SOL Rising
Number 16, July 1996

The Grandmother of Canadian Science Fiction: Phyllis Gotlieb
The View From A Chair
News From The Merril: The Business of Books
The Nebula Awards
SF&F Resources on the Web
Super Heroes leap from comic pages to album pages!
Orson Scott Card: A Man of a Thousand Ideas
Book Launch of The Great Pulp Heroes

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The Grandmother of Canadian Science Fiction: Phyllis Gotlieb

by Mici Gold


At the panel on Canadian science fiction at World Con in Winnipeg in 1994, the panellists agreed that, while the U.S. has its fathers of science fiction, Canada has its mothers, notably Judith Merril and Phyllis Gotlieb. Gotlieb, a native born Canadian living in Toronto, finds this amusing. "I'm the grandmother, in this case," she says firmly, but "Judy had all kinds of connec­tions, she had all that huge library, so she was more in a position to influence... I had no particular way of influencing anybody and there was no real group."

There was no real group, that is, when she began. "I started trying to write in 1950 and my first story appeared in 1959," she explains. "At that time, I was the only one I knew of in Canada There were peo­ple like A.E. van Vogt who had sold (pulp stories) in the U.S. and sold mainly there, and, of course, I sold mainly in Canada, and I was quite scorned. Though I was developing a reputation as a poet, at that time I was scorned because I was science fiction and even the people who enjoyed my poetry thought I was kind of ‘off.’"

Her first novel, Sunburst, appeared in 1964. "And in 1965 1 got a letter from Damon Knight saying they were thinking of starting this association, Science Fiction Writers of America. When I joined, he thought there was one other writer, William Bankier who lived in Montreal. As it turned out, William Bankier shortly went into true crime or something like that, and I was the only Canadian Science Fiction member for about five or six years. Gradually people migrated in."

Despite her public appearances over the years (including readings at public libraries and conventions), Gotheb does not think she has had a big effect on the Canadian SF scene, other than through the effect of her writing. "I'm not the kind to make contact. I don't mean to be retiring or anything like that, but I don't how to be otherwise," she laughs.

Having had remarkably few colleagues in the sixties and early seventies, Gotlieb has a theory about why so many SF writers have come to Canada in more recent years. Canada, like Canadian SF, "is more civil, I think, less bloody, less militaristic... They have come here because they want this kind of atmosphere." Without the necessity of writing for an American market, SF writers in Canada would "probably be more like Quebecois who write science fiction," she declares. She also finds the prairie voice is distinctive in Canadian SF, too. "You have prairie writers and writers who, outside sci­ence fiction, have a sense of horizon."

There's also the urban versus the rural. "I'm basically urban," she says, and when challenged that most of the action in her novels occurs outside of big cities, admits, "Well, I like to be in the city and think it's space, that's all!"

Her space novels include O Master Caliban! (1976), Heart of Red Iron (1989), A Judgement of Dragons (1980), Emperor Swords, Pentacles (1982) and The Kingdom of Cats (1985)—all set in the Gal Fed uni­verse of the far future. Quite a few of her short stories take place in this universe, as well, including several in her recent anthol­ogy, Blue Apes (Tesseract Books, 1996). In addition, she has written one mainstream novel (Why Should I Have All the Grief) and has served as co‑editor for Tesseracts2 (Porcepic Books, 1987). Primarily, though, she considers herself a poet.

In 1964, when her first volume of poet­ry Within the Zodiac appeared, she went on an Ontario tour with fellow poets Irving Layton, Earle Birney and Leonard Cohen. She's also published several other collec­tions of poetry and verse drama, including Who Knows One? (a pamphlet, 1962), Ordinary, Moving (1969) and Doctor Umlaut's Earthly Kingdom (1974).

"It's amazing that, just as people keep saying that nobody wants poetry, there's so many people who write it," she muses. "As the poetry editor for Transversions, I find amazing amounts of poetry coming through me and quite a lot of it is amazingly good."

Gotlieb herself rarely sets out to write a science fiction poem as such. "The times I wrote poems with science fiction content were mainly because I had odd‑shaped plots. And if you're working on a novel, you don't want to write something very long in between them. You have some other story idea, you then put it in a poem while you're writing a novel, and then you have something else." She doesn't see her dual career in poetry and science fiction as a marriage of the two forms; "It was more of a tree putting out both maple and oak leaves, so to speak."

As an editor of poetry, Gotlieb sees that some people are confused about what poetry is. "Some people think if they put in a lot of lightning or thunder, blood drip­ping and glinting knives, that's a poem. But a poem has to go deeper than that... A poem should be about something, even if it's the way a leaf falls. And not just a bunch of words arranged in short lines.

