I've been blogging since even before 27 September 1999, starting
with journal entries in the section devoted to my work on
CompuServe's Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature Forum,
but below are the oldest ones I've salvaged from there.
(My current blog is here.)
27 September 1999
I'm delighted to announce the sale of one new short story, and
Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers have bought my 6,300-word
short story "The Shoulders of Giants" for their anthology
STAR COLONIES, to be published by DAW next year.
Meanwhile, Edo van Belkom, the editor of genre-fiction titles for
Canada's Quarry Press (one of Canada's most prestigious literary
presses), has bought reprint rights to my stories "Just Like Old
Times" (marking this story's seventh English-language
publication) and "Peking Man" for his anthology AURORA AWARD
WINNERS. "Just Like Old Times" was originally commissioned for
Mike Resnick's anthology DINOSAUR FANTASTIC, and "Peking Man" was
originally commissioned for Ed Kramer's DARK DESTINY III. The
anthology will be out next month in trade paperback.
And Peter Sellers (president of the Crime Writers of Canada) has
bought reprint rights to "Just Like Old Times" (the story's
eighth seventh English-language publication) for his anthology
(and a companion to the above) ARTHUR ELLIS AWARD WINNERS. The
Arthurs are the Canadian mystery-fiction awards. That anthology
should be out before the end of the year.
And Peter Sellers, as my coeditor on the book OVER THE EDGE:
STORIES BY MEMBERS OF THE CRIME WRITERS OF CANADA, has bought
reprint rights to my Hugo Award-nominated story "The Hand You're
Dealt" for that book. That story originally appeared in the Tor
anthology FREE SPACE, edited by Brad Linaweaver and Edward E.
Meanwhile, Edo van Belkom (again!) has bought reprint rights to
my HOMer-Award winning story "Above It All" for an all-horror
special issue of CANADIAN HORROR FICTION, a special anthology
under the aegis of CANADIAN FICTION MAGAZINE, one of Canada's
leading literary magazines. "Above It All" originally appeared
in the anthology DANTE'S DISCIPLES, edited by Peter Crowther and
Edward E. Kramer.
Like all authors, I love reprint sales -- found money is the best
27 September 1999
The dates have been set for next year's Taddle Creek Summer
Writers' Workshop at the University of Toronto: Friday, June 30,
to Monday, July 3, 2000 (at Hart House, on the U of T main campus
right smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto).
For many Canadians, Monday, July 3 is a holiday (since Canada Day
falls on a Saturday in 2000), so in theory most people can do
this four-day workshop with only one day taken off from work.
I will be returning to teach science-fiction writing. A sterling
crop of mainstream Canadian literature writers will be teaching
other forms; those writers are Barry Callaghan, Stephanie
Bolster, Austin Clarke, Douglas Fetherling, M.T. Kelly, Erin
Moure, and Molly Peacock.
The workshop will see participants spending morning sessions
workshoping with the writer of their choice; afternoon sessions
on various topics of general interest given by the various
writers; evening social events and readings. Last year's tuition
was Cdn$400 (less than US$270); next year's rate should be
similar. Groups are small, and there's plenty of opportunity to
network with all the teachers and students.
I have to say, I had just the greatest time teaching this last
year, and my students really seemed to enjoy it, too. I'll post
full details and registration information when it becomes
available in January 2000.
28 September 1999
I'm delighted to announce that I will be the Guest Speaker at the
Jefferson Community College North Country Writers' Festival, to
be held at the Watertown, New York, campus (way upstate in New
York, near the Canadian border on the west end of Lake Ontario)
of Jefferson Community College, part of the State University of
New York, Tuesday, April 25, to Thursday, April 27, 2000. The
conference theme will be "Different Worlds," and will center
around science-fiction writing.
I'll provide more details as we get closer to the date. The
college's web site is at www.sunyjefferson.edu.
29 September 1999
An amazingly hot and humid day today in Toronto ... but a good
Orson Scott Card is in town today, promoting ENDER'S SHADOW.
Carolyn and I had a terrific dinner with him and a few of the
fine folk from H.B. Fenn this evening.
30 September 1999
Had one of those classic wannabe-writer phone calls just now; I
find myself getting more and more terse with these guys.
(There's a president of a local amateur writers' club who seems
to think he should give out my number to everyone who wants to
write SF.) I hate being rude to people under any circumstances,
but, gee whiz, this guy was a particular classic.
His first question was: "Would you like to collaborate?" I
replied by simply saying "No."
His second question was: "Would you introduce me to your agent?"
I replied also with the single word "No."
His third question was: "Is this a one-off phone call, or can I
call you repeatedly?" My answer, of course, "It's a one-off."
He then asked some more general questions -- the ones they always
ask, about copyright and manuscript format and how much they'll
get paid. I answered briefly, but then he came back to the
collaboration question again. By this point, I was probably
quite curt. I said, "I've spent twenty years honing my skills
and building my name as a professional writer; you bring nothing
of value to the table, and it's insulting to suggest that I
should simply give you everything I've attained."
And, of course, he hinted around repeatedly that I should read
something he's written to let him know if it's any good.
I really, really do try to live by Heinlein's edict, and pay
forward whenever I can, but, good golly, this sort of intrusion
does get tiresome.
1 October 1999
Just a note to remind y'all of my two Guest of Honor stints in
October 8-10, I'm Guest of Honor at Context XII in Columbus,
October 29-31, I'm Guest of Honor at Concinnity in Ottawa,
In between those two Guest of Honor stints, I'm Master of
Ceremonies at the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention in
Fredericton, New Brunswick, October 15-17 . . .
2 October 1999
Had a wonderful day today. Went to York University's Glendon
College, where they teach a course in "Religion and Science
Fiction." The class had just finished reading my Far-Seer, so I
went to meet the students.
They were a terrific group, and one student made what I thought
was a truly insightful observation: she pointed out that there
is a tendency in my work for God to appear as nonanthropomorphic
(such as the false god known as the "Face of God" in Far-Seer,
and the more-or-less true God, the Watcher, in Fossil Hunter).
She opined that this might in fact by related to my upbringing as
a Unitarian -- Unitarians being a Christian denomination who
reject the divinity of Christ (which is why they are Unitarians,
as opposed to Trinitarians), in other words, who reject the
anthropomorphizing of God. The professor, Paul Fayter, is doing a
critical study on my work, and said he would incorporate the
student's idea. I must say the idea surprised me -- I hadn't
been conscious of any impact that particular aspect of my
upbringing had had on my work, but it certainly seems to make
I always find going to classes that have been studying my books
particularly energizing. And, lucky me, I get to do another one
this month: Toronto's Humber College teaches my THE TERMINAL
EXPERIMENT, and I'm going to drop in for a visit there. Early
next year, I'm going to a different SF course at York; in that
one, they teach Factoring Humanity. York and the University of
Toronto have a real rivalry going, so it will be interesting to
see how the York students take to a book set at U of T ...
6 October 1999
Had lunch today with my editor, David G. Hartwell, and fellow
writer Terence M. Green (David is visiting Toronto). The good
news is that Tor's trade paperback reissue of my first novel
Golden Fleece has been printed! It should start showing up in
stores over the next few weeks.
I'm delighted to have this book back in print!
7 October 1999
Carolyn and I are off to Columbus, Ohio, tomorrow, where I'll be
Guest of Honor at ConText XII. We're really looking forward to
As most of you know, I sell copies of my books, old and new,
directly through my web site. Yesterday was the biggest single
day for book orders I've ever had -- twenty-two assorted titles,
from seven different customers!
Tonight is the Toronto SF community's monthly pub night; Carolyn
and I are looking forward to that -- we've missed the last couple
of events because we've been out of town.
11 October 1999
Carolyn and I had a fabulous time this weekend. I was Author
Guest of Honor and she was Poet Guest of Honor at the SF
convention Context XII in Columbus, Ohio.
It was a FABULOUS convention. Mike Resnick had characterized it
as the Readercon of the Midwest, and that's bang on target. I've
been to SF conventions with five times as many people where there
were fewer actual readers.
The hotel was an older one, but its facilities were just fine.
Sadly, though, it's slated to be demolished in two weeks. The
staff was very pleasant, despite the fact that they were all soon
to be out of work. The bartenders were particularly liberal with
the mixed drinks, seeing no reason not to drain their bottles
before the closing came.
There was a great group of other writers present, including old
friend Ron Sarti, Maureen McHugh (who I finally met face to
face), Jack Nimersheim, Yvonne Navarro, J.R. Dunn, Carol
Ottolenghi-Barga, Linda Dunn, Geoffrey Landis, Mary Turzillo,
I gave a very well received reading of the opening chapter of
Calculating God; this is the third time I've read that at a con,
and people seem to really like it -- I sure hope they like the
rest of the book as much!
My Guest of Honor speech -- "The Future is Already Here: Is
There a Place for Science Fiction in the 21st Century?" was also
very well received, which was nice. Ron Sarti went so far as to
say it was the best GoH speech he'd ever heard.
I was on lots of panels. One of the best was on the impacts of
genetic research: very lively, very informative.
A special treat was getting to see the new Tor edition of GOLDEN
FLEECE for the first time: Sally Kobee from Larry Smith
Booksellers had managed to get five in time for the convention
(it was just printed last week) and they all sold out, along with
lots of copies of my other books. The new edition looks
absolutely terrific; I'm thrilled with it.
Another nice thing: THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH did a huge (2/3 page),
very flattering article about me and my work in last Wednesday's
edition -- the books reporter there turns out to be a big fan of
The only downside to the convention was the trip down: we were
flying aboard a Dash-8, a little Turbo prop (the only direct
flight from Toronto to Columbus), and there was tons of
turbulence, owing to bad weather. On the other hand, the trip
back last night was very relaxing and pleasant, with the plane
almost completely empty.
This is the first of five consecutive weekends I'm spending at SF
conventions: next weekend, I'm off to Fredericton, New Brunswick
for the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention, at which
11 October 1999
So I get a nice invitation to be a program participant at Boskone
in Massachusetts in February 2000, and I say to myself, February
in 2000, well, sure, I can't think of anything I'm doing then,
but before saying yes, I check my electronic time-planner just to
be sure, and what do I discover but that Toronto's Ad Astra 19
will be held the same weekend as Boskone next year, and I'm
already committed to being at Ad Astra.
Ad Astra used to be a summer convention, but they've moved to
February because of hotel troubles. I just wished they'd picked
a different weekend! Boston and Toronto are close enough to each
other that attending both would have been a real possibility for
lots of people.
12 October 1999
As some of you may know, except for advances on books, authors
basically get paid twice a year -- when royalty checks are issued
in April and October. Well, today was payday, at least as far as
the titles represented by my old agent, Richard Curtis, was
concerned. It's nice to see that all of my in-print books that
he represents (Starplex and Illegal Alien from Ace, as well as
The Terminal Experiment from HarperPrism), are still generating
nice royalty amounts.
For those curious about how such things work, the April royalty
payment covers the preceeding July to December, and the October
payment covers the preceeding January to June.
14 October 1999
We all make mistakes, but I just ran across one of Isaac Asimov's
that made me smile.
In his introduction to the 1987 Signet anthology ISAAC ASIMOV'S
NEANDERTHALS, he writes, "In 1911, a nearly complete skeleton of
Neanderthal man was studied by a French scientist, Pierre Boule."
Nope. Pierre Boulle -- with two L's -- wrote the novel PLANET OF
THE APES; it was Marcellin Boule who studied the Neaderthal
15 October 1999
I'm off to Fredericton, New Brunswick, today for the Canadian
National Science Fiction Convention -- the CanVention -- at which
I'll be Master of Ceremonies.
The Aurora Awards will be presented at a banquet there. My
Factoring Humanity is a nominee, but even if I don't win, I'd say
the chances are good that I'll be bringing back a trophy or two
anyway. I'm the designated accepter for Robert Charles Wilson in
the novel category, both David Shtogryn and Edo van Belkom in the
short-story category, Edo van Belkom (again) in the "Other"
category for his interview collection NORTHERN DREAMERS, Chris
Krejlgaard for PARSEC magazine, also in the "Other" category, and
Lloyd Penney in one of the fan categories. (Fredericton is a
LONG way from Toronto <grin>, so not too many of the nominees
from here are making it out there.)
Tanya Huff is the convention's Guest of Honor -- and a better
choice I can't think of; she was born in the Maritimes, and so is
the only significant Atlantic Canadian SF writer. She and I are
on the same flight from Toronto (she has to take a train in to
Toronto from where she lives, out near Kingston, Ontario, where
she lives now, to get the flight). Tanya and I have been friends
for twenty years, but don't see each other nearly often enough.
It'll be great to get to sit with her for a couple of hours and
I'm staying in Fredericton until Monday morning, so that I can do
the Dead Dog party Sunday night. Talk to y'all when I get back!
