Monday, 16 November 2015

Joe Mahoney signs with Five Rivers Publishing

Joe Mahoney signed with Five Rivers Publishing for his forthcoming SF novel A Time and Place. Mahoney met with Dr. Robert Runté , Senior Editor of Five River Publishing, at CANCON 2015 (The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature) in Ottawa on October 30th. Dr, Runté found Mahoney’s novel “truly unique” with its “fast-paced and twisty adventure… with its undercurrent [of] humour”. Dr. Runté further added A Time and Place possess an “absurdist edge” that is distinctly Canadian SF.

Mahoney described his novel, on the prosaic level, as “about a fellow by the name of Barnabus J. Wildebear who must rescue his nephew who's been recruited by an alien to help fight a war halfway across the galaxy… Ultimately Wildebear is forced to choose sides in a war between two ancient evils: one, an entity calling herself Knowledge Incarnate, and the other the last survivor of an entire civilization destroyed by Knowledge Incarnate.” On a deeper level, Mahoney described the underlying theme of family which is inclusive of alien species.

Future readers will accompany Wildebear to the past, and to alien worlds where they will meet an assortment of creatures like a disgusting alien named Jacques, an artificial intelligence named Sebastian and an alien cat named Sweep of the Paw.

Watch out for this adventure in 2017.

About the Author
Joe Mahoney works full-time for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, where he has toiled on many radio shows over the years, including Writers and Company, Quirks and Quarks, Ideas, and Morningside. He is a founding producer of the show Q. He made radio plays for a decade, working with some of the finest actors, directors and writers Canada has to offer, on productions such as The Merchant of Venice, The Handmaid's Tale, and Afghanada.

He's produced documentaries on science fiction for The Arts Tonight and The Current. He produced Six Impossible Things, a compilation of short fantastical fiction, curated by Nalo Hopkinson, for Between the Covers, and wrote and produced Faster Than Light, hosted by Robert J. Sawyer, for Sunday Showcase. He engineered and story-edited Steve the First, a post-apocalyptic science fiction radio play mini-series, and its sequel, Steve the Second, which won a silver Mark Time Award. He produced and directed the pilot of Canadia: 2056, and story-edited all subsequent episodes. He is responsible for all the funniest bits.

Joe is a member of SF Canada, a professional writers’ organisation for writers of speculative fiction. His short fiction has been published in Canada, Australia and Greece. He has been nominated twice for an Aurora Award, one of Canada’s top awards for science fiction and fantasy, for his SF work on CBC Radio.

These days Joe is Senior Manager of Media Support for the CBC. He lives in Whitby with his wife and two daughters and their golden retriever and Siberian forest cat.
He can be found online at

Follow him on twitter @ilanderz

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Nominations for 2016 Prix Auroras now open

Eligible works published in 2015 can now be nominated for the 2016 Prix Aurora Award.

Five Rivers Publishing has four titles eligible:


The Eye of Strife, by Dave Duncan, released April 1, 2015

YA Novels:

The Adventures of Ivor, by Dave Duncan, released June 1, 2015

Type2, by Alicia Hendley, released April 1, 2015

Hawk, by Marie Powell, released August 1, 2015


Jeff Minkevics, Art Director for Five Rivers Publishing, is also nominated for the three covers shown above.

To nominate any of these novels or Jeff Minkevics as artist, simply navigate your way to the CSFF page:…/eligibility-lists/ and follow the prompts from there.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Michael Fletcher guest author around the webz

Michael R. Fletcher

Michael Fletcher, author of 88 and Beyond Redemption, is going on a bit of a virtual walk-about over the next few weeks.

Here at Five Rivers we thought you might find that tour of interest. His first stop is at Wade Garret's World where he talks about the NaNoWriMo diet.

Fletcher's second stop is at Peter Fugazzotoo's site, where Fletcher talks about surviving NaNoWriMo.

Fletcher's first novel, 88, is frankly one of the most brilliant works of science fiction I've ever read, and have the privilege of publishing.