"What has always been important in poetry and always lasts, is cadence. The way the words drape. They have drapes, gapings and folds, the way they fall from one point to another or rise... Poetry has to have resonance and cadence." To illustrate her point, she cites her favourite example, Carl Sandburg's poem "Fog." "You know, `the fog comes in/on little cat feet...' Fog, feet, comes, cat... That kind of thing gives you its rhythm, these echoes."

A grandmother in real life, Gotlieb continues to write prose, too. "It's a problem when you don't think you'll ever do it again, or you won't have ideas or sit right on the page. You get an awfully sick feeling."

When stressed by this, she may put what she's working on aside for a while and "put myself to playing stupid computer games."

When asked whether there is anything else she'd like to say, Gotlieb thinks for a moment, then answers, "I can only add something that may sound stupid to other people: actually, good is more interesting than evil. It's harder to make interesting. It comes from more complicated sources... I think evil is very simple compared to good. And I like to examine the sources of goodness. But I can't say that in any way that doesn't sound kind of stupid."

Still, the final quote should come from Gotlieb's poetry. As she writes in "Prescience" (in Ordinary, Moving): "We shall receive no letters in the grave/and I shall write you none, Sir!/but/perhaps a hundred years from now some/questive quoting X with an unfinished/thesis and an index yet to be collated will/miss my presence at a/live, ungrieving ritual..." To which we would all answer, undoubtably.


Books by Phyllis Gotlieb

Sunburst (Fawcett, 1964)

0 Master Caliban (Harper & Row, 1976)

A Judgement of Dragons (Berkley, 1980)

Emperor, Swords and Pentacles (Ace, 1982)

Son of the Morning and Other Stories (Ace, 1983)

The Kingdom of Cats (Ace, 1985)

Heart of Red Iron (St. Martins, 1989)

Tesseracts2, co‑editor with Douglas Barbour (Porcepic Books, Victoria BC, 1987)


Volumes of Poetry

Who Knows One? (Hawkshead Press, Toronto, 1962)

Within the Zodiac (McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1964)

Ordinary, Moving (Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1969)

Doctor Umlaut's Earthly Kingdom (Calliope Press, Toronto, 1974)

The Works, Collected Poems by Phyllis Gotlieb (Calliope Press, Toronto, 1978)

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The View From A Chair

by Jody Hancock

This is my first column as the new chair of the Friends of the Merril Collection and I begin it—and my term—with a feeling of great excitement tempered by a small, but tangible, dose of trepidation. My young nephew sits, grinning, on my left shoulder and whispers in my ear, "the adventure begins," while my very practical mother is tsk-tsking in my right ear, saying "what have you gotten yourself into?" I know holding any position on the Executive Committee involves hard work and copious amounts of one's "free time," but when it is done for the love of the literature, for the unrivalled pleasure which speculative fiction gives us all, I know my nephew is right. After all, what is science fiction, or fantasy, if not an adventure? And a ripping good one at that.


For the last several years, our main adventure has centered around securing a better home for the collection. Like any worthy quest, it required the determined efforts of many dedicated people to win through to a successful conclusion and all those involved have my heartfelt thanks. The Merril Collection now has a wonderful new home and, as with any happy ending, some may feel it is time to sit back, relax, and warm our feet by the fire, real or holographic. No matter how well earned that rest may be, our adventure is far from over and I call upon you all to help make it the good one it can be.


In the coming months, we need to harness that energy we poured into securing the new building and direct it toward the Friends organization itself. Our purpose‑our mission, if you will is to support and promote the Merril Collection, and we can do this via many avenues such as fundraising, promoting literacy, and supporting the growth of speculative fiction in gen­eral and Canadian speculative fiction in particular. But to give the collection the level of support it merits, we need to grow and to strengthen ourselves as an organization. The Executive Committee exists to provide leadership, but any truly worthwhile goals cannot be met without the willing hands and hearts of the members.


Over the coming months, the Executive Committee will be looking at ways to expand our membership base, to actively fundraise for both the Merril Collection and the Friends, and to increase our profile in the community at large. In addition to our customary author read­ings, the Friends will host a variety of other events designed to generate interest in the broader community and bring in new members we might not otherwise reach. We are setting up our own web site and we will increase our participation in appropriate community events such as conventions and book fairs. We want to reach younger readers as well, to stimulate their interest in reading by introducing them to the marvelous science fiction and fantasy sto­ries many of us read as children.


