On this day… 29th April, 1960 – Robert J. Sawyer born
Robert James Sawyer (born April 29, 1960) is a Canadian science fiction writer. He has had 21 novels published, and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories, On Spec, Nature, and many anthologies. Sawyer has won the Nebula Award (1995), the Hugo Award (2003), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (2006).
Sawyer’s work often crosses over from science fiction to mystery; he won both Canada’s top SF award (the Prix Aurora Award) and its top mystery-fiction award (the Arthur Ellis Award) for his 1993 short story “Just Like Old Times.” Illegal Alien is a courtroom drama with an extraterrestrial defendant; Hominids puts one Neanderthal on trial by his peers for the apparent murder of another Neanderthal; Mindscan has the rights of uploaded consciousnesses explored in a Michigan probate court; and Golden Fleece, Fossil Hunter, The Terminal Experiment, Frameshift, and Flashforward are all, in part, murder mysteries. Of Sawyer’s shorter SF works, the novella “Identity Theft” and the short stories “Biding Time,” “Flashes,” “Iterations,” “Shed Skin,” “The Stanley Cup Caper,” “You See But You Do Not Observe,” “The Hand You’re Dealt,” and the aforementioned “Just Like Old Times” are all also crime or mystery fiction.
Did You Know?
Sawyer has taught science-fiction writing at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College, and the Banff Centre. In 2000, he served as Writer-in-Residence at the Richmond Hill, Ontario, Public Library. In 2003, he was Writer-in-Residence at the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy (the first person to hold this post since Judith Merril herself in 1987). In 2006, he was Writer-in-Residence at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Also in 2006, he was the Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence at the Kitchener Public Library in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario, following on the Region of Waterloo’s choice of Sawyer’s Hominids as the “One Book, One Community” title that all 490,000 residents were encouraged to read in 2005. In 2007 he was the Berton House Writer-in-Residence at Berton House in Dawson City. In 2009, he was the first-ever Writer-in-Residence at the Canadian Light Source, Canada’s national synchrotron facility in Saskatoon.
Sawyer is a frequent keynote speaker about technology topics, and has served as a consultant to Canada’s Federal Department of Justice on the shape future genetics laws should take.
An Interesting watch is this video in which Robert J. Sawyer says digital technology is forcing writers to ask, “Are the days of the full-time novelist numbered?” He shares his views on how digital technology is reshaping publishing with Steve Paikin.