SOL Rising
Number 5, April 1990

Annual Meeting to Consider Changing Name of Library
What We Know About The Future
A Look At John Crowley
Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy News
Library Report
The Starr Chamber

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Annual Meeting To Consider Changing Name Of Library

At the 1990 annual meeting of The Friends of the Spaced Out Library, the Executive Committee of The Friends will put before the membership for its consideration the motion that "the membership of The Friends of The Spaced Out Library recommends to the Toronto Public Library Board that the name of The Spaced Out Library be changed as soon as possible to ‘The Toronto SF Library’".


This motion is in response to business transacted at the 1989 Annual Meeting during which the membership of The Friends passed a resolution in favour of changing the name of The Spaced Out Library. A suitable alternative name was not suggested at the time and the Executive Committee was empowered to return to the membership with a recommendation.


This is an important issue for The Friends. In fairness to those parties with viewpoints in favour and in disagreement with the name change, it was felt that Sol Rising would be a suitable forum for presentation of the arguments on both sides of the issue. The membership could be well informed on the matter prior to arriving at the Annual Meeting on the evening of Friday May 25, 1990.


All members are urged to attend the Annual Meeting in May and vote on this important issue. It is hoped that the following statements will assist you in forming your own opinion on the matter.




Why the Library's Name Should Be Changed—by Larry Hancock on behalf of the Executive Committee


The Spaced Out Library was a fine name for the library during its early years, giving recognition to both the timing of its origin (the Sixties) and, through a pun, an indication of its subject matter.


However, times change and a name which may have been expressive at one point in time may, and indeed has, become a burden at a later point in time. Too often, members of The Friends and the staff of the library have had to explain the name of the library, and have met with doubt as to the sincerity of a library with such a name. Overtime, the drug-induced-state-of-mind connotations of "Spaced Out" have led to the need for lengthy explanations of the nature of the library, and then where the name came from, and why—usually to the echo of titters from the other end of the telephone connection.


The name of the library, or any institution for that matter, is the very first thing that the public knows about us. It is our calling card, our first impression. The name must be meaningful and must project an image which will last. A flamboyant name may grab a person's attention, but will it retain it?


Long-time members of the academic and science fiction communities are aware of the library and the benefits they can derive from it, but potential new patrons fail to understand the nature of the collection.


Staff of the library have written a letter to the Executive Committee on this matter. To quote from that letter:


"Our name is the image we present to the public. ‘Spaced Out Library’ is a very evocative name for people who have used the library for the twenty years of its existence, creating mental images of their youthful selves, discovering the wonders of sf while reading a paperback under the chestnut tree at the old location on Palmerston.


"Unfortunately, the name does not evoke this image in people who are not already familiar with the collection. Staff deal with the greater public, day in, day out. We are well aware that the usual response to our library's name is derisive laughter, or occasionally the polite comment, 'Oh, isn't that cute. And do you do adult work as well?'


"However, we are more concerned about the people who don't show up, who never come near us, because they don't understand what the name means. Most people don't ask what our name means, they simply assume it is not relevant to them . ... It is not sufficient, as I have been told, to ignore people too stupid to understand. The Spaced Out Library has an obligation to its potential user, as well as its current patrons, to make the nature of the services it offers understood. Surely, it is apparent that any library that is indifferent to the needs of the public that support it, to the point where it cannot even make its content understood, will eventually perish?


"The public really does not understand about being 'Spaced Out'. More precisely, what they do understand from that phrase does not bring them into the library. The booksellers who throw out our letters don't understand that we are a major research collection of science fiction and related literature, but how should they? The people who break into laughter on the other end of the telephone don't intend to be rude, they simply think it is a very funny name. The researchers who have been referred to us and never show up may have other reasons for not coming."


In consideration of an appropriate name for the library, we have discussed several names that might be considered colourful and appropriate by today's standards. However, while we appreciate the flair that such a name may give to the library, we more importantly recognize that today's fashion may be tomorrow's albatross. It is therefore the considered opinion of the Executive Committee that the name of the library should be reflective of its function and should not be mired in any colloquialism that may seem trite at some future time.


Consideration has been given to suggesting to the Library Board a name which would commemorate Judith Merril, the original establisher of the collection; however, Ms. Merril has indicated strong disapproval of having the library named after her. Since we have great respect for Ms. Merril, this idea was dropped.


The simple name, "The Toronto Science Fiction Library" was considered. Although the library houses more than just science fiction—fantasy, horror, critical papers, etc.—"science fiction" is the most recognized term by which the entire genre is recognized. However, Ms. Merril has also expressed her dislike for the words "Science Fiction" appearing in the name of the library, and again her wishes should be respected.


We considered alternatives to "Science Fiction" such as "Speculative Fiction" and "Fantastic Literature", but these were discarded as being too nebulous and not easily understood at a glance, or at a first impression.


We decided upon a simple "SF" which is easily recognizable both as "Science Fiction" and as a global term encompassing the entire genre.


The last component of the proposed name, "The Toronto SF Library" is the name of the city, Toronto. Is the inclusion of the city name necessary? We feel it is. The library is a world class collection and is indeed used as a resource by many, many persons outside of Canada.


Through the efforts of the staff and The Friends we intend to make the library even better known than it is today. The inclusion of the city name in all correspondence, promotion and third party references will give instant recognition to the location of the library and give credit to the city for its support.


Will changing the name have any adverse repercussions on the functioning of the library? Will current users think that the library has disappeared? No. The name change will be handled properly, with the retention of the old name as a secondary and smaller name on all correspondence, etc. for the next few years until the new name is well established.




Why The Library's Name Should Be Retained—By John Robert Colombo on behalf of Continuity and Common Sense


You will soon be asked to vote on the motion that our library's name should be changed from The Spaced Out Library to "The Toronto SF Library". You will be asked to do so by the Executive Committee, which is on record as favouring the change and hence has placed this matter before the membership.


As a long-time reader of science fiction, as a long-term user of the Library, and as a promoter of Canadian fantastic literature, I confess that it irritates me that this matter has to be addressed and brought to a vote. The reason for this is that I see no compelling need to change the name. Hence I am going to vote No; I urge you to do the same. Here are some of my reasons for wishing to retain the present name.


