At the annual meeting of the Friends of The Spaced Out Library in May 1990, the
members of The Friends approved a motion recommending to the Toronto Public
Library Board that the name of the Library be changed to the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation
The Toronto Public Library Board subsequently accepted
the recommendation of The Friends and
approved the name change. The new name will become effective on January 1, 1991.
The name change issue generated more discussion than
any previous single item at an Annual Meeting of The Friends.
Larry Hancock, on behalf of the Executive Committee
presented the arguments in favour of the name change. However, the
recommended name was not that which was discussed in SOL RISING 5 (April
After reading the arguments presented in SOL RISING 5,
Judith Merril wrote to The Friends, withdrawing her objections to the use
of her name in the name of the Library.
Based on other restrictions which Ms. Merril had still
asked be taken into consideration, the Executive recommended "Merril
Collection of Speculative Literature" to the membership.
John Robert Colombo presented the arguments opposing
the name change.
Following lengthy discussion, a secret ballot was
taken. The ballot ended in a dead tie.
Having no clear mandate on the issue, the Executive
therefore withdrew their motion and turned to the membership for settlement
of the matter.
To gauge membership support for a name change, a
motion was put forward from the floor recommending that the name of the
Library be changed, but without specifying a replacement name. This motion
was approved with a two-thirds majority.
After further discussion and reference to the letter
from Ms. Merril, a motion from the floor suggested "Merril Collection
of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy". The motion was approved
and the recommendation was later forwarded in writing by the Chairman of
The Friends to the Toronto Public Library Board.
In other business at the Annual Meeting, Loma Toolis,
Head of Collections, presented the staff report, Larry Hancock presented
the Executive Committee report, John Millard presented the Building
Committee report and Doris Bercarich presented the Treasurer's report.
Peter Fitting did not stand for re-election as
Chairman of The Friends, nor did Keith Soltys as a Member-at-large. For
1990/91 the elected Executive Committee of The Friends will be Chairman:
Larry Hancock, Treasurer: Doris Bercarich, Members-at-large: Robert Hadji,
Lum Do-Ming and John Millard, Past Chairman: Peter Fitting.
In related news, noted Canadian artist, Martin
Springett has designed letterhead and a new logo for the Library.
The Library is currently in the process of printing
new brochures and other materials which will be released January 1, 1991 in coordination with the name change.
The Spaced Out
acquired a complete run of New Worlds
in very good to fine condition as part of the Library's program to
complete the runs of pulp magazines and replace damaged issues. Other
noteworthy acquisitions include a set of Hannes Bok prints, known as
"The Powers", a signed copy of Clifford Simak's Cosmic Engineers, and a scarce title
by Ray Bradbury, Any Friend of
Nicholas Nickleby, is a Friend of Mine.
Orson Scott: Card was kind enough to deposit a photocopy
of the manuscript of Xenocide, sequel
to the 'Ender Wiggins' books, from which he read as a guest of the Library
in November 1989. Mr. Card's courtesy is greatly appreciated by the staff
and patrons of the Library.
New Staff At The Library
Nancy Soltys took a year's maternity leave; her new
son's name is Edward. Until her return Mary Cannings has assumed the
responsibilities for catalogue card maintenance. Mary worked in the Metro
Library before transferring to TPL, most recently she has been working at
the Bloor/Gladstone branch. She has a keen interest in Young Adult fiction
as well as fantasy; her favourite author is Andre Norton.
Annette Mocek has also taken a year's maternity leave;
her new daughter's name is Eva Teresa. Until her return Lisa Shirley is
responsible for cataloguing and reference. Lisa comes to the Library from
Anaheim Public Library in California. Lisa has read science
fiction and fantasy for many years, attends the conventions, and finds
employment The Spaced Out Library "a logical step".
Joan Flavell has returned to the library after an
absence of several years. Formerly of the Palmerston branch, regular
visitors to the Library will remember her as the person who re-filed the
author/title card catalogue. She works three days a week at the Library,
handling periodicals and conservation work on the pulps.
News From The Library
The circulating collection holdings are now listed in
the TPL system catalogue, greatly increasing the interloans and usage of
the Library's 7,000+ volume paperback circulating collection.
Cards for the Library's catalogue are now being
produced on the Library computer, using the Ultramarc program.
The Library gratefully acknowledges the donations of
Mr. John Marshall, and Mr. Paul Campbell.
At the September meeting of the BuildingCommittee, the members voted
approval of the proposed design for the new building which will be located
at 239 College Street. Shortly thereafter it went
to the Board of the Toronto Public Library for approval; the Board also
approved the design.
The Spaced Out Library (or the
Merril Collection, as it will be known as of January
will occupy the entire third floor of the new building. The circulating
collection will be at the front of the building in a sunny, friendly room;
the non-circulating collection will be directly connected to both the
circulating section and the workroom, in order to facilitate the retrieval
of materials from the temperature and humidity controlled stacks.
Staff can hardly wait for the new facilities to be
ready; the anticipated moving date is sometime in mid to late 1992.
Several members of The Friends of The Spaced Out
Library are members of the Building Committee.
of the forthcoming appearance by Lois McMaster Bujold at The Spaced Out
Library in March 1991, Jane Starr takes a look at her latest novel.
Bujold, Lois McMaster. The Vor Game. New York: Baen Books, 1990. (Note:
part of this book was previously published in slightly different form as
"The Weatherman" in Analog.)
The Vor Game marks the welcome return of
Miles Vorkosigan: junior Vor lord, son of Barrayar's most influential man
(next to Miles' boyhood chum, the Emperor Gregor), ensign newly graduated
from the Imperial Military Academy, and former mercenary commander. A
failed assassination attempt on his father before his birth damaged Miles
in utero and he was born with serious physical problems. He compensates for
this with intelligence, hard work, keen observation and pure natural
When Miles' first post-grad assignment goes wrong he
is sent off-planet on a relatively minor job for Imperial Security, the
only arm of the Barrayaran Imperial Service that will still touch him
(abeit reluctantly). He runs straight into trouble and the Emperor Gregor,
who has skipped out on his handlers to experience "real" life
incognito. Miles must regain control of the Dendarii Mercenaries and use
them to rescue Gregor, foil a devious plot by a rival mercenary leader, and
beat back a Cetagandan invasion. Challenging, even for Miles and the
Ms. Bujold provides an exciting adventure in the best
sf tradition (yes, I know that's a cliché). The plot is intricate and fast moving, she has a talent for dialogue and a nice wit.
Her characters and their societies and worlds are carefully wrought and
consistent. Miles of course, stands out. He thinks, learns and grows and he
makes mistakes and pays for them. Ms. Bujold has the knack of making even
the bit-part characters breathe, without seeming to spend extra words on
it. She does the same with their surroundings, providing a clear and quite
visual sense of place.
Although part of a series, The Vor Game stands on its own, as do all Ms. Bujold's books. They
were not published in order, though, a problem which is addressed at the
end of The Vor Game in a handy
chronology of Miles' life and universe, so that readers who care to can
read the series in sequence. The Vor
Game is highly recommended.
Other books by Lois McMaster Bujold: Shards of Honor, The Warrior's
Apprentice, Ethan of Athos,
Falling Free, Brothers in Arms, Borders of Infinity.
Ms. Bujold has delivered a new novel to her
publishers, describing the events taking place on Barrayar shortly before
Miles' birth. She won a Nebula for her novel Falling Free and her short story "The Mountains of
Mourning" won both the Nebula and Hugo awards.
