Robert J. Sawyer


Robert J. Sawyer is one of only eight people ever—and the only Canadian—to have won all three of the science-fiction field’s top awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan). He’s also won an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, and the top science-fiction awards in Canada (twelve times), Japan (three times), Spain (three times), China, and France. According to the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards, he has won more awards for his novels than anyone else in the history of the science-fiction and fantasy fields. The ABC television series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name. Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal, calls him “one of the thirty most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing.” His twenty-first novel, Triggers, is an April 2012 title from Penguin Canada. Rob was the first science-fiction writer to have a website; visit it at

Robert J. Sawyer

SiWC Workshops

Thursday 1:30pm

Science fiction is often called "the literature of ideas," and with good reason: the fresh central idea is often the defining characteristic of a science-fiction novel. Join bestselling author Robert J. Sawyer for an interactive discussion of how to come up with and develop a high concept for your own science-fiction novels by finding the theme that will give rise to your plot and characters, and enthrall your readers. Sawyer's own Aurora Award-winning novel FlashForward had its theme summarized in the opening narration of every episode of the ABC TV series based on it: "On October 6, the planet blacked out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. The whole world saw the future." Come prepared to try to distill your own notions down to something equally succinct and exciting, so that you can focus on what your story is really about.

Friday 10:30am

Science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer, fantasy writer Sam Sykes, and historical fantasy writer Mary Robinette Kowal combine to discuss the importance of humour within the SFF genre, and the finer points of how to make it work. This panel will likely be of interest to those writing any genre. Fisticuffs expected! kc dyer moderates.

Sunday 9:30am

Everyone knows you're supposed to show, not tell -- but what does that mean exactly? How do you convey information without coming out and saying it? How can you show emotion without naming it? And when should you tell instead of show?

Saturday 10:30am

Make your science fiction appeal not just to the mind but to the heart as well. The number-one reason mainstream readers don't even try science fiction is they think it has nothing to offer them emotionally: they wrongly believe that it's either too dry and intellectual, or that any character development is sketchy and any character drama is simplistic and juvenile. But the best science fiction is as emotionally complex, as heart-wrenching, as moving, and as uplifting as the best mainstream fiction. Learn how to balance both halves of the term "science fiction" without giving short-shrift to either.

Saturday 3:30pm

In our annual bestseller panel, moderator Donald Maass leads our panel through an exploration of life in the big leagues. Our guess is they're not above writing in their pajamas if they feel like it. But wonder how life has changed since the publisher started putting "bestseller" on the covers of their books or what added challenges come writing the next book after a big success? Come find out!