Friday, July 31, 2009

Back home in Mississauga

After two months away, it's good to finally be back home in Mississauga. Carolyn and I had a great time in Saskatoon, and already miss our new friends from there. Being the first-ever writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron was an amazing experience.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saskatchewan Writers Guild interview

... conducted by current Aurora Award nominee Edward Willett just went online here. It's a good, meaty interview about my residency at the Canadian Light Source and my new novel Wake.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Hangin' with Arthur Slade

Click photo for larger version

Arthur Slade, who won the Governor General's Award for Dust, and Robert J. Sawyer hanging out at the 20th anniversary celebration for the Sage Hill Writing Experience in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, on Saturday, July 25, 2009. Art is currently teaching at Sage Hill, and the organizers are courting Rob to teach there in the future.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Final week in Saskatoon is packed

Yesterday, we went to Lumsden, Saskatchewan, for the 20th anniversary of the Sage Hill Writing Experience.

Today: a barbecue at the home of bookseller and writer Kent Pollard, followed by dinner with Carolyn's Saskatoon cousins.

Monday: my final weekly writing lecture for the Canadian Light Source staff, plus my final three one-hour one-on-one critiquing/mentoring appointments at the Light Source.

Tuesday: I'm on the noon Saskatoon CTV news program for an interview, then, at 7:30, it's the launch for Distant Early Warnings: Canada's Best Science Fiction at McNally Robinson

Thursday: I'm giving a talk to a fantasy writing workshop for 9-to-13-year olds.

Friday: the flight home.

We're in Toronto for all of four days, then it's off to Montreal for the World Science Fiction Convention (and I have other trips in August to Calgary, Regina, and Los Angeles). Whew!
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Friday, July 24, 2009

DEW Launch and RJS Farewell at McNally Saskatoon on Tuesday

This Tuesday, July 28, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a launch for my new anthology Distant Early Warnings: Canada's Best Science Fiction at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon; this will also serve as the farewell event for my two months here in Saskatoon as writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source.

(Note: this event was orginally announced for this Saturday afternoon but has been changed to Tuesday evening so that I can attend the 20th anniversary event for the Sage Hill Writing Experience.)

I'll be reading from my Hugo Award-nominated short story "Shed Skin," which is included in the anthology.

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My final week at the Canadian Light Source

I've been having a great time serving as writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source, Canada's national synchrotron research facility. My final week begins today.

Here's a sign that someone recently put up on my office door at the synchrotron:

And yesterday, I was helping archaeologist Elizabeth Robertson with an experiment down on one of the beam lines, and got to re-start the process after the 4:30 p.m. injection of fresh electrons into the storage ring (that's my personal dosimeter badge on my chest):

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Writers make their characters up

Yesterday, as part of my outreach duties as writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, I attended a book club meeting; the clubs members -- six very nice women -- had all just read my John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning 2005 science-fiction novel Mindscan.

At one point, I got asked the inevitable question: who are the characters based on? And to answer that I opened one of their copies of my book and read this little scene, because not only is the answer true, it's also important. Here, Jake Sullivan is oohing and aahing over meeting Karen Bessarian, author of some beloved young-adult novels:

"I can't believe I'm sitting here talking to the creator of Prince Scales."

She smiled that lopsided smile again. "Everybody has to be somewhere."

"So, Prince Scales — he's such a vivid character! Who's he based on?"

"No one," said Karen. "I made him up."

I shook my head. "No, no — I mean, who was the inspiration?"

"Nobody. He's a product of my imagination."

I nodded knowingly. "Ah, okay. You don't want to say. Afraid he'll sue, eh?"

The old woman frowned. "No, it's nothing like that. Prince Scales doesn't exist, isn't real, isn't based on anyone real, isn't a portrait or a parody. I just made him up."

I looked at her, but said nothing.

"You don't believe me, do you?" Karen asked.

"I wouldn't say that, but —"

She shook her head. "People are desperate to believe writers base our characters on real people, that the events in our novels really happened in some disguised way."

