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

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Rob's Blog

I've had a blog since long before it was fashionable! In the postings below, I share my latest news and views.

To discuss things I mention here and anything else related to me or my books, please join my discussion group.

Looking for the Rob and Bob Tour trip report? The by-plane part is here and the by-car part is here.

Robert J. Sawyer's 2005 Blog

Friday, December 23, 2005

The special Christmas edition of Tee Morris's "Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy" features a 37-minute podcast with Robert J. Sawyer discussing the promotion and marketing of SF&F books:

Survival Guide Special with Robert J. Sawyer

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Busy times, as always — but good times, too.

Last week, my editor David G. Hartwell of Tor Books stayed with Carolyn and me for two days, and we threw a reception in his honour one night, with all of his local authors in attendance: Terence M. Green (and wife Merle and son Daniel), Phyllis Gotlieb (and her husband Kelly, widely regarded as the father of Canadian computing), Karl Schroeder, and Peter Watts (and date Lisa Beaton). Also on hand: Ontario Hugo finalists Pat Forde and James Alan Gardner (and Jim's wife, playwright Linda Carson); Lorna Toolis from The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, and her writer husband Mike Skeet; and book-collector extraordinaire Bob Knowlton and his significant other Mary Cannings, also from the Merril. I shudder to think of what would have become of Canadian SF if my condo tower had collapsed!

David left Thursday morning; Thursday evening, Carolyn and I went to see Roger Whittaker at Mississauga's Living Arts Centre; we're both big fans of his (and while there we bought tickets for Cats, which we'ved seen once before, on Broadway in the summer of 1985).

Thanks to all my traveling this past year (including the wonderful trip to Singapore), I'm veritably swimming in frequent-flyer miles, so I decided to nip to Calgary this past weekend, where my friend Randy McCharles (chair of the 2008 World Fantasy Convention), was throwing a party; I had a terrific time.

On the way back to Toronto on Monday, I got a free upgrade to Executive Class — woohoo! (And I was very pleased to see my books so well stocked at the stores in both the Toronto and Calgary airports.)

Other news: TVOntario featured me on Saturday night, discussing the movies Soylent Green and The Road Warrior. And purely by accident I just stumbled on an old 1990 interview with me that's now online, concerning my first novel, Golden Fleece (the book Face of God I refer to in the interview was ultimately published as Far-Seer).

Oh, and yesterday we sold Romanian rights to Calculating God.

I've received a lot of really useful feedback in the last few days from people reading the draft of my current novel, and have been hard at work on revisions; I'm really pleased with the improvements. Today Carolyn and I drove to Kitchener, Ontario, to go over the manuscript with my old high-school buddy Ted Bleaney (to whom The Terminal Experiment is dedicated, and after whom Det Yenalb in Far-Seer is named). Many have noted that this is the most-character-driven novel I've ever written — which is gratifying, because that was precisely my goal.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sent out our Christmas cards today, including our annual Christmas letter:

Rob's sixteenth novel, Mindscan was published in hardcover in April by Tor Books. At the same time, the novel Spin by Rob's great friend Robert Charles Wilson was published, also by Tor. Rob and Bob spent two weeks on the road touring together to promote their books, going to fourteen different cities (including Portland, San Francisco, Vancouver, Calgary, and more). They had a fabulous time. The paperback of Mindscan comes out in January 2006.

Rob finished writing his seventeenth novel this year, and Rob's editor, David G. Hartwell, came to stay with us for two days in December. Rob has recently become big in China; beautiful authorized editions of five of his novels were published there this year.

This was another good year for awards. Rob won the "Analytical Laboratory Award," given by the readers of Analog, the world's top-selling science fiction magazine, for best short story of the year, for his story "Shed Skin," which was also nominated for the Hugo Award. And Relativity, Rob's collection of stories and essays, won a Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award (the "Aurora"). Not that anyone's counting, but that brings Rob's total to 36 wins and 81 nominations for national and international writing awards.

Rob's Hominids was this year's choice for the "One Book, One Community" reading program throughout the entire Region of Waterloo, Ontario, a collection of three cities and surrounding rural areas with a total population of 490,000. Rob participated in numerous events in the region; it was one of the highlights of his career to date.

Rob and Carolyn ended up taking big trips this year — in opposite directions! Carolyn had planned for some time to go to Rome on vacation with her sister; Rob subsequently got invited by the National Arts Council of Singapore to read there at the same time — so she flew east and he flew west! They met up again back at Toronto's airport, and immediately headed off to Atlanta and Phoenix, where Rob was a guest at science-fiction conventions on consecutive weekends.

We also got to take a fabulous trip to Houston, and got a private, behind-the-scenes tour (after undergoing a security check!) of all the NASA facilities, including the Shuttle simulator, the Apollo-era Mission Control room, and the laboratory where the moon rocks are kept. It was one of the best days of our lives.

Carolyn is enthusiastic about having gone back to school, studying English at York University and various Adobe applications at Humber College. She's still active in the Algonquin Square Table poetry workshop, and enjoys playing golf with her brothers in the summer.

Rob graduated from high school in 1979; his brother Alan graduated in 1980. Together they, and others, organized a joint twenty-fifth anniversary reunion, which came off wonderfully in May. And in October, Carolyn and Rob hosted a 30th anniversary reunion party for NASFA, their high-school science-fiction club, which is where they met. December 22, 2005, will be their twenty-first wedding anniversary.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Want to learn how to write science fiction? Check out WriteSF.com, a free online course by my buddy Jeff Carver, one of the best writers in the business.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Today was Kim Darby day at Chez Sawyer et Clink. Carolyn and I watched True Grit, which neither of us had ever seen before, and followed up with the Classic Star Trek episode "Miri." Both, of course, star Kim Darby, who, it turns out, is alive and well, and teaching acting in Los Angeles:


True Grit was lots of fun, and it was nice to see some other familiar faces from Classic Star Trek in the film: Alfred Ryder (Professor Crater) and John Fiedler (Heingest), both as lawyers, and Jeff Corey (Plasus) as an outlaw. Corey was a famous acting teacher, and Darby is one now; it was interesting to see the two of them play (extremely well) their one big scene together.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Today's mail brought copies of the absolutely gorgeous Chinese editions of Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner, plus the beautiful Spanish edition of Humans.

Monday, I recorded interviews about the movies Soylent Green and The Road Warrior for TVOntario's venerable Saturday Night at the Movies; they'll air sometime in December.

A month ago, Carolyn and I bought a portable DVD player with a 10.2-inch screen, and have mounted it on the control panel of our treadmill. I'm enjoying watching episodes of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm as I do my daily half-hour.

Work has been going splendidly on my current novel, and I'm very pleased.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

For those who might be interested in a six-week SF/F writing workshop next summer, here's info about the Odyssey Workshop, in New Hampshire; I'm Writer-in-Residence, and will be in attendance for the fifth week of the workshop:

Odyssey Workshop

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Stumbled across the fact that Hominids is now required reading in a course at Johns Hopkins University — cool! The course is called "Out of the Cave: Prehistory in Fact and Fiction," and it's offered by the Near Eastern Studies department. The instructor is Dr. Susan Foster McCarter.

The full list of required reading:

  • Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel
  • The Inheritors, by William Golding
  • Dance of the Tiger: A Novel of the Ice Age, by Bjorn Kurten
  • Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father, by Roy Lewis
  • Hominids, by Robert J. Sawyer
  • "Grisly Folk," by H.G. Wells
  • "The Ugly Little Boy," by Isaac Asimov

More about the course is here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

On October 20-22, 2005, Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, hosted about 100 scholars and students for "The Uses of the Science Fiction Genre: A Multidisciplinary Symposium," sponsored by Brock's Departments of Philosophy and English and the Graduate Program in Popular Culture. Philosopher Michael Berman chaired the conference.

Attending authors were Robert J. Sawyer (Mindscan), who gave the keynote address "Science Fiction: A Multidisciplinary Laboratory for Thought Experiments," and R. Scott Bakker (The Warrior Prophet), himself a Ph.D. student in philosophy, who presented a paper entitled "Dragons over Spaceships: Fantasy & Science Fiction as Cultural Prostheses."

Other papers included:

  • "Resignation & Despair: A Kierkegaardian Reading of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End (Albert Spencer, Baylor University)

  • "The Science and Religion Dialogue in the Science Fiction of Robert J. Sawyer" (Valerie Broege, Vanier College),

  • "The Uses of Cybernetics in Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad (Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University),

  • "Subversive Ecology in Early Science Fiction" (Eric Otto, Florida Gulf Coast University), and

  • a session on "The Pedagogical Uses of Science Fiction" presented jointly by astronomy professor David DeGraff and psychology professor Danielle Gagne, both of Alfred University, New York.

On Friday night, October 21, the conference featured a screening of the new Canadian SF film Phil the Alien, with director Rob Stefaniuk giving a talk afterward; the conference concluded Saturday night, October 22, with a banquet at the Hernder Estates Winery.

[Brock Conference]

The revelers at the winery banquet, left to right: Jason Balhuta, Lakehead University; Danny Howlett, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Valerie Broege, Vanier College; Keith Sudds, independent scholar; Albert Spencer, Baylor University; Robert Vuckovich, Brock University; Robert J. Sawyer, author; Jan Marijaq, Research Institute of Advanced Computer Science; Kim Stevens, Mostly Comics (St. Catharines); Michael Berman, Brock University; Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University; Kevin Gagne, Alfred University; David DeGraff, Alfred University; Carolyn Clink, poet; Danielle Gagne, Alfred University.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I seem to be in demand by philosophy departments. Last week, I gave the keynote at The Uses of the Science Fiction Genre: A Multidisciplinary Symposium, at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, sponsored by the philosophy department (where I opined that the name "science fiction," or "sci-fi," is a historical accident, and that the genre really should be called "philosophical fiction," or "phi-fi").

And today I was guest instructor in this course, offered by the philosophy department at the University of Toronto:

SCS 1553
Philosophy Café: Can Science and Religion Agree?

The Philosophy Café offers a rare opportunity to join internationally recognized scholars and thinkers in a multi-faceted discussion of philosophically challenging questions. In a forum of shared enquiry, experts representing a variety of disciplines will guide students through an exploration of various aspects of important and timely questions. A one-hour presentation will be followed by a one-hour discussion. These wide-ranging discussions, held over eight sessions, promise to be lively, thought-provoking and provocative.

In the beginning there was God. Or was it the Big Bang? Are we here because of evolution or creation? Does intelligent design offer an acceptable compromise, or is it religion disguised as science? Each branch of the oft-posed dichotomy of science and religion has produced a far-reaching intellectual and social history with profound impacts on our legal, religious, educational and medical systems. Evolution is a crucial organizing concept in biology and social thought but does not fully explain the human condition. This series will examine this question through various historical, scientific and theological perspectives, and their impact on contemporary society.

Today's instructor: Bestselling science-fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer, author of Calculating God.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Back home after eleven days on the road, starting with V-Con in Vancouver, at which I was Master of Ceremonies. Highlights:

  • Meeting screenwriter Rick Drew, who was slated to do the adaptation of my End of an Era for Toronto's Pebblehut Productions (about which more below)

  • A wonderful dinner out at a great French restaurant with Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber (the author guests of honour) and Todd Lockwood (the artist guest of honour)

  • Another launch party for Danita Maslan's Rogue Harvest, the fourth book under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint, published by Red Deer Press — we had 35 people show up at the launch, and sold 13 hardcovers, which was staggeringly good for a con the size of V-Con

  • A terrific panel with Bob Silverberg on SF and Social Change; we took opposing sides on whether SF actually changes anyone's mind on anything — I said it does; Bob thinks it doesn't. The by-play between us was terrific and a lot of people said it was the best panel at the con

  • Seeing my friend and writing student Bonnie Jean Mah (immortalized as a character in Hominids), who came out on Sunday night to join a group of us for dinner.

Starting Sunday night, I hitched a ride to Calgary — a twelve-hour car trip — with my buddy Randy McCharles, who co-chaired Westercon 58 and is spearheading the Calgary bid for a World Fantasy Convention. We got to Cow Town late the following morning, napped, then went to Mother Tucker's (a restaurant) for a fabulous all-you-can-eat buffet to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. The restaurant is famed for its buffet, and had put out lots of traditional Thanksgiving fare in addition to all the things they usually have; the restaurant was almost deserted, and we had a wonderful, really relaxing, three-hour meal.

Then it was back to Randy's to watch a copy of the made-for-TV movie Life in a Day that Rick Drew had given me at V-Con; he'd written the screenplay for this really nicely done SF story about a woman who, because of a lab experiment gone wrong, grew from a baby to old age in a single day.

I spent the days Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday squirreled away working on my current novel, and got lots of good progress made. And then Friday evening, the IFWA Write-Off began. IFWA is Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, a group I've been associated with for nine years now, and a Write-Off (this was their twenty-second one) is a weekend at which many IFWA members gather in the rec centre at a local townhouse complex (where Danita Maslan lives) and spend a couple of days writing without distractions. This was my third time attending a Write-Off (they happen twice a year), and I got lots more really good work done on my current novel. Saturday night we ordered in pizza, and everybody read aloud five minutes' worth of what they'd been working on. It was great fun.

Monday morning, October 17, I flew from Calgary to Toronto — but only to change planes. I switched to a tiny prop airplane and flew on to Manchester airport in New Hampshire. The Toadstool Bookshop there had arranged a dinner-out "evening with Rob Sawyer" at a local restaurant, where I read, did a Q&A, and signed books; it was a terrific time.

Tuesday, I headed off to the Boston University Corporate Education Center in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, for the main reason for my trip to the States: I was giving a keynote address at "Documentation and Training 2005," a conference for technical communicators. I gave a spirited talk about the future, invoking Moore's Law, Clarke's Third Law, Vinge's Singularity, and lots of other things, told my current favorite joke ("How many evolutionists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one — but it takes eight million years"), and did a really lively Q&A at the end. Everybody seemed to love my talk; one person said it was the best presentation they'd ever had in the history of this conference.

After my talk was over, Jeanne Cavellos picked me up. She's the director of the Odyssey science-fiction and fantasy writing workshop. A couple of weeks ago, Jeanne had asked me to be writer-in-residence there next year, even though we'd never met. I'd agreed, and, by pure coincidence the Documentation and Training conference had put me right in Jeanne's neck of the woods, so she took me out to lunch. We had a wonderful time, and really hit it off (we both like mozzarella sticks and classic Star Trek). I'm really looking forward to the workshop next year.

After a long lunch, Jeanne took me to the airport, and I flew home — for all of about thirty-five hours, until I hit the road again. On Thursday, Carolyn and I head off to Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, for three days; I'm giving the keynote at the "Uses of Science Fiction Conference" there. Then we're off to Windsor, Ontario, where I'm giving the keynote at the annual meeting of the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association. (I'm delighted with how my public-speaking career has taken off!)

Sadly, I got word on Monday that Pebblehut isn't renewing its option on End of an Era for a second year (although they are renewing their option on Hominids), which means Rick Drew and I probably won't be working together on anything in the near future. But on Tuesday, I got word that some life may have come back into the on-again / off-again adaptation of Illegal Alien ... We'll see what materializes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Had a full day of meetings with Sharon Fitzhenry, the publisher of Fitzhenry and Whiteside, which is the Toronto company that just bought Red Deer Press, the small Calgary press that publishes my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint.

Fitz and Whits also owns Trifolium, which publishes Julie E. Czerneda's "Tales from the Wonderzone" series of middle-grade SF teaching anthologies, as well as adult fantasy anthologies edited by Julie. I knew there would be some synergy in all this, but I had no idea how big Sharon's plans were.

Effective immediately, Julie's books will now also be under the Red Deer umbrella. Nothing changes directly as far as RJS Books is concerned; I'm still doing two books a year (with plans to expand that number), but Julie will also be doing two books a year under an imprint of her own (and her existing books will be rebranded under that imprint as they are reprinted).

(Basically, if its new adult science fiction, it's mine; if it's young adult or fantasy, it's Julie's — and, no, she hasn't named her imprint yet; I suggested Julie E. Czerneda Books, but Julie has concerns that her last name is hard both to spell and pronounce (it's CHUR-nay-da).)

But there's more: jointly, Julie and I will also edit two classic SF/F reprints a year for Red Deer. The first title, which I hope to announce here shortly, is a personal favorite of Sharon Fitzhenry (Fitz and Whits used to be Ace's Canadian distributor; Sharon has a long association with the field); I've already started pursuing the rights to the title in question.

Dennis Johnson, Red Deer's wonderful and innovative publisher, flew in from Calgary for the day, which was terrific. By consolidating Julie and my efforts under Dennis's division (with his amazing staff, including office manager Joanne Godziuk, managing editor Kirstin Morrell, publicist Stephanie Stewart, and production manager Erin Woodward), all of whom are excellent, and with all of it funded by Fitz and Whits's deeper pockets, the future looks very bright, and Julie and I are both quite excited. She and I have been friends for many years, and are really looking forward to all the synergy that's going to come from having us together under Dennis's roof.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Back home, at last, after five and a half terrific weeks on the road. Banff was terrific, and I had a great group of ten writers to work with. Of course, I'm only in town 72 hours before I hit the road again ...

I arrived home just before midnight Saturday evening, and at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, I was in downtown Toronto for the Word on the Street open-air book fair. Attendance was way down, thanks to constant forecasts of impending rain (not much of which actually materialized). I've already been asked back to teach at Banff again next year, and I'd have to rush home to do Word on the Street in 2006, as well. At the moment, I'm thinking of giving Word on the Street a miss.

Tomorrow, I meet with Sharon Fitzhenry, the president of Fitzhenry and Whiteside, the company that has acquired Red Deer Press, and, with it, my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint.

Tuesday, I speak at a conference devoted to Marshall McLuhan in the morning, and do a library reading in Niagara Falls in the evening.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I'm in Waterloo Region for a string of events related to my Hominids being the "One Book, One Community" choice. Will my life ever slow down?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Just finished up being Author Guest of Honor at CopperCon 25 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was a very pleasant, very well-run convention, and I had a great time. Highlights included dinner out with my old CompuServe buddy Mike Wilmoth, my team winning one of the two games of "Sci-Fi Jeopardy" on Friday night, and getting to hang out with my buddies from The Dragon Page, Evo Terra and Michael R. Mennenga, who recorded some new interview material with me. Evo and Mike are urging me to start a podcast; we'll see if I can come up with the time to do so.