  1. The present name is memorable, well-established, internationally recognized, and unique. In what way is it unique? I'll bet you my last Loonie that you can't tell me the official name of any other science fiction library anywhere in the world. The other libraries have institutional names. Our institution is unique in that it has a non-institutional name, a name that is decidedly outside the mainstream. That, in my eyes, is a good thing indeed! Let's keep it that way—memorable, well-established, internationally recognized, and unique.
  2. The Executive Committee feels that the present name is a silly designation. My experience has been otherwise. It is true that the present name may evoke a giggle or too, but the giggle is followed by what Martin Gardner calls "the 'aha' response", the sense of illumination. "Spaced Out? ... aha ... a science fiction collection," they say, immediately making the connection between "space" and fantastic literature. Everyone knows that the concept of "space" lies at the heart of science fiction (outer space) and at the soul of fantasy fiction (inner space). Far from being silly, the name evokes the sense of "awe and wonder" that is so characteristic of the literature.
  3. The Executive Committee seems to feel that the present name is old-fashioned or out-of-date. This is not true. The library came by this name legitimately, for the library was established in the late 1960s and it has retained some of the values of the Swinging Sixties, the era that saw the incredible values of the Golden Age of Science Fiction take root in the popular culture of the day. Surely this is a positive connotation. There is, of course, the charge that the words "spaced out" refer to hallucinogens; but the words may also be used innocently to refer to a mild, non-drug-induced "high," a state attained by readers of Space Opera and the sagas of Middle Earth! Hence I feel that rather than being "old-fashioned" or "out-of-date," we should regard the present name as rich in history; indeed, close to historic.
  4. A name should suggest the nature of its object. The present name is highly imaginative and unexpected, and in this way it reflects the nature of the literature on its shelves. The proposed name is prosaic in the extreme. Believe me, no novelist or poet would ever come up with the handle "The Toronto Science Fiction Library". That is bureaucratic thinking at its worst. Was there ever a more boring—a more mundane—name under the sun? As well as being boring, it is inexact. The library does not exist to promote "Toronto Science Fiction." Surely it is not a "Toronto Library" but a library of world literature based in Toronto, a library of planetary mythology established in Canada. As well, why is it necessary to tell patrons what they already know: that the library is located in Toronto? Finally, the library is not a collection limited to "Science Fiction"; as it grows it has become an institution devoted to Fantastic Literature, including Fantasy Fiction. Weird Fiction, Post-Modem Literature, Magic Realism, etc. So while the present name is imaginative and expansive, the proposed name is pedestrian—as well as inexact.
  5. In a broader sense, we should strive for some degree of continuity in our institutions. Changing names does not encourage continuity. Would our Executive Committee, if it had the opportunity, recommend changing the name of the CBC Radio program "Quirks and Quarks"? No doubt the Committee would want to call it something more ...understandable...acceptable...and forgettable ... like "Weekly Canadian Science Review Program". While we are at it, why not change the name of the Boys and Girls House. Let's call it ... let me think for a moment ... "The Toronto Library for Books for Youth of Either Sex." Seriously, our present name speaks of more than twenty years of history. Let's not erase or institutionalize that historical connection.
  6. The Executive Committee notes that Judith Merril, the library's founder, has stated her opposition to having the collection called "The Judith Merril Collection." What the Committee has not noted is that Judith Merril also objects to the proposed name. She wants "no truck nor trade" with "The Toronto Science Fiction Library". What is widely known is that for the last decade and a half she has been arguing that even the label "Science Fiction" is restrictive and irresponsible.
  7. The Executive Committee seems to think that by adding the word "Toronto" to the library's name somehow we will "give credit" to the city. Everyone who uses the library's facilities, in person, by phone, or through the post, knows that The Spaced Out Library is located in Toronto. The Committee's policy, if extended, would lead to renaming the CN Tower the "Toronto Tower"; the SkyDome the "Toronto Dome"; and Roy Thomson Hall the "Toronto Hall." How bland!
  8. I find it difficult to "buy" the contention of the Executive Committee that "potential new patrons" are or will be turned off by the new name. No survey, formal or informal, has been undertaken to support this contention. Who are these cowardly "potential new patrons" who have to be offered a pablum-powered name? Until a survey is commissioned, I hold that a remarkable name with a twenty-year history will attract more users— and hold more old users— than a brand-new name— a "bland-new" name.
  9. The only argument that seems to me to be valid is the argument that members of the present Library Staff are lobbying for a new name. Certainly their concerns should be addressed. Yet I find it hard to believe that our librarians take their work so seriously that they have forgotten the important fact that one characteristic of the literature the library collects is an "element of fun" and a "sense of play." Have our librarians lost their sense of humour. Are they, perhaps, being career-minded; do they want to give the institution a dull-sounding name for curriculum vitae purposes—to make it seem that they are really working, not enjoying themselves while they work? I do not know about this but what I do know is that the librarians on staff applied to work for an institution known as The Spaced Out Library, and the fact that it attracted such qualified and helpful people in the first place suggests to me there is no stigma at all attached to the present name.
  10. What we have in this instance is the classic argument between the abolitionists (who want to rename it "The Toronto Science Fiction Library") and the retentionists (who want it to remain The Spaced Out Library). The abolitionists have a weak case. They have failed to show that the old name is indeed harmful or limiting; as well, they have failed to show that the proposed new name (the "bland-new name") is anything more than a weak collection of descriptors (so that it "should not be mired in any colloquialism," in Larry Hancock's revealing phrase). What's wrong with the colloquial, the language of the people?


This argument recalls the hubbub that happened in Alberta in 1910 when the merchants of Medicine Hat wanted to rename their town. They wanted to give it a more "progressive" name than Moose Jaw. The retentionists felt that Medicine Hat was a wonderful name, full of fire and history, so they wrote to Rudyard Kipling and asked the famous author for help. It seems three years earlier, while on a North American tour, Kipling had visited the town and commented positively on its name and distinct character.


True to his principles, Kipling responded from Sussex with a long, vitriolic letter. The letter favoured the retentionists, of course; it argued on behalf of the retention of the old name, and heaped scorn on the heads of the abolitionists and their new-fangled names. Kipling noted that Medicine Hat was a name full of "mystery and romance" and that it had a hint of "magic." "Believe me," he noted, "the very name is an asset, and as years go on, will become more and more of an asset. It has no duplicate in the world; it makes men ask questions... it has the qualities of uniqueness, individuality, assertion and power." He concluded that to change it would be to look ridiculous in the eyes of the world.