Jane Starr is a
librarian at the Alberta Agriculture Library and a regular reviewer for SOL RISING
I have been collecting and publishing compilations of
Canadian quoted matter since the Centennial year. So from 1967 on, I have
spent at least an hour a day clipping and typing and storing and
keyboarding and editing and printing out "quotable quotes" made
by Canadians about all subjects under the sun and by foreigners about Canada. I now have over 20,000
separate quotes on three-by-five cards, and perhaps 8,000 more in
My efforts have not been limited to Canadian quotations.
One of my books, for instance, is devoted to Hollywood quips and quotes made both on
and off the screen. That book was called Colombo's Hollywood in this country. The title in the United Kingdom was The Wit and Wisdom of the Moviemakers. But in the United States it bore my preferred title: Popcorn in Paradise.
Quote-collecting is not particularly taxing, but it is
labour-intensive and time-consuming. One day, while filing some quotes
manually, it occurred to me that the material I was marshalling all
belonged to a given class. What were the characteristics of that class, I
mused? Here were real quotes made by real people. Then a notion came into
my head. It was not yet an idea, merely a notion. I idly wondered if there
existed the inversion of this class: Are there unreal quotes made by unreal
If that class existed, what would be the
characteristics of its members? It then hit me, quite suddenly, that there
was, indeed, a category of imaginative quotations and that these were
attributed to imaginary beings. Could I think of one? "Up, up and
away!" came to mind. These words were attributed by his creators to
Superman, as he takes to the air—on the airwaves, in the days of the
Superman radio serial, to be sure.
I immediately chose three words to describe such
quoted matter. Accordingly, I opened a file and marked it "Famous
Fantastic Quotations." I did this with a mental nod in the direction
of the late Mary Gnaedinger, the wonderful lady who edited that well-loved
(and well-thumbed) pulp magazine of my teenage years: Famous Fantastic Mysteries.
All this happened more than a dozen years ago. Since
then I have been squirreling away, salting away, stowing away, filing away,
familiar and characteristic remarks made by superbeings. I now have about
five hundred quotes attributed to characters in fantastic literature, comic
art, radio, television, film, video, advertising, interactive computer
games, etc. Jeff Rovin's encyclopedic books on monsters, superheroes, and
supervillains were a big help in collecting such utterances.
Even so, I have yet to establish a definition of
"superbeing." At this point all I am saying is that the words I
am collecting have all been uttered, with some exceptions, by persons or
beings "whose powers are not ours" or "whose experiences are
extraordinary beside ours." The exceptions are people who associate
with such personalities or otherwise share an imaginary and imaginative
universe with them.
Here are some familiar or characteristic remarks of
fantastic characters whose names all begin with the first letter of the
alphabet. The last is my all-time favourite fantastic quotation—so
far at least!
Aelita: "The Earth, the Earth—dear giant, take me
to the Earth. l want to see the green hills, the
waterfalls, the clouds, the big animals and the giants. I do not want to
the Empress of Mars, falls deeply in love with Los, the engineer from
Earth, and expresses her yearning to return with him to his home planet,
Earth, in Aelita (1922), a novel
written by Alexei Tolstoi and translated from the Russian in 1959 by Lucy
Flaxman. Alas, the wish of the delicate, blue-skinned Martian woman does
not come to pass. By the end of the novel, she is heard crying out across
the reaches of interplanetary space to her lost lover Los: "Where are you, where are you,
where are you, Son of the Sky?" Yulia Solntseva played the unhappy
Empress of Mars in the film Aelita (Amkino,
1924) directed by Yakova A. Protaz-anov.
Alveron: "You know, I feel rather afraid of these people. Suppose they
don't like our little Federation? Something tells me they'll be very
determined people. We had better be polite to them. After all, we only
outnumber them about a thousand million to one." Alveron, alien captain of the
starship that attempts to rescue mankind from possible destruction, makes
this confession to his deputy Rugon, whenthey come to the realization that mankind—although the
youngest civilization in the universe (less than four hundred thousand
years old)—has rescued itself. Arthur C. Clarke ends "Rescue
Party" (1946) in The Nine
Million Names of God (1967) with the ominous sentence: "Twenty
years afterward, the remark didn't seem funny."
still lives!" Andoheb, the High Priest of Karnak, utters these
words, his last, to Mehemet Bey, his successor as the guardian of the
mummified Prince Khans. In the movie The
Mummy's Tomb (Universal, 1942), George Zucco appeared as Andoheb,
Turhan Bey took the role of Mehemet Bey, and Prince Khans was played by Lon
"Where I come from
And where I'm going
The wind blows,
The sea flows—
And nobody knows."
A young girl named Jennie Appleton half-sings, half-recites
these lines of verse, and the appearance of the girl and the sense and
sound of the verse haunt the young painter Eben Adams. Jennie unaccountably
ages and mysteriously dies at sea, but not before she inspires his finest
painting. "I wish you'd wait for me to grow up," she says, in
Robert Nathan's novel Portrait of
Jennie (1940). Jennifer Jones played Jennie in the movie version of the
Asterix the Gaul: "They're crazy, those Romans!" Characteristic and xenophobic
remark of the dwarfish, bemoustached Gaul who lives in the village of
Armorique (the ancient name of Brittany) which is the last holdout in a
country overrun by the Romans in the year 50 B.C. Aided by the stupid giant
Obelix, fortified with the drudic brew of Getafix, Asterix travels around
the world and even through time fighting lost causes. The popular French
comic strip series Asterfx le Gaulois
was created by Rend Goscinny and drawn by Albert Uderzo and first
appeared in Pilote, the comic
weekly, 29 October 1959. Since then Asterix's
adventures have been told in countless forms, including two animated feature
Audrey Two: "Fee-e-e-ed
is the cry of Audrey Two, the cannibalistic flowering giant plant, which is
sprouting from seeds from outer space. It grows by leaps and bounds in the
little shop owned by Mushnik the Florist. This comes about in Little Shop of Horrors, the Broadway
musical, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken,
which premiered in New York. The musical was based on the movie Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
directed by Roger Corman. In the movie, the plant was called Audrey Junior.
Audrey—retro-nymically named Audrey One—is the hapless heroine,
a clerk in the florist shop, who lives in terror of the menacing (and man-eating)
Lieutenant Paul d': "Fingerprints prove you
Greystoke. Congratulations." These words are among the most moving and meaningful
in world fantastic literature. The five words comprise the complete message
of the terse cablegram sent from Paris, France, by Paul d'Arnot, Lieutenant
in the French Navy, to Tarzan of the Apes, then visiting in Boston, Mass.
Intrigued with an infant's smudged finger-prints in the diary of John
Clayton, Lord Greystoke, d'Arnot has them examined by experts in Paris who
prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prints of John Clayton's infant
child match those of the man now known as Tarzan. Thus Tarzan of the Apes
comes into his own as heir to the Greystoke title, estate, and fortune in
Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the
Colombo, nationally known as the Master Gatherer, edited Other Canadas, Friendly
Aliens, Years of Light, and other
books in the field of Canadian fantastic literature. All his recent books,
like Mysterious Encounters, have
dealt with the paranormal.
There are few among us who have not at one time or
another held the dream of quitting our day job, dusting off the word
processor, and, in a flurry of inspired keystrokes, making our living as
freelance writers. And there are fewer still who
have actually followed up on that dream and made it into a workable
reality. What we tend to forget is that a freelance writer doesn't live by
his fiction alone; the days are gone when a writer could begin selling
short fiction to pulp magazines and hope to make a subsistent living
Toronto SF author and journalist Robert J. Sawyer has,
since 1983, been making decidedly more than a subsistent living writing
freelance, but he's done it by doing more than writing speculative fiction.
