[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
Hugo and Nebula Winner

SFWRITER.COM > Blog (old)

Rob's Blog: June 2001 to June 2002

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

First, a few new links:

There's a lengthy audio interview with me on the Hour 25 website 
(see the June 21 program):  http://www.hour25online.com

And there's audio clips of me reading from HOMINIDS on the SciFi 
Audio website:  http://www.scifiaudio.com

It's been a hectic ten days, but I'm now back home in 
Mississauga, and back at work on HYBRIDS.

The California book tour went fabulously well.  The clear 
highlight was appearing on TechTV's THE SCREENSAVERS on Friday, 
June 21.  If anyone doubts whether media makes a difference, the 
Amazon.com sales rank for HOMINIDS went from 7,000+ just before 
SCREENSAVERS first aired on Friday afternoon to 620 by Sunday 

Carolyn and I popped briefly into a store in Berkeley called The 
Bone Room that sells fossils and skeletal material.  I bought a 
fabulous cast of an Archaeopteryx (the first true bird) 
specimen, and it's now hanging on my office wall.

Monday was BookExpo Canada, Canada's publishing-industry trade 
show.  The line-up for my signing blew me away -- 320 people!  It 
was by far the biggest event my distributor H. B. Fenn had that 
year (and they had Canadian politician Preston Manning and FAMILY 
FEUD host Louie Anderson signing as well!), and also one of the 
biggest at the entire tradeshow.  I was stunned, but very, very 

On Friday, my four-day SF writing workshop at the University of 
Toronto begins.  I've got seven participants this time, which is 
a fine number, and we should have a lot of fun.


Sunday, June 16, 2002

Hi, Everyone!  My apologies for being so long in adding an update 
to this online diary.  As you can imagine, with my new novel 
Hominids just out, I've been swamped with things to do related 
to its release.  So, let me take a few moments to bring you all 
up to date.

My book tour in Western Canada went quite well, with signings in 
Saskatoon, Calgary, and Vancouver.  In Saskatoon, members of the 
local branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada took me 
to visit their wonderful dark-skies observing site, an acreage 
they maintain well outside of Saskatoon with an observatory dome 
and a roll-over to cover a number of telescopes.  It's a fabulous 
location -- but, sadly, it was overcast when I visited, so we 
didn't get to do any observing.

In Calgary, I went out for a wonderful dinner with members of 
IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction Writers' Association.  Back in 
1996, I had facilitated a writers' workshop for that group, and 
it was great to see my old friends again.  

Also in Calgary, I gave a keynote address at a conference on AI 
and robotics, which was very well received.  You can read the 
full text here -- except for the very ending, which had me 
leading 250 scientists and engineers in singing "Daisy" from 
2001 -- which I claim is the obvious theme song of the AI 

In Vancouver, I saw the real Bonnie Jean Mah -- the writing 
student of mine after whom the fictitious Bonnie Jean Mah, the 
director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Hominids,  
is named.  I also caught up with my oldest friend, Michael John 
Thompson, a bookseller who does a great business in collectible 
SF; Michael and I had been at nursery school together back in 

While on the trip, I got 10,600 words added to Hybrids, 
the final volume of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy  (Humans, 
the second volume, is already finished).  Getting that much done 
while on a busy book tour is very good for me, and I was quite 

Speaking of Hybrids, I've seen the sketch for Donato's 
cover for that book -- and it's every bit as lovely as the great 
piece he did for the cover of Hominids.  I'm very pleased.

Tomorrow, I leave for a week of touring in California, and I'm 
very much looking forward to that.  This time, Carolyn is coming 
along with me, and I'm sure we'll have a great time.  Besides the 
planned signings, I'll be interviewed in L.A. for the 
long-running radio program Hour 25 and in Oakland for Locus: 
The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field.  And I'll be doing a 
live segment on "The Screen Savers" on the specialty channel 
TechTV (available across the U.S. and as one of the new digital 
channels in Canada) on this Friday, June 21.

Reviews of Hominids are starting to appear, including an 
excellent one in The Globe and Mail: Canada's National 
Newspaper -- I was delighted about that, because it's one of 
the few review sources in Canada that really does have an impact 
on sales.

I've also been doing a fair bit of media, including by-phone 
radio interviews all over the U.S. and Canada (Friday, I did 
one with a station in Colorado).  And I've recorded a bunch of 
segments to air over the coming year for two Canadian TV series:  
Rocket Science, which will debut in September on Discovery 
Channel Canada, and Saturday Night at the Movies, the 
long-running film-and-commentary show on TVOntario.  

Meanwhile, I just sold a 2,000-word essay on "The Cost of 
Privacy," tying into the them of Companion implants from 
Hominids, to Maclean's: Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine.  It 
should be out sometime over the summer.

Also on the media front:  I've signed a contract with CBC Radio 
to host a pilot for a new hour-long series entitled "Faster Than 
Light," which will be produced by the CBC Radio Drama department.  
It will consist of adaptations of classic SF stories (we're doing 
Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" for the pilot), installments of 
a new SF serial, me interviewing other writers (for the pilot, it 
will be Nalo Hopkinson), commentaries by me, and more.  The pilot 
will also feature some of my wife Carolyn's poetry.  We're 
recording the pilot the first week of July, and it will air in 
September.  If the response is favorable, it will become a 
regular radio series.

Over at Space: The Imagination Station (Canada's counterpart of 
the Sci-Fi Channel), they are currently airing in heavy rotation 
a 2.5-minute "Shelf Space" segment, with me reading from and 
talking about Hominids.

I've also started to make my presence known in Mississauga, the 
city of 650,000 adjacent to Toronto that I've lived in for 
nineteen months now (Toronto's international airport is actually 
in Mississauga).  I was interviewed on the local talk show 
Jo@Night on Thursday, and on Friday I was interviewed and 
photographed for the local paper, The Mississauga News.  

