New sci-fi collection will alter Canada's past for the sake of its future

Bundoran Press Publishing House is publishing an anthology of alternative histories and futures of Canada, celebrating the country in all its possibilities.

New anthology to explore our country's parallel realities

Let's rethink the big picture. Which historical event would you risk changing for a better outcome? (NASA/Handout)

How would have Canada's population changed if WWII played out differently or if Quebec had voted to separate from the country? How could one small change alter the future of the nation — or maybe even the world? 

These are the types questions Bundoran Press Publishing House is exploring in their forthcoming science fiction anthology 49th Parallels.

The publisher is currently gathering stories from science fiction writers, asking them to consider how the country might have been — or how it might yet be —  if we'd made different choices in the realm of technology, science or politics.

Canada at a crossroads

Envisioning fictitious versions of Canada is an inventive way to celebrate the upcoming Sesquicentennial, but for project editor Hayden Trenholm, it is so much more than that. 

"Canada is at an important juncture, not only in our own history but in the history of the world. More than ever we need to examine how we got to this place and where we go from there."

Canada is at an important juncture, not only in our own history but in the history of the world.

Trenholm, who is a Canadian playwright and novelist, believes that sci-fi is a safe way to open up dialogue and address questions of national identity and collective values. 

"The role of science fiction has always been to look at the consequences of choices we are making right now — to run, as it were, a series of thought experiments, about the world we are in the process of building."

By taking a creative look at Canada, he hopes that the anthology highlights how the country succeeds and fails to live up to its own reputation.  

"Our history is replete with examples of turning away people who desperately needed to be someplace else. Imagine the difference it would have made to Canada and the world if we had accepted Jewish and other refugees from Hitler's Europe instead of turning them back to meet their fate?"

Canadian author Hayden Trenholm has published four novels as well as many plays and short stories, which are often inspired by Canada. He is the editor behind a new anthology called 49th Parallels.

A national nomad

Trenholm's ​own ties to Canada are filtered through a unique lens. He's the son of an eighth generation Canadian and a war-bride immigrant and has experienced all corners of the nation.

"I've lived and worked in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut and spent considerable time in every other province and territory, from its biggest cities to its most pristine wildernesses."

His deep connection to Canada is the inspiration behind many of his writing projects and this collection is no different. Trenholm hopes that 49th Parallels spurs interest in the country's past and ignites conversations about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

"I hope we start taking climate change seriously so there is a Canada in 150 years. And I hope that Canada is more egalitarian, more open and more diverse than it is even today." 

Which event in Canadian history would you risk changing for a better outcome?

49th Parallels is scheduled to be published in October 2017. It will be the fifth anthology printed by Bundoran Press Publishing House. 

Open submissions for the collection begin December 15th. More information about the submission process can be found here.

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