Since he graduated from Ryerson's Radio and Television Arts program, Sawyer
has divided his time between business journalism for publications such as The Globe and Mail's Report on Business
Magazine, writing corporate and government reports and press releases
and, of course, his first love—science fiction. He's also written and
narrated two documentary series for CBC Radio's Ideas series, in 1986 and 1990, both on science fictional
Sawyer has published short science fiction in Amazing Stories, 100 Great Fantasy Short
Short Stories, Leisure Ways and The
In December, his first novel, Golden Fleece, is coming out under Wamer's Questar banner, and
he's recently completed his second novel, End of an Era.
Golden Fleece is an expansion of a novelette
of the same title published as the cover story in the September 1988 Amazing Stories. The story is told
from the point of view of JASON, a vast artificial intelligence who at once
controls an interstellar ramship voyaging to a nearby star, and desperately
tries to keep the secret of the mission's true purpose from the 10,000-odd
crewmembers on board.
In a recent conversation at Sawyer's Willowdale home,
we talked about Golden Fleece, Canadian
science fiction in general, and the business of freelance writing.
David Nickle: You're managing to make a go of it as a freelance
writer completely. It's an enviable position to be in. How do you do it?
Robert Sawyer: I've been doing this full-time
since 1983, and, yeah, I do make a go of it. Unfortunately the more you want
to write something, the less people want to pay you for it. As long as
you're willing to write what other people want you to write, there's money
to be had. I do corporate work: press releases, brochures, and reports for
industry and government. None of that gives me any real pleasure, but it's
lucrative. If it wasn't for the corporate work, I probably would not be
able to make a living as a writer.
I also do a lot of magazine work. That doesn't pay as
much as the corporate work, but I enjoy it more: it's for publication, it's
bylined, and you get to put a little more of your personality into it.
But what I really enjoy is science fiction, and that
pays bottom money. So it's always a question of tradeoffs. I would love to
be able to write science fiction full-time, but that doesn't seem to be
realistic monetarily. So I try to strike a balance between the time I spend
on my science fiction and the time I spend on my corporate work. I'm
devoting more time to science fiction right now because it's selling. If things
dry up there, I'll move back to corporate work and try to find whatever
balance it takes to meet the financial obligations of being half of a
DN: With your first novel out, that split is no doubt going to
become a bit more even-sided.
RJS: Yeah. It's nice to have a
novel coming out and it's nice that it's coming out from a major American
publisher. The advance was about average for North American rights for a
first novel paperback original. But for six or eight months work, it's very
little money. On the other hand, it's encouraging that Brian Thomsen at
Warner likes what I'm doing. I've finished a second novel. He's got it now,
and I'm waiting anxiously to see if he's going to take it.
Indeed, I've almost finished my third novel, Face of God. I'm trying to strike
while the iron is hot: there's an editor who's interested in my stuff right
now, so I'm trying to keep material going across his desk. In publishing,
editors move around, publishing lines change their priorities. Because
there's an opportunity here today that might not be here tomorrow, I figure
I've got to arrange my life so that I can seize that opportunity. And that
means I'm almost exclusively working on SF right now, living off savings
and so forth. But I've been trying to plan my financial affairs over the
past seven years of freelance writing so that if opportunity were to knock,
I would be able to do something about it. It's not turning out to be a
hardship. But it would be nice if the advances went up, too.
DN: Have you always wanted to
RJS: Yes, absolutely. The very
first things I wrote in public school were science fiction stories, and
it's always been my main love. I don't know if I'm going to stay
exclusively an SF writer, though. I do like science fiction, but I'm also
aware of the limitations of SF publishing. As long as you are a category
genre author the chances of making a living at writing fiction are really
slim. So although I love SF, I think I'm going to want to try my hand
within the next five years at writing either a mainstream novel or a
mystery novel. But yes, SF is definitely what I enjoy reading and writing
DN: You're very much interested
in technological, "hard" SF. What's the attraction to that end of
RJS: As a journalist, for the
last seven years I've been writing about high technology, computers, and
office automation. My clients tend to be high-tech companies or government
agencies dealing in technology or telecommunications. My degree is in
broadcasting, and for that I studied broadcast technology. So yes, I have a
strong personal interest in things technological, and it just seemed
natural for me to write what's traditionally called hard SF.
Most hard SF is divorced from humanity—very
cold, mechanical, puzzle-oriented stuff. Now, there's no doubt that Golden Fleece isa puzzle-oriented story; it's in essence a mystery story. But
in the novel-length version, I really enjoyed humanizing what in the
novelette had been a very normal hard SF story, a story that emphasized the
plot and technology but did not really do much with the characters. I
couldn't have written the novelette any shorter and still have covered the
plot ground, but I was delighted to be able to expand it by five times and
try my hand at more human-oriented stuff. If I can make a contribution to
hard SF over the years, I'm hoping it will be to humanize it.
DN: That's interesting. The
personal problems that Aaron, your novel's hero, has pulled from his past
are very contemporary. In particular, the scene in which he recalls being
molested by his uncle, is almost show-stoppingly
intense. Why did you pick child molestation in this case?
RJS: It is very intense, and it
was the most difficult thing I've ever written. Why that trauma? I think
there are two answers.
Dramaturgically, the plot required a character who is
so reserved in his demeanour, so non-demonstrative of his emotions, that
even under the most rigorous computer monitoring, his inner state of mind
could not be perceived. I didn't want my computer, JASON, to be able to
read minds directly. But JASON comes very close to being able to do that by
monitoring physiological signs, and thus reading emotional states or
whether someone is lying.
Well, the logical threat to put up against that
computer is a person it cannot read. I had people take that on faith in the
novelette: here's a guy who's not very demonstrative. In the novel, I had
the room to make people understand why
this character was the way he was.
I could have devised some futuristic trauma, but I
think this comes back to what I was saying about humanizing science
fiction. I don't think that child molestation is going to go away, as much
as we would all like it to. I don't think that broken homes—Aaron
comes from a broken home—are going to go away. These are things that
have been with us for as long as there have been human beings.
There is a school of science fiction, the sanitized Star Trek school, that says we're
just about to turn the corner and be done with all those things for all
time; we're about to all become self-actualized, and relate—I'm okay,
you're okay—and the world will be a bright and sunny place. I'd love
to think that was true but I don't see it really
being so. The cornerstones of human interaction—good and bad,
jealousy, guilt, those who are strong taking advantage of those who are
weak, as Aaron's uncle did when Aaron was a child—those things seem
universally part of the human experience, and I don't think that they're
going to go away.
There are other things in Golden Fleece that are contemporary. People still toss Frisbees
around for fun in my novel, and there are references to Fred Flintstone and
Mickey Mouse. I don't think the 20th century is a passing fad. It's going
to be just as much a part of the future as the 19th century and the 18th
century have been parts of this century.
In the novel, there's also a great deal about Aaron's
family life and his religion. Now, there's a tendency for SF writers to
portray a secular future. I'm not a religious person, but I do think that
religions that have endured for thousands of years aren't on the verge of
evaporating. So Aaron is Jewish, he participates in Jewish cultural
tradition, and that seems to me to be more realistic, to be a more viable
prediction of what life two hundred years down the road is going to be
like, than saying, no, we're starting with a clean slate on January 1,
2001, and all the problems and all the culture we had before will
disappear. I just don't see it happening that way.
DN: Another noteworthy aspect of Golden
Fleece came in the copious references to Toronto and Ontario locations. I had to wonder,
are you, as a Canadian SF writer, operating from a hidden agenda on this?
RJS: (laughs) I think it was a
blatant agenda; I don't think it's hidden at all. If you think this book is
rabidly Canadian, my second is even mare so. John Robert Colombo called my
second book, End of an Era, "Consummately
Canadian." He says, "Even I was reeling" at the Canadian
It's wholly appropriate for a Canadian writer to
spotlight things Canadian. I feel very much that Canada has a place on the
world stage. If there's any propaganda in Golden Fleece, it's that two hundred years down the road there
will be a Canada and it will still work.
