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

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On "The Hand You're Dealt"

by Robert J. Sawyer

Copyright © 1998 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.

On May 29, 1998, I was asked by editor Piotr Gociek to provide a short introduction for my story "The Hand You're Dealt", to appear in the special Hugo nominees edition of the Polish SF magazine Talisman. Here it is:

Nineteen Ninety-Seven turned out to be the year of genetics, starting off with the cloning of the sheep Dolly — the first time a mammal had apparently been cloned from an adult cell. And my two Hugo nominees from that year both have genetics as their themes: my novel Frameshift and my short story "The Hand You're Dealt" both deal with the impact genetics research will have on all our lives. Of course, books and short stories published in 1997 were probably written in 1996 — Frameshift and "The Hand You're Dealt" certainly were — but I think this just goes to show how near the predictive horizon now is in SF. It used to be SF writers were predicting things decades or even centuries in the future; now we're lucky if we can keep even a few years ahead of the breakneck pace at which scientific knowledge is advancing.

Like much of my fiction, "The Hand You're Dealt" tries to combine SF and mystery (in addition to its Hugo nomination, the story was also a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award); Frameshift does that, too, as do my novels Golden Fleece, Fossil Hunter, The Terminal Experiment, and Illegal Alien, plus the one I've just finished, called Mosaic. I think this makes perfect sense: science is often detective work, after all — puzzling things out from whatever clues can be gathered. And I suspect the most interesting mysteries humanity will face in the next few decades will all be related to what we finally discover about the secrets locked in our genes.

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