Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A few words from Robert J. Sawyer

I've long known that Waterloo was a special place. I lived there in the summer of 1980 -- has it really been almost 30 years? -- and was immediately aware of how much intellectual excitement there was in your city. Of course, the fact that there were two universities helped a lot.

Still, even I, a science-fiction writer, didn't predict a future in which one of the world's top high-tech companies (Research in Motion), or the world's leading physics think-tank (The Perimeter Institute), or one of the planet's top quantum-computing facilities (Institute for Quantum Computing) would all soon be there.

But now, as a science-fiction writer, I can think of no better place to set a novel than Waterloo, and that's precisely where my new book Wake is set.

Wake is the story of Caitlin Decter, a 15-year-old math genius whose father works on quantum gravity at the Perimeter Institute. It's the first volume of a trilogy; I've already finished the second book, Watch, and in it some CSIS agents tell Dr. Decter not to leave town, to which he replies: "Where would I go? This is the center of the universe."

It certainly is in a very real sense for me. In fact, I got some of the biggest news I ever had while I was in Waterloo last Friday: I'd come there to help my friend Marcel Gagné celebrate his birthday by going to see the (way cool) new Star Trek movie with him, and after, back at his place, I checked my email, and received the wonderful news that ABC -- the most-watched television network in the United States -- had just ordered 13 episodes of a TV series based on my novel Flash Forward. As my character Caitlin would say, "Sweet!"

I spend a lot of time in Waterloo (and not just because my novel Hominids was the Waterloo Region "One Book, One Community" choice a couple of years ago), and I will be back again next week, on Thursday, May 21, doing a reading and talk at the Waterloo Entertainment Centre, 24 King Street North, starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free if you buy Wake at the start of the event or in advance from Words Worth Books; otherwise, admission is $10 to defray facilities rental. Please came out and say hello!

"Wildly thought-provoking. The thematic diversity — and profundity — makes Wake one of Sawyer's strongest works to date." —Publishers Weekly (starred review, denoting a book of exceptional merit)

"Sawyer's erudition, eclecticism, and masterly storytelling make Wake a choice selection." —Library Journal

"Clashes between personalities and ideologies fuel Wake's plot, but they're not what the book is about. It's about how cool science is. Sawyer has won himself an international readership by reinvigorating the traditions of hard science fiction, following the path of such writers as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein in his bold speculations from pure science." —National Post

"A fast-paced and suspenseful story full of surprises and humour." —The Saskatoon StarPhoenix

"It's refreshing to read a book so deliberately Canadian in a genre dominated by Americans, and it's easy to see why Sawyer now routinely wins not only Canadian science fiction prizes but also international accolades. His fans won't be disappointed, and readers picking up his work for the first time will get a good introduction to a writer with a remarkable backlist." —Winnipeg Free Press

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