So, yes, absolutely it's deliberate. I'm not attempting
to flaunt things Canadian, but if there's a choice between having a
reference that's Canadian and a reference that's American and both serve
the dramatic purpose equally well, I'm absolutely going to choose the
Canadian reference every time.
DN: You may have partially
answered this already, but how do you see yourself as an SF writer? Do you
see yourself as a Canadian SF writer or an SF writer who happens to come
RJS: That's an interesting
question. I'm a dual citizen; I hold both American and Canadian
citizenship. But I consider myself a Canadian first and foremost. I grew up
in this country, but my mother is an American who, when I was born, had my
birth registered with the U.S. consulate as a foreign birth
to an American national.
It's tricky. Every writer wants to say there are no
limits to what he or she does, but the reality is that I'm writing in a
category—science fiction. It's probably not economically advantageous
for me to resist categorization at this stage.
Throughout my career, I want to be reflective of Canada in whatever I'm doing. I'm
very proud to be a Canadian. And, look: no one would bat an eye if an
American wrote a book in which all the references were blatantly American
and in which the author made clear his or her patriotism.
People on both sides of the border look at it with
interest: a blatantly Canadian SF writer. So far, though, there has been
zero negative reaction. Nobody has said that's a mistake, that I shouldn't
be doing that. My editor in New York has no problem with it; my
agent, Richard Curtis, also in New York, has no problem with it; and
the readers here and in the States seem to have no problem with it.
DN: There have been a lot of
comparisons made between JASON in Golden
Fleece and HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Do you like that or does it bug you?
RJS: Who is this HAL people keep
mentioning? Seriously, I'm obviously influenced by 2001 and by Clarke. I think Clarke is the best practitioner of
broad, sense-of-wonder science fiction. He doesn't do characters worth a
damn, but he does the sweep of the universe better than anyone else
I've seen the movie 2001 twenty-six times. I love the
movie; it's a brilliant piece of cinema and it's still the best science
fiction film ever made. But Arthur C. Clarke does not own the idea of
computer intelligence. He didn't invent it, he wasn't the first to use it,
and he won't be the last. There are all kinds of other literary parallels
that one could make with JASON besides HAL.And, in fact, if 2001
had been only a book and not a movie, people would be just as likely to
compare JASONto Mycroft in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or
HARLIE in When HARLIE Was One, or
P-1 in The Adolescence of P-1 by
Thomas J. Ryan.
But, yes, I knew that everyone was going to leap on
2001, and I went to great pains, I thought, to try to minimize the
similarities. Then I thought, okay, we'll just play this down and let the
book stand on its own merit. Then Warner's advertising for the book came
out and it's full of 2001 references: "For fans of 2001" and
"the latest descendant of HAL" and that sort of thing. Who am I
to argue with Warner? If this is what's going to sell the book, then fine
In any event, HAL came out in 1968. Computers have
changed monumentally in 22 years,
so it was time for an updating, for another look at the idea of artificial
intelligence controlling a spaceship. There are lots of worse things than
to be compared favourably to one of the forest films in the genre and to
one of the best books by one of the masters of SF. It's a flattering
David Nickle is a journalist employed by the North York Mirror.
A Robert J. Sawyer Bibliography
Golden Fleece, Warner Books/Questar
·"If I'm Here, Imagine
Where They Sent My Luggage", The
Village Voice January 14, 1981
In the Web", White Wall Review 1982
To Discover", Leisure Ways November
Contest", 100 Great Fantasy
Short Short Stories, Doubleday 1984
Climb", Amazing Stories March
Fleece", Amazing Stories September
Good Doctor", Amazing
Stories January 1989
Criticism (partial list only)
·Author, Entry on Science
Fiction, The Canadian Encydopedia, Hurtig,
and Narrator, "What If? An Exploration of Alternative Histories",
Ideas series, Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation, February 1990
·Writer and Narrator,
"Other Worlds, Other Minds", Ideas
series, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, January 1986
Fiction reviewer, Canadian Book
Review Annual, 1981 to date
Tanya Huff is a frank, straight-forward woman with a
very straight-forward approach to—and attitude toward—writing.
For her, speculative and fantastic writing is a way of "exploring the
big questions." But a conversation with her is refreshingly lacking in
homilies or mumbo-jumbo. She is comfortable with her craft.
Huff's latest novel, The Fire's Stone, appears at the end of September. It's her
fourth in the space of less than three years, and she promises to be
equally prolific for some time to come. But then, she's always had a good
idea of where she was going.
Asked when she decided to be a writer, she refers to
George Carlin's response to a similar question: "Not in the womb, but
shortly after that." She was already writing her first book at the age
of eight, and was published (poetry in the local newspaper) at ten; but it
wasn't until her first year at university, she says, that she discovered
that people actually made a career of writing.
"I was studying forestry," she says,
"and writing as well. Then I decided that, if I could do this part
time, why not do it full time?"
For the first few years, she wrote "woman's magazine
stuff—essays, poetry. Lots of stream-of-consciousness stuff that
didn't mean much to the reader but meant a lot to the writer." She
spent part of a year in Hollywood, trying her hand at such pop-culture
subjects as The Hardy Boys.
Upon returning to Toronto, she discovered science
There's a perception that Huff has "come up
through the ranks" of fandom to become a pro writer. It's a misleading
perception, though Huff does credit fandom with introducing her to the idea
of writing SF and fantasy for a living.
"I'd always read science fiction and
fantasy," she says. "But I discovered fandom when I was twenty. I' d just come back from California and been accepted at Ryerson
in the Radio and Television program. I figured they might not necessarily
be able to teach me anything about writing, but they could teach me about
writing where the money is."
While at Ryerson she discovered Bakka, the Queen
Street SF bookstore where she now works. And through Bakka she discovered
Ozymandias, a Toronto science fiction convention.
"What really got me into fandom was Bill
Marks," she says. "We started going out together, going to cons
together." And at conventions she met writers, and discovered that she
could write the kind of fiction she'd always enjoyed reading. "I
didn't start writing fantasy until I met people who wrote it," she
says. Her first professional sales were short pieces published (to
favourable reviews) in Amazing. She
very quickly moved on to novels.
"What I like about speculative or fantastic
writing," she says, "are the broader internal parameters.
Externally the structure is like any other form of literature, but
internally you're able to do a lot more." Within her novels, the
reader cannot automatically assume that a thing is what it seems, or the
way we perceive it in our own world. She enjoys the process of detailing a
world "where a car isn't necessarily a car as we know it."
Fantasy's appeal for her goes deeper, though, than the
building of fictional worlds from the ground up. "One of the reasons I
write fantasy," she says, "is that fantasy is almost the last
stand of writing about things like honour, duty, self-sacrifice. There
isn't a lot of that in mainstream fiction these days. I don't want to try
to identify with how people feel after their fourth divorce. Fantasy allows
me to write about the broader emotions, as opposed to the specific."
Where the emotions are broad, so are the concepts.
Evil, for instance. Huff's last novel, Gate
of Darkness, Circle of Light, isa
fantasy set in contemporary Toronto, but its discussion of evil is
timeless. Given this, why the contemporary setting? "I don't really decide
to do anything," she says when asked if she had set out from the start
to write a contemporary fantasy. "I just think of a story and I tell
it. (Gate)is based on the perception that simple people are god's
children. I asked myself: what if this were true?