Today, Carolyn and I visited Meteor Crater in Arizona, a place I've wanted to visit my whole life. It was spectacular.

I've decided to come to V-Con in Vancouver next month (October 7-9), in part because we'll be doing another launch party for Rogue Harvest, the latest novel under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. Speaking of which, Red Deer Press, which publishes my imprint, has been bought by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Red Deer's distributor. This is wonderful news, as it gives us all kinds of new resources; indeed, Red Deer just hired an additional staffer, the wonderful Kirstin Morrell, who wil be helping with my line and the other projects Red Deer publishes.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Am I having fun being Special Guest at Dragon*Con, here in Atlanta? Oh, yes indeed!

"An Hour with Robert J. Sawyer and Jack Dann," in which we discussed the joys of writing SF outside of the United States (Jack, on the left, lives near Melbourne in Australia):
[Rob and Jack Dann]

Anne McCaffrey and me having dinner together:
[Rob and Anne McCaffrey]

Carolyn with Connor Trinneer from Star Trek: Enterprise:
[Carolyn and Connor Trinneer

Paul McGillion from Stargate Atlantis and me hanging out at a party:
[Rob and Paul McGillion]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Carolyn and I are in Seattle and for the 21st annual Writers of the Future awards ceremony (I'm now a judge for the contest). We flew in last night (with me getting 1,200 words written on my novel on the flight out). This morning we did the Seattle Underground tour, as featured in the 1972 ABC made-for-TV masterpiece The Night Strangler, the second film starring Darren McGavin as reporter Carl Kolchak. The tour was lots of fun. Then we had lunch with Kevin J. Anderson.

In the afternoon, we walked around the waterfront, then I gave a talk on point of view to the 20 or so winners and finalists who are here for the workshop — with Larry Niven in the audience! Then it was a wonderful buffet dinner outside at the waterfront. We sat with Greg and Astrid Bear and Anne McCaffrey, and met the publisher of Publishers Weekly. All in all, an amazing day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A very good 40-minute radio interview with me conducted in 2003 for the program Bound and Covered is now permanently online, thanks to interviewer James Ohearn of CHRY 105.5 FM, the York University student station in Toronto.

You can download it as an MP3 here or stream it here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 (additional)

The September-November 2005 edition of the large, glossy US newsstand magazine What Is Enlightenment? devotes nine beautifully illustrated pages to an interview with me talking about Mindscan and other things.

And I was pleased by this, from editor Derek Weiler's editorial in the September 2005 edition of Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal:

BookNet Canada is facing some-line drawing itself over the bestseller listings it will be releasing once its sales-reporting system is up and running. BookNet is considering an all-Canadian list to complement the overall bestseller rankings, and some are suggesting that entry to the Canadian list be determined not by the nationality of the author, but by whether the book has been published by a Canadian firm.

On the face of it, this is so counter-intuitive as to be absurd. Imagine a "Canadian bestseller list" that includes Ian McEwan's Saturday, Michael Cunningham's Specimen Days, and Stephen Clarke's A Year in the Merde (which are all published by Canadian houses). Or one that excludes the novels of lifelong Ontario resident Robert J. Sawyer, who publishes most of his work with Tor Books in the U.S. because Canadian publishers don't know what to do with science fiction. Such a list might have some value, but I'd hardly call it "Canadian."

I heartily agree, of course!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Work on my current novel is going well. I'm packing today for our trip tomorrow to Seattle, where I'm participating in the Writers of the Future awards ceremony (giving a talk to the workshop, and presenting one of the awards). As preparation for the trip, Carolyn and I re-watched the old 1972 movie The Night Strangler on DVD (the second Carl Kolchak film); part of it takes place in the Seattle underground, and we're hoping to find time to take the underground tour while we're there. I must say, it's a terrific movie, and probably even better than the original The Night Stalker.

Meanwhile, yesterday's mail brought a very nice royalty cheque from Spain — woohoo!

Sunday, August 7, 2005

My short story "Shed Skin" didn't win the Hugo; Mike Resnick's wonderful and moving "Travels With My Cats" did.

The full list of this year's Hugo winners:

Best Novel: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Best Novella: "The Concrete Jungle" by Charles Stross

Best Novelette: "The Faery Handbag" by Kelly Link

Best Short Story: "Travels with My Cats" by Mike Resnick

Best Related Book: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction
    Edited by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Incredibles
    Written & Directed by Brad Bird

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: "33" - Battlestar Galactica
    Written by Ronald D. Moore and Directed by Michael Rymer.

Best Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow

Best Professional Artist: Jim Burns

Best Semiprozine: Ansible
    Edited by David Langford

Best Fanzine: Plokta
    Edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies and Mike Scott

Best Fan Writer: David Langford

Best Fan Artist: Sue Mason

Best Web Site: SciFiction (www.scifi.com/scifiction)
    Edited by Ellen Datlow. Craig Engler, general manager

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo Award): Elizabeth Bear

Special Interaction Committee Award (not a Hugo Award): David Pringle

Monday, August 1, 2005

Yea verily, the new trade-paperback edition of Foreigner is now out from Tor! I have seen it with mine own eyes in several bookstores. Haven't gotten my own supply of copies yet, but doubtless will in the next few days.

Meanwhile, I've agreed to be the Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence at the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) in October and November of next year (2006); Kitchener is part of Waterloo Region, west of Toronto, where my novel Hominids is the 2005 "One Book, One Community" choice. Unlike most residencies in Canada, which depend on funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, this one is entirely funded by a generous endowment from writer Edna Staebler; Wayson Choy is this year's Writer-in-Residence. I will be meeting with interested parties (who don't necessarily have to reside in Kitchener) for free hour-long one-on-one manuscript critiquing sessions.

Just bought the first reprint for my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint: Terence M. Green's 1992 time-travel novel Children of the Rainbow; we'll do it in trade paperback late next year.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

First the news:

Hugo and World Fantasy Award finalist Nick DiChario of Rochester, New York, has sold first novel A Small and Remarkable Life to Rob Sawyer at Robert J. Sawyer Books for simultaneous hardcover and trade-paperback publication in the spring of 2006. This will be the fifth book under Sawyer's imprint.

Just finished teaching a five-day SF&F writing workshop at the University of Toronto. I had a great group of students, but 13 was too many (by contrast, the novel workshop, held simultaneously and facilitated by another writer, had only seven people enrolled in it). I'm delighted to be popular, but it really was an awful lot of work. Still, I did enjoy every minute of it, and the students were absolutely terrific.

And tonight, I'm off to the annual barbecue of The Fledglings, the workshop that I started for the best of the writers who came to see me in 2003 when I was writer in residence at The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Man, I've been on the road a lot! Since Tuesday, June 21, I've only been home for two days. My itinerary:

  • Tuesday, June 21, through Sunday, June 26: Houston, Texas, where I was Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2 (which was totally great) and visited NASA's Johnson Spaceflight Center (more about that below);

  • Monday, June 27: Toronto, Ontario, where I was signing at BookExpo Canada — I signed over 200 copies of Mindscan at the H.B. Fenn booth;

  • Tuesday, June 28, through Friday, July 8: Calgary, Alberta, where I was master of ceremonies for the Aurora Awards (and picked up the trophy for Best Work in English (Other) for my essay collection Relativity); attended the wonderful Westercon 58; and was Author Guest of Honor at Con-Version 21.5, the mini-version of Alberta's usual annual con held in conjunction with Westercon. We also had two book launches for Danita Maslan's Rogue Harvest, the latest title under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint from Red Deer Press, and I accepted the Locus Award on behalf of Susanna Clark in the Best First Novel for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell;

  • Friday, July 9, through Sunday, July 10: Boston, Massachusetts, where I attended Readercon;

  • Sunday, July 10, through Thursday, July 14: Canandaigua, New York, for a little writing retreat by the lake;

  • Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 17: Toronto, Ontario (but staying in a hotel), for Toronto Trek, an SF convention at which I was one of the Author Guests of Honour.

It was all wonderful, but the absolute highlight — indeed, one of the best days of my entire life — was getting a VIP private behind-the-scenes tour at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The tour itinerary is available as a Word document, and my photos of the tour are now online. Many, many thanks to Paul Abell of NASA who arranged the tour, Donna Kitchen of the protocol office, and Paul's colleague Rob Landis who joined us on the tour. We got to see the neutral-buoyancy facility, go aboard a full-size shuttle mockup and sit in all the chairs in the Apollo-era Mission Control room. It was absolutley amazing! And the icing on the cake was meeting astronaut Mike Finke who had read my Hominids while aboard the International Space Station! Wow!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"Birth" — an original half-hour science-fiction radio drama written by Robert J. Sawyer and Michael Lennick, and produced by Joe Mahoney — premieres on Friday, July 8, 2005, at 10:00 p.m. (in all time zones) across Canada on CBC Radio One and simultaneously worldwide on the Internet at www.cbc.ca/listen.

"Birth" is a pilot for a potential series. A gallery of photos from the recording session — including authors Sawyer and Lennick as extras — is here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Did a great signing, along with Robert Charles Wilson, at BookExpo Canada today — we had a huge line, and I signed over 200 copies of Mindscan, while Bob signed over 200 copies of his Spin.

Meanwhile, the current SFRA Review — published by the Science Fiction Research Association — has a rave review of Mindscan. Some excerpts:

An exciting crowd pleaser. Richly informed by current interdisciplinary research in the burgeoning field of consciousness studies, and alive with provocative speculation of its own, Mindscan is a heady brew of hard SF, blended with enough comedy, romance, and adventure to appeal to a wider audience, as well. Pulling out all the pop-fiction stops, Sawyer also serves up an excellent courtroom drama, a bittersweet comedy, tons of adventure — even a simple trip to the moon, in Sawyer's hands, is made to seem exciting again — and plenty of touches that are just plain fun. Mindscan is a Hard SF reader's delight; readers will find themselves going back to their bookstores for more helpings of Robert Sawyer.

Just got back from Houston yesterday, and am off to Calgary tomorrow. I'll try to get a trip report up about Houston shortly — for now, suffice it to say it included one of the very best days of my entire life ...

Monday, June 20, 2005 Yesterday's edition of the Ottawa Citizen — the largest-circulation newspaper in Canada's capital city — contained this wonderful article by Chris Krejlgaard, best known as publisher and editor of the Canadian SF magazine Parsec:

Rob & Bob's Excellent Sci-fi Adventure
by Chris Krejlgaard

Bookstore audiences call them the Martin and Lewis of science fiction. But for authors Robert Sawyer and Robert Charles Wilson, the recently completed Rob & Bob Tour was more than a chance to have some fun on the road. It was an opportunity to gain readers by exposing each other's readers to their respective works.

Sawyer and Wilson travelled to Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver, Portland and San Francisco to promote their latest novels, Mindscan and Spin.

Sawyer says that although he's heard the comparison to Martin and Lewis, "If anything, it's more like, and I mean this in the best sense, Kirk and Spock.

"Kirk is outgoing and overtly humorous; that's me. Spock is reserved and has a great sense of humour, but is very subtle in wielding it. That's Bob."

Their works are as different as the authors themselves and, naturally, so are their audiences.

"As much as we both love being the centre of attention, I think we realized we'd be a bigger draw together than separately," said Wilson. "Rob and I write different books and different kinds of science fiction. Mindscan covers the next few decades of North American culture, while Spin ultimately dives some four billion years into the future — but we admire each other's work, and I suspect most Rob Sawyer readers would enjoy my novels and vice versa."

That difference and the synergy it creates between the two authors is one of the reasons the tour was a success.

"If we just had the same views, there'd be no benefit of putting us together. It's the interplay of ideas that makes it fun to be around Bob," explained Sawyer. "I believe science fiction absolutely should comment directly on the issues of the day — George W. Bush, Iraq, the papacy, you name it; Bob believes in being less specifically on target. He likes to be, as he says, pertinent but not topical."

Sawyer is quick to cite the marketing strength of having the two authors in the same bookstore at the same time.

"I don't have to tell the audiences in bookstores how good Mindscan is; rather, Bob does that — and I tell them how good his Spin is. We both genuinely and sincerely are fans of each other's work, so there's no shilling going on, but it is much more seemly to praise each other than ourselves."

Business considerations aside, it was the prospect of touring with his friend that led Sawyer to lobby his publisher for a delay in Mindscan's release so that both novels would be shipped in April and make a joint tour possible.

The by-plane part of the Rob and Bob Tour is discussed in this blog here and the by-car part is here.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I meant to get this up earlier, but I've just been totally, totally swamped. On Saturday, June 11, Carolyn and I participated in the Hominids Wild Science Bus Tour, which was one of the events related to my Hominids being chosen as the "One Book, One Community" title for Waterloo Region this year. It was an amazingly excellent day, and we had a truly fabulous time.

And the photos Carolyn and I took are here.

It was a truly excellent event, and I was totally thrilled to be a part of it. We visited the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, had a lecture on Neanderthal genetics and another on the religious issues in the novel sitting by some dinosaur skeletons at the University, attended a talk about architecture and environment, and had a wonderful discussion about the value and joys of science fiction hosted by Hugo nominees James Alan Gardner and Pat Forde. It's a day I'll always fondly remember.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I'm pleased to announce the sale of my second short-story collection. This one will be called Identity Theft, after the longest story in the book (a 25,000-word novella that's already won the world's largest cash prize for SF writing); the collection also includes my current Hugo finalist "Shed Skin" and my current Aurora finalist "Mikeys."

The collection features individual story introductions by me, and an overall introduction by Robert Charles Wilson. The book will be published in hardcover for the Canadian market, and in trade paperback for the North American market, by Red Deer Press (but not under the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint I edit for them), and should be out early in 2007; Red Deer's great success with my earlier collection, Iterations, was what led to me becoming an editor for them.

Identity Theft will contain these fifteen stories:

  • "Identity Theft," copyright 2005 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Down These Dark Spaceways, edited by Mike Resnick, Science Fiction Book Club, New York, April 2005.

  • "Come All Ye Faithful," copyright 2003 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Space Inc., edited by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books, New York, July 2003.

  • "Immortality," copyright 2003 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Janis Ian's Stars, edited by Janis Ian and Mike Resnick, DAW Books, New York, August 2003.

  • "Shed Skin," copyright 2002 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in The Bakka Anthology, edited by Kristen Pederson Chew, The Bakka Collection, Toronto, December 2002; first U.S. publication in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2004.

  • "The Stanley Cup Caper," copyright 2003 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in The Toronto Star, Sunday, August 24, 2003, page M1.

  • "On The Surface," copyright 2003 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Future Wars, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff, DAW Books, New York, April 2003.

  • "The Eagle Has Landed," copyright 2005 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in I, Alien, edited by Mike Resnick, DAW Books, New York, April 2005.

  • "Mikeys," copyright 2004 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Space Stations, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, DAW Books, New York, March 2004.

  • "The Good Doctor," copyright 1989 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Amazing Stories, January 1989.

  • "The Right's Tough," copyright 2004 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Visions of Liberty, edited by Mark Tier and Martin H. Greenberg, DAW Books, New York, July 2004.

  • "Kata Bindu," copyright 2004 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Microcosms, edited by Gregory Benford, DAW Books, New York, January 2004.

  • "Driving A Bargain," copyright 2002 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Be VERY Afraid!: More Tales of Horror, edited by Edo van Belkom, Tundra Books, Toronto, 2002.

  • "Flashes," copyright 2006 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in FutureShocks, edited by Lou Anders, Roc Books, New York, January 2006.

  • "Relativity," copyright 2003 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Men Writing Science Fiction as Women, edited by Mike Resnick, DAW Books, New York, November 2003.

  • "Biding Time," copyright 2006 by Robert J. Sawyer. First published in Slipstreams, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, DAW Books, New York, 2006.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Fictionwise has finally made my Hugo Award-nominated short story "Shed Skin" available in ebook form for free. You can download it free of charge from now until the Hugo voting ends in any or all of these formats:

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Palm Doc
  • Rocket/REB1100
  • Microsoft Reader
  • Franklin eBookMan
  • hiebook
  • iSilo
  • Mobipocket
In addition, it's available right here on my web site in these format:
  • Full text as a web page — for reading with your browser.

  • Full text as a Microsoft Word document — format the story any way you wish for easy reading and printing (or synch it to your PDA to read on-the-go).

  • Full text as an RTF document, openable by most Windows, Mac, and Linux word processors.

  • Full text as an Adobe Acrobat PDF, in manuscript format; for a PDF formatted for ebook reading, see above.

  • Full text as a WordStar for DOS document — 'cause, hey, I can't be the only one left who still uses it.

  • Rather listen to it being read? Fictionwise also has "Shed Skin" as a professionally produced audio book, read by an actor.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

After previously announcing that I wasn't going to go to Readercon in Boston this year, I've changed my mind. I'm going to fly there directly from Calgary, where I'll be until early in the morning of Friday, July 8, for Westercon and post-con festivities, including the launch of the fourth book under the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint: Danita Maslan's wonderful Rogue Harvest.

Speaking of which, Carolyn and I had a great dinner with Dennis Johnson, the publisher of Red Deer Press (and the RJS imprint), on Monday; he was in town for a few days. And Monday evening, Robert Charles Wilson, Karl Schroeder and I did a wonderful science-fiction open house at the annual meeting of the Special Libraries Association, which was in Toronto this year.

Meanwhile, the mail has brought copies of the German edition of Hominids, which looks very classy.

Last week, Carolyn and I had a visitor from Japan: Ken Uno, who is a fan of my books. He came out to the monthly "First Thursday" pub night, and Carolyn took him to the Woodbine Race Track to watch the horse races on Saturday, then he came over to our place, and did an interview with me for his website. He also got me a wonderful gift: an AntWorks space antfarm, using the same transparent gelatin that was used for ants to tunnel in on space shuttle missions. Cool! Ken is a terrific guy and I look forward to seeing this new friend again when the Worldcon is in Japan in 2007.

Oh, and there's a great science column by Edward Willett from the Regina Leader Post about the science behind my novel Mindscan.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Things have been calm, peaceful, and relaxing for the last little while — mostly because I've gotten much better at saying "no." :)

I've just finished my seventeenth consecutive 2,000-word day on my current novel — meaning I've added 35,000 words since May 16. Not only that, but I think they're pretty good words.