Canada would be a poorer place had that wonderful place-name been lost. If Kipling were alive today, I would write to him for support. Perhaps what I should do is phone Carl Sagan, fax Ray Bradbury, telex Isaac Asimov, and satellite-signal Arthur C. Clarke and ask them for help. If I did, what do you think they would say? I am willing to bet my last Loonie that to a man they would agree that the present name is vastly superior to the proposed name. They would join forces with the retentionists and rail against the abolitionists.


All the friends of The Spaced Out Library should befriend the present name and scorn the suggestion of a name-change.


By voting No to "The Toronto Science Fiction Library", you vote Yes to The Spaced Out Library.

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The Friends Of The Spaced Out Library is a community-support group whose main objective is to encourage interest in the Library from the Metropolitan Toronto community and the science fiction community at large. While we do rely on the staff of The Spaced Out Library to assist in some tasks (and they do so admirably), the staff are employees of The Toronto Public Library Board and their work hours are devoted to earning a living. The Friends is a volunteer organization, and as such is dependent upon individuals who are willing to contribute some of their valuable time to furthering our objectives.


If you are interested in volunteering some of your time to help The Friends we would like to hear from you. This could be as simple as helping to stuff the newsletter in envelopes. You might assist in keeping the membership list up to date, or help devise and implement ways to promote the library and our guest appearances. You may even wish to volunteer to serve on the Executive Committee and help make the decisions which influence the future of the library and The Friends.


If you are interested in helping out, please write to The Friends c/o The Spaced Out Library. We will also have a volunteer list available at the Annual Meeting.

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What We Know About The Future

By John Robert Columbo


No doubt everyone who is reading this column has experienced a specific sensation that I've experienced. In conversation a remark is heard or overheard. It may or may not be discussed at the time. But it's not disregarded and forgotten. It sticks in the mind like a burr. It commands intermittent attention, the way a sensitive molar attracts the tip of an inquisitive tongue. Like a time-bomb it ticks away... threatening to go off at any moment.


I had that experience with a remark made by Judith Merril. (Please note that I am suppressing all my journalistic instincts and not explaining who Judy is; I assume the readership of this column knows full well the identity of Judith Merril and would regard it as supererogatory to have her accomplishments listed here.) She said something to me about ten years ago that at the time I could neither forget nor assimilate.


What she said was straight-forward enough—for Judy. She noted: "I know more about the future than I know about the past." When I heard that admission—or admonition—I am sure I nodded in agreement. At the time Judy was thinking about the future, for she was writing the script of a television program about the way science fiction authors of the 1930s envisaged the future.


A decade ago I agreed with her. Now I am not so sure. At the time we chuckled over the line of graffiti that some sage had printed on the once-wet cement sidewalk outside The Spaced Out Library: "Bring Back the Future." We knew all about that future. Indeed, we may know a little about this or that future. Orwell's future, Huxley's future, the near and far futures of Wells' "chronic argonaut." But what do we know about the future?


It's frequently said that the younger generation has no sense of the past. I grew up in the era immediately following the Second World War, so my generation was the first to be exposed to science fiction ideas, which, as we all know, were then largely concerned with future histories. My generation was also, probably, the last generation to seriously entertain ideas about the past. Judy grew up one generation earlier than I did, and she has very pronounced ideas about the past.


If you take a generation to be about twenty-five years in length, the generation that followed mine grew up during the 1960s and 1970s and was influenced not only by the wide-spread acceptance of SF ideas but also by one of the dream-machines invented by SF writers: television. All subsequent generations in "the foreseeable future" will be influenced not only by SF and TV but also by the PC—the Personal Computer.


My feeling is that the twin effects of technology and consumerism on our lives, regardless of our generation, has dimmed our sense of the achievements of the past as well as diminished our sense of the possible achievements of the future. Present-day achievements are eclipsing the deeds of our fathers and our children. I grew up reading about the Seven Wonders of the World. These were then augmented by the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. I have no doubt someone has compiled a list of the Seventy Wanders of the Contemporary World—the inventions, discoveries, and breakthroughs made over the last decade.


I wonder if Judy still thinks she knows more about the future than she does about the past. I pondered her position well when I was asked by the Canadian Gas Association to be a luncheon speaker at its national marketing convention in Toronto on Nov. 13, 1989. Members of this association are forward-looking and technically minded. They deliver an essential service, based on a natural resource, so they are sensitive to social trends, new technologies, and the opinions of public, private, and government groups. The theme of the convention was appropriate: "Looking to the 1990s."


Amid the speakers who tried to limn the future, I found myself sounding like Cassandra. The title of my talk was "What We Know about the Future," But that was the short title. The full title, which I revealed once I was on the podium, runs: "What We Know about the Future Is Not Very Much If It is Anything at All."


There is an amusing story that is told about Sir John Herschel, the distinguished astronomer, who during the latter half of the 19th century was recognized to be the world's leading authority on the planets and the stars. (He was the Carl Sagan of his day.)


He operated out of his private observatory at the Cape of Good Hope where he had a clear view of the heavens.


One day Sir John was astonished to receive a cable sent to him by the American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. The telegram read: "Sir John Herschel, Astronomical Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa: Interested in the Red Planet Mars. Will pay ten dollars per word for answer to following question: "What is known about life on Mars?" Cable collect immediately 900 words. Hearst Features Syndicate, New York City."


Sir John was surprised and amused; after all, $9000 was a lot of money for 900 words, and he could devote all of it to his scientific research. So the astronomer drafted a reply and instructed the cable operator to send the following message, collect: "Nothing is known. Nothing is known. Nothing is known. Nothing is known..." The message was to be repeated 300 times.


William Randolph Hearst's reaction is not recorded, but Sir John had made his point. At that time nothing was known about life on the planet Mars. Today, because of the Viking Lander, it is pretty certain that there is no life—at least no surface life as we know it—on the Red Planet Mars. I am inclined to say, along with Sir John, that when it comes to the future "nothing is known." But that is not strictly true. There is an order of knowledge that is so close to complete perfection that it is able to support predictions with astonishing accuracy.


I have in mind the scientific knowledge from Sir John's field: Astronomy. It is known, with absolute certainty, that Halley's Comet returns at seventy-five or seventy-six year intervals. It was seen by Earthlings in 1910; it was last visible in 1985; and it will next hove into view in the year 2061-62. So I venture to predict that Halley's Comet will next be seen in A.D.2061-62 and not before then. We know this much about the future. And with 100% accuracy, I can make the supplementary prediction that Halley's Comet will not be seen by anyone who is reading this column in 1990—unless that person is 28 years old and prepared to live to be 100 years old, or 20 years old and prepared to live to the ripe old age of 92.


