"Is Canada ready for a Muslim at 24 Sussex Drive?"
That's the question posed in Canadian science fiction great Robert J. Sawyer's newest novel, "Quantum Night." And Sawyer's answer seems to be a definite yes.
In the book, the year is 2020 and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is Canada's prime minister, representing the NDP in Stephen Harper's former Calgary Southwest riding.
The antagonist is a somewhat Islamophobic U.S. president focused on annexing Canada.
Sawyer, one of the world's most internationally acclaimed science fiction writers, told the Vancouver Sun the scenario is plausible:
Could Nenshi — recently named by the City Mayors Foundation as the best mayor in the world — go all the way to Sussex Drive, giving Canada its first Muslim prime minister? Sure, that’s plausible. Would an Islamophobic U.S. president — someone in the mould of Donald Trump — want to annex Canada, as he tries to in my novel, in response? That’s plausible, too.
Science fiction has always been a means for political comment.
Sawyer's only wish is that he had a bit more time to finesse the names of other characters. He picked Quinton Carroway as the name of the fictional U.S. president.
"If I had until Feb. 29 to polish the text, I would have made it President Donald Trump," Sawyer said in an interview with The Calgary Herald.
— Adi the Adipose (@aditheadipose) March 3, 2016
The book seems to be hitting a chord — it's currently at number seven on Maclean's Bestsellers List.
Sawyer, who lives in Mississauga, Ont., is well-known for dropping Canadian references into his work. While he hasn't been known to shy away from political issues, Sawyer rarely dives into intense dystopian worlds.
However, in "Quantum Night," he told SFFWorld he intends to "address head on the dark side of human nature" — we'll assume he means the U.S. invasion, not Prime Minister Nenshi.
When Sawyer first floated the idea of Nenshi as PM at an event last year, the Calgary mayor responded with a tweet asking if the book was "science fiction?"
Now that he's given it a read, he seems a bit more receptive to the idea.
I just finished the book. Pretty amazing! https://t.co/nCifsuhjG5
— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) March 5, 2016
Also on HuffPost:
Written in 2002, it smartly anticipates just how badly the evil marriage of hyper-connectivity and consumerism would mess us up. Supposedly a YA novel, but I read it this summer and loved it and I am decidedly NYA (Not-Young Adult).
A real burka-burner of a read. Atwood is a badass who saw the writing on the wall for women in ultra-conservative society—or rather, saw the arm poised to write on the wall and hacked it off at the elbow with this book. Too bad that arm keeps growing back.
My family went to Mexico when I was in third grade and we brought along a box of paperbacks. My parents had picked it up at a thrift shop for twenty-five cents. The entire box. The Martian Chronicles was in that box. We may have gone to Mexico, but I went to Mars and never came back
This book marked my adolescent transition from science fantasy and elf operas to literary sci-fi. The notion of using empathy detection as a means of identifying humans from androids is something I think about every day. Especially when my CAPTCHA entries are rejected. Why can’t I just show that I care instead of typing fake words to prove I ain’t no bot?
I loved this story that is part Hemingway (Big Two-Hearted River), part Cormac McCarthy (The Road), part Walt Disney (Old Yeller). It’s a moving and psychologically rich portrait of post-apocalyptic living, filled with great survival tips. Example: Don’t actually sleep in your house. Sleep on a small rise overlooking your house and, from there, shoot dead anyone who comes knocking.
Like Do Androids Dream, the question here is distinguishing humans from fake humans--in this case, clones. The special ingredient in humans is a soul and evidence of its presence in a body is that body’s ability to produce art. If this is true, then Ishiguro is definitely not a clone.
This collection was light years ahead of its time (1994), with its mash-up weave and pop subversions. Sukenick’s zombies are brain-dead American consumerists who, while traveling abroad, are forced to re-consume U.S. culture as regurgitated by a culturally bankrupt Europe. Anyone up for a trip to Disney Paris? On acid?
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