SCAPESCOPE (Ace paperback, November 1984) set in the NORAD Cheyenne Mountain underground complex at a time when the facility has been sold on the auction block, and is now inhabited by a dissident group. (The author has worked in the complex.) A man content with the status quo sees a glimpse of the future, saying he'll be on the political criminal list. Brother Sammy wants him. The question is: can he change the future? 1984 with a sense of humor. Published in Amazon Kindle format in 2010. Trade paperback reprinted by Wildside Press in 2012.
MEMORY BLANK (Ace paperback, January 1986). An amnesia victim on a Gerard K. O'Neill- style L-5 orbital colony finds a tantalizing stranger for a wife, a wise-cracking wrist-computer as an ally. As he tries to restore his wiped memories, he learns things are far worse than he thinks. (See O'Neill's book, THE HIGH FRONTIER, for a non-fiction treatment.) This science-fiction mystery reached the preliminary Nebula Award ballot. A number two bestseller ebook for eReader (formerly Peanut Press). To be reprinted in trade paperback by Wildside Press in 2016. Published in Amazon Kindle format.
DEATH TOLLS (Ace paperback, September 1987). An ex-reporter on a partly terraformed Mars tries to find out if his brother was murdered, and wonders why TV reporter Janet Vincent regularly reaches disaster sites faster than all the competition. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in action: the media observers are influencing the events. Winner of the Colorado Authors' League Top Hand Award. This science-fiction mystery was a bestselling ebook for Peanut Press. Reprinted in trade paperback by Wildside Press, March 2002. $15.95. A variety of electronic book forms are available from Fictionwise and eReader (formerly Peanut Press). Published in Amazon Kindle format.
DEEP QUARRY (Ace paperback, February 1989). A private eye on a desert planet discovers a buried alien starship inhabited by aliens who really don't appreciate being found. Winner of the Colorado Authors' League Top Hand Award. Reached the preliminary Nebula Award ballot. Reprinted in trade paperback by Wildside Press in 2002. $15.95. ISBN 1-58715-707-1. This science-fiction mystery was a number one bestseller ebook for Peanut Press. A variety of electronic book forms are available from Fictionwise and eReader (formerly Peanut Press). Published in Amazon Kindle format.
REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS (Ace paperback, June 1990). One man must stop starship hijackers from using an unusual starship to plunder a wealthy colony. Aboard the Redshift, light moves so slowly you can see its passage, and relativistic tricks are an integral part of shipboard life. Flip a light switch and see the room slowly fill with light. Run fast, and the view ahead shifts into blue, and you can create sonic booms. One component of the book is this slow-light thought experiment, a la Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott or Mr. Tomkins in Wonderland by George Gamow. (Appendix separates actual Theory of Relativity principles from speculation and fabrication.) Science Fiction Book Club selection, HOMer Award winner, Science Fiction Chronicle best of year list, LOCUS recommended Reading List, Nebula Award nominee. Optioned for film (see status farther down this page). A number one bestseller ebook for eReader (formerly Peanut Press). Reprinted in trade paperback by Wildside Press, February 2001. $15.95. A variety of electronic book forms are available from Fictionwise. Published in Amazon Kindle format.
Postscript in 1999: in the journal Nature in February 1999 the notion of a slow speed of light made news as scientists announced that, with the aid of a super-cooled sodium solution (Bose-Einstein condensate), they have been able to slow the speed of light down to 38 mph (about 17 meters per second, contrasting with the 10 meters per second in REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS.) The research was conducted at the Rowland Institute for Science in Cambridge and Harvard University. The project leader was Lene Vesergaard Hau, a Danish scientist.
Postscript in Jaunuary 2001, it was reported that, "Two teams of scientists have accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of trapping and stopping light--an achievement that could lead to major advances in quantum computing. The experiments were conducted by two teams working independently of each other in Cambridge, Mass. One team was led by Lene Hau of Harvard University and the Rowland Institute of Science, the other by Ronald Walsworth and Mikhail Lukin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics."
MANHATTAN TRANSFER (Tor Books hardcover, July 1993). Aliens kidnap Manhattan; read all about it. Manhattan is taken away and placed under a huge clear dome, through which the trapped residents can see dozens of similarly trapped alien cities. Very much in the same spirit and scope as the 1996 film, INDEPENDENCE DAY. Echoed in a small way by the 1996 Star Trek: Voyager episode "Displaced." Science Fiction Book Club selection. Reached the preliminary Nebula Award ballot. On the Science Fiction Chronicle best of year list. Rockies Award winner. HOMer Award nominee (presented by the CompuServe SF Lit Forum). Hugo Award Honorable Mention. Seiun Award nominee (Japan). La Tour Eiffel nominee (France). Had been optioned for film (see status farther down this page). Chapter one was excerpted in Amazing Stories and in Jayne Loader's PUBLIC SHELTER CD-ROM. Available in Braille and audio cassette from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the Library of Congress in the USA who meet the qualifications. Tor paperback July 1993, ISBN: 0-812-51952-3, price $4.99. A number one bestseller ebook for Peanut Press and on this site. Reprinted in trade paperback by Wildside Press in 2002. $15.95. ISBN 1-58715-487-0. A variety of electronic book forms are available from Fictionwise, eReader (formerly Peanut Press), and in Amazon Kindle format.
