SOL Rising

Number 10, May 1994

The Merril Collection, A Rare Jewel
Favourite Canadian Works
An Interview With Hal Clement
News From the French Quarter
Michelle Sagara: Motherhood and the Writing Muse
Up and Coming
Awards for 1992 Fiction

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The Merril Collection, A Rare Jewel

by Mici Gold


Although many Torontonians may not know it, they possess the world's major public science fiction and fantasy library, the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy. This library, with over 53,000 items in its holdings, is one of the world's largest collections of the genre. But what exactly is it? And how can the public use it? As a new Friend of the Collection, I wanted to know.


The library began in 1970, I learned, when author and anthologist Judith Merril donated her personal collection of some 5,000 items to the Toronto Public Library. In an "extremely far-sighted move," says Collection Head Lorna Toolis, the Library established the Spaced Out Library for research.


Approximately ten years ago, the collection expanded to provide circulating paperback novels and anthologies, now totalling about 8,600 books. On January 1, 1991, the name of the collection changed to "the Merril Collection..." to avoid confusion about exactly what "spaced-out" meant! Although the donor felt somewhat nonplussed by the honour, she does continue to take an active interest in the collection and maintains an office in the building.


At present, the library is humbly housed in downtown Toronto on the second floor of 40 St. George Street. It shares the space with two of the Toronto Library's other special collections: Boys and Girls House and the Osborne Collection. During its operating hours, the library is filled with students, university professors, writers, media researchers and members of the public who come in to conduct research or just read. Sometimes public school classes come by to learn about speculative fiction, and often groups of writers or fans meet in the building. The library staff bustles from one request to another in a whirlwind of activity. Somehow, they always seem to have time to answer one more question or find that last obscure reference.


For those of us who love science fiction and fantasy, the Collection itself is a treasure. As part of its mandate, the library collects at least one reference (non-circulating) copy of all genre science fiction and fantasy published each year. This is usually, but not always, a hard cover copy, and a paperback copy is added to the circulating collection.


Acquiring some of these books can present a challenge for the staff as much speculative fiction gets published by small or little-known specialty presses. The librarians study catalogues from publishers and collectors and refer to fanzines and critical magazines so as not to miss obscure publications in the field.


In addition to mainstream science fiction and fantasy, the library also collects writing classified as "magic realism." Initially and most commonly used to describe a fort of literature associated with twentieth century Latin America, magic realism is about events of the normal world with a slightly more-than-real essence. Where fantasy tells about alternate worlds, magic realism is about magical events in this world. Various works by Michael Moorcock fit into this category, such as The English Assassin, Mother London and The Condition of Muzak. Another writer in this field is William Kotzwinkle, whose books Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman and The Great World Circus are examples. Much magic realism appears in anthologies.


Of course, no decent collection of speculative fiction would omit periodicals. The Merril Collection has a comprehensive selection of both fiction and non-fiction periodicals which can be read in the library. Canada's own On Spec is available, as well as Analog, Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Aboriginal and Aurealis, carrying Australian speculative fiction, and many more. Non-fiction magazines, most reviewing the genre but also supporting the future and speculative sciences, include Locus, Skeptical Inquirer, Omni, Spaceflight and Science Fiction Chronicle. Not only does the library maintain current issues, it collects back issues when they are available to complete broken runs. Particularly noteworthy are the library's sets of pulp magazines, such as Amazing Stories, Astounding (which later became Analog), Galaxy, Space Adventures, Stirring Science Stories, Unknown and Avon Fantasy Reader. These were recently inserted into mylar sleeves to protect them from deterioration; pulp magazines were not designed to last!


The library also collects another form of periodical that abounds in speculative fiction: fanzines. Written by devotees of the genre, fanzines contain reviews, news about authors and publishers, advance publicity on novels, retrospective analyses and sometimes fiction. Fanzines tend to start and stop at irregular intervals, but the library attempts to collect as widely and as thoroughly as possible. The fanzines in the library's file boxes bear whimsical titles such as "Interplanetary Corn Chips," "Mothalode Morning Mishap," "Lavender Dragon," "Seldon's Plan," "Skyhook," and, of course, "Captain George's Penny Dreadful." The library recently received several boxes of Star Trek fiction fanzines, but these are in storage at present due to lack of space.


Recently, the library has begun to include graphic novels, also known as comics, in its holdings. On the special shelf devoted to these soft cover books, fans will find The Illustrated Harlan Ellison, for example, which includes one of my all-time favourite stories, "Repent Harlequin! Said the Tick Tock Man." Also on the shelf are Elfquest, Batman, Watchmen and Sandman. Neuromancer and The Vampire Lestat are adaptations of print books, by William Gibson and Anne Rice, respectively. The staff felt that these graphic works represented a significant and growing branch of the genre. And to support this part of the collection, they also offer The Comics Journal in the periodical section.


In keeping with its mandate as a research library, the Merril Collection has also assembled a comprehensive selection of non-fiction about the genre: biographical works, criticism, bibliographies and histories. One of the newest and most outstanding additions in this area is the revised Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, by John Clute and Peter Nichols (1992). This work, which also documents fantasy, is a good place to start whether the subject is history, biography or literature. For users expecting to find material related to speculative fiction, the library maintains a 001 section, with books on subjects ranging from astrology to spaceflight to UFO's.


An appropriately modern development in the collection is the inclusion of various audio-visual materials, including movies, plays, television, role-playing books, comics, radio and software, because, according to the Collection Head, "in the last decade, science fiction and fantasy has mutated in scope." Although presently small, the number of AV items is growing. The library limits the number of formats it collects to those expected to endure and to be supported by future technology. Unfortunately, the collection does not yet have the equipment or space for some of these to be studied.


