[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
Hugo and Nebula Winner

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Sawyer Guest of Honorships: Quotes

A few quotes from attendees of science fiction conventions at which Robert J. Sawyer has been Guest of Honor:

People spend too much time talking about others when they do something wrong, and never enough time talking about them when they do something right. Watching you at Con-Version is a prime example, I think, of how to do something right.

You are quite remarkable. You treat each and every person with respect and attention. You answer each and every question with respect and intelligence. If you had an off moment over the weekend, I didn't see it. You say 'thank you' often and with sincerity. You are generous with your time and your quite considerable store of knowledge. You have a wonderful public presence, and I don't know how often people tell you that, but really, they should.

Robyn Herrington, Con-Version, Calgary, Alberta

It was really a pleasure meeting you at ValleyCon 22 in Fargo last week. I can't remember the last time we had such an entertaining and accessible guest author. Thank you, thank you! You were a great guest, and a damn fine storyteller, too!

Kim Morrison, ValleyCon, Fargo, ND

On the occasion of Keycon 30, I'm honoured to present you with this award for "Favourite Past Guest" from the previous thirty years, voted on by members of the Keycon Senate.

I can't think of a better recipient, Rob. You've done so much for fandom, and you give back so much to the writing community. Your kindness and your generosity with your time are legendary.

Sherry Peters, Keycon, Winnipeg, Manitoba

All of us at ConCat still remember what good sports both you and Carolyn were, and how totally accessible you were as guests, even playing Fan Family Feud with us.

JaNell Golden, ConCat, Knoxville, TN

Thank you for being such a delightful Toastmaster for Norwescon this year. It was a pleasure to work with you!

William Sadorus, Norwescon, Seattle, WA

Rob is a convention-goer's delight. You'll spot him prowling the hallways mingling with anyone and everyone. He is always smiling, jovial and — in the best Canadian sense of the word — polite.

Tony King, Imaginative Fiction Writers' Association, Calgary, Alberta

Robert J. Sawyer is a great author guest. He just always goes the extra mile to be accessible to convention members, and that he's on my short "buy on sight" list doesn't hurt.

Chris Barsanti, Attendee, Keycon, Winnipeg

Thank you for the talks at Atomacon. I enjoyed learning from you and found your insights into the writing and television industry to be invaluable.

Ora J. McGuire, Attendee, Atomacom, Charleston, South Carolina

I didn't attend my first science fiction convention until after I'd sold my first story. It was RavenCon in Richmond, Virgina, and the guest of honor was Robert J. Sawyer, whose novels I'd always enjoyed, especially Calculating God, Hominids, and Rollback. I nervously approached him after a reading, and handed him my copy of the October 2006 Analog (containing part 1 of Rollback). He looked at my badge to see who to make it out to and when he saw my name, he said, "Jamie Rubin? Congratulations on your story sale. A bunch of us writers are going out for dinner tonight. Why don't you join us?"

What had happened was that my good friend Michael A. Burstein had told Rob that I was going to be there and that I'd just sold my first story. Rob's kindness — well, that's just the way he is. It's that pay-it-forward attitude that makes science fiction so special.

That was one amazing dinner, sitting next to Rob's wife, Carolyn, across from Rob, and beside Edmund Schubert and David B. Coe (with those two whispering to me repeatedly, "Are you taking it all in?"). I must have looked wide-eyed and ridiculous, but I truly felt like I was in that Garden among the Demigods.

Jamie Todd Rubin in SF Signal [2011]

I first met Mr. Sawyer at the Ask-A-Pro-Anything and signing session. I've navigated through ministers, corporate presidents, lesser authors, and even the odd student government official but this was the first time I deliberately sought out someone with celebrity status. I only knew of him through his Discovery Channel appearances and occasional articles in national magazines so I didn't know what to expect when I asked him to autograph a book for someone else. Knowing I was not yet a fan he obliged anyway.

Dinner with Rob — everyone called him that — was quite interesting. I feared a holier-than-thou author, but he was just a normal science fiction guy with a very genuine sense of honesty. We broke the ice with cordial chatter and garlic bread. "What we need is chairs on a conveyor belt," Sawyer remarked, "so everyone could see everyone."

As people became comfortable, the usual debates about politics and society ensued. What surprised me most was that Rob strained to hear the regular people as much as we tried to listen to him. He was another normal guy, who ate the same spaghetti we did. This casual Rob was perfectly consistent with the one who gave [the] opening remarks [at the convention].