On the publishing front, it looks like I now have a Chinese 
publisher, which is wonderful.  Also, the Easton Press has just 
released a fancy, leather-bound edition of The Terminal 
Experiment in their "Science Fiction Classics" line, with a 
new introduction by James Gunn.

Meanwhile, I've received and returned the galley proofs for 
"Ineluctable," the novelette I recently sold to Analog.  
It will be in the November 2002 issue.

And my story "Black Reflection" is just out now in the anthology 
In the Shadow of the Wall: Vietnam Stories That Might Have 
Been, edited by Byron Tetrick and published by Cumberland 
House.  The story features Ponter and Mary from Hominids 
visiting the Vietnam wall, and is, I think, one of the finest 
things I've ever written.

Friday afternoon, I had lunch with friends, including agent 
Joshua Bilmes, who was visiting from New York, and his client and 
my buddy Edo van Belkom.

Friday evening, I was a guest speaker at the meeting of the 
Ontario Skeptics, on the topic of whether science and religion 
are compatible.  Ironically, I was invited to do this prior to 
the idiotic review of my Calculating God that appeared a 
couple of issues ago in The Skeptical Inquirer, but I started 
my talk by reading my rebuttal to that review, and making 
the observation that the brand of skepticism practiced by 
The Skeptical Inquirer had in fact become a religion itself.  
Great fun.

After that, it was off to Bloody Words, Toronto's wonderful 
mystery-fiction convention.  International Guest of Honour was 
Walter Mosley, and he and I were on an excellent panel together 
about science-fiction mysteries; I was very impressed by Mosley's 
knowledge of and attitude toward SF.

I guess the bottom line is that life is good these days, 
Hominids seems to be off to a great start in terms of 
copies shipped and initial reviews, and things are going very 
well in the writing of Hybrids, the final volume of the trilogy.  
(And, yes, I'm already making notes for the books I want to 
write after the trilogy is finished!)


Sunday, April 7, 2002

Quite a surprise this morning.  A courier arrived — very unusual 
on a Sunday morning — and what should he be bringing but a 
package from Tor containing two finished copies of my new novel 
HOMINIDS!  I didn't expect to see this for another month.  
Checking the copyright page, I see that the pub date has been 
moved up from June 2002 to May 2002.  

Anyway, the book looks absolutely gorgeous!



Tuesday, April 2, 2002

I'm pleased to report that I'm the #1 best-seller in a bunch of 
categories on Fictionwise.com right now:

I'm #1 in:

* Best Selling eBooks: Recent (for "You See But You Do Not Observe")
* Best Selling Authors: Recent
* Best Selling in Science Fiction (for "You See But You Do Not Observe")
* Best Selling in Horror (for "Peking Man")
* Best Selling in Under a Dollar (for "You See But You Do Not Observe")

In fact, the first five places in "Best Selling Under a Dollar" 
are currently held by me:

#1: "You Se But You Do Not Observe"
#2: "Forever"
#3: "Gator"
#4: "Peking Man"
#5: "Iterations"


Friday, March 15, 2002

First, for me, some very sad news.  My best friend from Junior 
High School, Gary Cameron Mackenzie, died yesterday; his wife 
Darlene phoned me early this morning her time from Vancouver, 
where Gary lived.  He was the same age as me — 41 — and we'd 
kept in touch over the years, and I visited him whenever I was in 
BC.  I'll miss him a lot.  

Gary had been a pilot, and, during a crop-dusting run a few years 
ago, something went wrong with the deployment mechanism and he 
ended up in a cockpit full of pesticides.  A double-lung 
transplant lengthened his life, and he'd just recently gone back 
to work, teaching flying in flight simulators.  He was one of the 
gentlest, kindest men I'd ever met.  There's a small tribute to 
him in END OF AN ERA; the time travel scientist G. C. Mackenzie 
is named after him.

Second, some piss-irritating news.  I've been undergoing an audit 
for my 1999 taxes.  No big deal — I keep meticulous records, and 
I'm honest to a fault in such things.  But I just got a huge 
whack of agent commissions disallowed.  In fact, it seemed that 
damn near half my agent commissions were disallowed.  The 
Canadians reading this probably see where this is going:  despite 
me having submitted absolutely clear records, the auditor 
couldn't see that my agent commissions were paid in US dollars on 
US sales, but reported in converted Canadian dollars on my 
Canadian tax return.  We'll get it straightened out, of course, 
but it's a pain in the ass, and doesn't do a lot for my 
confidence in Revenue Canada.

Third, I'm now a corporation!  Earlier this week, my accountant 
incorporated me as SFWRITER.COM Inc.  The reason, of course, is 
tax advantages, but it's also just kinda cool!

Fourth, and the only writing-related news of the week, I just got 
off the phone with David G. Hartwell, my editor at Tor, who has 
finished his editorial notes on HUMANS, the second Neanderthal 
book.  He liked it very much, which is great to hear, and had 
only reasonably minor editorial suggestions, which I'll be happy 
to accommodate.

Fifth, my apologies for never posting a proper trip report on my 
adventures in Saskatoon and the Yukon.  I've just been absolutely 
swamped.  But I will say this:  the Writers' Conference in 
Whitehorse, run by Marcelle Dube and Barbara Dunlop, was FABULOUS 
— absolutely first rate.  The organizational ability of these 
two women is phenomenal.  I loved my afternoon of dog-sledding.  
And my signing at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon went very well, 
too, and it was a really pleasure to meet Kent Pollard, who runs
the SF section there and has been a big supporter of mine.  Many 
thanks, Kent!

Sixth, I've been invited to be Special Guest at ConVersion XX in 
Calgary in the summer of 2003 (and I'm already set to be 
Toastmaster at ConVersion XIX this summer).  Yay!

