Robert J. Sawyer, a friend and someone whose Writing With Style sessions on writing science fiction I’ve twice attended at the Banff Centre, has received the Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award.
Established in 2001, this is one of Canada’s top book-related honours. The award, which includes a cash prize of $2,500 and a crystal sculpture, was presented in front of a sold-out audience of 640 at the second annual Book Lover’s Ball, a gala, $350-a-plate black-tie event held at Toronto’s Liberty Grand on Thursday.
Toronto Mayor David Miller was on hand, as were authors Allan Fotheringham and Peter C. Newman, and the emcee was Seamus O’Regan, co-host of Canada AM.
Margaret Atwood even joined proceedings, using her remote-control autographing and video-conferencing invention, the Long Pen, to sign a copy of her latest book for Rob. Atwood won last year’s TPL Celebrates Reading Award; other previous winners have included Dennis Lee and Kenneth Oppel.
As always, Rob gave an excellent speech. Among other things, he said, “Science fiction still struggles in some places for respectability, but that’s never been the case in Toronto. The Toronto Public Library is known world-wide for its support of the genre.” (The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, one of TPL’s special collections, has the largest SF holdings of any public library in the world.) “If someone who writes about the future might be termed a prophet, then the old adage about a prophet not being honored in his own country is false, at least here.”
Rob’s newest novel, his 17th, is Rollback; it will be out from Tor Books in April. (I’ve already read it, serialized in Analog: it is, as you would expect, excellent.)