"Part of it was that with this novel I had some
things I wanted to say about the contemporary world—about the
treatment of the retarded, about the nature of evil." The contemporary
nature of the story allowed her to place evil in a context to which readers
could more easily relate: "It's easier for someone to understand
landlords who rent out sleazy apartments with no plumbing—especially
for readers in Toronto." The novel was well-received,
and Huff says it actually drew readers back to her first two novels.
of the Grove and The Last Wizard—were
fantasies of a more mythic type, a type that has become virtually the
default mode for modern fantasy. Huff admits that she's a little worried
about the way fantasy has developed recently. There's a tendency, she says,
"for it to be a formula. That's not always the writer's fault.
Television has conditioned people to want the same thing, time after
She's feeling pressure in that regard herself. Her
agent, she says, tells her that she has got to have a
"focus"—to be known for producing a certain type of work.
It's something with which she's not comfortable. She'd much rather write
the stories that are important to her while she's writing them; the
alternative means a risk of finding herself forced into a creative box.
"As much as I'd like the money," she says, "I'd hate to be
David Eddings right now. He's gotten into a situation where he's forced to
write nothing but The Belgeriad. "
Huff's latest novel, The Fire's Stone, isa
heroic fantasy "about growing up and finding out who
you are as an adult." Then it's back to contemporary fantasy, the
first of four books she intends to write over the next couple of years
(negotiations for the series are currently under way). She insists that she
will not be trapped into an open-ended series.
It might be considered intimidating, knowing that
you're on the verge of committing yourself to delivering that many books in
that short a time. Huff is unconcerned—almost. "It bothers me a
little that two years of my life are tied up in this," she says.
"But I'm not worried about being committed to them, because the novels
are outlined already." She recently made a list, she says, of all the
novels she'd write if she had the time. There are seventeen of them.
At her current pace, Huff finishes a novel every nine
months—writing part-time. She starts work at Bakka at eleven in the
morning, so she tries to be out of bed by seven. "If I'm at my
computer by seven-thirty, I can be guaranteed two or three hours of solid
writing" every day. She's never suffered writer's block, she
says—once she gets started. Getting started is the hard part. "I
have a lot more trouble with 'I don't want to' than with 'I can't.' I
pretty much have to walk straight to the computer or I'm lost. If I stop to
pick up a book or something, the morning's shot."
She works better with a contract; knowing you're
staring at a deadline is a great incentive to type that first sentence
every day. She admits, though, that some of the pleasure has gone out of
writing now that she does it for a living. She'd like to put some of that
fun back in by writing full-time.
"In a couple of years, my partner, Fiona, and I
are planning on moving to the country. If my backlist stays in print I'll
be able to afford a country lifestyle—I certainly couldn't afford to
live in Toronto, but in the country I could write full-time. One of the
reasons writing the way I do it now is less than fun is that it's hard to
really get into a character when you only have an hour or two at a time.
Writing full-time might put some of the fun back in."
Michael Skeet is the former editor of MLR, a prominent Canadian fanzine.
A Tanya Huff Bibliography
Child of the Grove, DAW May 1988
The Last Wizard, DAW March 1989
Gate of Darkness, Circle
of Light, DAW
Fire's Stone, DAW October 1990
Blood Price, DAW May 1991
Little Girls Are Made Of", Magic
in Ithkar 3, TOR October 1986
Time Lucky", Amazing
Stories November 1986
Who is Joah?", Amazing
Stories November 1987
Chase Is On", Amazing
Stories July 1989
Last Lesson", Amazing
Stories September 1989
It Ever So Humble", Marion
Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, Winter 1991
Robert Hadji: Before plunging into my notes and queries, allow me to
congratulate you on your forthcoming novel, Lion's Heart. I'd like to start off by examining the
development of this, your first novel, because it's been a fairly long
process and the book has gone through many permutations over the years.
is an under-statement. I'm been working on various forms of this project
for sixteen years, which is more than half of my life. I was thirteen when
I had the initial idea for the character. I thought it was going to be a
short story, but it got longer, and it got longer, and it got longer. And
as I grew up and changed, it changed. Over the past few years I've managed
to work it into something that, to my delight, I've found marketable.
RH: Now I recall your saying that it spontaneously grew into the form of
a trilogy, which was unusual in that this wasn't a marketing device, but
rather a natural development.
KW: Yes. As far as I was
concerned, at the time there were, and still are, three natural breaks. I
was originally planning to write it as three, or four, books. I sent Baen
the first book, and the outline, and they wanted me to jam it all into one
book, as they felt at the time that this was the only way they could market
it. So I did. But the final page count in print would have been 782 pages,
so they split it in two. That's better than asking me to cut a third, which
is what I was afraid of. It was a matter of having to write it to prove
that it was enough of a story to be more than one book.
RH: What is the publishing schedule?
KW: Lion's Heart is going to come out next March. The second book, Lion's Soul, will be released in
July or thereabouts.
RH: Now here's a tough question.
Given that this is a fairly complex introspective work, yet is also being
published as heroic fantasy, how would you describe your book, succinctly?
KW: (Laughter) It's the life
story of a character named Chevenga who is very instrumental in the history
of his world, which is a fantasy world with science fiction overtones in
the sense that there is thought given to technology, thought given to
realistic world building, as opposed to purely symbolic work, or
allegorical fantasy. It goes from his birth to his death, and all the neat
stuff that happens in between.
RH: My impression of your work-in-progress is that it's a fantasy
with a very realistic texture, evident in the depth of characterization and
the tactile detail of the world you're describing. There is an immediacy...
KW: Well, in terms of realism, I've always had a particular drive to
make things, even though they are in fantasy, realistic and true to life as
best I could. I have a mother who can't stand fantasy. Except my own, and
that may be because she's my mother. I think to a great degree, my
background with her wanting me to ... or implanting the notion that one
should do things true to life, without simply ignoring implications, or
glossing over things that don't make sense... I guess I've sort of got to
give Mom credit for that. That's a family kind of a thing. I should maybe
put this world into context, because it's not just my world anymore. I
merged my fictional setting with Steve's and Shirley's.
RH: Steve being S.M. Stirling
and Shirley being Shirley Meier.
KW: Right. Because while we each
have distinct visions of our fantasy worlds, we all realized that the three
of them fit conveniently together. That was, in part, a social thing, and
also probably a marketing thing, to Baen's advantage as much as to ours.
RH: And a more recent
development, relative to the long ...
KW: Well, I didn't know Steve
and Shirley when I was thirteen. (Laughter)
RH: This is perfectly true. The
original version of Lion's Heart,
originally called The Sword of Saint
Mother, would have been well developed by that time ...
KW: Yes, yes. It was for that
reason that our worlds had to fit together fairly well in concept and in
technological development, or we wouldn't have done it. Steve and Shirley
had already joined theirs when they did The
Sharpest Edge ...
RH: The sequel to Steve's novel Snowbrother.
KW: Yes. We were originally
going to call this whole milieu the "World of the Earned Fire",
but Baen prefers "Fifth Millennium". That logo is going to appear
on future books in the series.
RH: This seems a good point to
discuss the project you are currently working on.
KW: Well, that's Shadow's Son, which is a sequel to Steve
and Shirley's The Cage. It's a
triple collaboration which will come out sometime in 1991. It involves
Megan and Shkai'ra, the lead characters from The Cage and Chevenga from Lion's
Heart, among other things. Chevenga doesn't have that big a part, but he
is in there.
RH: The Cage was a sequel to Sharpest
Edge, which is in the process of being revised and reissued under a new
Shirley Meier: We haven't decided on a title
yet. Steve wants "Sabre and Knife" because he likes the sound of it, I want "Sabre and Claws".
KW: That one will hopefully have
the Fifth Millennium logo on it.
RH: Back to Shadow's Son. What is the actual collaborative process?