There are countless ways we can fulfill our mission. Our membership is overflowing with enthusiastic, talented people who can accomplish all the things mentioned above and more. I think we are all agreed we want the Friends to prosper as an organization just as we do the Merril Collection itself. This is the new course for our adventure and I, with the rest of the Executive Committee, am eager to be on our way. I think you should come along. After all, who can resist a ripping good adventure?


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News from the Merril: The Business of Books

by Lorna Toolis

The magnificent art deco murals in the restored Design Exchange are an appropriate background for Toronto's Antiquarian Book Fair. 1996 was the second year that the Antiquarian Book Fair has been held at the Design Exchange and the first year that the Merril Collection has attended. It was a fascinating, up‑close view of most of the Toronto book community, in their native habitat.


Book sales from Vancouver to Halifax and all points South, at whatever level of organization, tend to be as ritualized as kabuki. The funniest part of the ritual is the preliminary "running-between-other-exhibitors'-booths-quickly-before-the-public-can-get-in-and-buy-the-books."


Large numbers of quiet, determined people eddy between the booths of what would be the competition in most businesses. Strictly speaking, they are the competition in this business too, only the competitive angle in this field is to buy, rather than to sell.


Listening to bookmen is rather like listening to anglers; the easily landed little fish, the big one that got away, the special secret source, the wonderful one that some other swine nabbed while the storyteller was on his way back from the pawnshop with the purchase price...


What did he pawn? Contrary to public opinion, first-born children have little or no market value in the book field. If they had, of course pawning them to obtain a first edition would be considered completely understandable. Possibly regrettable, but definitely an allowable eccentricity.


(I was reminded of a time when my husband and I were moving from a three bedroom house, with basement, into a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment. There simply wasn't room for the furniture, the clothes, the books, the cats and us. So, we did the only thing possible: we sold the furniture and gave away most of our clothing.)


The second part of the ritual requires giving the public access to one's beautiful books, while trying to make sure that they don't leave ice-cream, bubble-gum and other substances on the books as evidence of their passage.


A glass display case was included in the invitation. This not only facilitates display, but guards against theft and damage, ongoing concerns in the community of interest. The Merril Collection staff showed up two hours before the Book Fair opened to set up the display. Staff had not considered glass cleanser as a necessity; fortunately other exhibitors brought lots.


My mother always used to lecture me about my tendency to hide my books under the car seat whenever I had to abandon them, telling me, "No one is going to steal your books! No one even wants to steal your books!" It is obscurely comforting to sit in a room surrounded by people who got the same lecture. They didn't believe their mothers, either.


A lot of book-dealers are protective to the point where it becomes clear that actually selling the book is something they will do only with great reluctance, preferably after you provide them with references. It isn't that they are above crass commercial considerations, just that they are reluctant to waste good books on people who only have money and don't understand about books.


Vendors had an unnerving tendency to come over and tell us how much they would sell the Collection's books for, if they didn't belong to the Collection The staff tendency to huddle over our display shelf and brandish cutlery bad to be firmly suppressed.


We displayed some nice first editions and some visually spectacular pulps, and enjoyed the admiring comments.


As Mary put it. “We didn't need to worry about the glass cleanser. We just needed to bring paper towels to wipe the drool off”


And a good time was had by all.

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The Nebula Awards

by Edo von Belkom

And then there were three.


Three Canadian Nebula Award winners, that is.


Robert J. Sawyer of Thornhill, and a member of the Friends of the Merril Collection, won the Nebula award for Best Novel of 1995 for his near-future novel The Terminal Experiment.


Sawyer is only the third Canadian ever to win the coveted "Academy Award" of SF, presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Previous winners were Spider and Jeanne Robinson for their 1977 Novella Stardance, and William Gibson for his 1984 novel Neuromancer.


"This is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me professionally," said Sawyer upon his return from the Awards ceremony held in Long Beach, California. "And it makes it possible for me to be an SF writer for the rest of my life."


However, the awards run for The Terminal Experiment hasn't ended yet as the novel is also up for the Aurora and Hugo Awards.


The only other Canadian work on the Nebula Ballot, Michael Coney's novelette, "Tea and Hamsters," (F&SF, Jan. 95) lost out to "Solitude" by Ursula K. LeGuin (F&SF, Dec. 94).


Originally, Canadian SF fans had three Nebula Award hopefuls to cheer for, but only two Canadian authors were on the ballot by the time the votes were finally cast.


The nominees included Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment (serialized in Analog under the title Hobson's Choice) and Coney's "Tea and Hamsters," as well as Robert Charles Wilson's "The Perseids."


