Canadian sf author Robert J. Sawyer says in an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen he has a shelf full of literary honors but is batting zero-for-ten as a Canada Council grant applicant. Does the CC have a bias against science fiction?
Just last month I received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Governor General’s office. And on March 18, McMaster University picked up 52 boxes of my papers to add to their Canadian-literature archives — surely a sign that SF is now part of the mainstream.
And yet that same week, the Canada Council for the Arts turned me down for the 10th time for a grant to write a novel. The Council’s “Grants to Professional Writers — Creative Writing” are valued at up to $25,000. One might argue that I don’t need the money anymore (although I certainly did when I first started applying). But economic need is not a granting criterion, and bestselling writers of other types routinely receive grants.
Although Sawyer makes no claim of malice, it is eyebrow-raising to read about this experience —
But in 2007, after I arrived in the Klondike at Pierre Berton House, the famed writer’s retreat, I discovered the Canada Council had, for the first and only time, overruled the unanimous choice of the selection committee in Dawson City, denying funding for my stay.
Sawyer is one of the most energetic and effective marketers in the field of science fiction, perhaps in any area of writing. (James Patterson may have an edge, but his first career was in advertising). If the Canada Council for the Arts would benefit from a good word said in their behalf – like most institutions – they missed a golden opportunity.