“Wondrous situations, marvelous discoveries, good characters, and a nicely tuned plot.”
“John Stith is among the finest writers of hard science fiction in the world. In what can best be described as ’The Six-Million Dollar Woman’ meets ’Rendezvous with Rama,’ Stith will keep you turning the pages as he reveals the marvels of an alien ’moonscape. ’” — Rocky Mountain News
The arrival of a moon-sized triggers an exploratory mission led by Alis, a cybernetically enhanced woman. The journey into the object allows Alis to explore herself as well as the new arrival.
Science fiction and mystery author John E. Stith writes across many worlds. His books have been translated to French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian and are even available in braille for the sight-impaired. His stories have been categorized as “Hard science fiction,” a label given to those stories thoroughly researched to play fair with the rules of science; something any die-hard SciFi fan can appreciate.
It was during the summer Science-Math Institute for High School Students at Cloud State College, John served as editor for the school paper, but several more years would pass before the urge to write, strengthened by years of loving to read, was too compelling to ignore. His stories vary, but his books are packed with suspense, mystery, and humor.
Stith holds a B.A. in physics from the University of Minnesota, has served as an Air Force Officer, where he worked at NORAD Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The passion for science runs in his family, as his father George worked at the White Sands Missile Range on such projects like the rocket sled.
He has appeared on a live nationwide PBS broadcast or Science-Fiction Science-Fact (SF2) and his work has also been sold to film and television. His novel Reckoning Infinity was chosen as one of Science Fiction Chronicle’s Best Science Fiction Novels, Redshift Rendezvous was picked as a Nebula Award nominee and Manhattan Transfer received an honorable mention from the Hugo Awards and a nomination from the Seiun Award in Japan.
Stith is a member of Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Writers Guild of America (WGA), International Thriller Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW), Colorado Author’s League and Mensa. He currently lives in Colorado Springs.
Q&A with Author John E. Stith
You’re re-releasing nine of your novels in just under a year! Can you share what inspired this decision?
Since originally published by Tor Books and Ace Books, most of these books were available in eBook form, but some haven't been available in paper for more than a decade, so I felt it was time to correct that. ReAnimus Press specializes in bringing back SF that has been unavailable for a while (e.g. Jerry Sohl) and re-releasing works that have been in print all along (e.g. Ben Bova).
You write both sci-fi and mystery - do you have a preference for one over the other?
I love both. Some of my work even blends the two. Deep Quarry features a private eye. The protagonist in Death Tolls is an investigative reporter. Naught for Hire is a futuristic private eye tale, Reckoning Infinity is a space exploration and Manhattan Transfer deals with a very unusual form of first contact-- kidnapping.
What are your initial thoughts when thinking about your book(s)?
I often start a book with a trio of concerns. First, is an emotional issue that's currently important to me. Next is the kind of story I want to tell and then finally, I pick a setting that interests me and supports the first two elements.
For example, while writing Death Tolls, personal responsibility was an important issue for me. I had been on a Dick Francis kick and thought it would be fun to use a mystery plot that echoed some of his plots. And finally, a lightly terraformed Mars seemed an interesting backdrop. Redshift Rendezvous centers on a hijacking. REUNION ON NEVEREND is set at a high school reunion in a space-equivalent of a small-town environment.
Any special research you had to do for these various titles?
I almost always wind up picking projects that require more knowledge than I already have, partly because I enjoy constantly expanding my horizons. Memory Blank necessitated knowing more about Gerard O'Neil-inspired L5 orbital colonies and Death Tolls required media and reporting research. Redshift Rendezvous also required research into relativity because most of the novel takes place aboard a hyperspace craft where the speed of light is ten meters per second. That means relativistic effects like redshift happen when people run. Flipping a light switch causes a room to slowly fill with light.
What fascinates you most about writing?
That it seems almost universal. When I worked in software engineering, people would ask what I did for a living. I’d run into some people already in the business, but many of the others had zero interest in the field. When I mention to strangers that I'm a writer, it seems like half the time I find they've written stories or want to write, and in many cases, have sold their work already.
Do you have a favorite author?
Robert Heinlein is really high on my list for several reasons--fun characters, interesting ideas, thoughtful speculation, and pure storytelling power.
How has your education, profession or background helped you in your writing career?
My degree is in physics, and part of what drives my efforts to make my stories convincing, not with quite the nuts and bolts aspects of THE MARTIAN, but closer to the ENDER'S GAME portion of the spectrum.
What do you hope readers most get out of your books?
Enjoyment, excitement, entertainment, insights and information. I love appealing to all the senses, including the sense of wonder and the sense of humor. I want readers to care about my characters and constantly wonder what's on the next page.
How has writing your novels changed your life?
It's brought me into a wonderful and diverse group of other writers, a few a bit cantankerous, but many generous, thoughtful people who have written more astonishing and uplifting books than I can hope to read in a lifetime.
Can you pinpoint your biggest influence?
My parents. They gave me values and a love of reading that eventually became a love of writing. And my brother, Richard, who is a fountain of love, support and good humor.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
My then wife of many years battled with cancer over a four-year period, during which I was her rock and made her final years as bearable as possible.
I also did that for my mother's last couple of years. When I suddenly found myself with a teenage stepson, I did my best to be a father figure to a young man who's since grown up (either with or without my help) to be an outstanding adult.
Have you received any awards for your work? Book related and not book related?
My work includes a Nebula Award finalist, a Seiun Award finalist, a La Tour Eiffel Science Fiction Book Prize finalist, a Hugo Award Honorable Mention, Colorado Authors' League Top Hand Award winners, HOMer Award winners, and Science Fiction Book Club selections.
My work has also appeared on the New York Public Library Best Books for Young Adults list, Science Fiction Chronicle’s List of Year’s Best Novels, and the yearly Locus Recommended Reading Lists.
Any organizations you are involved in (in the literary world, or others that you are passionate about?)
I'm a past contracts committee chair for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. I'm a past regional VP of Mystery Writers of America. I'm also a member of International Thriller Writers, Colorado Author's League, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Any other new projects on the horizon after these re-releases?
I have a psychological thriller that should be out in 2017. A web series based on Naught for Hire is in development with Ben Browder to star. Another producer hopes to film a pilot of Manhattan Transfer to use to sell the series. In parallel, a number of audiobooks and short stories are in the pipeline, as well. “Simon Sidekick” and “One Giant Step,” both short stories, should be available in eBook and audio form by July 1, 2016.