KW: Well, basically you lock the
three writers and three computers in an isolated cottage up north and do
nothing but split wood, swim and write until it's done. We have a kind of
division of labour. Steve, of course, does Shkai'ra's scenes, lines and
things, Shirley does Megan, I've taken over Sova, if anyone remembers her
from The Cage, and I'm doing
Matthas who is the secret agent, and Chevenga of
course. We get Steve to do descriptions because he likes doing
them—and battle scenes, because he likes doing them even better.
We copy all the files around on three computers and we
try not to overwrite anything more recent by somebody else. It's actually
quite difficult to organize.
RH: Maintaining consistencies of plot and characterization, certainly,
but also cultural details and such ...
KW: Oh yes. For instance, we
maintain the Fifth Millennium Supplemental Dictionary as an authoritative
source for the foreign language words when we spellcheck. We basically use
the published works for reference ‑
Lion's Heart, Lion's Soul, The Cage, and The Sharpest Edge.
RH: And Snowbrother?
KW: Well, Snowbrother is kind of ancient history when it comes to Shadow's Son. Aside from the character, and that's Steve's responsibility and he
takes care of it.
SM: What I like about this—we've talked about this before ...
KW: —the advantages and
disadvantages of collaboration. One of the advantages in this case, with
three people who have very different ideas, is that you do get the
inconsistencies, the richness, the scope.
Particularly in characterizations, but I guess it's true in more respects
than that. Three heads are better than one.
It's great. We have arguments. A couple of times
somebody has come to somebody else and said, look, I'm really frustrated.
My character disagrees with another character, or feels bad about
something, frustrated, and I've said, take what you feel about the
character, make the character feel it and put it in the book.
And that's how it goes.
RH: Whereas solo work ...
KW: Lion's Heart—verysimple
process: one person sits down at a computer and cranks it out. I had the
story so set in my head, having worked with it for sixteen years, though it
changed all over the place, so that I didn't write it in order. I wrote it
scene by scene, whatever scene I felt like writing that day.
RH: Are you essentially
satisfied with the finished product?
KW: I think so. I originally
would have written it longer, but I'm not sure it isn't a better book ...
I'm not sure that the length wasn't a fault in the sense of my
over-obsession with the work and the character. Right now, what I've got is
very dense. I think you get a sense that there's a lot more going on than
meets the eye, in the world of the character.
RH: Are there more books waiting
to emerge from that world?
KW: Not with Chevenga as
narrator, I don't think. But he's going to weave in and out as a character
in other books. Sometimes as a major character, sometimes as a minor
character. Shadow's Son, for
instance. We've got plans for all kinds of stuff. And there's another thing
about point of view here. The final version of Lion's Heart was written all from Chevenga's point of view, but
there are other things I want to say about him, that I can only say from
other narrative points of view. So hopefully, I'll get the opportunity.
RH: With other characters in
KW: In other books, yes.
RH: Let's discuss the origins of
KW: Sure. The first story of
Chevenga started out with me drawing a picture. That's how it started, a
very nebulous sort of thing. I wrote stuff about his father first. Then I
got more interested in the son. Back then, the most interesting thing about
him to me was that he has foreknowledge that he's going to die before he is
thirty, and I got very fascinated with that.
RH: The death premonition.
KW: Yes. And it grew from there.
Adventures and romance. Chevenga was almost like the tool to deal with
these things. He's the character through which I see the world. And it's
actually in that sense going to be a bit difficult to let go of him, if I
ever do. Though I never will completely. Chevenga grew up with me.
RH: And you grew up with him.
KW: Yes. He was very much at first based on certain
classical heroes, certain conceptions. Then he grew beyond that. For
instance, when I came to understand feminism and its concerns, I changed
the whole way the society worked, because originally it was patriarchal and
I didn't like that. I wanted to write something that was different. God!
What an admission! (Laughter) I don't even admit that in con suites, and
here I am admitting it in SOL RISING.
RH: Something I'd like to explore
now is the shaping process of your training as a writer, in effect, that
which enabled you to render this personal vision into prose, hence into a
KW: If you want to go right back
to the beginning, when I was a child I thought that I was going to be an
artist, because I drew obsessively until I was about twelve or thirteen. I
realize, looking back on the artwork that I did then and more recently,
that they are all illustrations to stories. I was trying to express stories
through drawings, because I didn't know how to write yet.
At thirteen or so, I got good enough at writing to
satisfy myself somewhat. And then I started writing in earnest. By
fourteen, fifteen, I had a rather long novel, about Chevenga. I went on
through high school, working on it, taking creative writing courses. I had
a creative writing teacher there called Natalie Walker and she predicted
that I' d be in print someday, and she was right!
So I'm going to send her a copy first. This was the time when I was very closed about my writing. When I first started out,
it was like, hide it under a pillow when my parents came in the room.
That's how I felt about it.
RH: A very private thing. An
inner world satisfying inner needs.
KW: Oh yes, very much so. And
coming out was a gradual process.
RH: That's interesting. This began as an inner world, a personal
vision; yet gradually you moved from telling this story for, and to,
yourself, to wanting to tell it, to share it, with others.
KW: Yes. I showed it to that
teacher, Natalie. An excerpt, from what's now Lion's Soul,
and she loved it. She gave me a wonderful mark, encouraged me. So that kept
RH: Now, I'm aware that you
chose to study journalism at Ryerson Polytech. Do you feel this was
KW: Oh, absolutely. I think it
improved my stuff. I tore my style all down to nothing, and built it all
back up again, using the good stuff from before and the good stuff from
journalism. And the result is somewhere in between. I think that having
those two things has enabled me to be versatile with style. I don't have
one style. I use several different ones. There's the style in which I wrote
Lion's Heart; that's not my
style, that's Chevenga's style. When I'm writing Chevenga, I'm
roleplaying—I'm pretending that I'm him telling his story. Other
stories mean other styles, though there'll always be a similarity.
RH: Your "post‑graduate studies" have been pursued
in a local writer's workshop, "The Bunch of Seven"
. Do You feel this has supplemented your formal training?
KW: If anything, I would say the
Bunch was my best training ground in writing fiction—fantasy fiction.
Every member offers critiques of works-in-progress, and we constantly give
each other encouragement, which is every bet as important.
RH: What is the basic format of
KW: We meet somewhere between
every three weeks and monthly. We bring in submissions—a chapter, a
short story. We used to read them aloud at meetings, now we exchange
manuscripts, either over the Bunch of Seven BBS or hand to hand. We
realized that what was written to be read by the eye maybe should be
critiqued that way.
RH: The Bunch has also used less
conventional techniques, at least for a writer's workshop.
KW: You're thinking of roleplaying?
RH: Yes. l
believe you use this to block out physical action, say, in fight scenes.
But you also use this to explore emotional states of characters. Somewhat like "method"
acting exercises, to make things more real.
KW: Yes. We do both, and all of
the above. The nice thing about roleplaying is that you end up with things
that have a more plausible feel to them and that have a broader scope.
Sometimes I've written scenes verbatim from roleplaying. More often, they
get modified. As far as roleplaying collaborations go, sometimes it doesn't
work that way. Steve, Shirley and I, for Shadow's Son, aren't roleplaying at all. We're just writing,
RH: What would you consider
formative influences on your writing?
KW: When I was about thirteen, I
saw this book on my mother's shelf that I knew was going to change my life.
It was The King Must Die by Mary
Renault, about Theseus, one of my favourite heroes in Greek Mythology. I
got very fascinated with Greek Mythology when I was a kid. And Mary Renault
is the number one influence.
RH: What impresses you most
about Renault's work, and what have you gained from it as a writer?