The library also collects original science fiction and fantasy art and prints. Students of art history can also find books in the collection describing this kind of art.


The staff maintains a vertical file with some two hundred subjects related to speculative fiction. Short clippings and articles contributed by users and Friends of the library fill this file.


Not surprisingly, the Merril Collection has the world's best collection of Canadian speculative fiction. Although most of the library's holdings are in English, it also collects French material, especially that written in Canada. It does have some material written in other languages from around the world, wherever there is a "significant SF community", according to the collection policy—Russia and Japan, for example. Much of this is received as donations because the library is a depository for World SF, "an international organization of people professionally involved with speculative fiction." Because of its international reputation, the Merril Collection also receives original correspondence and manuscripts.


Accessing all this wonderful material requires the use of an old-fashioned card—yes, paper—catalogue. Both fiction and non-fiction is listed by author and title and there is a subject catalogue for non-fiction monographs as well. All circulating paperbacks can be found on the Toronto Public Library's Dynix on-line catalogue, which users can consult at any branch.

One of the unique tools the library offers is a short story catalogue listing all the stories, by author and title, in all the anthologies in the collection. The staff anticipates putting the reference author/title catalogue on the computer next. Users can also check a series list, if they want to know all the titles in a particular author's series. The periodical rolodex lists which issues of which periodicals the library holds.


Updating and maintaining the collection is the responsibility of three dedicated librarians. Lorna Toolis, as Collection head, handles reference, makes acquisitions and administers, sometimes all at once—one day she timed her interruptions as coming every ninety seconds! She has also co-edited an anthology, Tesseracts4, which won an Aurora Award for best anthology, and is helping to select and assemble the Mars Project CD of literature that influenced the space explorers. As planned by the Planetary Society, the disc will travel to Mars aboard Mars 94 as a gift to future Martian settlers. In her daily tasks, Lorna is ably assisted by Mary Cannings, who manages the circulating collection and carries some of the cataloguing duties, and Annette Mocek, responsible for reference, cataloguing and AV materials. Their work and the collection are supported by Nancy Krygsman, the Assistant Chief Librarian.


The library also enjoys the assistance of the Friends of the Merril Collection, people who have an interest in science fiction and fantasy. The Friends offer memberships which fund the Reading Programs bringing in authors to read from recent works or works-in-progress. (Membership information can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.)


The Friends also produce Sol Rising and help at receptions. This organization relies on the support of some special people, whose names have appeared frequently in these pages. Larry Hancock, the present Chairman and editor of the newsletter, has been involved with the Friends since its inception. When he's not working or helping the Friends, he writes The Silent Invasion comic series, which can be found on the graphic novel shelf. John Millard, a member of First Fandom, is co-chairman of the building committee and past Chairman of the Friends. And Doris Bercarich, who is the secretary/treasurer, also provides the catering for functions offered by the Friends.


Both staff and Friends are excited by the prospect of a new building for the Merril Collection, Boys and Girls House and the Osborne Collection. Now in the planning stage, the new facilities will occupy the southwest corner of College and Huron Streets. When the building is completed, the Merril Collection will occupy the third floor.


The new space will provide "miles" of compact shelves in environmentally-controlled conditions that will help preserve the older and more fragile material. A sound-proof room will contain the hardware for enjoying the AV materials, and quiet study space will be available in the reference section.


The Friends will be able to hold the Reading Programs in a 250-person meeting room in the same building. And staff will be able to prepare thematic exhibits of material, including hanging relevant art on the walls.


Until that time, the staff will continue to acquire books and assist researchers and to maintain what the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls "one of the world's more important SF research libraries." And as its size and reputation grow, more and more Torontonians will, like me, discover what a fantastic jewel they hold in their mundane hands.

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Favourite Canadian Books

By John Robert Colombo


Out of the blue I received a phone call from the promotion person at a large publishing house. He introduced himself as Salman A. Nensi and went on to identify himself as the publicist for Random House of Canada.


Everyone has heard of Random House, founded by the late Bennett Cerf, publisher of the Modern Library, etc. I am never certain how many books Random publishes in Canada, but I am familiar with its excellent and extensive list of American publications which it distributes in this country.


Sal came right to the point. He was preparing a "press kit" to draw media attention to Canadian science fiction. In Canada, Random House distributes the Ballantine/Del Rey paperback line. Current/ forthcoming titles by Canadian authors include Dave Duncan's Upland Outlaws, Michelle Sagara's Sundered Trilogy, and Crawford Kilian's Red Magic.


Sal mentioned the appearance of Fossil Hunter, the latest novel by Robert J. Sawyer ("award-winning" "Toronto's own", etc.) and said or suggested that these novels "have legs". He wanted to give them proper send-offs. Specifically, he wanted them reviewed like mainstream novels rather that like science-fiction novels.


"There's one way to do that," I said.


"What's that?" he asked. No doubt he had the vision of a big-concept, no-cost, fast fix.


"The way to ensure that science-fiction novels are treated like mainstream novels is to arrange for their first release in hard-back, not paper-back," I explained.


No doubt Sal was disappointed with my response. After all, he was operating out of the Toronto office, not the New York headquarters. As well, what I was proposing was the province of another department, editorial and marketing, not sales and promotion. What he had at hand to promote were paperbacks, not hard-backs.


Yet to his credit he pushed ahead. He explained that he had contacted a number of writers—not really "movers and shakers," but journalists and authors known to be readers of science fiction—and they had agreed to contribute promotional copy free of charge to the press kit.