Yesterday I received my author's copies of the Japanese edition of Hominids and the Spanish edition of Humans.

And I was very pleased to learn recently that my The Terminal Experiment is a required text in the science-fiction course the University of Montreal is offering this summer, and that my Mindscan will be one of three SF novels taught as part of the "Sciences and Humanities" course at York University in the 2005-2006 academic year (the other two are Frankenstein and The Time Machine).

Also exciting: two papers on my work will be presented at the "Uses of Science Fiction" three-day conference at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, this fall:

  • Ruby S. Ramraj of the University of Calgary will present "Soulwaves, AIs, and Murders in Robert Sawyer's The Terminal Experiment: Seeking a Philosophical Dr. Watson in Cyberspace."

  • Valerie Broege of Vanier College will present "The Science and Religion Dialogue in the Science Fiction of Robert J. Sawyer."

My current reading: In A Strange City, a mystery by Laura Lippman (fiction), and Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age by Bill McKibben (nonfiction). Before that, it was Aftermath, a mystery by my friend Peter Robinson (fiction), and Merchants of Immortality by Stephen Hall (nonfiction). All were/are excellent.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

To my delight, I'm a double nominee for the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (the Auroras) this year.

My short story "Mikeys," from the DAW anthology Space Stations, edited by John Helfers and Martin H. Greenberg, is a finalist in the short-form English category. You can read the story here in either Word format or as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

And Relativity, my hardcover collection of essays and stories from ISFiC Press, is a finalist in the English "Other" category. Whee!

In other news, it's been a good week of writing, with me doing 14,000 words in the last seven days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A letter I sent today via email:

Dennis Mullin, Aurora Awards committee
Peter Jarvis, Aurora Awards ceremony coordinator
Randy McCharles, co-chair Westercon 58
John Mansfield, co-chair Westercon 58

With copies to:
The Robert J. Sawyer newsgroup
The IFWA Slush Pile


As of the update today, May 17, 2005, the Aurora Award website says the final ballot is "Currently being prepared. Voting ballot will be available no later than May 23. Voting deadline will be mid-June."

I have no novel eligible for the Auroras this year, and so no vested interest in the outcome of the long-form voting, but, guys, this is ridiculous, and really unfair to the nominees, especially in the long-form categories.

The proposed timetable suggest that readers find and read five books in three weeks (assuming no tie; there could well be more than five books on the final ballot), in order to vote by mid-June. Even if they have 25 days (May 23 to June 17, say), that requires conscientious voters to read A BOOK EVERY FIVE DAYS in order to vote, which is an awful lot to ask. Yes, of course, some voters will have read one or two of the nominees, but many will have read none in advance of the ballot being released.

If the ballot was out RIGHT NOW — today or tomorrow — and if voting could continue to just before the awards ceremony (with a ballot received-by date of June 29, say), maybe, just maybe, there's enough time for fair, conscientious voting. But I really think you owe it to the awards to consider handing off the ceremony to Con*Cept in Montreal, or some other convention later in the year.

At this point, it doesn't matter why it's take so long to produce a final ballot (much longer than the proposed time being given to voters to actually consider the works on that ballot), so no explanation or blame is appropriate. But the awards need to be fair and just; rushing the actual voting does nothing but turn them into a popularity contest (the known names, or those whose works the most people had already read prior to the ballot coming out, will get the most votes, since there won't be time to track down the works by newer/less-known writers).

As a writer who is an established name now, I'd hate to win that way; as a writer whose own early career got a boost from an early Aurora win (in 1992, for my first novel), I'd hate to see the next generation of new voices deprived of such a possibility.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert J. Sawyer

[Spaceways] Monday, May 16, 2005

SF Site put up a glowing review of Mindscan today:

"Sawyer's most ambitious work to date; a brilliant and innovative novel, with complex and highly entertaining courtroom drama. In Sawyer's capable grasp the story positively sings with humor, insight, and depth. In Hard SF it is difficult to create believable characters, but Sawyer manages to do it yet again with a skill and clarity that most mainstream literary writers would envy. Mindscan is truly a work of literary art. With a brilliant narrative, intriguing and well-researched scientific extrapolation, and characters that are believable and utterly human, Sawyer has undoubtedly cemented his reputation as one of the foremost Science Fiction writers of our generation."

Pause for happy-dance ... :)

On Friday, I received copies of Down These Dark Spaceways, the exclusive Science Fiction Book Club anthology of SF hard-boiled-detective novellas edited by Mike Resnick; the book looks gorgeous. It contains my UPC award-winning "Identity Theft," which begins thus:

The door to my office slid open. "Hello," I said, rising from my chair. "You must be my nine o'clock." I said it as if I had a ten o'clock and an eleven o'clock, but I didn't. The whole Martian economy was in a slump, and, even though I was the only private detective on Mars, this was the first new case I'd had in weeks.
Other stories in the book are by Mike Resnick, Robert Reed, David Gerrold, Catherine Asaro, and Jack McDevitt.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

My "twenty-fifth" high-school reunion was yesterday. I put "twenty-fifth" in quotes for two reasons: First, because, it was actually twenty-six years since I graduated high school in 1979, but no one got around to organizing a reunion last year. And second because when I was in high school, Ontario, Canada, where I live, was unique in North America in having a Grade 13 — so I, and my contemporaries, graduated from high school at the age of 19, not the more normal 18. Grade 13 no longer exists; the idea was to give everyone in the province who wanted it a free year of university-level education — I did two courses in Latin, a course in film studies, an advanced English course, chemistry, math, and an independent-study biology course in which I researched dinosaurs and dolphins.

Anyway, I spearheaded the reunion idea, and it came off very well indeed; it ended up being a joint reunion for the classes of 1979 and 1980, and we held it at a bar not far from the school, Northview Heights Secondary School. Not that they'll mean much to anyone except my classmates, but pictures I took of the reunion are here, and the ones my brother Alan took are here. I must say it was gratifying to discover how many of my old classmates read my books.

Monday, May 9, 2005

Some recent bestsellers lists:

Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Hardcover Bestsellers List (combined fiction and nonfiction), April 30, 2005 — Mindscan is #3:
1. Bitter Embrace, Maggie Siggins. Aboriginal Studies. 

2. The Da Vinci Code Illustrated Edition, Dan Brown. Fiction. 

3. Mindscan, Robert J. Sawyer. Canadian Science Fiction.

4. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown. Fiction. 

5. R Is for Ricochet, Sue Grafton. Mystery. 

6. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini. Fiction. 

7. True Believer, Nicholas Sparks. Fiction. 

8. Happy Centennial Saskatchewan, David Bouchard & Hans Herold. 
Regional Interest. 

9. The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks. Fiction. 

10. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Matthew Stover. 
Science Fiction. 

Winnipeg Free Press
Hardcover Fiction bestsellers list for April 24, 2005:

#6:  MINDSCAN by Robert J. Sawyer

(Apparently I also made it to the Winnipeg Free Press bestsellers list the following week, 1 May 2005, but I don't know my ranking; a clipping will eventually show up from H.B. Fenn.)

McNally Robinson
(Canadian chain of four book superstores in Western Canada, plus one store in Manhattan) — combined chain-wide fiction and nonfiction hardcovers, for the week of April 30, 2005; Mindscan is #6:
1. The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition
by Dan Brown - $33.60

2. Canada
by Mike Grandmaison - $50.00

3. Henry Kalen's Winnipeg
by Henry Kalen - $19.95

4. A Complicated Kindness
by Miriam Toews - $29.95

5. The Devil in Babylon
by Allan Levine - $36.99

6. Mindscan
by Robert J. Sawyer - $34.95

7. Three-Day Road
by Joseph Boyden - $32.00

8. French Women Don't Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure
by Mireille Guiliano - $30.00

9. My Life So Far
by Jane Fonda - $35.95

10. Saturday
by Ian McEwan - $34.00

The McNally Robinson superstores in Winnipeg and Saskatoon separately contribute to the Locus bestsellers list. Here are the hardcover science-fiction, fantasy, and horror bestsellers lists for each of those stores, as submitted to Locus, for the month of April (provided by Kent Pollard of the Saskatoon store); Mindscan is number 1 on both lists:

Winnipeg F&SF&Horror hardcover bestsellers for April 2005:

1. Mindscan Sawyer, Robert J.

2. Stroke Of Midnight Hamilton, Laurell K.

3. Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide Adams, Douglas

4. Spin Wilson, Robert Charles

5. Shadow Of The Giant Card, Orson Scott

6. Chainfire Goodkind, Terry

7. Resurrection War Of The Spider Queen 06 Kemp, Paul S.

9. We Few Weber, David

9. Dragonsblood McCaffrey, Todd

10 Exile's Return Feist, Raymond E. (tie)

10. Sunstorm Clarke, Arthur C. (tie)

10. The Wizard Knight Wolfe, Gene (tie)

Saskatoon F&SF&Horror hardcover bestsellers for April 2005:

1. Mindscan Sawyer, Robert J.

2. Stroke Of Midnight Hamilton, Laurell K.

3. Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide Adams, Douglas

4. We Few Weber, David

5. Shadow Of The Giant Card, Orson Scott

6. Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy In 5 Parts, Adams, Douglas

7. Spin Wilson, Robert Charles

8. Chainfire Goodkind, Terry

10. Dragonsblood Mccaffrey, Todd (tie)

10. Exile's Return Feist, Raymond E. (tie)

And just for good measure, a list from Fictionwise, the world's leading vendor of ebooks:

Best Selling Authors: Past Six Months

1. Robert J. Sawyer
2. Reed Manning
3. Larry Niven
4. Dan Brown
5. Mike Resnick
6. Lois McMaster Bujold
7. David Weber
8. Darrell Bain
9. J.W. McKenna
10. Michael Crichton
11. Lisa Kleypas
12. Robert Silverberg
13. Laurell K. Hamilton
14. Anne McCaffrey
15. James Patterson

[Rob & Bob Tour] Sunday, May 8, 2005

LONG Report on Part 2 of the Rob and Bob Tour Follows! To skip it, click here.

Book Tour Photo Gallery 2

You might want to open the photo gallery in a separate browser window or tab, so you can flip back and forth between it and this trip diary. Right-click on the link above, and select "Open in New Window" or "Open Link in New Tab."

The second leg of the Rob and Bob Tour — promoting my novel Mindscan and Robert Charles Wilson's Spin — was conducted by car.

Special thanks this time to my mother-in-law Katherine Clink, who provided use of her van; Christa Yoshimoto, the Chapters southern-Ontario events coordinator, who followed us to three cities and did terrific promotion for us; and most of all to my wife Carolyn Clink who did 100% of the driving for five days, and planned our complex and full itinerary of drop-in signings.

On Friday morning, April 29, 2005, Robert Charles Wilson and his wife Sharry drove to Carolyn and my place in Mississauga, arriving at 9:45 a.m. We'd arranged to borrow Carolyn's mothers van, which is a Mercury Villager, for the trip. We loaded it up with everyone's stuff, leaving Bob and Sharry's car in our underground garage, and drove to Kitchener/Waterloo, about 75 minutes from our home. As Bob observed, I owned those towns, thanks to the excitement surrounding the One Book, One Community program (everyone in Waterloo Region is being encouraged to read my Hominids; see the entry on April 27, 2005, for all the details).

Our first stop was Words Worth Books, which is run by Tricia Siemens, who used to be the coordinator of the One Book, One Community program. They had a wonderful window display for Hominids, and I signed their stock. We then drove to CKCO, the local CTV affiliate, where Bob and I appeared on the noon news program. After that we took a detour to 11 Austin Drive in Waterloo, which is where Carolyn and I first lived together, during the summer of 1980. The place was a dump back then, and was even more of one now.

After that, we hit the Chapters in Waterloo and signed stock. They had good quantities of Bob's books and an overwhelming number of Hominids copies, in a terrific endcap display — woohoo! They also had my Mindscan on the bestsellers' wall at the back of the store, which was great.

Next up was lunch, at a pub that was recommended to us by one of the Chapters clerks; he said they had terrific chicken wings. I had some, and agreed they were good.

We spent the afternoon doing drop-in signings at Coles stores (Coles are the mall stores operated by the Chapters/Indigo chain), then arrived at East Side Mario's in Kitchener for my 45th birthday dinner. Joining Carolyn and me and Bob and Sharry were the renowned SF writer James Alan Gardner, playwright Linda Carson (who is married to Jim), Hugo-nominated writer (and one of my writing students) Pat Forde, and Pat's wife Kathleen. The conversation was wonderful.

In the parking lot, Bob found some toy legs, which became our lucky charm for the rest of the trip; before each signing, Bob would have them do a little dance.

We headed into Chapters Kitchener, which was packed. The amazing Christa Yoshimoto, Chapters' events coordinator for southern Ontario, was on hand, as were writer Suzanne Church, my writing student Jane Ann McLachlan, my high-school girlfriend Lorian, my high-school buddy Ted Bleaney and his daughter Ellen and son Graham, and lots of fans. The signing was very well organized, with people getting slips of paper to control their place in line.

After the signing was over, we hit the road for the two-hour drive to Sarnia Ontario, near the U.S. border, then checked into the Holiday Inn for the night.

We woke up on Saturday, April 30, 2005, in Sarnia. That day's Kitchener/Waterloo Record contained great reviews of my Mindscan and Bob's Spin, both by Jane Ann McLachlan. Some excerpts:

Robert J. Sawyer — Hugo, Aurora and Nebula award-winning science fiction writer — and Robert Charles Wilson — winner of the Aurora and the John W. Campbell Awards — visited Kitchener as part of their joint North American book tour.

Both are accomplished writers in a fascinating genre and their new books are well worth exploring.

Sawyer's latest book, Mindscan, contemplates the possibility of putting human minds inside mechanical bodies. His earlier novel, Hominids, is this year's choice for the One Book, One Community program.

The court case is dramatic and realistic, and in many ways reminiscent of the struggles women and racial minorities have faced, and still face in many Third World countries.

Sawyer writes hard science fiction, a genre in which scientific and technical ruminations can overwhelm characterization and plot, and it is true that in some of Sawyer's books, his philosophic and scientific explorations may bog down some readers. But in Mindscan, Sawyer's scrupulous attention to detail in presenting his scientific proposition is subtle and unobtrusive.

There are no rough edges between to-day's cutting-edge science and tomorrow's possible application. This is Sawyer at his best: compelling characters, an intriguing and involving plot, and deep philosophic themes backed by credible scientific reasoning. Mindscan will resonate in your thoughts for a long time after you have closed the book.

Robert Charles Wilson also writes hard science fiction. While some readers who are not familiar with science fiction may find his original supposition hard to swallow, the scientific underpinnings unfold smoothly under Wilson's competent hand and the plot never lets up, making it well worth the huge initial suspension of disbelief. Wilson's characters in Spin are compelling and fully realized.

At 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning, we arrived at GenreCon, a one-day SF/mystery convention being held at the Lambton County Public Library in Sarnia, near the U.S. border. Bob and I read, talked, and signed autographs for two hours. The organizers, Jeff Beeler and Ellen Dark, did a great job, and we had a full room of very eager people, who asked us lots of questions about the business of writing. Also in attendance, on their own book tour, were my great friend, mystery writer Rick Blechta, and his friend author Vicki Delany. A local bookseller was on hand to sell our books, and they sold out of our hardcovers — and, indeed, I accidentally let them sell my own personal copy of Mindscan! Fortunately, it had only been needed as a prop for our appearance on CTV the day before; since I read off my Sony Clie TH55 Palm-OS PDA, I didn't need the copy on the rest of the trip.

We then headed to Windsor for a 3:00 p.m. event at Chapters in Devonshire Mall — and this was our one unsuccessful event of the trip. Christa Yoshimoto was on hand again, having driven all the way from Guelph, where she lives, to join us. Still, we eventually gathered a small group of people, and the Chapters staff seemed very pleased to have us there. (Logistics had conspired against this event: we were appearing in Windsor on Saturday afternoon, but not doing our radio interview with the CBC in Windsor until the following Monday morning.)

We checked into the Ramada Windsor, then decided to separate for the evening — Bob and Sharry going off on their own for Chinese food, and Carolyn and I having our own dinner (after we first had a nap!). Although H.B. Fenn (Tor's Canadian distributor) would have paid for our meal, we decided to go somewhere more expensive than we felt comfortable billing them for, paying for it ourselves. We enjoyed a terrific meal at Ye Old Steak House, recommended to us by a guy we asked on the street. Our dining experience was marred only by surly service (as we were entering the restaurant, a patron advised us to ask for a specific waitress, but we didn't because she was working in the smoking section).

It was a pretty wild night in Windsor, with lots of American teenagers pouring in from Detroit (in courtesy vans, no less) to go to the strip clubs and bars — the legal drinking age in Windsor is 19; in Detroit, it's 21. Poor Sharry got no sleep at all Saturday night, because of the street noise.

The Nebula Awards weekend was going on in Chicago at this time, and in a breakfast ceremony this morning, the winners of the annual readers' choice awards given by Analog and Asimov's science-fiction magazines were announced. My "Shed Skin," which is also a current Hugo Award finalist, was named the favourite short story of last year in Analog; Mindscan, the book I was touring to promote, is based on that short story, so this seemed a good omen.

On Sunday, May 1, 2005, Carolyn and I rendezvoused with Bob and Sharry in the lobby and we all headed to Ann Arbor, Michigan. We first hit Nicola's, a wonderful independent bookstore, and signed our stock. There, I saw the current issue of the glossy newsstand magazine Starlog, which had a rave review of Mindscan: "A tale involving courtroom drama, powerful human emotion and challenging SF mystery. Sawyer juggles it all with intelligence and far-reaching vision worthy of Isaac Asimov. The book ends on an entirely new vista and begs for a sequel — which readers will be eagerly anticipating." Woohoo!

After that, we found a terrific used bookshop. The sign out front said "Books & ...," which I insisted on reading as "Books Ampersand Ellipsis." Apparently, though, the store's real name is Kaleidoscope. We had a fabulous time there combing through all the collectible science fiction, and Bob bought some old Amazing Stories issues with work by Philip K. Dick in them, plus some old H.G. Wells books. Turns out my editor at Tor, David G. Hartwell, is a regular customer of this shop.