Beyond Redemption is the one that got away from us. I remember clearly reading the manuscript thinking: dear god, this is weird, disturbing; I have to acquire this one! I literally was making up the contract when Mike let me know he'd been picked up by the Donald Maass Agency and would  have to reluctantly withdraw the manuscript.

I was heartbroken, but also elated for Mike. His is a talent I was fully cognizant would sooner or later be recognized by bigger players, and I was, and still am, very pleased to have been the publisher who first gave him voice.

Hope you enjoy Fletcher's virtual tour. And hope you take a chance, pick up one of his books, and discover one of the most original voices to hit the fantasy and science fiction genres since William Gibson.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Thoughts on editing styles

I must admit to not pulling punches when I edit. That attitude comes partly from my experiences with editors whose brutal honesty I have come to respect and appreciate, and partly from their admonition to return the favour when my time came. And, like our Senior Editor Dr. Robert Runte, I have also received comment from colleagues who are surprised I am so blunt, and have been called mean as well. I was once asked to leave a critique group for that very reason, because I was apparently being very mean when I commented on a manuscript. It should be noted I quite gladly left the group. Figured their kitchen operated at cool temperatures, and I like my kitchen hot and cooking with lots of interesting and exciting stuff going on.

It needs to be said never in all my experience have I ever attempted to be mean. That just wouldn’t be right. On the other hand, I will be forthright in my comments, and often I allow my sense of humour to shine through, hoping to add some levity to what can be a discomforting process for both the author and editor. Because I’ve worked all sides of the desk (writer, editor, publisher), I’ve learned a great deal about perspective. I’ve also been very fortunate to have had some excellent and generous mentors throughout the years. So, I’ve come to know there is no place for sycophantic or politically correct praise when trying to create something you truly wish to be excellent, or as close to perfection as you can manage.

If as a writer (or creator of any kind) you are unwilling to receive other perspectives and absorb that criticism without rancor, then you’re probably better off pursuing your art in private for an audience of one. I know that sounds brutal and unfair, perhaps even astonishingly blinkered. But it’s what I’ve come to believe. And I accept that with my own work. And I expect it from others.

You see, as a publisher, I don’t just take on a brilliant manuscript. I take on an author. There’s a difference there sometimes not achievable in a larger house. And as a publisher, and an editor, I don’t want to invest my time, my energy, and my concern with an author unwilling to hear constructive criticism. Equally, I’m also deeply aware this is the author’s story, not mine, so sometimes that means as an editor I have to decide whether my stylistic concerns are the result of personal aesthetic, or whether I need to step aside, broaden my view, and understand what it is the author is attempting to do.

I often use a painting metaphor when referring to that situation, a remembrance from my own youth and a painting instructor I had. Were I to put my hand to someone else’s canvas, that imposes my own creative vision on their work, and that, in my view, is the worst kind of interference, because not only did the artist not really learn anything, but the work ends up being the creation of a collective rather than an individual, and in my view dilute. Instead, I prefer to illustrate my point on my own canvas, show that to the creator, and then let them decide.

In matters, however, of research, structure, plot, pacing, characterization and point of view, I will freely comment and edit. The vision is all the author’s, as is the execution. The details and delivery, however, are areas where I can assist the author to realize that vision, hopefully to its full potential.

Like Robert, most often that editing style has resulted in an excellent experience for both the author and me. On a very few occasions there has been a complete impasse and those authors have gone their own way. Sad. But likely better for all parties. The relationship between author and editor is a very personal one involving a willingness to be vulnerable, along with a deep and profound trust. At least it is for me.

So, as an author I think you need to learn to have a thick hide, a sense of balance. And my job as your editor is to realize I’m dealing with someone’s vision, and to assist you in realizing that vision. You’re the dreamer. I’m the delivery mechanism. Together, some truly amazing work can be achieved.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Fabulous sale at Kobo

Kobo is offering a fabulous international sale. Customers will be able to redeem 50% off of select indie titles, including Five Rivers' entire catalogue, using the promo codes below an unlimited number of times—so please, let your readers and fans know about this incredible opportunity to stack up on eBooks while they can! Unlike last time, the sale runs in different dates by territory, and each territory has it’s own promo code. See below for the full details.