Seventh, saw the new TIME MACHINE film last night.  It's only 
semi-true to Wells, but is a much more intelligent film, in my 
humble opinion, than the old George Pal version, and I have to 
say that, despite what many newspaper reviewers said, it was 
terrific.  I recommend it to one and all.


Friday, March 8, 2002

This was an amazing week for Canadian media coverage for the 

Sunday night, I was on Discovery Channel Canada's SUNDAY 
SHOWCASE, talking about the future of the human body, as 
augmented by cybernetics and genetic-engineering (the program, 
"Perfect Man, Perfect Woman" will be repeated this Sunday.

Monday, THE YUKON STAR did a full-page interview with me.

Wednesday, I was on METRO MORNING with Andy Barrie on CBC Radio 
One Toronto, talking about SETI.  Later that day, I recorded two 
interviews with CHAY-FM in Barrie, Ontario, one to air shortly 
about my new short-story collection ITERATIONS, and one put in 
the can about HOMINIDS, to air this summer when the book comes 

Today, I was on CBC Newsworld (national cable-TV news service) 
doing science commentary on the repairs to the Hubble Space 

Tomorrow (Saturday), I'm on QUIRKS AND QUARKS on CBC Radio One 
(nationally), as one of four panelists for an hour-long special 
on SETI.

Other news:  I'm pleased to announce two upcoming 
convention guest-of-honorships.  I will be Author Guest of Honor 
at KeyCon in Winnipeg, May 16-18, 2003 (next year), and I will be 
Author Guest of Honor at Oasis in Orlando the following weekend, 
May 23-25.

I'm also pleased to announce the sale of a new novelette, 
"Ineluctable," to ANALOG.


Saturday, January 26, 2002

Yesterday was a busy day.  I started by going to York 
University's Glendon College, where my novel CALCULATING GOD is 
taught in a science and science fiction course.  The class was 
three hours long, and I spoke for about an hour of that time.  
Very bright students; very insightful questions.

After that, I was interviewed by a student from Ryerson 
University (my alma mater) about my short-story collection, 
ITERATIONS.  The interview will appear soon in the The 
Eyeopener, Ryerson's weekly newspaper (as opposed to the daily 
The Ryersonian).

Then it was off for lunch with Marcel Gagne and Sally Tomasevic, 
the editors of Canada's TRANSVERSIONS SF anthology.  After that, 
Carolyn and I went into the studios of Space: The Imagination 
Station (Canadian equivalent of Sci-Fi Channel), where I recorded 
"Shelf Space" segments (2.5 minute fillers used between programs) 
about both ITERATIONS and my upcoming HOMINIDS.  I didn't have a 
copy of the final HOMINIDS book yet (it comes out in June), but I 
did have a sample dustjacket and we wrapped that around another 
book to fake it.  I also brought along a model Neanderthal skull, 
and used it as a prop extensively during the HOMINIDS segment.

The ITERATIONS segment should start airing very soon, and run for 
three weeks on Space.  The HOMINIDS segment will start airing in 

My buddy Edo van Belkom was also done at Space to record a "Shelf 
Space" segment about his new horror novel MARTYRS.  After, 
Carolyn, Edo, and I went out for a pizza dinner, joined partway 
through by Space producer Mark Askwith.

Then it was off to Bakka: The Science Fiction Bookstore, at 598 
Yonge Street, for the launch party for ITERATIONS, which lasted 
from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  It was packed, and Bakka sold every 
copy of the book they had in stock.  Some introductory comments 
were made by Bob Hilderly, the publisher of Quarry Press, then I 
was introduced by writer James Alan Gardner, who wrote the 
introduction that appears in ITERATIONS, then I spoke for about 
fifteen minutes about the book, including a reading of my very 
short story "Ours to Discover," which is included in the 

Among those in attendance were my parents; authors James Alan 
Gardner, Nalo Hopkinson, Edo van Belkom, Michelle Sagara West, 
and Robert Charles Wilson; Rick Green, who used to host PRISONERS 
OF GRAVITY; poets Herb Kauderer and David Clink; big-name fans 
Peter Halasz, Larry Hancock, and Al Katerinsky; members of my 
online discussion group including Brian Gaston and Mark 
Ladouceur; friends from high school; my lawyer, Ed Hore; Michael 
Lennick, who is doing the screenplay for the ILLEGAL ALIEN movie; 
Bob Wertheimer, one of the producers of the hit Canadian TV 
series DUE SOUTH; and Karen Bennett, editor of the Aurora 
Award-winning fanzine THE VOYAGEUR.

After that, it was out for drinks at a nice pub with all of those 
who'd stayed until the end of the party.

All in all, a terrific day!


Saturday, December 15, 2001

Wow!  Over a month since my last diary entry!  I apologize for 
that, but I've been in head-down mode, trying to finish up 
HUMANS, the sequel to HOMINIDS, by the end of this year (and am 
on track to do so).  

The big news of the week is that I received my authors' copies of 
ITERATIONS, my hardcover short-story collection from Canada's 
Quarry Press.  The book won't be officially released until 
January.  It looks fabulous, and I'm very proud of this book.

Carolyn and I are about to head down to my family's vacation home 
on Canandaigua Lake, New York, so that (1) I can finish HUMANS, 
and (2) so that I can do a little consulting for Eastman Kodak, 
which has been using me and a few other SF writers to blue-sky 
the future of imaging for the last couple of years (the Companion 
implants that feature in HOMINIDS, now being serialized in 
ANALOG, came out of an earlier session I did with Kodak).

