Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
Home page: http://www.jslyster.com
I started writing in my teens and can’t imagine I’ll ever stop. My passion began with science fiction, but these days my writing is all over the map, globe, or star chart.
I didn’t know I was a crime writer until my story, The Hunter of the Guileless, which first appeared in Storyteller magazine, was nominated for the 1999 Arthur Ellis award. I learned from my wife that I’m a horror writer when she demanded that I give her some warning before I drop a tale like Going Going in her lap, a story that has since been picked up by Dark Tales.
My novels also vary in genre. Oblivion’s Wake is near-future science fiction. A contemporary fantasy series called Armageddon Bros. is off to a great start with Clerk and Dagger completed and The Frog of War on its way.
I’ve never been comfortable with the writer-slaving-away-in-a-garret stereotype. I do a great deal of writing in coffee shops where I can pilfer character traits and dialogue from fellow customers unaware that bits of them are being slipped into paragraphs.
When I’m not writing, I’m making computers dance and sing. I’ve worked for others as both a hardware technician and a software developer, creating, among other things, data recovery applications that extract your photos and documents from a computer even when that computer’s operating system is mangled. I’m fluent in five programming languages and comfortable in four more. I also teach the fine art of turning bits and bytes into useful applications.
These days I code either on a freelance basis or for my own company, Heuronic Systems. We’ll be launching a fascinating new open-source web application this spring; stay tuned.
En route to the 2012 World Fantasy Convention, while marooned in airports, I wrote my first genetic-algorithm application. I’ve also written neural-networking programs—applications which simulate the workings of the brain—because it isn’t enough to have my computer obediently following my wishes; I want it to think for itself.
The future is not just the present with more toys and gadgets. Even a cursory look at history will show that the world of the recent past is different in fundamental ways from the world of today.
It’s far easier to predict future technologies than to predict the ramifications of those technologies. Anyone in 1860 could have predicted the automobile by asking the question: “What would happen if you made a steam engine small enough to fit on a cart?” A futurist with a sense of history and vision would have predicted the more subtle aspects of automobile culture: traffic lights, laws against jaywalking, and losing your virginity in the back seat. A futurist might also look farther down the road, past those initial ideas, to predict that as concern grows around rising prices of fuel, people will opt for smaller vehicles which means their kids are much less likely to lose their virginity in a car because the back seat is too small or doesn’t exist.
My work often looks at the future. While I am creating a story or software, I love to ask: where will we go; what can we expect to find; what are the risks and hazards; and what are the rewards?
The future will not be what we expect. But it will also not necessarily be a scary place. While there will be no magic to solve our problems and no aliens or angels from above to fix them, we will muddle through the way we always have—with human compassion and ingenuity.
Interests: I confess: I'm a computer nerd. Also, a science fiction writer, a bicyclist, and a practitioner of Tae Kwon Do.
Published writer: Yes