We then headed to the original Borders store — the first store in the Borders chain — at 612 East Liberty in Ann Arbor. Unlike in Canada, where we had a lot of media attention, we had none in Michigan, and turnout was relatively modest. But Tor had provided the store with terrific foamcore-mounted blowups of our book covers, and the wonderful events coordinator, Jayson Zeeman, nicely wrapped them up for us so we could take them home.

Two of those in the audience were members of my Yahoo! Groups discussion group: Christopher Bair (who drove three hours from Akron, Ohio, for the event), and Hugh Staples (who came all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio). Christopher has posted his account with photos of the day, and Hugh has put up some more photos, as well.

After the signing, I went out for coffee at Starbucks with Christopher, Hugh, and a local named Steve, while Carolyn, Sharry, and Bob went shopping. We rendezvoused at Kaleidoscope Books, then headed to the very swanky hotel Tor had booked us into (on the executive floor, no less).

After being deterred by the long wait to be seated at the nearby Olive Garden, we instead opted for a very pleasant, long, relaxing meal in the hotel restaurant, which was deserted except for us. After dinner, Bob and Sharry retired to their room, and Carolyn went over to the big mall near the hotel looking for Ring Dings (a snack cake you can't get in Canada) for her brother Kevin. When she got back, we watched the first of the new episodes of Family Guy on Fox, an animated series we quite like that had been canceled then was resurrected because of great DVD sales.

Monday, May 2, 2005, could have been a disaster: our key event for the day was to have been a lunch with the SF buyer for the Borders chain, which is headquartered in Ann Arbor. But the buyer had canceled on Friday, because of an internal emergency at Borders, leaving us with nothing to do. Carolyn, though, spent hours on the World Wide Web and working with Microsoft Streets and Trips to plan a full day of drop-in signings for us — she worked really hard and did a fabulous job.

Carolyn and I got up at 7:30 a.m., and all four of us left the hotel by 8:30 a.m., motoring across the bridge to Windsor, Ontario, for a 10:30 a.m. studio appointment at CBC Radio One. It turns out that they were only expecting me, not me and Bob, and so the script for the interview had to be hastily rewritten. We recorded 15 minutes of material to air later that day on the program Crosstown with Barbara Peacock.

We next did a drop-in at the University of Windsor bookstore, where they had stock of both of our books in the SF section upstairs; we also bought books (tons for me, three for Bob) from the University's bargain tables (among my scores: a copy of Algernon, Charlie, and I by Daniel Keyes).

We then crossed back into the states, having a very nice chat with the US border guard, who was intrigued that Bob and I were authors. Did drop-ins at Barnes and Noble (where we met customer-service rep Patti Stoner, who bought a Mindscan hardcover and Hominids paperback, and a Blind Lake paperback from the store's stock and had us sign them). We then had lunch at Applebee's. Then it was off to Borders in Novi, Michigan; the Borders staff had plenty of our books, and immediately set up an endcap display of the stock we'd signed.

We then had lunch at Applebee's. I dropped in at CompUSA while Carolyn went to T.J. Maxx. Then we went into Borders at 8101 Movie Drive, in Brighton, Michigan. Turns out they had had precisely one copy of Mindscan shipped to them, it had sold at once, and that was that: no automatic reorder; it gets listed as out of stock / special order from that point on. Arrgh! Leslie, a very nice staff member there, put in a request for four copies, but that request has to be approved by head office — meaning they might never show up. They still had what had presumably been their one and only copy of Spin, but it was in the mystery section, from where Bob rescued it. They did have a lot of my backlist, though.

We stopped briefly at Target so that Carolyn could do some shopping — the quest for Ring Dings continued!

We then drove to the Barnes and Noble at 333 E Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, directly opposite the University of Michigan campus — only to discover they had zero copies of Mindscan or Spin on hand or on order; needless to say, that was demoralizing. We did sign their mass-market stock, though.

Next, we rushed to Schuler Books and Music at 2820 Towne Center Blvd., in Lansing, for our evening event. Schuler is a wonderful, large independent, but, again, turnout here was modest, although we had a good time reading in front of the store's fireplace.

After, Carolyn, Sharry, Bob, and I went to The Claddagh Irish Pub, for a wonderful late dinner. Our server was an extraordinarily polite young man who was about to enter military service; our table was intriguingly tucked into a niche in the wall. When we were finished eating, we headed back to Sarnia (crossing the border to do so), checking into the same Holiday Inn we'd been in two nights before.

We woke up Tuesday morning, May 3, 2005, after allowing ourselves a good, long night's sleep, rendezvousing in the lobby with Bob and Sharry at 11:00 a.m. We then drove the hour-plus to London, Ontario. During much of the car trip we were listening to a series of lectures on science fiction by Eric S. Rabkin that I'd bought from The Teaching Company; they provoked much lively in-car discussion.

As soon as we got to London, we started doing drop-in signings, starting with the Chapters at the north end of town (our evening event was scheduled for the Chapters at the south end). There was a wonderful endcap display for Bob — but it was bittersweet, because the books on display were all remaindered copies of his previous novel Blind Lake, marked down to $5.99! (The same section also had three remainders of my FlashForward and one Calculating God remainder, plus a bunch of copies of Terence M. Green's St. Patrick's Bed, so Bob was in good company.)

Still, I have to say I fared better in the endcap-department at this store: in the SF section, they had a four-title trade-paperback endcap, three of which were by me: Factoring Humanity, Far-Seer, and Iterations. While signing these, I met a nice woman and struck up a conversation with her. She bought Mindscan and Spin hardcovers and one of my paperbacks on the spot, for her son who is an SF fan. We then broke for lunch at another East Side Mario's, had our server help us with directions to the University of Western Ontario. After lunch, we hit the nearby Coles, then headed to the UWO Bookstore, where we signed stock and looked a bit at the other shops there (the computer store, a used textbook store, and so on).

Next up was the Oxford Bookshop at 740 Richmond Street. That store has been very good to me, doing a great interview with me seven years ago for their customer newsletter, and running this page-one rave review for Mindscan in their current newsletter:

How does one follow up a best-selling trilogy, including a Hugo Award Winner? How does one maintain high standards and interest in a genre-addled audience?

When one is the best Science Fiction author in Canada, one does it with apparent ease.

Set in a neither not-too-distant nor incredible future, Mindscan is a novel that is both enjoyable and thought provoking. A book of "what ifs" and clear dissertations on the mind, body and soul, and intellectual property.

Sawyer deftly shows that some things many of us wish for — eternal life, financial security — can have their drawbacks. How would you feel if you met yourself — an immortal yourself — who is suddenly and legally "You"? How would you feel if everything you worked for, everything you lived for now belonged to a mechanical "You" who will be living long after you have expired? Narrated from two versions of the same character, one living and one dying,

Mindscan is brilliant speculative fiction. A must-read for fans of the author and the genre. — Gavin Taylor

We did drop-ins at two more Coles stores, then arrived just in the Swiss Chalet in south London at 5:30. There, we had dinner with a bunch of fine folk from Science Fiction London, the local SF club. I finally met face to face Richard Gibbens, who I'd been corresponding with via email for years. Bob and I were presented with chain-mail key fobs as gifts. We then did our readings, discussion, and signing at the Chapters in South London. I'd done a drop-in there in December, when I'd be in town giving the keynote address to the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee's annual meeting, and was pleased to see all the stock I'd signed then had moved.

After the event, Christa Yoshimoto broke the news to us that she was leaving Chapters after eight years with the company, to go work at Georgetown Publishers. She was wonderful to work with, and we'll miss her.

We then got into the Book Mobile — Carolyn's mom's van — one last time, and did the final two-hour drive back to Toronto. The London event had been absolutely first rate, ending a terrific tour on a very high note.

There was one final coda to the Rob and Bob Tour: on Saturday, May 7, 2005, we did a terrific event together at the World's Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto. We spoke in an open area between sections labeled "Science Fiction" and "Classics" — an appropriate setting for the tag-team wrestlers of Canadian SF, as Bob had dubbed us.

Marcos Donnelly, whose novel Letters from the Flesh had been the first book in the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint I edit for Red Deer Press drove all the way from Rochester, New York, along with his (and my) friend Ted Wenskus for the event, and Bob's ex-wife Janet and their son Paul showed up, too, as did my former U of T writing student Tony Pi, and the mother and sister of my childhood best friend. After, Bob, Janet, and Paul went off for lunch, and Marcos, Ted, Carolyn, and I drove to Mississauga and had lunch outdoors on the waterfront at a restaurant called Snug Harbour.

Bob and I both had a terrific time at the World's Biggest Bookstore — but now it's back to work on our next books! Bob's is a sequel to Spin (yes, he's doing a series, which he dearly hopes won't become known as "the Spin cycle"), and I'm working on a book about nascent artificial intelligence called Webmind.

Book Tour Photo Gallery 2

To jump to the trip report for the earlier, by-plane part of the Rob and Bob Tour, click here.

Friday, May 6, 2005

Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov's Science Fiction have announced their annual readers' choice awards, based on voting by each magazine's readers for the favorite works of the preceding year:

Analog Readers' Award:
(aka "the Analytical Laboratory," or AnLab)

  • Short story: "Shed Skin," Robert J. Sawyer
  • Novelette: "Short Line Loco," Stephen L. Burns
  • Novella: "Layna's Mirror," Rajnar Vajra
  • Fact: "Open Minds, Open Source," Eric S. Raymond
  • Cover: November, David A. Hardy
Asimov's Readers' Award:

  • Short story: "Travels With My Cats," Mike Resnick
  • Novelette: "The Garcia Narrows Bridge," Allen Steele
  • Novella: "Liberation Day," Allen Steele
  • Poem: "Heavy Weather," Bruce Boston
  • Cover artist: Donato Giancola (August)

The Sawyer and Resnick short stories are also Hugo Award finalists, as is artist Donato Giancola.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

[Frameshift] Just received cover flats for the new trade paperback edition of Frameshift, coming in November. I think it's gorgeous! I got to write the cover text this time, and pick the blurbs. Click on the little image for a full scan of the front and back cover.

Today was given over to interviews: a full hour with a radio station in Alamagordo, New Mexico; half an hour with a station in Missouri; thirty minutes with the campus radio station at Toronto's York University; and ten minutes with CHAY-FM in Barrie, Ontario. I'm all talked out!

Got a nice, juicy royalty cheque this week for the trade paperback of my short-story collection Iterations. Man, that thing just keeps making me money — something very unusual for a short-story collection.

My speaking career keeps rolling along. Just signed a contract to do the keynote for the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association in October. Others coming up include the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers in Regina, Saskatchewan, later this month and the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation in September in Phoenix, Arizona.

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Robert Charles Wilson and I are back safe and sound from the second and final leg of our book tour; this part was done by car. It went very well, and I'll post a full trip report soon of this part soon. In the meantime, a gallery of photos from the by-car part is now available.

(For the earlier, by-plane trip report, see here.)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

There's a new interview with me, by Will McDermott, available on his web site.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

This press release was issued today:

Photo gallery from the press conference

Robert J. Sawyer's science-fiction novel Hominids has been selected as this year's "One Book, One Community" title for the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, which has a population of 490,000. Programs through bookstores, libraries, schools, and other venues will encourage everyone in the Region of Waterloo to read Hominids, and Sawyer will participate in numerous community events throughout the year, including library readings, school visits, and bookstore signings (starting with an appearance at Chapters in Kitchener on Friday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m.).

"One Book, One Community" is now in its fourth year in the Region of Waterloo, and is similar to the "If All of [City] Read the Same Book" initiatives popular in the United States. The program is sponsored by the Kitchener and Waterloo libraries, local bookstores, Canada's Chapters bookstore chain, the Kitchener/Waterloo Record (major daily newspaper), other local media, and other organizations. Previous "One Book, One Community selections for the Region of Waterloo were No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod (2002); The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart (2003); and Lives of the Saints by Nino Ricci (2004).

The Region of Waterloo is just west of Toronto, and consists of the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge (collectively known as "Canada's Technology Triangle"), plus the rural communities of Ayr, Baden, New Hamburg, New Dundee, Linwood, Wellesley, St. Clements, Elmira, St. Jacobs, and Bloomingdale. It contains the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Conestoga College; the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics; much high-tech industry, including the head offices of Research in Motion (makers of the wireless BlackBerry); and the head offices of many insurance companies.

The unveiling of this year's choice was made at a press conference at the Perimeter Institute. In attendance besides Sawyer and his wife, poet Carolyn Clink, were local mayors and councilors, and the publisher of the Record.

The announcement was heralded with a full-colour banner above the fold across page one of today's Record proclaiming "The year's One Book, One Community choice: Robert J. Sawyer's novel Hominids a 'highly satisfying novel.'" The coverage continued with the lead story on the front page of the "Local" section of the Record, under the headline "Reading Program takes a sci-fi twist: Award-winning Hominids choice of One Book, One Community panel." Sawyer was interviewed by CKCO, the local CTV affiliate today, and will also appear on CKCO's noon program on Friday.

Hominids, first volume of Sawyer's "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy, was first published in hardcover in 2002, by Tor Books, New York, the world's largest SF publisher. It won the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award — the top international honour for science-fiction writing — for best novel of the year. Hominids tells the story of a parallel Earth where Neanderthals survived to the present day and our kind of humans did not, and a portal that opens up between the two realities in Sudbury, Ontario. Two sequels have been published (Humans and Hybrids), and a motion-picture adaptation is in the works.

During the press conference, Bruce Johnstone of the OBOC selection committee cited several reasons for the choice of Hominids, including the book's Ontario setting and multicultural cast, its discussions of gender and religious issues, its exploration of cutting-edge science, and its fast pace and readability.

Sawyer, 44, has been called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by The Ottawa Citizen and "just about the best science fiction writer out there these days" by the Denver Rocky Mountain News. Maclean's: Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine says, "By any reckoning, Sawyer is among the most successful Canadian authors ever." He is the author of 16 novels, including the just-released Mindscan (and is currently in the middle of a 14-city book tour promoting Mindscan's release).

Besides the Hugo Award for Hominids, Sawyer's honours include the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award for Best Novel of the Year (for The Terminal Experiment), the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story of the Year, eight Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards ("Auroras"), and the top SF awards in France, Japan, and Spain. He is also one of only 30 graduates of Toronto's Ryerson University to receive the Alumni Award of Distinction, and was honored last year with the Civic Award of Recognition by the city of Mississauga, Ontario, where he lives. Sawyer is currently a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story of the Year.

[Rob & Bob Tour] Tuesday, April 26, 2005

LONG Report on Part 1 of the Rob and Bob Tour Follows! To skip it, click here.

Book Tour Photo Gallery 1

You might want to open the photo gallery in a separate browser window or tab, so you can flip back and forth between it and this trip diary. Right-click on the link above, and select "Open in New Window" or "Open Link in New Tab."

Book tours are rare in science fiction. Indeed, for the entire spring season, Tor is only touring four authors: superstar bestselling SF writer Orson Scott Card, superstar bestselling fantasy author Terry Goodkind — and the Rob and Bob Tour, pairing me (Rob) with my great friend Robert Charles Wilson (Bob), so that we could promote our new books, my Mindscan and Bob's Spin. We were delighted and honored — and very grateful — that Tor and its Canadian distributor, H.B. Fenn and Company, chose to send us on the road together.

Our special thanks go to Janis Ackroyd, our publicist at H.B. Fenn, and to David Moench, our publicist at Tor, who did the hard work setting up our 14-city/14-day tour.

SF is a low-margins industry, and tours are expensive. Three of my writing students pitched in to help; without them, the tour would have been shorter and much less pleasant, so I'd like to thank them up front. Randy McCharles, who workshopped with me in Calgary in 1996 and 2003, provided accommodation in his wonderful home in that city for two nights. Randy is the co-chair of this year's Westercon in Calgary.

Kirstin Morrell (who, like Randy, is a member of Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) not only acted as our guide and handler in Calgary for two days, but also drove us around everywhere we had to go. As Bob said, she was an absolute godsend; I don't drive, and Bob doesn't like to, and we simply never could have gotten so much accomplished in Calgary without Kirstin's help.

In Vancouver, Bonnie Jean Mah — who had workshopped with me in Banff in 2000 — served as our handler, picking us up at the airport, and driving us everywhere we needed to go all day long. Bonnie does PR professionally for SFU (one of my great disappointments in life was discovering that this stood not for Science Fiction University but Simon Fraser University), and it was enormously kind of her to do all this work for us for free.

Finally, special thanks to my wife Carolyn Clink, who did a lot of preparatory work, including making maps for Bob and me, so that we could find our way around in all the strange cities we were visiting; submitting announcements about our tour to Publishers Weekly's "Authors on the Highway" site; and looking after hundreds of other details. Thanks!

This was the second time Tor had sent Robert Charles Wilson and me out on a joint tour; we'd also toured back in 1998 when Bob was promoting Darwninia and I was promoting Factoring Humanity. Bob and I hadn't know each other very well at the start of that tour, but bonded and became great friends during it. We were both excited about getting a chance to tour together again, and enjoyed very minute of it.

[Rob & Bob Tour] (That's Robert J. Sawyer on the left and Robert Charles Wilson on the right.)

The Rob and Bob Tour began bright and early on Monday, April 18, 2005. Bob and I rendezvoused at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport, and flew via WestJet to Winnipeg. En route, I wrote 1,500 new words for Webmind, my next novel. Once we arrived at the airport, we took a cab straight to the University of Manitoba campus. We were scheduled for a 10-minute interview on the campus radio station — but the interviewee who was supposed to go on before us had canceled at the last minute, so we ended up being on the air for 35 minutes.

We then hustled over to CKJS radio, and did a ten-minute interview there, then checked into our hotel (Delta Winnipeg) and had a great lunch in the hotel pub. Then it was off to the local CTV television affiliate where we recorded an eight-minute segment to run on the noon and evening newscasts tomorrow. Interviewer Sylvia Kuzyk was a big fan of both Bob and my books, and the interview went really well. It was Bob's first sit-down TV interview ever, and he did fabulously.

We then walked over to the Chapters book superstore at Polo Park for a drop-in signing. Four different staffers came to say hello to us, including Megan, who had done up a wonderful endcap display of my books (five of my titles, plus the new Karl Schroeder collection that I'd edited, and a flyer about the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint). They had lots of stock and a variety of titles from both of us, and we signed it all.

After that, it was back to the hotel for a quick nap and shower (for me; Bob sat and read The Human Stain by Philip Roth).