"The Perseids" was originally published in October 1995 in Northern Frights 3, and reprinted in the December 1995 issue of Realms of Fantasy. It was added to the Nebula ballot by the Nebula Jury, which has the power to add one work to each category, beyond those selected by the membership as a whole.


Thinking that "The Perseids" was borderline between novelette and novella, and having no authoritative word count to go by‑neither the author (who had originally written the story for a market that paid a flat fee, regardless of length), nor Shawna McCarthy at Realms of Fantasy had an actual count‑the jury placed the work in the novella category.


However, subsequent estimates show "The Perseids" to be about 10,000 words long. The minimum for a novella is 17,500 words, and so a few members of SFWA began to question the placement of "The Perseids" in the novella category. And then, on Monday, March 11, 1996, Robert Charles Wilson gallantly ended the controversy by withdrawing his work from the Nebula Ballot. Nebula Awards Jury Short Fiction Chairperson Catherine Asaro made the announcement:


"Robert Charles Wilson, the author of `The Perseids,' wishes to withdraw his story from consideration on the 1995 Nebula ballot of the Science‑fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

"Mr. Wilson is deeply honored by the acknowledgement of his work, but feels it would be inappropriate to remain on the ballot in the wrong category."


The good news is that “The Perseids" is still eligible for the Nebula Award next year. Support for the work has been so strong that it's almost guaranteed a spot on the preliminary ballot and is a good bet for the final ballot‑this time in the proper category.


One final note: following the presentation of Sawyer's Nebula, SFWA presented the Grandmaster Award to Winnipeg-born writer A.E. Van Vogt for his contributions to the field. Van Vogt, 84, is the author of many seminal works of SF including the novels Slan, The Weapon Shops of Isher and The Worlds of Null‑A.

Edo van Belkom is the Canadian Regional Director of SFWA

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SF&F Resources on the Web

by Kevin E. Proulx


There is a wealth of sf&f resources on the web, but finding them isn't always easy. I've provided here a selection of three specifically Canadian sites to send surfers on their way, plus a new U.S. site reviewing 70 years of SF, created by Time Magazine.


SF Canada


SF Canada is the national association for professionals of the SF field in Canada—pri­marily authors—and was formerly the Speculative Writers' Association of Canada. The SF Canada web site, created and maintained by SF Canada's Vice‑President, author Karl Schroeder [recently elected President of SF Canada‑ed.], provides information about SF Canada in both English and French, an alphabetical listing of its current mem­bers (including their e‑mail addresses), plus an excellent selection of links to other SF and writing‑related sites. There is also a page devoted to the history of the Aurora Awards, listing the authors and titles of previous winners in various categories from 1982 to 1994. Aurora Award winners for 1995 [and 1996‑ed.] can be found on sepa­rate pages. This is a simple, nicely designed and quick‑to‑load site, and a great starting point for further investigation of SF resources on the internet.


National Library of Canada Science Fiction Exhibition


Although the Out of This WorldlVisions d'autres mondes exhibition of science fiction and fantasy at the National Library of Canada in Ottawa has come and gone, the web site continues to exist. Be greeted by the hauntingly beautiful image of a lone canoeist con­fronted by alien spacecraft against the backdrop of a northern Canada sunset by artist Paul Rivoche (maybe this is what really happened to Tom Thomson?). From there you can take a virtual tour of the exhibition, with the ability to search for items by author, title and theme indices. The site is available in both English and French, and also includes an exploration of specifically Québec sf&f.


Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Resource Guide


Another simply laid out, fast‑loading and information‑rich site, the Canadian SF&F Resource Guide is probably one of the most comprehensive on the web at present. Maintained by Paul Neumann, this four‑star Magellan award‑winning site includes infor­mation on and links to Canadian sf&f bookstores, institutions and organizations, publi­cations, writers and writers' resources, plus clubs, media and conventions.


Metropolis to Independence Day:

70 Years of SciFi Through the Eyes of Time Magazine


I got my back up with the initial screen which advised me that this site requires the Shockwave plug‑in, and unfortunately, the folks at Time have gone the route of making the site incompatible with anything but the most recent browsers and a very fast modem or ISDN connection. Despite my clicking on the "no, I am technologically disadvantaged and don't have Shockwave" option, Spry Mosaic didn't like the Time site one bit (of course), and even my Windows '95 Explorer had some trouble translating the various frames, image maps and occasional resultant blocks of black text against a black back­ground. So... if you don't have the latest versions of Netscape or Explorer, this site probably won't be of much use to you.