21 October 1999
The Canadian National Science Fiction Convention in Fredericton,
New Brunswick, this past weekend was great fun. It was a VERY
small convention -- Fredericton is pretty darn remote and very
expensive to fly to. Just 75 people, give or take. But
nonetheless I had a fabulous time. Tanya Huff, one of my
favorite people, was Guest of Honor, and we were on the same
flight to/from Toronto on the way out and the way back, so we got
to spend lots of time chatting.
I gave yet another reading of the opening of Calculating God,
and, yet again, it was very well received. I was also Master of
Ceremonies for the Aurora Awards, which came off very well this
year. Factoring Humanity came in second; the winner --
deservedly so -- was DARWINIA by my good friend Robert Charles
Wilson; it was an honor to accept the trophy on his behalf. For
short fiction, Edo van Belkom got the nod for his
alternate-history story "Hockey's Night in Canada;" I was also
Edo's designated accepter. And in the "Other" category, the
anthology ARROWDREAMS, in which Edo's story appeared, took the
(Monday night -- the day after the con -- Carolyn and I hosted
our quarterly party for Toronto-area SF professionals; we had a
particularly good turnout -- almost ran out of sandwiches and did
run out of pizza! -- and the highlight of the evening was me
re-presenting the Aurora trophies to Edo and Bob.)
The Fredericton crew put on a terrific buffet banquet prior to
the awards ceremony on Saturday night, and this year's Aurora
trophies were the nicest I'd ever seen (they were the standard
Franklyn Johnson design, but Frank had done an exceptional job on
the workmanship this year).
After MCing the Auroras, I was master of ceremonies for the
masquerade. I kept the audience occupied while we waited for the
judges' decisions with a spontaneous Canadian science-fiction
trivia quiz ("Name Terence M. Green's 1987 short-story
collection." "What's the name of the SF specialty store in
Vancouver, British Columbia?" "Name the member of the Stratford,
Ontario, Shakespeare company who provided the voice of HAL 9000."
etc. etc. Lots of fun.)
Sunday was the CanVention business meeting, which lasted three
hours. Although there was much controversial stuff -- including a
proposal that died without a seconder to give the French Aurora
Awards a separate ballot, different deadline, and separate awards
ceremony -- the meeting was actually almost congenial, and very
Considerable discussion ensued about the fact that the only bid
to be designated as next year's CanVention was the con "TT2000"
-- where TT, historically, has stood for Toronto Trek. Now,
Toronto Trek has a sterling reputation as a media con, but there
was much debate about whether they were an appropriate venue for
presenting the Auroras. There was also concern that this date
might conflict with Readercon (the 2000 Readercon date is listed
as "TBA" on their web site). Ultimately, though, the TT2000 bid
Two substantive changes to the Aurora rules passed (although they
have to be ratified at next year's CanVention to become
official): novels, which previously had been eligible for two
years will now only be eligible for one year, a recognition of
the fact that there are now so many good Canadian SF novels
published each year that we don't have to worry about having a
problem coming up with five decent nominees (this year's ballot
was an example: all the works were 1998 books, and of the five
nominees, two were also Hugo finalists, two more were World
Fantasy Award finalists, and one of the WFA finalists was also a
top-ten GLOBE AND MAIL bestseller in Canada).
The other change will require works to receive at least five
nominations (instead of the current minimum of two) or a minimum
of 10% of all nominations cast in that category, whichever is
higher, to appear on the ballot, and any category that has fewer
than three nominees will be declared vacant for the year, with no
award given. This won't affect the English pro awards, but may
have an impact on the fan and French awards.
The big topics of gossip at the con was the fact that a member of
SF Canada (a ten-year-old writers' group) had absconded with all
of the organization's funds, putting the group's future in real
jeopardy (gee, and I thought I'd had problems to deal with when I
was SFWA president!).
The hotel was excellent -- an older, but rather classy hotel,
with a staff that really seemed delighted to have the con on
site. Sunday night, I had dinner with a couple of Fredericton
friends not attending the con, then headed back for a very
pleasant dead-dog party. Right next door to the hotel was the
local art gallery, with three fabulous Salvidor Dali paintings,
including one that was two stories high. Very impressive.
All in all, a great weekend!
21 October 1999
I've been visiting the halls of academia.
Yesterday, I returned to my alma mater, Ryerson Polytechnic
University in Toronto, to give a talk to an organization called
the LIFE Forum ("Learning Is For Ever"), a group of retired
faculty members. I gave a talk about SF, then signed books.
After that, I was interviewed for an hour and a half by a
reporter for the Ryerson student newspaper, who had certainly
done her homework! She had lots of excellent questions to ask
We then went over to the World's Biggest Bookstore (the world's
first book superstore, just a block from Ryerson). To my
delight, they had a total of 104 mass-market paperbacks by me on
hand (assorted The Terminal Experiment, Frameshift, ILLEGAL
ALIEN, and Factoring Humanity), plus 21 hardcovers of
FlashForward. Quite an impressive display! Of course, I signed
all the copies before I left.
That evening, Carolyn and I went out to Pearson (Toronto's
airport) to meet John Mansfield, the chair of the 1994 World SF
Convention, for dinner; John had a six-hour stopover on his way
to England. We had a great time!
Today, I met this morning with Peter Sellers, to put the final,
final touches on the anthology of mystery fiction we've been
editing for the Crime Writers of Canada. Then I went down to
Humber College, to give a reading and talk. They teach THE
TERMINAL EXPERIMENT there -- and, to my delight, I was told that
the bookstore had sold out 130 copies of the book, the largest
number (and the only 100% sell-through) they've ever had for a
novel in the campus bookstore in a single semester.
After that, it was up to the beautiful McMichael Canadian
Collection -- one of Canada's most important art galleries -- for
a book launch for the 10th annual EARLY HARVEST anthology of
writing and art by young adults in Vaughan (the city I actually
live in, just north of Toronto); Carolyn and I edited the 1994
and 1995 editions.
All in all, a busy -- but very pleasant -- couple of days!
24 October 1999
Many of you who attend eastern US/Canada cons will know my
brother-in-law, the affable David Livingstone Clink. Well, I'm
pleased as punch to announce that David, who, like his sister and
my wife, Carolyn Clink, is already quite an accomplished poet,
has just sold a poem called "First Contact" to Stanley Schmidt at
For more on Dave and his work, see his web site at:
24 October 1999
I've finished the third of the five conventions I'm doing on
consecutive weekends. Because of other commitments (Carolyn's
poetry writers' workshop, and a 20th anniversary party for the
Harbourfront International Festival of Authors), we are not
attending the con today (Sunday).
Primedia was SMALL -- highest badge number we saw was 1293, and
they started numbering at 1200 -- but nonetheless we had a great
time. I gave another reading of the opening of Calculating God,
and, to my astonishment, it had the highest turnout, I'm told, of
any panel/reading/etc. at the con, about 30 people. It went over
More interesting, though, was the presentation Michael Lennick
and I did later on Saturday afternoon. This one was entitled
"Illegal Alien: From Novel to Screenplay." Michael, as some of
you may recall, is the screenwriter adapting my novel ILLEGAL
ALIEN for film. Usually, the author has no input into this
process, but I am a consultant on this film, and so have been
kept in the loop an inordinate amount. Everybody thought the
panel was fascinating, talking about what things in the book had
to be changed in order to make it work as a screenplay or a film.
Despite the small size of the convention, lots of good people
were on hand, including a significant percentage of the buying SF
editors in Canada: Edo van Belkom, who runs the SF line for
Quarry Press; Sally Tomasevic and Marcel Gagne, who run
TRANSVERSIONS; Don Hutchison, the editor of the NORTHERN FRIGHTS
anthology series; and Julie E. Czerneda, who edits a line of
anthologies using SF stories to teach high-school science for
textbook publisher Trifolium Books. So, a good con to do
Saturday night, twelve of us had a fabulous dinner out at a
nearby all-you-can-eat Italian buffet, then returned to the con
for a double book launch (for a small-press horror/romance by
Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, and the latest title from DAW Books by
Julie E. Czerneda).
Sadly, there was no SF book dealer in the dealers' room; only a
horror-book dealer (and, judging by the appreciative murmurs Edo
van Belkom kept making over the stock, a good one, at that). So,
I ended up selling copies of my own books directly after my
panels; I never do that if there's a dealer present -- I never
undercut a dealer -- but, since there wasn't, we moved a bunch of
books, which was nice. (I always have some car stock with me.)
Next con, starting in just five days: Concinnity, in Ottawa, at
which I'm Guest of Honor.
25 October 1999
The party this evening for the 20th anniversary of the
Harbourfront International Festival of Authors was fabulous.
Lots of great food, and lots of great conversation. I had a nice
chat with mystery writer Sara Paretsky about the trouble
genre-fiction writers have getting respect; a good conversation
with Philip Marchand, Canada's top book critic; a pleasant cat
with the host of the Canadian TV show about books (who said that
the panel discussion Nalo Hopkinson and I did about SF earlier
this year was widely regarded by the show's producers as the best
panel they had last season); a fascinating discussion with a
writer from Pakistan who had been jailed for criticizing the
authorities; and more.
But there's no rest for a busy writer. Today, I also reviewed
the entire copyedited manuscript for Calculating God, reviewed
the galleys for a short story I have coming up in an anthology,
and read about 35 pages of a fairly technical book I'm working my
way through as research for my next novel, plus did about two
hours of work finishing up the anthology OVER THE EDGE that I'm
Not bad for a Sunday ... <grin>.
26 October 1999
Today was a blast. SATURDAY NIGHT -- a Canadian magazine that's
sort of the northern counterpart of THE NEW YORKER -- had five
Canadian SF writers participate in a 2.5-hour video conference,
brainstorming about the process of imagining the future.
In Toronto, Nalo Hopkinson and I, plus two editors from SATURDAY
NIGHT, were hooked up with Spider Robinson and Don H. DeBrandt in
Vancouver and Elisabeth Vonarburg in Chicoutimi. As you might
expect, the conversation was quite lively, and ranged all over
the map. And it had been far too long since I'd seen Spider,
Don, or Elisabeth, so it was great to spend a couple of hours
with them, in a virtual sense.
We had two TV monitors in our room; Nalo and I could see Spider
and Don on one, and Elisabeth on the other; similar setups were
available to the other participants.
The fruits of all this -- an edited transcript of the session --
will appear in the January 2000 issue of SATURDAY NIGHT magazine.
27 October 1999
Today was a day for photographs.
The new issue of the NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION arrived,
with a nice photo of me and Carolyn, and Stephen Baxter and his
wife, at the Worldcon in Australia.
And I spent the afternoon down at Toronto's lakeshore having a
new author photo taken of me (by renowned Canadian horror writer
and journalist Michael Rowe); my last author photo (that
hand-on-chin shot that appears in The Terminal Experiment,
Illegal Alien, Factoring Humanity, and FlashForward) was taken
five years ago, and, although striking, always seemed a bit dour
But it was also a day for paintings ...
Lesley Choyce, the publisher of Pottersfield Press, called my
editing partner Peter Sellers today to say that he'd secured
rights to an Alex Colville painting to use on our anthology OVER
THE EDGE. Colville, born in 1920, is one of the absolute top
painters in Canada, so this is a real coup.
29 October 1999
I'm off to my fourth consecutive weekend of con-going. This
weekend, I'm Guest of Honor at Concinnity, a convention in
Speaking of Ottawa, on Monday, November 15, at 8:00 p.m., at the
National Library of Canada, Terry Brooks and I will be reading,
introduced by Charles de Lint. Admission is just two dollars,
100% of which will be donated to an Ottawa literacy group.
Just finished reviewing the transcript of the SATURDAY NIGHT
video conference. It's surprisingly readable. The article will
be in the January 2000 issue.
3 November 1999
I was guest of honor at Concinnity in Ottawa this past weekend.
It was a tiny convention -- Ottawa has been without a con for a
few years, since the collapse of CanCon, and this was an attempt
to get a new one off the ground. Publicity left much to be
desired: they never managed to get a listing in LOCUS's
convention calendar, and the proprietor of the local SF shop told
me that flyers first showed up in his store three days before the
Ah, well. That didn't stop those of us in attendance from having
a good time. For a change, I didn't read from Calculating God --
too many of those at the con had already heard me read the
opening at other conventions. Instead, I read "Fallen Angel," a
horror story I'd written for Ed Kramer's forthcoming anthology
STRANGE ATTRACTION. I must say, that's one fun story to read
aloud; I hope to get to read it again soon.
Saturday night was a combination STAR TREK jeopardy game and
charity auction; I was both the auctioneer and a contestant. I
won handily (yes, I know such worthless information as the fact
that Kirk was born in Iowa; his quarters are on deck 5; the
Vulcan eden is named Sha-ka-ree in honor of Sean Connery; and
Malachi Throne played both Commodore Mendez and Romulan Senator
Carolyn and I left the con just before 1:00 p.m. on Sunday
afternoon, and did the six-hour drive to Rochester, New York,
where we had dinner with friends Nick DiChario and Mary Stanton.
