There's a cool new interview of Canadian SF writer Robert J. Sawyer, whom I've seen on some panels at some cons, over on the Ficlets site.
I’m fond of quipping that American SF has happy endings, Canadian SF has sad endings, and British SF has no endings at all. If I can be so bold, John, Old Man’s War and Rollback are, respectively, American and Canadian takes on rejuvenation – one, a jubilant, triumphant we-are-the-champions novel; the other, a novel that says that it’s all bigger than we are, and despite everyone’s best intentions, things just aren’t going to work out as planned.
One might argue that the difference comes from our countries’ vastly different stature on the world stage. The US is a superpower – for the moment, at least, the superpower – and its presidents can and do (let me reach back for a positive example here!) say things like, “We choose to go to the Moon.” Canada is a middle power – we know there are things we just can’t do; if a Canadian prime minister said “We choose to go to the Moon,” we’d think he’d lost his mind.
Those difference do percolate into the texts we write. I’ve talked to other Canadian authors about this, and we’ve all had the same experience: US editors who have asked us to find what seem to us to be unnaturally upbeat endings for our works. It rankles, and I’ve dug in my heels more than once to keep what I’ve felt was the appropriately honest – and for that, often, read “melancholy” – conclusion to one of my books.
But that's what I do! Melancholy endings, that is. Who knew that I was actually a Canadian SF author? (This will come as a surprise to some of my Clarion buds who complain that my 29th century Fleet stories reek of American superiority -- they just haven't realized that the Canadians side with the British Star Fleet, and they didn't get to read any of those stories at Clarion.)
I Suppose I Could've Seen This Coming
The Canadian thing, I mean. Growing up, the first ten years was spent in radio and TV range of Toronto and we'd go to St. Catharines and Cornwall like once every year (not on the same trip, of course). Enjoyed real Cadbury's chocolate, made in England. Went to Expo 67 in Montreal -- hotter than hell, over a 100degF temps. Spent 7-1/2 years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Surely the U.P. is honourary Canadian, our cable even had CBC and CTV. Been to hockey games. Prefer Canadian Olympics coverage to the rah-rah Americans in the spirit of internationalism. Actually watch curling on TV when I can.
Well, Sawyer has given me a new goal to shoot for: become a best-selling Canadian SF author... (grin)