On the plus side, even though I had a hard time getting a connection m the server (the URL was advertised on CompuServe, as well as in be printed magazine, hence, it has been quite busy), once I did, it really moved The site is based on a time machine theme which promises to take the visitor on journey through seventy years of villain inventors, monstrous yahoos, superior simians, cosmic lollipops and ferocious green blooded vegetables:' If you've got the software, it delivers on that promise. Lots of gizmos and flashing arrows take you to from The Shape of Things To Come to the Planet of The Apes, then on to Total Recall, ET, Slaughterhouse 5 and much more. Although I have a feeling this site may prove very popular, assuring a long life, it’s always uncertain just how long any site will remain up, so visit it while you can.

The Friends of The Merril Collection will soon have their own web site, presently under develop­ment by yours truly. Watch future issues of SOL Rising for further info.

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Super Heroes leap from comic pages to album pages!

by Janet Hetherington


Heroes have a habit of appearing when you need them most. Their courageous and outrageous deeds can be found in the folk­lore and literature of every nation, from ear­liest civilizations to present day. In 1938, when the world was in the grip of a great depression and on the brink of another war, a new kind of hero emerged‑a hero for the twentieth century‑a super hero.


That hero was Superman, a larger-­than‑life comic‑book character co‑created by Toronto‑born Joe Shuster and Cleve­land's Jerry Siegel. Superman was one of the five stamps issued October 2, 1995 in a commemorative booklet of 10 from Canada Post Corporation. The four other heroes—Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck, Captain Canuck and Fleur de Lys—are perhaps more symboli­cally Canadian, but history shows it is Superman who crossed cultural bound­aries and defined what all comic‑book super heroes should be.




Superman was in no way the first comic book hero. Across the Atlantic Ocean in England, children and adults alike were enjoying "comic magazines" two hundred years ago, in 1796. The first comic maga­zine was called The Compleat Library of Mirth, Humour, Wit, Gaiety and Entertainment. The longest‑lived comic magazine is Britain's Punch, first printed in 1841. In fact, it was Punch that intro­duced the word "cartoon" in its current context into the English language.


Comic books as we know them today did not appear in North America until 1933. They evolved from humorous newspaper "comic strips" which emerged 100 years ago, when the Yellow Kid first appeared in the New York World. Adventure tales began in 1929, featuring the likes of Buck Rogers and Tarzan. It seems fitting that the United States Postal Service has also issued 20 comic‑related stamps during Stamp Collecting Month last October, honouring the centenary of these classic comic strips.


Creation of the modern comic book is credited to an American, Max Gaines. In 1933, Gaines reprinted popular newspa­per comics in a 7" x 10" comic book called Funnies on Parade. By 1935, orig­inal material was being included along with the reprints. Comic books of the 1930s featured stories about cowboys, detectives, pilots, or funny characters. Many were fun, exciting and even heroic, but none were... well... super!


Then in June 1938, Action Comics No. 1 introduced Superman—"the first comic book super hero." In his blue suit, red cape and boots, and big "S" symbol emblazoned on his chest, Superman stood out from all the other comic charac­ters. Plus, with his extraordinary powers, secret identity and dedication to fighting evil, Superman became the prototype for all other super heroes to follow. The suc­cess of Superman resulted in the comic­ book medium becoming a multi‑million dollar industry, and subsequently inspired a similar publishing boom in Canada.




The comic book industry—and the super heroes it produced—may well have remained American, but the Second World War effectively changed all that. In December 1940, The War Exchange Conservation Act restricted the importa­tion of fictional periodicals and "publica­tions... commonly known as comics," and during the winter of 1940‑1941, comic books disappeared in Canada.


But Canadians had become addicted to American comics, especially super hero comic books. Canadian publishers quickly stepped in to meet the demand. Canada's first two comic books were Anglo­-American's Robin Hood and Company No. 1, and Maple Leaf's Better Comics No. 1; both appeared in March, 1941.


While working for another publisher, Hillborough Studios, Adrian Dingle cre­ated one of the most memorable charac­ters of Canada's "Golden Age of Comics"‑Nelvana of the Northern Lights. Considered Canada's first national super hero, Nelvana was originally conceived by Group of Seven painter Franz Johnston. After returning from an Arctic trip, Johnston spoke of the legend of Nelvana, the offspring of a mor­tal mother and the god Koliak, King of the Northern Lights.