As soon as I finish HUMANS, I've got a bunch of short stories to 
write.  I've got five commissions right now that have to be 
fulfilled (although fortunately the due dates range from December 
31 to August 31).  Still, if I keep writing short stories at this 
rate, it won't be THAT long until I'm ready to do a second 


Thursday, November 8, 2001

I love this job.  Today, Carolyn and I had lunch with producer 
David Coatsworth and screenwriter Michael Lennick.  David renewed 
his film option on ILLEGAL ALIEN for a fourth year — which means 
I got a nice big check handed to me for zero work :-)

Afterward, David took us over to the studio were the film he's 
currently producing, Jackie Chan's TUXEDO, is being filmed.  We 
had a tour of the sets (the one for the film's finale is a 
spectacular James-Bondian underground lair), and then got to 
stand on set, about 10 feet away from Jackie Chan himself, while 
he did a stunt shot (lying on his back, kicking a guy — who was 
lifted by wires which will be electronically painted out of the 
film — into the air).  Cool!

Tomorrow, Carolyn and I head out to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 
where I will be toastmaster at the SF convention Tropicon.  As 
the temperatures plummeted today in Toronto, we're really looking 
forward to going south!


Wednesday, October 10, 2001

It's been a while since I've posted a general update, so here 

The 9/11 disaster put the kibosh on a lot of people's travel 
plans.  Nonetheless, the Life Communicators Association, which 
consists of PR and communications professionals for the 
life-insurance industry, went ahead with its annual meeting from 
September 24 to September 26, this year in Reno, Nevada.  I was a 
guest speaker.

The conference had 160 pre-registrations, but only 90 showed up 
— that's just 56%.  The drop-off was attributable to individuals 
choosing not to fly, or corporations barring unnecessary travel 
by their employees.

Nonetheless, the conference went well, and my speech was very 
warmly received.  I talked about two things.  First, some 
futurism about how concepts originally from science fiction — 
cloning, life prolongation, genetic profiling, uploaded 
consciousness, and more — were going to completely change the 
life-insurance industry in the coming century.  Second, I spoke 
about the use of fictional techniques to convey complex material.  
As examples, I read scenes from FRAMESHIFT and ILLEGAL ALIEN 
which were really infodumps, but were done with drama.  Proving 
my point, the audience hung on every word, and could afterwards 
answer technical questions about topics they'd known nothing 
about prior to the readings.

My mother's brother and his wife live in Reno, so Carolyn and I 
got a nice day of holiday there with them.

As always, the last Sunday in September was "The Word on the 
Street," Toronto's open-air book fair.  And, as always, the local 
SF writers had a couple of tables.  I stayed the whole day and 
managed to sell Cdn$1,800 worth of books — not as good as last 
year's $2,000, but I didn't have a new hardcover this time.  
Other writers participating included Robert Charles Wilson, 
Terence M. Green, and Phyllis Gotlieb.  Lots of fun.

New sales:

1) "Black Reflection" to IN THE SHADOW OF THE WALL, an anthology 
of stories related to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 
Washington, D.C., edited by Byron Tetrick with Martin Harry 
Greenberg, and forthcoming from Cumberland Press.

2) "Mikeys" to SPACE STATIONS, edited by Martin Harry Greenberg 
and John Helfers, forthcoming from DAW.

Book news:

* Yesterday, Carolyn finished proofreading ITERATIONS, my 
  short-story collection coming in hardcover from Canada's Quarry 
  Press, to be launched at the World Fantasy Convention in 
  Montreal next month.  The interior layout and design, by Susan 
  Hannah, is fabulous, and I must say that I'm very proud of this 

* Carolyn has now finished proofreading the galleys for the 
  second (of four) installments of my next novel HOMINIDS for 
  serialization in ANALOG.  Cover for the issue carrying part one 
  will be by Vincent DiFate.  The serial begins in the January 
  2002 issue, on sale in a little over a month.

* I've now seen the cover concept for HOMINIDS from Tor.  Donato 
  is doing the cover, under art director Irene Gallo.  Donato's 
  notes on the art nicely sum up the concept:  "Portraits of the 
  Neandertal (top) and human (bottom) placed in an 
  abstract/surreal environment of plated iron slabs and 
  two-dimensional structures (physics papers, x-rays, etc. ...) 
  that recede into darkness."

* Progress is proceeding well on HUMANS, the second book in the 


Thursday, September 6, 2001

Over on the Robert J. Sawyer discussion group at Yahoo.com, 
the question of how Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 
managed to win the Science Fiction Acheivement Award ("the Hugo") 
for best novel of the year has generated much discussion.  I 
thought I'd share a couple of my own postings on this topic, 
since many have asked me, and since they present my own views on 
this matter.  

Said I (quoting the term "Harry Potter fiasco," first used by 
another poster):

My own feeling, supported as yet by no data, is that the Harry 
Potter fiasco was due to the heavy use of online voting this year 
(only the second year in which it was done).

It used to be all voters got their ballots in the mail, and used 
these printed documents as reference while tracking down and 
reading the nominated works.  But online voting encourages snap 
judgments:  "Harry Potter?  I loved it.  George Martin — hey, my 
friend read that and said it was good.  Nalo Hopkinson — never 
heard of her.  Ian MacLeod, ditto.  And what's this God thing?  
Sounds like a religious tract; better not vote for that."  And, 
of course, for most people, being online at the Worldcon site 
means their phone line is tied up; their kids can't use the 
computer; they can't surf over to some other site they want to 
visit; and so on. Everything about web voting encourages you to 
get it over with, and log off, as fast as possible — and that is 
antithetical to thoughtful evaluation.

I'm all in favor of using the web to distribute PDF versions of 
the ballots, and of using faxes to accept ballots (indeed, a 
1-800 fax number for ballots would be something a Worldcon could 
easily afford, I should think).  But I do believe there's a real 
chance that what happened this year was a direct result of snap, 
online voting.  

The goal of the Hugo administrators, in my humble opinion, should 
be to encourage thoughtful voting, not as much voting as 
possible.  Instead, they seem to be interested in quantity of 
votes over quality of votes.