We spent most of yesterday evening and most of today with them,
as well, while staying at my father's vacation home on
Canandaigua Lake. Tomorrow, we head out for the seven-hour drive
to Milford, Pennsylvania, where I'm signing at Toadstool Books
that evening (Wednesday) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
3 November 1999
I'm going to be in Canada's capital city of Ottawa on Monday,
November 15, at 8:00 p.m.
I'll be reading in the auditorium of the National Library of
Canada on Wellington Street. The reading, sponsored by Leishman
Books, has a $2 admission charge, with all funds gathered donated
to Ottawa literacy groups.
The evening, being billed as "A Fantastical Event," features:
Robert J. Sawyer
Nebula Award-winning author of
THE TERMINAL EXPERIMENT and FLASHFORWARD
Author of STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE and
ANGEL FIRE EAST
both readers introduced by Ottawa's own
CHARLES de LINT
Author of SOMEPLACE TO BE FLYING
For more information, contact Leishman Books at (613) 722-8313.
5 November 1999
I am delighted to announce that my agent, Ralph Vicinanza, has
completed negotiations with David G. Hartwell at Tor for a new
three-book contract for yours truly. These will be my
thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth novels.
The first of the three will be called NEANDERTAL PARALLAX.
Everyone -- my agent, my publisher, and moi -- seems quite
pleased with the outline, and I'm now heavily into doing research
for the book.
On top of that, Tor has bought reprint rights to my long
out-of-print time-travel novel End of an Era; they will be
re-releasing the book in trade paperback. I'm really delighted
about this because End of an Era remains, to this day, my
favorite of all my novels. (End of an Era, by the way, won both
this forum's HOMer Award for Best Novel of the Year and Japan's
Seiun Award for Best Foreign Novel of the Year.)
Tor is the only publisher I've worked with for the last couple of
years, and, with this new deal, they handily surpass Ace as the
publisher to have done the largest number of titles by me: Ace
did six of my books (Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner; End
of an Era; Starplex; and Illegal Alien). Tor has now contracted
for a total of seven new novels by me (Frameshift, Factoring
Humanity, FlashForward, Calculating God, Neandertal Parallax, and
the prosaically titled Novel #14 and Novel #15), plus the
trade-paperback reprints of Golden Fleece and End of an Era, for
a total of nine Sawyer books to have the Tor logo on their
I'm extremely grateful to David G. Hartwell and Tor publisher Tom
Doherty for their ongoing support of me and my work. Although
I've done four two-book contracts before, one of those (Far-Seer
and End of an Era) was for two already-completed manuscripts),
and another (Frameshift and Factoring Humanity) had one of the
two books already written. I've never before had the luxury of a
THREE-book contract, especially with none of the books yet
written. It's nice, in a volatile market, to have some job
security for the next couple of years, and I'm very thankful for
9 November 1999
I've been having the most fantastic time on the road.
Wednesday night, Carolyn and I were in Milford, New Hampshire,
where I signed at The Toadstool Bookshop, a wonderful
general-interest bookstore with a large SF section. I've never
been treated better at a signing. Factoring Humanity was their
number-one SF bestseller for October 1999 (and is number three on
their year-to-date SF bestsellers' list), and prior to my arrival
they'd sold 32 hardcovers of FlashForward -- a terrific number
for a single store.
I read a bit from FlashForward, and chatted with a very
interesting group of people, and, of course, signed books.
The next day -- Thursday -- Carolyn and I went to Providence,
Rhode Island. We spent the afternoon at Brown University,
meeting with Philip Lieberman, the world's leading expert on
Neandertal speech capabilities. He showed us casts of skulls,
and casts of various primate vocal tracts. Fascinating stuff!
Thursday evening through Sunday, Carolyn and I were at the World
Fantasy Convention in Providence. I had only once before been to
a WFC -- in 1984, when it was in Ottawa -- and, frankly, I don't
remember much of that one. I'd stayed away from WFCs because I'd
thought, as an SF writer, there wouldn't be much for me. But I
had a terrific time -- not quite as good as I'd had at Worldcon,
but still really, really fine. (WFC has been described as being
like Worldcon but without the fans -- it's very heavily skewed
towards pros and serious book collectors -- but I like fans.)
I had great chats with many writers and editors, including, of
course, my agent Ralph Vicinanza and his associate Chris Lotts
(who had details of the sale of Frameshift and Factoring Humanity
to Spain for me), David G. Hartwell and Jim Minz from Tor, Tor
publisher Tom Doherty, Betsy Mitchell from Warner, John Helfers
from Tekno-Books, anthologist Ed Kramer, Warren Lapine from DNA,
Ian Randall Strock from Artemis, Robert Vardeman, Robert
Silverberg, Josepha Sherman, Allison Baird, James Hartley, Ron
Collins, Sean Russell, Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris, and
lots more. I don't think I'll go next year -- Corpus Christi is
a little far afield -- but I'll certainly go to the WFC the year
after in Montreal.
At the WFC, John Helfers gave me the good news that my short
story "The Shoulders of Giants" will be the lead story in the
anthology STAR COLONIES, edited by Marty H. Greenberg and him,
coming from DAW early next year. And both John and Ed Kramer
commissioned new stories from me at the con, which was nice --
I've now got a total of four short-story commissions I have to
fulfill, the most, I think, I've ever had at one time.
My old buddy Bob Eggleton was there, and I told him that Tor
would be reissuing End of an Era in trade paperback. He
immediately sought out Irene Gallo, Tor's art director, and got
the job of doing the cover, which delights me.
Bob had five cold-cast bronze busts of Toroca, the main character
from my 1993 novel Fossil Hunter, in the art show; they were
terrific, and Carolyn and I bought one (the others all sold, as
well). (Bob did the cover for Fossil Hunter.)
After the WFC, Carolyn and I drove to Princeton, New Jersey,
where we spent Sunday night. (In the car on the way, I wrote a
500-word piece on SF conventions for THE OTTAWA CITIZEN's books
section; it will appear in the Sunday, November 14, edition.)
On Monday morning, we went to Princeton University. I'm
co-hosting (with the fabulous Gillian Deacon) a special for the
Discovery Channel Canada about the millennium; it will air
Sunday, January 2, coast-to-coast in Canada. Gill is doing the
historical stuff -- what happened in the last millennium -- and
I'm doing the futurism stuff -- what will happen in the next
For that, my producer flew down from Toronto to join us, and we
videotaped me interviewing Dr. Joe Tsien, created of the Doogie
mice that grabbed headlines around the world back in September
(the Doogies have an extra gene that gives them enhanced memory,
and apparently superior intelligence). And, yup, I got to see
the Doogies. (On Tuesday, we tape more for that special at the
National Air and Space Museum in Washington.)
After Monday's taping, Carolyn and I took the train into Penn
Station in Manhattan, and went up to the American Museum of
Natural History. We spent a good long time talking with Ian
Tattersall, the curator of anthropology, and got a nice
behind-the-scenes tour with Gary Sawyer (no relation), the senior
Man, I love this job!
15 November 1999
In theory, my little article about SF conventions appeared in
today's OTTAWA CITIZEN (Sunday, November 14, 1999), but I haven't
seen it yet.
Carolyn and I are still on the road. Picking up the trip report
where I left off (in New York City on Monday, November 8) ...
On Tuesday, November 9, we arrived in Takoma Park, Maryland, a
suburb of Washington D.C.; we stayed for two days with Roger
MacBride Allen, his wife Eleanore Fox, and their son Matthew.
They have a beautiful house on an acre of land, with a separate
guest house out back -- which is where Carolyn and I stayed.
That afternoon, we went into the National Air and Space Museum
(part of the Smithsonian Institution), where I recorded my "stand
ups" for the Millennium documentary I'm co-hosting for The
Discovery Channel Canada. We did the shots of me standing in
front of Columbia, the Apollo XI command module. Just call me
Mr. One-Take: it was a fairly long standup, but I pulled it off
in a single take -- although we did a couple more for safety's
Afterwards, Carolyn and I headed down the Mall, while the
Discovery crew gathered "B roll" (the stuff I'm going to talk
about in voice-over narration). We went to the Korean War
Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial -- three
that always move me every time I see them. (The Washington
Monument is currently entirely enclosed in metal scaffolding --
it looks sort of like it's covered by a Borg condom.)
That night, Carolyn and I went to Catherine Asaro's house for a
wonderful home-cooked dinner -- which, after over a week on the
road, was much appreciated! I think Catherine and I could have
gone on talking shop all night long; we had a great time.
The next day, Carolyn and I headed out to the Library of
Congress, where we got the VIP behind-the-scenes tour before my
talk. The talk was very well received; every one seemed to find
it very interesting, and we had a lively Q&A session afterwards
that could have gone on much longer, if we'd had the time.
Surprise guests in the audience: Dick Lynch, coeditor of the
frequently Hugo-nominated fanzine MIMOSA; Farah Mendlesohn, one
of the editors of the British SF critical journal EXTRAPOLATIONS.
After, 14 of us (including Dick and Farah) went out to a fabulous
Chinese restaurant -- the best Chinese food I've ever had.
Carolyn and I then did something utterly fannish: we went to
find the part of the Senate office buildings used as the
establishing shot for Oscar Goldman's office on THE SIX MILLION
We then headed back to Takoma Park, for more fascinating shop
talk, this time with Roger. That evening, we took Roger,
Eleanore, and Matthew out for dinner.
Thursday morning -- the Veteran's Day holiday -- we headed to the
home (!) of Rick Potts, the director of the Human Origins Project
at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Institution. Considering that Rick didn't know me from Adam --
or any other putative ancestor <grin> -- it was extraordinarily
kind of him to take time out on his holiday to have Carolyn and
me over to his house to chat about Neandertals.
There, we met up with my old buddy Michael Brett-Surman, the
dinosaur specialist at the Smithsonian. We went back to his
place for three fabulous days. Mike and his wife are great SF
fans, and they live on two acres of land very close to the
Chancellorville civil-war battle field (at which Stonewall
Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops, leading to the
loss of his arm, and, shortly thereafter, his death). Mike gave
as a great tour of the battlefield.
The CBC really wanted me to be in Toronto to do an installment of
"One on One with Peter Mansbridge" -- a talk show hosted by the
anchor of the CBC's national nightly TV newscast. They offered
to fly me from Washington to Toronto, and then back down to
Washington again after the interview, which would have taken
place at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, but I didn't want to take time out
from seeing Mike and Kim to do that. Still, it's nice to be
On Saturday night, we all drove out to Maclean, Virginia, to
rendezvous with Jim Gurney, the author of DINOTOPIA. Jim was on
the tail-end of a five-week (!) book tour promoting the latest
DINOTOPIA book. We all went out to a terrific Turkish
restaurant. It turned out that Jim had recently done a
Neandertal reconstruction for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, so we had a
great time chatting about both Neandertals and dinosaurs. We
were joined by Jim's publicist at HarperPrism, who is now working
with Josette Kurey, who used to be my publicist at Tor ...
(By coincidence, about two weeks ago I was offered the job of
writing one of the DINOTOPIA young-adult novels; I was flattered,
but I turned it down -- I've got plenty on my plate as it is.)
We spent Sunday driving from Virginia to my dad's vacation home
on Canandaigua Lake, where we spent the night.
Tomorrow, we'll head back to Toronto -- although I'll only make
it as far as the airport. Carolyn will drop me there, and then I
fly to Ottawa for Monday night's readings by me and Terry Brooks
at the National Library of Canada, introduced by Charles de Lint.
I've gotten a lot of work done on the road, thanks to my trusty
laptop (I'm writing this in the car, while Carolyn drives), but I
am looking forward to getting home, at least for a little bit.
But it's only for a little bit: two weeks today we leave for
Barcelona, Spain, so that I can give the keynote address at this
year's Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya "Premio UPC de
Ciencia Ficcion" award ceremony.
17 November 1999
Final installment of my trip report:
Monday was a crazy day: we left upstate New York around 9:30,
and drove to Toronto. Carolyn dropped me off at Toronto's
airport on her way back to our home, and I flew to Ottawa (it's
just a one-hour flight), getting in about 5:00 p.m.
At 6:00 p.m., I met Terry Brooks and his wife Judene at Wilfrid's
in the Chateau Laurier hotel, and we had a lovely dinner in
advance of our reading/signing at the National Library.
We got a crowd of 125 people, which was nice ... and even nicer,
there were hardly any wookiee-heads present. Perhaps because the
event didn't start until 8:00 p.m. on a school night, very few of
Terry's STAR WARS readers showed up. Charles de Lint read
briefly, then introduced me, then Terry. We each read for about
20 minutes (I read from FlashForward), then did a Q&A session
(one guy asked Terry a lengthy question about Jar Jar Binks,
which began, "Would you care to comment on ..." After the
questioner was finally finished, Terry simply said, "No," to a
big round of applause).
