About Me

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I’ve loved science fiction forever.

My father took me to see 2001: A Space Odyssey in its original run in cinema-scope, the weird widescreen experiment that failed before we had IMAX. Only a handful of films were made in this format; only a handful of theaters ever installed the projection equipment.

I was lucky enough to have Clarke and Kubrick’s vision blasted into my frontal lobes before the age of ten. My brother, a year and a half younger, fell asleep, but I was mesmerized. I had no clear idea of what I’d seen or what it meant, exactly, but I knew something; whatever it was, I was a part of it. Whoever had made it, I was his audience.

My father let the six-year-old me stay up late to watch the original run of Star Trek, which aired at 9:00pm. It was important. I remember that, and the discussions with my father about various SF classics, too.

Like many of you, I found genre fiction became a central organizing principle in my life: a kind of religion, a way of looking at the world, at the future, and at my own place in both. Robert Heinlein crept in very early and set up shop, becoming the cranky libertarian contrarian lodged irremovable inside my liberal progressive heart. I read backwards into the Golden age, up and into the New Wave, while simultaneously consuming the staples of the seventies: Niven and Pournelle, Steven King, Piers Anthony, John Varley and everything in between. I read Ballard and Budrys and that dense slippery stuff that academia has deemed to have Literary Merit: Vonnegut and the freshly anointed Phillip K. Dick.

And as I began to write myself, I tried to figure out where I fit in. What stories was I meant to write? I’m still working that out, 20 years in. And having a wonderfully strange time doing it.

It’s a big genre, a big tent, with a lot of ideas, a lot of room, a lot of politics, a lot of strange and wonderfully twisted people. I’m one of them; a small fish, to be sure, at the edge of things. But I’m proud to be here, proud to be part of this genre, this tradition, this body of work. We explore the present by imagining the future; we provide insight into our time that cannot be had in any other way.

Where do we think we’re going? As a country? As a people? As a species? As a planet?

Who am I? One of the usual suspects: a white-male-middle-aged-urban-privileged dude with some tech industry background…

But I’ve been blessed with family and friends who are wild, different. And I’ve learned a lot from their experiences. I’ve had great friends in the genre; great people who have pushed and prodded and supported me and my explorations. I write with them, for them, always in mind. They are my people. Genre fiction is my Book.

And now, again, I’m writing in that Book. I’m so happy to find it in myself again. I hope you get something out of it.

10 comments on “About Me
  1. pamela deering says:

    I want to tell you a little story about myself. I was raised with no religion at all; the only time I remember anyone mentioning God at all was on a fishing trip with my dad, when he something about God and the beauty of nature.

    As an adult, I was always comfortably, uh… well, I have decided that the best way to describe my religion is “animist.” But, 25 years ago, I had a boyfriend who had gone to jail and Got Religion. He was putting a lot of pressure on me to declare myself in that way, but he had become a Southern Baptist and I was so not down for four-hour church services that involved mostly a lot of deacons posturing endlessly, and which seriously delayed lunch.

    So I decided to become Epicopalian, because

    a) it was somehow vaguely the religion of my mother’s side, although I was never baptized as a baby and we certainly never went to any kind of church,

    b) it had much of the charm and mysteriosity of Catholicism, but they ordained women. Which I thought was only fair, and

    c) I had a friend, a neighbor lady who went to a charming little hundred-odd year old Episcopalean church not far away. (a hundred-odd-year-old anything being somewhat rare in California)

    Plans were made to baptize me the next time the Archbishop came through, a few weeks hence. But before I was going to be able to go through with it in good conscience, I had some Burning Questions that must be answered to my satisfaction. These included things like whether people who masturbated were damned (it’s in Corinthians, in the bible) and whether people who weren’t Christian were actually believed to go to hell. (just not cool, in my book.) But there was one question much bigger than all the others. So, when Mother Patsy (the female priest; the church had one man and one woman. Both married, but not to each other.) –when she came over to settle these questions with me, the first thing I asked her was this:

    “Do you think that God is a man, with a long white beard and a penis?”

    She said, “Actually, I’m more of a Holy Spirit person myself.”

    Good answer! I went through with the baptism, but a few years later when the boyfriend and I broke up, I settled back into my native belief system with only a little bit of guilt.

