Bringing together papers presented at the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy from 2005 to 2013, this collection of essays includes Veronica Hollinger’s keynote address, “The Body on the Slab,” and Robert Runté’s Aurora Award-winning paper, “Why I Read Canadian Speculative Fiction: The Social Dimension of Reading” along with 15 other contributions on science fiction and fantasy literature, television and music by Canadian creators.
Authors discussed include Charles de Lint, Nalo Hopkinson, Tanya Huff, Esther Rochon, Peter Watts and Robert Charles Wilson. Essays on the television show Supernatural and the Scott Pilgrim comics series are also included.
Dr. Robert Runté with the 2014 Prix Aurora Award he won for this essay in the category of Best Fan Related Work.
From Robert Runté:
I grew up in an age when speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and so on) was still considered beneath the dignity of serious scholarly attention. Indeed, one of my early deans once told me that he considered “scifi” of lower literary value than Harlequin Romance (which to his mind was the worst comparison he could draw), and that he was more embarrassed by my interest in SF than if I had written porn. So I am pretty relieved to find that the new generation of scholars has dropped such pretensions and is eagerly and capably delving into Canadian science fiction and fantasy. Drawn from the most outstanding papers of the last seven years, this collection provides a representative cross-section of both this new generation of energetic, innovative and insightful Canadian academics, and of the brilliant Canadian authors they have chosen to review.
Allan Weiss’ introductory essay provides an excellent overview of the history of scholarship on the Canadian contribution to the genre, and I like to believe that my own essay provides an overview of the themes that have dominated Canadian speculative fiction and distinguish it from the American and British versions of the genre. I have also tried to explain the social dimension of reading: why we need to create spaces where our youth can explore what it means to be Canadian, to find their own voice by creating their own interpretations of popular tropes.
I confess to being particularly proud of my essay, not just because it represents a summation of everything I’ve been arguing for the past 35 years, but because the essay won a major award even while the book was still in press. My presentation at the 2013 Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy won a 2014
Aurora Award (Canada’s answer to the American Hugo Awards). Apparently, the suggestion that Canadian authors address themes that resonate particularly well with Canadian readers hit a responsive chord with the Award’s voters.
Robert Runté is Senior Editor with Five Rivers Publishing, and a freelance development editor /writing coach at SFeditor.ca.