This prediction is based on another type of knowledge, a type familiar to statisticians, who is concerned with human mortality figures.


There are two types of knowledge about the future: scientific knowledge and statistical knowledge. I could linger in these fields, rambling on about the half-life of uranium and the probability or possibility or likelihood that this or that would or could happen. But all of us accept science and statistics as valid predictors within their disciplines. After all, the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry thrive largely because of this element of predictability.


The scientist and the statistician are allied with the econo-metrician and the futurologist. The former, devising economic models, and the latter, extrapolating scenarios from observed trends, are the contemporary incarnations of the soothsayers of old. But instead of entrails, they deal with entropy; instead of magic, they conjure with the forces of MS-DOS.


There is another kind of knowledge about the present that influences our knowledge of the future. Everyone who reads newspapers or watches television is familiar with the public opinion poll. Pollsters may measure in percentage form some of the stated concerns of the public, and the results are said to be valid 19 times out of 20. But what pollsters are really doing is signalling to politicians and public figures, opinion makers and product—and—service producers, the drift of public opinion—notably its drift into the wants and needs of the future.


Do you remember what the late Prime Minister John Diefenbaker said about the polls that savaged him? "I've always been fond of dogs," he said, "and they are the one animal that knows the proper treatment to give to poles." But few of us remember the quip made about pollsters of the late Marshall McLuhan. The imaginative media philosopher referred to them as "pollstergeists". McLuhan was cleverly punning on the words "pollster" and "poltergeist." A "poltergeist" is, in German, "a noisy spirit." A house may be haunted—may be said to be haunted—yet no ghost or spectre or spirit need ever put in an appearance. A poltergeist is known by its effects, not its face.


I mention ghosts and spirits and poltergeists by way of introducing a form of knowledge about the future which is at once deeply traditional, globally practised, and certainly topical today: psychic knowledge.


Since 1967 I have been collecting Canadiana, with a special emphasis on psychic Canadiana. In addition to ghosts, UFOs, sasquatches, ogopogos, spiritualism, telepathy, clairvoyance, prophecy and prediction, much of it is concerned with the future. Let me share some of the facts and follies with you. Maybe the paranormal sheds some light on things to come; maybe not. Whether valid or not, a preoccupation with the paranormal illuminates some aspects of one basic human want and need: the desire to know and shape the future.


Nostradamus is justly regarded as the greatest prophet of all time. The French seer published his prophetic verses in the year 1555, and he is credited—by some scholars, anyway—with predicting the rise of Adolf Hitler. He referred to the Nazi dictator in one of his verses as "Hister."


Obscure is the word that best describes the verses of Nostradamus which were composed in archaic French. Here is one of his predictions—it is called his Canadian prediction—translated into modern English. The four lines runs like this:


"Out of Montreal shall be born in a cottage,

One that shall tyrannize over duke and earl,

He shall raise an army in the land of the rebellion,

He shall empty Favence and Florence of their gold."


The words are interpreted to mean: "A Canadian leader, of lowly birth, shall be raised to great power and eventually assume command over men of the nobility."


In the late 1960s, Quebec commentators assumed that this verse referred to Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who was born in Montreal, though it is difficult to determine out how a millionaire's son could be considered to be "of lowly birth."


Then Brian Mulroney burst onto the political firmament like a comet. The prophecy was pinned on him, though it is not very easy to equate Prime Minister Mulroney's birthplace (Bare-Comeau) with the Montreal (Mount Royal) of the original verse. Yet the lines about "the land of the rebellion" and the references to the treasures of "Favence and Florence"—read "Ontario" and "Toronto"—may yet make Nostradamus' verse come true.


Characteristic of Nostradamus' prophecies is the fact that they make sense, when they make sense at all, only after and never before the event. There is no way to understand them, nonetheless act on them. They give no advice; they offer no possibility to change. If the prophecy is true, the future is fixed and predetermined. If the future is malleable, the prophecy is false or—at best—provisional. There is no knowledge here. What is the use of a false or possibly false prophecy? What good is one "hit" among many "misses" if the former cannot be separated from the latter? This paradox confronts all prophets and predictors and is the principal reason why the future is not the future if we know it.


Here are some prophecies of the psychic kind from my collection. In 1977, and again in 1980, Jeane Dixon, who has been called the Republican seer, made a series of predictions about Canada:


"There will be gigantic pipeline across the country and far down into the which will bring the snows and ice of the north to the parched fields of the south. I see it as a bond of water that will lie America together and bring Canada great wealth and power."


Dixon on Pierre and Margaret Trudeau: "There'll be a complete divorce and he'll marry again in the early 1980s."


Dixon on Levesque: "His cause will succeed, but just when he's riding high he'll run into personal and political difficulties and have to step down."


Dixon on Canada and the world: "By the century's end, Canada and Brazil will be among the world's most powerful nations because of their food and energy resources . ... Australia, Canada and New Zealand will form an international union in the 1990s."


Jeffrey Goodman, the U.S. journalist and specialist in the New Age and in earthquakes, wrote in 1979: Between 1980 and 1985 "the city of Vancouver might even have to be relocated".


Here is Irene Hughes, the Chicago psychic, in 1980: "Quebec will secede from Canada no later than 1985 . ... Queen Elizabeth will abdicate and Prince Charles will take over the throne for about three years, then step down. Illness will cause the Queen's abdication."


What follows are predictions made by Swami Narayana. The psychic who is based in Mississauga calls himself the Superpsychic and the Businessman's Psychic. He says he is registered with the Better Business Bureau. He made these stabs at the future within the last decade:


"The United States of North and Central America will be founded within five years . ... Pierre Trudeau will be appointed to a top-ranking post in the United Nations by 1982." (1980)


"Her Britannic Majesty will be remembered as the last Queen of England and the Prince of Wales may never be crowned." (1988)


"The incoming Conservative government shall abolish two obsolete Canadian institutions: The Senate and the Post Office." (1988)


"The overall success of free trade and its expansion into a world economic and political community will bring Brian Mulroney the Noble Prize for Economics and assure the gentleman of being elected for a third term in office." (1988)


That is enough of Narayana. Most psychics work on the scatter-gun approach, trusting that there will be at least one "hit" among all the "misses."