The long and the short of it is that I agreed to contribute to the press kit. Two enthusiasms did the trick: Sal's enthusiasm for a worthy-enough project, my enthusiasm for encouraging a national science fiction. I agreed to contribute a list of my "favourite" Canadian fantastic fiction. (I hasten to add that I did so out of interest and enthusiasm—and also with the promise of some complimentary copies of current books from Random House's catalogue. I don't believe in writing anything for nothing—Sol Rising being the exception that proves the rule—and I advise other writers, full and part-time, to act accordingly.)


What's your favourite colour? What's your favourite name? Who's your favourite author? These are questions for children, yet the notion of compiling a list is the concept of making a selection, with one eye focused on past reading and another eye focused on future readers of these works.


Anyway, here is the list I presented to Sal for use in the press kit. It would be worthwhile to hear from readers of Sol Rising about some of their own favourite works.


Colombo's 13 Favourite Books of Canadian Fantastic Literature


Long before I began Canadiana, I was reading and enjoying fantastic literature.


What I mean by fantastic literature is science fiction, fantasy fiction, and supernatural (including weird/horror) fiction.


Here are two rule of thumb genre distinctions:


SF is set in the future; fantasy is set in the past or the never-never; supernatural fiction is set in the present.


SF is technically impossible; fantasy is materially impossible; supernatural is unlikely (we hope!).

In general, fantastic literature places human beings in contexts undreamt of by "mainstream" writers of "psychological realism."


Anyway, here I have listed 13 books of fantastic literature written by Canadians which I have read with pleasure and insight and which I plan to reread with additional pleasure and insight.


  1. A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (1888) by James De Mille. A classic novel of adventure that takes the reader into the centre of the earth where a "lost race" poses satiric and philosophic questions.
  2. Sick Heart River (1941) by John Buchan. A remarkable and moving novel about a man-of-the-world's attainment of ultimate values, set in the valley of the mighty Nahanni River, Northwest Territories, by the novelist John Buchan, Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir.
  3. Slan (1946) by A.E. van Vogt. A classic and exciting novel about human beings who develop psychic powers, written while the author, one of the great names of the Golden Age of SF, was still living in Toronto.
  4. Consider Her Ways (1947) by Frederick Philip Grove. An amazing imaginative satire, written by the Prairie novelist more noted for his realistic novels, about a colony of ants that treks across North America only to find its own values superior to human values.
  5. Sunburst (1964) by Phyllis Gotlieb. A novel of great insight and compassion which examines the effects of genetic damage from a runaway nuclear reactor on a young girl.
  6. The Armies of the Moon (1972) by Gwendolyn MacEwen. Highly evocative and imaginative poetry with a fantastic and science-fiction edge inspired by the sight of the Moon.
  7. The Best of Judith Merril (1976) by Judith Merril. Two poems and nine stories set in other times and places written with a "sense of gender" as well as a "sense of wonder" by the respected writer and veteran anthologist.
  8. Stardance (1979) by Spider Robinson and Jeanne Robinson. An impressive novel about—guess what?—the desire of a dancer to perform an original work in the weightlessness of outer space.
  9. Burning Chrome (1980) by William Gibson. Ten short way out stories including the title story which imaginatively introduced the concept of "virtual reality" and the term "cyberpunk."
  10. The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind (1987) by Terence M. Green. Ten thoughtful, emotional, and gracefully written stories of fantasy and science-fiction.
  11. Distant Signals and Other Stories (1989) by Andrew Weiner. Twelve stories which deal impressively with problems (surprisingly like those of the present) that infect the future.
  12. Chips & Gravey (1991) by William Gough. Fantasy? Magic Realism? Channelling? A riotously funny novella of life in an outport, complete with salty Newfoundland characters.
  13. Golden Fleece (1990) by Robert J. Sawyer. A novel that combines adventure, mystery, and madness aboard a spaceship that is as self-contained as the planet Earth.


John Robert Colombo, knows as the Master Gatherer for his many compilations of Canadiana, including fantastic literature, contributed the article on English-Canadian Science Fiction in the new 1993 edition of the Science-Fiction Encyclopedia edited by John Chute and Peter Nicholas.

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An Interview with Hal Clement

by Dr. Allan Weiss


Harry Clement Stubbs was born in Somerville, MA, on May 30, 1922. He studied at Harvard and received his B.S. in Astronomy and, after serving with the United States Air Force in World War 11, his M.Ed from Boston University in 1947. He taught high-school science and mathematics in Massachusetts from 1947 to the present, apart from another stint in the Air Force during the Korean War. He received his MS. from Simmons College in 1963.


Recently Sol Rising found out that Harry Stubbs spent many summers of his youth in Canada and asked Dr. Allan Weiss to investigate further. Here is the result of that interview.


One of the perpetual complaints of science-fiction editors over the past few decades has been the dearth of true "hard" SF: science fiction strictly based on the pure and applied sciences. Since the 1950s, the name most frequently cited in discussions of hard SF is that of Hal Clement (pseudonym of Harry Stubbs); Clement's stories and novels reveal an in-depth knowledge of the physical sciences (Clement received his B.S. in Astronomy at Harvard), and his wish to build his worlds and situations rigorously on accepted scientific principles. He was in Toronto as one of the guests at Ad Astra 13.


Allan Weiss: I'd like to ask you about your early days in Canada—about your visits to Prince Edward Island.