"Ah," I said. "Sorry. I — I guess it's an ego thing. I can't imagine making up a publishable story, so I don't want to believe that others have that capability. Talents like that make the rest of us feel inadequate."

"No," said Karen. "No, if you don't mind me saying so, it goes deeper than that, I think. Don't you see? The idea that false people can just be manufactured goes to the heart of our religious beliefs. When I say that Prince Scales doesn't really exist, and you've only been fooled into thinking that he does, then I open up the possibility that Moses didn't exist — that some writer just made him up. Or that Mohammed didn't really say and do the things ascribed to him. Or that Jesus is a fictional character, too. The whole of our spiritual existence is based on this unspoken assumption that writers record, but they don't fabricate — and that, even if they did, we could tell the difference."

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Regina Leader-Post profiles RJS

Photo of Robert J. Sawyer
by Troy Fleece, Regina Leader Post.

Click photo for larger version.

Today's (Saturday, June 27, 2009) Regina Leader-Post -- the major daily newspaper in the capital city of the province of Saskatchewan -- has a wonderful profile of me by Samantha Maciag.

The article covers my writer-in-residence position at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron in Saskatoon, and my current novel, Wake.

You can read the full text online here, and below is how it looks in the printed edition of the paper:

Many thanks to Carolyn who worked hard to land this interview for me!

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking ...

It's been a busy seven days of public appearances and interviews -- in three different cities:

Saturday evening, June 13, 2009, I appeared in Calgary, Alberta, reading from Wake at the EDGE Publishing book-launch event.

Monday, June 15, 2009, I gave an hour-long creative-writing lecture on "Great Beginnings" to the staff of the Canadian Light Source.

That evening, I gave a talk on science fiction and astronomy for the Calgary Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Wednesday evening, June 17, 2009, I gave a public lecture entitled "Science Fiction as a Mirror for Reality" at the Frances Morrison Theatre of the Saskatoon Public Library, and, after the talk, I gave a reading from Wake.

Thursday, June 18, 2009, I did a half-hour radio interview on John Gormley Live, Saskatchewan's most-popular morning show.

Thursday evening, June 18, 2009, I gave the banquet speech at the Canadian Light Source's annual users meeting.

Today, I record another radio interview down in Regina.

And this Saturday afternoon, June 20, 2009, at 2:00 p.m., I'm reading from Wake at Book and Brier Patch in Regina.


Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Rob on John Gormley Live

John Gormley Live is Saskatchewan's most-popular radio morning show, and I was guest for almost half an hour this morning. Missed it? No problem! You can hear the whole interview right here (I start at the 16 minute 9 second mark, and, in this version, with the commercials trimmed out, it lasts about 18 minutes).

Most of the interview is about my writer-in-residence gig at the Canadian Light Source.

John Gormley Live is heard daily on News Talk 650 in Saskatoon and News Talk 980 in Regina.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The things people say to writers!

Tonight I gave a very-well-received talk and reading at the Saskatoon Public Library, as part of my residency at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, with 108 people in the audience. And at the end, there was a reception with refreshments, and people came up to say hi, and get autographs, and ask questions, and all was lovely and sweet until one fellow posed his question:
Do you ever get jealous when you read a really good writer like Orson Scott Card?
And I know we writers are supposed to bend over and take it whenever anyone wants to take a whack at us in a review, or on Amazon, or whatever, but you know what? We actually do have feelings -- and I think my response of:
What the fuck kind of thing is that to say?
showed commendable restraint. (Although I did go on to say that, "In point of fact, I admire Scott's writing a great deal and he admires mine." [see last page of PDF])

Ah, well. Otherwise, a really nice evening. :)
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CLS: Tempus fugit

Carolyn and I have been in Saskatoon for two full weeks now. Incredibly, my writer-in-residence gig at the Canadian Light Source, Canada's national synchrotron, is already one-quarter over.