In all my research into the paranormal, I found not one particle of proof that the paranormal is operative in everyday life. I did find some evidence for its operation, however. Yet, as James Randi, the Toronto-born conjuror and debunker of psychic claims, has maintained: "There is a lot of evidence for the existence of Santa Claus. The problem is that it is not very good evidence." I value the anecdotal evidence that I have collected—experiences rather than events, revelations rather than reports.


So, in the words of a once-popular love song, "The future's not ours to see ...." I wonder if Judy Merril agrees.


John Robert Colombo is nationally known as the Master Gatherer for his many compilations of Canadiana. In the field of fantastic literature he has edited Other Canadas, Friendly Aliens, Years of Light, Blackwood's Books, etc. Books of his appearing in Spring 1990 include Voices of Rama (a collection of 0jibwa legends) and Mysterious Encounters (a collection of paranormal experiences).

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A Look At John Crowley

By Candas Jane Dorsey


"... he is not going back the way he came; and nothing now will ever be the same again." (Ægypt, John Crowley, p 370).


Reading John Crowley is like that: nothing is ever the same, and there is no going back. Crowley is one of those rare and subtle writers who change their readers completely, and without fanfare. Reading his books, one has no recourse to complacency; there is no refuge to be taken in melodrama. Simple but not simplex, subtle without slyness, and virtuoso without exhibitionism, Crowley is both transcendent and profoundly quotidian. No intellectual snobbery here—but also, no pretension to the mundane. Just brilliantly good writing.


The first Crowley I consciously read was Ægypt. I received a hardcover review copy among a rabble of "scifi" paperbacks, and was grateful to escape from their dreadful covers and even worse content into the pages of Ægypt. Soon I discovered how lucky I was.


Soon, excited as I'd been by no book since Riddley Walker, I was reading portions aloud to anyone who'd listen. "There were angels in the glass, two four six many of them ... and all their names began with A"; "In silvergreen rainy April they went down to Glastonbury on the long straight roads, Mr. Talbot on a swayback borrowed nag, Doctor Dee on his spotted mare, an oiled goatskin mantle on his shoulders and a broad plaited hat like a countryman's on his head, and his son Arthur up behind him . ..." It is hard with quotations to establish the emphatic rhythmic power of the prose, hard to abstract the specific from the cumulative. Suffice it to say that both by segments and in its entirety, the effect was stunning.


John Gardner has spoken of "the story unfolding like a dream in the reader's mind." Ægypt was like that, a dream I lived in for days, much longer (and deeper) than a book usually takes me. In addition to the joy good dreaming always brings, I came out of the book with a new way (subliminally taught me by Crowley's sublime craft) of using colons and semi-colons, and with a determination to read everything else I could find of Crowley's.


Scrutinising my shelves, I discovered I had his first two books, The Deep and Beasts, though I had only read the first, and that a long time ago. I'd liked it well enough to keep it, but why I had an unread companion there, an undiscovered gem of such magnitude, I do not know. I reread The Deep and read Beasts. Then I borrowed Little, Big and Engine Summer and read them. Then I sat back and breathed for a while, wondering what to do next.


You see, for a writer, Crowley is terrifying. He is so good, he challenges the boundaries of everything he tries, and he bursts them. No, in fact he shatters them. He is the best single argument for the fallacy of genre that I could give any student of literature, or any beginning writer. Consider his output.


First, a slender SF novel, The Deep, in 1975. It's a story (maybe ...) of earth-colony-generations-later, called by Ursula leGuin "an extraordinary first novel". Filled, it's true, with certain SFIsms—strange people, those outworlders, they have a different name for everything. But also filled with a lovely language, rhythmic and conductive. Then in 1976 came Beasts, set in a dystopian future—America where genetically engineered animal-humans fight the Union for Social Engineering—as do human barbarians and anarchists. This book, too, filled with lovely language, but this time plain, blunt, colloquial American English, without the courtly constructions The Deep affected. No less affecting for that, though: "Grief, waiting, solitude: if you want to live forever, she thought, choose those."


In 1979, Engine Summer blew the doors between fantasy and SF right off. As the reader is pulled through the labyrinth of Little Belaire, then the labyrinth of what turns out to be a degenerated future America, the story changes, over and over again, until the final dizzying full-stop which retroactively transforms the whole thing yet again. And through it all the words, the dizzying, dazzling words which do exactly as they should, must: transform, over and over again, the images, the emotions, the sounds, the happenings.


Little, Big followed in 1981. This was a fantasy (maybe ...) of place called Edgewood, on the way (maybe...) from Somewhere to Elsewhere (no dissembling here), and of the young man who goes there to be wed, and of the woman he is to wed, and of the photographs which show another place very like that place yet very different, and of many and various other beings and things too numerous to mention here. Again, Crowley uses the language he needs, and it's a different language from the book before, or the book after, and it left me shivering with appreciation for its effectiveness.


Ægypt (with the A and the E joined in that archaic way, nightmare of modern typographers—the reason why the USA has murdered the words "encyclopædia" and "hæmophilia") was first published in 1987. It was a Bantam Spectra book, but nobody put "science fiction" on the spine, so it wasn't ghettoised much. And what was it about, really? More so than any of Crowley's books, it is impossible to categorise and even worse to summarise. Pierce Moffett goes to this small town and things happen, to him and to others. To say much more would be presumptuous usurpation of Crowley's magnificent narrative. Though I could mention that Pierce and the others spend some time in the Faraway Hills, that there are large segments which tell the story of Doctor Dee, the Queen's alchemist, and that nothing is at all what it seems, but with typical Crowley master, he leads us on until the last breathlessly-felt page.


Now, Crowley has a new book, also from Bantam Doubleday (no surprise, as they would have to be nuts to let him go to another house). Novelty is a collection of four shorter pieces, spanning the field of fantastic literature from something recognisably SF through something recognisably fantasy (but watch those technological twists) to a short and sweet piece about a writer and his new idea. I've just finished reading it. I'm still pleasantly dazed, also rather beyond description just for the moment. In fact, I've been rather beyond description all the way through this piece. But what more can I do with this fine writer but introduce and praise him? How can the books be simplified, made plain in 1300 words or so? No, you have to read'em yourselves; that's the only way, really, to get it.


It was on the dust jacket of Ægypt, as I sat down to write this, where I discovered Russell Hoban had said of Crowley that he is "one of those necessary writers for whom one has been waiting without knowing it". Believe me, when I first finished Ægypt, reading the dust jacket was the furthest thing from my mind, but now that I've found the quote, I couldn't agree more, In fact, Hoban has summed up my feeling exactly.


