Uneasy Union: A Checklist of English-Language Science Fiction Concerning Canadian Separatist Conflicts*
During the past two decades English Canada has been preoccupied with two overriding issues, namely, US domination and national unity. Not surprisingly, both these concerns have found expression in our national SF and fantasy, particularly in a number of topical near future thrillers and disaster scenarios which, with varying degrees of sophistication, have endeavored to extrapolate from Canada's political realities by fictionalizing such events as American invasions and Canadian Civil Wars.
The adoption of popular literary forms to explore the nation's political conflicts and anxieties is not, however, a new phenomenon. One of the earliest examples of indigenous SF, an anonymous pamphlet with the longwinded title, House of the Gallery: 2nd Session, 3rd Parliament: Official Correspondence between the Honorable the First Minister of Duffy and His Exalted Majesty Night Blooming Ceres, Monarch of the Moon, Emperor of the Starry Isles, etc., etc., Relative to the Construction of the Imperial, Lunar, Grand, Mid-Air, Lunatic Governmental Railway, also the Reports of the Chief Engineer, and the Draft Treaty in Relation to Same, with the Speech from the Throne (Ottawa: Citizen Printing & Publishing Co., 1875), is an outrageous account of a Moon voyage satirizing the federal government's involvement in various railway construction schemes. W.H.C. Lawrence's The Storm of '92; A Grandfathers Tale Told in 1932 (Toronto: Sheppard Publishing Co., 1889), the first Canadian portrayal of an American invasion of this country, appeared a year following Samuel Barton's The Battle of the Swash and the Capture of Canada. Not long after, Jules-Paul Tardivel published Pour la patrie; roman du XXe siècle (Montreal: Cadieux et Dérome, 1895), the first depiction of a future Québec separatist struggle. During World War I, C. Lintern Sibley shocked Canadians with two alarming stories in Macleans, "How the Armada was Saved" (February, 1915) and "The Blockade of America" (June, 1915), both of which narrate German attacks on the country. This period also saw the publication of Ulric Barthe's Similia Similibus ou la guerre au Canada; essai romantique sur un sujet d'actualité(Québec: Telegraph, 1916), a full-length thriller describing a German invasion of Canada. Following the war, when immigration became a volatile issue, especially in Western Canada, Hilda Howard's The Writing on the Wall (Vancouver: Sun Publishing Co., 1922), a dire warning against the Yellow Peril that was published under the pseudonym of Hilda Glynn-Ward, envisioned a future Japanese invasion of British Columbia. These are but a few early instances of what is clearly a century-long Canadian tradition of tendentious, political SF and fantasy.
Of the two major threats to the present Canadian status quo, it is the potential for a divisive internal conflict which has received more attention for the obvious reason that the break-up of the country has become a very real possibility. While Québec separation remains by far the single largest category in what might best be described, in part, as a national sub-genre of imaginary war fiction—the Canadian Civil War scenario—many recent novels have focused on Western, Northern, and Eastern separatism.
Five events in particular have prompted Canadian writers to imaginatively deal with separatism: DeGaulle's intervention of 1967; the October Crisis of 1970; the Parti Québécois electoral victory of 1976 (led by René Lévesque who, incidentally, is an aspiring SF writer**); the 1980 Québec referendum, and the recent emergence of a vociferous Western separatist movement.
Of course, given the strategic significance of Canada, it was inevitable that certain US writers would, like some of their Canadian counterparts, perceive the nation's unrest as yet another case of either Mafia of Communist subversion. Fortunately for the US, at least on pulp paper, their superheroes are always a match for the misguided, bearded, bomb-throwing, and fanatical "commies" and "criminals."
While there are several exceptional books, short stories, and war games dealing with separatism, it is undeniably true that most of this body of social SF leaves much to be desired in both literary and political terms. None the less, all the items listed in the checklist that follows provide us with a revealing glimpse into the often complex relationship between politics and popular culture. Furthermore, some of them may actually serve to prepare Canadians for the future; whether it is what any of this uneasy nation's many solitudes collectively desire or not. Better yet, they might even help to avoid certain destructive courses.
For over a decade now, in many of the English-language separation scenarios and related SF and fantasy, Canadians have killed each other for their political ideals. Separatists and Federalists alike can only hope that the Canadian Civil War will forever remain a fictional conflict.