Hal Clement: Well, they were generally made in the summer; my mother, and myself and after the first year or two my younger sister—actually my sister was born during one of these visits in Canada—we used to go up to Prince Edward Island and stay there for three months or so while my father stayed in a job at home. I had several cousins there; one of my mother's sisters had three sons and a daughter and that was one of the farms we stayed at. One of the cousins was about ten months younger than I was (Jack Bell) and we were very good friends and were very unhappy whenever a summer was missed without our going there. He shared my astronomy enthusiasm; he, like me, started trying to write science fiction in our teens. I still look back on those days with quite a bit of nostalgia, although my uncle, Jack's father, was a farmer from the old school and didn't believe that boys should be left in bed after five in the morning—should be kept busy for their own good—so this is one of the reasons I feel qualified to hold an opinion on the subject of whether going back to nature is a good idea; I've hoed all the turnips I want to; I favour the hi-tech society.


AW: Your father was an accountant and I wonder what his attitude would have been to your ambitions—your reading and so on.


HC: He was quite tolerant about the whole thing. I suspect—he never stated it firmly—that he would have liked me to be a minister. But my interest in science from the word go was very, very obvious and he was willing to encourage it. And both he and my mother were pretty well converted my junior year in college; they allowed me to major in astronomy as I wanted, and in my junior year I sold two stories to John Campbell and the $245 that those brought in made a very large dent in Harvard's $400-a-year tuition. So they were pretty well converted after that.


AW: Your mother was a teacher, right?


HC: She taught for a while. She was a college graduate; at least, I guess it was a full-scale college; it was then called Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, P.E.I.—I think its name has changed since, and very possibly its scope and all the rest of it; I haven't been back for a long time and don't know. But, yes, she graduated from college; she taught for a while in the one-room schoolhouse at York Point where she was born, and then I don't know all of the history. She was working in Halifax during World War I and got mildly injured by flying glass in the Halifax explosion. I don't know when or where she met my father, but they were married in the States in 1921 and I was born roughly a year later in 1922. My father eventually became a naturalized citizen; I don't know what all his reasons were, what their reasons were for moving to the States.


AW: Did the fact that she was a teacher have any influence on whether you read as a child? Did she encourage you to be more of a literary sort?


HC: Yes, they both encouraged our reading very strongly. Dad was an enthusiast of Shakespeare and able to quote quite a bit of Shakespeare. They both had very high standards in use of English; I'm afraid both my sister and I deteriorated in that aspect after we started public school. We were both able to read and write and do simple arithmetic before we started school.


AW: Now, you yourself became a teacher, and you've often said that your teaching is your vocation and your writing is your hobby. But I'm sure that the interrelationships. between them were pretty strong all the way through your career. Can you give me some sense of how one might have influenced the other, affected the other?


HC: Well, a main reason for my winding up as a teacher, aside from the fact that I've always liked kids and done things like Boy Scout work, was that it became painfully evident towards the close of my undergraduate days that I was not a good enough mathematician to become an astronomer. I didn't have to make the decision immediately; I graduated in February of 1943, with the Army waiting, and spent time flying with the 8th Air Force and sundry things, and then had the G.I. Bill to handle the next step, which was to go back to graduate school and get an education degree and a teaching certificate. Teaching was certainly going to be the next best thing to astronomy. And I stayed with it for forty years.


AW: Were there things that you discovered in your research for your teaching, or things you discovered in discussions with your students that inspired some of your works?


HC: I would say yes although I can't come up with specific examples. There was a swapping of information in both directions, actually. Things that I thought of setting up for my stories also offered analogies and suggested situations that I could use in class to start discussions going.


AW: So it was an exchange of ideas. It's pretty evident that the environment is a major theme in your work: placing your characters in strange environments and seeing what happens.


HC: Yes, that's the fun of it: cooking up what sort of environments there might be, and what sort of life, if any, could exist in those situations, and how the beings adapted to those situations would respond—what their motivation would be, what they would want to do and what they would have to do.


AW: And then you establish a problem for them that they have to come up with a solution for scientifically.


HC: Well, from my point of view, the words "problem" and "plot" are essentially synonymous. If your characters don't have a problem you don't have a story.


AW: Did your interest in the environment have anything to do with certain environments that you encountered either as a child or an adult?


HC: Not that I can remember. My environments were various towns in greater Boston during the school year and Prince Edward Island during the summer. And the difference was essentially the mechanical surroundings. In the summer I was on a horse-powered farm, hoeing turnips, working hay, and generally quite aware of what had to be done to provide food for humanity. In the cities, milk came, in those days, in one-quart glass bottles.


AW: Even in your reading today (at Ad Astra) I noticed that your environments are unpredictable and sometimes downright annoying. They can mess up your plans quite quickly and quite easily. Is this an image of nature that you have?


HC: Yes, I think this is the way life is. If you don't understand the general environmental situation you are very likely to run into trouble, including on your own planet.


AW: Right. But even then it seems like nature will do things that you don't expect even when you are adapted to it.


HC: Well, the more you know the more likely you are to expect correctly, but none of us knows everything. And I very much like to deal with the results of failing to predict a particular happening, event, or what have you.


AW: Mystery is a major source of science fiction—the ratiocination process for the plot and soon—and you've written some mysteries like Needle. Can you tell me just a little bit about the mystery reading you did and how it might have influenced your work.


HC: I've liked mystery stories from childhood—my father got me into that. The ones I read early on were Leslie Charteris' Saint stories, H. C. Bailey, whose detective was Dr. Reginald Fortune, Philip Macdonald (Anthony Guesrin was the detective), very few people nowadays remember any of these people, but Lord Peter Whimsey is still with us, and Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. So I read many of those—most of them, probably.


AW: Just one other thing. If you could comment on the fact that your novels often place alien characters together and then see what happens not simply with their contacts with the environment but also their contacts with each other and attempts to communicate with each other.


