Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy was established in 2022 to recognize excellence in Canadian children’s speculative fiction. Inspired by her sister’s love of the fantasy and science fiction genre of books and film, Canadian children’s book advocate Elly Barlin-Daniels is pleased to sponsor the annual $5,000 prize in memory of Arlene who passed from breast cancer in 2018.
Arlene held an honours degree in English literature (with many courses in children’s literature), among other professional and academic designations. Highly creative, Arlene had a fascination with worlds where anything was possible. She wrote stories and plays from a young age, always with a fanciful element, and devoured the creative work of the giants of the genre.
Always a free spirit, Arlene covered her face and body with green makeup as her grade school teacher read Pierre Berton’s The Secret World of Og to the class. A student of Tolkien as a child, Arlene reveled in Rowling, George Lucas and George R.R. Martin in later years. She gathered friends to dress in costume, and join her in celebration of each episode of Game of Thrones and Lost. One of her birthday parties invited guests to “Come As You Aren’t,” or as their alter egos. Most adults accept they won’t have the opportunity to use their imagination as often as they did when they were children, but Arlene found a way to live a life of creativity and adventure, and share it with those she loved.
Arlene was open-minded, generous and brave, and made an impact on all who knew her. Her legacy will continue with the naming of this award in her honour.