KW: When I was a teenager, I
decided that I was going to teach myself to write by shamelessly aping her,
in every conceivable way: style, character. Even though I wasn't writing
ancient Greek myths. I already had my own ideas.
RH: There are actually very
famous writers and critics who have said that one of the best ways to teach
yourself to write well is to choose a master and
KW: Oh yes, it was great. I mean
I studied hard. Back then, if I wrote something, I knew how good it was if it sounded like Mary Renault.
RH: Yes. You chose her to be
your teacher. What about other writers?
KW: Gene Wolfe. I discovered The Book of the New Sun back in, oh,
1980. I was incredibly impressed by his style and his command of language.
Oh yes, and his delightful strangeness. James Joyce is in there somewhere
... Portrait of the Artist as a Young
RH: And within the genre, other
than Gene Wolfe?
KW: Ursula K. Leguin, for style,
content, treatment of cultures, all of the above. I have a particular
weakness for The Left Hand of
Darkness. And Kurt Vonnegut. I've always liked him for his absurdity,
his contemporary weirdness.
RH: Tell me about upcoming solo
KW: The next solo work I'm going
to submit is a novel called "Kal", which is sort of an urban
fantasy. And what it is, which I didn't think it was going to be, is
humour. I wasn't trying to write something funny, it just happened that
RH: The situation?
KW: A post-technological person, who is kind of a
wise-ass, gets flipped through time into a contemporary person's bathroom.
We did a bunch of roleplays on what happens. There's
two and a half chapters so far.
RH: What response did you get
when you were workshopping it?
KW: People laughed. They laughed
RH: That's good.
KW: I'm trying to be versatile.
I'm trying to take, and succeed at, whatever comes along. Which reminds me
of Shivers ...
RH: You did a ghost story.
KW: I did a ghost story and it's
in an anthology, Shivers, published
by Seal Books in May 1990. It's selling quite well. The first edition sold
out so they're going to do a second printing. There's another thing.
Whenever Baen goes ahead with their Bolo Project anthology, which is based
on a Keith Laumer world, I might be able to talk my way into that. I've
already got a story idea that they like.
RH: So you might be contributing
to this ...
KW: I don't think people expect
me to write hard science fiction ...
RH: But you'd like a shot at it.
KW: Yes. I'd like the
opportunity. I'd like to bring a certain grace to writing hard science
fiction. And I'd like my Bolo story to be more human, not overwhelmed by
Robert Hadji has collected fantastic literature for
over 27 years, worked as a specialist dealer/consultant in the field, and
had articles published in The Penguin Encyclopedia and the Supernatural, Horror: 100 Best Books, Twilight Zone
Magazine, and American Fantasy. He also edited the Canadian dark fantasy
magazine Borderland and
contributed articles to its forerunner, Myriad.
A Karen Wehrsteln Bibliography
·Lion's Heart, Baen March 1991
·Lion's Soul, Baen July 1991
Shadow’s Son, with S.M. Stirling and
Shirley Wier, Baen forthcoming 1991
On Sunday May 20, 1990, the science fiction
community lost a special friend when Elizabeth Pearse died as a result of a
massive cardiac arrest in Columbus, Ohio while participating in the
Marcon Convention. A longstanding member of Toronto science fiction fandom, Elizabeth had a far reaching effect
wherever she chose to apply her many abilities and gifts. Through her
interest in astronomical art, she became a founding member and director of
the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, recently completing
a term as a member-at-large.
While participating in various art shows and winning a
substantial number of awards for her art work, she became acutely aware of
a need for proper organization in the operation of art show at conventions
and in 1982 founded The Team. Eh?.
The Team, Eh? became
responsible for running the Ad Astra regional convention art show as well
as many others across Canada and the United States, including Chicon IV, World
Fantasycon 84 (Ottawa) and Nolacon '88.
The Team, Eh? continues under
the supervision of Elizabeth's associate, Suzanne
Robinson, and sponsors the Elizabeth Pearse Award for Best New Artist at
all art shows conducted by The Team, Eh. There is a monetary component to
this award and anyone wishing to contribute to the fund for this prize may
make cheques payable to The Team, Eh? c/o90 Eastdale Ave., Suite 2201, Toronto, Ontario.
Elizabeth had many components to her
life, other than science fiction. She was a wife, a mother, a business
woman, a grandmother and even a great grandmother. She was a gardener, a
seamstress and a fiercely loyal friend who tried and often succeeded in
bringing out the best in others. While her passing is a loss to all who
knew her, her life was a celebration of growth and achievement and we may
count ourselves lucky to have been participants with her.
Canadian science fiction and fantasy continues to
boom. With this regular column, I'll try to keep you up-to-date on what's
The Tenth Annual Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy
Awards were presented July 22. Winners in the professional categories were:
Dave Duncan, West of January, Del Rey, for Best
Long Work in English; Eileen
Kernaghan, "Carpe Diem," On
Spec, Fall 1989, for Best Short Work in English; On Spec magazine, for Best Work in English (Other); Jacques Brossard, L'Oiseau de feu (Tome 1), Lemeac,
pour Meilleur Livre en Français; Élisabeth
Vonarburg, "Cogito," dans Imagine,
pour Meilleure Novelle en Français; et Solaris (Luc Pomerleau,
ed.) pour Meilleure Ouvrage (Autre). The name of the award has been changed
from the Casper to the Aurora. Page 7 of the September 1990
Locus: The Newspaper of the Science
Fiction Field has a picture of this year's winners.
Lynne Armstrong-Jones of London, Ontario, had stories in Marion Zimmer
Bradley's Domains of Darkover and
Sword and Sorceress VI. She has
stories upcoming in Free Amazons of
Darkover and Sword and Sorceress
VII, as well as two short-shorts in Marion
Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine and poetry in Weird Tales.
"Flaw on Serendip," an Expediter tale, was the cover story in the
November 1989 Analog. His non-Expediter
story "Return of the Alphanauts" is forthcoming in that magazine.
Clarke lives in Calgary.
Colombo of Toronto gave a talk on Canadian
fantastic literature in July at the annual meeting of the Science Fiction
Research Association, held this year in California.
Charles de Lint of Ottawa has sold two horror novels to
Berkley, Angel of Darkness and Niki.
They will be published under the pseudonym Samuel Key.
be writer-in-residence at the Edmonton Public Library from September to
Dave Duncan of Calgary has sold an SF novel called Hero! to
Gardner of Waterloo was a recent $1,000 first-place
quarterly winner in the "Writers of the Future" contest for his story
"The Children of Crirche," which was published in Writers of the Future, Vol. VI in
May 1990. He gave a reading of his winning story at the Banff School of
Fine Arts last Thanksgiving weekend. Ms "Muffin Explains Teleology to
the World at Large" was in the April 1990 On Spec. He gave a talk on SF writing to his local chapter of
the Canadian Authors Association on April 2. At the American Booksellers
Association convention in Las Vegas in June, Gardner was named Grand Prize Writers
of the Future winner, pocketing another $4,000 and acquiring himself an
agent. He has a story coming up in The
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Penguin Books published the hardcover Scroll of Saqqara in September by Alberta's Pauline Gedge.
Girczyc of Edmonton has sold a script to CBC
Radio's Vanishing Point series.
She's writing a series about SF for The
Edmonton Bullet and recently gave a public reading at Café Le Gare in Edmonton.
translation of Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle's Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, first published in
1668 A.D., was released in August by the University of California press.
Tanya Huff'sThe Fire's Stone (DAW) was available at Bakka, Toronto's SF
specialty store, September 30 and will be in bookstores across Canada in
November (nice having connections, eh?). Her vampire novel Blood Price willbe released by DAW next spring. A late fall issue of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine
willcontain Tanya's latest
Magdelene story, "Be It Ever So Humble". She lives in Toronto.