I can't say this too loud, or too publicly, because obviously it 
can be construed — and possibly IS — sour grapes on my part.  
But I said on Monday morning to Saul Jaffe, the Hugo 
administrator, that he might try re-running the voting data 
without including the online ballots, just to see what the 
results would have been.  He said he could indeed do that; the 
source of the data was flagged in his database.  I don't expect 
to hear from him either way, but, because he urged a continuing 
emphasis on online voting in his remarks during the Hugo 
ceremony, I wanted him to at least look at and think about the 
possibility that, in the case of voting, the medium really does 
effect the message.


In a separate thread, one member of my discussion group said:

       I think that a majority of people aren't saying 
       they're upset that CALCULATING GOD lost (It came in 
       third from my understanding, so another book was 
       between it and HARRY POTTER), but that HARRY POTTER 
To which I replied:

At the risk of furthering the perception of sour grapes, it's 
instructive here to look at how Hugo voting is done.  Hugos use 
the Australian preferential ballot, which is a complex system, 
designed to ensure the election of a political candidate that 
most people can live with, even if he or she is no one's first 

Here's how the Hugo voting went in terms of first-place votes.  
885 first-place votes were cast, on 885 individual ballots.  As 
you can see, HARRY POTTER won by a landslide, but, in terms of 
actual first-place votes, CALCULATING GOD was the clear second, 
with a healthy lead over A STORM OF SWORDS (the book that was 
eventually declared the official second-place winner):

 Harry Potter                326
 Calculating God             168
 A Storm of Swords           145
 The Sky Road                127
 Midnight Robber              94
 No Award                     25

Hugo balloting continues, though, using the Australian 
preferential method thus:  in each place (first, second, etc.), 
there are multiple "rounds" calculated, by taking the work with 
the fewest first-place votes, then looking to see who those 
particular nominators had placed as their second-place votes, 
dropping the work with the lowest number of firsts from the next 
round, and promoting all of the second-place votes by people who 
had voted first for that now-dropped work to first-place votes.  
So in round two of the "First Place" category, the balloting 
looked like this (round 1 is the first column; round 2 is the 
second column):

 FIRST PLACE:                                       
 Harry Potter                326 328
 Calculating God             168 169
 The Sky Road                127 129
 A Storm of Swords           145 145
 Midnight Robber              94  94 
 No Award                     25 

See what happened there?  Of the 885 people who cast ballots, 25 
cast ballots ranking "No Award" as their choice for first place.  
But since "No Award" was the lowest-ranking work, it was 
eliminated from consideration in the next round.

Of the 25 people who voted "No Award" as their first place 
choice, 5 marked a second-place choice (the other 20 made no 
other rankings in this category).  Those five got promoted to 
firsts, and were redistributed amongst the remaining nominees.  
HARRY POTTER got two of those five (that's why its score rises 
from 326 in the first column, which represents round one, to 328 
in the second column, which represents round two).  CALCULATING 
GOD picked up one here, and the remaining two went to THE SKY 

The process continues with the work with the fewest first places 
(both real first-place votes, and seconds that have been promoted 
to firsts because of eliminations).  In round three for First 
Place, MIDNIGHT ROBBER was dropped, and the second-place votes, 
if any, on the 94 ballots that ranked MIDNIGHT ROBBER number 1 
were promoted to firsts, and distributed as appropriate.  

Of the 94 people who had had MIDNIGHT ROBBER as their true first 
choice, 74 also marked a second-place choice (meaning 20 people 
voted for MIDNIGHT ROBBER and nothing else).  Promoting those 
seconds to firsts gives us the results for round three (the 
right-most column below).  So, 16 seconds were made into firsts 
for HARRY POTTER; CALCULATING GOD picked up 17 firsts here; THE 
SKY ROAD picked up 31; and A STORM OF SWORDS got 10:

 Harry Potter                326 328 344 
 Calculating God             168 169 186 
 The Sky Road                127 129 160 
 A Storm of Swords           145 145 155 
 Midnight Robber              94  94 
 No Award                     25 

The eliminate-then-redistribute process continues until only two 
competitors are left in this category.  The one with the most 
votes (HARRY POTTER) came in FIRST FOR FIRST PLACE; the one with 
the rest of the votes came in SECOND FOR FIRST PLACE.  As you can 
see, CALCULATING GOD was the clear second-place winner for First 
Place, throughout the entire first-place balloting round:

 Harry Potter                326 328 344 396 455 
 Calculating God             168 169 186 218 301 
 The Sky Road                127 129 160 199 
 A Storm of Swords           145 145 155 
 Midnight Robber              94  94 
 No Award                     25 

All well and good.  But then why didn't CALCULATING GOD 
officially come in second?  Because a whole separate round of 
calculations is done to determine who was the most-popular 
second-place choice, and that's done by eliminating the work that 
won for first-place, promoting all of its second-place votes to 
first, and redistributing them among the remaining nominees.  

Here are the figures for the second-place round:

 A Storm of Swords           224 224 238 324 
 Calculating God             215 221 249 321 
 The Sky Road                164 167 208 
 Midnight Robber             115 115 
 No Award                     37 

So, of the 326 people who voted for HARRY POTTER as their true 
first-place choice, 216 also cast a second-place vote (meaning 
110 voters voted for HARRY POTTER and nothing else; that is, 
one-third of those who cast HARRY POTTER first-place votes felt 
insufficiently motivated to rank the remaining works or "No 

(How do I know this?  Well, there were 885 votes in round one of 
the first-place voting — meaning 885 ballots were cast.  If you 
look above at round one of the second-place voting, you'll see 
that only 775 ballots have made it to this round; 110 of the 
HARRY POTTER ballots therefore had no other works ranked.)

As you can see, A STORM OF SWORDS did indeed come in first for 
second place, even though it had been THIRD for first place, 
above.  How did this happen?  Simple.  Of the 216 ballots that 
had HARRY POTTER as their true first choice, 102 had A STORM OF 
SWORDS as their second choice; that is, 102 of those who loved 
the children's fantasy had the adult fantasy as their 
second-favorite work — a not-surprising outcome in my view, but 
also evidence that the HARRY POTTER camp's influence cascaded 
down through the voting results.