Then it was off to our main Winnipeg event, at McNally Robinson, the flagship of the five-store McNally Robinson chain. All our events on this tour consisted of Bob and I each doing a short reading from our books, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.

McNally had wonderful displays of our novels, our event was packed, and we both sold a lot of books. The only downside: I had meant to introduce Victor Schwartzman from Keycon, the local SF convention, and give him a few minutes to speak about the con, but I was so tired, I simply forgot. He did have a table set up at the back of the event, and was able to glad-had a bunch of people, though, and we plugged Keycon in all three of our Winnipeg media interviews.

At McNally, I was pleased to see for the first time the May/June issue of the glossy newsstand magazine Archaeology, which contains not only my review of Jack London's SF novel Before Adam, but also this extensive bionote up at the front of the magazine, since I was one of this month's three featured contributors; accompanying the bionote was a photo of me holding a Neanderthal skull:

Robert J. Sawyer owes two major facets of his life to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he first saw in 1968 at the tender age of eight. The "Dawn of Man" opening sequence gave him his life-long interest in paleoanthropology, and the rest of the film kindled his passion for science fiction. Sawyer managed to combine both loves in his acclaimed "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy, the first volume of which, Hominids, won science-fiction's top international honor, the Hugo Award, for best novel of 2003. "There are only two places where you can explore the notion of multiple kinds of intelligent beings living side by side," he says. "One is in the reality of our prehistoric past; the other is in the pages of science fiction." Sawyer lives in Toronto, and is often seen prowling the halls of the Royal Ontario Museum (the setting of his novel Calculating God). His latest book is Mindscan.

After, we went out with John Mansfield (chair of the 1994 Winnipeg WorldCon, and co-chair of this year's Westercon, which will be in Calgary), Linda Ross-Mansfield, and the chair of Keycon. We went to Applebee's, and had a late, and very pleasant, dinner. John and Linda dropped us off at our hotel, and we were both out like lights within moments of getting to the room.

Tuesday, April 19, we flew to Saskatoon. We went straight to our hotel, the Sheraton Cavalier, to dump our stuff (we were traveling with just carry-on luggage), then immediately headed to the local CTV affiliate, where we did a nice interview with Jeff Rogstad, the entertainment reporter.

It was an incredibly beautiful day, so Bob and I decided to walk the three kilometres to the University of Saskatoon campus. There we visited the geology building, which had wonderful dinosaur skeletons on display: a Tyrannosaurus rex, a Stegosaurus, and a Triceratops, plus the standard evolution-of-the-horse parade of skeletons. Then it was off to the Canadian Light Source, a synchrotron. Bob and I were given an amazing two-hour tour by scientist Jeff Cutler, and PR director Matthew Dalzell (who also is a palynologist — cool!) It was absolutely wonderful — a first-rate science institution.

At 3:30, bang on schedule, we were met by Kent Pollard, from McNally Robinson Saskatoon. It was Kent's enthusiasm for having me and Bob visit his store that planted the seed for the Rob and Bob Tour (not to mention setting its westward direction). Kent is a mainstay on my Yahoo! Groups newsgroup. He and his wonderful wife Victoria took us to look at the Saskatchewan River, then over to Montana's, a road-house style chain restaurant, where we ate the chicken wings of doom — they upset both Bob and my digestion. We were joined at the restaurant a little later by the well-known Saskatchewan playwright and writer Geoffrey Ursell. I had the server put Discovery Channel on one of the TVs, and we watched the segment I'd recorded on Friday, April 15, for Daily Planet about SETI, which was airing then.

We then headed to McNally Robinson, where we read in the store café. Bob and I were a bit nervous because we didn't know how many of the people there had come to see us, and how many just wanted to eat; fortunately, it turned out that all of them were there for us, including my old friend from Toronto SF fandom Les Dickson, Peggy Sarjeant, the widow of my friend and writing colleague paleontologist William Anthony Swithin Sarjeant, and Saskatoon writer Art Slade. We had a wonderful session, although we did each have to field one somewhat hostile question a piece. A women said to Bob that her book group had done his Gypsies, then asked him, "Do you like that book?"

A little later, a guy asked us who our biggest influences were, and when neither of us mentioned Frank Herbert, he told me that this whole mind-scanning business is also in the latest Dune books (not written by Frank Herbert, of course, although he didn't acknowledge that), 'cept that it's actual brains that are physically moved to new biological bodies, apparently. I pointed out that Mary Shelley got to that idea long before Frank Herbert or anyone who came after him. Ah, well. The guy's girlfriend bought my book ...

Although it was still ten days to my birthday, the McNally Robinson staff presented me with a bunch of helium-filled birthday balloons and everyone sang for me, which was really nice.

After we finished signing, Bob and I, Kent and Victoria, and Jeff Cutler from the Canadian Light Source headed out to a bar for drinks. I pointed out to Bob my remarkable restraint, in that we were right next to another TV, and it was time for the later-evening second showing of Daily Planet, but I didn't ask the server to change channels for us. I ordered a Diet Coke, and it came in a massive glass, which I probably shouldn't have drunk just before going to bed, but I did, and it did take me a while to get to sleep that night.

We got up Wednesday morning, April 20, 2005, in Saskatoon, and headed to John G. Diefenbaker International Airport there, then flew (about an hour) to Calgary, where we were met at the airport by Kirstin Morrell, a member of IFWA, who had volunteered to be our handler/guide in Calgary. Bob and I ended up with a minivan instead of the car we'd reserved (Bob and I, being totally naïve about cars, simply said sure when we were told "something better" was available for the same cost — the thing was a behemoth. To Bob's infinite relief, Kirstin did all the driving for us (I don't drive, and Bob rarely does so, and hates to do so in unfamiliar cities). She'd brought us copies of the wonderful full-page article she'd done about us for the Gauntlet, the University of Calgary newspaper.

We immediately went to the Chapters superstore closest to the airport and did a drop-in signing, where I had the most amazing conversation; I couldn't have written something more precious, and I'm glad Bob and Kirstin were there to witness it, because I don't think anyone would have believed me otherwise. We were met a waiflike blonde clerk in the SF section:

Clerk: How many books have you written?
Rob: Seventeen.
Clerk: Wow. I don't think I've read that many in my lifetime.
Rob: But you work in a bookstore!
Clerk: Yeah, but I've only just started.

We then we went to a general bookseller that contributes to the Globe and Mail bestsellers' list — but, to our shock, they don't carry any SF at all. Last time I'll be visiting that store. We then headed to the Calgary McNally Robinson, where they were expecting us, although it wasn't the venue for either of our formal events in Calgary. We signed a bunch of hardcovers and a lot of my other titles (the shipment of Bob's backlist hadn't arrived yet). Then, though the largess of H.B. Fenn, we took three McNally employees out to lunch: Brendan Hunter, who runs the SF section; Andrew Blinn, who is a big SF fan; and Hugh Graham, who had done an interview with Bob for FFWD ("Fast Forward"), the Calgary weekly arts newspaper. We sat outside at the James Joyce Pub, two doors away from McNally. The food was great, and the conversation was even better.

We then high-tailed it over to the University of Calgary, where I took Bob to Red Deer Press, home of the Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. Erin Woodward, the amazing graphics designer, showed us mockups of the cover for Danita Maslan's Rogue Harvest, the next book we're publishing under my imprint, and I had a quick business meeting with publisher Dennis Johnson and publicist Stephanie Stewart.

Bob and I then did a drop in signing at the University of Calgary bookstore, which was very gratifying. The trade buyer, Colleen, recognized me the moment I came in, and they had Bob's Spin on an endcap display labeled "Staff Picks."

We then walked the short distance to the McKimmie Library, where we were met my Mary Hemmings, who took us on a wonderful private tour of the Gibson Collection, the massive bequest of pulps and old SF books the university received a couple of years ago.

(While all this was going on, Kirstin was writing her final exam in astronomy elsewhere on the campus.) After, we all rendezvoused and went to Greco Pizza, my favourite Calgary pizza place, where Randy McCharles was waiting for us. Randy is the co-chair of this year's Westercon, which is being held in Calgary, and is vice president of IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association. He was also our host for our two days in Calgary — it was his generosity in putting us up that made our extended stop in Calgary possible. We had a fabulous two-hour dinner, then it was back to Randy's, putting in some laundry, and then crashing for the evening; Bob and I were both exhausted.

Bob got to sleep in on Thursday morning, April 21, 2005, but I had to get up at 7:00 a.m and head to A Channel, where I appeared on the Big Breakfast show. The host had gone to town preparing for this: he had a still of me and Geraldo Rivera together on Rivera Live, and we chatted about that experience, and he had the trailer for Quatermass and the Pit, one of my all time favourite SF films, and he asked me why I liked it so much.

After, it was back to Randy's to pick up Bob, and we headed to the Calgary Zoo. We only had 75 minutes for our visit there. I wanted to see the primates, since a sign-language-speaking chimpanzee figures prominently in the plot of Webmind. We looked at various monkeys, but spent most of our time at the gorilla enclosure (the Calgary Zoo has eight gorillas, including a magnificent silverback). The temperature was about 16 degrees, and that seemed to be perfect for all the animals; every one we saw outdoors, including the gorillas, was lively, active, and moving around a lot (I'd been to the Calgary Zoo before in high summer, when it was very hot and all the animals were lethargic).

We saw the most amazingly tender sexual behaviour involving the Silverback and one of the females, and a younger gorilla using a tool — a twig — in classic ape fashion to root out goodies to eat. Fabulous.

Then it was off to TD Square and the Coles store there. Bob and I were blown away: the staff had put together the most incredible window display of our books, as well as a fabulous wall display. And a good crowd was waiting for us. One woman, named Jen, was looking for a hardcover copy of Hybrids, hard to find now that the paperback is out. Although the Coles didn't have one, she was informed that Chapters Chinook did (Coles, Chapters, and Indigo are all part of the same bookstore chain). She bought a Mindscan hardcover, and said she'd go off, get the Hybrids hardcover, and rendezvous with us at Sentry Box in the evening.

Bob and I ended up spending two hours at the mall store (including me giving John, the new head of the SF section, a tour through his own shelves, showing him the Canadian authors represented there). I also saw the April 22 Entertainment Weekly there, a magazine that almost never reviews science fiction, but did have a review of Mindscan: "Sawyer lucidly explores fascinating philosophical conundrums."

We then grabbed some fast-food at the food court, and took it into the adjacent Devonian Gardens, a wonderful indoor forest and park in the heart of downtown Calgary. After that, we headed off to do three more drop-in signings: two Chapters and an Indigo.

At the first Chapters, what did I find but a women in the SF section holding a copy of Calculating God. I said in passing that I heard it was good, she looked up, and said, "Hey, you were on A Channel this morning. That's why I'm here." She bought both Mindscan and Calculating God. Meanwhile, a clerk ran over to scoop up one of the store's two copies of Hybrids for Jen.

Bob and I headed off to the second Chapters, signed lots of stock there, and ran into Karen, a clerk I'd met before at Con-Version, Calgary's SF convention. We convinced her to attend Westercon this year (she'd been reluctant because the Westercon flyer listed so few attending author names — in fact, there will be over 100 program participants).

The Indigo drop-in was wonderful. The manager spent a lot of time talking to us, and, again, we signed a lot of stock.

Then it was time to head to Sentry Box, Calgary's amazing SF and gaming store. Bob and I arrived at Sentry Box around 5:45. I gave Bob the whirlwind tour of the store — the largest store of its type in Canada — including showing him the room in which IFWA meets. I also briefly introduced him to the staff.

We then scooted right across the street to Jackdaw's, a pub that has precisely one virtue: it's right across the street. We were joined there by IFWA members Barbara Geiger and Elisabeth Hegerat, Randy McCharles, Kirstin Morrell, Angela and Minh, Danita Maslankowski (who showed off printouts of the various cover designs for her upcoming book that we'd seen yesterday), Susan Ward, Renée Bennett, Ivan Dorin, and Michael Gillett. Service was particular slow at Jackdaw's today — it's always slow and surly, but it was glacial and downright rude today — and our meals arrived with five minutes to spare before our event began.

Bob and I hustled back to Sentry Box and were delighted to find a packed house waiting — 52 people, standing room only (40 chairs had been set up). Since I have a lot of Calgary connections, and knew about half the people in the audience personally, I started off by speaking for a few minutes about my long relationship with Cowtown. I then gave Bob a lengthy introduction, and he launched into his reading from Spin. After his reading, I got up and did mine. I read the same scene I'd been reading at our other events, then, with Bob's kind permission read another scene, which contained this exchange, a reference to my great friend, Barbara Geiger, a new Calgary writer:

"What's the biggest advance ever paid for a novel?" asked Karen.

"One hundred million dollars," Erica said at once. "For the latest Lien book by Barbara Geiger."

I also read the paragraph introducing Brian Hades; the real Brian Hades had won an auction at the Shuswap Lake International Writers Festival last year to appear as a character in my next book. And I read this line from the acknowledgements: Thanks also to Danita Maslankowski who organized the Spring 2004 "Write-Off" retreat weekend for Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, at which much editing and polishing of this manuscript were accomplished."

There was lots of audience participation, and Bob and I had fun fielding questions. We also signed a lot of books. After two hours, we wrapped everything up. The original plan had been to adjourn back to Jackdaw's, but everyone was so pissed off at their lousy service that we organized a car-convoy and headed to another bar instead. We all had a great time there, even if the place was smoky (when will Calgary join the rest of the civilized world and ban smoking in bars?).

Finally, exhausted, we went to bed.

Friday morning, April 22, we returned our rental vehicle, I signed stock at the Calgary airport bookstore, we hurried through security, and we arrived at the gate just in time to board our plane to Vancouver.

The flight to Vancouver was fast and pleasant aboard an Air Canada airbus. We were met at the airport by the wonderful Bonnie Jean Mah. Bonnie Jean was one of my writing students at the Banff Centre in 2000, and we've been great friends ever since. She won a charity auction held at V-Con (the Vancouver Science Fiction Convention) a few years ago to be a character in one of my books, and so the director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Hominids is Bonnie Jean Mah.

Bonnie Jean took us to the Shaw Tower, the tallest building in Vancouver, for a TV interview on the program Urban Rush. I've done over 200 TV interviews, but Bob's still new at it, and this was his first time having make-up put on. The interview segment went well. The hosts — Fiona Forbes and Michael Eckford — were lots of fun. The program was to air a half-dozen times over the next few days.

We went from the studio to Steamworks, a restaurant and pub at 375 Water Street. Bonnie Jean, Bob and I had lunch, then we were met by a freelance writer working on an article about Canadian science fiction.

Then at 3:30, still at Steamworks, we were joined by Inge Siemens, one of H.B. Fenn's Vancouver sales reps. We had a great time chatting about everything from the book business to laser eye surgery, and Inge and Bonnie Jean totally bonded.

Bonnie Jean then took us around for three drop-in signings — two Chapters and an independent. At one of the Chapters, we met a customer named David Kauffman by pure chance. He's an electrical engineer, with a particular interest in the mind-body problem, which is at the root of Webmind, so we had a fascinating chat, and he bought both of our hardcovers on the spot.

We made it to just in time to White Dwarf, Vancouver's venerable SF specialty shop. Waiting there was Susanne Schloegl, who I was in Grade One with back in 1966, and Bob's 16-year-old son Devon, who lives in Vancouver with his mother.

Our readings went well — although people kept arriving during my reading (I went first; we take turns doing that) and that was a bit distracting. Still, I read nicely, doing a different, longer selection from Mindscan (the scene in which Jake first awakes in his new body), and it was very well received. Bob did his usual tried-and-true just a guy driving along in a car thinking big thoughts scene, and it was well received, too, as always.

Our Q&A session went fine, although perhaps too much of it was taken up with a series of questions about the Turing Test. Ah, well.

A couple of serious Rob and Bob fans showed up with bags full of our books to sign. I was pleased that every copy of Relativity that White Dwarf had on hands sold (Relativity is my nonfiction book about science fiction, published by ISFiC Press).

After, we went out for pizza. Our group included Bob, his son Devon, Bonnie Jean, and the three people who work at White Dwarf: owners Jill and Walter, and their employee Elizabeth. I managed to grab a wi-fi connection in the restaurant and checked my email on my Sony Clié TH55. Ain't technology grand?

Bonnie Jean dropped Bob and me at our hotel — the upscale Pacific Palisades at 1277 Robson Street — and we went straight to bed.

Saturday morning, April 22, 2005, Bob and I took a cab to the bus station and enjoyed the pleasant 3 hour and 45 minute combined bus-and-ferry trip to Victoria. On the way we had a nice chat with a female longshoreman sitting near us and her daughter.

The weather in Victoria was absolutely gorgeous, and we walked the few blocks from the bus terminal to our hotel, the very impressive Grand Pacific (everywhere Fenn put us up was first rate, I have to say). And — woohoo! — the hotel had free high-speed Internet in all its rooms, so I did a little catching up on email. Then Bob and I walked down to the docks, just in front of our hotel, and found a very pleasant pub in which to have lunch (Bob had calamari, which were complete little octopuses that he took great pleasure in waving under my nose).

We relaxed and chatted for a while, then headed off to find bookstores. First stop was Monroe's, a wonderful independent with a great SF section. One of the clerks got "our lady of science fiction" for us, who turned out to be vivacious and very knowledgeable. We chatted with her for about half an hour, then, because it was getting cool, headed back to our hotel to get my sweater and Bob's jacket.

Then we walked over to the Chapters and did a drop-in signing, and also stumbled on a nice used-bookstore called Dark Horse, where we chatted with the owner for a while. He had some nice, collectible quality copies of my books, and I signed them for him, even thought there sale wouldn't make me a cent — what the heck. We then walked around, enjoying Victoria downtown some more, and picked up copies of the free entertainment weekly Monday Magazine, which had a terrific half-page article about the Rob and Bob tour, based on a by-phone interview done with me a while ago; the article called Mindscan "a wise and witty fast-forward to the year 2045."

Bob and I then grabbed a cab to Bolen Books, a wonderful independent located in a Victoria shopping mall. My old friend, the renowned Canadian fantasy writer Dave Duncan was there; he'd never met Bob before and was very pleased to do so. The master of ceremonies for the evening was Rob Wiersema, Bolen's events coordinator; he'd previously reviewed books by both me and Bob glowingly for Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal. Prior to the reading, we met a nice couple named Colin and Kim who were big fans of my books, and we had a very pleasant chat with them.