Aspler, Tony. See Pape, Gordon.
Atlee, Philip. Pseudonym: see Phillips, John Atlee.
Ballen, John. The Judas Conspiracy. Don Mills, Ont.: Musson, 1976; PaperJacks, 1977. Retitled: Alberta Alone. Don Mills, Ont.: General Paperbacks, 1981.—Against the background of the Calgary Stampede, journalist and jumper Peter Groves finds himself caught up in a violent conspiracy, led by oil and cattle baron Charles Thompson, to separate Alberta from Canada.
Ballen, John. The Moon Pool. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1978; McClelland & Stewart-Bantam, 1979.—Unwitting dupes of the Soviets, a team of Cuban-trained Inuit and Dene terrorists seize a drillship in the Beaufort Sea and threaten to destroy the Arctic by releasing millions of barrels of crude oil unless Canada grants independence to a new nation governed by the native peoples, Denuna.
Benson, Eugene. Power Game: The Making of a Prime Minister. Toronto: NC Press, 1980.—After Prime Minister Krankenbury steps down to avoid dealing with the imminent separation of Québec, his successor, Julian B. Kaiser, who is actually heir to the Russian throne, utilizes an African conflict as a pretext to declare war on East Guinea, France, England, and Albania, and thereby invoke the War Measures Act, allowing him to postpone the Québec referendum, patriate the constitution, and introduce a series of nationalist economic measures.
Capson, Louis. Midway Priest. Toronto: Playwrights Co-op, 1973.—As Québec legally separates from Canada, a noted Québec cultural figure and professor, Fr André Bergeron, finds his students becoming involved with a cell of Gatineau terrorists determined to kill a member of the new separatist government. This play was first performed by Creation 2 at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, 1972.
Childerhose, R.J. Chick. The Man Who Wanted to Save Canada: A Prophetic Novel. Victoria, BC: Hoot Productions, 1975.—Alarmed by a severe economic crisis, growing police repression, and the threatened dissolution of Confederation, Neil Brody, a former war hero, embarks on a doomed crusade against the Canadian separation and Canada's union with the US.
Chodos, Robert. See MacFadden, Patrick.
Cussler, Clive. Night Probe!NY: Bantam, 1981; Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1981.—As the Parti Québécois and the left-wing Free Québec Society struggle in 1989 for control of the new independent Québec republic, the Canadian Prime Minister, Charles Sarveux, and the American President secretly move to unify the rest of Canada with the US, against the wishes of the British, who desperately try to destroy the remaining copies of a forgotten 1914 treaty in which Canada was sold to the US for one billion dollars in order to finance England's war with Germany.
Derrick, Lionel. The Quebec Connection. NY: Pinnacle, 1976.—ln the process of combatting the terrorist 23 May Liberation Front separatists in Québec, American crime fighter Mark Hardin, the Penetrator, travels to France, where he discovers a nefarious plot to populate the world with dwarfs.
Goodspeed, Donald James. The Traitor Game. By "Dougal McLeish." Toronto: Macmillan, 1968; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968.—Aided by British adventurer Randolph Misselhorn, the Premier of Ontario, Nicholas Moncreiff, attempts to break up Canada and seize control of Ontario and Manitoba by bombing the House of Commons and engineering an F.L.Q. coup d'état in Québec.
Graham, Ron. Naughts and Crosses: A Novel. Way's Mills, Québec: Canton Press, 1980.—While the authorities, led by the Prime-Mover, search for a diplomat named Cross who has been kidnapped by Fluke terrorists, Inspector Herman Newt investigates the murder of Laura Alpo, whose eccentric Westmount family includes a self-proclaimed saint, a ballrom Marxist, incestuous twins, a pornographic film-maker, and an alien from the planet Op.
Gurik, Robert. Hamlet, Prince of Quebec. Translated by Marc F. Gelinas. Toronto: Playwrights Press, 1980.—A translation of Hamlet, Prince du Québec: Pièce en Deux Actes (Montréal: Editions de l'Homme, 1968), an adaptation of Shakespeare's play in which Hamlet is Québec, Horatio is René Lévesque, and the ghost is DeGaulle. This English version of the play was first produced at the London Little Theatre in London, Ontario in 1969.
