was great. Carolyn and I then headed on back home to Toronto
(through rain and light snow), with me spending much of the
four-hour trip working on the animated series bible on my laptop
in the car while Carolyn drove.
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Robert J. Sawyer will be Writer in Residence at The Merril
Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy (the SF
special collection of the Toronto Public Library) from April 1
to June 30, 2003; he will be the first writer to hold this post
since Judith Merril herself in 1987.
Members of the public can submit manuscripts to be critiqued by
Sawyer, who will meet in hour-long one-on-one sessions at The
Merril Collection with each author (at no cost to the
Sawyer will give a reading in the Beeton Auditorium of the
Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street) on Tuesday, March
18, at 7:30 p.m.; run a series of noon-hour seminars at the
Toronto Reference Library; and more.
The Merril Collection, founded in 1970 with the donation by
famed writer and editor Judith Merril of her personal SF
library, has grown into the world's largest public-library
reference collection of science fiction. Lorna Toolis is the
Sawyer, who won the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of
America's Nebula Award for Best Novel of 1995 (for
The Terminal Experiment) and has been nominated
six times for the Hugo Award, is the author of 15 SF novels,
including the just-released Humans. He is on the
creative-writing faculties of the Banff Centre for the Arts and
the University of Toronto.
Manuscripts can be dropped off for the Writer in Residence at:
The Merril Collection
Lillian H. Smith Branch
Toronto Public Library
239 College Street, 3rd Floor
Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R5
Manuscript must be in standard manuscript format (see
here for details), and should be no more than 15 pages long.
The library reserves the right to
limit the number of manuscripts accepted.
When you drop off your manuscript, the library staff will book an
hour-long appointment for you with the Writer in Residence. The
Merril Collection is open, and appointments can be scheduled,
Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays
from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; the library is closed on Sundays and
This Writer in Residence program is sponsored by the Toronto
Public Library and the Friends of TPL's South Region.
For more information about Robert J. Sawyer's residency, please
contact The Merril Collection at (416) 393-7748.
The Merril Collection
The Friends of the Merril Collection
Rob Sawyer's Advice on Writing
Saturday, February 2, 2003, at 12:50 a.m. Eastern time
At 9:37 a.m. Eastern time on February 1, I was awoken in my
bedroom by my wife saying the phone was ringing. (We'd been up
late the night before.) We have the ringer off in our bedroom,
but she was awake and had heard it from her office, down the
hall. Since the bedroom phone is on my night table, not hers, I
picked it up.
A producer from CBC Newsworld (the public broadcaster's national
cable news channel up here) was on the phone and told me that
contact had been lost with Columbia. He put me on hold, with the
CBC Newsworld audio in the background, while my wife put on the
TV, and we flipped back and forth between channels, watching the
breaking news. I tried very rapidly to come up to speed on the
shocking, horrible, devastating events. I saw the video footage,
and my heart sank. At about 9:42 -- just five minutes after
waking -- I was on the air, doing a phone interview for live
The interviewer (I'm sorry, but I don't know her name, or even
what city she was in -- Newsworld does production across Canada;
I've been on Newsworld many times, but never had been interviewed
by this woman) did indeed ask me a question related to whether
this was a terrorist attack, and whether it had been arrogant of
the Americans to launch a shuttle now. The idea that it was
terrorism hadn't even occurred to me -- it looked like a tragic
accident, and I was reliving my memories of when Challenger had
blown up all those years ago. So, the question took me by
In any event, I told her no, it wasn't arrogance, and added that
the Bush administration had very much had a business-as-usual
policy post-September 11; I can't remember exactly how I phrased
it, but my thought was that if you let terrorists freeze you into
doing nothing out of fear, they've won. I wish I remembered her
exact words better, and my own, but, like everyone else I was in
I'm sure she didn't mean to be offensive, and it was quite clear
during our brief interview that she was being distracted by all
sorts of chatter in her earpiece (she first introduced me as
Robert Fischer, who is a staff reporter the CBC).
After finishing interviewing me, she had on Randy Attwood, also
by phone; Randy is the former president of the Royal Astronomical
Society of Canada. I listened to his interview, but then my wife
and I started channel surfing, looking for other coverage; we
settled on CNN. I didn't see any more of the Newsworld coverage.