Because yes, Crowley is terrifying, challenging, but he is also a tremendous encouragement for a writer. It is when I read the bad stuff that I get discouraged. Crowley lets me see that there is, available and within at least one writer's grasp, a literature of the possible which transcends the shackles of American-made pulp-genre thinking, which leaves behind cliché and imitation, which owes nothing to the plastic unreality of modem media, and which retains the traditional, brilliant power of true art.


"He has stolen fire from heaven and there are spheres where he is not loved. He is coming to this house, though he knows it not; he is not going back the way he came; and nothing now will ever be the same again." Yes, indeed.


This article appeared in a slightly longer form, in French in Solaris 88.


Candas Jane Dorsey is a freelance writer and author of Machine Sex, a collection of short stories published by Press Porcepic. She has had three books of poetry published by Blewointment Press. Her novel Hardwired Angel, written with Nora Abercrombie, won the Three Day novel contest of 1987. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta and is a long-time member of The Friends of The Spaced Out Library.

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Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy News

By Robert J. Sawyer


Canadian science fiction and fantasy is booming. With this regular column, I'll try to keep you up-to-date on what's happening.


SWAC, the Speculative Writers Association of Canada, was founded in 1989 at the ConText SF convention in Edmonton. It's an attempt to provide a true professional organization comparable to the Science Fiction Writers of America. And Toronto Hydra, founded by Judith Merril, is a social group for SF pros that grew out of the "critical mass" of "good science fiction heads" that Judy had observed in that city. Hydra is about to celebrate its sixth anniversary.


For years, French Canadians have had two excellent genre magazines, Solaris and Imagine. At last, we have our own English-language Canadian science fiction and fantasy magazine—On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of Speculative Writing. The first issue, Spring 1989, featured contributions from Dave Duncan, H. A. Hargreaves, Eileen Kernaghan, Sally McBride, Rhea Rose, Robert Runté, Kathryn A. Sinclair, Jena Snyder, Ron Stewart, and Lyle Weis.


The second issue, Fall 1989, contained stories by E. C. Bell, Tor Åge Bringsvæld (translated by James Manis) Drake Dresen, Leslie Gadallah, Paula Johanson, Eileen Kernaghan, Trevor Murphy, and Clelie Rich; poems by Coralie Adams, Richard Davies, Jena Snyder, and Janet Elliot Waters; and non-fiction by Marianne O. Nielsen and Spider Robinson.


We also now have not one but two regular publishers of science fiction and fantasy books. Press Porcepic of Victoria has a long list of trade paperbacks and their third anthology of Canadian fantasy and science fiction, Tesseracts3, is in the works. And Penguin Canada, of Markham, Ontario, has announced that it will produce Canadian SF titles, to be distributed in the U.S. as part of New American Library's Roc line.


The 1989 poetry collection Light Like a Summons from Cacanadadada Press, Coquitlam, B.C., contains speculative poetry by Eileen Kernaghan and Mary Choo.


Ad Astra 10, at the Howard Johnson Airport Hotel, Toronto, June 8 to 10, will have these Canadian writers as guests: Lynne Armstrong-Jones, Denis Beauvais, Terence M. Green, Tanya Huff, Guy Gavriel Kay, Shirley Meier, Robert J. Sawyer, S. M. Stirling, Karen Wehrstein, and Andrew Weiner.


In the fall of 1989, TVOntario, the television service of the Ontario Educational Communications Authority, began a weekly half-hour talk show about science fiction and comics called Prisoners of Gravity, hosted by Rick Green, formerly of the comedy troupe The Frantics. Among those who have appeared as guests are Toronto SF writers Terence M. Green, Tanya Huff, Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, and Robert J. Sawyer; SF comics author D. Larry Hancock; Lorna Toolis, head librarian at The Spaced Out Library; and John Rose, the owner of Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty shop. Prisoners airs Mondays at 7:30 and 11:00 p.m.


Lynne Armstrong-Jones of London, Ontario, had the short story "The Case of Kestra" published in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, August 1989, and "Just a Touch . . ." in Domains of Darkover, an anthology edited by Ms. Bradley. Forthcoming are "Commencement" in Sword and Sorceress VI (later this year), "Warrior's Oath" in Sword and Sorceress Vll (1991), and "The Lesson in the Foothills" in the anthology Free Amazons of Darkover (Winter 1990). Lynne is also a poet, with three of her efforts ("Witchy Wood," "Bewitching Lessons," "Friday Night!") upcoming in Weird Tales maga­zine, and another poem in Great Poems of the Western World..

Mary E. Choo's "Wolfrunner" will be in Sword and Sorceress Vl..


J. Brian Clarke of Calgary has gathered his "Expiditer" stories from Analog into a forthcoming novel from DAW.


John Robert Colombo continued his masterful gathering of Canadiana with the publication in 1989 of Extraordinary Experiences (Hounslow). Coming soon: Voices of Rama (Oberon), a collection of legends from Ojibwa sources, mainly shamanic.


King of the Scepter'd Isle by Michael Greatrex Coney of Sidney, B.C., the sequel to Fang the Gnome, was published in hardcover in August 1989 by NAL. It was a selection of the Science Fiction Book Club. His Rax (Hello Summer, Goodbye) will be reissued by Press Porcepic in 1990 under a title yet to be selected. He has recently completed the novels No Place For a Sealion and A Tomcat Called Sabrina.


Ottawa's prolific Charles de Lint writes columns for Mystery Scene, OtherRealms, and Short Form. His chapbook The Stone Drum was published last year by Triskell Press, and his essay "Considering K. W. Jeter" was part of In the Land of the Dead by Jeter from Morrigan Publications. His 1989 novels were Svaha, Ace Books; The Valley of Thunder (Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon, Volume 3), Bantam; and the paperback of Jack the Giant Killer from Ace. This year, his The Hidden City (PJF's The Dungeon, Volume 5) will be released by Bantam. His "The Fair in Emain Macha" is one-half of a current Tor double. Short story publications in 1989 included "The Drowned Man's Reel," reprinted in Pulphouse, Spring; "Life is all Chequered" (an excerpt from The Little Country), in Silicon '89 Program Book; "Romano Drom" in Pulphouse, Fall; "The Soft Whisper of Midnight Snow," reprinted in The Year's Best Fantasy, Second Annual Edition (St. Martin's Press); "The Sacred Fire" in Stalkers (Dark Harvest); "Timeskip" in Post Mortum (St. Martin's Press); and "Wooden Bones" in Things that Go Bump in the Night (Harper & Row).