But what a two weeks it's been. During it, I:
  • Did safety training at CLS
  • Was interviewed by CBC Radio One in Saskatoon
  • Was interviewed by CBC Televison (the story carried
  • Was interviewed by CTV News Saskatoon
  • Was interviewed by Shaw Cable Saskatoon
  • Did a pre-interview for a documentary about the CLS
  • Did a podcast (about which more later) related to Wake
  • Attended Edward Willett's book launch at McNally Robinson
  • Had my own book launch for Wake at cNally Robinson (and hit #2 on the Saskatoon StarPhoenix bestsellers' list
  • Attended a dinner party at Yann Martel and Alice Kuipers' place
  • Attended a barbecue at Matthew Dalzell's place (Matt's my supervisor at CLS)
  • Gave two one-hour how-to-write seminars at CLS, one on generating story ideas and the other on how to start a story
  • Gave a talk at a local high school (Centennial Collegiage)
  • Gave talk to the Saskatoon Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada
  • Gave a talk to the computer-science department at the University of Saskatchewan
  • Flew to Calgary for this past weekend
  • Attended VulCON 16: Spock Days / Galaxyfest in Vulcan, Alberta
  • Attended (and gave a reading at) the big season launch party for EDGE Publishing in Calgary
  • Did 13 one-on-one hour-long consultations with local writers in Saskatoon (having read and prepared critiques of their manuscripts in advance)
  • And, oh, yes, wrote the first 2,100 words of Wonder, the hird WWW novel
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sci-fi writer ready to draw inspiration from Saskatoon synchrotron

That's the headline for a story at today -- and here's the very nice article about my residency at the Canadian Light Source that accompanies it.

(There was also a lovely piece on the Saskatchewan CBC Evening News last night, from which the quotes for this article were excerpted.)
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Only five writer-in-residence appointments left

I've only got five writer-in-residence appointments not yet spoken for during my stint at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon. If you want one, better book fast. I expect them all to be booked up shortly. Contact me at if you'd like to book an appointment.
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Saturday, June 6, 2009

First five days in Saskatoon

Carolyn and I are safe and sound in Saskatoon (say that five times fast!). We're having a blast, but -- man! -- I haven't had a chance to catch my breath.

We flew here from Toronto on Monday, June 1, had lunch with Canadian Light Source's Matthew Dalzell, then did our safety training at CLS, got our access cards, and had a tour of the synchrotron facility.

Tuesday was spent settling in, etc., and doing a bunch of things.

Wednesday, I spoke at at high school, did an interview for Saskatoon CBC Radio One's "Blue Skies" program, had dinner with DAW SF writer Edward Willett and Kent Pollard of McNally Robinson Saskatoon, then attended Ed's reading from his new novel at McNally.

Thursday, I had an interview at the local CTV station, then was interviewed at CLS by the local Shaw (cable-service provider) community channel, then had dinner with Matt and his wife at Prairie Ink at McNally Robinson, then I did my own event at McNally, a very well attended reading and signing for Wake.

Today, Friday, June 5, I read four manuscripts in preparation for my critiquing sessions tomorrow, did a by-Skype podcast interview with a fellow in Wellington, New Zealand (about which more later), and went over to the home of Yann Martel, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of Life of Pi, and fellow author Alice Kuipers for a wonderful dinner party.

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Canadian Light Source writer-in-residence submission guidelines

If you want me to critique a manuscript while I'm writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source, you must adhere to the following guidelines. I'm happy to critique any kind of manuscript -- fiction (all genres), nonfiction, scripts, plays, poetry, school essays, etc.

1) Book an appointment in advance with me by emailing me at:

I suggest you book soon; I've been in Saskatoon for one day now, and almost half of my appointment slots have already been filled. I offer daytime and evening appointments seven days a week -- but only at specific day/time combos that fit around my other commitments in Saskatoon. Contact me, and I'll let you know what appointment slots are available.

2) Submit your manuscript at least 72 hours in advance of your appointment.


* Your manuscript must be in RTF or Word DOC format.

* The filename must be your last name, plus the appropriate extension: SMITH.DOC, SINGH.RTF, etc. If you call it "Chapter 1.rtf," or something equally generic, I probably won't be able to tell it's yours.

* Submit no more than 5,000 words.