    I found out 20 years later that the neighbor lady herself was now a full-fledged, Goddess-worshipping pagan.

    When I read “That Universe We Both Dreamed Of” today, I got a good chuckle out of that scene, with the same exact words I had used! It’s a wonderful story all around, and thank you very much. I am reminded of the immortal words of John Lennon, I believe it was at the end of “Let It Be,” the Beatles’ last album:

    “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

  2. Shawn Jacobson says:

    I just read “The Universe We Both Dreamed Of” and loved it. I’m a sucker for a good alien babe story (boys will be boys) and this one was well done. I loved the part about how the human and the alien bothed dreamed of the same sort of universe; I’m not sure it would be realistic, but it was joyous.

    As for religion, I though Zenna Henderson had it right in her “People stories”. I loved the walk with God that they had.

    Anyway thanks for writing that story.

    • admin says:

      Thanks! I’m not altogether sure what the alien is in this story, how true all the conclusions she allows Joel to draw are; she came alive for me on the page, though, and I found in her a shot at redemption. I think sometimes how human cultural interactions have resulted in genocides, both intentional and unintentional; the diseases carried by the European explorers and colonists were far more deadly than the wars that followed; the aboriginees of Australia had tens of thousands of years of cultural continuity, disrupted in a single century by contact with the europeans. And we’re the same species! I’m a partisan; I like humans, though I know I probably shouldn’t; I like Joel and his crumbling world and I like meddlers and do gooders and the weird things we conscious intelligent entities sometimes end up doing for each other. To me, interstellar distances are too great to make conquest economical, but do-gooding? That’s something worth traveling for. Thanks again for reading.

  3. Patricia L says:

    Hi Jay,
    I really enjoyed your story “Willing Flesh” in Asimov’s. (April/May 2015 but I just read it now — my stacks of reading material get jumbled!) It was fun to read, humorous and thought-provoking.
    And I was struck by your quote in the blurb, “I don’t know a single person my age who doesn’t daydream about the body they might have if they actually enjoyed exercise.” I’m 54, and about three years ago I read the book “Younger Next Year,” in which the authors point to *finding a type of exercise you enjoy* (and then doing it 6 hours a week!) as a key goal at our age. Don’t give up — there is something out there for you! For me it is Zumba (ok, I’m a woman), Pilates, yoga, and Bodypump and Bodycombat classes with great instructors and music (those are very co-ed!). I lost 43 pounds and now I DO have “that” body and I’m so much healthier too. No, I’m not trying to sell anything, just encouraging others our age to follow this path! Best wishes and thanks for the great story!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading! Yeah, the story is neutral on the feasibility of sensible weight loss techniques. I have friends in the Fat Acceptance movements and I have friends who don’t have weight issues… I don’t really know anyone personally who has taken off a significant amount of weight and kept it off, which I guess isn’t strange as supposedly that number is statistically insignificant, like less than 1 in a 100. If you are that person, congratulations! I’d be happy to take off 10%, which is supposedly doable.

      • Patricia Linderman says:

        Hi Jay (I’m really not selling anything, just sort of a personal evangelist for successful weight loss!), Hope you are making progress with your 10%. If you do the following, I think you’ll be surprised at your success. (1) Gradually shift your eating habits from refined carbs (sugar, sodas, bread, pasta, white rice) toward whole foods (fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, meat, fish, eggs, brown rice). Don’t worry about details and quantities. Be sure to include natural protein and fat sources (meats, eggs, nuts) so you don’t go around hungry. (2) Keep track of what you are eating, with a food journal or app, so you can see what you are actually eating and challenge yourself to do better. (3) Exercise an hour a day, six days a week, at something you enjoy, even just brisk walking. There really are many people who have done this successfully, see the National Weight Control Registry, http://www.nwcr.ws/ . Good luck and thanks for writing great stories!

  4. Margaret says:

    I also just read Willing Flesh. thank you for an upbeat story with hope at the end. Loved the cat line.

  5. Alisha says:

    Just read “Other People’s Things” for my Eng 261; Science Fiction class and really enjoyed the read. I enjoyed how you were able to speak towards the never ending relationship problems we listen to from our friends. It was a great example of my own personal life endeavors.

    Thanks for the read

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