HC: That last is an attempt to master the art of character portrayal, which I've never felt very confident about. In Still River, I deliberately set up my five characters so they split several ways into "Us" and "Them" groups. Two were male and three were female; two were oxygen-breathers, two didn't breathe at all, and one breathed nitrous of chloride. All but one had body temperatures in the liquid ammonia rather than the liquid water range. And so on. I don't know whether I did an effective and believable job of suggesting what their interactions would be and what each would take for granted that the others didn't. I didn't want to overdo it. I may have underdone it, too, I don't know.


AW: Well, I'd like to thank you very much for your time, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the convention and your stay in Toronto.


HC: Oh, I expect to, don't worry.

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News From the French Quarter

by Jean‑Louis Trudel


The twentieth French National Convention was held in Orléans/la Source, on August 27-29, 1993. Its theme was "Woman in SF" and its guests included France's Joëlle Wintrebert and Canada's Elisabeth Vonarburg.


The finalists in the novel category for the 1993 Prix Rosny Aîné, which are the closest francophone equivalent to the Hugos, were Ayerdhal for Le chant du drille (The Drille's Song), Jacques Barbéri for La Mémoire du crime (Recalling the Crime), Serge Brussolo for Le syndrôme du scaphandrier (The Dreamdiver Syndrome), Alain Le Bussy for Deltas, Daniel Sernine for Chronoreg, and Élisabeth Vonarburg for Chroniques du Pays des Méres. Ayerdhal, Barbéri, and Brussolo are French, Le Bussy is Belgian, and Sernine and Vonarburg are from Canada, thus making for one of the most diverse group of finalists in recent years. Vonarburg's novel has been translated and published in English—as The Maerlande Chronicles in Canada and as In the Mothers' Land in the United States. The final vote was held on-site at the French National convention in Orléans.


Québec's two SF magazines are alive and kicking. After a transition year during which several issues were delayed, Solaris has managed to catch up thanks to an accelerated publication schedule. Covers have been generally gorgeous. Solaris 105, the late spring and early summer issue, featured stories by Yves Meynard, "Le sang et l'oisesu" ("Blood and Bird"), and Jean-Louis Trudel, "Un papillon á Mashak" ("A Butterfly in Mashak"), and an interview of Daniel Semine, as well as non-fiction and the usual assortment of book and zine reviews ranging over two continents, four countries and two languages. Meynard's text was a dense and poetic combination of three rêveries on the twin themes of the title, with only a few subtle echoes linking the intertwined plots, which moved in the borderland between science fiction and fantasy. Trudel's text was a rather more staid science fiction tale mixing chaos theory, history, and the fraternization attempts of a human soldier on a world of conquered aliens.


Solaris 106 is being promoted as a special theme issue on utopias and counter-utopias, featuring scholarly articles and an interview of Élisabeth Vonarburg. Solaris 107 is announced as a special theme issue on time, with stories by Alain Bergeron, Yves Meynard, and Jean-Louis Trudel.


Over at imagine..., covers have been no less handsome. imagine... 63, the spring issue, was a special issue entirely devoted to science-fiction in Switzerland, with stories by Chantal Delessert, Nicolas G. Doegun, Georges Panchard, Wildy Petoud, and Francois Rouiller. The stories by Panchard and Petoud were the more memorable ones of the lot. H. R. Giger and John Howe contributed short art portfolios. Jean-François Thomas sketched a historical survey of SF in Switzerland, while Roger Gaillard presented the Maison d 'Ailleurs, or House of Elsewhere, Europe's first SF museum, of which he is director. imagine... 64 was a regular issue. Guy Bouchard's story, "Si la vie vous intéresse" ("A Life in the Forces"), won the Septième Continent award and headlined the issue. It was published simultaneously in the Belgian periodical Magie Rouge 38-39, in spite of the reservations of that magazine's editor. Bouchard's story tells of a future Québec where women join the army to contribute to a new revenge of the cradle... French writer Micky Papoz and Canadian writer Sylvie Bérard contributed two other short stories, while another Canadian, Danielle Tremblay, signed the first part of a four-part serial.


In other Québec publishing news, Daniel Sernine's fiction collection Les Portes mystérieuses (The Mysterious Doors) was released by Héritage as a young adult book. Charles Montpetit's young adult novel Copie Carbone (Carbon Copy), based on an earlier short story which appeared in Solaris, was put out by Québec/Amérique. The editions Québec/Amérique also announced the upcoming release of Contes de Tyranaël (Tyranaël Tales) by Élisabeth Vonarburg in their juvenile fiction line. Another young adult novel, Tu peux compter sur moi (You Can Count on Me), by Jean-François Somain, originally published in 1990, will appear this Fall in Japanese translation. Major novels await the opening of the Fall season, and especially the November Salon du Livre in Montréal.


Earlier, Jean-Pierre April's novel Berlin-Bangkok, which actually came close to predicting the fall of the Berlin Wall, was reissued by J'ai Lu in France in a somewhat revised edition, four years after its original publication in Canada.


The fanzine scene remains fairly sedate in Québec. Old-timer Samizdat continues to appear sporadically, emphasizing well thought-out reviews over fiction. Issue 24 had a story by newcomer Julie Martel as well as a long-delayed (four years?) one by Jean-Louis Trudel. The young and energetic Christian Martin continues to pump out Temps Tôt on a bi-monthly basis, favouring fiction over reviews. So far, issues 22 to 25 have come out this year, with the end of Jean-Louis Trudel's SF serial, a cadavre exquis by Laurent McAllister, and stories by a medley of mostly new writers, including Claude Bolduc and Francois Escalmel. Issue 25 was a special issue devoted to newcomer Hugues Morin. In other news, Benoît Girard, who earlier launched an English-language fanzine called The Frozen Frog, has spearheaded the birth of a Québec APA, called APAQ. There have also been rumblings of new magazines coming onto the scene, such as Cité Calonne. The first two issues of a cinema and horror magazine called Le Réveur fantastique, have actually appeared, with a heavy dose of reviews and a cluttered lay-out. Whether it will last is still unclear, but it bears witness to the continued vitality of the scene in that province.