Bob and I were frankly a bit nervous about how this event was going to go, because the store looked deserted when we arrived, but it turned out that Bolen had set up chairs, a stage, and a podium outside its store, in one of the mall's open spaces, and when we got there, we found the place was packed.

I started our presentation by introducing three people in the audience: Karl Johanson, the publisher of the wonderful new Canadian SF magazine Neo-Opsis; his sister Paula Johanson, a noted writer and the co-editor of one of the Tesseracts anthologies; and of course Dave Duncan.

Bob and I read — I did the a shortened version of the "awakening" scene again, and really nailed the presentation of it. It went over very well.

When we were finished signing, I invited our new friends Colin and Kim to join Bob and me, and the local writers — Karl, Paula, Dave, Joe Beverley, Celu Amberston, a few others, for dinner. We walked across the highway to Romeo's Pizza, where I was the only one to actually order pizza, and had to wait forever for it; the others ordered different dishes that all arrived much more quickly.

Colin and Kim drove Bob and me back to our hotel. We got there around 11:00 p.m. — but had to get up at 5:45 a.m. for our flight the next day.

On Sunday, April 24, 2005, following on our appearance in Winnipeg, Morley Walker at the Winnipeg Free Press reviewed both Bob and me, saying "both authors grip the reader with engaging characters and cosmic ideas," adding that Mindscan is "a delightful read" and that Spin "comes together resoundingly."

Sunday morning, Bob and I took the shuttle to Victoria's airport and flew to Seattle, then hustled through that giant airport, taking two connecting trains within its grounds, to get to our connecting flight to Portland.

Once we arrived in Portland we spotted one Powell's Bookstore right there in the airport. We signed my stock, and were directed to two more Powell's outlets in the airport, signing both our stock at each of them. We then took a cab into downtown Portland, to the charming and opulent Heathman hotel. Tor had sprung for separate rooms for us this time (we'd been sharing to this point), which was wonderful; Bob and I had been on the road together for seven days now, and as much as we like each other, a little space was just what the doctor ordered.

We each freshened up a bit, and I checked my email (free high-speed Internet — woohoo!), then we walked over to the main Powell's City of Books bookstore, which was amazing. They had a good selection of Bob's work, and tons of mine — a huge number of copies of Mindscan and many of my other titles — both in the main SF section, and in a new-releases endcap. I signed all their copies with delight. Bob pointed out that also had a Hugo Winners wall, listing all of the best-novel Hugo winners, and a Nebula Winners wall, listing all of the best-novel Nebula winners. It's august company, and I'm glad to be included in it.

We browsed in the store for a while — one could browse for days at Powell's — and both found great books (how could I resist one entitled The Metaphysics of Apes?). And speaking of apes, an announcement went over the intercom: a customer wanted to know the title of a book she'd read which was nothing but conversation between a human and a gorilla; I went to the cash desk, and told them it was Ishmael.

We then took the Tri-Met MAX light-rail transit to the Oregon Convention Centre for WordStock, an annual festival of the book. It was a bit like Toronto's Word on the Street, but all indoors. Ursula K. LeGuin had just finished reading when we arrived. Bob and I were nervous about this event, too: our slot of 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. was the last programming slot of a two-day festival, and we figured everyone would be heading home by the time we were on stage, but we actually had a decent crowd (indeed, much bigger than the mystery-fiction slot that preceded our science-fiction slot), and although the acoustics were awful, and we were competing with another reading going on nearby, both Bob and I read well. In addition to the big book sales area, which had Bob's Spin and my Mindscan and Fossil Hunter, provided by Borders, also present at the festival was Wrigley Cross books, and we chatted with the nice owners, and signed their stock (Spin for Bob, and Mindscan and Relativity for me — they said they were on their third shipment of Relativity, and that it had been selling very well for them).

A nice contingent from Porsfis, the Portland Science Fiction Society, had come out to see us, and they invited us out to dinner afterward. We went to a terrific, trendy restaurant called Old Wives' Tales, and had a super-enjoyable long dinner. When it was done, John — one of the Porsfis members — gave Bob and me a quick drive-through tour of downtown Portland, then let us off at the Heathman. Bob and I were both exhausted, and retired at once to our separate rooms.

Meanwhile, back in Toronto, the Sunday Toronto Star ran a wonderful off-the-books-page piece about me in the front section, complete with my new author photo in full colour, under the headline "Foreshadowing Foreshadowing":

Pizza Pizza's announcement last week that it would open a second chain of fast food restaurants — this one called Chicken Chicken — was inadvertently foreshadowed by Toronto sci-fi writer Robert J. Sawyer in his book The Terminal Experiment.

Sawyer has made a point in his writing career of placing his novels clearly in Canada, defying the conventional belief that no one else will understand the local references. Sawyer, who is currently on tour promoting his latest novel, Mindscan, has seen The Terminal Experiment reprinted for twelve other countries.

The novel, about a man who sets out to test his theories of immortality, features a takeout restaurant clearly modelled on the Toronto-based pizza chain. Following a familiar pattern, with a few updates, the novel's character is prompted to place his order, asked about his method of payment, and promised delivery 'within 30 minutes or its free.'

But unlike Chicken Chicken, the fictional restaurant's menu appears to be unlimited. The order — same as last Wednesday's, says the character — consists of roast beef medium rare, low calorie gravy, a vegetable medley and apple pie. And the name of this gastronomically correct emporium?

Why, Food Food, of course.

On Monday, April 25, 2005, I woke up to find an email invitation to give the keynote address to a group of technical communicators in Boston in October; I was delighted, and immediately accepted. Bob and I met in the lobby after a long, night's sleep, and took the LRT through the drizzle to the airport. We had a great breakfast at a really nice café there (Caper's; I had a terrific Cobb salad), chatted about all sorts of things — Judith Merril's collected short stories from NESFA press, pulp magazines, and more — then caught a very pleasant one hour and twenty minute flight to San Francisco, the last stop on the by-plane part of the Rob and Bob Tour.

San Francisco was the most stressful part of our trip, simply because we had to rent a car and drive around a lot. We flew into Oakland, and picked up a rental car from Avis, then head out to do drop-in signings at Berkeley's two science-fiction specialty stores: Dark Carnival and The Other Change of Hobbit. Then it was off to San Francisco. We parked our car, and walked over to Borderland Books, where we would be doing our evening signing. It's a beautiful store, with custom-built bookcases made by the owner, Alan Beatts.

After checking in at the store, Bob and I walked four blocks to Lmon, a Peruvian restaurant, where we joined my friend Ariel Reich and his wife Rosana for dinner. Ariel is an intellectual-property lawyer for Hewlett-Packard, and also has a Ph.D. in physics; my novel Starplex is dedicated to him. We had a nice meal, then all four of us walked over to Borderlands where we put on the Rob and Bob Show for the last time on this leg of the tour. In my introductory comments, I pointed out that the title of my book can be parsed two ways: as "mind scan," and as "minds can" — the latter underscoring that the book is a celebration of the things human consciousness makes possible.

One woman showed up with a dozen hardcovers of Mindscan and a dozen of Spin for the members of her book club; several other people brought lots of our books along to get signed. In the Q&A, we were asked whether we were going to incorporate string theory, quantum teleportation, and Homo floresiensis into our work; we were also asked about the confluence of science and religion, and whether we ever had to discard some bit of alien biology we'd created because we couldn't think of an evolutionary rationale for it.

One woman had come, mistakenly thinking the books under discussion were political (presumably because of Bob's title, Spin). She was charming and we were delighted to have her, although she was also heavily into astrology, asking for both Bob and my birth dates so that she could prepare our charts.

At the end, Alan let us each take a book from the store as a gift for reading there. I choose the NESFA press edition of The Essential Murray Leinster.

After, Bob and I headed back to our hotel — having a hard time negotiating the San Francisco streets, but finally managing it. We had separate rooms again, and retired.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005, was the last day of the by-plane portion of the Rob and Bob Tour and it was all devoted to travel. It took us forever to get to the airport, thanks to confusing signage that caused us to make not one, not two, but three wrong turns on our way to the rental-car return (although we'd picked up our car in Oakland, our return flight was leaving from San Francisco International Airport). After an incredibly long hike to get to Terminal 1, we grabbed a quick brunch and caught our 11:45 a.m. Air Canada flight for the four-and-a-half hour flight back to Toronto.

I read a bit on the plane, noting in USA Today that Will Ferrell has signed to star in a big-screen adaptation of one of my favourite shows from my youth, the 1970s Saturday-morning live-action science-fiction series Land of the Lost — I'm dubious. I also read a part of the April 4 issue of Western Standard, which someone had left behind, a magazine I'd heard people in Calgary refer to but had never actually seen. Mother of God, what a load of right-wing bull. Anyway, Bob and I weren't seated together (he was directly in front of me). Bob spent most of the flight back reading more of The Human Stain, and I updated this journal, and wrote another 1,500 words of Webmind, my new novel, using WordStar on my trusty Prolinear Mininote MS-DOS palmtop, which is perfect for the cramped spaces on an airplane.

Bob and I now have 62 hours in Toronto before we take off on the second leg of the Rob and Bob Tour, the by-car portion with my wife Carolyn and Bob's wife Sharry along. Whew!

Book Tour Photo Gallery 1

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Rob and Bob Tour starts tomorrow. Woohoo! I'm all packed and ready to go.

Friday's session at the CBC Broadcasting Centre in Toronto for "Sounds Like Canada" went really well. By pure coincidence, they had my friend Darlene Lim, a Canadian who now works at NASA Ames in California on for the previous segment — I recognized her voice and bubbly enthusiasm about Mars the moment they turned on the studio feed (Darlene was in San Francisco — where it was the ungodly hour of 6:00 a.m.). We'd met two years ago at IdeaCITY in Toronto, and had seen each other again last year at the same event.

"Sounds Like Canada" is produced in Vancouver, so it was just me and the engineer in the Toronto studio. I mentioned to him that I knew Darlene, he passed that information on to Vancouver, and before I knew what was happening, they'd brought me on live to say hi to Darlene on-air, which was great fun.

After Darlene's segment on Mars was over, I was interviewed about Mindscan for about 25 minutes, and that went really well. "Sounds Like Canada" is the biggest radio program in my country — the flagship of CBC Radio One — and the impact is huge. I dropped by my local Chapters superstore today, and the pocket in "New Releases: Fiction" at the front of the store than had been full of Mindscan copies the last time I was in was empty — just a gap where they used to be. (Speaking of pleasant bookstore experiences, I also went today into my local Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada's largest drugstore chain, and was pleased to see their little book section had a pocket full of face-out Hybrids mass-market paperbacks in the "Bestselling Authors" rack. Woohoo!)

Anyway, I'd taken the GO Train (southern Ontario intercity transit) to the CBC on Friday, because it's fast and convenient. But after I'd finished at the CBC, I faced the bigger task of getting over to the national headquarters of CTV, Canada's largest commercial TV network, which is hell-and-gone over in Scarborough. I took the Yonge subway up to Bloor and the Bloor-Danforth subway all the way out to the eastern most station, then got on the LRT extension, and took it to the end of the line. Man, the LRT is noisy! Really, really loud; I'd only ridden it once before, years ago, and had no recollection of it being like that; something's definitely wrong.

Anyway, the LRT dumped me about 500 metres from CTV's headquarters, but they were on the other side of the 401 (the Trans-Canada Highway), and it took some doing to find the pedestrian walkway that would get me across.

I was heading to CTV to record a panel on SETI for Daily Planet, the nightly science-news program on Discovery Channel Canada (which is owned by CTV). The panel was great fun (and will air on either Monday's or Tuesday's program). My co-panelists were Seth Shostak from the SETI Institute, and Canadian comic Elivra Kurt. Now, I've been a big fan of Elvira's for years, but this was the first time I'd ever met her. She asked to see the copy of Mindscan I'd brought along, and, as soon as she read on the dustjacket that I'd written Hominids, she leapt out of her chair and gave me a hug, telling me how much she'd loved that book. That totally made my day.

It was also great seeing Jay Ingram (who moderated the panel; he's co-host of Daily Planet), Discovery Channel astronomer Ivan Seminuk, and Craig Colby, who produced the two-hour documentary I co-hosted for Discovery Channel five years ago, Inventing the Future: 2000 Years of Discovery.

I was all set to take the subway back home (and, indeed, was kind of looking forward to it — I was going to take it all the way from the easternmost station to the westernmost station, something I'd never done in all my years of living in Toronto), but the kind folk at Discovery insisted on paying for a cab ($72!) to get me home.

In the evening, Carolyn and I watched Space's "Making of" special on Charlie Jade; in another reality, Carolyn and I would have been in South Africa working on that show, and it was interesting and maybe a bit wistful to watch the behind-the-scenes stuff. Ah, well.

Yesterday (Saturday), I gave a reading from Mindscan to a packed house at the North York Public Library, in an event sponsored by IDIC / U.S.S. Hudson Bay. My mom came, as did the mother of my best friend from public school. And, man, did I sell books after the reading! $589 worth! Whee!

Anyway, today is Carolyn's birthday. We went out for lunch, but are going to have a nice, quiet evening at home — with the book tour starting in — gak! — 15 hours as I write this, it'll be my last such bit of quiet time for the next couple of weeks!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Bookloons, a weekly book news-and-review site, has a featured column about me by David Pitt; Bookloons also reviews Mindscan separately.

And the Canadian Press wire service just ran a great story about me by Kim Covert.

Meanwhile, there's a nice piece about me and Robert Charles Wilson in the University of Calgary's student newspaper, The Gauntlet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I'm delighted to report that I've accepted an invitation from the National Arts Council of Singapore to read and speak at the Singapore Writers' Festival 2005. The festival runs from August 25 to September 4 (but I won't stay for the whole thing; I have to be in Atlanta by September 2, since I'm special guest at Dragon*Con).

Also, the good financial news of the day: a royalty cheque for the US edition of The Terminal Experiment — ten years since the book was first published, and still generating income. Woohoo!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ad Astra was held this past weekend — Toronto's annual science-fiction convention. As always, I had a blast. Carolyn and I had a house full of guests for the convention: poet Herb Kauderer and his girlfriend Isabelle; writer Al Katerinsky (after whom "Katerinsky's syndrome" in Mindscan is named); and Hayden and Elizabeth Trenholm, writers formerly with Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, and now living in Ottawa.

Friday night, there were two book launches, and both went extremely well. At 8:00 p.m., we launched The Engine of Recall, by Karl Schroeder, the third title under Red Deer Press's Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint. And at 9:00 p.m., H.B. Fenn launched Robert Charles Wilson's Spin

Saturday morning, I played hooky from the con and instead attended the Words in Whitby literary festival, where I gave a very well received reading from Mindscan, and was interviewed live on stage by CBC broadcaster Ted Barris.

Saturday afternoon, it was back to Ad Astra, where I gave another reading, this one of my new short story "Flashes," forthcoming in Lou Anders's anthology FutureShocks, to be published in January 2006. It was standing-room-only in the large reading room; I was just thrilled.

Saturday night, Carolyn and I took a science-fiction brain trust out to dinner: Liz and Hayden Trenholm, James Alan Gardner (the author, most recently, of Radiant), and Pat Forde, Hugo-nominated author of the Analog novella "In Spirit." We all sat at around a big round table, and I picked their brains about issues that I'm working my way through for Webmind, my current novel. The intellectual energy was incredibly high — these are super-bright guys — and I found it wonderfully stimulating and useful.

Sunday, I had two panels, including "Novel in an Hour" (make up a novel premise on the spot) with fellow panelists including Nalo Hopkinson (one of Ad Astra's Guests of Honour this year), Stoker Award-winner David Nickle, and new writer Lorne Kates; and "Happy Endings," with my old buddy Terence M. Green, among others. Great fun.

Today was taken up with dealing with a million details related to (1) the Rob and Bob Book Tour, which starts one week from today, and (2) the reunion for my high-school graduating class, which will be held next month. Whew!

Thursday, April 7, 2005

The media blitz is starting for Mindscan. On Monday, I did by-phone interviews for the newspaper The Sarnia (Ontario) Observer and Monday Magazine, published in Victoria, B.C.

Yesterday, my good buddy Edo van Belkom recorded a joint half hour together about our new books for Buffalo Matters, the soft-news Sunday-morning show that airs jointly on the Buffalo Fox affiliate (channel 29) and the Buffalo WB affiliate (channel 49). Our installment will air Sunday morning, April 18, at 8:00 a.m on Fox 29 and 7:30 a.m. on WB 49. I also did an interview that day for the Durham College Chronicle, a student newspaper here in Ontario.

Today, I did an interview with the Canadian Press, a major news wire. The article will go out across Canada on Tuesday, April 19.

On Friday, April 15, I'm on CBC Radio One's flagship program Sounds Like Canada — 10:30 a.m. in every timezone. Then I'm off to Discovery Channel Canada to record a segment about SETI with Seth Shostak and comedian Elvira Kurt (whom I'm a big fan of); that will air as part of Daily Planet on either Monday, April 18, or Tuesday, April 19.

On Tuesday, April 18, the joint Robert Charles Wilson / Robert J. Sawyer book tour starts in earnest, and it'll be more interviews every day in all the different cities we're visiting (including doing the Big Breakfast Show, a morning TV show, on A Channel in Calgary on Thursday, April 21).

Monday, April 4, 2005

I announced to a big round of applause at the wonderful launch party for my 16th novel, Mindscan, at Toronto's Bakka-Phoneix Books, that my short story "Shed Skin," first published in 2002 in the 400-copy limited-edition Canadian book The Bakka Anthology, is one of five finalists for this year's Hugo Award.

I'm as surprised as anyone, because, until very recently, I didn't even know "Shed Skin" was eligible for the Hugos this year. But it is — because it was reprinted in the January-February 2004 edition of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and that was the story's first U.S. publication.

See, Interaction, the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention, which will be held in Glasgow in August, announced some "Special Extensions" to this year's Hugo Award eligibility requirements, as explained on their website:

Special Extension: Any work originally published outside the USA at any time prior to 2004, and first published in the USA in 2004, and which did not receive sufficient nominations to appear on the final award ballot in an earlier year, is eligible for this year's Hugo Award.

