the archives

dusted off in read-only

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posted 01 Mar 2006, 20:03 by Chris, Commoner

This, [url=http://www.sfwriter.com/egcanadi.htm:1sxr8krm]click here[/url:1sxr8krm], was an interesting article by Robert Sawyer about the SF scene here: [i:1sxr8krm]In Canadian science fiction, there are two solitudes — two distinct camps of writers — but, unlike many things in this country, the distinction is not principally linguistic. Rather, the barrier is between those whose work appears exclusively, or almost so, in domestic Canadian markets, and those whose work appears with similar exclusivity in American markets. The membrane between the two solitudes is semi-permeable. Those who write principally for American markets have no trouble making the occasional sale in Canada, but those whose work has appeared primarily in Canadian publications rarely, if ever, cross over to international publication. That the crossover only works in one direction is attributed variously to differences in the relative standards of the two marketplaces (Canada has no domestic short-fiction markets that meet the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's minimum requirement for professional payment), or to some ineffable Canadian "voice" that is not received well internationally. This latter position is hard to justify, since the SF by Canadian authors published in American venues often bears the traditional hallmarks of Canadian literature. The principal Can-Lit theme (as outlined by Margaret Atwood in her non-fiction book Survival, 1972) is the relationship of society to its landscape: the Canadian psyche is indelibly stamped by living in a vast, sparsely populated, inhospitable land that will kill you if you simply stand still. Canadian SF novels such as Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite (1982), Teresa Plowright's Dreams of an Unseen Planet (1986), Andrew Weiner's Station Gehenna (1987), Robert J. Sawyer's Far-Seer (1992), and Scott Mackay's Outpost (1998) all embody this theme. [/i:1sxr8krm] Seems to suggest that writers who try to establish themselves in Canada first run the risk of writing stuff that will only appeal to Canadians or at least being pigeon-holed as only being able to write that way. But then he goes on to say that established mainstream writers can write in stories in the genre without losing any 'credibility'; [i:1sxr8krm]The Canadian literary establishment does not perceive genre barriers the same way Americans do, so it is not unusual for a mainstream Canadian author to try his or her hand at SF, often with great success. Bestselling writers who have done so include Margaret Atwood (whose feminist The Handmaid's Tale (1985) was a finalist for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award, and who also wrote the SF novel Oryx and Crake (2003)), Hugh MacLennan (the post-nuclear-holocaust Voices in Time, 1980), Brian Moore (Catholics, 1972), and Charles Templeton (World of One, 1988).[/i:1sxr8krm] Strange that he says there is not a large genre barrier then go on to note [i:1sxr8krm]"Only occasionally will a mainstream English-Canadian publisher take a foray into SF."[/i:1sxr8krm] view post

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