Sci-fi writer Robert Sawyer imagines the future of Canadian science

This country’s extraordinary real-life research facilities provide a wondrous backdrop for Sawyer’s imagined futures, proving you don’t have to stray far from home to be inspired by leading-edge science
Robert J. Sawyer makes the Vulcan salute to an off-camera audience

Award-winning author Robert Sawyer dreamed of a career in science, but was discouraged by the state of Canadian research in the 1970s. So he decided to write science fiction instead. These days, he often sets his novels in Canada’s remarkable research labs, including the Canadian Light Source (where he was writer-in-residence) and SNOLAB (where part of his Hugo Award-winning novel Hominids is set). Speaking to a room full of researchers at a workshop for the country’s national research facilities in November 2018, he surveyed the state of Canadian science institutions from the time he was entering university in 1979 through to the world-class installations we have today. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier said the 20th century would belong to Canada; Sawyer tells us why, as far as science is concerned and thanks to the CFI, he was off by a hundred years.