In addition, the 2004 Business Meeting voted to extend eligibility on the following works based on limited availability: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, published in the UK in 2003 by Cambridge University Press; The True Knowledge of Ken MacLeod, edited by Andrew M. Butler and Farah Mendlesohn, published in the UK in 2003 by the Science Fiction Foundation; and Up Through an Empty House of Stars, by David Langford, published in the UK in 2003 by Cosmos Books.

The rationale, as explained by Cheryl Morgan in the Interaction Hugo Voter's Guide, is this [WSFS is the World Science Fiction Society, the body that oversees presentation of the Hugos]:

When you get to look at the nomination recommendation lists you may do a double take because there are works on there that were published years ago. Don't worry, it is probably OK. WSFS has always had a policy of extending Hugo eligibility to works that are hard to get hold of. Recently it has been noticed that, because most Hugo voters are American, works only published outside America are at a significant disadvantage. WSFS has therefore taken to granting a blanket eligibility extension for works first published elsewhere some time ago but receiving their first US publication in the current eligibility year. Because of a recent upsurge of interest in British SF on the far side of the Atlantic, one or two well-known works are newly eligible under this rule. There are also three specific works whose eligibility was extended to this year's Hugos. These extensions are listed in the instructions on the nominating ballot.

So, woohoo! By the way, I'm not the only author to benefit from the special extensions. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn, did indeed make it to the final ballot, too. Edward and Farah are friends — I had lunch with Farah when she was in Toronto last month — and I'm absolutely delighted for them.

I'll note, just in passing, that I got paid nothing for the first publication of "Shed Skin" in The Bakka Anthology, and I had to take a rate lower than the usual one from Analog, because the story was a reprint, so I've actually made less money so far off of print rights to this now-Hugo-nominated story than any other story I've written in many years!

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Despite terrible weather in Toronto, the launch for Mindscan at the new home of Bakka-Phoenix Books was a roaring success.

I've posted a gallery of photos.

We sold 42 copies of the Mindscan hardcover, which is a huge number; we also sold eight copies of my essay collection Relativity, plus a bunch of my paperbacks.

Store owner Ben Freiman said it was the single best day of business for Bakka since the World Science Fiction Convention was in Toronto in August 2003.

Russ Howe, who frequents my newsgroup, and his wife Kim, sent me a huge gift basket c/o Bakka. Thanks, Russ!

After the formal launch, about 20 of us went out to a local pub for another two and a half hours of partying.

Among the notables in attendance at the launch:

  • Fellow science-fiction novelists Terence M. Green, Scott Mackay, and Robert Charles Wilson, and Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated short-story writer Nicholas A. DiChario
  • Best Fanzine Hugo Award winner Mike Glicksohn and frequent Best Fan Artist Hugo nominee Taral
  • Deb Nathan, who is writing the screenplay for the Hominids movie
  • Playwright David Widdicombe
  • Geoffrey Taylor, the artistic director of the Harbourfront International Festival of Authors
  • Janis Ackroyd, my publicist from H.B. Fenn
  • Drive-in Classics movie host Trish D'Lish
  • My lawyer Ed "The Dragon Slayer" Hore, and his son Thoby
  • Bill Martyn, one of my high-school English teachers
  • My mother, my brother Peter, his wife Jacquie, my brother-in-law David, and many friends and members of the Yahoo! Groups RJS discussion group


Thursday, March 31, 2005

I send out email updates a few times a year; if you'd like to be added to the mailing list for such things, just let me know. Here's the update that went out today:

Hello, Robert J. Sawyer reader!

You're most likely getting this note because you've written to me in the past about my science-fiction novels. I hope you don't mind this update — I only send such things out a couple of times a year. If you'd prefer not to receive future updates, just email me at sawyer@sfwriter.com and I'll drop you from this mailing list. :)

In this mailing:

  • Rob's new novel MINDSCAN is now out!
  • BOOK LAUNCH PARTY this Saturday — you're invited!
  • Robert J. Sawyer and Robert Charles Wilson BOOK TOUR!
  • "Shed Skin" nominated for the HUGO AWARD!
  • FOSSIL HUNTER reissue now available!
  • Rob's new ONLINE STORE!



MINDSCAN, my first new novel since winning the Hugo award for HOMINIDS, is now out in a gorgeous hardcover edition from Tor.

You're invited to the BOOK LAUNCH PARTY! This Saturday, April 2, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., at the NEW HOME of Toronto's Bakka Phoenix Books, 697 Queen Street West in Toronto, one-half block west of Bathurst (416-963-9993). Invitation as a PDF file:


Here's the MINDSCAN cover blurb:


Robert J. Sawyer is back with a pulse-pounding, mind-expanding stand-alone novel, rich with his signature philosophical and ethical speculations, all grounded in cutting-edge science.

Jake Sullivan has cheated death: he's discarded his doomed biological body and copied his consciousness into an android form. The new Jake soon finds love, something that eluded him when he was encased in flesh: he falls for the android version of Karen, a woman rediscovering all the joys of life now that she, too, is no longer constrained by a worn-out body.

But suddenly Karen's son sues her, claiming that by uploading into an immortal body, she has done him out of his inheritance. Even worse, the original version of Jake, consigned to die on the far side of the moon, has taken hostages there, demanding the return of his rights of personhood. In the courtroom and on the lunar surface, the future of uploaded humanity hangs in the balance.

MINDSCAN is vintage Sawyer — a feast for the mind and the heart.


MINDSCAN sample chapters and other information:


A selection of the Science Fiction Book Club! In stores and at online retailers (all of whom seem to be discounting it a least 30%) now!

Or get an autographed copy direct from the author:


MINDSCAN by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. ISBN 0-765-31107-0.



The Rob and Bob Tour! Robert J. Sawyer and Robert Charles Wilson are touring to promote the release of their new Tor novels, MINDSCAN and SPIN. Come out and meet us at the following events:

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba: Monday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m., at McNally Robinson, 1120 Grant Avenue (204-453-0483).

  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Tuesday, April 19, at 7:00 p.m., at McNally Robinson, 8th Street at Circle Drive (306-955-3599).

  • Calgary, Alberta. TWO EVENTS, both on Thursday, April 21: At noon at Coles, TD Square. At 7:00 p.m., at Sentry Box, 1835 - 10th Ave SW (403-245-2121).

  • Vancouver, British Columbia: Friday, April 22, at 7:00 p.m., at White Dwarf, 3715 West Tenth Avenue (604-228-8223).

  • Victoria, British Columbia: Saturday, April 23, at 7:00 p.m., at Bolen Books, 111-1644 Hillside Avenue (250-595-4232).

  • Portland, Oregon: Sunday, April 24, at 4:00 p.m., at WordStock: Portland's Annual Festival of the Book, Oregon Convention Center: http://www.wordstockfestival.com

  • San Francisco, California: Monday, April 25, at 7:00 p.m., at Borderland Books, 866 Valencia Street (888-893-4008).

  • Kitchener, Ontario: Friday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m., at Chapters, 135 Gateway Park Drive (519-650-2553).

  • Sarnia, Ontario: Saturday, April 30, at 10:00 a.m., at Lambton County Library (for the free conference Genrecon, open to the public), 124 Christina Street South (519-337-3291).

  • Windsor, Ontario: Saturday, April 30, at 3:00 p.m., at Chapters, Devonshire Mall, 3100 Howard (519-250-1005).

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan: Sunday, May 1, at 2:00 p.m., at Borders Downtown, 612 E. Liberty (734-668-7652).

  • Lansing, Michigan: Monday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m., at Schuler Books & Music, 2820 Towne Center Blvd. (517-316-7495).

  • London, Ontario: Tuesday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m., at Chapters, 1037 Wellington Road (519-685-1008).

  • Toronto, Ontario: Saturday, May 7, at 1:00 p.m., at World's Biggest Bookstore, 20 Edward Street (416-977-7009).

I'll also be at science-fiction conventions in HOUSTON, CALGARY, ATLANTA, PHOENIX, ROCHESTER, and SEATTLE — check my list of upcoming appearances on my website for details:




My short story "Shed Skin" — which was the seed from which the novel MINDSCAN grew — is one of five finalists for this year's Hugo Award! This is my ninth Hugo nomination (including the one for HOMINIDS, which won the best-novel Hugo in 2003). "Shed Skin" was published in the January-February 2004 issue of ANALOG. The FULL TEXT of the story is here:


The winner will be announced Sunday, August 7, 2005. For more information about the Hugo Awards, see:




In bookstores now: handsome new trade-paperback editions of FAR-SEER and FOSSIL HUNTER, the first two volumes of my "Quintaglio Ascension" trilogy about the age of enlightenment on a world of intelligent dinosaurs. The final volume, FOREIGNER, will be out in August 2005. FAR-SEER tells the story of an alien Galileo, FOSSIL HUNTER is about the saurian Darwin, and FOREIGNER presents the dinosaurian Freud.

FAR-SEER by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Trade paperback. May 2004. ISBN 0-765-30974-2.

FOSSIL HUNTER by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Trade paperback. March 2005. ISBN 0-765-30973-4.

FOREIGNER by Robert J. Sawyer. Tor Books, New York. Trade paperback. August 2005. ISBN 0-765-30972-6.



I've been selling autographed copies of my own books — including my hard-to-find short-story collection ITERATIONS — through my website for years, but we now also have an eBay store, which makes ordering faster and easier. No bidding, no waiting for an auction to end — just straightforward purchases. And, yes, we take PayPal!




I have two writing workshops coming up in 2005: one in Toronto, and the other in Banff, Alberta:

  • I'll be leading a five-day science-fiction and fantasy writing workshop at the University of Toronto July 18-22, 2005.

  • And I'll be leading a week-long science-fiction and fantasy writing workshop at the Banff Centre in the ski-resort town of Banff, Alberta, September 18-24, 2005.

All the details are here:




There's a lively RJS online discussion group. Please feel free to join us at:


And, of course, don't forget to visit my web site, which now has over one million words of material:


You'll find my blog (web log; my diary) here:




Finally, if you, or someone you know, went to Northview Heights Secondary School in Toronto with me, please get in touch! I'm part of a committee organizing a reunion for the graduating classes of 1979 and 1980. Email me at: sawyer@sfwriter.com


All best wishes!


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Busy day! First, a dental appointment. Then, off to the new location of Bakka-Phoenix Books, Toronto's SF specialty store. This was my first time in the new digs at 697 Queen Street West. The new store is really nice — bigger and brighter than the old one on Yonge Street. The launch party for Mindscan will be there this Saturday, April 2, at 3:00 p.m. — and you're invited!

After leaving Bakka-Phoenix, I went to Space, the Canadian SF specialty channel, and recorded an interview about Mindscan. Robert Charles Wilson was there, doing a piece about his Spin. After, he and I, and his wife Sharry, went out for cheeseburgers — yum!

Then, in the evening, I did some minor updates on this website. Always tinkering, that's me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Big news! My short story "Shed Skin" is one of five finalists for this year's Hugo Award. You can read the full story here.

Just got back from Seattle, where I attended Norwescon 28. It was a wonderful convention, and I had a terrific time. Highlights included:

  • touring the Science Fiction Museum (where they have a placard about my novel Hominids next to a copy of the Analog issue in which the first part of the serialized version appeared);

  • a wonderful dinner with Del Rey editor Jim Minz and Minister Faust, author of the novel Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad and his fiancée Michelle;

  • moderating the guest-of-honor interview with Tor publisher Tom Doherty (in which he revealed the facts that ebooks account for only $400,000 of Tor's $100,000,000 annual gross sales, and that it now takes printing three mass-market paperbacks to sell one (it used to be that you only had to print two to get one to actually sell); and that SF (as opposed to fantasy) actually grew eight percent for Tor last year);

  • giving a very well received reading from Mindscan;

  • the Tor Books pro reception Saturday night; and

  • a terrific brunch with Duane Wilkins, the vastly knowledgeable SF buyer for the University Bookstore in Seattle.

I'll be back at Norwescon next year, this time as toastmaster. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Swamped, as always, but life is good.

Sunday, I recorded an interview with my good buddies at The Dragon Page radio program, based in Phoenix. I was also briefly quoted that day in The Toronto Star, in an article about the centenary of Jules Verne's death.

Today, I got invited to speak at a conference in Sussex, England; hopefully I can work out the logistics to attend — it sounds fascinating! More details later ...

Also today, I did a drop-in signing at the local Chapters superstore. Note to Canadians: all their copies of Mindscan were up front, in the general new-fiction section; none were shelved in SF.

And today I received the on-publication cheque for the new trade-paperback edition of Fossil Hunter from Tor.

Tomorrow evening, I head to Seattle for Norwescon 28. Tor is the featured publisher at this convention, and I'm moderating the Guest of Honor interview with Tom Doherty.

Want a really big picture of me and Robert Charles Wilson, suitable (as Mad magazine used to say) for framing or wrapping fish? Click here.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I love Palm OS devices; I currently use the amazing, but discontinued, Sony Clie TH55. Here are some commercial Palm OS software titles that I think are truly terrific:

  • WordSmith by Blue Nomad: a much, much better word processor than Documents to Go for actual editing and composing on a Palm, so long as you don't need tables.

  • Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide: I can't believe how often I use this, when for years the non-electronic version just sat on my shelf.

  • StarPilot: a great astronomy package for Palm systems, and Canadian to boot.

  • Snapture: possibly the ugliest name ever for a program (and this is the new name; it used to be called "Blue Paste"), but a truly terrific little utility: mark anything in a Windows app, hit the Snapture hotkey or tray icon, and — click! — the text is queued up as a memo or doc file to be sent to your Palm next time you synch; great for grabbing all the little bits of info you need to have with you for a trip, etc. (I'm just testing the demo of this now, but am almost certainly going to register it.)

  • Scrabble: a licensed Palm implementation of the classic game, complete with the latest Official Scrabble Players Dictionary integrated. In truth, it's awkward to play against another human player with this, but I love playing against the machine, and when I'm playing Scrabble on a board, the old-fashioned way, I still use this electronic version of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary instead of the paper one to settle challenges, since it's much easier to use.

  • eReader Pro: formerly (and more cleverly) called PalmReader, this is my choice for eBook reading on Palm devices, for a couple of reasons. First, it actually allows proper paging backwards in a file; Mobipocket doesn't. Second, it's got the best array of serious English-language dictionaries available (I have both Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate — Tor's house standard — and Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, installed). Third, it allows you to read the same ebooks comfortably on your Palm and your desktop/laptop. Fourth, it's got the most elegant and fair digital rights management system of any reader for commercial ebooks. (eBook I'm currently reading: the fascinating Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D.)

  • Audible Player for Palm OS: actually, the software is free, but you've got to pay for the content — professionally produced recorded books (usually electronic version of things commercially released on CD or audio cassette in bookstores). I listen all the time to Audible content, and love it. My current audio book: Next: The Future Just Happened by Michael Lewis.

  • Beyond Contacts: a replacement for all the anemic personal-information-management tools (Address, Date Book, etc.) that come free with Palm OS devices; Beyond Contacts integrates extremely well with Microsoft Outlook, and provides much more functionality than do the included Palm PIM programs (say that five times fast!).

Friday, March 18, 2005

Yesterday, I went down to the CBC Broadcasting Centre to sit in on the recording of "Birth," the 30-minute radio-drama pilot script Michael Lennick and I co-wrote. A gallery of photos from the session is here.

(Producer Joe Mahoney is wearing the green sweater; Michael Lennick is the bearded guy in the gray sports jacket; fans of the TV series War of the Worlds might recognized actor Phil Aken, who is wearing the "1920" sports jersey — he played Norton Drake in that series.)

The actors did a fabulous job, and Michael and I got to join in the action, providing extra voices for crowd scenes. Some of these required the illusion that we were all in space suits, so we donned motorcycle helmets. Other scenes depicting radio communication were recorded using the simple expedient of having the actors speak into a cheap Radio Shack walkie-talkie. All in all, it was great fun.

Besides being an extra, I also had a speaking part. We've proposed a Twilight Zone-like anthology series of cautionary hard-SF dramas, and I do the Rod Serling bit, introducing and summing up each one. My opening narration for the pilot goes like this:

Hello. I'm Robert J. Sawyer. Welcome to Emanations — bold visions from the cutting edge of technology; cautionary tales of dark tomorrows. Our story today is called "Birth," and it's about just that: the creation of a new life form, this one on the furthest frontier of human exploration. Of course, some births are unplanned, and not every child is fortunate enough to be wanted ...

No airdate has been set yet, but it'll probably be sometime this summer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Well, that's service! I did have a little problem with Writer's Blocks, the new software I'm using, and submitted an email report of it. Moments ago, the creator of the program, Tony Ashley, called me; by that time, my problem had disappeared, but Tony and I had a great chat. Nice guy, nice program!

Other news: Amazon.com is now listing Mindscan as shipping in 24 hours, and I've had reports of it in stores in New Orleans and Ohio. Right now, Carolyn is off at the post office shipping the first batch of copies we've sold through our eBay store.

Also: Karl Scrhoeder's short-story collection The Engine of Recall, third title in Red Deer Press's Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint, has just been printed; the first copies arrived at the publishers' offices in Calgary yesterday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

[eBay Logo] The big news is that today Carolyn finished our eBay webstore. Of course, you can still buy autographed copies of my books right here on this very website, as we've always done it — this is just another method, for those who prefer the eBay interface.

And — woohoo! — we are now offering signed first-edition hardcovers of Mindscan; we have them in stock right now, and are shipping them immediately.

See, today, Carolyn and I drove up to the offices of H.B. Fenn and Company, Tor's Canadian distributor, and picked up 96 copies of Mindscan. We also had a good meeting with my publicist, Janis Ackroyd, and her boss, Heidi Winter, about the upcoming Rob and Bob Tour, which is shaping up really nicely.

This afternoon, I booked an appointment to tape a TV interview at Canada's Space: The Imagination Station about Mindscan. Also, I received confirmation that I'll be interviewed nationally on CBC Radio One's flagship morning show Sounds Like Canada, but we haven't set the date for that yet (it'll be sometime in April). Meanwhile, on Wednesday, April 6, I'm off to Buffalo, New York, to record a half-hour interview, along with my buddy Edo van Belkom, for Buffalo Matters, the Sunday-morning current-affairs show on WUTV, the FOX affiliate there.

Yesterday, we sold Serbian rights to all three volumes of the "Neanderthal Parallax" trilogy; that brings to thirteen the languages I'm published in: Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, and Spanish.