Adrian Dingle modified the concept so that Nelvana could fly, travelling at the speed of light along a ray of the Northern Lights. Nelvana fought the Axis Powers, super‑villains, and even "swarms of sav­age, starved Manchurian wolves" that Japan dropped to destroy the Alaska Highway. She was beautiful, powerful, and apparently immortal—a true super hero.


When Hillborough was taken over by Cy Bell's Commercial Signs of Canada in 1942, Dingle became that firm's art direc­tor. Commercial Signs of Canada published Dingle's Nelvana as well as Canada's sec­ond national super hero, Johnny Canuck. In 1941, John Ezrin of Bell Features saw a 16‑year‑old browsing through some comic books at a newsstand. The boy, Leo Bachle, criticized the comics' artwork and drew an action scene on the spot. Impressed, Ezrin asked him to dream up a character for the next morning. That night, Johnny Canuck, air force captain and secret agent, was born. Despite the fact that he had no super pow­ers, Johnny fought heroically for Canada throughout the Second World War.




When the Second World War ended, American comic books once again became available in Canada, signalling the end of homegrown heroes. Super Duper No. 7, May 1947, with Nelvana of the Northern Lights, was the last comic book of the Golden Age to feature a Canadian super hero.


Then, for almost a decade, North American readers lost interest in comic ­book super heroes. Popular comic books of the day focused on stories of war, romance, horror and crime. However, the latter two genres were considered too controversial for younger children, and as a result, a ban was placed on crime and horror comics being imported into Canada. Happily, super heroes soon made a strong comeback.


Canada's "Silver Age of Comics" was ushered in by Richard Comely's Captain Canuck No. 1, appearing in July 1975. While a universal hero in concept, Captain Canuck was undeniably Canadian in nationality, costume and man­nerisms. In 1974, Richard Comely had changed Ron Leishman's Captain Canada into Captain Canuck, and estab­lished the then‑only independent full­-colour comic book in Canada. Unfortunately, the series folded with issue No. 14, in March 1981. Captain Canuck returned in 1993 in an all‑new comic books series with a different story line. The new Captain doesn't have any weapons or special powers, other than fierce loyalty­-somehow, a very Canadian trait!


Other Canadian comic books and super heroes appeared in the 1970s, including Jim Waley's Orb magazine and the heroic Northern Light. From 1984 to 1986, as Canada craved more costumed heroes of its own, Matrix Graphics of Montreal brought out the characters Fleur de Lys and Northguard, appearing in a series that ran until 1989/1990. Created by writer Mark Shainblum and artist Gabriel Morrissette, Fleur de Lys was a lovely, gutsy Quebecoise martial arts expert who served as both aide and foil for the anglo hero, Northguard. These super heroes were portrayed as everyday people who suddenly discovered that they had unusual abilities, and their adventures took place in contemporary Canadian set­tings. In her stamp, Fleur de Lys patrols the city of Montreal, while Northguard joins her in the cachet of the issue's Official First Day Cover.




Today, super heroes are no longer restrict­ed to comic book pages. They're on lunch boxes, sheets, shirts, notebooks, pogs (collectable bottle caps), trading cards, movie screens, postage stamps, and more. The interest is worldwide; in addition to the five new comic‑book super hero stamps from Canada Post Corporation (available from postal outlets and the National Philatelic Centre, Antigonish NS B2G 2R8), Mongolia has produced eight postage stamps featuring Marvel super heroes The X-Men (available through Comic Images, 280 Midland Avenue, Saddlebrook NJ 07663).


Canadians continue to influence the comic book industry. Canada's Dave Sim, creator of Cerebus the Aardvark which, since its first issue in 1977, has become the longest‑running comic in Canadian history‑is recognized internationally as a spokesman for independent comic book publishers. Meanwhile, Tom Crummett draws Superboy and Superman, John Byrne writes and illustrates Wonder Woman, Todd McFarlane writes, draws and publishes Spawn, and many other Canadian talents lend their abilities to create super hero adventures. While the majority of these creators are working for American publishers, a super-powered maple leaf may yet fly again. As they've done before, Canada's super heroes will show up when we need them most.


Original appearance‑Canadian Stamp News (Oct. 95).


Freelance writer Janet Hetherington is a long-time comic book collector who has also edited philatelic publications.


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Orson Scott Card: A Man of a Thousand Ideas

by Mici Gold


It's hard to pin Orson Scott Card down to simple answers. Asked what books he has coming out, he mentions one and immediately goes off on an involved tangent about the subject matter or how he came to write it. When the prolific, award-winning author visited the Merril Collection in October 1995 before its official opening date, he talked enthusiastically about his upcoming projects among many other things, including the Merril itself.