I have no direct knowledge of what the reporter said
subsequently, but there has apparently been much discussion of it
online, including in this blog: The Ghost of a Flea
Here are two separate excerpts from that blog:
I am watching coverage on different networks. CBC
Newsworld just interviewed writer Robert Sawyer for
his reflections on the shuttle program and
potential causes of the disaster. The Newsworld
interviewer asked Sawyer whether the cause was
"arrogance" on the part of the U.S. government.
(Sawyer said no.) This is one of the most odious
questions I can imagine. It took minutes for the
CBC to twist a tragedy into a politically motivated
theatre of hate. Talk about manufacturing consent.
Furthermore... the interviewer linked American
"arrogance" explicitly to current potential
conflict in the Middle East. My only surprise is
the CBC did not manage to sneer at the death of
Israel's first astronaut in the same breath.
* * *
More manufactured consent as the same CBC
interviewer introduced the theme of American
"arrogance" in an echo-chamber interview with
another CBC journalist. She cited a "space expert"
- referring to writer Robert Sawyer - in which
"over-confidence" in the face of "fear and tension"
due to potential hostilities in the Middle East
could have lead NASA to go ahead with the flight
despite possible damage to one of Columbia's wings.
First, Robert Sawyer is a science fiction writer
and, while informed and interested in this stuff,
is hardly an expert. Second, in my view the CBC
interviewer misrepresented her leading question as
Sawyer's views. They were not. Sawyer clearly
denied the charge of "arrogance" and suggested that
at most a kind of over-confidence in a proven and
reliable technology may have been a factor. "Fear
and tension" in the Middle East had no place in his
As I said above, I didn't hear any of the woman's later comments,
but she did ask me whether it was an act of arrogance, and I said
it was not. If she ascribed any other sentiment to me later, she
My heart goes out to everyone involved, but especially to the
families of these seven brave heroes.
Saturday, January 4, 2003
Happy New Year!
On Wednesday, January 8, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Canada's
Space: The Imagination Station will air the original hour-long
documentary In the Mind of Robert J. Sawyer. Check it out!
On January 2, I sent what I consider to be the final draft of
Hybrids, the concluding volume of my Neanderthal Parallax
trilogy, off to Tor. Moshe Feder there has already read it, and
pronounced it good; I'm waiting for my editor, David G. Hartwell,
to sign off on it.
At that point, I'll be out of work -- but hopefully not for long.
In November, I had dinner with Dave Hartwell at Philcon in
Philadelphia and pitched two new novels at him, one being an
expansion of "Shed Skin," my story written for The Bakka
Anthology, a 400-copy limited-edition book to commemorate the
30th anniversary of Bakka, Canada's oldest SF specialty store,
where I worked in the summer of 1982. David seemed to like both
ideas, and I will shortly ask my agent, Ralph Vicinanza, to seek
a new contract with Tor.
I also spoke to David about getting the Quintaglio trilogy
(Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner) reprinted by Tor. David
will cost out doing them both as a single omnibus volume or as
three individual volumes. Either way, they'd be trade
paperbacks, which is the format Tor prefers for older titles.
Speaking of trade paperback, Tor is going to reissue my Hugo
Award-nominated Factoring Humanity in January 2004 (a year from
now) as an Orb trade paperback. "Orb" is their line of SF
classics, and I'm honoured that they are doing that book -- still
the work of mine that I'm proudest of -- under that imprint.
Meanwhile, I've been doing a bunch of small projects: updating
this web site in preparation for the release of Humans (now just
a month away), writing an introduction for a re-issue of David
Gerrold's classic time-travel novel The Man Who Folded Himself,
forthcoming from BenBella Books, and writing a 10,000-word
autobiographical essay for Contemporary Authors. I also have two
short-story commissions to fulfill in the next couple of months
(for ReVisions, edited by Julie E. Czerneda and Isaac Szpindel,
and for I, Alien, edited by Mike Resnick).
New foreign editions I received in December: the Spanish edition
of Calculating God, the Japanese edition of Illegal Alien, and
the French edition of Factoring Humanity. All look fabulous, and
I'll try to get cover scans onto my web site in the near future.
Finally, I'm delighted to report that Hominids is on the
Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot, and was included on the year's
best lists published by the San Francisco Chronicle and Borders
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
It's been a while since I posted a general update, so here goes.