* Your pages need to have headers on them that include your name and the page number. I'm printing out the manuscripts, and I need these for reference.

* For the love of God, submit in proper manuscript format. There's only one right way to do it, and it's easy -- but do you really want to spend a hunk of your time with me going over it? The format is here.

3. Come to the Canadian Light Source for your appointment, and ask for me in the lobby.

If your appointment is after hours or on the weekend, the lobby may be closed, and you'll have to wait for me to come down and get you. If you need to call me (because I haven't come down when you expected me to, for instance), my office number at CLS is 657-3659.

Critiques are absolutely free; CLS is funding my residency internally and there is no cost to you for this service.

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Sunday, May 31, 2009

One appointment left on my first Saturday at CLS

Want a free critique of your manuscript -- and happen to be in Saskatoon?

My first three critiquing days are all booked solid now, except for one appointment on Saturday, June 6 -- I need someone to take the 3:00 p.m. slot for a critique (I don't want to fall behind schedule my first week!).

Normally, I require manuscripts (up to 5,000 words in RTF or Word DOC) to be submitted 72 hours in advance, but if you grab this appointment, as long as I have the manuscript by 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, June 5, you're fine. Any takers?

More info on my residency is here.
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Friday, May 29, 2009

What's green and white and red all over? The U of S alumni magazine!

The University of Saskatchewan's alumni magazine is called Green & White, and the Spring 2009 issue has a nice little piece about my stint (which begins this Monday!) as Writer-in-Residence at the Canadian Light Source. It says:
Taking Up Residence

Award winning Canadian science-fiction writer, Robert J. Sawyer, will call the Canadian Light Source synchrotron (CLS) home for the summer. Sawyer states he will be immersed into the life of the CLS to get the “sensory experience of how scientists argue, eat lunch, their social activities ... and you can’t get that on the VIP tour.” Sawyer will spend time working on his own projects, including his next book Wonder (the third book in the WWW trilogy) and an episode for the first season of a TV show based on his novel Flash Forward to be aired on ABC. About half of his time will be dedicated to mentoring other writers on a first come first served basis.
The article is online here and the whole magazine is available for free as a PDF here (I'm on page 8). Kudos to the magazine for a fine bit of close-cropping on the photo of me that they ran, by the way:

(The Canadian Light Source is located on the University of Saskatchewan's campus.)

Many thanks to my friend Ian Wasserman for drawing this article to my attention.
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Now booking writer-in-residence appointments in Saskatoon

They're going fast! I'm only doing 30 or so one-on-one hour-long consultations while I'm writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon in June and July, and I've just booked the first six appointments. If you want one -- absolutely free! -- email me at

I'll read up to 5,000 words of manuscript (which you need to submit a minimum of 72 hours in advance of your appointment as a Word DOC (not .DOCX) or RTF file, and I'll spend an hour going over it with you in person. All appointments must be face-to-face, and they must take place at the Canadian Light Source. I'm offering daytime and evening appointments on weekdays and weekend appointments during the day.

(If you don't have a manuscript and just want an hour-long chat with me to ask questions, that's cool, too.)

More about my residency is here.
Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rob lands on Planet S

Planet S is the biweekly arts-and-entertainment newspaper in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I was on the cover of the April 9, 2009, issue, and the cover story was about me.

That story by Ashleigh Mattern, headlined, "Light Speed, Mr. Sawyer -- Engage!," is online here.

(The first word in the article refers to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, just north of Saskatoon, which honours the First Nations inhabitants of the area.)

The cover illustration by Alex Whyte shows a cyborg version of me looming over the Canadian Light Source, Canada's national synchrotron facility, at which I will be writer-in-residence for June and July 2009. (The caption on the cover says, "Fantasy Meets Fact: Sci-fi Guru Sawyer aims phasers at synchrotron!")

