Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, October 6, 2017

what he sees will test his faith... The Quintaglio Ascension by Robert J. Sawyer

"The scope of the story is enormous. It’s about Afsan. It’s about their species. It’s about their whole planet! The world-building is top-notch and well thought out, and the characters are memorable and likeable. It’s easy to slip into this culture of dinosaurs and understand it as if it were your own. " - James, Goodreads



Sixty-five million years ago, aliens transplanted Earth's dinosaurs to another world. Now, intelligent saurians -- the Quintaglios -- have emerged. Afsan, the Quintaglio counterpart of Galileo, must convince his people of the truth about their place in the universe before astronomical forces rip the dinosaurs' new home apart.

The Face of God is what every young saurian learns to call the immense, glowing object which fills the night sky on the far side of the world. Young Afsan is privileged, called to the distant Capital City to apprentice with Saleed the court astrologer. But when the time comes for Afsan to make his coming-of-age pilgrimage, to gaze upon the Face of God, his world is changed forever- for what he sees will test his faith... and may save his world from disaster!

Fossil Hunter

Toroca, a Quintaglio geologist, is under attack for his controversial new theory of evolution. But the origins of his people turn out to be more complex than even he imagined, for he soon discovers the wreckage of an ancient starship -- a relic of the aliens who transplanted Earth's dinosaurs to this solar system. Now Toroca must convince Emperor Dybo that evolution is true; otherwise, the territorial violence the Quintaglios inherited from their tyrannosaur ancestors will destroy the last survivors of Earth's prehistoric past.


In Far-Seer and Fossil Hunter, we met the Quintaglios, a race of intelligent dinosaurs (evolved descendants of dinosaurs rescued in prehistory from Earth), and learned of the threat to their very existence. Now they must quickly advance from a culture equivalent to our Renaissance to the point where they can leave their planet.

While the Quintaglios rush to develop space travel, the discovery of a second species of intelligent dinosaurs rocks their most fundamental beliefs. Meanwhile, blind Afsan -- the Quintaglio Galileo -- undergoes the newfangled treatment of psychoanalysis, throwing everything he thought he knew about his violent people into a startling new light.


1. Most of your novels take place on Earth in the present or very near future. Why? 
My books that are set off Earth – Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, and Foreigner, plus Starplex –are my poorest-selling titles, even though I think they’re among the best books I’ve ever written. 

2. Where did the names in The Quintaglio Trilogy come from? 
Sometimes I name characters in honor of friends of mine. Afsan’s name is the acronym for my high-school science-fiction club (which I founded) backwards: NASFA, the Northview Association for Science Fiction Addicts. Det Yenalb is Ted Bleaney and Mar-Biltog is Richard Marshall Gotlib, both of whom were members of NASFA and are still my friends today. 

3. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your love of paleontology? 
Sure! I was born in Ottawa and have lived in Toronto most of my life. I originally wanted to be a scientist, not a science-fiction writer. Ever since I was four or five years old, I wanted to be a paleontologist. Ancient life fascinated me, and my father encouraged that interest, buying me books about dinosaurs, taking me to museums, taking me fossil hunting, and so on. I planned to devote my life to that area of study. Oh, I also wanted to write science fiction, but that always seemed an impractical dream. But when I turned 18, I decided I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t at least take a stab at being a writer, and fortunately that worked out. But the beauty of paleontology is that it deals with truly alien lifeforms – look at some of the critters from the Cambrian explosion, for instance. 

I don’t regret not becoming a paleontologist; I’ve become good friends with several over the years, and I usually get the behind-the-scenes tour when I visit a museum. But that’s another reality, too: the one in which I spent my life hunting fossils. 

And as a science-fiction writer, I’m always wondering about alternative possibilities: why did we survive and the Neanderthals die out (the basis for my Hugo Award-winning Hominids and its sequels); what if dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct (my Far-Seer and its sequels); what if there had been intelligent life on Mars 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous (my novel End of an Era); and, more recently, what if Mars had had its own equivalent of the Cambrian explosion deep in its past (Red Planet Blues). 

4. What was the defining moment or event that sparked your desire to become a published author? 
The very first science-fiction book I ever read, back when I was 12, was a novel called Trouble on Titan by Alan E. Nourse. My older brother gave me a used paperback he’d acquired somewhere. It began with an essay by Nourse (whose last name was pronounced “Nurse,” and who was a medical doctor) entitled “I’ve Never Been There,” about the joys of being a science-fiction writer. In that essay, he encouraged others to give it a try – so from the very first time I read a science-fiction novel, I knew it was something I wanted to do, and indeed was being encouraged to do. I regret that Dr. Nourse passed away without me ever getting a chance to thank him. 

5. You give talks about science fiction. How did that start? 
I actually do more futurism speaking than I do talking about science fiction. What’s the difference, you might ask? Well, when I’m giving a talk as a science-fiction writer, I’m lucky to get $250; when I’m speaking to a corporation or government agency as a futurist, my fee is $5,000 and up. 

