Northern Dreamers, Ed. Edo Van Belkom

Quarry Press, 1998, 254 pages, C$19.95 tpb, ISBN 1-55082-206-3

Curious Reader: So, what’s that Northern Dreamers book about?

Reviewer: It’s a collection of interviews that Edo van Belkom -himself a renowned horror writer- conducted with some of Canada’s best speculative fiction writers.

Reader: Really? Who’s interviewed?

Reviewer: A good cross-section of CanSF writers. Robert J. Sawyer, Charles de Lint, Candas Jane Dorsey, James Alan Gardner, Dave Duncan, William Gibson, Phyllis Gotlieb, Terence M. Green…

Reader: Whoa, enough! How many in total?

Reviewer: Twenty-three of them. The nice thing is that Belkom doesn’t stop at SF or Fantasy, nor to the most obvious authors. Some of his choices are pretty eclectic, like W.P. Kinsella, Michael Coney or Ed Greenwood-

Reader: Ed Who?

Reviewer: Yeah, that was my reaction too. Ed Greenwood is the guy who created the “Forgotten Realms” module for-

Reader: -for TSR’s Advanced Dungeons and Dragon! Cool! You mean a Canadian did that? I had no idea!

Reviewer: Neither did I, actually. That was one of the many surprises of the book. I won’t spoil most of them here, but I learned things from Northern Dreamers.

Reader: Is it kind of a oh-we’re-both-so-cool type of interview book?

Reviewer: Well, there’s a lot of that, obviously, but Belkom has the guts to ask some fairly pointed questions, and the results are honest. You’ve got Robert Charles Wilson talking about using LSD to overcome Writer’s Block-

Reader: No way!

Reviewer: -and Robert J. Sawyer talking about the reactions to his auto-promotion, and Andrew Weiner telling us how he hates SF, and Spider Robinson talking about composing his first published story while under the influence of drugs and-

Reader: Gee, there’s a lot of dirt in there.

Reviewer: Well, there’s a lot of dirt all right, but also many good revelations that will allow you a different take on the author’s work.

Reader: So this is the definitive CanSF interview book?

Reviewer: No, not really definitive… but it’s real close. It’s a pretty good cross-section of the market right now. The variety of the writers’ works is impressive in its own right.

Reader: So you’re recommending it to everyone?

Reviewer: It depends… I found that the best interviews were with people whom I had already read a lot. So you could say that it’s a must-read book for those who are already big fans of Canadian SF.

Reader: Uh-huh. Are there any shocking revelations about the state of Canadian SF in there?

Reviewer: Perhaps the most shocking is that while there are many writers writing SF in Canada now, few of them are purely Canadian-born. Most (Vonarburg, Gibson, Weiner, etc…) have immigrated here long ago, other hold dual nationalities, etc… If CanSF has a dirty little secret, I guess that’s it.

Reader: Whoa. Shooocking, duuude.

Reviewer: I guess we deserve the SF that we get.

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