Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Watching The Stars On Canada Day

A belated Happy Canada Day to everyone out there! The sun finally made an appearance here on the Wet Coast this long weekend, so rather than post like a responsible blogger, I dragged my pasty Canuck self outside to blearily blink up at the big bright yellow thing and get a dose of summer. Walked along the dike road beside the Fraser River to the village of Steveston for its annual Salmon Fest. Got there too late – most of the display tents had packed up and left – including the gang from VCon32/Canvention27 who not only were at a table trying to encourage closet SF fans at the event to come out to this year’s con, but who also took part in the festival’s parade. Great to hear that they’re taking SF into the general community, just wish I could’ve seen their costumes amidst the standard parade fare.
Anyhow, to celebrate the nation’s 140th birthday, I took a break from reading the new biography of Einstein by Isaacson and pulled an old favourite off the shelf: “Northern Stars”, edited by David G. Hartwell and Glenn Grant. This hardcover collection of Canadian SF was released in 1994 to coincide with Winnipeg’s hosting of the Worldcon (my first con). Overall, it’s an excellent sampling of Canadian contributions to the genre, with short stories by Robert J. Sawyer, Phyllis Gotlieb, William Gibson, Robert Charles Wilson and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, to name just a few of the heavy hitters within. In addition to the fiction, there’s also a pair of thoughtful essays from the late Judith Merril and Candas Jane Dorsey on some of the things that make Canadian SF unique – an ambitious undertaking given that a nation’s literature in a greater sense mirrors a people’s perception of what it means to be of that nation, and in the case of Canada, an inherent part of our culture is that we’re still debating about and searching for exactly what it means to be Canadian. Which, as many have said, makes speculative fiction an appropriate medium to engage in this kind of head-scratching, naval-gazing and mining of the national psyche.
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