His forthcoming books are Bring Down the Moon: A Novel of Urban Færie (Ace, June 1990); Ghostwood (Axolotl Press, June/ July 1990); Moonheart (first cloth edition, Pan UK, July 1990); Angel of Darkness (Jove, October 1990); Greenmantle (first cloth edition, Pan UK, July 1991); and Yarrow (first cloth edition, Pan UK, July 1992). Sold, but with publication dates still to be scheduled, are: Death Leaves an Echo (Tor); The Dreaming Place (Byron Preiss/ Atheneum); The Little Country (Avon); Into the Green (Avon); and an Avon mass-market edition of The Harp of the Grey Rose.


Calgarian David Duncan's novel Strings was published by Del Rey in February.


Leslie Gadallah, who lives in Winterbum, Alberta, published Cat's Gambit (sequel to 1987's Cat's Pawn) with Del Rey in March.


The novel Heart of Red Iron by Phyllis Gotlieb of Toronto (St. Martin's) was on the Locus 1989 Recommended Reading List.


Terence M. Green of Toronto will be teaching a one-day SF writing course at Humber College on April 21. McClelland & Stewart recently made an offer on his novel Children of the Rainbow. He is currently working on Blue Limbo, a sequel to 1988's Barking Dogs.


Tanya Huff's Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light (DAW) made it to the Locus 1989Recommended Reading List. Her "The Chase is On" appeared in the July 1989 Amazing and "The Last Lesson" was in the September 1989 Amazing. Tanya is manager of Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store. She will be Guest of Honour at WilfCon VI, May 26, at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo.


Torontonian Guy Gavriel Kay's novel Tigana will be a Roc hardcover in August.


Eileen Kernaghan's latest novel, The Sarsen Witch, was published in 1989 as an Ace paperback. Eileen, who lives in Burnaby, B.C., reports that she's just completed another novel, Winter on the Plain of Ghosts, a prehistoric fantasy based on the Indus valley civilization.


Last year, Baen published The Cage by Toronto's Shirley Meier and S. M. Stirling. They are working on a novella for a forthcoming anthology of stories about Bolo war machines from Baen.

Yves Meynard of Longueuil, Quebec, has "Le réalisateur" in Solaris 84 (1989), "Antarctica" in Solaris 87 (1989), and "Les homes-écailles" in Sous des soleils étrangers, a 1989 anthology of original Quebec SF. He and Jean-Louis Trudel authored "Les protocoles du désir" in L'Année de la Science-Fiction et du Fantastique Québécois 1988 (published in 1989).


In September, Press Porcepic published a trade paperback edition of Dreams of an Unseen Planet by Teresa Plowright of Brown Island, B.C. This book was previously published in hardback by Arbor House (New York); Grafton House in the U.K. is also doing a paperback edition.


Fantasy poet Robert Priest is now writing Canadian segments of Sesame Street.


Shifter, Bloodseeker, and BlackHunter, the first three novels in The Chronicles of Galen Sword series by Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens of Toronto and Los Angeles will be published shortly by Roc. Gar's Nighteyes was a 1989 hardcover and will be a 1990 paperback from Bantam. They have also co-written "Maggie's Secret," a CBS After-School Special which will air this year. Forthcoming novels include Slyde, a 1991 Roc hardcover and Prime Directive, the 1990 Star Trek hardcover from Pocket Books. The couple has also authored The Judgement of Ariel, forthcoming in DC's Star Trek: The Next Generation comic book. Gar's first three horror novels, Bloodshift, Dreamland, and Children of the Shroud, previously published by Seal Books in Canada, will be re-issued by Warner Books, New York. And Gar's solo novel Dark Matter will be published in hardcover by Doubleday in 1990 and his Red Lord: Bloodshift II by Warner in 1991. His short story "Masks" appears in Bantam's The FurtherAdventures of the Joker (1990) and "It is August" is in Seal's Shivers: An Anthology of Canadian Ghost Stories (1990).


The paperback of Spider Robinson's Callahan's Lady came out in March 1990, and a sequel will appear as an Ace hardcover in 1992. Starseed, a collaboration with Jeanne Robinson, will be an Ace hardcover next year.


Robert J. Sawyer's novel Golden Fleece will be published by Warner Books, New York, in December 1990. On February 27 and March 6, 1990, CBC Radio's Ideas series broadcast Sawyer's "What If? An Exploration of Alternative Histories," featuring an interview with S. M. Stirling and a reading from Andrew Weiner's short story "Comedians." Rob's short short "The Good Doctor" appeared in the January 1989 Amazing.


S. M. Stirling of Toronto had Under the Yoke issued by Baen late last year, and he was co-author of the bestselling Man-Kzin Wars II (Baen, 1989).


Toronto's Karen Wehrstein has sold her first novel to Baen Books. Her short story "O.R. Three" will be in the Seal anthology Shivers.


In December, Press Porcepic published Distant Signals, a collection of short stories by Andrew Weiner of Toronto.


Lyle Weis of Edmonton had two ghost stories published last year. "Riders on the Shore" appeared in Amelia, Vol. 5, No. 3, and "A Helping Hand" appeared in On Spec Vol. l, No. 1.

Robert Charles Wilson recently moved from Toronto to B.C. His The Divide was just published as simultaneous hardcover/trade paperback from Doubleday Foundation.


This column was prepared 16 February 1990.

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Library Report

Staff of the Spaced Out Library seem to have nothing but good news to start off the new year.

The library received media coverage on the CBC Journal in January and on TVOntario's Prisoners of Gravity in February.


The plans for the new building are proceeding at good speed; it looks as if the building will be both attractive and functional.


A list of The Spaced Out Library's circulating collection will be available online very shortly. The library's holdings are being entered into the Toronto Public Library's GEAC system by author and title. This means that our circulating holdings will be printed out on the fiche and be available for interloan through Metropolitan Toronto. This makes a lot of obscure sf much more available to the public and enhances the library's visibility at the same time.


The library was fortunate enough to acquire two paintings by noted Toronto artist, Martin Springett. His illustration for the Bluejay edition of John Brunner's The Traveller in Black and another piece entitled The Man Who Lost the Moon are now a part of The Spaced Out Library's permanent collection.