But I must say I got the biggest laugh of the evening. Terry and
Charles had both commented on the fact that I'm somewhat younger
than either of them. I got even when one of the questions from
the audience was, "What did you read as schoolboys?" My
response: "Charles de Lint and Terry Brooks." It brought the
Afterwards, we all signed books for what I thought was a
surprisingly long time. The sponsoring bookstore, Ottawa's
Lieshman's, seemed very pleased with sales. (And the had the
Canadian debut of the trade paperback edition of Golden Fleece on
hand, which was great.)
I stayed overnight in Ottawa at the Radisson. To my delight, the
coffee shop was closed for renovations, so I had breakfast in La
Ronde, the revolving restaurant on the roof of the Radisson, with
a fabulous view of Canada's capital; La Ronde normally isn't open
I spent Tuesday following up on offers made in a couple of fan
letters I'd received in the last year. One was from a scientist
who worked for the National Research Council of Canada: he said
if I was ever in Ottawa, I should give him a call. Well, of
course, I set it up weeks ago, but I spent the morning and lunch
at the NRC, getting a terrific behind the scenes tour, including
having my entire clothed body scanned in 3D, and turned into a
manipulatable computer file, and visiting their virtual-reality
lab, which really is cutting edge, allowing you to interact with
the projected objects.
Meanwhile, another fan letter had been from Mauril Belanger, a
Member of Canada's Parliament. He'd written to say how much he'd
been enjoying my books, so I went to see him at the House of
Commons, and afterwards had dinner with him and his wife in the
Parliamentary Dining Room. Way cool! Sheila Copps, Canada's
Minister of Culture, came over to say hello while we were eating.
After that, I flew back to Toronto. All told, I was on the road
for nineteen days. It was a terrific trip -- Guest of Honor in
Ottawa; guest lecturing in Rochester; signing in New Hampshire;
the World Fantasy Convention; meeting with Neandertal experts at
Brown University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the
Smithsonian; my talk at the Library of Congress; filming
documentary footage for The Discovery Channel Canada at Princeton
and the National Air and Space Museum; touring Civil War
battlefields; dinners with writers Nick DiChario, Marcos
Donnelly, and Mary Stanton; Catherine Asaro; Roger MacBride
Allen; James Gurney; and Terry Brooks; staying at the home of a
Smithsonian paleontologist; reading at the National Library of
Canada; visiting the National Research Council of Canada; and a
dinner with a member of parliament.
As I say, a terrific trip -- but I'm glad it's over, and I'm
delighted to be back home.
17 November 1999
The Discovery Channel Canada has a nifty web site, which includes
a section called THE SEX FILES, that deals with the science of
Well, if you go to the link below, you'll find an article about
what SF writers think sex will be like in the future; it contains
interviews with Robert J. Sawyer, Melissa Scott, Phyllis Gotlieb,
and Ben Bova.
19 November 1999
The bad news is that my trusty Lexmark Optra R+ printer needs
service. It's been acting up for a few days, and this afternoon
I'm taking it in to Lexmark Canada's headquarters, which,
fortunately, is only a few kilometers from my home.
It's been a GREAT printer, and I've got tons of accessories for
it, including a duplexer, envelope feeder, lower paper tray, and
more, that, unfortunately, don't fit the later Lexmark models; I
sure hope it can be fixed for a reasonable cost.
19 November 1999
Found a nifty CD-ROM a couple of days ago: STAR TREK: THE NEXT
GENERATION COMPANION -- A SERIES GUIDE AND SCRIPT LIBRARY.
Yup, you read that right: script library. The full teleplays
for all 178 episodes of ST:TNG are on this one CD, a real bargain
for those, like me, who like to read scripts. (Also included are
the video trailers for all episodes, as well as episode summaries
and production notes.)
I found it at a Best Buy in Virginia; it's just US$19.95 -- or
just ELEVEN CENTS per script. A real bargain. (And, yes, you
can print out the scripts, in standard script format, if you want
to read them in hardcopy.)
(There's also a version for DEEP SPACE NINE.)
24 November 1999
My baby is home!
My Lexmark Optra R+ is back home from being serviced, safe and
Although I do have a second printer -- an Epson Stylus Color 600
-- I've really missed the Optra. When you've gotten used to 16
pages per minute -- meaning an entire novel in manuscript format
can be printed out in 25 minutes -- having to use a slow, noisy
inkjet can drive you batty.
Just for the record, Lexmark Canada's service people were very
knowledgable and very pleasant to deal with.
24 November 1999
Busy day today!
At 11:00 a.m., I arrived at the CBC Broadcasting Centre, and
recorded a four-minute commentary about life in the next century;
the text of the commentary will be posted on the CBC Newsworld
soon (it may indeed already be up there, at www.cbc.ca), and me
reading the commentary will be aired on The Arts Tonight on CBC
Radio at some point soon.
At noon, I went to Ontario Place (a park on Toronto's lakeshore),
where they have a big geodesic dome that houses an Imax theatre.
There I was interviewed for a TV documentary that will air early
in 2000; the documentary is part of a series on architecture, and
this installment was about domes. I talked about domed cities as
a motif in science fiction.
Then at 2:00, it was off to meet a print journalist who is doing
a profile on me.
I got home around 4:00 p.m. -- then went to work writing! I did
2,150 words this evening on a new short story (commissioned for a
Marty Greenberg anthology).
Tomorrow (Wednesday) should be a little less hectic: I write all
day until about 5:00 p.m., then I'm off to meet a writer who is
doing a book about how creative people use the Internet for
research; he wants to interview me for that. Then it's off to
the book launch for the short story collection by my friend Peter
Sellers (the guy I co-edited an anthology with this earlier
Thursday, all I've got on my plate is a luncheon date with Rob
Howard, the marketing manager for H.B. Fenn (Tor's Canadian
distributor) -- but it'll take an hour to get up to Fenn and an
hour to get back, plus at least an hour for lunch. Still, while
I'm at Fenn, I'll pick up some copies of the trade paperback of
Golden Fleece. The rest of the day will be spent writing.
Friday, I'm with the Discovery Channel Canada people all day,
doing the remaining "standups" for the documentary on the
Millennium that I'm co-hosting for them that airs January 2 (and
sometime between now and then I have to memorize my lines!).
Saturday is a day of writing, followed by an evening party for my
father's 75 birthday.
And Sunday, I leave for Spain for a week.
Life be good ...
25 November 1999
Peter Sellers's book launch last night was quite nicely done. It
was held at a pub called Vox, which was closed to the public for
the launch. Peter had booked a nice jazz trio to entertain for
I finished a good draft of my story for Marty Greenberg's FAR
FRONTIERS anthology today; I'm calling the story "Star Light,
I also finished the little collaborative story I'm doing with
Tonight, Carolyn and I are off to the gala opening party for a
new Chapters superstore.
26 November 1999
The new Chapters store, at 2400 Yonge Street in Toronto, is
FABULOUS -- one of the nicest I've seen. And the grand-opening
party was JAMMED; they couldn't have fit many more people in
there, even though it's a 35,000-square-foot store. We had a
fabulous time, and did a fair bit of business with various
26 November 1999
Miserable day today! We did the shoots for my remaining
"stand-ups" for the Discovery Channel Canada special I'm
co-hosting -- but it was pouring rain in Toronto, and I had to
wear the same light-weight jacket I'd worn in the other shots we
did earlier. I'm chilled to the bone right now. Still, we put
the six stand-ups in the can, plus recorded all my voice-over
narration (in a mercifully warm studio).
I've just got one studio day left, then my work on this special
is done. It will air January 2.
27 November 1999
The December 1999 / January 2000 issue of SATURDAY NIGHT magazine
is now out; SATURDAY NIGHT is the closest thing there is to a
Canadian counterpart of the NEW YORKER. It has a huge
circulation: besides newsstand and subscription copies, this
issue also went out for free with home delivery copies of
newspapers across Canada yesterday, including THE NATIONAL POST
and the VANCOUVER SUN.
This issue contains the transcript of the videoconference I did
on October 23 with Nalo Hopkinson, Spider Robinson, Don DeBrandt,
and Elisabeth Vonarburg. The introduction begins:
SATURDAY NIGHT issued a challenge to five of
Canada's most celebrated science-fiction writers:
to predict the future by creating, together, a
story of life in Canada in 2067. First, they
explained why the assignment was wrongheaded,
condescending, and displayed a grasp of science
fiction that clearly hadn't progressed beyond
reruns of THE TWILIGHT ZONE ... and then they came
up with a twisted tale of tiny robots, emotional
freak shows, a futuristic Howard Stern, and a
strange trip into tomorrow ...
The piece actually turned out quite well. Instead of photos of
the five authors, they used pen-and-ink caricatures off us, by
Ottawa artist Ron Sutton. The ones of me and Spider look
particularly good. The whole article runs seven pages. All in
all, very nice.
28 November 1999
Received a whack of reviews of my novels from Tor today, from
magazines and newspapers big and small:
On Factoring Humanity:
BRATTLEBORO REFORMER (Brattleboro, Vermont):
"Robert Sawyer handles the `first contact' scenario
with more panache and plausibility than was done in
the book and movie CONTACT. Sawyer knits up a lot
of philosophical loose ends in this book --
entertaining science fiction as well as food for
THE DAVIS ENTERPRISE: "Some hard SF confines
itself to examining the science of the story --
delving into the theory and the minutia of what's
happening -- while the better stuff focuses on how
science affects both the people most closely
involved, and humanity as a whole. Sawyer usually
writes the latter sort, and that's what makes this
one of his best novels. The tension between Kyle's
acute distress and Heather's solid scientific
investigation is compelling, and you're likely to
stay up late just to finish the book. Highly
THE DENVER POST: "Sawyer writes books with truly
original ideas. He is adept at presenting novel
scientific possibilities that resonate with the
lives of his characters."
SCIENCE BOOKS & FILMS: "A scientifically brilliant
science fiction novel that weaves a plot with
several twists into a scientist's discovery of
travel through a realm beyond previous human
imagination. The novel capitalizes on its use of
accurate facts and the incorporation of current
events to give the reader a context for its story.
Factoring Humanity is a book that, while
maintaining a spellbinding plot, stays true to the
science fiction tradition, giving fans of the genre
and others who normally don't read sci-fi an
interesting, informative novel."
COMICS CORNER: "FlashForward presents disturbing
questions. Robert Sawyer once again challenges his
readers to think and think deeply. By focusing on
the effects of the experiment on a small group of
individuals he brings his frightening vision of
tomorrow heavily to bare on his readers.
FlashForward is a flash of genius."
THE DAVIS ENTERPRISE: "Sawyer's strength lies in
combining human-sized problems with cutting-edge
science ... he does a masterful job of blending
THE DENVER POST: "Sawyer presents scientific
scenarios that directly affect his characters'
lives. The science-humanity interplay illuinates
both the ideas and the characters."
SUNDAY HERALD (Nevada, Missouri): "Entertaining
and thought-provoking. Sawyer -- a crisp, incisive
writer with a playful and keen imagination --
generates plenty of action from his psychological
and paradoxical whatifing. Excellent sci-fi."
NEWS (Tuscaloosa, Alabama): "Science fiction
readers are in for a treat with FlashForward; a
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL: "FlashForward is another of
the author's intriguing thought-experiment science
fiction novels in the vein of Factoring Humanity.
Sawyer's book is both intellectually and
STARLOG: "An excellent SF novel, a perfect blend
of cosmic speculation and human drama, and Sawyer's
best book yet. FlashForward's plot lets Sawyer
muse on true love, free will, quantum reality and
the nature of consciousness while telling a funny,
wrenching tale of fallible humans in a mystifying
7 December 1999
Hola, everyone! Carolyn and I are back home after a week in
Barcelona, Spain. We had a fabulous time, despite a few
The reason for the trip was so that I could give the keynote
address at the ninth-annual Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficcion
awards ceremony at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC);
as some of you may recall, I've won prizes in that contest the
last three years in a row, so they asked me to give the talk.
Previous speakers have included Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, John
Gribbin, Marvin Minsky, Gregory Benford, and Stephen Baxter. I
must say, the UPC was quite generous, both in covering travel
expenses and hotel, and in the fee for the speech; they really
are a classy outfit.
My speech, "The Future is Already Here: Is There a Role for
Science Fiction in the 21st Century?" was very well received. I
gave it in English, of course, but simultaneous translation into
Spanish and Catalan was provided via earpieces. Since Spanish
takes about 30% more words to say the same thing, I had to
deliver the speech at something slower than my normal pace, so
that the translators could keep up, but no one seemed to mind.
The winners of the UPC awards this year were all Spanish-language
authors, but one was from Colombia, rather than Spain. Our own
Mike Resnick was an honorable mention.
