“Distant Early Warnings: Canada’s Best Science Fiction” Edited by Robert J. Sawyer (Robert J. Sawyer Books, 2009)

Distant Early Warningsstarstarstar

Readers who either don’t read a lot of science fiction, or don’t read a wide breadth of science fiction, may look at Distant Early Warnings and wonder: “Canada has science fiction writers?”  Then they’ll read down the list of the stories included in this collection by authors like Julie E. Czerneda, Nalo Hopkinson, and Robert Charles Wilson, and think to themselves: “They’re Canadian?”  And finally they look and see that Distant Early Warnings is edited by Robert J. Sawyer, a brilliant science fiction writer who has won just about every award possible, and think: “He’s Canadian too?”  Not only is science fiction alive and well and being skillfully created and written in the great country north of the United States, but it is in fact home to some of the best science fiction writers alive today.

In Sawyer’s wonderfully short and precise introduction – he knows to not bore the reader with a lengthy passage talking about what he thinks about Canadian science fiction, but lets the stories speak for themselves – he explains that the title comes from “a string of radar stations in Canada’s far north designed to detect incoming Soviet bombers during the Cold War.”  The collection kicks off with the best story, “In Spirit,” where it is the near future and a new form of technology exists where it is possible to travel back in time as a holographic image to view events of the past.  While still in its testing stages, a prisoner is chosen, giving him the opportunity of freedom if he goes through all the stages of traveling into the past.  What is eventually discovered is that this man was involved in the September 11th attacks and he is being punished by traveling back to that catastrophic day and being made to experience action and reaction through the eyes of those who suffered.  Then there are those strange people who seem to somehow recognize him during his travels, which should be impossible.

The collection features stories that work on many different levels, like “The Ray-Gun, A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner, as the reader wonders how far the character will go to protect his very special artifact.  Then there is Robert Charles Wilson’s haunting and disturbing tale, “The Cartesian Theatre,” which explores the idea of cloning and what is the true meaning of life, living, and the idea of a soul.

Sawyer kicks it up a notch with his lightning round at the end of the book, featuring stories by himself and others in the collection that are only a couple of pages long.  And when you’re done with this collection, Sawyer makes sure to point out if the authors have won awards, and what other works they’ve published, to give the readers ideas on what to read next.  If anything, Distant Early Warnings will open the mind of any reader to some of the great work and literature being produced by some of today’s Canadian authors.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on October 13th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

BookBanter Episode 18

So BookBanter Episode 18 featuring my interview with Joe Schreiber has been put to bed, so to speak.  I’ve done all my recording and editing and it’s now off to my good friend, Jared Emerson-Johnson: sound wizard extraordinaire.  My interview with Joe ended up being about thirteen minutes long, which is one of the shorter BookBanter interviews, but this gave me the opportunity to feature extra book reviews in addition to the two for Joe Schreiber’s books.  So here’s what reviews you have to look forward to in Episode 18:

Death Troopers No Doors, No Windows Distant Early Warnings
Hunger Games Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones

Episode should be up hopefully between 11PM and midnight PST tomorrow, October 14th.

Upcoming Book Review: Distant Early Warnings

One review that is now complete and will be featured on the BookBanter site and possibly in Episode 18 on October 15th is Distant Early Warnings: Canada’s Best Science Fiction edited by Robert J. Sawyer.  I interviewed Sawyer in Episode 11 where he talked briefly about this project, but little did I know it was going to be such an enjoyable and fascinating collection.

Distant Early Warnings

And here’s the first paragraph to get you interested:

Readers who either don’t read a lot of science fiction, or don’t read a wide breadth of science fiction, may look at Distant Early Warnings and wonder: “Canada has science fiction writers?”  Then they’ll read down the list of the stories included in this collection by authors like Julie E. Czerneda, Nalo Hopkinson, and Robert Charles Wilson, and think to themselves: “They’re Canadian?”  And finally they look and see that Distant Early Warnings is edited by Robert J. Sawyer, a brilliant science fiction writer who has won just about every award possible, and think: “He’s Canadian too?”  Not only is science fiction alive and well and being skillfully created and written in the great country north of the United States, but it is in fact home to some of the best science fiction writers alive today.

And that review will be up on BookBanter on October 1st.