Heaps, Leo. The Quebec Plot. London: Peter Davies, 1978; Toronto: McClelland & Stewart-Bantam, 1979; London: Corgi, 1979.—An insurrection planned by the underground Québec Liberation Army and its allies in the government of France is thwarted at the last minute by the intervention of the US Navy, which utilizes a new secret weapon to destroy a French submarine delivering atomic missles to the guerillas.
Holmes, Jeffrey. Farewell to Nova Scotia. Windsor, NS: Lancelot Press, 1974; Fredericton, NB: Brunswick Press, 1977.—A miscalculated nuclear explosion separates Nova Scotia from the mainland, transforming the province into a floating island which is torn by a farcical civil war between separatists, unionists, federalists, and other factions as it drifts towards the Caribbean.
Koch, Eric. The French Kiss: A Tongue in Cheek Political Fantasy. Illustrated by Vlasta Van Klampen. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1969.—Ten years after DeGaulle's famous speech from the balcony of Montreal City Hall, France's Québec expert, Jo-Jo, explores the uncanny similarities between his relationship with the General, and that of his previous incarnation, Plonplon, with Napoleon III over a century before.
MacFadden, Patrick, Rae Murphy, and Robert Chodos. Your Place or Mine? An Entertainment. Ottawa: Deneau & Greenberg, 1978.—On the eve of a First Ministers' conference in 1985, three political assassinations in Québec lead to the invasion of Canada by the three superpowers which have been contending for control of the unstable country—the US, the USSR, and Japan.
McLeish, Dougal. Pseudonym: see Goodspeed, Donald James.
Moore, Phyllis S. Williwaw!St John's, Nfld.: Breakwater Books, 1978. —Following a Royal Decree granting independence to Labrador, the Mouvement Québec Libre mounts an ill-fated invasion of the new country in order to provoke a separatist uprising in Québec.
Murphy, Rae. See MacFadden, Patrick.
Nicol, Eric, and Peter Whalley. Canada Cancelled Because of Lack of Interest. Illustrated by Peter Whalley. Edmonton: Hurtig, 1977, 1978.—This humorous 21st-century account of the decline of Canada includes a chapter on the political deconfederation of the country which saw Québec become a colony of France, Toronto an Italian city-state, Ontario an English colony, British Columbia the Japanese colony of Shitishi Koruma, the Maritimes a Norwegian Protectorate, Alberta the sheikdom of Al-bertah, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba the Soviet Republic of Saskobistan.
Pape, Gordon, and Tony Aspler. Chain Reaction. Markham, Ont.: Penguin Books Canada, 1978; NY: Viking, 1978; London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1979; Toronto: McClelland & Stewart-Bantam, 1979; NY: Bantam, 1979.—French covert operations in Québec, which are uncovered by reporter Taylor Redfern, result in the assassination of the Parti Québécois Premier and the rise to power of Guy Lacroix, who leads the province towards a Unilateral Declaration of Independence that will provoke an American military invasion.
Pendleton, Don. The Executioner: Canadian Crisis. NY: Pinnacle, 1975. —Travelling to Montreal with his space-age war wagon, Mack Bolan, the Executioner, foils a Mafia attempt to take over Québec and transform it into the crime capital of the world.
Phillip, Arthur. The Beachhead Principle. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1977. —Under the leadership of a ruthless opportunist, François Lallemont, who secretly engineers the destruction of an American warship in the St Lawrence River, a rapidly growing separatist group, the Movement, becomes increasingly anti-American.
Phillips, James Atlee. The Canadian Bomber Contract. By "Philip Atlee." Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1971.—Free-lance American counter-spy Joe Gall thwarts a Québec terrorist plan to destroy the US side of the Niagara Falls with two tons of explosives stolen from an Ohio plant.
Phillips, James Atlee. The White Wolverine Contract. By "Philip Atlee." Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1971.—Joe Gall's 13th secret mission sees the American counter-spy helping to foil the take over of Vancouver Island by a British Columbia separatist army of hippies and Metis manipulated by Chinese spymaster, Victor Li.
Portal, Ellis. Pseudonym: see Powe, Bruce.
Powe, Bruce. Killing Ground: The Canadian Civil War. By "Ellis Portal." Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1968.—Alex Hlynka, a Canadian officer just returned from a UN intervention in South Africa, finds himself embroiled in a Canadian civil war precipitated by the declaration of independence by the Parti Démocratique de Québec, a separatist party with a fanatical paramilitary arm, the Québec Legion, or Whiteshirts.—Also Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1972.—Although Portal is identified as the author on the title page of this paperback edition, Bruce Powe is featured on the cover and copyright page. This edition also includes a Foreword signed by Powe.—Also Markham, Ont.: PaperJacks, 1977.—This edition includes "A Word From the Author."
Rohmer, Richard. Exodus/UK. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1975; Toronto: Totem Books, 1976.—When the economic collapse of Great Britain necessitates the exodus of 10% of the population of the UK, the Québec National Assembly votes to leave Confederation if Ottawa accepts any British immigrants, while British Columbia and Alberta threaten to secede if the federal government refuses to adopt an open-gate policy.
Rohmer, Richard. Separation. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1976; Toronto: McClelland & Stewart-Bantam, 1977.—In this sequel to Exodus/UK, following the federal government's decision to accept an influx of British immigrants, Québec Premier Gaston Belisle narrowly loses a plebiscite which would transform Québec into an independent state sharing a common market with Canada.
Rohmer, Richard. Separation Two. Markham, Ont.: PaperJacks, 1981.—This updated and expanded revision of Separation includes additional sub-plots concerning the threat of an Alberta referendum on separation, and an assassination financed by a Calgary oil man.
Ross, Hal. The Fleur-de-Lys Affair. Toronto & Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975; London: New English Library, 1977.—In the near future the resurrected F.L.Q. is duped by an American Mafia don into a bloody uprising that culminates in the destruction of the Montreal Forum during a Boston and Montreal hockey play-off game.
Sheldon, Michael. The Death of a Leader. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1971.—Disillusioned diplomat Marc Demontigny is called upon to investigate the murder of Québec separatist leader Andre St Arnaud.
Tardivel, Jules-Paul. For My Country—`Pour la patrie': An 1895 Religious and Separatist Vision of Quebec in the Mid-Twentieth Century. Translated by Sheila Fischman. Toronto & Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1975.—A translation of Pour la patrie: Roman du XXe Siècle (Montréal: Cadieux et Dérome, 1895), introduced by A.I. Silver. In 1945-46, two devout Catholic politicians, Joseph Lamirande and Paul Leverdier, lead Québec toward nationhood as they defeat a satanic plot to transform Confederation into a legislative union dominated by ruthless Freemasons.
Weintraub, William. The Underdogs.Toronto: McClelland & Steward, 1979; Toronto: McClelland & Stewart-Bantam, 1980.—During the 20th anniversary celebrations of Québec independence, the impoverished republic is rocked by the kidnapping of the foreign minister of Senegal by the Anglo Liberation Army.
Whalley, Peter. See Nicol, Eric.
Yates, Brock. Death in the Water. NY: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1975. —While on vacation in the Thousand Islands region, American pro football player Pancho Farnsworth finds himself caught up in an F.L.Q. insurrection involving a rocket attack on the 1976 Olympics and the kidnapping of the Canadian Prime Minister, Alva McClelland.
2. Periodical and Anthology Publications
Anonymous. "Quebec-Lag," Uranus (Dec. 1979):37-39. - 100 years after the triumph of Québec separatism, a Lauringrad archaeologist unearths the private journal of an Anglo prisoner of the Québec-lag concentration camp.
Anonymous. "The Anglo Who Couldn't Say No," Uranus, 2, no. 2 (Feb. 1980):20-23.—The spirit of Louis Joseph Papineau possesses an English Quebecker, forcing him to reluctantly cast the deciding "yes" vote in the referendum on Québec separation.
Dorland, Michael. "Sunday, Dec. 14, 1980: Canada's Date With Destiny," Uranus, 2, no. 2 (Feb. 1980):10-15.—Rather than separating from Canada, Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed leads a coup d'etat, Operation Supreme Stampede, seizing control of Ottawa and establishing himself as the leader of a Revolutionary Council which will govern the country in the interests of the west.
Janus (Pseudonym). "Fifth Column: Gulliver's Travails," Quill & Quire, 46, no. 8 (Aug. 1980):26; 46, no. 9 (Sept. 1980):67; 46, no. 10 (Oct. 1980):33; 46, no. 11 (Nov. 1980):37; 46, no. 12 (Dec. 1980):27; 47, no. 1 (Jan. 1981):22; 47, no. 2 (Feb. 1981):42.—A serialized summary of a press release heralding the publication of the Gulliver Report on British-Canadian Relations, which inexplicably arrives from the year 2000. Based on a fact-finding tour by a British parliamentary delegation headed by Sir Laputa Gulliver, M.P., in 1998-99, the report depicts the dramatic changes in the Canadian polity following the Patriation Scandal of 1981 and the Western Referendum of 1985. Reorganized under Emperor Pierre-Elliot and Empress Lily along the lines of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the nation is divided into nine rival kingdoms: Newfoundland and Labrador ruled by King Brian, New Georgia ruled by King George VII, New Brunswick ruled by King Richard IV, Québec ruled by Camille I, Prince Edward Island ruled by The McDonald, the Kingdom of Orange ruled by King William, Manitoba ruled by King Sterling, the Prairies ruled by Czar Peter, and Outer Earth ruled by the Socred Lama. The emperor's sons, Crown-Princes Sascha and Michel, govern the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Percy, H.R. "Letter from America," in Beyond Time, ed. Sandra Ley. NY: Pocket Books, 1976:188-99; and also in Visions From the Edge: An Anthology of Atlantic Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. John Bell and Lesley Choyce. Porters Lake, NS: Pottersfield Press, 1981:179-85.—In this alternate history story which inverts the relationship between Québec and English Canada, Paul Lefeu, leader of the Movement for an Independent America, exhorts the Russians from his Boston prison cell to come to the aid of the oppressed "Onglays" of British North America, the sole English-speaking province in the Republique de la Nouvelle France which, due to French victories at Louisbourg and Québec in the 18th century, includes most of North America.
Rusick, Robert. "Irrevolutions," This Magazine, 13, no. 2 (May/June 1978):47. —A brief comic strip depicting a future decentralization of Canada in which the literal separation of Québec is accomplished, transforming it into a mobile land mass.
Stanton, Barry. "Yea & Nay: Nostradamus Predicts the Referendum," Uranus, 2, no. 2 (Feb. 1980):18-19.—A scientist deciphers the 16th-century soothsayer's prognostications concerning the outcome of the Referendum debate.
Stone, Martin. "Government to Bridge Quebec," good morning, 3, no. 1 (Spring, 1980):53-55.—The federal government unveils plans to build a bridge across Québec connecting the Maritimes and the rest of Canada in the event of the province's separation.
Weintraub, William. "Farming in the Sun Life Building," Saturday Night, 93, no. 10 (Dec. 1978):34-37, 4046.—An excerpt from The Underdogs.
Wetmore, Andrew. "Owe, Canada," Queen's Quarterly, 79, no. 2 (Summer 1972):225-29; Portrait, 2, no. 4 (May 30, 1974):9, 11; and in Visions From the Edge: An Anthology of Atlantic Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. John Bell and Lesley Choyce. Porters Lake, NS: Pottersfield Press, 1981:174 77.—In a church in war-torn Montreal, an English soldier and a French guerilla separately encounter a bilingual black-market profiteer.
3. "War Games"
Dunnigan, James F. [Designer]. Canadian Civil War: Separatism vs. Federalism in Modern Canada. NY: Simulation Publications, 1977.—A sophisticated, multi-player simulation of Canadian politics in the past, present, and near future which includes a military conflict scenario.
Newberg, Stephen [Designer]. Quebec Libre! The Parti Quebecois and Confederation, 1976-81. Elmsdale, NS: Simulations Canada, 1978.—A multiplayer simulation examining the nature of political power in Canada and the potential break-up of the nation.
* An earlier French version of this checklist, "Vive le Québec libre! Le séparatisme québécois dans la science-fiction de langue anglais," translated by Jean-Marc Couanvic, appeared in Imagine...7 (Mars 1981). Substantially shorter than this checklist, it was devoted exclusively to Québec separatism.—JB.
** Levesque's collaboration with an unnamed Maclean's journalist on an unpublished SF novel was reported in Beverley Slopen's "Paper Clips" column in the Q & Q Update, a supplement to Quill & Quire, 45, no. 3 (Feb. 16, 1979):6.
Back to Home