I did three press interviews while I was there. One, in La
Pais, Spain's major daily newspaper, has appeared already. I
don't really know what it says <grin>, but they devoted a lot of
space to it -- close to a full page. The other, in another
paper, will appear next week, and the third, for the Spanish SF
magazine BEM, will appear sometime after that.
Of course, we did a lot of sightseeing in Barcelona, including
seeing Snowflake, the world's only albino gorilla, visiting the
Roman ruins beneath the present-day city (easily accessible as
the extensive basement of a museum), and seeing the architecture
The disappointments in the trip were minor: the Spanish edition
of my Frameshift was supposed to be out in time for my visit,
but it wasn't ready yet (I have two Spanish publishers: Ediciones
B, and Factoria de Ideas -- the latter is doing Frameshift and
And I came down with a cold for about two days -- but I can't
really complain, since I've done a lot of traveling in the last
year, and this is the first time I've gotten sick (and it really
wasn't that bad a cold).
Barcelona has a very good subway system, with many more stations
than the one in Toronto (although the stations are not as clean
<grin>). There's no such thing as a non-smoking area in
restaurants, and the Barcelonans smoke a lot. The weather was
great -- in the sixties during the days. We never had any rain,
and only one night was really cold. All in all, a very good
Still, it's good to be back home. Carolyn and I have no major
trips planned for several months; it'll be nice to stay put for a
9 December 1999
Got a fascinating commission today:
The weekend editor for THE GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL
NEWSPAPER, called and asked me to write a short science-fiction
story explaining what really happened to the Mars Polar Lander.
Fee: a cool dollar a word. Deadline: 24 hours away (I got the
assignment at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday; it's due 3:00 p.m. Thursday).
Too good to pass up, I've spent the last few hours pounding out
the short story. It will appear in this Saturday's edition of
THE GLOBE AND MAIL (the big weekend papers in Canada are on
Saturday, not Sunday).
9 December 1999
Well, my story for THE GLOBE AND MAIL is done. It's called THE
BLUE PLANET, and weighed in at 1,400 words. It should appear in
this Saturday's edition.
(I actually got it done by noon -- three hours ahead of
9 December 1999
Just a publicity update:
I am co-hosting (with Gillian Deacon) a two-hour documentary for
The Discovery Channel Canada. The documentary is entitled
"Inventing the Future: 2000 Years of Discovery," and deals with
the last thousand years of scientific progress and my predictions
for what the next thousand years will bring.
The documentary will air in prime time (8:00 to 10:00 p.m.)
coast-to-coast in Canada on Sunday, January 2, 2000.
10 December 1999
Finished another story today -- and this one, in fact, you could
call a mainstream story if you were so inclined. It was written
for a horror anthology being edited by Edo van Belkom, but my
story has no supernatural elements in it at all. It's called
"Last But Not Least," and will be an anthology of young-adult
horror to be published by Tundra Books (an imprint of McClelland
and Stewart, Canada's largest publisher) next year.
12 December 1999
Busy, but very pleasant last few days ...
Wednesday, I did my final day of shooting for the Discovery
Channel Canada documentary; Gillian Deacon and I shot our intros
and extros, and all the "we'll be right backs" out in a park on
the shore of Lake Ontario.
Wednesday night, I wrote most of the story for THE GLOBE AND
MAIL. The story wasn't posted on their web site (just as well;
we never discussed electronic rights when we did the deal), but
it did indeed appear on page 1 of the "Saturday" section of
yesterday's GLOBE AND MAIL (and, to my delight, was the first
thing mention on the paper's page one under "What's inside.").
That's not it for me and the GLOBE, though: they've also hired
me, at a very generous rate, to write a 2,000-word article about
the science of the 21st century; it'll appear in the last edition
of the year. That's due in five days, and is going well.
Thursday night, I popped into The Discovery Channel studios to
record a few additional bits of voice-over narration.
Friday, I finished a good draft of a new short story I'm calling
Friday night was the book launch for my friend Robert Charles
Wilson's latest, BIOS, published by Tor. There was a nice launch
party down at Bakka, Toronto's SF specialty store. After, Bob,
Carolyn, and I, plus several other fine folk, went out for pizza
to continue to celebrate.
Yesterday, I did a signing at a Smithbooks (mall bookstore) in
Brampton, then went over to Edo van Belkom's place for a pleasant
evening of conversation.
Today, I'm reading through series bibles for animated TV series;
one of North America's largest animation studios has hired me to
write a series bible for a new computer-animated science-fiction
series. I'll say more about that project later ...
13 December 1999
Bakka is the world's oldest science-fiction specialty store
(there were ones founded before it, but they've all gone out of
business). It's not a huge store, by any means, but it contains
a very good selection of new, backlist, and some used science
fiction, plus an array of small-press items hard to find
elsewhere. The address is 598 Yonge Street, a half-block north
of Wellesley subway (or about six blocks south of Yonge and
Bloor, the central intersection in Toronto).
Bakka is also a great place to meet writers. DAW author Michelle
West (aka Michelle Sagara) and Warner author Nalo Hopkinson are
both currently on staff there (and Tanya Huff and I both used to
work there, although in my case it's been 17 years since I worked
at Bakka ...).
14 December 1999
Nice night last night: attended a Toronto fandom pub night --
and had some FABULOUS chicken wings.
News of the day: Ralph Vicinanza just sold Italian rights to
Did a radio interview today for the CBC about our enduring
fascination with extraterrestrials. Tomorrow, I'm recording an
interview for WBAA-AM, the public-radio station in East Lafyette,
I've been SO busy that I haven't had a chance to get my hair cut
since August -- it was getting rather long. But I got a buzz cut
today. Ironically, as a guy with thinning hair, I look like I
have more hair when it's really short than when its long (at
least that's what my barber says).
15 December 1999
BN.COM, the online service of major U.S. bookseller Barnes and
Noble, has announced its 1999 "Year's Best" list for Science
Fiction and Fantasy. Robert J. Sawyer's FlashForward is listed
third, with the following review:
Robert J. Sawyer consistently makes intelligent,
mind-blowing science fiction accessible to the
mainstream reader with his efficient, easy-flowing
prose, his exciting ideas, and his superior
character development. Over the past several years,
Sawyer's stunning thrillers have produced multiple
Hugo and Nebula nominations, enough for most to
recognize him as the leader of SF's next-generation
pack. His newest novel, the near-future
FlashForward, is every bit as good, if not better,
than his previously recognized high-tech
The full list, in the order it appears on the web site:
Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
Neil Gaiman, Stardust
Robert J. Sawyer, FlashForward
Michael Crichton, Timeline
Orson Scott Card, Ender's Shadow
Elizabeth Haydon, Rhapsody
Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Dune: House Atreides
Brian Jacques, Marlfox: A Tale from Redwall
L.E. Modesitt Jr., Gravity Dreams
Guy Gavriel Kay, Sailing to Sarantium
George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky
Richard Bowes, Minions of the Moon
Elizabeth Hand, Black Light
Frank M. Robinson, Waiting
Terry Goodkind, Soul of the Fire
Ken MacLeod, The Cassini Division
Brendan DuBois, Resurrection Day
Ben Bova, Return to Mars
Sean McMullen, Souls in the Great Machine
Thomas Harlan, The Shadow of Ararat
17 December 1999
I'm tickled to announce that I will be a Guest of Honor at V-Con
25, to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, May 26-28, 2000
(the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the U.S. Memorial Day
The other GoHs are Spider and Jeanne Robinson (pro) and Lloyd and
Yvonne Penney (fan).
I'm giving up Mike Glicksohn's annual birthday bash here in
Toronto for this, so I sure hope it's a great con -- Mike's party
is always great ...
17 December 1999
Just a note to say, to my astonishment and delight, the Tor Books
trade-paperback reissue of Golden Fleece is the "By Canadian"
Feature Book on the main page of ChaptersGLOBE.com, the web site
operated by Chapters (Canada's leading bookstore chain) and THE
GLOBE AND MAIL, Canada's National Newspaper.
ChaptersGLOBE.com is discounting Golden Fleece 40%.
18 December 1999
I now claim something that very few other authors can: the cover
artist for my next novel is none other than:
Sample dustjackets for Calculating God arrived today from Tor.
The cover is fabulous. Drive Communications, who has been doing
my covers for Tor, has taken the famous picture of God's hand
touching Adam's hand from the roof of the Sistine Chapel as the
basis for the cover. They've processed it in large pixels, so it
looks computer generated. The cover looks AMAZINGLY classy. I've
liked the designs for all my Tor covers, but this one is the
The overall color scheme is a lovely copper color (in fact, the
whole cover is done in just various shades of copper and white --
with selective varnishing.
I should have a picture of it up on my web site before the end of
Which reminds me of a great trivia question I saw on WIN BEN
STEIN'S MONEY (a show I quite enjoy).
The category was "You're Sistine, You're Beautiful, and You're
Mine" -- and the question was "What was what was Michelangelo's
last name. Had me stumped!
18 December 1999
I was just watching an episode of "Win Ben Stein's Money" on The
Comedy Network (Canadian cable channel), and an SF reference
The category: "Electric Sheep Not Found in Adult Bookstores."
The question: "Name the science fiction writer whose `Do
Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' was turned
into the movie `Bladerunner.'"
Ben's answer: "Dick."
Host's response: "Screw you, a**hole ... oh, sorry, I thought
you were making a personal reference."
(The host's response wasn't bleeped on Canadian TV; I don't know
if they would have bleeped it in the States ...)
22 December 1999
Today isn't just the day on which the moon is closer to Earth
than it has been in more than a century ...
It's also Carolyn and my fifteenth wedding anniversary!
Yup, we got married December 22, 1984 (back then, lots of
Canadians used to get married in the last few days of the year,
because of a nifty tax loophole that no longer exists: you could
claim a spouse as a dependant for the entire year based on
his/her income ... but the tax people only counted the money you
made after you got married; obviously, if you got married in the
last few days of the year, your spouse would have only a few days
worth of income, and even if he/she had a lucrative full-time
job, they'd still qualify as a dependant).
It's been a fabulous fifteen years, but, in many ways, the last
thirty months -- since Carolyn quit her job in the printing
industry and came to work full-time as my assistant -- have been
the best. We get to spend lots of time together and we travel a
great deal. It really has been fabulous.
We're counting our trip to Spain earlier this month as our
anniversary celebration, so today's festivities will be low key.
We're going to see the new Jim Carey movie, MAN ON THE MOON, and
then out to dinner at our favorite steakhouse.
Although Carolyn and I have been married for 15 years, we've been
living together for eighteen years, and we've been friends for
twenty-four years now. I couldn't imagine life without her, and
I love her with all my heart.
24 December 1999
We had a great anniversary, despite a few glitches. We went to
see MAN ON THE MOON, but the movie was half an hour late
starting, due to some technical problem. The upside, though, was
that an assistant manager was waiting as everyone walked out of
the theater at the end to hand out passes for a free movie,
because of the inconvenience.
Then we went out to the parking lot to get our car, and it was
dead; we waited half an hour for a CAA (counterpart of the AAA)
tow truck, who towed us off to our mechanics' place (fortunately,
only about 15 minutes from the theater). Turned out the ground
lead to our battery was damaged; he fixed it (for free) in a few
minutes, and we were on our way.
The moon, at its closest approach, looked fabulous; we watched
it rise while the mechanic fixed our car.
MAN ON THE MOON was a fascinating film, but I'm not sure I
enjoyed it. Indeed, I found it rather disturbing. My take is
that Andy Kauffman seemed to be more mentally ill than anything
else, but, because he was funny and people were getting rich off
of him, no one ever got him the help he needed. It's not really a
comedy film, and there are few laughs. It's more of a drama
about a person who happened to be a comedian.
Still, I will say this: it's a more Philip K. Dickian film than
either BLADE RUNNER or TOTAL RECALL.
1 January 2000
I'm off to a good start for year 2000. The year is only twelve
hours old and I've already had my first publication and my first
The publication is a 2,000-word article about what science will
learn in the next century. It appears in today's issue of THE
GLOBE AND MAIL, Canada's National Newspaper. (In the same issue,
my friend Spider Robinson engagingly looks at what a typical
human will be like in the year 3000.)
And I was on TV this morning (and it'll be repeated throughout
the day) on DISCOVERY CONNECTION, the program The Discovery
Channel Canada does about upcoming shows. Of course, I was
talking about the two-hour documentary INVENTING THE FUTURE: 2000
YEARS OF DISCOVERY that airs coast-to-coast tomorrow evening at
8:00 p.m. Eastern on The Discovery Channel Canada.
Happy New Year, everyone!
4 January 2000
Carolyn and I hosted our quarterly party for Toronto's SF
professionals this evening. Despite several people sending their
regrets because of flu or the freezing rain Toronto was hit with
this evening, we had a good turnout.
But we had a taste of what Y2K would have been like at the end of
the evening: the power went off in all of Vaughan (the town I
live in, just north of Toronto) from 11:00 p.m. until midnight --
apparently a car skidded off the icy roads and ran into a key
transformer or switching station.
