Sunday, May 31, 2015

Joël Champetier (1957-2015)

After a hard fight with acute leukemia, diagnosed after the Boréal convention in May 2014, Joël Champetier passed away early Saturday morning, May 30, in a palliative care unit in Saint-Tite, Québec, a few kilometres away from his home in Saint-Séverin de Proulxville.  He was 57 years old.  

A long-time member of SF Canada, Joël Champetier was the author of eight novels, seven young adult books, and nearly thirty short stories.  In terms of genre, his works ranged from science fiction to fantasy and horror, often combining great humanity with understated originality in tone and approach.  His novels included the science fiction adventure La Taupe et le Dragon, published by Tor in English translation in 1999 as The Dragon's Eye, the suspenseful La Mémoire du lac [The Lake's Memory], the off-beat fantasy opus Les Sources de la magie [The Sources of Magic], and the horror thriller La Peau blanche, which inspired the identically-named feature-length movie La Peau blanche (also known as White Skin and Cannibal in English markets, winner of a Toronto International Film Festival award in 2004), for which Champetier also authored the screenplay.

A guest of honour at the World Fantasy Convention in 2001, he won multiple awards as a writer (seven Prix Boréal, two Aurora Awards, and two Prix Jacques-Brossard, formerly known as the Grand Prix de la science-fiction et du fantastique québécois).  He won quite a few more as the editor for many years of Solaris, one of the world's oldest active SF magazines (founded in 1974).



(A picture of Joël Champetier in 2008, at Readercon 19, a Boston-area convention.  His strange taste in head covering may or may not be a deliberate artefact of the photographer's fancy, but the shirt reflected his own taste for colourful clothing.)

Born in Québec's Abitibi region in 1957, Joël Champetier worked for a few years for his father's company in the field of electrochemistry before devoting himself to a full-time writing career after publishing his first story in 1981.  He went on to publish more stories as well as novels and a collection of his short fiction, Cœur de fer [Heart of Iron].  He co-edited the anthology Escales sur Solaris (1995) to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Solaris magazine.  In 2014, in spite of his deteriorating health, he helped to oversee the publication of the fortieth-anniversary issue of Solaris, which included a story of his own, "Pour son œil seulement" [For His Eye Only],  that earned him his last Prix Boréal only three weeks before his passing.  He lived in Montréal, Ville-Marie, and Gallix before moving to the village of Saint-Séverin, near Shawinigan, almost twenty years ago.  He was married to Valérie Bédard, MD.  To many in Québec, he was an inspiration as a writer, as an editor, and as a friend.