I'm pleased to note that Italian rights to Hominids have sold to
I spent yesterday afternoon at the CBC Broadcasting Centre in
Toronto recording four four-minute science columns, to air on CBC
Radio One morning shows across Canada in November. If these four
are well received, this will become a regular gig for me. The
four commentaries were on:
* Chimps being only 95% genetically identical to us
* The failure of SETI
* God and the brain
I'm off to the convention Astronomicon in Rochester, New York, on
Friday. It's a small con, but one of my favorites. After that,
Carolyn and I will spend a week on nearby Canandaigua Lake. One
day during that week, I'm a guest speaker (in an astronomy class,
an English class, and a psychology class) at Alfred University,
in Alfred, New York, but the rest of the week will be time just
to catch up on my reading, something I'm very much looking
Monday, September 30, 2002
It's been a great week. The pilot for Faster Than Light, the
program I hosted for the CBC Radio Drama department aired twice
coast-to-coast in Canada, and the feedback was wonderful. The CBC
brass is now seriously considering commissioning the show as an
ongoing series -- possibly as the lead-in to CBC's weekly
science show, Quirks and Quarks.
Meanwhile, my wife became the first person besides me to read
Hybrids, the final volume in my Neanderthal Parallax trilogy,
and she liked it very much. I'm still doing revisions, but
intend to send a draft off to my editor at Tor within two weeks.
The latest bestsellers' list in Locus: The Newspaper of the
Science Fiction Field came out, and Hominids is on it for a
third consecutive month, my longest run to date.
Thursday and Friday, I was a guest at the Winnipeg International
Writers Festival, where I gave two readings.
On Saturday, September 28, my alma mater, Toronto's Ryerson
University, presented me with its Alumni Award of Distinction,
making me one of only 30 out of 100,000 Ryerson alumni so
honored to date. I graduated from Ryerson in 1982 with a
Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Radio and Television Arts.
Because of the main classroom building's rows of student lockers,
Ryerson's nickname has long been "Rye High," which I guess makes
me now the official Rye High Sci-Fi Guy. Rick Green, host of
TVOntario's Prisoners of Gravity, presented the award to
me, and Valerie Pringle, ex-host of Canada A.M., was
the master of ceremonies.
Sunday, September 29, was Toronto's annual Word on the Street
open-air book fair. I was there all day, at the SF writers'
booth, and sold $1,350 worth of books. Not as good as last year,
but still quite nice.
And today, the issue of Maclean's: Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine
dated October 7, 2002, went on sale, containing my 1,500-word
essay "Privacy: Who Needs It?", which expands on the
Companion-implant theme of my novel Hominids. I even get my
name on the cover of Maclean's, which is way cool.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
As some of you know, I've been involved with a pilot for an
hour-long science-fiction series being produced by the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation's Radio's Radio Drama department.
The series is called FASTER THAN LIGHT, and the pilot will air
TWICE on CBC Radio later this month:
* On CBC Radio One (99.1 FM in Toronto)
Sunday evening, September 22, at 10:05 p.m. EST
as part of "Sunday Showcase"
Note: this broadcast will be in mono
* On CBC Radio Two (94.1 FM in Toronto)
Monday evening, September 23, at 9:05 p.m. EST
as part of "Monday Night Playhouse"
Note: this broadcast will be in stereo
The FTL pilot has five main components:
* A full-cast adaptation of Tom Godwin's classic SF story "The
* Part One of an original SF serial called "Captain's Away"
written by Joe Mahoney
* A commentary by me on what SF is all about
* An interview with author Nalo Hopkinson conducted by me
* Poetry interludes by Carolyn Clink
And listen for William Davis -- the X-FILES' "Cancer Man" -- doing
one of the "You are listening to FASTER THAN LIGHT" station
For FASTER THAN LIGHT, I serve as a combination of Rod Serling
and Rick Green ("Submitted for your approval: a boot to the
head!"), introducing and extroducing the radio dramas, and also
interviewing authors (in the pilot, novelist Nalo Hopkinson and
SF poet -- and my wife -- Carolyn Clink, whose poetry is also
featured in the pilot).
So: check it out! You can also listen on the Internet at the
above times: http://www.cbc.ca
I had a blast working on this pilot, and really, really hope that
the CBC will pick it up as a series.
Monday, July 29, 2002
Wow! It's been a busy month. A great month, too, except I was
doing so many other things, I didn't get nearly enough work done
on Hybrids, my current novel. Ah, well. I'll be hunkering down
throughout August on that.
