Why We Published…North By 2000+, by H. A. Hargreaves
From the desk of Robert Runte
I first heard Dr. Hargreaves read Dead to the World in 1976 just before North by 2000 was published.
The story was funny and thought provoking and was something of a revelation, because it was the first time I was able to pinpoint what it was about Canadian SF that was different. North by 2000 was the first short story collection ever marketed as Canadian Science Fiction, and it had a profound influence on my SF criticism and my own fiction writing. For the next 30 years, I used examples from North by 2000 whenever I gave lectures on Canadian SF. The audiences loved it, because Hargreave’s themes and conclusions resonate with Canadians, and because his stories are so clearly different from the American version of the genre.
But then, one day, an audience member came up to me after one of my talks to ask where she could get a copy of the book. I conceded that the book had been out of print for over 30 years. Even most libraries didn’t have copies any more, because libraries prune their collections every decade or so. Short of me lending her my own copy, I had no idea where she could find one, let alone obtain a class set for her high school SF course.
“Which is a shame,” I said, “because the stories are still as relevant today as they ever were. After all these years, after all the thousands of stories I have read in between, these are still the stories that keep coming back to me. True Canadian Classics.”
I probably would have gone on at some length about how North by 2000 should be included on the list of approved books for the Language Arts curriculum, but she was looking at me funny.
She poked her finger in the general direction of my chest and said, “But didn’t your bio say that you were a senior editor at a publishing house? You need to reprint it.”
And I said,”….uh, yeah. Okay.”
Don’t know why hadn’t thought of that before, but that was the beginning of our Canadian SF reprint series. When I showed Lorina the book, she loved it. We decided to expand the collection by including all the stories Hargreaves had published since, so we could offer his complete SF canon as North by 2000+. When I phoned Hargreaves with our proposal he readily agreed, and told us the original title had actually been North by 2000+ but that the original publisher had dropped the + sign. Seemed like a good omen!
I also took the opportunity to write an Introduction and Afterword, explaining why I think the collection is so memorable, significant. And by extension, why Canadian SF resonates with Canadian readers at a level that other mass market SF cannot.
Bottom line: We published North by 2000+ because it is my favorite SF collection of all time.