October 28th – October 31st
Promo Code: CA50SALE

United States/Australia/New Zealand
October 27th – October 30th
Promo Code: GET50SALE

United Kingdom
October 30th – November 2nd
Promo Code: UK50SALE

Promo code is valid for 50% off select eBook purchases from this list. Discount will be confirmed at checkout. Offer valid from October 28, 2015 at 12:00 AM EST through October 31, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST. This offer is not valid in conjunction with any other offer or promotion and cannot be used to adjust amount paid on previous purchases. Promo code must be entered at time of purchase to qualify for this discount. Discounts cannot be applied nor the discount value refunded once a purchase is complete. Rakuten Kobo Inc. reserves the right to change or cancel this offer at any time without notice.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Dave Duncan inducted into CSFFA Hall of Fame

To have conceived and written over 50 novels is no small achievement. To have written over 50 novels readers devour is quite another. But even more remarkable is to have written over 50 popular novels which are never deus ex machina, always scintillating with sharp dialogue, clever plotting, unlikely heroes and concepts which explore the struggles of the underdog, the disenfranchised and meek is something worthy of recognition.

Dave Duncan

So it is Dave Duncan has been inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. (click for video)

Originally from Scotland, Dave Duncan has lived all his adult life in Western Canada, having enjoyed a long career as a petroleum geologist before taking up writing. Since discovering that imaginary worlds are more satisfying than the real one, he has published more than 50 novels, mostly in the fantasy genre, but also young adult, science fiction, and historical. He has at times been Sarah B. Franklin (but only for literary purposes) and Ken Hood (which is short for “D’ye Ken Whodunit?”).

His most successful works have been fantasy series: The Seventh Sword, A Man of His Word and its sequel, A Handful of Men, and six books about The King’s Blades.

Five Rivers is very pleased to be the publisher for several of his novels, the most popular of which is The Eye of Strife, a court case to ascertain the authenticity of a talisman of terrible power.

Eye of Strife, from Five Rivers Publishing, was Dave Duncan's 50th published novel

He and Janet were married in 1959. They have one son and two daughters, who in turn are responsible for a spinoff series of four grandchildren. Dave now lives in Victoria, BC.

Congratulations, Dave, on this most remarkable achievement.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Dr. H. A. Hargreaves inducted into the CSFFA Hall of Fame

Dr. H.A. Hargreaves
We are very pleased for, and proud of, Dr. H.A. Hargreaves' induction into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame for 2015.

The CSFFA HALL OF FAME recognizes the Outstanding Achievements that have contributed to the stature of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

It can be awarded to Canadian Writers, Publishers, Editors, Poets, Artists, Graphic Novelists, Actors, Producers, Musicians/Filkers, Convention organizers, Fans, Scientists, Astronauts and others .

This year there were three inductees: Dr. H.A. Hargreaves, author of a remarkable and profound collection of short stories gathered together in North by 2000+. 

The other two inductees were Dave Duncan, author of 50+ books, and Michael Coney, author of 20 books.

Hargreaves lifetime achievements are perhaps best summed up by the following essay by Dr. Robert Runté, Five Rivers Publishing's Senior Editor.
When North by 2000: A Collection of Canadian Science was published in 1975, it was the very first collection of short stories clearly marketed as Canadian science fiction--a slightly ironic claim to fame for stories written by an American-born author, and previously published in various British magazines and anthologies. But wherever originally born or published, Hargreaves was clearly writing something completely new: science fiction with a distinctly Canadian twist.

His writing had a profound impact on the generation of Canadian writers, critics and editors who came after him. For example, I had already been aware that there were Canadians writing science fiction when I first encountered Hargreaves, but it wasn't until I heard him read “Dead to the World” that I had actually understood that Canadian science fiction was different. My jaw, and the penny, dropped as Hargreaves finished reading. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that hearing Hargreaves read “Dead to the World” changed my life; it certainly was the basis for my career as a Canadian SF critic.