Monica Hughes of Edmonton had her novel The Promise published by Methuen and Stoddart last year. Her Invitation to the Game willbe released by Upton Collins in
October. She has a short story in the Methuen anthology Get Your Knee Off My Heart, available
now in England.
In May, the anthology Shivers: Canadian Tales of the Supernatural, edited by Greg Ioannou and Lynne Missen, was published. Among
the included authors: Robertson
Davies, Gar and Judy Reeves-Stevens, and Karen Wehrstein.
"Cinderella Caper" by Sansoucy Kathenor of Greely, Ontario, is being taught as part of a
class on creativity and archetypes offered by a university in Virginia.
hardcover, Tigana, from
Viking/Penguin/Roc was launched with a reception at The Spaced Out Library
on September 6. He will be Master of Ceremonies at the 51st World SF
Convention, San Francisco, 1993.
Eileen Kernaghan of Burnaby, B.C., recently profiled Michael Coney for Canadian Author & Bookman.
Eileen Kernaghan and Jonathan Kay have delivered Walkup
After Midnight, non-fiction about near-death experiences, to Berkley.
a new novel called Green Magic.
Shirley Meier of Toronto recently turned in the novel Shadow's Daughter to Baen Books.
Shirley, Karen Wehrstein, and S. M. Stirling are under contract
to Baen for a collaborative novel to be called Shadow's Son. Baen will be packaging books set in the universe
created by the three under the series title Fifth Millennium.
Popular Library of New York has begun re-issuing the
early horror novels by ex-Torontonian Garfield
Reeves-Stevens, previously only published in Canada. First out is Bloodshift. His novel Dark Matter will be published by
Doubleday in October.
"The Dictionary" by Gustav A. Richar, of Pointe-au-Baril, Ontario, was recently published in a
Robert J. Sawyer
will be guest
of honor critic in the CompuServe Online Science Fiction Writers Workshop
in November and December. In September, he conducted professional
development seminars on SF for librarians in Port Hope, Cambridge, and Chatham, Ontario. His CBC Radio Ideas programs on Alternative
Histories were repeated September 13 and 20 across Canada.
Under the Yoke by Toronto's S. M. Stirling is a nominee for the 1990 Prometheus Award given
by the Libertarian Futurist Society. Man-Kzin
Wars III, to which he is a contributor, was released by Baen in July.
Also published in July: The Stone
Dogs, third in Stirling's Draka series.
On April 10, 1990, the "Pause for
Thought" on the Broadcast News teletext news crawl, shown by many
cable television companies across Canada, was a quote from the late
Toronto SF writer Edward Llewellyn-Thomas:
"To block technology will replace the possibility of a bang with the
certainty of a whimper."
Toronto's Taral Wayne was a nominee for the 1990 Best Fan Artist Hugo
Award (the winner was Stu Shiffman).
Andrew Weiner has a short story,
"Eternity, Baby," upcoming in Isaac
Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Orson Scott Card, reviewing Weiner's
short-story collection Distant
Signals in the September Magazine
of Fantasy & Science Fiction says: "Distant Signals is a wonderful collection of some of the
most beautiful, intelligent, moving stories you're likely to read before
you die and see what D. H. Lawrence and Robert Penn Warren have been
Karen Wehrstein has turned in Lion's Heart to Baen Books. She is
chairperson of next year's Ad Astra Toronto regional SF convention.
Lyle Weis of Edmonton has sold a story called
"The Promethean Project" to Tales
of Cruachan, to be published next January.
of Gravity has been renewed for a second season; principal broadcast
will be Thursday evenings at .
Quill & Quire: The Canadian Book News Monthly has been reviewing a fair bit
of indigenous SF. In the July issue, Gordon
Graham of Montreal called Robert
J. Sawyer's forthcoming Golden
Fleece "a well-paced page-turner
replete with hard science." In the August issue of Q&Q, Graham says Garfield Reeves-Stevens'sDark Matter is "a well-crafted
cross-over that combines the essentials of three distinct genres—horror,
science fiction, and mystery—without skimping on any." Tanya Huff sums up Pauline Gedge'sScroll of Saqqarawith: "Laid over a complex plot, well-crafted characters, and the
shining splendour that was Egypt, Scroll of Saqqara is a
simple and heart-rending story of human frailty." Michelle Sagara, manager of Toronto's Bakka SF Bookstore,
declares Guy Gavriel Kay'sTigana "masterful in both
conception and execution, and a highly satisfying read."
Writers Association of Canada has sent letters to various federal government
officials requesting that books be exempted from the proposed Goods and
Services Tax. Toronto SFWA member Robin
Rowland has been active in this protest for well over a year now, and
spearheaded the SWAC action. Toronto
Hydra: An Association of Science Fiction Professionals sent letters to
various government officials requesting that the profession of fiction
writing in general and SF writing in particular be exempted from the GST.
Some Canadian SF conventions to note: WilfCon Vll, Saturday, June 1,
1991, Waterloo, Ontario, with Guest of Honour Robert J. Sawyer; ConText'91,
the Canadian National convention, June 7-9, 1991, Edmonton; Ad Astral 11, July 5-7, 1991,
Toronto; Rhino 1,July 12-14, 1991, London, Ontario.
Note to pros: I'm doing this column for SOL Rising on aregular basis. Please send me written notices about your
sales, works in progress, award nominations, publications—whatever.
You can reach me on CompuServe at 76702,747; on GEnie at RLSAWYER; by fax
at (416) 229-2372; or by regular mail at Robert J. Sawyer, 300 Finch Avenue
West, Apartment 301, Willowdale, Ontario, Canada M2R lN1.
Note to everyone: I've recently completed a
"Checklist of Canadian Science Fiction Professionals," listing
names and cities for all Canadian members of the Science Fiction Writers of
America, the Science Fiction Research Association, Toronto Hydra, and the
Speculative Writers Association of Canada. If you'd like a copy, drop me a
The following is a listing of the science fiction,
fantasy and speculative fiction published by Canadians in 1989. This list
has been derived from the nominations list for the 1990 Canadian Science
Fiction and Fantasy (CASPER) Awards. We welcome any additions or corrections.
We welcome all authors, publishers, and other knowledgeable individuals to
keep us informed of works in the sf field by all Canadians so that we may
publish as complete and comprehensive a list as possible each year.
collections - English language
Charlotte Vale, Night Magic, Doubleday
Michael, The Lightning Bolt, OxfordUniversity Press
Bell, William, Five Days of the Ghost, STO
Connie, King Arthur: Tales of the Young King, HAY
Michael Greatrex, King of the
Scepter'd Isle, NAL
Stefan & Rhodes, Timothy, The
Time Before Dreams, HYP
Robertson, The Lyre of Orpheus, Viking
David, Swan Children, Doubleday
Lint Charles, Svaha, Ace
Lint, Charles, Philip José
Farmer's The Dungeon 3: The Valley of Thunder, Bantam Spectra
Dave, West of January, Ballantine/Del
Forest, Susan, The Dragon Prince, GAG
Leslie, The Loremasters, Ballantine/
Phyllis, Heart of Red Iron, St. Martin's Press
Tanya, Gate of Darkness, Circle
of Light, DAW
·Huff, Tanya, The Last
·Huigin, Sean O., Monsters,
He Mumbled, BLM
·Kernaghan, Eileen, The
Sarasen Witch, Ace
·Kilian, Crawford, Gryphon,
·Pippy, John H.C., Beware the
·Pitch, Rosemary, Twizella,
The Airsick Witch, FWH
·Price, Moe & Eyolfson, Norman, The Incredible Mungwort Quest, MCC