On another topic, I bought myself a new printer today: a
new-in-box refurbished HP LaserJet 6P, with a one-year warranty,
on ebay, for US$310. I've wanted a second laser for a while (my
main printer is an Lexmark Optra R+, which is a fabulous
machine), and the 6P seemed like a great choice for use with
WordStar. In a separate auction, I picked up another eight megs
of RAM for the printer for 20 bucks ...
11 January 2000
Well, at long last, my 767 account on CompuServe is dead. I
received it over a decade ago, on October 10, 1989, and it lasted
until yesterday, January 10, 2000. I certainly can't complain
about its passing; I resigned as a sysop of the WordStar forum on
May 24, 1991, and my account sponsor would have been within his
rights yanking the account back then. Instead, it endured for
almost another nine years, for which I was very grateful.
(A 767 account gives unlimited free access to CompuServe, without
any billing charges at all. I got mine back when I was an
associate system operator of the CompuServe WordStar Forum; that
forum still limps on, but the company that sponsored it, WordStar
International, is long gone.)
Anyway, I'll still be hanging around on CompuServe, but any mail
or Forum messages sent to my old account will not be seen by me.
Please DO NOT use these accounts anymore:
76702,747 (on CompuServe)
email@example.com (via the Internet)
Rob_Sawyer (on CompuServe)
Rob_Sawyer@compuserve.com (via the Internet)
Please DO use these accounts:
102261,1433 (on CompuServe)
firstname.lastname@example.org (via the Internet)
sawyer (on CompuServe)
email@example.com (via the Internet)
My permanent E-mail address is:
11 January 2000
It's been a week of good news -- and it's only Tuesday!
On Sunday, I received an invitation to be Guest of Honor at
"Contact Japan 2000," an SF conference to be held in Tokyo in
November. Needless to say, I said yes!
On Monday, I received an invitation to the be the featured writer
at the Writers Guild of Alberta Annual General Meeting and
Conference in Calgary in October. I jumped at that, too.
And today, I received acceptance of my story "Wiping Out" for the
DAW anthology GUARDSMEN (an anthology of space-opera stories told
with a modern sensibility), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and
20 January 2000
I've been offline for a bit. Carolyn and I are in upstate New
York, on the short of glorious Canandaigua Lake, on a writing
Tor has kept me busy down here: they sent the typesetting page
proofs for Calculating God (which looks fabulous -- a very nice
interior layout to match the dynamite cover), and I'm doing minor
revisions (at my own volition) on End of an Era before it's
republished; those are due January 31.
Meanwhile, DAW sent the page proofs for STAR COLONIES, for which
my "The Shoulders of Giants" is the lead story; they also sent
along some cover flats for the book, which look fabulous -- a
great Vincent DiFate painting. The book goes on sale June 18.
Meanwhile, I'm currently hosting a chat about "The Death of
Science Fiction?" on ChaptersGLOBE.com, the web site operated
jointly by Canada's largest bookstore chain, Chapters, and its
national newspaper, THE GLOBE AND MAIL: www.chaptersglobe.com.
Feel free to drop by and add your thoughts.
Last week, we went to see Lois Gresh give a talk about her new
book THE COMPUTERS OF STAR TREK at a Borders. Yesterday, I was
guest speaker in a creative-writing class at the Rochester
Institute of Technology (where my friend Nick DiChario is adjunct
professor). Tonight, we go to the launch party at a different
Borders bookstore for the latest issue of HAZMAT, a literary
magazine that Carolyn has a poem in.
20 January 2000
The Toadstool Bookshop in Milford, New Hampshire, has released
its 1999 SF Bestsellers list; I'm delighted that my Factoring
Humanity came in number two, beaten only by this year's
Now, yes, I did do a signing at that store back in November, but
so did all of the other authors marked by asterisks below.
Indeed, I was so pleased by how the signing went that I've
arranged to sign again at Toadstool -- this time for the
Calculating God hardcover -- on Wednesday, July 19, 2000, at 7:00
Here's the list:
Toadstool Bookshop - Milford
1999 SF Bestsellers
(statistics from the 1999 calendar year)
1. To Say Nothing of the Dog - Connie Willis
2. Factoring Humanity - Robert J. Sawyer*
3. Mars - Ben Bova*
4. Briar Rose - Jane Yolen*
5. Child of the River - Paul McAuley
6. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
7. Price of the Stars - Doyle/MacDonald*
8. Last Dragonlord - Joanne Bertin*
9. King of Infinite Space - Allen Steele*
10. Runelords - David Farland
11. Game of Thrones - George R. Martin
11. Forever Peace - Joe Haldeman
13. God's Fire - Patricia Anthony
14. Darwinia - Robert Charles Wilson
15. Polgara the Sorceress - David Eddings
16. Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson
17. Newton's Cannon - J. Gregory Keyes
18. Children Star - Joan Slonczeswki
19. River of Blue Fire - Tad Williams
20. Mairelon the Magician - Patricia Wrede
21. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
22. Knight of the Word - Terry Brooks
23. Hogfather - Terry Pratchett
24. Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula LeGuin
25. Temple of the Winds - Terry Goodkind
25 January 2000
I'm going to be attending my first STAR TREK convention in
twenty-four years (and my second one total) this summer: the
convention Toronto Trek bid for, and won, the right to be
designated the "Canvention" this year -- the Canadian National SF
Convention, where the Aurora Awards will be presented ...
An interesting bit of SF history occured at that convention, by
the way. They had the official launch for Laser Books, a
paperback SF line published by Harlequin, Canada's -- and the
world's -- largest publisher. Laser Books made some marketing
blunders, and only lasted about two years, but they did publish
early novels by such later notables as Jerry Pournelle and George
22 January 2000
This is my year for appearing at mainstream literary festivals.
I've just accepted an invitation to appear on Sunday, April 9, at
the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival in Montreal,
alongside such literary lions as Michael Ondaatje (THE ENGLISH
PATIENT) and Alberto Manguel.
This is in addition to the other festivals/events I'm doing this
Principal Speaker, North Country Writers Festival,
Watertown, New York, April 25-27.
Guest Reader, Sunshine Festival of the Written
Arts, Schlet, British Columbia, August 10-13.
Featured Author, Writers Guild of Alberta AGM,
Calgary, Alberta, October 20-22.
What I love is that none of these are science-fiction events;
they're all established mainstream literary festivals. Out of
the ghetto, endlessly orbiting, that's me ... <grin>.
23 January 2000
My writing retreat in upstate New York is going well ...
Interesting day yesterday. I team-taught for the first time:
that is, I taught along with two other teachers in the same
classroom. Nick DiChario, Mary Stanton, and I gave a full-day
course called "Breaking Into Genre Fiction Markets" at
Rochester's Writers and Books. It was a lot of fun to do, and I
enjoyed playing off of two other instructors.
The evening was spent at a party at Lois Gresh's place near
Rochester; a great time was had by all.
It has been BRUTALLY cold down here for the last few days, but
today, for once, it's reasonably mild.
4 February 2000
As you may have gathered, I'm back from my 24-day writing retreat
in upstate New York. While there, I did work outlining and
researching the novel I'm currently working on, Neanderthal
Parallax, plus a whack of other stuff, including:
* revising End of an Era for Tor; they will be reissuing the book
in about a year's time;
* finishing my short story "Wiping Out" for the DAW anthology
Guardsmen of Tomorrow;
* proofread galleys for Calculating God;
* completely redesigned my web site at www.sfwriter.com (adding
frames, a cascading style sheet, "You are here" trees to every
page, and a new color scheme that matches my letterhead);
* Did two weeks hosting the Writers' Studio on
* Was a guest lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology;
* Co-taught a day-long genre-fiction writing course with Mary
Stanton and Nick DiChario;
* Proofread galleys for my story "The Shoulders of Giants," the
lead story for the DAW anthology Star Colonies;
and, best of all, I was the honored guest at a three-hour dinner
for 25 students from the Canandaigua Middle School (Canandaigua
is the nearest town to the place I go for my writing retreats),
all of whom had been reading my books either on their own or for
classwork. It was, truly, one of the top ten greatest events of
my professional life. These young people were so enthusiastic,
so sharp, and so polite -- it was just incredible. Truly a
23 February 2000
This past weekend was Ad Astra 19, Toronto's regional SF
I have to confess to being dubious of its chances of success.
The convention had moved from its traditional summer date to
February, and had picked the same weekend as Boskone. The
weather in Toronto was not cooperating; there were numerous
school closings the opening day of the convention because of a
snow storm. And then, to make matters worse, they lost guest
after guest after guest. Originally, Bob Eggleton was to be
artist Goh, but he bowed out; Nancy Kress and Charles Sheffield
were scheduled to be Author Guests of Honor, then Charles had to
bow out because of a scheduling conflict, and at the last minute
Nancy (Charles's wife) had to bow out, too, because Charles was
having health problems.
But it turned out to be a FABULOUS convention -- one of the best
I've been to lately. The quality of panels was remarkably high.
I was lucky enough to moderate two truly excellent ones: one on
religion in SF (with Michelle Sagara West, Julie E. Czerneda,
Phyllis Gotlieb, and Rev. Paul Fayter) and another, sponsored by
Eastman Kodak, on the future of imaging (with Peter Watts, Dr.
Isaac Szpindel, Pat York, Julie E. Czerneda, and Ed Covannon from
My reading was one of the best attended I've given in Toronto:
40-plus people; standing room only. I read "The Shoulders of
Giants," which will be the lead story in STAR COLONIES, a DAW
anthology coming in July. The audience was very appreciative.
Overall, the con was quite well attended, and I'm very much
looking forward to next year's.
Meanwhile, Carolyn and I are on Canandaigua Lake on another
writing retreat (these are always a boon for Carolyn's youngest
brother, since he gets to move out of his mom's house, and into
our place for a few weeks). We'll be down here for three weeks,
so I may be scarce online during that period. We just got down
here yesterday, but today was a great day of writing on my next
23 February 2000
On January 1, 1998, back when I switched my domain name to
SFWRITER.COM, I added a hit counter to my web site. Today, the
counter passed the 30,000 hit mark -- 30,000 hits in just over
Actually, the pace has increased a fair bit in the last few
months (doubtless due to the overall increase in traffic on the
web). A year ago, I was averaging a thousand hits a month; these
days, I'm averaging 2,000.
If you haven't visited my site for a while, have a look; it had a
complete facelift last month: www.sfwriter.com
1 March 2000
Made my flight reservations for Florida today. Carolyn and I are
going down to West Palm Beach for 11 days, and we'll be spending
three of those days at the International Conference on the
Fantastic in the Arts in Fort Lauderdale (can you say "tax
I'm giving a reading there Friday afternoon, Mach 24, and, I must
say, I've got a terrific reading slot. ICFA does readings in
ninety-minute blocks, with three authors. I'm hammocked between
this year's winner of the Crawford Award for Best First Novel (an
award that will be presented at this conference) and Daniel
Keyes, the author of FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON (the reading block is
from 4:00 to 5:30).
Meanwhile, my writing retreat in Upstate New York is going well:
I've done 20,000 words in the last nine days. I'm trying to keep
distractions to a minimum done here, although I am doing a
half-day of consulting about the future of imaging for Eastman
Kodak, and I'm giving a guest lecture at St. John Fisher College.
3 March 2000
I'm pleased to announce that I will be Writer in Residence at the
Richmond Hill Public Libraries for April, May, and June 2000.
Richmond Hill is a part of Greater Toronto. The residency is
paid as if it were a full-time appointment, but 60% of the
writer's time is to be spent writing; in other words, I'll be
pulling down a salary to write my current book (good work if you
can get it <grin>).
I'll spend the other 40% of the time -- fourteen hours a week --
working with aspirant writers on their manuscripts. Richmond
Hill residents will be able to submit manuscripts, which I'll
critique for them in one-on-one private sessions. There's no
cost to the residents for this; the money for my salary comes out
of the library budget and from arts councils.
Writer-in-Residence jobs are few and far between -- the Richmond
Hill Public Libraries have never had one before --- and I'm
absolutely thrilled to have this gig.
The residency will conclude with a gala launch party at the
central library branch for my twelfth novel, Calculating God.
It's going to make for a busy three months, though: during that
same period, I'm also teaching for a week in Banff, Alberta;
appearing at two mainstream writers' festivals (one in Montreal,
the other in upstate New York); speaking at the Annual General
Meetings of two writers' associations (including Canada's
largest, the Canadian Authors Association); being Guest of Honor
at an SF convention in Vancouver; attending another SF con and a
mystery-fiction con; giving a futurism talk to executives of a
life-insurance company; and starting my four-day workshop at the
University of Toronto. Whew!
I'm sure it will be terrific, and well worth doing in its own
right, but, actually, I also think of it as a bit of a stepping
This will be my first residency, and the library I'll be working
at is only a 20-minute drive from my home.