Continuing on, 47 HARRY POTTER fans had my CALCULATING GOD as 
their second place choice (the difference between the 168 true 
firsts I had in round one of the First-Place round, and the 215 
"firsts" I have in round one of the Second-Place round).  

THE SKY ROAD picked up 37 second-place votes from the Potter 
camp; MIDNIGHT ROBBER got 21; and 12 people who voted for HARRY 
POTTER as their first choice explicitly voted for "No Award" as 
their second choice (on top of the 110 POTTER voters who ranked 
no works besides POTTER).  In other words, of the 326 who voted 
for HARRY POTTER as their first-place choice, 37% (122) wanted 
HARRY POTTER and nothing else.  Those people made up 13.8% of all 
voters, and my theory (not yet tested) is that those 13.8% came 
disproportionately from the online voters.  (Yes, 13.8% may not 
sound like a lot, but remember if votes were randomly distributed 
between the five nominated works and "No Award," each one would 
only get 16.7%; in other words, this "HARRY POTTER and nothing 
else" group was indeed large enough to get their way.)

So, yes, A STORM OF SWORDS came in first for second place, but 
CALCULATING GOD did indeed come in second for first place .

Continuing on, here are the remaining rounds:

 Calculating God             279 285 332 
 The Sky Road                212 216 279 
 Midnight Robber             154 154 
 No Award                     48 
 The Sky Road                293 299 
 Midnight Robber             251 255 
 No Award                     55 
 Midnight Robber             432 
 No Award                     79 

Anyway, that's my two-cents' worth on the matter of the 2001 Hugo 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


Tuesday, September 4, 2001

The good news is that I won Japan's top SF award, the Seiun, for
best foreign novel of the year (for Frameshift).

The bad news is that my Calculating God lost the Hugo to 
J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Ugh.  I 
wonder if Rowling even knew she was nominated ...

I haven't yet made it back to Toronto on my way home from the 
Worldcon in Philadelphia.  Carolyn is there, but she's dropped 
me off in upstate New York, at my father's vacation home on 
Canandaigua Lake.  She'll come back down again in a few days to 
join me, but I'm staying down here until Friday, September 14, 
on a writing retreat.  Despite losing the Hugo to J. K. Rowling, 
I had a fabulous time at the Worldcon.  But the solitude and 
quiet here are a nice change of pace from the crowds and frantic 
pace of the Worldcon.

News of the day is that I received my author's copies of the 
French edition (published by J'ai Lu) of Frameshift.


Sunday, August 26, 2001

John Mansfield, editor of the Canadian fanzine ConTRACT, devoted 
to the running of SF cons, asked me to write a convention report 
about last weekend's Can-Con in Ottawa.  Although it somewhat 
duplicates the trip report I posted earlier, I thought I'd share 
the con report here, too:

                            CAN-CON 2001

                        by Robert J. Sawyer

The reborn Can-Con in Ottawa (August 17-19, 2001) was a rousing 
success in all ways but one — attendance.  Bearing in mind that 
this was a literary convention, the programming and roster of 
guests were first rate.  I (cough, cough) had the privilege of 
being Guest of Honour.  The other featured authors were Julie E. 
Czerneda, Terence M. Green, and Allison Sinclair.  Featured poet 
was Carolyn Clink; featured editor was Tor's David G. Hartwell; 
featured artist was Larry Stewart.  Also on the program were 
Glenn Grant, Yves Meynard, Karl Schroeder, Jean-Louis Trudel, 
Dwight Williams, and others.

Jim Botte's crew did its usual excellent job of logistics at the 
con, but Jim himself had to leave Saturday afternoon for a 
business trip to India.  It was sad that he didn't get to see a 
big chunk of the convention he'd worked so hard to resurrect.

The convention actually started the night before, on Thursday 
evening, with Julie, Terry, Allison, and me reading at the 
National Research Council of Canada's auditorium.  Turnout was 
sparse.  An ad had been taken out in the local arts weekly, but 
it was so graphically complex, and any mention of science fiction 
so hard to find, that it failed to bring in many people, even 
with the bribe of free tickets to John Carpenter's Ghosts of 
Mars for those who attended the readings.

The con suite had adopted the unfortunate practice of charging 
for pop and juice, which seems to be migrating east from some 
western cons.  At opening ceremonies, I tossed $50 on the table 
and said drinks were on me until that was exhausted (it lasted 
until Saturday evening).  Still, the con suite never developed as 
a social nexus, despite a very pleasant staff, partly because of 
the cash-on-the-barrelhead approach to munchies, partly because 
it ran on reduced hours, and partly because it adjoined, and was 
not separated from, the video room.  The best place to hang out 
seemed to be the hotel bar, which was totally smoke-free thanks 
to an Ottawa bylaw and served decent burgers and sandwiches.

There was no art show or dealers room.  The latter was a shame — 
for a literary con, it was unfortunate to have writers reduced to 
selling their own books out of knapsacks.  There's a Coles with 
an ardent SF fan on staff right across the street; perhaps next 
year he can be invited to come in for a couple of hours on 
Saturday afternoon to run a dealer's table.

The program book was first rate, with a long essay by me and 
short fiction by Julie E. Czerneda, among other things.  Layout 
and design by Jim Botte were fully professional.  But, because 
the request came in too late, Tor, which is very good about 
taking out ads at cons where its editors or authors are featured 
guests, didn't buy any pages, sad to say.

Panel topics were appropriate for a literary con, and all the 
panels seemed to go quite well.  As far as I could tell, the 
best-attended program items of the weekend were my two-hour 
seminar on writing SF on Sunday afternoon, and David G. 
Hartwell's on-stage interview.  As always, David was very 
candid and interesting.