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Michelle Sagara: Motherhood and the Writing Muse

by Mici Gold


Mici Gold caught up with Toronto author Michelle Sagara at the October 1993 meeting of Ontario Hydra for an informal conversation about life as an author, and as a mother.


Michelle Sagara: I'm working on the re-write of a novel, my fifth novel, it's called Hunter's Oath. It's not connected with the other books (the Sundered series). So far there are three books (of the Sundered series); the fourth and final book (Chains of Darkness, Chains of Light) is coming out next May. It's finished; it's on the editor's desk. The rewrite I'm working on now should be finished by the end of this month. And then I can start the second book.


I'm also working on a short story. It's supposed to be sixty-five hundred words and it's now eighty-one hundred words. So, a little bit long. I'm trying to do a little bit more short fiction because, in some ways, it gives you a lot more room to experiment with form and with style and with texture, because it's short. Mostly fantasy stuff right now, although I do have a couple of science fiction short stories I'd like to write.


Again, that's a little bit of departure. I'd like to try different things with style. So that's what I'm doing. I'm also being a mother. (For a number of family reasons, Michelle had brought her four-and-a-half-month old son to the meeting: he was sleeping in another room during the interview.)


During the day, I thought, "Oh, I can get writing done when the baby sleeps." The baby never sleeps. I mean, he sleeps for a half-an-hour here but you have to be carrying him, or something.


So now I get my writing done in the evening ... and it's very stressful. If I'm trying to get this thing done during the day, I start thinking, "Aren't you ever going to go to sleep?" And it's very frustrating. If I think I'm going to do it at twelve at night, then it doesn't matter. I can play with the baby and talk to the baby and change the baby twenty-five times. It's different. That's the other thing I'm doing.


MG: Has it changed your routine or rhythm of writing?


MS: Humongously! Because I'm used to working full time, and one of the best times to write was on my lunch hour at a portable computer. I'd sort of sit down, I'd start, I'd write for the whole hour, I'd stop. It was great. The first year, I tried to do that, it was difficult because it's hard: phone rings, somebody comes into the shop—What about this? Michelle, what about this? Michelle, what about this?—But you eventually get used to it, and I think you train your subconscious so, four years later, it was really easy and re-adjusting to that is difficult.


MG: So you got used to telephone and request interruptions and now you have to get used to feed-me and change-me interruptions?


MS: You know it's different, though. Because a baby—and this is one thing that really surprised me—it's not that he requires all this attention, but for some reason, I'm very focused on him, where I concentrate, I'm always listening for him. He's just such a presence that it's not very easy to write, answer the questions, go back to writing; it's just very, very different. And I never expected that. But I haven't been a parent before. It's a course of discovery as we go on.


MG: So now that you have this new member of your family, do you think it's going to make a difference in what you write?


MS: I imagine that it will, although I don't know if it'll make a difference right away. For me, everything always takes about ten years to sort of "sift through." I'm getting better at it. I'm getting better at having experience come out in the writing. Things like children, they sink slowly. They sink roots. I always say that: they sink roots into your subconscious. They sink roots into your awareness, and ten years from now I think that'll really start to show. But sometimes right now, he's just not real. I look at him and I think, I have a baby?


There's a book, a novel, that I distinctly want to write and it's science fiction. It's more of a social science fiction rather than the high fantasy I've been doing. And, I started several times when I was younger because, in some ways it's an older story, but it revolves around having children, the import of having children. And I decided, No, Michelle, you have a whole life! What's the hurry? Because, frankly, you don't know anything about having children. Have a kid. Write this other stuff and get back to it once you have some experience. Maybe that story will come out, having had children, I don't know.


It's very specific. It's about a society in which it's all women and the technology is, for a variety of economic reasons, quasi-good; it's not the best that it could be, it's not the worst. What they do, because it is a lot less expensive, they artificially inseminate when people want children. But when you're pregnant, you go for the various genetic tests to tell you if it's a female or a male child. And when the child is male, there's a whole series of procedures that are followed, but basically you get called up in front of a council, sort of a council of elders, and you get asked if you're going to keep the child. And, people don't, if it's male. For a variety of different reasons.


The whole society is a little bit different. You don't grow up just in the colony, reared out by people and come back just to live, you come back having reaffirmed their view of the external world.


MG: There's an outside world in which people are having children as usual?


MS: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. As usual, and it's quite a different place. The first section of the book is about a woman who very, very much wants to have a child and who has had a series of miscarriages but when she gets pregnant with a male child, and she's asked if she's going to keep it, she says "yes"—which is bad. And there is some pressure on her.


I mean, it's not a fascist place and they would never force somebody to have an abortion because that's against their tenets, but there is a certain amount of social pressure, obviously. And she wants to have it, and they don't quite panic because she's had a lot of miscarriages. And she carries the child to term. And then she has to deal with the child. And she has to deal with finding a place in society for that child, and the child grows up and it sort of shifts focus from her to that child, who is growing up as a very alien "she" in an all female society because he's not female. But it's all that, it's the whole thing about children, about raising children, about the way we feel about it; and all that stuff, I had no clue about.