Nearly 40 years later, and I’m still talking about “Dead to the World”. It’s a wonderful example of how and why Canadian SF takes a different slant on things, and why Canadian SF is worth seeking out. I first read North by 2000 nearly 40 years ago. I must have read three or four thousand other short stores since: so why is it that "Dead to the World" and "Cainn" and "Tee Vee Man" and "Protected Environment" and "More Things in Heaven and Earth" are the stories that keep surfacing in my memory? Why is it that when I'm trying to explain what makes Canadian science fiction Canadian, these are stories that jump to mind as the exemplars? Why is it when I wrote my own first novel, I suddenly recognized that the opening was a direct (if unconscious) steal from the automat scene in "Dead to the World"? What is it about these half dozen, quiet, unpretentious stories that makes them so influential, so compellingly memorable?

The answer, I think, is that Hargreaves tapped into a Canadian mindset, a Canadian way of thinking about things, that resonates with Canadian readers. Again, it's a bit ironic that I should be saying that about an American-born writer whose other story collection (Growing up Bronx: A Memoir of My Shapers and Shakers) is about how his formative years in the Bronx shaped who he became. But I think it is fair to claim Hargreaves as a Canadian writer: all these stories were written after he had emigrated to Canada—he had been here 28 years when North by 2000 was first published; all his SF stories are set in Canada; and all his protagonists (even the bad guys) behave like Canadians, address Canadian themes, and come to Canadian-style endings. And Hargreaves’ fiction was never published in the States: all his stories before 1979 were published in England; after that, Canada. It is not my intent to discount Hargreaves' American roots; indeed, I would argue that one common characteristic of Canadian SF writers is that many of them (Fredrik Brio, J. Brian Clarke, Michael G. Coney, Dave Duncan, Pauline Gedge, William Gibson, Matthew Hughes, Crawford Killian, Edward Llewellyn, Alberto Manguel, Judith Merril, Spider Robinson, Robert Sawyer, Sean Stewart, Andrew Weiner, Edward Willett, Robert Charles Wilson) came from someplace else. It's our immigrant backgrounds that explains half of what makes Canadian SF distinct. (More on that in a moment.)

Hargreaves' SF—with its police robots, televised classrooms, communication satellites, and so on—could be classified as 'hard science fiction' (that is, SF based in the 'hard sciences'), which is essentially an American genre. But there is also a lot of sociology, psychology, parapsychology, and criminology (that is, the 'soft' sciences) in here too, which is more typical of the British version of the genre. Canadian SF (like much else that is Canadian) tends to be some amalgam of British and American traditions.

Of course, any attempt to characterize a nation's literature is doomed to simplistic overgeneralization that ignores the individuality of the author; and yet, we are all influenced by the culture milieu in which we find ourselves, and one can perhaps discern certain trends. The typical story in John W. Campbell's Analog (for over 30 years the dominant American SF magazine) had an engineer land on a planet, be confronted with a technological problem, solve it, and thus make space safe for America. The British in the same period, by contrast, tended to write more downbeat, dystopian fiction, with only the occasional foray into "Empire" SF. The post-modernist, "New Wave" SF of the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, found its home in the highly respected British magazine, New Worlds.

The stories in North by 2000 were all originally submitted to Analog, but then published in New Worlds, or similarly-oriented British anthologies. In each case, the legendary Campbell returned Hargreaves' submission with extensive personal notes for how it would have to be rewritten to fit into Campbell's vision for Analog; and in each case, Hargreaves would choose not to compromise his own vision, and instead sent the story off overseas. Campbell apparently considered this perfectly appropriate, because with the last story, Campbell ended his notes with the comment that instead of taking his advice, Hargreaves should just once again send the story to New Worlds and have it published as it stood. Campbell clearly admired Hargreaves' writing, just did not see his stories as Analog material. It is tempting to suggest it was because Hargreaves' stories were too Canadian.

So, what characterizes Canadian SF? In his preface to Other Canadas (1979), the first multi-author anthology of Canadian SF, John Robert Colombo identified three themes as typically Canadian: (1) the "Polar World"; (2) the "National Disaster Scenario"; and (3) the "Alienated Outsider". Colombo also observed that Canadians tended to write more fantasy than science fiction, but in Hargreaves' case, it is all science fiction.