There's been some talk by a few people in Toronto (including 
myself) about trying to establish a "Readercon North" — an 
ongoing Canadian literary-SF convention.  I submit that Jim Botte 
and his crew have now done that, but the word needs to get out, 
with flyers at many other conventions, promotion on Space: The 
Imagination Station, and so on.  Although the president and 
treasurer of the Ottawa Science Fiction Society were both on 
hand, few other OSFS members were seen, and a lot of other Ottawa 
fen — even those with known literary interests — were absent.  
It was their loss; they missed a first-rate con.


Saturday, August 25, 2001

Yesterday was one of those days writers always like — I got paid 
<grin>.  One of the hardest things about being a writer is that 
you can go months between getting big cheques.  But yesterday, I 
received the on-acceptance portion of the advance for HOMINIDS.  
(Tor pays advances in three installments:  a big hunk on signing, 
an equally big hunk on acceptance of the revised manuscript, and, 
for advances over a certain threshold dollar figure,  a small 
hunk on publication.)

Also, I got a note from the publisher of Quarry Books, saying 
that my short-story collection ITERATIONS will be typeset next 
week, and is still on track for release at the World Fantasy 
Convention in Montreal at the beginning of November.

Today, was also a nice day.  Robert Charles Wilson and I did a 
joint signing at the Coles store in the Northumberland Mall in 
Cobourg, Ontario (about two hours' drive from where I live).  
Turnout was tiny — it was the penultimate weekend of the summer, 
and the weather outside was gorgeous.  But Bob and I had a good 
time together, as we always do, and the local newspaper (the 
Cobourg Star) sent a photographer to take our pictures.

Afterwards, Carolyn and I went out to dinner with a woman I'd 
known in junior-high school.  One of the nice things about having 
a certain public profile is that old friends have no trouble 
tracking you down.

On the way back to Toronto, we stopped at a Chapters superstore, 
which had a ton of stock of various titles by me, and to my 
delight and astonishment, I discovered that the CALCULATING GOD 
paperback is already in a second printing — fabulous for a book 
that only came out last month.  Needless to say, I'm thrilled.

Tomorrow should be a quiet day for me:  Carolyn's poetry workshop 
is having a meeting at the home of Hugo-winning fan writer Mike 
Glicksohn (whose wife Susan is a member of Carolyn's workshop).  
I'll stay at home and work on writing HUMANS (which is already 
off to a good start).

Monday, a crew from TVOntario's books show IMPRINT comes to my 
home to interview me for a special report they're doing about the 
popularity of fantasy.  Tuesday will be another full day of 
writing.  And then Wednesday, Carolyn and I and Robert Charles 
Wilson and his wife Sharry head off together to the Worldcon in 


Sunday, August 19, 2001

Carolyn and I are back home after six days on the road.

On Tuesday afternoon, August 14, we picked up SF writer Robert 
Charles Wilson at his Toronto home, and Carolyn, Bob, and I drove 
to Rochester, New York (about four hours).  We went to the home 
of Nick DiChario's parents for dinner, along with Nick (a fine SF 
writer) and our friend Jim Goff.

After that, we went back to Nick's place, and he put Carolyn, 
Bob, and me up overnight.

Wednesday morning, August 15, we headed out from Rochester for 
Milford, New Hampshire (a six-plus hour drive).  In the evening, 
Bob and I were doing a reading/signing at The Toadstool Bookshop, 
a wonderful independent bookstore.  It was Bob's first time 
signing there, and my third one.  We had a great turnout, and 
host Lois Powers could not have been more accommodating or 
friendly.  I read an upcoming short story, "On the Surface," and 
Bob from his new novel THE CHRONOLITHS.

After, we went out to a pub for a nice dinner with everybody, 
then hit the road for about an hour, driving toward Canada.

Thursday morning, August 16, we drove to Cornwall, Ontario, and 
dropped Robert Charles Wilson at the bus station there, since he 
had to get back to Toronto.  Carolyn and I continued on to 
Ottawa, where Canadian SF writers Terence M. Green, Julie E. 
Czerneda, Alison Sinclair, and yours truly did readings.  I had 
slightly mixed feelings about the event:  the organizers were 
bribing the audience to attend by promising free passes to John 
Carpenter's movie GHOSTS OF MARS.  But the event went well.  

After, we checked in at the Chimo Hotel, where I was to be Guest 
of Honour at Can-Con, a literary science-fiction convention.  
Featured guests included the other authors mentioned above; my 
editor David G. Hartwell; and artist Larry Stewart.  

Friday morning, Carolyn and I went with editor Kathryn Cramer and 
her son Peter to the Canadian Museum of Nature.  In the 
afternoon, we picked up her husband David G. Hartwell, and he 
took us all out for a fabulous alfresco lunch at Canal Ritz.

We then all went to Basilisk Dreams, Ottawa's wonderful SF 
specialty store.  Then we headed back to the hotel for the 
beginning of Can-Con.  The conference had been poorly promoted, 
and attendance was minimal.  But the insidious habit of charging 
for pop and juice in the con suite had reached this con, too 
(at one dollar and fifty cents respectively).  I threw fifty 
bucks in the pot, and said all the drinks were on me until that 
was exhausted.

Those few who were at the con did seem to have fun.  Carolyn and 
I went out to dinner Friday night with Kathyrn, David, and young 

Saturday, I did my Guest of Honour reading.  I read another new 
short story, "Kata Bindu," which will be published in Gregory 
Benford's upcoming anthology MICROCOSMS.  In the evening, I had 
dinner with Larry Stewart (who did the pen-and-ink diagrams in my 
novel FACTORING HUMANITY).  Then I participated on a panel about 
genetics and ethics, and took out the geneticist who had come to 
the convention for a drink, and pumped him for information for 
HUMANS, the novel I'm currently writing.

Sunday, I ran a two-hour writing seminar, which seemed to be very 
well received.  Carolyn and I hit the road for the trip back to 
Toronto about 4:30 p.m.  It took us about five hours to drive 
home — but it's good to be back!