Ben Li, in The Gauntlet,
the University of Calgary student newspaper,
following the SF convention Con-Version in 2002,
at which Rob was Toastmaster

The charming Robert Sawyer is a sweet, self-effacing man, an absolute pleasure to chat with. He's approachable, witty, and shows real interest in people other than himself. He's not fishing for praise, or trying to build a fan club. Contrary to my expectations, he's not the sort to sell himself at all. You see what I'm saying? He's not a professionally nice guy trying to build a career: he's actually a good fellow who likes meeting and spending time with other people in the science fiction world.

The Internet Review of Science Fiction [2008]

Aurora Awards MC was Robert J. Sawyer, a consummate showman if there ever was one. Sawyer quickly established just the right balance of fannish informality and award night energy, delivering an upbeat line of patter that kept everyone interested and involved throughout.

I particularly appreciated the way he broke up the necessary discussion of the history of the awards, balloting procedures, category descriptions, eligibilities, and so on into brief segments smoothly delivered between the introduction of presenters.

Most impressive of all was the way Sawyer smoothly filled the gaps when there was no one present to accept an award, as happened several times: in such cases he just stepped forward and ad libbed a brief biography of the winner which felt like an acceptance speech.

Robert Runté, Con-Version, Calgary [2005]

For me the highlight of the convention came when I was sitting at a table in the hotel restaurant, nursing a beer and trying to relax.

Robert J. Sawyer was seated across the aisle with Jamie Anderson and a couple of "Hollywood North" pros who'd dropped by, not to attend the con, but to meet Jamie, and Rob waved an arm and invited me to join them at their table.

I went all fanboy for some reason and muttered I didn't want to interrupt them while they were talking shop. "Nah, we're not talking shop," said Robert. "Come on, we're all fans here. Join us."

We were soon talking enthusiastically about various obscure movies and sharing anecdotes about their production (in my case second hand, based on what I'd read over the years). It was the most pleasant dinner table conversation imaginable. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

R. Graeme Cameron, Chair, VCON, Vancouver, British Columbia [2016] writing in Amazing Stories

You probably don't remember, but in 2010 down in San Diego for a convention [Conjecture 2010, where Rob was guest of honor] I came up to you at a restaurant to say I was a fan. You invited me to join you and your wife for lunch and I got the best gift a fan boy could receive by being allowed to sit and chat with you for almost an hour.

Brian Kuzara [writing in 2016]

Before closing the book on CanVention 27, I realize that I must proffer an official, formal and entirely heartfelt thank you for your masterful hosting of the Aurora Awards ceremonies at VCON 32.

Michael Walsh, VCON, Vancouver [2007]

Robert J. Sawyer is indeed a gentleman. Not only was he friendly and gracious, not only did he remember who I was, he also knew what my paper was on and chatted with me about the topic. You're a better man than I am, sir.

Dominick Grace
Presenter, International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Orlando [2012]

Many thanks to everyone involved, especially Robert J. Sawyer, in whose honor the event was organized and who went out of the way to make the other guests feel welcome.

— Hugo Award-winner Robert Charles Wilson

I wanted to thank you for the opportunity of meeting you and talking to you! You are probably the nicest author (let alone one as famous as you are) that I have ever talked to! Thank you so much for being so nice!

Julia B., age 15, 5Pi-Con, Enfield, Connecticut [2010]

Thank you for coming to San Diego for Conjecture last weekend. You were a quite enjoyable Guest of Honor.

Gerry Williams [2010]

Rob was the Keynote Speaker at WordBridge, the writers' convention I Chair in Lethbridge, Alberta, and may I say one could not ask for a better guest of honour. He is a great speaker and knowledgeable about so many aspects of the craft and generous with his time and energy.

Robert Runté, WordBridge, Lethbridge [2020]

I first met Rob several years ago at a local SF convention (VCON), back when I was disguised as a beginning writer. I was struck by his generosity, warmth and down-home friendliness. Rob was extremely approachable and more than willing to provide advice and share his wisdom and experience in the challenging field of writing and publishing. I'm eternally grateful for his advice, especially for steering me away from that questionable green and orange dip in the hopitality suite.

Nina Munteanu, Vancouver, British Columbia

As for the "man of the hour," Robert J. Sawyer, and his wife, Carolyn Clink, they were wonderfully open, generous, available, modest and fun. Rob is a fantastic orator, as well as writer, and his numerous talks and discussions over the weekend both informed and entertained.

— author Lory Kaufman [2013]

Robert is a wonderful guest and great speaker. I love having him at my events!

Adrienne Everett, Ad Astra, Toronto [2014]

Just a quick note to let you know how thrilled I was to have you read the first chapters of my manuscript for VCON's novel workshop. With your busy schedule (nine conferences in nine weeks — yikes!), your generosity in giving back to new writers and the Sci Fi community was much appreciated.