Columbo's "polar world" theme has mostly been dismissed as an example of circular reasoning, since Colombo defined as "Canadian" anything set in the Canadian North. Unlike Hargreaves, who set "Tangled Web" and "Protected Environment" in the North (though not, strictly speaking, in the arctic), few of the current generation of Canadian writers show any interest in the polar world. Perhaps that makes Hargreaves's SF doubly Canadian, but it would probably be more accurate to suggest that these stories exemplify the Canadian view that humans are subordinate to nature. Where American protagonists tend to be larger than life and dominate their worlds, Canadian protagonists tend to be overwhelmed by their surroundings. In Canadian literature, when one goes forth to challenge the elements, as in "Protected Environment", one generally loses. Similarly, what elevates the actions of Hargreaves' protagonist in "Tee Vee Man" to heroic status is the absolutely routine nature of his actions in the face of an unrelentingly hostile environment. In this instance, the protagonist survives, but at cost, and his only reward is to have lived another day, and to be allowed the privilege of doing it all again tomorrow. It is a pretty good metaphor for life.

This sense of subordination to the environment may also explain why Canadians writers, including Hargreaves, tend not to create vast interstellar empires. We live in a country in which enormous areas are virtually uninhabitable and population centres are separated by immense distances. Flying up north or driving across the prairies at night may not be a perfect parallel to space travel, but it reminds us what 'distance' really means. If it is this difficult for someone in Ottawa to relate to conditions in Halifax or Victoria, then how much more ridiculous to expect the bureaucracy to manage a colony on a planet circling some distant star? Thus, in Hargreaves' one nod to interstellar travel, "Infinite Variation", the colonial official is left isolated at the end of a too long line of communication, forced to actions he does not want to take, evoking consequences he does not want to consider.

The "national disaster scenario" can also be found in Hargreaves' work. Although it would be decidedly unCanadian to indulge in the sort of patriotic fervor found among Americans, or even the Brits, the more nationalistic among us might feel that Hargreaves' projection of Americanada itself represents a political disaster. I do not think that can count, however, since Hargreaves himself clearly underplays the matter: one cannot claim that the stories are about the fall of Canada, or that Hargreaves depicts the matter as one of particular import. But "2020 Vision" is clearly an apocalyptic vision, with Central Canada gone, and the rest thrown back a hundred years. Similarly, "Tee Vee Man" manages to narrowly avert a national disaster somewhere on the Africa Continent; and the world in "Infinite Variation" is inexorably sliding into its own global (albeit spiritual) crisis.

The theme of "alienated outsider", however, is the key to understanding both Hargreaves' canon and Canadian SF in general. Much of 20th century literature addresses the theme of alienation, of course, but what struck me while listening to Hargreaves read the ending of "Dead to the World", lo these 40 years ago, was that this was the first time anyone had hinted that alienation might be a good thing. Cut off from his identity as a living citizen, totally and irretrievably isolated from the community around him, Joe Schultz achieves a lifestyle and contentment that would have been impossible in his former role as participating citizen. In the end, Joe Schultz realizes that he is quite literally, better off 'dead'.

That being an outsider might be preferable, is a concept that could only resonate with a Canadian. I attribute this to two factors: first, our central mythos (whatever the reality) of multiculturalism; second, our proximity to the United States. Whereas the American melting pot attempts to assimilate everyone into a single culture dynamic, the official Canadian policy of multiculturalism attempts to preserve a mosaic of interacting but distinctive cultures. Remaining outside the mainstream, then, is a Canadian cultural imperative. Canadian SF writers get this, because—like Hargreaves—many of them are in fact immigrants. By the same measure, even the Canadian-born often feel economically, politically, and culturally overwhelmed by our American neighbours. Consigned to the hinterland of (North) American civilization, we often perceive ourselves isolated from the people and events that are shaping the world and the future. Sometimes it seems as if the only thing all Canadians have in common is the vague feeling that whatever is important in the world, it is not to be found here. With practically every Canadian belonging to a minority group different from that of their neighbours, and with a national population too small to achieve a consistent presence in international affairs, the "alienated outsider" is ultimately all Canadians.