I've been having some difficulty structuring the plot for my current novel, Webmind. So, on Friday, I downloaded the demo version of a program the ads for which have long intrigued me. It's called Writer's Blocks, and it lets you shuffle plot elements on the virtual equivalent of resizable 3x5" index cards around on your computer screen. Well, it's quite terrific, and I'm finding it very useful.

In fact, I was sold on it by Saturday, and ordered it via FedEx from one of my favourite shops, The Writer's Store in Hollywood. It arrived today. You can get the demo here; I opted to buy the physical product from The Writer's Store, rather than register the demo, because it's US$19 cheaper from The Writer's Store, and you get a general-purpose serial number; the demo version, once registered, generates a serial number that's tied to your current CPU, apparently.

Anyway, I love the program, but it's not cheap — US$129.95. I'm always fascinated by the art of software pricing. Given how poor most writers are, I'd think they'd sell way more than three times as many copies at, say a third of that price. Regardless, it's a very cool program.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Well, Canada is down one airline. On Friday, Jetsgo went belly-up. Frankly, I'm not surprised, although my heart does go out to the employees who have lost their jobs. Back on February 22, I'd sent this letter to Jetsgo's head office:

Dear Jetsgo:

Your logo may be a happy face, but I'm not smiling.

I fly at least once a month within Canada, often between Calgary and Toronto. I have frequently flown Jetsgo, and I have one more trip on your airline booked and paid for. It will be my last; my future business will be with WestJet and Air Canada.

Your consistent inability to get a plane off the ground on time is the reason. I'm sure you can pull up my travel records and see for yourself what a poor job you've done honouring the commitments you've made to me. I've seen your flights delayed almost three hours because your cabin crews haven't show up on time (departing Toronto for Calgary, 6 January 2005); my most recent trip out from Toronto to Calgary was also delayed (17 February 2005).

I've reached my limit — yesterday's (21 February 2005) total cancellation of my flight from Calgary to Toronto after a two-hour delay was the last straw. Your ground staff kept telling us our flight would go at 18:25 (two hours and ten minutes behind schedule), and not until after that time had passed did they admit what they must have known for at least an hour: that the plane hadn't taken off from Kelowna, and so there was no way it was going to be in Calgary at that posted time.

I'm happy to support the underdog, and I like to give my business to the little guy, but you're just not doing your job, and since I need a reliable airline, I have no choice but to turn elsewhere.


Robert J. Sawyer

(I did indeed take that final scheduled flight with JetsGo, getting back to Toronto three days before the airline went bankrupt.)

Fortunately, all the flights for the Rob and Bob Tour — me and Robert Charles Wilson going across Canada and down into the States next month — have been booked on either Air Canada or WestJet, not Jetsgo.

But Robert J. Sawyer Books, the imprint I edit for Calgary's Red Deer Press, has taken a hit here. Our publicist, Stephanie Stewart, is flying to Toronto from Calgary next month for the launch of our third title, Karl Schroeder's short-story collection The Engine of Recall, and she'd booked her flight on Jetsgo. Budgets are really tight in the small press, and it hurt to kiss that money goodbye. Stephanie will still be coming to Toronto; Red Deer is buying her new tickets on another airline.

(And although it's no big deal, I just lost 16,900 "JetSmiles" air miles — enough for a one-way cross-Canada ticket, plus a one-way Toronto-Montreal ticket. Ah, well.)

Saturday, March 12, 2005 (again)

I've already mentioned the Hominids film option, but the same company has also optioned End of an Era, and the paperwork for that has finally been completed, so here's the formal annoucement:

Two award-winning science-fiction novels by Mississauga's Robert J. Sawyer have been optioned by Toronto's Pebblehut Productions, best known for producing The Nero Wolfe Mysteries for A&E and Sue Thomas: FB.Eye for Canada's CTV and Pax in the US.

The novels optioned are Hominids, which won the Hugo Award (the world's top award for science fiction) and End of an Era, which won the Seiun Award, Japan's top SF prize. The two separate deals were negotiated by Sawyer's Los Angeles agent, Eli Kirschner of Created By.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Enrollment is now open for my week-long science-fiction and fantasy writing workshop at the University of Toronto this summer.

See here for more information.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Just got back home after six days in Calgary. On Wednesday, I gave a talk sponsored by the faculty professional-development committee at Mt. Royal College about the future of learning and knowing. Thursday, I gave a talk on publishing contracts to the members of IFWA, the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association. Friday, I recorded interviews for a forthcoming TV series about adapting books into film; the series will air in Canada on BookTV and Canadian Learning Television (I'll be in the episodes on science-fiction films and on Michael Crichton). Sunday, I got to take Danita Maslan, one of my "Robert J. Sawyer Books" authors, out to lunch. And Sunday night, for the first time in my life, I saw the aurora borealis; it was amazing.

I left beautiful plus-15-degree Celsius Calgary to come home to bitterly cold windchill-of-minus-15 Toronto. Brrr! Still, waiting for me were my first copies of the actual finished Mindscan hardcover from Tor — it looks gorgeous!

Tomorrow, I'm off to the CBC Broadcasting Centre to record interviews for a documentary about Dr. Who.

Friday, February 25, 2005

[Spanish Ponter] It's been a good week for Hominids! First, I received my authors' copies the Spanish edition of the book. The cover is gorgeous, and it's got a great portrait of good ole Ponter Boddit that makes him look super-sexy.

Second, today, I finally received the contracts for the film option on Hominids. Toronto's Pebblehut Productions — best known for the Nero Wolfe series on A&E starring Maury Chaykin — has optioned the book, and I'm very pleased.

In other news, my speech for the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors went really well, and Carolyn and I had a great time in Muskoka, a beautiful cottage/resort area north of Toronto.

Tomorrow, a bittersweet happening: the final event at the 598 Yonge Street location of Toronto's Bakka Books, where I used to work many years ago; they're moving next month to 697 Queen Street West. I'm going to go down to pay my respects to the old place.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

[Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer] Hey, I've got a new author photo! Carolyn took it on February 10 with our new 4.1-megapixel digital camera (I've also got new glasses; my prescription hasn't changed, but the old ones were way too big for my face now that I've lost 70 pounds):

Big news: the new, trade-paperback edition of Fossil Hunter, volume 2 of the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, is now out; the first bookstore sighting reported to me was made by my friend Christopher Bair in Ohio on Monday, February 14, Valentine's Day. Nothing says lovin' like talking lizards!

Lots of things going on, as usual. First and foremost, I'm making slow but steady progress on Webmind, my next novel for Tor. As a hint to what's going to be in the novel, three of the nonfiction books sitting on my desk are Evolutionary Origins of Morality, edited by Leonard D. Katz; The Biology of Moral Systems by Richard D. Alexander; and The World in Which I Live by Helen Keller.

I just sold a short story called "Biding Time" to Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers for Slipstreams, a forthcoming DAW anthology of cross-genre SF. My story is the second I've written featuring the only private detective on Mars, Alex Lomax. The first, "Identity Theft," won me the Premio UPC de Ciencia Ficción.

Oh, and David Gerrold and I are editing a collection of essays about classic Star Trek for BenBella Books; it'll be published in 2006 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original series. David, of course, wrote the classic episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," and also, incidentally, the first adult science- fiction novel I ever read, Space Skimmer. Contributors lined up so far include D.C. Fontana (who wrote "Journey to Babel"), Norman Spinrad (who wrote "The Doomsday Machine"), Gar and Judy Reeves-Stevens (who wrote five of this season's episodes of Enterprise), astronomer David DeGraff, and SF writers Allen Steele, Paul Levinson, Julie E. Czerneda, and Robert Charles Wilson.

Meanwhile, I'm reviewing a reissue of Jack London's Before Adam for the glossy newsstand magazine Archaeology. It's a very good novel, and is real science fiction (not fantasy).

Got my annual kickback this week from the Canadian government to compensate me for lost royalties on copies of my books circulated by libraries; a cool $3,000 — not bad. Also got a royalty check for the Japanese edition of Starplex; nice to see work done that long ago still generating income.

Today Michael Lennick and I had a meeting at the CBC Broadcasting Centre to go over the second draft of our SF radio-drama pilot with the people Michael likes to refer to as "the boys downtown." The script will be produced on March 17; our series is an anthology of standalone SF radio dramas with the overall title Emanations. The pilot script, "Birth," deals with the accidental emergence of sentience among exploratory robots on Mars.

I'm off tomorrow to Calgary to give a talk at the annual convention of Calgary teachers. The topic: using science fiction in the classroom; my buddy Kim Greyson — who teaches English in Calgary — is doing the presentation with me.

And next week I give the keynote at the annual meeting of the Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, being held at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario.

Got asked to be Author Guest of Honour (along with my great friend Julie E. Czerneda) at Toronto Trek this July, and also to be Toastmaster at Norwescon 29 in Seattle in April of next year (2006); of course I said yes to both. (I'll also be at Norwescon this year, but just as a panelist.)

It looks like our big trip this year will be 15 days in the American South, anchored by three events: Friday, September 2, through Monday, September 5, I'm Special Guest at Dragon*Con in Atlanta. Starting three days after that, Thursday, September 8, through Sunday, September 11, I'm Guest of Honor at CopperCon in Phoenix. And four days after that, on Thursday, September 15, I'm giving the keynote address for the annual conference of CLEAR, the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation, also in Phoenix.

Finally, and don't forget the book-launch party for Mindscan on Saturday, April 2, 2005, at the new home of Bakka-Phoenix Books, 697 Queen Street West (west of Bathurst) in Toronto. Everyone is welcome; the printed invitation is here.

Friday, February 4, 2005

The nominating ballot for the Aurora Awards was released today; any Canadian may nominate, and their is no charge to do so.

The Auroras honour Canadian novels, short stories, and fan achievement in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. The trophies will be presented at WesterCon 58 in Calgary, July 1-4, 2005.

Nominating deadline is April 11.

Aurora Nominating Ballot

Monday, January 31, 2005

There's a new series coming up soon on Space: The Imagination Station — Canada's version of the Sci-Fi Channel — called Charlie Jade. It's a Canada-South Africa co-production, and I'm not sure what broadcasters have picked it up outside of those two countries, but I urge you all to keep an eye open for this. I've been privileged to view the first two hours of the series, and was blown away.

The series is a wonderful fusion of science fiction and detective drama (the title character, Charlie Jade, is a private eye who specializes in missing persons), with the action splashed across three brilliantly realized parallel universes. This program is hip, intelligent, engrossing, and beautifully executed; I've never seen a science-fiction TV show like it before. Just as the new Battlestar Galactica is establishing a new standard in outer-space SF, Charlie Jade is a breakthrough in Earth-based SF. Everything that comes after it will be judged against it.

The production values are excellent, with some of the best directing and cinematography I've seen in episodic television. The cast is first-rate, and the opening two-parter is intelligently and subtly written. This is the closest we've ever had to a Blade Runner for the small screen. It's also got the satiric edge of Max Headroom, and a finely honed ecological sensibility that taps perfectly into the Zeitgeist. Instead of reworking old series, or adding yet another chapter to an ancient franchise, this is something new and cutting-edge: the first major SF television milestone show of the new millennium.

For more information, see: CharlieJade.com.

Friday, January 28, 2005

For those who might be interested, my convention schedule for the rest of the year:

  • NORWESCON 28 (Mar 24-27 '05) DoubleTree SeaTac Hotel, SeaTac WA. Theme: The Language of Fantasy. GoH: Michael Bishop. AGoH: John Howe. Sci. GoH: Suzette Haden Elgin. Spotlight Publisher: Tor Books. Special GoH: Alan Dean Foster. Memb: $55 to 12/31/04. Info: Norwescon 28, Box 68547, Seattle WA 98168-0547; (206) 270-7850; email: info@norwescon.org; website: http://www.norwescon.org

  • AD ASTRA 2005 (Apr 8-10 '05) Days Hotel & Conference Center, Toronto, ON, Canada. GoHs: Nalo Hopkinson, Don Hutchison, Tom Smith, Peter Watts, more. Memb: $45 / C$45 to 3/19/05, more at door. Info: Ad Astra, Box 7276 Stn. A, Toronto, ON M5W 1X9, Canada; (866) 563-5426; website: http://www.ad-astra.org/

  • GENRECON 2005 (Apr 30 '05) Sarnia Library, Sarnia, ON, Canada. Memb: Free. GoHs: Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Charles Wilson, more. Info: Genrecon, Sarnia Library, 124 Christina Street South, Sarnia, ON, Canada N7T 8E1; Jeffrey Allan Beeler, Reference Librarian, (519) 337-3291; email: genreconca@yahoo.ca

  • APOLLOCON 2005 (Jun 24-26 '05) Hyatt Regency Houston Airport, Houston TX. GoH: Robert J. Sawyer. AGoH: Victory. Guests: Lee Martindale, Martha Wells, Bradley Denton, Dusty Rainbolt. Memb: $25 to 5/31/05, $30 at door. Info: Apollocon, Box 541822, Houston TX 77254; email: apollocon1@aol.com; website: http://www.apollocon.org

  • WESTERCON 58: "DUE NORTH" (Jul 1-4 '05) Westin Calgary Hotel, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. GoH: S.M. Stirling. Canadian GoH: Dave Duncan. AGoH: Mark Ferrari. FGoHs: Cliff Samuels, Eileen Capes. Memb: $55 / C$74 to 7/1/04. Info: Calgary in 2005, Box 43078; DVPO, Calgary, Alberta T2J 7A7, Canada; email: info@calgaryin2005.org; website: calgaryin2005.org

  • DRAGON*CON 2005 (Sep 2-5 '05) Atlanta GA. Info: Dragon*Con, Box 16459, Atlanta GA 30321-9998; (770) 909-0115; fax: (770) 909-0112; email: dragoncon@dragoncon.org; website: http://www.dragoncon.org

  • COPPERCON 25 (Sep 9-11 '05) Embassy Suites Phoenix North, Phoenix AZ. GoHs: Robert J. Sawyer, Greg Keyes. Ghost of Honor: G. Harry Stine. Memb: $30 to 4/30/05, $35 to 8/25/05, $40 at door. Info: CopperCon 25, Box 62613, Phoenix AZ 85082; (480) 945-6890; email: cu25@coppercon.org; website: http://www.coppercon.org

  • ASTRONOMICON (Nov 11-13 '05) Rochester NY. GoHs: Spider & Jeanne Robinson, AGoH: Bob Eggleton. Filk GoH: Roberta Rogow. Editor GoH: Robert Weinberg. Info: website: http://www.astronomicon.info/

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

All kinds of things going on, so I suppose it's time for an update.

First, new toys! My office is now adorned with 12" action figures of Zira and Cornelius from Planet of the Apes made by Sideshow Collectibles (and I have Dr. Zaius and the 18" polystone Lawgiver statue on order). The likenesses are excellent.

I also have six new dinosaur skull models in my office, from DinoStoreus; they're absolutely gorgeous.

And today I ordered a color laser printer from Dell — model 3100cn. Quite a bargain at Cdn$679, with full-size (not starter) toner cartridges included for all three colors and black.

Second, an update on me and the CBC. For three years now, I've been talking back and forth with various people at the CBC about doing something for CBC Radio One. We did three pilots for a show about science fiction called Faster Than Light to be hosted by me. Well, Faster Than Light was officially killed last week, because the Ceeb is going with a different project I'm involved with instead: Emanations, a potential anthology series of half-hour hard-SF cautionary-tales radio dramas.

I say a "potential" series, because so far all they've committed to produce is a pilot episode, entitled "Birth," written by me and Michael Lennick. The script is almost finished, and the pilot will be recorded in February. I'll be hosting these programs, à la Rod Serling. Joe Mahoney, the producer of Faster Than Light, will also be producing Emanations.

Third, I'm delighted to report that Mindscan has been picked up as an featured alternate by Doubleday's Science Fiction Book Club. I'm absolutely thrilled by this. Mindscan will be offered in the "Spring" club newsletter.

And in the following issue, the "May" newsletter, the Science Fiction Book Club will be offering Mike Resnick's anthology Down These Dark Spaceways containing my UPC Award-winning hardboiled-detective SF novella "Identity Theft."

Fourth, I'm sad to report that I'm behind schedule on my next novel, Webmind. I broke the news to my editor David Hartwell at Con-Fusion in Troy, Michigan, last weekend, and he took it well. David is one of the Guests of Honor at Westercon in Calgary, which runs from Canada Day (July 1) to Independence Day (July 4). I'll be attending that convention, and it's my goal to have the novel finished for him by then.

Finally, I'm delighted to report that my short story "Shed Skin," which had its first American publication in the January-February 2004 issue of Analog, is one of only six works on the Preliminary Nebula Award Ballot. Five of those works will go on to the final ballot, which should be released on or before Saturday, February 19. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 2, 2005

A new year! And I start it weighing 70 pounds less than I did a year ago — woohoo!

Lots of things going on. I just turned in the final production manuscript for the fourth book under Red Deer Press's "Robert J. Sawyer Books" imprint. This one is a great ecothriller called Rogue Harvest by Danita Maslan. (And Wednesday, I'll be at the Red Deer sales conference north of Toronto.)

Meanwhile, Michael Lennick and I are co-writing a radio drama under commission for CBC Radio; the script is coming along nicely. I'm also doing a short story, a sequel to my UPC Award-winning "Identity Theft." This new story is for a cross-genre anthology that John Helfers and Marty Greenberg are editing.

We bought a big-screen (50-inch Sony Grand Wega LCD rear-projection) TV last month, and have been enjoying all sorts of movies that we'd acquired on DVD, including Gladiator, The Fifth Element, Dark City, The Princess Bride, Miss Congeniality, Thunderbird 6 (one of two features made with puppets, not the recent live-action movie), and Bruce Almighty.

But best of all has been watching DVDs of the original Star Trek, which look fabulous. I'm loving freezing the picture and zooming in on deliberate and unintentional details I'd never noticed before (the acrylic sight going up when Spock prepares his phaser in "The Man Trap," Nimoy accidentally breaking the wall board when he falls against it in "Charlie X," the fillings in Clint Howard's teeth when he laughs in "The Corbomite Maneuver," etc.). Great fun.

I'm off to Calgary for a few days later this week to give a talk to a writers' group there; meanwhile, tomorrow Carolyn starts back at university — going for an English degree. Her first course is in 17th-century poets.

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