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Open Space: New Canadian Fantastic Fiction
edited by Claude Lalumière
Red Deer Press, 264 pages

Open Space
Claude Lalumière
Claude Lalumière is a columnist for Locus Online, Black Gate, and The Montreal Gazette. His short fiction has appeared in The Book of More Flesh, Interzone, and Fiction Inferno. In 2003, three anthologies he edited will appear. They are Island Dreams: Montreal Writers of the Fantastic (Véhicule Press), Open Space: New Canadian Fantastic Fiction (The Bakka Collection/Red Deer Press), and Witpunk (4 Walls 8 Windows).

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Witpunk
SF Site Review: Witpunk

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Canada is a vast land, comprised of ten provinces and three territories and covering nearly 10 million square kilometers, it is the second largest nation on Earth. It would be silly to assume that Canadian science fiction was any more homogenous than the science fiction of its southern neighbor. In Open Space: New Canadian Science Fiction, Claude Lalumière has selected twenty-one Canadian science fiction authors and allowed them to demonstrate the breadth of Canadian science fiction.

In reading these stories, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more to Canadian science fiction than the names generally associated with it. Lalumière does not include any offerings from such Canadian authors as Julie Czerneda, Robert Sawyer, Sean Stewart, or Robert Charles Wilson. Even such notable transplantees as William Gibson and Spider Robinson are missing from the pages of Open Space. Nevertheless, Lalumière is more than able to build a successful anthology, thus demonstrating that there is more to Canadian SF than initially meets the eye.

The stories themselves run the gamut from Drew Karpyshyn's short, but humorous, "Feast of the Gods," which uses Aztec mythology as its jumping off point, to Colleen Anderson's "Hold Back the Night," which combines spouse abuse and the cult of Kali. Both of these stories, one light-hearted and the other deadly earnest, demonstrate that Canadian SF is no more restricted by the country's massive borders than any other nation's fiction is focused on its own country of origin.

Open Space also includes some more traditional science fictional themes. John Park plays around with a distant future world in which humans come to reclaim their lands from the stars and are met by the guardians set in place centuries, if not millennia, in the past. Rather than being a simple space opera, "The Image Breakers" is an examination of the discrepancy which sometimes occurs between duty to self and duty to community.

Not all the stories in Open Space work entirely. While Richard Gavin creates a wonderfully eccentric Lovecraftian theme in "Leavings of Shroud House: An Inventory," the story fails to have the requisite twist ending. Similarly, the humor in Ahmed A. Khan's "The Curse of the Science Fiction Writer," is too predictable to be entirely satisfying, especially when placed against Karpyshyn's piece.

Reading through the variety of stories contained within the covers of the book, a reader could be forgiven for wondering what all of the authors included have in common besides that nationality. However, that is precisely the point. Canadian science fiction writers write science fiction. Their stories may often be found in the pages of anthologies and magazines alongside British, Australian, and yes, even American authors with no indication that they are Canadians. As (2000 Campbell Award winning Canadian SF author) Cory Doctorow notes in his introduction, the authors in Open Space have "got nothing to apologize for."

Copyright © 2004 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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