"I'm really thrilled with what I'm seeing here," he said, watching people in the electronic media room off the Merril. "I'd love to see excuses to bring people back into the library, and I think that computers can do it if they're used properly. Most places aren't using them properly. You're doing it here."


Not that he expects computers to replace books in libraries. "Books are just too convenient," he stated emphatically. "Nobody wants to sit at a computer and read... Nobody is going to want to have to load something into their reader. And, I'm sorry, there's no display good enough, cheap enough, that you're going to want to take it to the beach where it's going to get corroded."


He praised his long-time publisher TOR for understanding electronic versus paper publishing. TOR allows him to upload his manuscripts, chapter by chapter, to his America On Line area ("I'm on the Hat Rack for Town Meeting. The key word is `Hat Rack,' to get there quick.") so that his readers‑like an extended writers' circle‑can comment on it and even catch contradictions.


"TOR, at least, understands that electronic publishing of fiction is commercially valueless, because people aren't going to give up their books," he explained. "TOR knows that it's really just good advance publicity, that it puts the book into some people's hands, and, if it's a good book, if they like it, the word of mouth will be strong and it will help sales. It's good will. It never hurts."


Although he values the feedback he gets from the two or three hundred people who read his manuscripts electronically, he admitted that it's costing him some literary recognition: eligibility rules for Nebulas consider electronic availability as first publication. "Which means I'll never be eligible for another award again, because I'm uploading all my work," he complained, then added, "It's not publication, for heaven's sake; it's a manuscript. It's a work in progress. But that's just the way the rules work. I've had my Nebulas (and I'm proud of them and glad I received them), and I'm certainly not going to stop uploading just in hope of earning another. The uploading is too valuable for me as a writer to give that up for the sake of an award."


For that reason, readers shouldn't expect to see the last Ender Wiggins book, Children of the Mind (June 1996), on a nominations list. Moreover, "It's the last Ender because he's dead at the end, that's no secret," Card claimed. "I've always told people that's how the series ended. That's how all my series end. When Alvin Maker is finished you'll know because Alvin will be dead."


"In fact, with Alvin Journeyman," he noted, beginning another digression, "it took me years to get to that because the first book was supposed to be Prentice Alvin, and it took me three volumes to get through that, and the world had expanded so much, that my outline for Alvin Journeyman was useless. I had to start over. And starting over, it takes me four or five years to develop a novel from the idea to the point where I can start writing it. The writing is always very fast, you know, a month, month-and-a-half."


For a whole book?


"Oh yeah, but I have to be ready to do that. I have to prepare... So it took five or six years before I was ready to write Journeyman, but then I was ready. But once I got into it, the same thing happened that had happened in Seventh Son and Red Prophet: a minor idea, I just got side-tracked with it." In the end, he had to add another book, Crystal City, before the final book of the series, Master Alvin.


"The last one was always meant to be Master Alvin, and that's what it will be. And I really think I can do that one in one volume. And, as I've told people through the years, it will end with Alvin dead on the streets of Carthage City and Arthur Stuart leading the people of the Crystal City west into Red country where they can try to build the city again on the shores of the Great Salt Lake." The probem isn't how to end the series, however; it's the ideas. "There's a lot of things going on, of course, in the Alvin Maker series. I wonder if Canadians have ever forgiven me for giving Canada to the French and completely eliminating the English history of Canada?"


This led him to another train of thought. "Anybody who's writing fiction has to have some grasp of history, and it's one of the things that appalls me about so much science fiction, they show no understanding, zero understanding, of how nations work. There's so many bad science fiction stories where you see government councils having meetings to decide things. And, you know, no government on Earth could ever have functioned this way, ever. It would never work. And you just realized, these people have no idea."


How history works and has worked is the basis of a new series of books he is developing, called "Pastwatch." "I'm really proud of it. It's probably the best science fiction I've written as science fiction. The most science fiction-y fiction I've written. Which doesn't mean it doesn't have my standard concern with character‑I don't know any other way to write. But it's much more idea-oriented... It's more serious than the Homecoming books in terms of really dealing with realities... With Pastwatch, I'm talking about serious issues in human history and the way we construct and reconstruct it, and the false judgments we make, where we confess our own time much more than we say anything about the time that we're talking about."


The first Pastwatch book, subtitled The Redemption of Columbus, came out in paperback in February 1996. Subsequent books will include The Flood ("We may change it to The Deluge, but nobody can really pronounce it") and Genesis, each one going further back in time.