From Friday, June 28, until Monday, July 1, I taught SF writing
at the University of Toronto's Taddle Creek Writers' Workshop,
which, as always, went very well indeed.
On Wednesday, July 3, a crew from Bravo! (Canadian arts TV
channel) came to my home to videotape a half-hour documentary
about me for that channel's "The Writing Life" series. It was
great fun. I don't know when it will air yet, but I'll certainly
let people know.
On Friday, July 5, I recorded my portions of the pilot for
"Faster Than Light," a new series being produced by the CBC Radio
Drama Department, and hosted by me. The show's is centered
around adaptations of classic SF short stories; for the pilot we
did Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations." I also did an interview
with author Nalo Hopkinson, and a commentary about SF. The pilot
will air in September, and I certainly hope the series will be
Also that day, I received my author's copies of the Easton Press
"Classics of Science Fiction" leather-bound edition of The
Terminal Experiment. Very nice indeed!
July 5 to 7 was Toronto Trek, a big Star Trek and media
convention, which nonetheless manages to get excellent crowds out
to its literary events. I had a fabulous time, and did a very
well received reading of my new short story "Come All Ye
Faithful," which will be published next year in Julie E.
Czerneda's DAW anthology Space Inc.
On Monday, July 8, Carolyn and I headed out by car for another
leg of the Hominids book tour. We started in Rochester, NY,
where I was interviewed for a full hour on the local PBS radio
station at noon. I then did a very successful signing at the
Barnes and Noble in Pittsford, NY, and went out for dinner
afterwards with a bunch of people, including authors Marcos
Donnelly, Mary Stanton, and John-Allen Price, all of whom had
shown up at the signing.
Tuesday, it was off to Albany, New York. We had dinner with
members of the local SF club (the gang that puts on Albacon),
then I did a reading and signing at Flights of Fantasy, the
Albany SF specialty store.
Wednesday, July 10, I was in Milford, New Hampshire, signing at
the Toadstool. We had a packed house, which was great.
Thursday, July 11, we were treated to a tour of one of New
Hampshire's prisons for men, which was absolutely fascinating.
Then we motored on to Boston, where I did a lackluster signing at
Pandemonium, the SF store there.
That night, we hooked up for dinner with friends Marcel Gagne and
Sally Tomasevic, who were in town for Readercon.
Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 14, were taken up by
Readercon, which, as always, was excellent. Carolyn and I had
dinner Friday night with my editor David G. Hartwell, his wife
Kathryn Cramer, and their son Peter.
On Saturday night, Toronto fan Hope Liebowitz and I hosted the
one and only room party at Readercon, the "Ho Ho Hoedown" (one Ho
for Hope; the other for Hominids). It was quite a success.
Sunday, I read another forthcoming short story: "Relativity,"
which will be in Mike Resnick's Men Writing SF as Women.
Monday, July 15, we were in Syracuse, where I was interviewed on
the local PBS TV station, after a wonderful breakfast with local
writer Mark Garland and his wife Jenny. We arrived Monday
afternoon at my family's vacation home on Canandaigua Lake in
upstate New York, and settled in to do some writing. We were
there until Friday morning, July 19. On the way back to Toronto
that day, we stopped near Buffalo to record a half-hour for
Pulse, the local Fox TV station's Sunday-morning news show. It
will air Sunday, August 5.
Sunday, July 21, I started my stint teaching writing at Humber
College in Toronto by giving a lecture on the writing life.
From Monday, July 22, until Friday, July 26, I taught writing --
just general fiction writing, not specifically SF -- at the
Humber School for Writers. It was my first time teaching at that
venue, and it went very well indeed.
On Friday afternoon, July 26, Carolyn and I headed out on the
5.5-hour trip to Pittsburgh, arriving that evening for
ConFluence, a small but very nice and very literary SF convention
in Pittsburgh. Saturday night, Analog writer Bud Sparhawk,
Carolyn, and I were given a fabulous, private behind-the-scenes
tour of the robotics labs at Carnegie-Mellon University. God, I
love this job!
Today (Monday, July 29), I'm finally back in Toronto -- but I've
got four interviews to do today from my home: two U.S. radio
stations, one Canadian one, and an interview for the Toronto Sun
newspaper, which is doing a piece about me for their "Dream Jobs"
column ... and, I have to admit, I certainly have just that.
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