This universal Canadian sense of alienation from the mainstream has three implications for Canadian SF.

First, the "prevalence of fantasy over science fiction" in Canadian SF that Colombo noted may be explained by the fact that, unlike the nation of pragmatic technocrats to the south, Canadians tend to be more concerned with preserving our past—our separate cultural ties and heritages—than with our somewhat dubious future. Most 'hard' science fiction in Hargreaves' era was essentially the literature of expanding economic and technocratic empires, the outgrowth of an America confident that the future belonged to it. In contrast, as Elisabeth Vonarburg once pointed out, it is more difficult for an author from Quebec to take seriously that the people staffing the space station fifty years from now will be named Jacques-Yves and Marie-Claude.

Second, the concept of "hero" in Canadian literature is different from the traditional image of heroism in SF. Because Canadians are accustomed to feeling like the underdog, Canadian writers tend to concentrate more on ordinary people muddling through ordinary lives, rather than the all-capable, all-conquering Hero of Campbellian SF. Canadian protagonists are rarely 'alpha males'; they bumble more and are self-effacing ("like the writers", Hargreaves once said). Our 'heroes' tend to be victims, or losers with occasional wins; any victories that such a character achieves will be hard won and indecisive, since one is always at the mercy of time and the elements.

Take Hargreaves' Tee Vee Man: he's the archetypal Canadian hero, precisely because he isn't the Captain or the Chief Scientist or the gun-toting hero; he is just the guy that does the repairs. Tee Vee clearly sees himself at the bottom of the totem pole, as having made a wrong decision in coming to the station. His victory over the elements is both costly and temporary (because he has to do it all again, tomorrow), though his self-esteem and job satisfaction do improve in the end. Similarly, the protagonist of "Tangled Web" is the mild mannered Scroop, exiled to a utility closet in the inhospitable North for trying (and failing) to help Joe Schultz. Even Joe Schultz, in "Dead to the World", setting out to reclaim his identity and life, achieves a happy ending only in the complete failure of any of his actions to achieve the goal for which he was actually striving.

On the other hand, when protagonists try to behave as alpha males in Canadian fiction, the results are usually traumatic. Again, Hargreaves’ stories provide absolutely typical illustrations of the principle: When the villainous protagonist of "In His Moccasins" tries to overcome the odds, take charge of his situation, and impose his will on those around him, he fails utterly; indeed, he ends up out in the cold, alienated even from his own body, forced to view the world from someone else's perspective. Similarly, Mel Colter, the macho hero of "2020 Vision", is forced to the realization that he is fighting a losing battle, that the world has moved on, and that ultimately he has become no better than the enemy that destroyed his wife.

Rather than Campbell's traditional larger-then-life Hero, then, Canadian SF is more likely to take the point of view of the bystander. The narrator in "'Fore' – Eight – Sixteen", for example, is not the inventor, but merely one of his sidekicks. Tee Vee Man ends a political crisis and saves (an African) democracy, but he does so unknowingly as a kind of distant bystander to the main events of the day. Similarly, the letter-writer in "Infinite Variation" sees himself as essentially a powerless bystander in a situation in which he has no choice or control. Jason Berkley in "Cainn" grows and matures, but it is the system that has shaped Jason, not the other way around; he is acted upon more than he acts. Even, Alan Hamilton, the protagonist in "More in Heaven and Earth", self-confident and self-assured though he may be, relies on his committee: 'the Unit' is successful under pressure because the team members, Alan included, are able to submerge their individual egos into the collective. The ultimate expression of the team's unity is achieved thanks more to shy newcomer Janet, than to Alan's leadership; and their enemies fail not because of any action on Alan's part, but because they made the fatal mistake of trying to behave like alphas....

