This site has been created in response to the overwhelming number of people who are surprised that Canadian literature includes the fantastic. Canadian SF, fantasy, and horror have been cast into a literary ghetto under the power structure of CanLit, and cast as either inferior literatures, or literatures that are not ‘of here’, i.e. from abroad. Yet, Canadian speculative fiction has a long history in Canada and engages with ideas of Canadian identity, belonging, and concepts of nationhood, place and space (both ‘the final frontier’ type, and the geographical).

Realist fiction is often seen as the only ‘truly’ Canadian fiction, but even realist fiction speculates, postulates and creates a fantastic idea, just one that is based more closely on the normative world around us than most SF authors are inclined to do.

Canadian SF allows for the engagement with ideas such as What is Canada? What does belonging mean? What is the nature of ‘human’? Why are things the way they are? How do we change things? Can things change?

The appeal of Canadian SF is not just regional, but has implications for a wider audience. Canadians, long un/comfortable with our identity as a hybrid of the American and English, Francophones and Anglophones, Aboriginal and settlers, and the multicultural mix that is embedded in our philosophy, means that we are comfortable with questions of identity and the exploration of our place, ideas that naturally lend themselves to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We live in a world that is unsure of itself, and uncomfortable with ideas of belonging, and Canadian SF plays with ideas of belonging, disrupts the normal (or what has come to be seen as normal) and allows for a new way of experiencing the world.

I use Speculative Fiction or SF here to encompass science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as areas of magical realism, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, and other genres of the fantastic or speculative.

My hope is that this site will encourage people to read Canadian speculative fiction and engage with it, and, through that process, play with the idea of living “in the question”, speculating about the world around us and what fictions we create for ourselves.

Speculating Canada has made the short list for a Prix Aurora Award for 2013. The Aurora Awards (http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/) honour significant contributions to Canadian Speculative Fiction.

– Derek Newman-Stille

Derek Newman-Stille is a PhD student at the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies at Trent University. Derek researches Canadian Urban Dark Fantasy and the use of the symbol of the monster for exploring the representation of disability issues. They have taught courses at Trent university on Werewolves as Symbols of the Human Experience and Witchcraft in the Greek and Roman World, and have presented papers on the Canadian fantastic at the Popular Culture Association of Canada, The International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as at several other conferences on various aspects of their research. Derek has previously published an academic essay titled “Morality and Monstrous Disability in Topographia Hibernica” in a book titled The Treatment of Disabled Persons in Medieval Europe: Examining Disability in the Historical, Legal, Literary, Medical, and Religious Discourses of the Middle Ages. Derek is an artist of many mediums and their visual arts can be seen at www.dereknewmanstille.ca.

15 Responses

  1. I’m really looking forward to seeing this project unfold, and to see what you make of Canadian genre lit. I work on early Canadian poetry & cultural studies, but I’m interested in speculative work as well (especially early gothic and spiritualist stuff). Also: it’s nice to have a place to go for recs.

    • Fantastic. I look forward to hearing more about your research as well. If you get a chance, check out our Facebook site as well. I am hoping to generate some discussion there about Canadian science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

  2. Being a Canadian writer interested in speculative fiction, I have enjoyed perusing your site and I’d like to share it with my readers. Would you be interested in being interviewed by me?

    • You should be taken seriously. Writers of the fantastic are writing the literature of change, challenging the things we take for granted and speculating new realities. The questions you bring into your work help readers to question the world around them. Thank you for writing.

  3. Thanks for your review of the Chronicles of Faerie. I thought I was long forgotten in Canada! Perhaps you might have a look at The Book of Dreams, my purely ‘Canadian’ fantasy (big read, though). I’ve made a note of this site to post on my Book Blog. Wonderful idea. You are right, though. Fantasy or mythic fiction, as I prefer to call it, is excluded from the canon of CanLit. Look at Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage – my most favourite Canadian book and his least recognised one, not to mention all of Charles de Lint’s brilliant work (now there’s an infinitely- more-interesting-than-so-many-boring-mediocre-Canadian- authors-who-are-nonetheless-better-known author. Sorry, it’s late here.) Love your artwork, too, by the way. Have you completed your thesis yet? Best of luck. And sláinte from Ireland.

    • Book of Dreams is definitely on my “to read” list. I look forward to it. Thank you for connecting to my site. I am still working on my research, but i will definitely keep readers informed.

  4. PS Life of Pi, which has to be considered speculative fiction for its fantastical elements, was basically ignored in Canada and not even considered for prizes like the Giller. Then Martel won the Man-Booker. But they didn’t identify him as Canadian over here because Canada itself hadn’t claimed or recognised him. Until he won, of course …

  5. This is an excellent site for the Canadian speculative fiction community. Thanks especially for the list of sf publishers in Canada. Is it possible to add my name to the blogroll? I’m a writer and a McGill English lit graduate. The Vinciolo Journal (at matthewrettino.wordpress.com) is my historical fantasy website. I publish book reviews, fantasy lit essays, essays on historical events, and also some bits on Canadian literature.

  6. Thank you for the follow of my blog. Congratulations on a great site that so many people can use as a resource. Cheers.

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