Card was particularly excited about The Flood on the day of his visit. The book is based on a Card short story called "Atlantis," which appeared in the program book for a World Fantasy Convention held in Georgia a few years ago He changed the setting morn Atlantis after reading a scholarly book that seriously examined the basis for the Atlantean legend and discovering that the real issue was: what could have caused the sea to suddenly innundate a large territory?


“It's a flood where the oceans broke through,” he insisted, citing Biblical references "Not just rain. It wasn't just rain. People always assumed that ancient writers were stupid or something or that they couldn't tell the difference between one thing and another. Then we keep finding out, as often as not, the ancient sources were really quite correct And it was our arrogance to think that we knew better what was happening than they did at the time…


"There is such a place where, within human history—not history, not recorded history—but within the human experience. human memory, there has been exactly such a flood, and it was the Red Sea" He continued to describe a post-glacial scenario, of slow-rising water levels that suddenly broke through a sand bar at what is now Bab al Manbad, the strait between Yemen and Somalia. "I'm really excited about that novel. But that's probably one I'll be writing third or fourth from now."


Then he was off on another idea.


Books by Orson Scott Card



Enders Game (TOR 1985)

Speaker for the Dead (TOR, 1985)

Xenocide (TOR, 1991)

Children of the Mind (TOR, June, 1996)



Seventh Son (TOR, 1987)

Red Prophet (TOR, 1988)

Prentice Alvin (TOR, 1989)

The Crystal City (forthcoming)

Master Alvin (forthcoming)



The Memory of Earth (TOR, 1992)

The Call of Earth (TOR, 1993)

The Ships of Earth (TOR, 1994)


Earthborn (TOR 1995)



Capitol (Ace 1979)

Hot Sleep (Ace, 1979)

The Worthing Chronicle (Ace, 1983)



A Planet Called Treason (Dell, 1980, c1979)

Songmaster (Dial Press, 1980)

Dragons of Light, editor (Ace, 1980)

Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories (Dial Press, 1981)

Hart's Hope (TOR, 1983)

Wyrms (Arbor House.1987)

Cardography (Hypatia Press, 1987. Limited ed.)

Saints (TOR, 1988 [orig. title A Woman of Destiny])

Treason (St Martin’s Press, 1988 [rev. vers. of A Planet Called Treason])

The Abyss (Century, 1989 [based on orig. screenplay])

The Folk of the Fringe (Phantasia, 1989. Limited ed.)

Eye for Eye (TOR Double, 1990)

Future on Fire, editor (TOR, 1991)


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Book Launch of The Great Pulp Heroes

contributed by The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy FoundationlLa Fondation canadienne de la science fiction et du fantastique.


The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Foundation/La Fondation canadienne de la science-fiction et du fantastique in conjunction with Jamie Fraser Books held a book launch/fundraising luncheon in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on March 31, 1996, to celebrate the publication of Don Hutchison's new book, The Great Pulp Heroes (Mosaic Press, Toronto, March 1996). The launch, held at Tony Calzone's Wine Cellar in Toronto, was attended by 72 people, making it one of the largest such events ever held for a genre-related book in this city.


Don Hutchison, a Toronto resident, is a well known cinematographer and a long-time fan of science fiction and dark fantasy. He also edited and compiled It's Raining Corpses in China Town and The Super Feds; a Facsimile Selection of Dynamic G-Man Stories from the 1930's. He is perhaps best known as the editor of the acclaimed Northern Frights horror series.


In addition to launching this book, the event raised money for the Prix Boréal (an award for French speculative writing in Canada) and the Prix Aurora Award (for speculative writing in Canada in both French and English categories).


Professional writers attending included Don Bassingthwaite, Carolyn Clink, Cory Doctorow, C. Bruce Hunter (visiting from North Carolina), Nancy Kilpatrick, Rudy Kremberg, David Nickle, Robert J. Sawyer, David Shtogryn, Mandy Slater (visiting from Great Britain), Edo van Belkom, and Robert Charles Wilson.


Other notable attendees were Bill Belfontaine, (President of the Metro Toronto Branch of the Canadian Authors Association), actor/author Chris Wiggins (star of the syndicated TV series, Friday the Thirteenth), and Eve Yates (member of the Toronto Book Awards Committee).


Book sellers present were Raymond Alexander (Daydreams and Nightmares), Jack Brooks (Brook's Books), Jamie Fraser (Jamie Fraser Books), Al Navis (Almark & Co.), Mark Pijanka and David Darrigo (Dragon Lady Comics), John Rose (Bakka Books) and Alex von Thorn (Worldhouse).

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