PEI

Sci-fi in Summerside: New novel about aliens set on P.E.I.

Islander Joe Mahoney, currently CBC's director of radio production and best known for his work with CBC Radio (Quirks and Quarks, Morningside, Q), has set his first novel, A Time and A Place, on Prince Edward Island.

A Time and A Place, written by Joe Mahoney, features time travel, war on another planet, Summerside

A Time and a Place is a science fiction novel set in P.E.I. (A Time and a Place/Facebook)

Science fiction literature has brought readers some memorable and exotic settings over the years: The Republic of Gilead, Panem, Arrakis.

And now: Summerside, P.E.I.?

Islander Joe Mahoney, currently CBC's director of radio production and best known for his work with CBC Radio (Quirks and Quarks, Morningside, Q), has set his first novel, A Time and A Place, on Prince Edward Island.

Joe Mahoney will be at the Summerside Farmer's Market on Saturday to sign books. (A Time and a Place/Facebook)

In an interview with Mainstreet P.E.I., he outlined some of the science fiction trappings in the novel: an alien army, war on other planets, time travel, transmogrification and, yes, Samuel's Coffee House in Summerside.

"Originally it was Prince Edward Island but disguised as a fictional place, and then at one point I decided, OK, it actually would be better if it was really set in Prince Edward Island, because it really is."

There's one fictional village in the novel, but the rest of the Earth-bound) setting is the real P.E.I.

3 hours of writing each weekday — on the train

Mahoney told host Angela Walker that he's been passionate about science fiction since childhood, watching Johnny Sokko And His Flying Robot circa 1971. 

"I love the sense of wonder, how it appeals to your imagination," he said of the genre. "It just makes you think. The questions about what if — what if we could travel through space? What if we could travel through time? All those kind of questions, they just appeal to me on a fundamental level."

He started with short stories, thinking they'd be easier, but found they took a long time to craft anyway. So he decided he'd "make a big splash" by writing a novel in a couple of years.

"Twelve years later, I finally managed to finish it."

Though he owes an artistic debt to P.E.I. for providing the setting, he might never have finished the book if not for a byproduct of urban living. Mahoney lives in Whitby, Ont., so his commute to Toronto is 90 minutes each way.

"People hear about my commute ... and they're like, 'Holy cow, that's like an extra day a week just in the commute,' and I always tell them, 'Well I don't mind at all, because that's my writing time.' That's like a day a week basically that I get to write, and without that time I wouldn't have been able to produce this novel."

Mahoney's book is already in pre-release, with its wide release in October. He'll be at the Summerside Farmers Market Saturday to sign books along with his sister, Island writer Susan Rodgers.

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.