Hello everyone, Paul here today. I hope you’re all having a wonderful week. I’m very happy to have author James E. Venn here today with a guest post. In case you missed it I reviewed Mr. Venn’s YA book Johnny and the Seven Teddy Bears of Sin here. It’s a verse novel and it’s great. I cautioned it to be a mature YA book, but it is certainly something you should read. Now today, I would like to give you Mr. Venn’s guest post about Canadian Speculative Fiction. This is quite an interesting read, and I hope you discover some wonderful authors to enjoy.
Canadian Speculative Fiction really, truly is its own thing. Because we Canadians share so much of our entertainment industry with the United States it can seem like the two cultures are utterly homogeneous. It is true that the majority of our writers sell in US markets. Nonetheless, we Canadians have a distinctly Canadian SF, with distinctly Canadian themes, that can be teased out from the remainder.
And, on the whole, I think our stuff is better.
On our side of the scale, we’ve got the first cyberpunk novel (Neuromancer by William Gibson,) and the first real urban fantasy novel (Moonheart, by Charles de Lint.) We have The Isis trilogy by Monica Hughes, about the lonely robot guardian of a human colony on a very distant world. We have Robert J. Sawyer’s Wake, Watch, Wonder trilogy, about a girl waking the internet up. We have Guy Gavrial Kay’s epic fantasies.
Canadian SF themes are often similar to American SF themes. Enough so to suit U.S. tastes, but to still make Canadian SF worth experiencing for the differences. You have “the Frontier.” We have “Man Vs. Nature” and “the Polar World.” (In fact, the Canadian wilderness tends to pervade our non-SF literature, as well.) You can argue that our SF is a little more pessimistic than yours. Where you tend to like “Technology Saving the Day” we tend to like the “National Disaster Scenario.” (Canadians really dig zombies.) You apparently, like “Characters Working Together.” We tend to like “The Individual Alienated from Society.” (The Total Recall remake is a really, really Canadian movie.) We all tend to like fantasy more than science fiction these days. But, back in the day, that was a point of distinction for us, too.
How Canadian Science Fiction Got on the Map
For those of you with a historical bent who’d really like to make a study of Canadian SF as a separate genre, the Canadian SF movement begins with three names.
Phyllis Gottleib, a poet and science fiction writer, is often claimed as the “Mother of Canadian Science Fiction.” She published 20 books, (15 SF) between 1960 and 2007. Her books commonly looked at ethical themes, such as the problems of living in a community of telepaths. In every way she was a trailblazer, a science fiction writer before SF had achieved respectability, a successful female writer when by far the majority of writers where men. She was the first winner of an Aurora Award, for A Judgement of Dragons (1980), and the Sunburst Award is named for her novel Sunburst (1964).
John Robert Colombo is an editor and anthologist, who published the first ever anthology of Canadian Science Fiction, Other Canadas(1979.) In that book he was the first to identify some of the key themes that distinguishes Canadian SF from American.
Judith Merril was a writer and editor who moved to Canada in the late sixties, where her tireless efforts really got Canadian SF recognized and organized. She established the first Canadian SF writers association Hydra North. She organized the first science fiction anthology series (Tesseracts). The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy, part of the Toronto Public Library was begun by her and is named for her.
I really do encourage you to have a look at Canadian SF. I’ve dropped a lot of names today, and any of them are a good place to begin. Anthologies like Other Canadas, Tesserects, Northern Stars, Ark of Ice, and Distant Early Warnings are especially good, for getting a wide taste. If you want more ideas, visit the Canadian SF Homepage, on Robert Sawyer’s site.
Thank James! Again I really enjoyed James book, I hope you decide to give it a read, and always enjoy his guest posts. Have a great day everyone.