This orientation to the average citizen as protagonist, or the bystander point of view, often means Canadian SF tends towards introspective character studies rather than action-adventure. This in turn tends to give a rather bleak aspect to much of Canadian fiction, an aspect enhanced by the tendency to slow-paced action and thought-oriented stories. The rip-roaring, supercharged fun of Star-Wars-style space opera is primarily an American motif, out of the stories of the Old West. In contrast, in Hargreaves' writing the action is often almost entirely cerebral. "Infinite Variation", for example, is a letter seeking advice that cannot possibly arrive in time. It is not just that the point of view is that of an official who abdicates any responsibility for what is coming, and instead takes on the role of helpless bystander, but that the letter format itself removes the reader from directly observing the action. The story is entirely an abstraction, a thought experiment in colonialism and bureaucratic ethics. Similarly, in "'Fore'-Eight-Sixteen", the reader is isolated from direct observation of events by hearing an after-the-fact account in interview format: another thought experiment, though in this instance, the intent is to be humorous. In "Tangled Web", the central crisis is triggered by a peaceful death from natural causes, and the resulting action is entirely bureaucratic, the combatants quoting regulations at each other rather than crossing lightsabers. Not exactly a seat-of-the-pants actioner, and yet, oddly satisfying. Similarly, Joe Schultz's adventures in "Dead to the World" are existential rather than physical, and what actions he takes are entirely ineffectual. Yet it is a great story, a classic, frequently reprinted and eminently memorable.

Which brings us to the third characteristic of Canadian SF arising out of our uniquely alienated national identity: adopting the position of outsider or taking the point of view of the bystander allows one, as the detached observer, a certain independence of thought. Certainly, "Dead to the World" is an excellent example of a sardonic commentary on bureaucracy and modern life. I particularly loved how Hargreaves foreshadows the ending by revealing Joe Schultz's slightly larcenous tendencies early on, when Joe appropriates that poor woman's dessert. The invention of the robot police is obviously a necessity for the satire to work, but the end result is Joe Schultz blowing a great big raspberry to our dependence on the digital environment, three decades before 'identify theft' became a household phrase.

On the other hand, in spite of our national identity being grounded in a vague sense of alienation, there is nevertheless an underlying optimism to both Hargreaves’ writing and Canadian SF in general. We believe ourselves (again, whatever the reality) to be a bit nicer than others, to be focused on 'doing the right thing' (though others may not always see things the same way), and above all, to be able to endure. Can anyone read "Cainn" and not wish that our penal system were more like that? Tough love, but, you know: nice! "Tee Vee Man" and "More Things in Heaven and Earth" are about nice guys persisting in doing the right thing, even in the face of difficulties. All three stories are somewhat utopian, but even the much darker "2020 Vision" and "In His Moccasins" are optimistic in their way: civil society is starting to rebuild and the bad times are coming to an end in "2020 Vision"; and the villain gets his just deserts in "In His Moccasins"—though admittedly that last is more of a stretch on the ‘niceness’ dimension. Even here, however, one gets the sense that both protagonists will endure. Certainly that is the case for Joe Schultz, who muddles his way through in the end, though not necessarily to the goals he thought he was pursuing. Completely abandoned by society, he nevertheless survives and likely prospers.

I would argue, then, that the reason North By 2000 resonated with me and my fellow Canadians so strongly—why those stories remain so memorable after 40 years—is that they are quintessential Canadian literature. They capture and reflect back to us our national identity, our self-image, in a way that Campbellian or Wellisian science fiction may not. They address the themes and issues that matter to us as Canadians, and they do so in the low key, understated action of real life—my life—rather than some future projection of the gun-slinging heroes of the American frontier or the dashing gentleman spy of a decaying British Empire. Above all, of course, they succeed because they are well-constructed, well-written stories.

There is also another way in which Hargreaves as been a major inspiration to me. Hargreaves set aside one week every couple of years to write short fiction. The moral, for me, is that even if one cannot afford the luxury of becoming a full-time writer, one can still produce an impressive canon of significant and influential work over the course of a lifetime. That Hargreaves is a favorite among Canadian readers can be seen in his having been twice nominated in the “Lifetime Achievement” category for the Aurora Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Hugo Awards). Not bad for a total of ten short stories written over twenty-six years.
Well done, Dr. Hargreaves! We are so very, very proud of you.