Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting better

In the interview I did recently with the CBC's Shelagh Rogers, Shelagh and I talked about the difference between Margaret Atwood's SF and my own. I think we're getting better over time, and Margaret thinks we're getting worse. I elaborate on this a lot in Wonder, the third WWW book, which I'm working on right now. In fact, I was re-reading this bit from that book this evening, in which Caitlin's mom, the game theorist Dr. Barbara Decter, compares the older founding documents of the United States with the newer ones of the UN:
"When the Founding Fathers said, `We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' they still hadn't expanded that community of moral consideration to include blacks, for instance; Thomas Jefferson held slaves.

"But when the United Nations proclaimed its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first, they explicitly removed any ambiguity about who was a person, saying, `Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion,' and so on. And they went on to forbid what the Founding Fathers had seen nothing wrong with: `No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.'

"That's not mere economics, Caitlin; that's moral progress, and, despite occasional backsliding, there's no doubt that our morality hasn't just changed over time, it's measurably increased. We treat more people with dignity and as equals than ever before in human history; the progress has been measurable even on time scales as small as decades."

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site
and WakeWatchWonder.com

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Podcast: Sawyer neurosciences talk at Penn

On Wednesday, May 6, 2009, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer gave an invited 90-minute talk at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience [pictured] at the University of Pennsylvania ("Penn"). Sawyer was the first science-fiction writer ever invited to speak at the Center.

Sawyer's talk delved into the cognitive science, neuroscience, and other areas that informed the portrayal of a sentient World Wide Web in his 2009 novel Wake and the uploaded consciousnesses in his 2005 John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning novel Mindscan.

SPOILER WARNING: His talk contains major spoilers for both books, giving away significant plot points; please do not listen to the talk until you've read these books. (However, he talks about them separately -- first Wake, then Mindscan.)

The talk is here as an MP3 file.

"Thank you again for making the trip to Penn! It was wonderful to finally meet you, after enjoying so many of your books. Your talk exceeded my fondest hopes -- it was so clear and interesting and provocative! -- and the group adored it."

-- Martha J. Farah, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

"I enjoyed your talk immensely. It fit the bill perfectly in showing how excellent speculative hard science fiction can be informed by and inform those of us in the cognitive neurosciences."

-- Anjan Chatterjee, M.D.
Professor of Neurology

Information on booking Robert J. Sawyer as a speaker is here.

Visit The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site
and WakeWatchWonder.com

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

WakeWatchWonder.com is now live!

Penguin Group (Canada) has created a gorgeous, Flash-content rich web site to promote my WWW trilogy (the novel Wake, and its forthcoming sequels, Watch and Wonder).

Check out WakeWatchWonder.com for a nifty book trailer, Wake wallpapers, FAQs, and much more. It's a work-in-progress -- Penguin will be tweaking, expanding, and updating the site continously -- so comments are welcome!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Seven RJS novels coming from Audible.com

I've been a very satisfied Audible.com customer since March 2001, and so I'm particularly delighted to report that Audible.com has jut bought audio-book rights to seven of my novels:Plus the complete Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, consisting of:And (as they are released in print form) my complete upcoming WWW trilogy, consisting of:
  • Wake
  • Watch
  • Wonder
I won't be recording the narration myself; it'll all be done by professional voice artists.

I really do listen to material from Audible.com all the time, and I'm thrilled to have them making such a big commitment to me. My thanks to them, and to Chris Lotts, my agent who handled the negotiations.

(Audible.com is the world's leading retailer of downloadable audiobooks -- their titles can be played on iPods, Palms, desktops, mobile phones, many MP3 players, etc. etc., and can be burned to CD.)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New deal with Penguin in Canada and USA

Well, since it's the lead story right now on the (by subscription) website for Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal, and since I'm scheduled to speak about this today (Tuesday, May 8, 2007) to Cynthia Good's class in the Creative Book Publishing Program at Humber College, I suppose I should say something here, too:

After 17 novels for which his North American rights have gone to U.S. publishers, Hugo Award-winning Canadian science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer now has a domestic Canadian publisher. He's splitting his Canadian and U.S. rights for his next three books in a six-figure deal, with Barbara Berson at Penguin Canada acquiring rights north of the border, and Ginjer Buchanan at Penguin USA getting them south of it.

"Starting eleven years ago, back in 1996, Cynthia Good at Penguin Canada began making overtures about getting my titles for that company," says Sawyer, 47. "But neither Ace Science Fiction nor Tor Books, my two U.S. publishers at that time, wanted to give up my Canadian rights, and so we weren't able to make this happen; I still needed a strong U.S. publisher, and Penguin had no real presence in the SF field in the U.S. back then. But a few years ago, Penguin USA acquired Berkley Putnam, which included Ace, an imprint I'd happily done six novels for between 1992 and 1997."

Also, since signing his last contract with Tor, Sawyer's Hominids won the Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year -- SF's top honour. Several publishers let Sawyer's New York agent, Ralph Vicinanza, know that they'd be interested in acquiring Sawyer, should he become available. "H.B. Fenn has done a fabulous job promoting my books in Canada; I owe much of what I am to Harold and Sylvia Fenn and their wonderful crew," Sawyer said. But working with a U.S. publisher through a Canadian distributor meant receiving a lower, export royalty for Canadian sales from Tor. "And now that Penguin in the States has Ace, Ralph was able to structure a handsome deal with separately accounted advances and full royalties on both sides of the border," Sawyer says.

The joint deal plays to Sawyer's relative strengths on both sides of the border. "In the states, I'm a successful genre-fiction writer, with a loyal following in the SF section," says Sawyer. "But in Canada, I've had considerable breakout success, gathering a large mainstream audience; Fenn has done a tremendous job positioning me out-of-category. Under this new deal, in the U.S., I'll be published quite happily under the Ace imprint; over the last few years, Ace has really concentrated on hard SF, while other U.S. genre lines have shifted heavily to fantasy, so it's the perfect home for me there. And in Canada, I was wowed by what Penguin has managed to do positioning genre writers Guy Gavriel Kay, Jack Whyte, and R. Scott Bakker outside the fantasy category -- not to mention their success in breaking out mystery writers, such as Peter Robinson, who was based there for many years."

Sawyer's new contract covers the three volumes of his planned WWW trilogy, about the World Wide Web gaining consciousness, and the relationship humanity builds with this nascent global brain. "I'm calling it `William Gibson meets William Gibson,'" says Sawyer. "William Gibson the novelist wrote Neuromancer, which, although a wonderful book, is now almost a quarter of a century old and portrays a kind of hacker-subculture-rules-the-world streetwise vision that's totally at odds with Time magazine having named `You' as its most recent Person of the Year -- us, average joes who create content for, and live our social lives in, the online world. And William Gibson the playwright wrote The Miracle Worker, about Annie Sullivan who helped lift Helen Keller -- a vast intellect, trapped in a world of darkness and silence -- out into full consciousness."

Sawyer will spend all of July, August, and September at the Berton House Writing Retreat in Dawson City, working on the first volume, Wake; the subsequent books have working titles of Watch and Wonder. "Expect a lot of mosquitoes in Wake," says Sawyer.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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