QUICK REFERENCE ENTRY:

The first non-fiction book about B.C.'s black pioneers, Crawford Kilian's Go Do Some Great Thing (1978), concentrates on the 19th-century migration of blacks from California, as encouraged by Governor James Douglas, and particularly the leadership of Mifflin Gibbs who was once told by an associate of Frederick Douglass to "go do some great thing.";

Victoria city councillor Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was the first civic leader of black people in B.C. and the first widely-read black writer. He arrived in 1858, shortly after black pioneers arrived on the Commodore from California. Gibbs wrote many articles and speeches during his ten years in Canada. Had he remained on Vancouver Island and promises made to black pioneers been kept, Kilian has speculated, "Mifflin Gibbs might have become premier of British Columbia, or a businessman on the scale of a Dunsmuir.";

Kilian's Go Do Some Great Thing inspired the likes of black filmmaker Anthony Brown to make a documentary, Go Do Some Great Thing, and historian and poet Wayde Compton to generate his landmark anthology, Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature & Orature (2002). Compton also spearheaded Commodore Books, an imprint for black authors of B.C. that was named after the aforementioned ship.

Born in New York in 1941 and raised in Los Angeles and Mexico, Crawford Kilian, a white historian, worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley prior to immigrating to Vancouver in 1967. He has taught English at Capilano College and written 19 other books, mostly speculative fiction novels.

Kilian has cited his debt to an unpublished UBC MA thesis by James W. Pilton, "Negro Settlement in B.C., 1858-1871,"; that was prepared in 1951. Commodore Books released a revised version of Kilian's history in 2008, 30 years after it first appeared, at which time he received an award of appreciation from Vancouver's black community.


FULL ENTRY:

Born in New York in 1941 and raised in Los Angeles and Mexico, Crawford Kilian worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley prior to immigrating to Vancouver in 1967.

In 1978, he published a non-fiction book about B.C.'s black pioneers, Go Do Some Great Thing, the first major book-length study of blacks in B.C., concentrating on the 19th century migration of blacks from California, as encouraged by Governor James Douglas, and particularly the leadership of Mifflin Gibbs who was once told by an associate of Frederick Douglass to "go do some great thing." The black community in Vancouver's Lower Mainland was so appreciative of this fair-minded history, they invented a special literary award to honour Kilian's contribution to their historical awareness. This book has inspired the likes of Wayde Compton to create Commodore Books, an imprint for black authors of B.C. that was named after the first ship to bring blacks from California, and black filmmaker Anthony Brown to make a documentary, Go Do Some Great Thing, in 2005. As well, black novelist Lawrence Hill drew on the title for his 1992 novel Some Great Thing. Commodore Books released a revised version of Kilian's Go Do Some Great Thing in 2008, thirty years after it first appeared. Kilian has cited his debt to an unpublished UBC MA thesis by James W. Pilton, "Negro Settlement in B.C., 1858-1871," prepared in 1951.

A former Capilano College English professor and former Education columnist for the Province, Crawford Kilian also wrote a critique of B.C. education, School Wars: The Assault on B.C. Education (New Star, 1985), followed by 2020 Visions: The Futures of Canadian Education (Arsenal Pulp, 1995).

In 1979, Kilian published the first novel in his Chronoplane Wars trilogy, Empire of Time, later followed by The Fall of the Republic and Rogue Emperor (in which the 21st century battles the 1st century in ancient Rome).

Some of his other books include Gryphon; Greenmagic (del Rey, 1992); his two natural disaster novels, Tsunami and Icequake; the futuristic Brother Jonathan; and an excellent West Coast, and a pre-historical West Coast fantasy tale, Eyas.

Unafraid to throw cold water where and when it is needed, Crawford Kilian, who is an avid blogger, frequently cites his own multi-faceted work in various genres for Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy (Self-Counsel 1998, 2007), a wide-ranging work that strongly encourages would-be SF writers to--ironically--approach their work more realistically.

[For African Canadian authors, see abcbookworld entries for André, F.B.; Booker, Fred; Demming, Keita; Edugyan, Esi; Gale, Lorena; Garraway, Garbette; Gibbs, Mifflin; Green, Truman; Griggs, William E.; Odhiambo, David; Sarsfield, Mairuth Hodge; Sumter-Freitag, Addena; White, Evelyn C.] @2010.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Go Do Some Great Thing: The Black Pioneers of British Columbia
School Wars - The Assault on B.C. Education

BOOKS:

Wonders, Inc. - 1968
The Last Vikings - 1973
The Empire of Time - 1978
Do Some Great Thing: The Black Pioneers of British Columbia - 1978, 2008
Icequake - 1979
Eyas - 1982
Tsunami - 1983
Exploring British Columbia's Past - 1984
Brother Jonathan - 1985
School Wars: The Assault on B.C. Education - 1985[3]
Lifter - 1986
The Fall of the Republic - 1987
Rogue Emperor - 1988
Gryphon - 1989
Greenmagic - 1992
The Communications Book -1994
2020 Visions: The Futures of Canadian Education - 1995
Redmagic - 1995
Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy - 1998, 2007
Writing for the Web - 1999, 2000, 2006

[BCBW 2010]