JoAnne Bennison, VCON, Vancouver, British Columbia [2016]

I bumped into Robert J. Sawyer in the hall. When I asked him at what point do you need to explain things, he said, "If people are still asking the question when the book is over, you didn't do your job." He's so amazing. He does amazing books, but if you ever hear him talk about writing it's a masterclass in itself.

Barb Geiger, When Words Collide, Calgary [2015]

I had the opportunity to see Robert a week after the [Ontario Writer's Conference, where Sawyer gave a keynote and critiqued my work]. He was passing through Ottawa on a tour to promote his latest book, Watch, part of his WWW trilogy, and I was curious to see if he was still, in fact, just a normal guy who was also a really good writer. This was supposed to be a promotional gig for him, and, with the laundry list of credits to his name, he couldn't possibly be so down to earth all the time, could he? Half an hour before his reading was set to begin I entered the Clock Tower Pub on Bank to find him chatting with fans, even recognizing some by their first name. His stage presence was just as upbeat and energetic as it had been for the conference, and he answered questions about his book, his life, and his philosophies with fearless honesty.

It is refreshing to see that despite the ladders we may scale in life, the human side of us does not have to disappear. Authors may not have the paparazzi hounding them on every street corner, but what they say and — more importantly — what they write has tremendous impact on their following, their livelihood, and at one point or another, their perspectives. To be able to remain on such a grounded level after achieving greatness is something we can all aspire to, especially those of us who are still looking up.

Agnes Cadieux in (Cult)ure Magazine [2010]

I've been very lucky here at Keycon the last few years. I've been running a dealer's table for my little book selling sideline and, being partially disabled, have been unable to attend the autograph lines. I've had friends and family take my personal collection books to get signed for me. And then, the GoHs have come into the dealer's room and signed the books I'm selling right at my table! Someone (and NOT at my behest, I swear!) told them I was unemployed and struggling and they were kind enough to come help out. Robert J. Sawyer gets special mention; he attends Keycon every year and we've become friendly. He just cruises the dealer's room and stops at my table. "So, John, what do you have for me?" He signs them, then browses my table and always finds something to buy. Of course I try to have interesting stuff anyway, but two years ago he dropped about $80 in one visit!

John Speelman, Keycon, Winnipeg, Manitboa [2013]

I encourage you to take an opportunity to introduce yourself to Rob this weekend. You will not find a nicer human being. Attend his talks and panel discussions. Find him in hospitality and 'hang out' for a while. If you're an aspiring writer, ask him about his secret for success. He may be too shy to tell you, so I'll let you in on the secret here: Robert J. Sawyer is skilled at writing about the human condition because he has made understanding and being sympathetic of the human condition a large part of his life. Take an opportunity to get to know Rob, and you'll learn that secret just as I did.

Randy McCharles, chair of the 2009 World Fantasy Convention, in the program book for Lunacon 2016, at which Rob was Guest of Honor

Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to be Author GoH at VCON 41. And for accepting my email invitation in less than two minutes after I sent it. I can't claim any credit for that. As I recall you said "Absolutely I will come, but on one condition, that I get to interview Jamie Anderson!" (our "Supermarionation" GoH). It was great to see the two of you interacting together. An abundance of enthusiasm.

And thank you for putting up with what must have seemed like dozens of attempts on my part during the last hours of the con to shake your hand and blurt out "I just can't tell you how much I appreciate ..." etc., etc. Probably around the third or fourth time you were wishing that were true.

But really, "I just can't tell you" ... words fail me, so to speak.

Let me put it another way. As always, you were informative, entertaining, and inspirational. Heck of a GoH if you ask me.

R. Graeme Cameron, Chair, VCON, Vancouver, British Columbia [2016]

THANK YOU to our awesome guests @RobertJSawyer @ricksternbach @naominovik @murderofballads for making #Lunacon2016 amazing. We love you all!

Lunacon 2016 (@Lunacon) on Twitter

Rob is also a hit in the virtual world. Here's what the organizer had to say about one of his appearances in Second Life:

Thanks to Rob for one of the very best events we've ever had! He is adorable, generous, and terrifically funny. The crowd enthusiasm was great, and he jumped right in for a spirited discussion of transhumanism and its discontents. Religion, elitism, uploading, the singularity, American and Canadian cultural differences — we hit it all in a cheerful and vigorous discussion. It was the treat of a lifetime for many of us to sit and chat with such a gifted novelist.

Sophrosyne Stenvaag, Extropia Core, Second Life

More Good Reading

Robert J. Sawyer's stints as guest of honor
Robert J. Sawyer's upcoming appearances
Why authors attend Science Fiction Conventions
How to make a good impression at an SF convention

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