An ultra-sad postscript on 09/12/2001, a day after 9/11. I'm proud of the way New York residents reacted with grace and supportiveness in this stunning real-life tragedy surrounding the World Trade Center terrorism disaster. A few readers who said the MANHATTAN TRANSFER portrayal of Manhattan citizens reacting to a fictional disaster with strength and resolve was much less likely than mass hysteria can see for themselves the compassion and bravery captured by countless reports.
REUNION ON NEVEREND (Tor Books hardcover, August 1994). At a high-school reunion in the underground city of Neverend, an undercover agent must blow his cover to save an old flame, and he involves her in an interplanetary chase. (Makes minor use of American Sign Language for human-alien communication.) HOMer Award nominee. On the Science Fiction Chronicle best of year list. An excerpt much shorter than the one available here, accompanied by a multi-media demo developed by Kenny Chaffin, was in the CompuServe CD-ROM issue 395W, August 1995. Tor paperback April 1995, ISBN: 0-812-51953-3, price $4.99. A number two bestseller ebook for eReader (formerly Peanut Press). Published in electronic form in Amazon Kindle format. To be reprinted in trade paperback by Wildside Press in 2016.
RECKONING INFINITY (Tor Books hardcover, April 1997, $23.95, ISBN 0-312-86298-9). From Tor's publicity: "A riveting exploration of what it means to be an alien...and what it means to be human." Explorers sent deep into the interior of a moon-sized alien visitor may wind up dead before they discover the visitor's secrets. The team includes a woman who received several bionic replacements after an accident and the man she blames for the accident. The book was sold under the working title MACRO VESSEL, and had the interim title ALIEN VESSEL. Could be thought of as RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA meets A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. On the Science Fiction Chronicle best of year list. Chosen by the New York Public Library as one of their Best Books for Young Adults. Winner of the Colorado Authors' League Top Hand Award. Reached the preliminary Nebula Award ballot. Science Fiction Book Club selection, number 170605, $11.98. Tor paperback August 1998, ISBN: 0-812-52484-5, price $5.99. Published in electronic form in 2010 in Amazon Kindle format. Trade paperback reprinted by Wildside Press in 2012.
ALL FOR NAUGHT (Peanut Press Palm/WinCE/PocketPC ebook, May 2001.) Contains "Naught for Hire" short novel and "Naught Again" short story, both first published in ANALOG, both science-fiction mysteries. ALL FOR NAUGHT showcases the adventures of Nick Naught, private eye, in a comically dysfunctional near future. Computer error puts Nick on a hit list at the same time as an old flame in trouble comes to him. A powerful conspiracy seems to be responsible for his troubles. People can be pretty type-A when it comes to Nick's meddling. ISBN 0740809172, price $5.95. All for Naught trade paperback at Amazon.com. All for Naught kindle edition.
A trade paperback was published by Wildside Press in 2005.
THE EARLY STITH (Peanut Press Palm/WinCE/PocketPC ebook, July 2001.) Contains "Doing Time," "Last Words," "Little Black Book," "One Giant Step," "Redshift Runaway," "Simon Sidekick," and "When I Was Your Age." ISBN 0740811495, price $5.95.
Books in print can be ordered from stores like Amazon.com. And please support your local independent bookstore when you can.
MOTION PICTURES & TV
MANHATTAN TRANSFER. Allied Stars had under option, and hoped to find funding, with plans to hire screenwriters Ron Shusett (TOTAL RECALL, ALIEN), Martin Olson, and George Lee Marshall. The option has expired. Sky Conway is currenlty talking about the possibility of a series.
THE TENDERLOIN is a drama about a woman bringing up a daughter in the San Francisco Tenderloin (co-written with director-producer, A. Tana). North City Productions completed shooting, starring Jo Anderson. A VHS version exists, but the producer ran out of funds for post-production funds to finish the film version.
NAUGHT FOR HIREis a quirky action comedy that lampoons our love-hate relationship with technology that seems to malfunction at just the wrong time. In the near future, surrounded by machines that talk back, many with voices cloned from the rich and famous, a private eye has to keep himself and an old flame from being snuffed. Stith's screenplay was adapted from his novella in ANALOG. The screenplay was under option to ITB and to Lyon/Flynn in the 90's and since has been rewritten in collaboration with Jeffrey Berman. There are fascinating new developments in 2014, and more info on the upcoming webisode series will be kept current on naughtforhire.com and the Naught for Hire page on this site.