I got started when a fellow named Pete McGarvey, who knew of me from Toronto science-fiction fandom, took a chance in 2000. He needed a speaker for a convention of life-insurance brokers, and he wanted someone who to get them to think about how their industry might change as medical science continue to prolong our lives. The talk was a big hit, and soon I was getting keynote invitations from other groups, starting with another life-insurance association that was having its annual meeting in Reno, Nevada. It just grew from there: an artificial-intelligence conference in Calgary at which Ray Kurzweil and I were the two keynote speakers; the annual convention of Canada’s biopharmaceutical and health-technology industry in Montreal; the Canadian Association of Science Centres in Edmonton; The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation conference in Phoenix – it just snowballed, usually with a person who’d seen me at one conference suggesting me to a committee for another. 

6. If you had the power, what new literary category would you classify your writing as? 
I like to think that what I write is philosophical fiction – “phi-fi,” not “sci-fi.” It’s a rational, intelligent exploration of ideas and very fundamental questions, such as where did we come from, where are we going, why are we here, and what, if anything, does all of it mean. That said, I’m proud to be known as a science-fiction writer. My website is sfwriter.com, my corporation is SFWRITER.COM Inc., and my vanity license plate says SFWRITER. 

7. You have won nearly every major Science Fiction Writing Award, with over 50 wins, which one is the most meaningful to you and why? 
The 1996 Nebula Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America: it was my first truly major award. On that night, my editor said to me, “You’ve gone overnight from being a promising newcomer to an established, bankable name.” It’s the “academy award” of the SF field – winning it meant my peers were saying I’d written the best book of the year; that meant the world to me. 

The awards have given me job security: in a field that’s shrinking, I’ve never had trouble getting a multibook contract whenever I wanted one, and that’s down to the awards. 

8. If you were stuck on a desert island and could only had one book to read again and again, what book would you want with you? 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: it’s so many different books rolled into one. It’s a great courtroom drama, a great coming-of-age story, a great piece of social commentary, and a great human drama.

About the author:
Robert J. Sawyer — called "the dean of Canadian science fiction" by The Ottawa Citizen and "just about the best science-fiction writer out there these days" by The Denver Rocky Mountain News — is one of only eight writers in history (and the only Canadian) to win all three of the science-fiction field's top honors for best novel of the year:

• the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award, which he won in 2003 for his novel Hominids;
• the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America's Nebula Award, which he won in 1996 for his novel The Terminal Experiment;
• and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, which he won in 2006 for his novel Mindscan.

According to the US trade journal Locus, Rob is the #1 all-time worldwide leader in number of award wins as a science fiction or fantasy novelist. Recent honors include the first-ever Humanism in the Arts Award from Humanist Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General of Canada, the Hal Clement Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the Year (for Watch), and a Lifetime Achievement Aurora Award from the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association — the first such award given to an author in thirty years, and only the fourth such ever bestowed.

The 2009-2010 ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name, and Rob was a scriptwriter for that series.

Maclean's: Canada's Weekly Newsmagazine says, "By any reckoning, Sawyer is among the most successful Canadian authors ever," and The New York Times calls him "a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation." The Canadian publishing trade journal Quill & Quire named Rob one of "the thirty most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing" (the only other authors making the list were Margaret Atwood and Douglas Coupland).

Rob's novels are top-ten national mainstream bestsellers in Canada, appearing on the Globe and Mail and Maclean'sbestsellers' lists, and they've hit #1 on the science-fiction bestsellers' lists published by Locus, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, and Audible.com. His twenty-three novels include Red Planet Blues, Triggers, Calculating God, and the "WWW" trilogy of Wake, Watch, and Wonder, each volume of which separately won the Aurora Award — Canada's top honor in science fiction — for Best Novel of the Year.

Rob — who holds honorary doctorates from the University of Winnipeg and Laurentian University — has taught writing at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Humber College, and The Banff Centre. He has been Writer-in-Residence at the Richmond Hill (Ontario) Public Library, the Kitchener (Ontario) Public Library, the Toronto Public Library's Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, Berton House in Dawson City, the Canadian Light Sourcesynchrotron, and the Odyssey Workshop.

Rob has given talks at hundreds of venues including the Library of Congress and the National Library of Canada, and beenkeynote speaker at dozens of events in places as diverse as Los Angeles, Boston, Tokyo, Beijing, and Barcelona. He was born in Ottawa in 1960, and now lives just west of Toronto.

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Author's Giveaway


Stephanie LaPlante said...

These sound great, especially Foreigner.

Richard Brandt said...

I've often wondered what might have happened to the dinosaurs if they hadn't had their asteroid. (I think we're our own asteroid.)

Debra Holloway said...

I can't really pick one of these books, because I would love to read all of them. These are going on my list of books to order.

Jana Leah B said...

It's incredible how many Science Fiction Awards you've won.