[Robert J. Sawyer] Science Fiction Writer
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Author Guest of Honor Tribute

Edo van Belkom

by Robert J. Sawyer

Copyright © 2000 by Robert J. Sawyer
All Rights Reserved.

I wrote the following profile of Edo van Belkom for the Program Book of Eeriecon 2, at which Edo is Guest of Honor.

Edo van Belkom is my best friend, so whatever I might say is probably biased — but, the fact is, Eeriecon could have asked just about anybody in the Toronto SF community, fan or pro, to write this bio of him and it would have been just as praiseful. Oh, our man Edo is a bit gruff, but I know from personal experience that he'll be there for you 100% when the chips are down. The guy has a moral compass that never wavers; in this volatile world, he's one of the few people I know I can always count on.

He's also a hell of a good writer: one of my high points for 1999 was getting to accept Edo's Best-Short-Story Aurora Award on his behalf at the Canadian National Science Fiction Convention (for his alternate-history tale "Hockey's Night in Canada"). It was Edo's first Aurora — an honor overdue in coming — but, I'm sure, won't be his last. He's also got a Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Story (for "Rat Food," co-written with David Nickle), and has been nominated for the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story.

Yup, I keep mentioning short stories. Although Edo is the author of four novels (about which more below), it's as a master crafter of short stories that he's really made a name for himself. He's sold over 150 of them in the nine years since his first, "Baseball Memories," appeared (a story reprinted in Year's Best Horror Stories 20). The best of his work is collected in Death Drives a Semi.

Edo is also an editor: for a year now, he's been editing genre-fiction titles for Canada's Quarry Press, and in that short time he's blown away every other attempt Canada has ever had at establishing a credible SF publishing line. His "Out of this World" imprint currently includes an anthology collecting the first ten years of Aurora Award-winning short fiction (Edo showed commendable restraint in not pulling the book from the printer at the last minute to include his own new Aurora winner), an anthology of Canadian horror, an anthology of fantastic baseball stories edited by W. P. Kinsella, and the single most important book ever written about Canadian SF: Edo's own interview collection Northern Dreamers.

Make no mistake: Edo is a very fine editor. Last year, he commissioned a young-adult horror story from me for Be Afraid!, an anthology he's editing for Tundra Books (the YA imprint of McClelland & Stewart, Canada's largest publisher). I had a good premise for the story, but despite pounding away at it for days, I couldn't make the ending work. Edo, in the best John W. Campbell fashion, saw exactly what was wrong with my conclusion and precisely how to fix it. When I showed the new draft of the story to my wife, who had already read the earlier attempts, Carolyn was impressed: "You've made it work," she said. Then I read her Edo's revision notes, which I'd followed word for word. "Oh," she said. "Well, Edo made it work . . ."

What about Edo's novels? There are three gaming tie-ins: 1995's Wyrm Wolf (which rose above its origins to garner a Bram Stoker nomination), 1997's Lord Soth, and my favorite, 1998's Mr. Magick, about a real magician taking on a religious fundamentalist on the Las Vegas strip.

But the real gem is yet to come: Edo's original novel, Teeth, will be released next year by Meisha Merlin. It should have gone to a bigger publisher, but, well, as a novel about a female serial killer who commits murder with the teeth in her vagina, it's about as far over the edge as a horror book can get, and the big boys were all too timid to take it. Still, I expect it to knock people's socks off, the way Stephen King's Carrie did. Look for it to be out just in time for Eeriecon 3.

More Good Reading

Turning the tables:

Other convention program-book tributes:

Rob and Edo both nominated for Arthur Ellis Awards

Rob's first profile of Edo van Belkom from 1997
Rob's interview with Isaac Asimov
Rob's interview with Donald Kingsbury
Rob's profile of Terence M. Green
Rob's profile of Judith Merril

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