Canucks in Space: Canadian Science Fiction is Awesome! (Pt.1)
August 2, 2012 | Thombrarian | Comments (9)
For decades, Science Fiction has been written off as a nerdy pulp genre, hardly meriting consideration as literature by 'serious' readers (y'know, the ones that get all choked up over Jane Eyre). Recently however, Sci fi has started to gain a foothold in the world of literary criticism, in part due to a wave of innovative writers that not only have challenged the "spaceships and rayguns" conventions that have dominated the genre for so long, but are also incredibly skilled wordsmiths.
And a heck of a lot of these writers are Canadian.
But before we start looking at the current world of Sci Fi, its interesting to look back at our great Nations past contributions to the genre. Perhaps the first "Science fiction" book written in Canada is James De Mille's 1888 book "A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder", a fantastical (and pretty silly) story about a subtropical antarctic haven for dinosaurs and strange death-worshipping cults.
There's actually a pretty good precedent for high quality sci fi in Canada. Margaret Atwood, our own reigning queen of the book has for years written dark, dystopic novels like The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake. Perhaps because the literary establishment didn't want to admit that they enjoyed reading what was considered such a lowly genre, its only recently that Margaret has been acknowledged as a bona fide "speculative fiction" writer.
Canada also produced some unabashedly science fiction authors. Vancouver's William Gibson, who's still a very active writer is most famous for his 1984 book cyberpunk epic Neuromancer, which accurately predicts the notion of a social internet years before the first web browser became readily available. Also from the West Coast is Spider Robinson, an American expat who's made Canada his home fore the last three decades. Spider's unique, raucous stories about Callahan's Place, a bar that's frequented by all manner of strange and fantastical individuals (imagine the Star Wars Cantina mashed up with a Grateful Dead Tourbus) have earned him a place amongst the Sci fi elite.
Writers like Atwood, Robinson and Gibson not only have created amazing books in their own right. They also set the precedent for a whole generation of Canadian speculative fiction writers to follow.
This is the first part of a series of posts on Canadian Science Fiction. Stay tuned to the Word Out Blog for the next post on Canadian Sci Fi in the Present. And Drop us a comment if you've got an amazing Canuck Sci Fi writer you love!