Welcome to this week’s Superversive Sunday Spotlight. Every week we will chat with a Superversive author that you really should be reading.
This week we welcome Superversive author, James Pyles:
How long have you been writing?
It depends on what kind of writing you’re talking about. I’ve been a published author of computer and networking textbooks and self-study guides for nearly 20 years, but have only been a published fiction writer for about three. I’ve always wanted to write science fiction and fantasy and even took a few writing classes some decades ago. However, I never felt like my writing was very good up until more recently.
Which writers inspire you?
A lot of authors in my youth inspired me to read, but mainly it was the late Harlan Ellison who inspired me to write. There was something so approachable and human about his writing. In real life, we probably wouldn’t have gotten along very well, but he was a brilliant talent. My very early influences are Andre (Alice) Norton’s “Time Traders” series, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Barsoom” series, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s “Skylark” series, and the works of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Robert E. Howard, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne.
So, what have you written?
Alas no novels yet, but of my fiction short stories, the first two I sold were “The Dragon’s Family” and “Joey,” both based on my relationship with my grandson. In fact “Dragon’s” was a re-edited version of the first tale in a series I wrote with him on my blog that lasted two-and-a-half-years. He’s eleven now and is less interested in my writing for him and more about acting out our mythical adventures together. More recently, my story “Sorcery’s Preschool” has been accepted for publication in the second volume of “Fantastic Schools” edited by L. Jagi Lamplighter. Also my science fiction tale “The Pleiades Dilemma” will be appearing in the Planetary Anthology “Sol” published by Tuscany Bay Press.
What draws you to Superversive writing?
Long Story. In 2016, a friend of mine loaned me his copy of the science fiction anthology “God, Robot” edited by Anthony Marchetta. The premise is that the Asimovian “Three Laws” are replaced by the Christian Bible as the core programming for sapient robots. It was an interesting idea, but I didn’t believe a sapient artificial intelligence would respond to Christian teachings in the same way as humans. I emailed Anthony and asked his permission to write my own response on my blog. He said yes, and I did. I tried developing it into a novel, but got bogged down. I haven’t been able to sell any version of my robots story, but I also haven’t revisited it in a while. The aftermath was that my blog “Powered by Robots” was born as well as my first successes in writing and selling my fiction. Not all of my stories are superversive, but what attracts me to the movement and to that form of crafting a story is the ability to write science fiction using Christian characters and values, which is a rarity in the genre today.
Also, having grown up watching “The Outer Limits,” “The Twilight Zone,” and the original “Star Trek” television shows, my imagination still leans toward stories with real heroes, dynamic action, and yes, the occasional happy ending. One of my projects, which I can’t talk about yet, is a reaction to a theological pet peeve of mine. What would have happened to non-Jewish worshipers inside the early Jewish faith that became Christianity if Paul hadn’t been imprisoned and ultimately executed in Rome? It’s been accepted for publication, which surprised me, and I’ll be glad to discuss it once I have the publisher’s permission.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m in editing mode at the moment, responding to the requests of several publishers who have accepted some of my stories and now are asking for edits. Actually, my writing has slowed down considerably, which I never thought would happen. Part of it is that last spring, I was hired as a technical writer in what is more or less my dream job, so my time isn’t as flexible as it once was. Also, and I hate to admit this, the whole COVID pandemic, the recent rioting, and everything else that 2020 has “gifted” us with has taken something out of me. Hopefully, my “mojo” will come back before long because I’ve still got a bunch of good stories I haven’t sold yet, plus a ton of half-formed ideas rolling around in my head that I’d like to see become a reality.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
My reading has slowed down, too and it’s tough to say who my favorite authors are as I shift interests periodically. Currently, I’m reading “The World of Science Fiction, 1926 – 1976” by Lester Del Rey. Another of my pet peeves is that the current talents operating science fiction and fantasy, at least as I perceive it, are practicing a form of revisionist history on the genre. They are essentially “cancelling” anything that has been created much more than 20 years ago in favor of science fiction as the messenger for more progressive values. I prefer reading interesting stories rather than being preached to, which is why being aware of how science fiction came about and developed over the years is so important.
To more directly answer your question, I’ve recently read novels by Neal Asher, Gregory Benford, Iain Kelly (a terrific indie science fiction/mystery author from Scotland), and Max Berry. I sometimes read authors I am not naturally drawn to in an effort to see the direction the SF/F industry is going and what seems to qualify as “award-winning novels” these days. So I’ve also read works by John Scalzi, Annalee Newitz, and I even took a crack at N.K. Jemisin (I’m pretty sure they aren’t fond of my reviews). Oh, I shouldn’t leave out that I’m slowly working my way through E.E. “Doc” Smith’s “Lensman” series (I missed it the first time around when all the kids I grew up with was reading it). Plus I’ve gone through classics such as William Gibson’s “Neuromancer,” “Hyperion” by Dan Simmons, Brad Linaweaver’s “Moon of Ice,” and Mike Resnick’s award winning short story “Kirinyaga.”
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Lots of places.
My blog is: https://poweredbyrobots.com/
I’ve got an Amazon Author’s page.
My Facebook author’s page: https://www.facebook.com/jamespylesauthor/
On twitter: @jamespyles
Thanks for sharing James. Be sure to check out James’ books and be sure to check back next Sunday for our next chat with a Superversive author.