But there are other residencies elsewhere in Canada that I'm
interested in, and having one under my belt will make me a much
more credible candidate for those. In particular, Carolyn and I
have our eye on one up in the Yukon, which quarters the writer
and his spouse in the childhood home of Pierre Berton, one of
Canada's most popular writers -- we'd love to spend one summer
(but not winter!) up there. It's my intention to apply for that
one for 2001 or 2002.
5 March 2000
The latest enhancement to my web site at sfwriter.com is this:
I've added a little search function, so that you can type in
keywords, and see a list of all the pages on my site that contain
those keywords. Although I think my site is well designed for
easy navigation, it does have 415 separate pages now, and so it's
sometimes tricky finding exactly what you want. Now, though, a
search on "wordstar" or "isaac asimov" or "homer award" will turn
up exactly what you're looking for.
The search function is provided by a nifty free web service
To try it on my site, just click on "Search" in the navigation
bar at the left side of the screen.
8 March 2000
We were talking here a bit a while ago about famous Canadians.
One such was John Colicos, the actor, known to genre fans as Kor,
the original Klingon, from STAR TREK, a role he reprised several
times on DEEP SPACE NINE, and for playing Count Baltar, the human
traitor, in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.
He lived in Toronto, commuting to Hollywood when working there;
he was an accomplished Shakespearean actor, best remembered for
playing King Lear at the Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare
Festival, and London's Old Vic.
Colicos died in Toronto on Monday at age 71 following a series of
I saw him once years ago on the subway in Toronto; I wanted to go
up to him and tell him how much I enjoyed his work, but I didn't
do so. Now I wish I had.
10 March 2000
Signed up today to attend the annual meeting of the
Paleoanthropology Society in Philadelphia next month ... there
are a number of fascinating-sounding papers being presented about
Neanderthals, which should provide excellent grist for the
NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX project I'm working on.
11 March 2000
My writing retreat in upstate New York has come to an end. First
thing tomorrow, Carolyn and I drive back to Toronto (starting
early to beat some forecasted bad weather).
I was down here for 18 days, one of which I took off to do some
consulting for Kodak. My goal was to get 25,000 words of my new
novel written. I did that, and more: I wrote 36,000 words, more
than one-third of a book. Of course, it's just first draft, but
I'm pleased with it.
Tomorrow night, I'm off to a party at writer Robert Charles
Wilson's place; Sunday, it's my Mom's birthday party. I'm in
Toronto for a couple more days after that, then it's off to
14 March 2000
I see Dave Truesdale has elsewhere posted the contents of David
G. Hartwell's YEAR'S BEST SF 5 anthology, so I suppose I should
formally announce here that I am tickled pink that my story "The
Blue Planet" is included in that book.
"The Blue Planet" is the story I wrote under commission to THE
GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER back in December,
explaining what really happened to the Mars Polar Lander ...
(THE GLOBE retitled it "Mars Reacts!" David has restored the
author's preferred title.)
14 March 2000
Yesterday's mail brought an Italian double-header: my author's
copies of the Italian edition of Factoring Humanity ("I
TRANSUMANI"), plus a contract for an Italian edition of my
forthcoming Calculating God.
Also in yesterday's mail were two other contracts: a reprint
sale of my story "Forever," from Mike Resnick's RETURN OF THE
DINOSAURS, to NORTH OF INFINITY II, the second in a series of
Canadian SF anthologies edited by Micheal (sic) Magnini, and the
contract for my story "Iterations," commissioned by the Canadian
SF magazine TRANSVERSIONS to help them re-launch under their new
Not a bad day at all, at least as far as the mail was concerned.
But I also had a major Windows crash on my laptop yesterday -- I
couldn't even boot to Windows safe mode. I had to reformat my
hard drive and reinstall Windows. Fortunately, I could boot to
the DOS prompt, and managed to get all my new files off my hard
drive and on to Zip disks (and I'd done a complete backup the day
before), so nothing was lost. But it was irritating.
My friend Marcel Gagne, coeditor of TRANSVERSIONS, writes for
LINUX JOURNAL, and is trying to convince me to switch to Linux,
which is apparently much more stable than Windows 98. I'm sorely
Other news: Bill Joy of Sun Microsystems is releasing an
antitechnology manifesto tomorrow, in WIRED; parts have already
been leaked to the press. THE GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL
NEWSPAPER commissioned me moments ago to write a 1,000-word
response/reaction to Joy's position; it will appear in the
"Comment" section of Friday's GLOBE.
15 March 2000
My article responding to Bill Joy's antitechnology manifesto will
appear in TOMORROW'S (Thursday's) edition of THE GLOBE AND MAIL:
CANADA'S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER (not Friday's, as I originally said).
Look for it on the cover of the Opinion section.
16 March 2000
Just a small note that the Bernae Gunderson, featured (with
photo) on the front page of today's (Wednesday's) NEW YORK TIMES,
and tonight on ABC's 20/20, leading the fight against the
deceptive lending practices of First Alliance, is my cousin ...
(My mother's family is mostly Swedish and Norwegian.)
16 March 2000
A little behind-the-scenes peek:
I thought some of you might be interested in the queries an
author receives from a translator of his or her work. Here are
the questions I was asked today by my Italian translator, who is
just finishing up his translation of my novel FlashForward (page
numbers refer to the 1999 Tor hardcover):
p. 13: Moving up the cube. - Do you refer in advance to the
Minkowski cube? Or what?
Yes, I'm referring to the Minkowski cube ... a little
p. 24: Solid-state microphone. - What do you mean exactly?
A futuristic technology; a solid block that picks up sounds. You
can drop the "solid-state" reference if it's confusing.
p. 71: Christmas-banquet. - Should be a game of words referred to
something I ignore. What is it?
Just a screw-up involving translating the menu for CERN's staff
Christmas dinner into other languages, resulting in inappropriate
dishes being served. This is supposed to be a humorous reference
in the novel.
p. 105: KEK- Acronym for what?
I'm not sure, to be honest. But it's a real particle accelerator
in Japan. I checked two sources; neither spelled out the
p. 110: A blind copy of your message - I use email but I never
heard this expression.
A blind copy is a copy you get of a message that has gone to
multiple people -- but your copy doesn't include a list of who
the other recipients are
p. 132: I could use a trip - I don't remember the film
Casablanca, but what is a trip, in this case?
"Trip" just means a "vacation" in this context -- "I could use a
p. 135: Begats - I couldn't find this word in any of the
dictionaries I have. What does it mean?
In English translations of the Bible, the archaic English word
"begat" (past tense of "beget") is used to denote parental
lineages. If John is the grandfather, and David is the father,
and Peter is the son, it would say "John begat David, who begat
Peter." There are pages and pages of such family-history
listings in the Bible.
p. 143: Quadrapole magnets. And (p. 275) Sextupole magnets. - Are
they magnets with a particular form (4 or 6 poles)?
p. 153: Indeed it's just relativity writ large. - I didn't
exactly grasp the sense of the phrase
"writ large" is a somewhat pompous English idiom. It means
"expressed in a grand sense" (as if you'd written the words in
big letters on a wall; "writ" is Old English for "written").
Lloyd might have simply said, "It's just relativity on a grand
scale" or "It's just relativity taken to the next level."
p. 173: HEP - Acronym for what?
High-energy photon (a gamma-ray photon is a HEP)
p. 174: High-end stereo and virtual reality decks. - Inventions
of a not far future, I imagine.
"high-end" in English just means pricey or expensive -- something
offered to the high end of the marketplace (those people with
lots of money). So "high-end stereo decks" already exist, but
"high-end virtual-reality decks" are yet to be invented.
p. 197: And that Lloyd had stopped to smell the roses? - Is there
a hidden meaning, under the literal one?
"stop to smell the roses" is an idiom in English; it figuratively
means to take time out of one's busy schedule in order to
appreciate the simple joys of life.
p. 198: This End Up & following. - Well, I understand these are
common phrases, but could you explain better?
This End Up: phrase printed on shipping cartons to show what way
they should be oriented when placed in a truck. A carton
containing a TV set will say "This End Up," for instance, on its
Best Before Date on Bottom: appears on containers of perishable
foods, such as single-serving plastic cups of yogurt, to indicate
that an expiration date, after which the food should not be
consumed, has been printed on the bottom of the container.
In order to form a more perfect onion: this refers to a line
from the preamble to the United States Constitution: "We, the
people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union ..." But I changed the word "union" to "onion" (a kind of
plant) to show that the Japanese clothing manufacturer who had
put this slogan on a shirt had no idea what the words actually
p. 224: Souls are about life immortal... and religion is about
just rewards. - This puzzled me a lot. Does it mean that souls
look for immortality and religion only gives a reward that is not
what souls are looking for? But this should be in contrast with
the credo of Mr. Cheung, who is a Christian. I'd like to
understand the exact sense of the phrase.
"just rewards" is an English expression; the "just" in "just
rewards" means properly due or merited -- your "just rewards" are
what you really have coming to you, such as going to heaven or
hell after death.
"Souls are about life immortal, Dr. Procopides, and religion
is about just rewards."
A little less poetically, he could have said:
"As a religious man, I believe my soul will exist forever
after my death, Dr. Procopides, and whether it exists
in paradise or damnation depends on what I've done while
p. 243: At 20 solar masses. - Is solar mass a unity of measure?
A solar mass is the mass of our own sun; a star of 20 solar
masses is 20 times as big as our sun.
Btw, is there a scientific base for the hypothesis of the novel?
The FlashForward, I mean. This is just curiosity.
No; I just made it up.
17 March 2000
Just bought a wonderful product: the CD-ROM archives of the last
five years of SCIENCE NEWS: THE WEEKLY NEWSMAGAZINE OF SCIENCE.
It's fabulous: a total of 5,342 articles and letters, all in
Acrobat PDF format, all full-text searchable, all on one CD-ROM.
Since I started subscribing to SCIENCE NEWS, back in 1982, it has
been THE main source of the science information in my novels. I
highly recommend this CD!
For information, see http://www.sciencenews.org
18 March 2000
Saw the latest SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE today. I'm pleased to
report that my FlashForward is on Don D'Ammassa's (unnumbered)
list of the Best Science Fiction Novels of the Year for 1999.
(The book was also number three on BN.COM's list of the year's
best SF, and has qualified for the Preliminary Nebula ballot.)
21 March 2000
Things are going fabulously here in West Palm Beach Florida
(where I've been since Thursday on another writing retreat). The
weather is gorgeous and I'm getting lots of work done.
Tomorrow, Nancy Kress and Charles Sheffield show up; they're
staying here overnight, then we all head off to Ft. Lauderdale
for the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.
28 March 2000
I'm back home from my writing retreat in West Palm Beach, and the
International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.
The weather was beautiful, and I had a very relaxing time. I
wrote 13,000 new words on NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX prior to the
conference -- meaning I've now got 50,000 words of first draft;
given that my deadline is over a year away, I feel I'm in very
The conference was terrific; I'd never been before, but had a
great time. Ann Bishop, sadly, wasn't able to attend, meaning
that the 4:00 p.m. Friday reading slot was just me and Daniel
Keyes, of FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON fame. Carolyn and I had a great
dinner at an Indian restaurant with my editor, David G. Hartwell,
and his wife and son, and a great lunch with Jennifer Marcus, the
head of publicity at Tor; we were joined halfway through the meal
by Brian Aldiss, which was terrific. Saturday evening, Gordon
Van Gelder (the editor of F&SF) and I sat with Daniel Keyes for a
long time, and just listened to Dan spin stories about his
adventures in publishing and in Hollywood; fabulous.
I was also the guest speaker at the South Florida Science Fiction
Society meeting on Saturday, and on Sunday, Nancy Kress, Mary
Stanton, and I did a signing at a Waldenbooks in West Palm Beach.
All in all, a great trip!
28 March 2000
The nice news at the signing I did in Florida on Sunday is that
Starplex is now in a fourth printing; this is the first I've seen
of it. I'm delighted to see the book is still selling for
31 March 2000
Tomorrow, my residency at the Richmond Hill Public Library begins
with a welcoming tea.
Immediately after that, we head off to Niagara Falls, New York,
for Eeriecon, at which the wonderful MIKE RESNICK and the spiffy
EDO VAN BELKOM are guests of honor.
8 April 2000
I'm back home -- for one evening -- after a week on the road.
Eeriecon in Niagara Falls, New York, was fabulous. Mike Resnick
really is the consummate Guest of Honor, always available to the
fans, and staying up to the wee hours to party. Edo van Belkom
was the other GoH -- his first stint as such -- and he did a
great job, too.
The only downside about Eeriecon was its attendance. I'm
guessing, but it was maybe 130 people -- down by about 20 from
last year. My suspicion is that Ad Astra -- Toronto's regional
con -- hurt Eeriecon by moving to a February date from its
historic June date. Toronto is just 90 minutes from Niagara
Falls; having two cons so close together geographically and
temporally presents some problems. Still, I really did have a
great time at Eeriecon, as did just about everyone else I spoke
Next year's Eeriecon will have yours truly and Samuel R. Delany
as Author Guests of Honor, plus my lovely wife Carolyn Clink as
Poet Guest of Honor.