Tuesday, July 24, 2001

The news of the day:

1) I received my authors copies of the Italian edition of 
CALCULATING GOD.  I must say they look terrific.  The Italian 
title is L'EQUAZIONE DI DIO, and the publisher is Mondadori's 
Urania imprint.

2) My novel FRAMESHIFT has gone into a second paperback printing 
from Tor; although it was my first novel for Tor, it was the last 
one to go into a second paperback printing, so I'm glad it's 
continuing to have life.

3) Carolyn and I had lunch today with Robert Charles Wilson and 
his wife Sharry.  Bob gave me an autographed copy of his latest 
hardcover, CHRONOLITHS, which I'm very much looking forward to 


Thursday, July 19, 2001

Carolyn and I are still in upstate New York.  Yesterday, I 
finished the final revisions to my first Neanderthal Parallax
novel, and sent the file off for typesetting to Analog, which
will be serializing it starting in January.

Also yesterday, after much brainstorming, my editor David 
Hartwell, Tor's marketing director Linda Quinton, and I agreed 
on new titles for the three volumes of this trilogy:

   Volume 1:  Hominids
   Volume 2:  Humans
   Volume 3:  Hybrids

As David says, the three should make a dynamite package of three
books.  They also have the virtue of falling in the proper 
sequence when shelved alphabetically.

Last night, I was guest lecturer at Nick DiChario's class at
Rochester's Writers and Books.  After, we sat in on a bit of
an open-air sing-along showing of The Sound of Music, 
which was a lot of fun.  

Tomorrow, we head off for Pittsburgh, to attend the SF 
convention ConFluence.


Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Carolyn and I are enjoying a wonderful writing retreat on 
Canandaigua Lake in upstate New York.  But I'm not completely
cut off from the world down here, and this bit of news has come 
my way:

   The CompuServe Science Fiction and Fantasy Forums has 
   announced the winners of their eleventh-annual HOMer 
   Awards, honoring excellence in science fiction and fantasy 
   from the previous year.  This year's winners are:

    * Best Novel: CALCULATING GOD, by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor)

    * Best Novella: "A Roll of the Dice", by Catherine Asaro 
      (Analog, July/August, 2000)

    * Best Novelette: "The Taranth Stone", by Ron Collins 
      (Analog, October 2000)

    * Best Short Story: "The Elephants on Neptune", by 
      Mike Resnick (Asimov's, May, 2000)

    * Best Dramatic Presentation: CROUCHING TIGER, 

   The HOMer Awards, founded in 1991 by Jim Schneider, are 
   named in honor of the ancient bard, and also commemorate 
   the original name of the first CompuServe SF Forum, "Home 
   and Hobby Forum #9," abbreviated as "HOM-9."  

   The Sawyer, Asaro, and Resnick, as well as the film, are 
   all also current Hugo Award finalists.


Sunday, June 24, 2001

The big news is that the paperback of Calculating God is now out 
in the United States, and will be out in Canada on July 1.

Carolyn and I spent today at the Canadian Booksellers Association 
tradeshow (known this year for the first time under its new name, 
BookExpo Canada).

As always I had a fabulous time.  H. B. Fenn — the Canadian 
distributor of Tor Books — was there, with an excellent booth.  
I met some new Fenn staffers, and saw many old ones, all of whom 
are friends.  

And I got to shake the hand of Leo MacDonald, who has sold the 
paperback of Calculating God into Canadian Costco stores (Costco 
is a chain of membership-only warehouse retail store, that has a 
narrow selection but sells enormous quantities of the items).  

Costco only takes bestsellers, and has never before taken a 
science-fiction book, but Leo got them to put in a hefty order 
for Calculating God paperbacks, which is fabulous.  Tor did its 
part, too, in supporting this:  the paperback says, right on the 
cover, "Canadian National Bestseller" (Calculating God was on 
both the Maclean's and Globe and Mail bestsellers lists in 
hardcover); this was at Leo's request, with the goal of selling 
into Costco in mind.

I also spent some time at the Quarry Press booth; Quarry will be 
publishing my short-story collection Iterations this fall.  

In the evening, I was honored to be the presenter at the Canadian 
Booksellers Association's Libris Awards banquet of the Libris 
Award for Specialty Bookstore of the Year (which went to Ottawa's 
Prime Crime, a terrific mystery bookstore).


Friday, June 1, 2001

Several people have asked me to start an online discussion group 
devoted to my science-fiction writings.  Well, I'm giving it a 
try!  The group is now up and running at:  


I know you've got way too many demands on your online time 
already, so I won't be the least offended if joining us isn't 
something you've got the time or inclination to do.  But if you 
ARE interested, we'd love to have you.  

I'll be posting news regularly (including new installments of 
this diary), updates on what's happening with my upcoming 
NEANDERTHAL PARALLAX trilogy, sneak peeks at new work, and more.

When you join the group at 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/robertjsawyer, you'll be given 
three options for how you want to see messages:  

(1) they can be forwarded to your E-mail account as they're 
posted by other members of the list; 

(2) you can receive a daily digest — a single E-mail message 
containing all of that day's traffic from the list;

(3) you won't get any messages forwarded to your E-mail account 
— to read what's being said, you'll need to visit 
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/robertjsawyer with a browser.

If you choose to have messages sent to your E-mail box, but 
decided later that you don't want to get them anymore — no 
problem!  To unsubscribe, just send an E-mail to:


Once you've joined the group, you can post messages to all 
members of the group by simply sending E-mail to:  


(You can also post messages and replies interactively by visiting 
the group's web page at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/robertjsawyer,
if you prefer.)

By the way, this is a wide-open group:  feel free to pass on word
about it to anyone you think might be interested!  

If you don't want to join the discussion group, you can still 
keep up with all my doings by visiting my extensive web site at 

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