SELECTED SHORT STORIES
"Early Winter" FANTASTIC, July 1979. A variation on the last man left alive story. Rear-cover illustration. (550 words)
"Planet Seven" AMAZING, May 1980. Alien visitors make a bad exchange. Rear-cover illustration. (600 words)
"Molar 2-7734" A man must deal with complications arising from phone chip implant. Won 3rd prize in the WRITER'S DIGEST short story competition and was printed in the 1981 winner's booklet. Reprinted in SPECTRUM, January 1985. Reprinted in STORY, Spring 1985, the Writer's Digest pamphlet used to revive the magazine. (1,200 words)
"Camille" PENNYWHISTLE PRESS, 19 September 1982. A couple of kids have a shape-changer as a pet. (850 words)
"Purification Rites" SF ... AND STUFF, Fall 1982. Humans encounter a strange alien artifact. (1,400 words)
"Simon Sidekick" DRAGON, July 1984. A boy living on the moon comes of age with the help of an artificial intelligence named Simon. (7,100 words)
"Focus Pocus" (retitled "Out of Focus") WOMAN'S WORLD, 1 October 1985. Mystery story co-written with Stith's wife, Annette Stith. A telescope proves to be a murderer's undoing. (1,500 words)
"Last Words" SPACE AND TIME, Summer 1986. Members of a first-contact team are turning up dead, but is the killer one of the aliens, or one of the team? (11,000 words)
"Doing Time" ABORIGINAL SF, July/August 1987. A man must find a way to escape from a time-compression prison where the guards can move 20 times faster than the inmates. Film rights optioned
along with film rights to REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS. (4,500 words)
"Little Black Book" ABORIGINAL SF, Jan/Feb 1988. A time traveler dating women in the past finds he's being followed by the same man, in different time periods. (6,000 words)
"Redshift Runaway" SPACE AND TIME, Winter 1988. Set in the same universe, with some of the same characters, as REDSHIFT RENDEZVOUS. This story also served as a bit of warm-up for the novel, since the novel required a lot of homework with relativity. In "Redshift Runaway" the crew must try to recapture a semi-intelligent alien being returned to its home world after being discovered captive in a private zoo. (7,800 words)
"Naught for Hire" ANALOG, July 1990. Nick Naught, private eye, lives in a near future filled with malfunctioning technology. Against this backdrop, he winds up on a hit list through computer error, but it takes him a while to realize it because the rest of his life is so dangerous and chaotic. It's also a comedy. Really. Cover illustration by William R. Warren, Jr. Won 3rd place in ANALOG's Analytical Laboratory (reader's choice awards) in the novella category. HOMer Award winner. On the LOCUS Recommended Reading List. Made the preliminary Nebula Award ballot. See the "Motion Picture" section here for film status. (26,000 words)
"Naught Again" ANALOG, November 1992. Set in the same universe, with some of the same characters, as "Naught for Hire." In this one, Nick Naught, private eye, tracks down a killer who might be associated with a cryogenics outfit promising to preserve people until cures can be found for their current illness. Nick also has to cope with the artificial intelligence that runs his car. HOMer award nominee. (8,000 words)
"Windbag" JOURNEYS, Spring 1993. Mystery story co-written with Stith's wife, Annette Stith. An insurance investigator trips up a murderer. (1,500 words)
"One Giant Step" DINOSAUR FANTASTIC, DAW, July 1993, edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg. SFBC edition December 1993. Possible explanation of how the dinosaurs died out. (2,200 words)
"Time Travelers' Work is Never Done" PERIODICAL LUNGFISH, July 1994. Caught in a time rut. (900 words)
"When I Was Your Age" NATURE, 7 September 2000 issue. A future teenager faces a confrontation with Dad. (800 words)
National (US) TV Appearance: SCIENCE FICTION * SCIENCE FACT: [SF]^2, (AKA Science Fiction Science Fact SF2) PBS 1987, a one-hour, live special with Ben Bova, Arthur C. Clarke, Charles Sheffield, John E. Stith, G. Harry Stine and NASA planner Jesco von Puttkammer. The program was produced by John Bluck of the NASA Lewis Research Center and Dr. Carrie Heeter, Director, Communication Technology Laboratory, Michigan State University. SF^2 was an interesting communications experiment, featuring Clarke via video satellite link to Sri Lanka, and allowing real-time comments fed through a forum on CompuServe. (One of the things the producers learned was that the rate of questions scrolling across the screen was nearly impossible to cope with.) Robert L. Forward spoke via videotape. Artists James Christiansen, Don Maitz, and Michael Whelan participated from their homes via slow-scan video. A crew of scientists at the South Pole spoke via satellite. An excerpt from Stith's novel MEMORY BLANK was transmitted in a Videotrax-encoded several-second burst. Ben Bova and G. Harry Stine covered some of the aspects of the show in "State of the Art: Over-Communicated" in the March 1989 ANALOG.
Column: "Mean Streets, Mad Scientists," a review column covering the overlap between science fiction and mystery, ran in MYSTERY SCENE from 1989 through 1992.
Television: From a pitch session, Stith and Jim Coon sold a co-written story (A.K.A. treatment) to Star Trek: Deep Space 9. The story, titled "Mission," and retitled "Cat's-Paw," never wound up on the air.
Movie of the Week: Stith optioned an MOW treatment to Gibraltar. The story is based on the true-life experiences of a psychologist who moved from California to the South and found that she had stepped into the job from hell. She fought back and took the bad guys to court, winning a decision already being written into case law.
Interview conducted by Alex S. Garcia for French publication Splash.
Interviewed by Kalkion.