There're aspects of this society that I love—as I said, it just goes on and on, and it's quite complicated—and there're aspects about it that I don't. But I suppose it's my nature versus nurture novel. I don't really believe that everything that we do is nature and I believe that a lot of important things are nurture. And the point of it is that, in some ways the male of this culture is a very special individual, because he really is a freak. And I don't know how it's going to turn out because I'm never sure. I never know how any of my stories are going to turn out. I always know where I'm heading, I always what know the emotional end, I think, is going to be. But you'd be amazed how characters and conversations change.


MG: You mean, from the beginning of the book to the end, or from your initial concept to your realization?


MS: To your realization. There are things that you thought made sense that make sense very early but don't make sense when you're right there with the characters.


In the fourth book (of the Sundered series), the end that I thought was going to happen doesn't happen because a certain illuminated character says "That's enough, I will not play this game any more" and walks. And the ending that I had—I sat there thinking, "Oh, my gosh, what do I do now?" Because until I sat down, I thought for sure we were going to have a small war, and when he said it, I realized I was going to have to rewrite the whole book.


MG: What made him say that? What made this happen?


MS: Because he was tired and had changed enough over the course of the novel that he could just walk instead of starting a war. And, in fact, once he said it, it was the only thing he could say.


MG: But it was a major surprise to you to actually see that happen.


MS: I thought, "Oh, what am I going to do with the rest of the book?" It was a big shock. For me, at least, I like that better. I like to see what the book does. Sometimes. I don't know, I guess my conception from start to stop isn't necessarily as true as the actual writing is. Or I gloss over things that, in the end, have much more of an effect on the story.


MG: So it leaves you with something to look forward to as well.


MS: Yeah.


MG: It's not like you know all of the outcome.


MS: No. I usually have a fairly good idea but it often deviates in ways I haven't expected. As I said, I'm very often choosing between what actually is right and what I had originally wanted to say.

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Up and Coming

by Mici Gold

Don Hutchison editor of Northern Frights, has assembled Northern Frights 2 (Mosaic Press). It contains seventeen more outstanding tales of horror by noted Canadian writers, including Mel D. Ames, Hugh B. Cave, Mary E. Choo, Carolyn Clink, Sean Doolittle, Gemma Files, Charles Grant, Edward D. Hock, Nancy Kilpatrick, Shirley Meier, David Morrell, David Nickle, James Powell, Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Dale L. Sproule, Edo van Belkom, Diane L. Walton, and Chet Williamson. The previous anthology, Northern Frights, received a World Fantasy Award nomination.


The book was one of five nominees from around the world for best anthology of the year—in the fantasy category, not horror. Other nominees come from Britain (one) and the U.S. (three). He's hoping that kind of interest from around the world can translate into interest in Canada.


Michelle Sagara's fourth and final book in the Sundered series is coming out in May. She's working on the rewrite of her fifth novel, called Hunter's Oath. It's the first of a new series. She's also very busy being a mother: she and Thomas have a six month old son, Daniel.


Karl Schroeder has sold a 10,000 word story, "The Engine of Recall," to Aboriginal Science Fiction, published by Charles Ryan in the States. He continues to teach his science fiction writing course at George Brown College. Direct inquiries to the continuing education department at George Brown College.


Schroeder and Dave Nickle won the 1993 Aurora Award for best short story for "The Toy Mill," which they wrote one weekend just for fun. It appeared in Tesseracts4, published by Beach Holme Press.


Dr. Allan Weiss and Hugh Spencer are co-curators of an exhibit on Canadian Science Fiction to be held at the National Library in 1995. It's going to run from May to September at least and will possibly be extended to November. The exhibit is about the history of Canadian SF, from the first SF in Canada, published in French in the 1830's (the earliest English work was The Dominion in 1983, published in 1883)


Cory Doctorow has sold a story called "Resume" to On Spec and another story called "Car Swing" has just appeared in a US small press anthology called Air Fish


Nancy Kilpatrick's novel, Near Death, sold last spring to Pocket Books and is expected in fall 1994. Her first and only fantasy story, "Your Essential Unsung Hero," is in Xanadu 3, edited by Jane Yolan Xanadu 2 is just coming out now. Kilpatrick's short story "Punkins," appearing in Northern Frights 2, has already re-sold to Karl Wagner's Year's Best Horror 22. Another story will appear in Let's Shiver Again, an anthology of new and classic ghost stories to be published in the spring of 1994 by General Publishing. (Greg loannou at General Publishing plans to reissue the original Shivers at the same time and hopes to continue the anthology as an annual showcasing new talent along with established pros.) On November 26, Kilpatrick was on the CBC Radio Noon phonein with Random House Canada senior editor, Doug Pepper, the topic was writing and how to get published.


Robert Sawyer was profiled in the September 1993 issue of Science Fiction Chronicle and has also appeared in The Toronto Star (5 June 1993) and on The CTV National News (10 June 1993). His novel Golden Fleece was a nominee for the Seiun Award ("the Japanese Hugo") for best translated SF novel of 1992.


His short story "Just Like Old Times" appeared in the Summer issue of On Spec and was reprinted in the DAW anthology Dinosaur Fantastic (July 1993). He has sold another short story, "You See But You Do Not Observe," to another DAW anthology, Sherlock Holmes in Orbit. He's recently sold British rights for his Quintaglio series to Hodder & Stoughton. The third (and last) book in the Quintaglio series, Foreigner, is now available. His novel, End of an Era (Ace) will appear November 1994. He's now working on a sixth, Hobson's Choice, for which he has received an Ontario Arts Council "Writers' Reserve" grant.


