A Day in the Life” with science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer

Living with my husband Robert J. Sawyer is like living with a teenager — and I should know: we met 45 years ago in the science-fiction club (which he founded) at Northview Heights Secondary School at Finch and Bathurst. He still loves the same things he did then: Star Trek, pizza, and chocolate milk. And his favourite place is still the same: back in high school, he had his eye set on working at the Royal Ontario Museum (he wanted to be a dinosaur hunter!) and we still visit it often.

The difference between him being a scrawny student with a scraggly beard in the 1970s and being — if a wife may brag a bit! — the bestselling Hugo and Nebula Award-winning member of both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada that he is today? He has better toys now! In our living room, you’ll find a gorgeous 33-inch model of the original starship Enterprise, $150 Japanese action figures from Planet of the Apes, and a talking HAL 9000 replica mounted on the wall.

Rob’s books are published all over the world in twenty-two languages, and I get to tag along with him on trips to such places as Chengdu (where he was given the top Chinese science-fiction award as “the most popular foreign author”), the Canary Islands (where we met Stephen Hawking and went beachcombing with Neil deGrasse Tyson!), and Cambridge University (where he gave a talk in honour of Charles Darwin attended by Darwin’s grandson). When he proposed, after deciding to be a writer, he said, “I can’t promise you that it’ll be a comfortable life — but it will be interesting.” Lucky me — it turned out to be both!

-by Carolyn Clink (wife)

 never got to work at the ROM, but my novel Calculating God was set there, and, as part of the Museum’s celebration of its 100th birthday, they put a placard in the sidewalk our front of the Planetarium commemorating that fact.
never got to work at the ROM, but my novel Calculating God was set there, and, as part of the Museum’s celebration of its 100th birthday, they put a placard in the sidewalk our front of the Planetarium commemorating that fact.
The boy cleans up nice! Here I am signing the official registry at Queen’s Park after being inducted into the Order of Ontario.
The boy cleans up nice! Here I am signing the official registry at Queen’s Park after being inducted into the Order of Ontario.
I get interviewed a lot on TV and radio; here I am in one of my appearances on TVO’s The Agenda chatting with the great Steve Paikin.
I get interviewed a lot on TV and radio; here I am in one of my appearances on TVO’s The Agenda chatting with the great Steve Paikin.
I’ve always loved Star Trek, and so when I got asked to script the two-part series finale for the popular web-series Star Trek Continues, I jumped at the chance; here I am on-set in Kingsland, Georgia, where we made the show.
I’ve always loved Star Trek, and so when I got asked to script the two-part series finale for the popular web-series Star Trek Continues, I jumped at the chance; here I am on-set in Kingsland, Georgia, where we made the show.
Gotta move those books! At Word on the Street at Harbourfront Centre.
Gotta move those books! At Word on the Street at Harbourfront Centre.
I was so honoured to receive the first-ever Lifetime Achievement award from the Mississauga Arts Council; that’s Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie with me.
I was so honoured to receive the first-ever Lifetime Achievement award from the Mississauga Arts Council; that’s Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie with me.
For a writer, the greatest pleasure is reading — and this is my favourite spot (with a few of my “toys” visible in the background).
For a writer, the greatest pleasure is reading — and this is my favourite spot (with a few of my “toys” visible in the background).
There’s one superpower that goes with being a member of the Order of Canada — you get to swear in new citizens! I love doing it and I officiate as often as I can at the Mississauga office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
There’s one superpower that goes with being a member of the Order of Canada — you get to swear in new citizens! I love doing it and I officiate as often as I can at the Mississauga office of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

What ’hood are you in?

Beautiful downtown Mississauga, baby! But my whole life has been in the GTA: North York, Cabbagetown, North York again, Vaughan, and for the past twenty years, just north of Square One in the city that Hazel built.

What do you do?

Write science fiction! Mostly novels — my 24th, The Oppenheimer Alternative, an alternate history about the mastermind of the atomic-bomb program, just came out — but I’ve also written for TV, including the ABC series FlashForward, based on my novel of the same name.

What are you currently working on?

A pilot script based on my novel Illegal Alien, which is a courtroom drama with an extraterrestrial defendant — as soon as the travel ban is over, I’m off to Los Angeles to pitch it to studios.

Where can we find your work?

Best place of all Toronto’s Bakka-Phoenix at 84 Harbord Street, by the U of T main campus; it’s the world’s oldest extant science-fiction specialty bookstore, and I used to work there — and during the current crisis, they’re doing curbside pickup as well as their usual mail-order service. But you’ll also find my books in any physical or online bookstore, plus at all ebook and audiobook vendors.

And, like any good sci-fi guy, I’m all over cyberspace:

Website (a huge one!): https://sfwriter.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertjsawyer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertJSawyer

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1939 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography