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Launchpad: Watershed, by Doreen Vanderstoop

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching Watershed, by Doreen Vanderstoop, which Wayne Grady calls "Riveting...[T]he best kind of futuristic fiction, the kind that becomes grass-roots reality as we read."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Watershed is a near-future dystopian cli-fi novel in which extreme drought and mysterious hallucinations plague Willa, a struggling goat farmer, and family secrets threaten to destroy her relationship with her son, Daniel.

Describe your ideal reader.

Someone who appr …

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Best Dystopian YA

Award-winner Colleen Nelson's latest is the YA novel Pulse Point, written with Nancy Chappell-Pollack. In her list, Nelson shares other Canadian dystopian titles that inspired her. 

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Pulse Point is my first attempt at any genre other than realistic fiction. Writing about an alternate world proved to be more difficult in some ways than writing about the one we actually live in, but it also stretched my creativity and posed a lot of questions about the way we do things and why.

Pulse Point takes a "cli-sci" approach to dystopia. In the book, climate change has made our world uninhabitable so people deemed genetically desirable are allowed to live in Cities, self-sustaining domed structures. My favourite part of reading dystopian books is learning the many versions of our world that authors create. 

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Blood Red Road, by Moira Young

Narrated by an illiterate main character as she sets out to reunite her family, this book had me hooked after the first page. The dystopian world in Blood Red Road is brutal and harsh, but the tenderness between the characters …

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Lauren Carter: Survival in CanLit

Book Cover Swarm

Lauren Carter is author of Swarm, a dystopian novel set "in a not-so-far-off future of diminished energy reserves and collapsing economies." Here, she recommends some excellent books that riff on the theme of survival. 

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Search your library catalogue or bookstore for the term survival and you’ll likely pull up a list of dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels, even though the theme of characters facing threatening external forces echoes throughout literature. When working on Swarm, a novel in which my characters navigate a disintegrating city during a future economic collapse and subsequently learn to live off the land, I read several works that spoke to this experience—both historically, in present day, and in the future. Here are a few that inspired me, along with contemporary works that add to the theme.  

Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie: This classic of early Canlit was written by an Englishwoman who immigrated to the Canadian colony in 1832 with her husband and daughter. Her descriptions of arriving at Grosse Isle, the quarantine sta …

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