Number 16, July 1996
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
to SOL Rising page
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
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
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
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
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
Books, Victoria BC, 1987)
Who Knows One? (Hawkshead Press, Toronto,
Within the Zodiac (McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1964)
Ordinary, Moving (Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1969)
Doctor Umlaut's Earthly Kingdom (Calliope Press, Toronto,
The Works, Collected Poems by Phyllis Gotlieb (Calliope
Press, Toronto, 1978)
to top Home
The View From A
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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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
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
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
(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
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
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
And a good time was had by
to top Home
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
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
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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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 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.
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.
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.
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.
to top Home
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
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
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.
Stamp News (Oct. 95).
Janet Hetherington is a long-time comic book collector who has also edited
Back to top Home
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
Books by Orson Scott Card
ENDER WIGGINS Series:
Enders Game (TOR 1985)
Speaker for the Dead (TOR, 1985)
Xenocide (TOR, 1991)
Children of the Mind (TOR, June, 1996)
THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER Series:
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)
THE WORTHING CHRONICLE Series:
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)
Press, 1987. Limited ed.)
Saints (TOR, 1988 [orig. title A Woman of Destiny])
Treason (St Martin’s Press, 1988 [rev. vers. of A Planet
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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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
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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