Tanya Huff has sold an amusing short fantasy story, "The Harder They Fall" to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. An upcoming anthology called The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley, by Warner, will include one of Huff's Magdalene stories, "Be It Ever So Humble" (summer 1994). Huff also has a short story ("First Love, Last Love") in MZB's fall 1993 issue. "This Town Ain't Big Enough," a short story that is a direct sequel to Blood Pact, will appear in an anthology of vampire detective stories collected by Martin H. Greenberg. A future fantasy series concerning a female bard is in the works; look for Sing the Four Quarters soon, followed by Fifth Quarter, and No Quarter (working titles) from DAW.


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Awards for 1992 Fiction



The 1993 Aurora Awards for the best Canadian science fiction and fantasy of 1992 were awarded at CANVENTION 13 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia as follows:


Best Long-form Work in English

  • Passion Play, Sean Stewart

Other Nominations

  • Blood Trail, Tanya Huff
  • Children of the Rainbow, Terence M. Green
  • A Song for Arbonne, Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Far-Seer, Robert J. Sawyer


Best Short Work in English

·         "The Toy Mill", David Nickle and Karl Schroeder

Other Nominations

·         "Blue Limbo", Terence M. Green

·         "Couples", Eileen Kernaghan

·         "Farm Wife", Nancy Kilpatrick

·         "Seeing", Andrew Weiner

·         "Ants", Allan Weiss


Meilleur Livre en Français

·         Chroniques du Pays des Mères, Èlisabeth Vonarburg

Other Nominations

·         Le Taupe et le dragon, Jôel Champetier

·         Le Cercle de Khaleb, Daniel Sernine

·         Chronoreg, Daniel Sernine


Meilleur Nouvelle en Français

  • "Base de négotiation", Jean Dion

Other Nominations

  • "Revoir Nymphea", Alain Bergeron
  • "Le Projet", Harold Côté
  • "Le pierrot diffracté", Laurent McAlliter
  • "Pluies amères", Daniel Sernine
  • "Suspends ton voi", Èlisabeth Vonarburg





The 1992 Nebula Awards for the best science fiction of 1992 were awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as follows:


Best Novel

  • Doomsday Book, Connie Willis

Other Nominations

  • A Million Open Doors, John Barnes
  • Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler
  • China Mountain Zhang, Maureen F. McHugh
  • A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
  • Briar Rose, Jane Yolen


Best Novella

  • City of Truth, James Morrow

Other Nominations

  • "Silver or Gold", Emma Bull
  • "The Territory", Bradley Denton
  • "Protection", Maureen F. McHugh
  • "Contact", Jerry Oltion & Lee Goodloe
  • "Barnacle Bill the Spacer", Lucius Shepard
  • Griffin's Egg, Michael Swanwick


Best Novelette

·         "Danny Goes to Mars", Pamela Sargent

Other Nominations

·         "Matter's End", Gregory Benford

·         "The July Ward", S.N. Dyer

·         "The Honeycrafters", Carolyn Gilman

·         "Suppose They Gave a Peace ...", Susan Shwartz

·         "Prayers on the Wind", Walter Jon Williams


Best Short Story

·         "Even the Queen", Connie Willis

Other Nominations

·         "Life Regarded as a Jigsaw Puzzle of Highly Lustrous Cats", Michael Bishop

·         "Lennon Spex", Paul DiFilippo

·         "The Mountain to Mohammed", Nancy Kress

·         "Vinland the Dream", Kim Stanley Robinson

·         "The Arbitrary Placement of Walls", Martha Soukup





The 1992 Hugo Awards were presented by the members of ConFrancisco, the World Science Fiction Convention held in San Francisco, for the best science fiction of 1992 as follows:


Best Novel (tie)

  • A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
  • Doomsday Book, Connie Willis

Other Nominations

  • China Mountain Zhang, Maureen F. McHugh
  • Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Steel Beach, John Varley


Best Novella

  • "Barnacle Bill the Spacer", Lucius Shepard

Other Nominations

  • "Uh-Oh City", Jonathan Carroll
  • "The Territory", Bradley Denton
  • "Protection", Maureen F. McHugh
  • Stopping at Slowyear, Frederik Pohl


Best Novelette

·         "The Nutcracker Coup", Janet Kagan

Other Nominations

·         "True Faces", Pat Cadigan

·         "In the Stone House", Barry N. Malzberg

·         "Danny Goes to Mars", Pamela Sargent

·         "Suppose They Gave a Peace ...", Susan Shwartz


Best Short Story

·         "Even the Queen", Connie Willis

Other Nominations

·         "The Winterberry", Nicholas A. DiChario

·         "The Mountain to Mohammed", Nancy Kress

·         "The Lotus and the Spear", Mike Resnick

·         "The Arbitrary Placement of Walls", Martha Soukup





The 1993 World Fantasy Awards for the best fantasy of 1992 were presented at the World Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota as follows:


Best Novel

  • Last Call, Tim Powers

Other Nominations

  • Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
  • Was, Geoff Ryman
  • Photographing Fairies, Steve Szilagyi
  • Briar Rose, Jane Yolen


Best Novella

  • "The Ghost Village", Peter Straub

Other Nominations

  • "Calcutta, Lord of Nerves", Poppy Z. Brite
  • "Uh-0h City", Jonathan Carroll
  • Paperjack, Charles de Lint
  • "The Territory", Bradley Denton
  • Unmasking, Nina Kiriki


Best Short Story (tie)

  • "Graves", Joe Haldeman
  • "This Year's Class Picture", Dan Simmons

Other Nominations

  • "Bridges", Charles de Lint
  • "The Winterberry", Nicholas A. DiChario
  • "Alfred", Lisa Goldstein
  • "The Arbitrary Placement of Walls", Martha Soukup

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