Says the article:
Clearly, Sawyer is a dyed-in-the-wool science geek -- but that's exactly what's made him one of Canada's most noted science fictions writers. Much of that success can be attributed to the fact that, no matter what the subject, Sawyer takes great pride in ensuring that the scientific ideas and theories in his works are grounded solidly in fact.
And, of my current novel Wake and its upcoming sequels, I'm quoted in the article as saying:
“Science fiction has too often taken a simplistic, alarmist approach to the concept of artificial intelligence. Well, I for one don’t welcome our new robot masters. This is my attempt to present a positive symbiosis -- a world where humans are no longer the smartest thing on the planet, but in which we find a way of continuing to exist without giving up our essential humanity or individuality.”

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rob on CBC Radio's The Point

I was interviewed today on CBC Radio One's afternoon show The Point with Aamer Haleen about my upcoming gig as Writer-in-Residence at the Canadian Light Source.

The interview is now online. Go here, select "Part 2," and I come on at the 00:16:13 mark (move the little slider to skip ahead).

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rob on CBC Regina today

I'll be interviewed today live on CBC Radio One Regina's "Blue Sky" with Michelle Higley at 12:50 p.m. Saskatchewan time (1:50 p.m. Toronto time / Eastern time) about my upcoming residency at the Canadian Light Source.

It's 540AM in Regina, or you can listen online here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Writer-in-residence at Canadian Light Source

On April 19, 2005, as part of the Rob and Bob Tour -- the joint book tour for Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan and Robert Charles Wilson's Spin -- Bob and I visited the Canadian Light Source synchrotron facility in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Out of that visit, the following has come to pass; I will be the first-ever writer-in-residence at this cutting-edge physics-research facility.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- International award-winning science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer will be writer-in-residence at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron from June 1 to July 31, 2009. Sawyer, widely regarded as one of Canada's most influential authors and most successful science fiction writers, will use the residency to explore the creative processes at the root of science and art, and increase public discussion of science in Canada.

"Imagination is at the heart of both artistic and scientific endeavours," says Sawyer. "And the science being done in Canada is world-class. The opportunity to immerse myself for two months at one of Canada's -- and the world's -- top scientific institutions will enormously enrich my writing, and I hope my presence will stimulate the imaginations of people at the Canadian Light Source and in the surrounding community. It's a win-win situation."

"This is an amazing opportunity, not only for the staff and national research community of the Canadian Light Source, but also the literary community," says Jeff Cutler, Director of Industrial Research at the Canadian Light Source. "A common thread in Rob's work -- the role that science plays in our humanity and how we understand the universe -- is echoed in our focus on discovery, innovation and progress. The residency is an excellent opportunity to have a world-leading author share in the life of a world-leading science facility."

Sawyer is the author of 20 science fiction novels, which have been published in 15 languages. He is one of only seven authors -- and the only Canadian -- to win all three of the world's top science fiction awards: the Hugo Award (2003) for the novel Hominids, the Nebula Award (1996) for The Terminal Experiment, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2006) for Mindscan. His novel Flashforward is currently in development as a TV series for the U.S. network ABC. He has taught at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and the Banff Centre, and is a frequent commentator on the Discovery Channel and CBC television and radio. Several of his stories are set at Canadian science facilities, such as TRIUMF, SNOLab, and the Royal Ontario Museum.

While at the CLS, Sawyer will be performing the duties typical of a writer-in-residence, such as mentoring writers at the synchrotron and in the community, participating in outreach activities, and developing his own work. His wife, poet Carolyn Clink, will join him in Saskatoon during his residency.

The Canadian Light Source is Canada's national centre for synchrotron research. Located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the CLS is a powerful tool for academic and industrial research in a wide variety of areas including environmental science, natural resources and energy, health and life sciences, and information and communications technology. CLS operations are funded by the Government of Canada, NSERC, NRC, CIHR, the Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan. More information.

For more information contact:

Matthew Dalzell
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Light Source Inc
Ph: (306) 657-3739
Cell: (306) 227-0978

Robert J. Sawyer
Robert J. Sawyer has previously been writer-in-residence at the Richmond Hill (Ontario) Public Library; the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy; the Kitchener Public Library; and the Odyssey Workshop. Quotes and comments from previous residency patrons are here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site