In the coming months we will be saying a temporary goodbye to two staff: Ms. Nancy Soltys and Ms. Annette Mocek who will both be leaving us for one year maternity leaves. Before the next newsletter, we expect to have hired temporary replacements and will tell you a bit about our new staff then.

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This issue’s lead story/discussion is very important to the future of the library. We hope you will take the time to read the pros and cons of the issue. But just as important, if you are a member, please be sure to attend the meeting and vote.


This issue we welcome Robert J. Sawyer to the fold as a regular columnist. Each issue he will bring us up to date on what Canadians have published in the field, and what we can look forward to in the months ahead. Robert last appeared in Sol Rising in our second issue (Summer, 1987).


Returning this issue is The Starr Chamber by Jane Starr.


We thank Candas Jane Dorsey for her insight into the works of John Crowley, a writer whom, as she validly points out, we do not hear enough from these days.


Special thanks to John Robert Colombo for double duty this issue. His regular informative column is always eagerly anticipated and his piece on the merits of retaining the current name of the library was most welcomed.


Last issue, we briefly touched on the topic of contributions to this newsletter. Presently we list our frequency as twice a year. We hope to publish Sol Rising more often, but this is dictated by two criteria: the amount of time the editor has available, and the amount of material submitted to us for publication.


So far, we have been thrilled by the material that has come to us. We are also constantly talking to friends and contacts to ask for specific material, but we still must also rely on members and other readers to help supply us with articles and artwork to publish in Sol Rising.

Unfortunately we are unable to pay for contributions, but all due credit will be given and copyright will remain your own. We are looking for articles on all topics related to science fiction and particularly those with an emphasis on Canadian contributions to the field.


Regarding artwork, we are not looking for full illustrations; rather we require small, simple line drawings which may be used to fill space.


Please send all items for consideration of publication to Sol Rising, c/o The Spaced Out Library.

We look forward to seeing you all at the annual meeting and the reception afterwards.

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The Starr Chamber

Epic medieval fantasies abound these days. It seems de rigueur to have multiple volumes, frontispiece maps, appendices, large and confusing casts, unpronounceable names, pageantry, blood, death, good guys, guys who aren't really bad (just misguided), bad guys, really bad guys, magic, politics, intrigue, religion, battle, etc., etc.. Everything after unpronounceable names is part of plot and character, which stories have to have, and I won't get onto the problems of multiple volumes again. This time I want to talk about world building. I love maps of all kinds, but there's more to creating a world than having nice maps. People are the key.


The easy part of world creation is the physical side: land, water, air, climate. Some authors take bits of our world, change the names and make minor alterations. Others prefer to start from scratch, but physical geography has a certain logic. Even the placement of human settlements is logical, if you think about it. People tend to build near sources of drinking water. If you stick to that and don't start throwing the arctic, the wet tropics and the deserts too close together, you're pretty safe. Also, if your heroes are doing a lot of travelling, make sure the time it takes them to get from point A to point B (with or without side trips to point C) is appropriate. David Eddings' heroes in his current trilogy (The Mallorean) seem to be covering a rather large area in not very much time.


The hard part of a believable world is the human (and elvish/dwarvish/trollish/etc.) part. In real worlds people farm and weave and build and perform other mundane tasks. Our heroes may not do any of these things, but in order for them to survive, someone else has to, and a fantasy world that ignores this is a fantasy indeed. I call it the SCA Syndrome: nobody wants to be a peasant.


As an example, take the works of Katherine Kurtz, a prolific and popular author. Her Deryni series is now into its fourth trilogy, The Heirs of Saint Camber, whose first volume is The Harrowing of Gwynnedd (1989). Her books are exciting, involving and sometimes even moving, and Kurtz is really good at continuity, skilfully setting the stage for events in chronologically later books. Does it matter that there aren't any peasants? Many of her readers probably don't care. They don't want to be peasants, and they probably don't want to read about them. Peasants are dull. They only have adventures if they're really royalty in disguise (see Edding's Belgariad series, among others).


Peasant life in medieval times was not the stuff of epic fantasy, I agree. But you can't have lords if there aren't any peasants to lord it over. Somebody must be growing food and making cloth and ale and wine. Kurtz has written eleven books about Gwynnedd to date but the closest she usually comes to a peasant are the servants, soldiers and guards who only exist to be used or killed in the course of the story, and the odd Deryni hedge witch.


In later books she is improving, but even her landed gentry and nobility don't seem to spend much time managing their estates. There are occasional mentions of estate managers and the like, and perhaps it is assumed that anything else is to be taken for granted. And so what, I hear you ask. It has nothing to do with the story anyway. Maybe not, but she's creating a whole world for us to inhabit and real worlds have farmers and peasants. I enjoy Kurtz's books, but I don't feel and taste and smell Gwynnedd as I do some other worlds.


Are there books that bring that extra dimension to life? Yes. Barbara Hambly's Dragonsbane (1985), for one. Her Lord John Aversin (the Dragonsbane of the title) is first met standing in a pigsty, discussing the finer points of pig culture. A working lord in a large but thinly populated and poorly defended area, he must not only be able to defend his people with his sword, but support them with his knowledge. The fact that he knows about pigs has almost nothing to do with the story, but his need for information about agriculture is his motivation for trying to kill the dragon (he wants agricultural books as part of his reward from the king), and his practicality grounds his character and makes the whole more believable.


Tad Williams' The Dragonbone Chair (1988) has a hero that starts low (as a scullery boy in the castle) and moves up, but its world feels real because the people have real concerns. The Hernystiri royal family, for example, worry about their livestock, because that is what is going to make the difference between survival and death in the winter ahead, which is as important as winning in the coming conflict.


I don't want to give the impression that agriculture per se is essential to a good fantasy, but little things matter. If a person holds a particular post, he or she has to fulfil the responsibilities of that post or there should be an explanation of why s/he hasn't been turfed out by his/her neglected vassals or been overthrown by someone else. Even Bilbo came home to his house being sold off.


Granted, heroes seldom have time for much more than the task at hand, but secondary characters can be used to advantage, as are the Hernystiri in Williams' book. The larger the scale of the story, the more important the characterization becomes.


Jane Starr is a librarian at the Alberta Agriculture Library. She has read science fiction and fantasy for most of her life and also chaired NonCon Ten, Edmonton's annual science fiction convention.

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