After Eeriecon, Carolyn and I drove down to Philadelphia for the
annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society, where I got to
speak with some of the world's leading Neandertal experts,
including Erik Trinkaus, Shara Bailey, and Milford Wolpoff from
the U.S., Anne-marie Tillier from France, and Jakov Radovcic from
Croatia. Several very interesting papers were presented on
Neandertals, too. I'm very glad I attended the conference.
We listened to a fascinating mix of audio books on our road trip:
THE BELL CURVE, WHEN ELEPHANTS WEEP: THE EMOTIONAL LIVES OF
ANIMALS, and MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT: ARGUMENTS ON ABORTION. All
were quite thought-provoking; the last was actual trial
recordings from eight U.S. Supreme Court cases related to
We spent yesterday at my dad's vacation home in upstate New York,
where I got a good day of writing in, and today we came back
home, stopping in at the Richmond Hill Public Library to pick up
the first batch of manuscripts I'm supposed to critique as part
of my residency there.
Tomorrow, I fly to Montreal for two days to attend a mainstream
literary festival called Blue Metropolis, where I'm giving a
reading and sitting on two panels.
Life be good -- but hectic <grin>.
10 April 2000
The news of the day is that my agent Ralph Vicinanza has sold
unabridged audio rights to my 1995 Nebula Award-winning novel THE
TERMINAL EXPERIMENT to Recorded Books of Maryland.
Today's mail also brought nice royalty checks for both Starplex
and Illegal Alien ...
11 April 2000
Speaking of The Terminal Experiment, today's mail brought the
semiannual royalty check for HarperPrism's edition of THE
TERMINAL EXPERIMENT ... I love getting paid for work I did years
10 April 2000
The Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal was a lot of
fun, and for Saturday's events they had an amazing turnout:
standing-room only in practically every event.
That day, I was on a panel discussion about the sources of
inspiration for novels. Each of the five writers gave a brief
reading (I read the opening of Calculating God) -- some in
English, some in French.
They had a very-well-stocked bookroom, selling books by the
writers present. I was very pleasantly surprised at how many
copies of my books sold after the event, given that it was a
mainstream literary festival, and this was a general-interest
panel. It rained all day, though, so I never made it out of the
hotel, opting for the excellent Italian buffet in the hotel.
Saturday night, I went up to my hotel room and read the first
three manuscripts that had come in for critique in my stint as
Writer in Residence -- and they were also a very pleasant
surprise. I'd frankly been nervous about the quality of work I
might see, but all three were very, very good. I meet
face-to-face with the writers later this week.
Sunday, Montreal was hit by a blizzard. I spent a fair bit of
time with the head of the Cuban Writers' Union -- and his
absolute delight at seeing, for the first time in his life, a
city buried in snow, made the blizzard easier to take, but it had
a devastating effect on the festival. As I said, events were
packed on Saturday, but Sunday saw a very modest turnout (I
certainly wouldn't have gone outside on a day like that). I did
a panel on Sunday about science-fiction, along with Francophone
SF writers Yves Meynard, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Jean-Louis Trudel,
and Daniel Sernine, but we, like every other event that day, had
a tiny audience.
I got to the airport on time for my 6:00 p.m. flight back to
Toronto, only to find, as I'd feared, that it had been canceled.
The airport was absolutely packed with travelers. Fortunately, I
fly enough that Air Canada calls me an Elite Gold customer, so I
didn't have to stand in the enormous lines to get booked on a
Instead, I headed off to the Maple Leaf lounge. I was originally
told they could get me out on a 9:00 p.m. flight, but that got
changed to 10:00, then 11:00. I finally got out at 11:45 on a
Canadian Airlines flight. Still, my time at the airport was
actually quite pleasant -- the lounge is very well-appointed with
private stereos, big-screen TVs, and open bar, and lots to nibble
on. So, although I was at the airport for hours, I at least
managed to get a lot of work done there.
Today (Monday) is my first real day at home since March 31 ...
but I won't be home for long. I leave on Saturday for Banff,
Alberta, were I'm teaching SF writing for a week.
13 April 2000
Busy times. A few notes:
* Last weekend in Montreal I gave my 150th public reading. I
read the opening of Calculating God, and a new short-short
story, "The Abdication of Pope Mary III," commissioned by and
forthcoming in the prestigious British science journal NATURE
-- they commissioned the story a while ago, but I asked for
them to hold off publishing it until June, so that it would be
in the magazine the same time Calculating God was hitting the
* Yesterday, I had a terrific lunch with my Canadian publicist,
Heidi Winter, at H. B. Fenn, the Canadian distributor for Tor
Books. The Canadian media is showing great interest in
Calculating God, which is gratifying.
* Cities now on the Calculating God book tour: Richmond Hill,
Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, and Sudbury, Ontario; Montreal,
Quebec; Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany, New York;
Milford, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts; and Vancouver,
British Columbia. I should have an updated itinerary on my web
* Tonight, I give a seminar entitled "How Publishing REALLY
Works" at the Richmond Hill Public Library, as part of my
* I now have my editor's copies of OVER THE EDGE: THE CRIME
WRITERS OF CANADA ANTHOLOGY, edited by Peter Sellers and
Robert J. Sawyer, and published in trade paperback by
Pottersfield Press in Nova Scotia; it looks fabulous, and it
got a rave review in THE GLOBE AND MAIL: CANADA'S NATIONAL
* The Japanese edition of Frameshift is now out -- and the cover
is gorgeous! I think all of my Japanese editions have had
terrific covers, but this is one of the nicest yet.
* From April 26 to April 28, I'm the Guest of Honor at the North
Country Writers Festival in Watertown, New York, sponsored by
the State University of New York.
* Saturday morning, I leave for Banff, where I'm teaching SF
writing for a week, in some of the most beautiful natural
countryside in the world.
13 April 2000
I'm pleased to announce that I'm a double nominee for the
Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (the Auroras) this
My FlashForward is a finalist in the best English novel category,
and my "Stream of Consciousness" (from the anthology PACKING
FRACTION, edited by Julie E. Czerneda) is a finalist in the best
English short story category.
22 April 2000
I'm back home after my week in Banff, Alberta, as a faculty
member at the "Writing with Style" workshop.
I had a FABULOUS time -- really, one of the peak professional
experiences of my life. My seven students (six females and one
male) were all enthusiastic, talented, friendly, and fun -- each
one was an absolute joy to be with. They ranged in age from 20
to 70, and came from Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and San
(In total, there were 56 students and seven faculty members at
the whole workshop, covering science fiction, poetry, short
fiction, and memoir writing.)
I've been involved with great workshops before. What made this
extra special was the Banff Centre for the Arts. The scenery --
nestled in the Rocky Mountains -- was unbelievably gorgeous, the
weather was fabulous, the recreational facilities (skiing and
hiking obviously, but also tennis, squash, swimming, etc. etc.
etc.) were excellent, the conference facilities were first rate,
and the meals (terrific all-you-can-eat buffets three times a
day) were sumptuous. I describe it as like being on a literary
luxury cruise that happened to take place on dry land.
The daily readings/seminars by faculty members went very well
(I wowed everyone -- including those who had never read SF
before -- with the opening of Calculating God).
It wasn't particularly lucrative for me as a faculty member, but
it's an incredible bargain for the students: Cdn$700 (about
US$475) for seven days at a mountain resort, accommodation and
meals included, would have been a real bargain even without the
workshopping on top.
I got a lot of excellent writing of my own done in the evening
(faculty had excellent multi-room apartments), and so did the
students. The creative energy level was incredibly high.
On the last day, a bunch of people from Calgary did the two-hour
drive up to see me; they were members of the Imaginative Fiction
Writers Association, for whom I'd led a different workshop four
years ago. It was really a treat to see them, and very touching
that they were willing to go that far out of their way to see me
Mike Resnick has described his definition of heaven as a Worldcon
that never ends; for me, it might very well be a workshop/writing
retreat at Banff.
23 April 2000
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY has weighed in very positively on my twelfth
novel, Calculating God, which should start appearing in
bookstores next month:
Sawyer is one of contemporary SF's most consistent
performers. Much of this novel is relatively
cerebral, as Jericho and Hollus argue over the
scientific data they've gathered in support of
God's existence, but Sawyer excels at developing
both protagonists into full-fledged characters, and
he adds tension to his story in several ways. This
is unusually thoughtful SF.
25 April 2000
Some of you asked to be notified when more information became
available about Robert J. Sawyer's four-day science-fiction
workshop this summer at the University of Toronto.
My workshop will be part of the Taddle Creek Summer Writers'
Workshop, to be held Friday, June 30, to Monday, July 3, 2000.
Tuition is Cdn$412 (about US$280), including the Cdn$12
Full information, including registration forms, is now available
I've reported a bug in the online-registration form. At the
moment, if you try to register online for "Workshop 6" (the
science-fiction section), the form comes up with you registered
for workshops one THROUGH six (with a tuition of six times
$412!). I'm told this will be fixed shortly; in the meantime,
you might apply for the workshop by fax or phone instead.
28 April 2000
Just got back from two days at the North Country Writers Festival
in Watertown, New York, where I was guest of honor.
The conference was held at Jefferson Community College, part of
the State University of New York (SUNY) system. I had a great
Stephen L. Burns, this year's winner of the Compton Crook Award,
made a surprise appearance at my reading Wednesday night; first
time I'd met him. We had a great chat.
29 April 2000
Today is my 40th birthday. We're having a party tonight to
celebrate. (As Carolyn's invitation said, "It's not a surprise
party -- at Rob's advanced age, his heart probably couldn't take
As it happens, I sold my first novel just before I turned 30, so
my own personal decades of life, and the decades of my novelist
career, happen to coincide.
Ten years ago this month, I was at the one-third mark in the
first draft of Far-Seer, my third novel (I'd already written and
sold Golden Fleece, and had written End of an Era, which at that
time was sitting on Brian Thomsen's desk at Warner Questar).
So, in the ensuing decade, I wrote all of Fossil Hunter,
Foreigner, The Terminal Experiment, Starplex, Illegal Alien,
Frameshift, Factoring Humanity, FlashForward, and Calculating
God, plus two-thirds of Far-Seer, and about half of the first
draft of my current novel -- or almost exactly a novel a year for
a decade. (In addition, I wrote a book's worth of short SF in
that same period.) Not overly prolific, but not too shabby.
Meanwhile, a decade ago, I was just finishing up a major
freelance job I'd been doing for a few years: editing special
reports for THE FINANCIAL TIMES OF CANADA newspaper (ten years
later, that paper is defunct); I'd just received and returned the
copyedited manuscript for Golden Fleece (ten years later, that
book has been reissued by Tor in a handsome trade paperback); I
was being courted by WordStar International to move to Novato,
California, to work in broad-strokes word-processor product
development (ten years later, that company is defunct); and the
Richmond Hill Public Library called to ask me to do a paid public
reading there (ten years later, I'm the Writer in Residence at
It's been a good decade, and a good forty years (although I just
got off the phone with my brother-in-law Brian -- Carolyn's
youngest brother, who is 30 -- who had called to wish my a happy
birthday. He said turning 30 had been no big deal for him; I
thanked him, but said that turning 40 meant I'd likely reached
the halfway point in my life, to which Brian felt compelled to
point out that actually I was probably now PAST the halfway
point ... Gee, thanks.).
30 April 2000
Hi, Everybody. Many thanks for the birthday wishes! The party
just broke up, and it was a blast. Nick DiChario and Dave Smith
came in from Rochester, New York; James Alan Gardner came in from
Kitchener. Some big public announcements, too: Robert Charles
Wilson announced his engagement to Sharry Walderman (they will
honeymoon at Worldcon this year); Terence M. Green and Merle
Casci announced that they are expecting a child.
It was a terrific party. My mother-in-law seemed rather awed by
the presence of Rick Green, formerly host of Prisoners of
Gravity, and a major TV star in Canada (he currently stars in
History Bites, a terrific comedy series).
We'd told people not to bring presents, but best-fanzine Hugo
winner Mike Glicksohn brought me a great one nonetheless: a
hardcover of A Canticle for Leibowitz inscribed by him thus: "A
copy of the best SF novel that first appeared in 1960 for
undoubtedly the best SF novelist who first appeared in 1960."
Rick Green brought a great present, too: a half-dozen critical
works about SF that his local library had been selling off in a
discard sale. Lots of great stuff.
We had a great mix of people in attendance: one of my
high-school girlfriends; members of my old high-school SF club;
my brothers and their wives; two of Carolyn's brothers; various
writers; friends who aren't part of the SF community; some
neighbors; and more. I think it was the most people we've ever
had in our home, and I must say I feel just absolutely terrific