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For Release Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Sci-Fi Superstar Expands into Mystery
In today's perilous publishing climate, how do authors grow their
audience? Globe and Mail bestseller
Robert J. Sawyer is trying something new.
Known internationally for
his novel FlashForward,
basis for the ABC TV series
of the same name, his new book,
Red Planet Blues, being published on
March 26, 2013, is Sawyer's attempt to draw in the mystery-reading
audience on top of the sci-fi one.
"Science fiction and fantasy have long shared shelf space in
bookstores," Toronto-based Sawyer, 52, explains. "But as fantasy
has grown, fueled by the popularity of the Harry
Potter, Twilight, and Game of
Thrones books not to mention the renewed interest
in J.R.R. Tolkien science fiction is getting
But the new reality of online bookselling has changed things,
perhaps for the better. "In a brick-and-mortar store, your book
ends up on precisely one shelf, either science fiction or
mystery," says Sawyer. "But Indigo and Amazon let you be on as
many virtual bookshelves as you wish, allowing you to reach
varied readers in ways never before possible."
Sawyer is uniquely qualified to reach out to mystery readers.
Not only has he won the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of
for Best Novel of the Year, he's also won
Crime Writers of Canada's
Arthur Ellis Award for
Best Short Story of the Year. And he thinks science fiction is the
answer to mystery's biggest problem.
"It's become increasingly hard to tell traditional detective
stories set in the present day," Sawyer says. "Everyone knows
about CSI-style forensics. It's almost impossible
for a killer not to leave fingerprints or DNA. And our public
and private spaces are increasingly covered by surveillance
cameras. There's almost no room left on Earth anyway
for the traditional whodunit. But for Red Planet
Blues, I found a way around all that. The novel is set
on a lawless frontier Mars with no security cameras
and involves a technology that lets people transfer their
consciousnesses into gorgeous android bodies, which don't have
fingerprints and don't shed DNA. But who is actually inside any
given body is anyone's guess, letting me tell a good-old
fashioned mystery ... on the final frontier."
Sawyer is also drawing on his time as writer-in-residence at
in Dawson City in the Yukon. "The novel is set against the backdrop
of the Great Martian Fossil Rush, a tribute to the Great Klondike Gold Rush,"
he says. "The discovery of fossils of ancient life
something more valuable than gold or diamonds has brought
greedy stampeders to the red planet."
Sawyer immersed himself in classic noir fiction while writing the
novel, including heading to San Francisco to visit Sam Spade's
old haunts. "Red Planet Blues is definitely a
homage to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese
Falcon, and also tips its hat to Raymond
Chandler," he says.
According to early reviews, Red Planet Blues has
succeeded at serving both Sawyer's science-fiction audience and
the mystery reading public. Bestselling mystery writer Linda
L. Richards says, "Sawyer sets a classic work of noir against
a Buck Rogers backdrop without ever hitting a sour note.
Red Planet Blues is a perfectly executed gem of a
And Eric Wright, four-time winner of the Arthur Ellis
Award for Best Mystery Novel of the Year says, "Imagine the plot
of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre played out on
the planet Mars. Sawyer has, and the result is wonderful in both
senses a terrific noir crime novel that is full of the
wonders of Sawyer's sci-fi world. In
Red Planet Blues, Sawyer has imagined, and written,
his best book
Penguin Canada is supporting Red Planet Blues with
a coast-to-coast book tour
with stops in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Waterloo,
Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City.
Sawyer is one of only eight writers in history and the
only Canadian to win all three of science fiction's top
awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the
Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
According to the American science-fiction trade journal
Locus, he has won more awards for his novels than
anyone else in the history of the science-fiction and fantasy
Red Planet Blues
is Robert J. Sawyer's
twenty-second novel and follows such bestsellers as
the WWW trilogy of
which Canadian publishing trade journal Quill & Quire named
top-selling science fiction or fantasy book
in Canada for 2012.
For more information, see Rob's website at
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