This book has had a long and exasperating gestation period. Ever since my first foray into writing occurred a thousand years ago, speculative fiction has held a special interest for me. Several times I have endeavoured to compile an anthology of Native sci-fi from Canada’s best First Nations writers, but I was stymied repeatedly. The writers were more than willing to expand the boundaries of what was considered Aboriginal literature. But because of the annoying fact that writers want to get paid, and as a writer/anthologist myself I wanted to damn well pay them, it proved financially difficult to get a book like that off the ground. Add to that the novelty aspect of something called Native science fiction and the grey area it had sprung from, and it was too much of an unknown commodity for some publishers. At least twice my dream fell by the wayside. But, to quote a saying, resistance is futile.

So, partially out of frustration, “Well, screw it. I’ll do it myself,” I found myself saying. Here stands the final product. In a blitz of enthusiasm and creativity, I wrote six of the stories in a two-month period during a lazy fall. The rest followed at a more relaxed pace over the winter.

There are many people who have been there to encourage me during this drawn-out phase of creation. First and foremost, to all the Aboriginal writers out there who I have contacted several times over the last ten years trying to put this together and whom, in the end, I had to disappoint. This common interest we shared gave me the impetus to actually put this together myself. Live long and prosper, you all.

To Dan David—my Mohawk adviser, whom I secretly believe to be a Morlock; Trish Rody—my medical adviser, who just may be an Eloi; Marianne Nicolson, who “phoned home” for me; and finally, Alvin Chacko—my computer Jedi. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Institutionally, this book could not have happened without a writing grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Also, a stint as a writer-in-residence for Wilfrid Laurier University provided me with the time and resources to finish this book. Both organizations kept me in Soma and Soylent Green while I wrote this.

You would not be reading this if it wasn’t for the crew at Douglas & McIntyre and my editor, Shirarose Wilensky, who all believed that Indians could fly (metaphorically speaking, of course). Thank you for seeing the possibilities. May the Force be with you.

And of course, my biggest thank you to my inspiration, Janine Willie, upon whose resources, love and patience I have relied extensively. I grok you.

Meegwetch, and always remember—in a writer’s office, no one can hear you scream.

Drew Hayden Taylor

Note: To members of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation and any academics who might want to Google the stories of the Impatient One and others I mentioned in Mr. Gizmo, you needn’t bother. They don’t exist. I made them up. It’s not my usual practice to make up another nation’s cultural stories. In fact, it goes against my Indigenous nature and under normal circumstances could be considered very bad manners. However, this situation, heavily flavoured with irony, required it.

In writing the story, I wanted to be truthful and accurate to the Kwakwaka’wakw people. My partner is Kwakwaka’wakw. Therefore, I sought direction from her cousin regarding traditional stories about inanimate objects that come to life or speak. After receiving several emails full of information, I incorporated much of what was relayed to me into the story.

Still wanting to be respectful and accurate, I sent my cultural contact the completed short story to make sure I hadn’t committed any cultural faux pas. Evidently I had. A major one. I was promptly told, on the very day I had to send my completed manuscript to my publisher, that all the stories I had been told were not to be used by me in any fashion. In Kwakwaka’wakw culture, many stories are considered “cultural property,” owned by a particular family or community. The information I was sent had been meant only as an example for personal reference and could not be included in my story under any circumstances. A rather unique dilemma.

So, in the end, I was forced to create legends of my own to fill out the context of Mr. Gizmo and not be disrespectful to my girlfriend’s people by using particulars. If I have offended anybody, my apologies.

Sometimes being a respectful Native writer can be peculiar.