I grew up in Upstate New York and moved to Oregon about twelve years ago. At various times in my life I’ve been: a guitarist in a pair of metal bands, a drum-n-bass DJ, a record store owner, an IT consultant, and a game designer. These days I’m a software engineer and I pour all of my extra energy into writing speculative fiction. I’m fortunate enough to be married to someone who is smart, beautiful, creative, and loves sci-fi as much as I do. Living in the Pacific Northwest of the US, I do a lot of hiking, cycling, and camping when possible, and a lot of complaining about the rain when not.
Tell us about your latest book
In an interplanetary future, a shiftless sub-dome operator is accused of murder when an entire block loses oxygen and thirty-two people die. His only ally is a restless police officer who isn’t satisfied with the open-and-shut investigation. The two become fugitives and must avoid the cops – as well as the deadly space gang they cross paths with – in their quest to track down the true murderer. Unexpected Rain is the first in a trilogy and comes out Summer 2015.
What sparked your love of Sci-Fi?
As a kid I could only watch Star Wars a few dozen times before I had to turn to books to satisfy my escapism needs. Just about the time that I hit puberty, my grandfather introduced me to his vast SF/F collection. After that, the bookshelf was the first place I bee-lined to whenever I visited him. I think he eventually regretted it because it got a lot harder to get me to go hiking and fishing when all I wanted to do was finish one book and reach for the next.
Your favourite Sci-Fi film (s) and why?
There are lots of classics that I could go to, but I’m going to give a special shout-out to Moon, because if you are a true sci-fi fan, you need to see it. Duncan Jones’ film does a fantastic job of capturing the feeling of classics like 2001, with a few modern upgrades. Everything about it is perfect to me: the atmosphere, the music, the visuals, the acting, the mind-bending internal struggle.
Bladerunner is probably my all-time favorite. What Ridley Scott did with the future city of Los Angeles inspired and influenced so much science fiction to come. And while not an entirely faithful adaptation, definitely a worth adaptation of the work of one of my favorite authors, Philip K. Dick.
I’ll keep this to three, because I could go on and on: The Matrix will always hold a special place in my heart. I think that movie jump-started sci-fi filmmaking when it was in a bit of a lull. The Wachowskis created brand new techniques that took the action and the atmosphere to a whole new level, and it was a cool sci-fi concept to boot (not to mention a soundtrack that still holds up today).
Book v film?
By default, I take book, but I think it’s possible to create a film that does a book justice. While Richard Linklater’s film version of A Scanner Darkly didn’t have as much time as the novel did to worm its way through your head, it still was one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen. In the opening scene when Charlie is in the shower trying to scrub hallucinated aphids off his dog, I remember thinking, this is exactly how I pictured it when I read it. The rotoscope animation gives the film a kind of manic tension that visually captures the intense schizophrenia that match that of the novel’s narrative.
I think The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is another great example of a film that served the original work well. Of course, Douglas Adams changed the story as it went from radio to television to novel, so it’s only natural that he would change it again when the screenplay was being written. I’m confident that if he had been able to see it come to life on the big screen, he’d have been happy with the end product.
I’m fascinated by the story of how Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick collaborated on 2001: A Space Odyssey. It must be the only time in history that a film and novel were created simultaneously (Clarke sent chapters to Kubrick regularly, and Kubrick sent Clarke dailies which altered the narrative of the novel as it was being written), and both works are fabulous.
Greatest Sci-Fi film moment?
It’s hard to name the “greatest” moment, but a couple come to mind that I could watch over and over. The first is at the end of The Matrix when Neo reaches full potential and stops the bullets that are flying at him, picks one out of the air, and lets the rest drop, while the previously-relentless AI agents look on with faces that tell us they’re about to soil themselves.
My second is in Serenity, when Serenity (the ship) comes out of the ion cloud, a tiny vessel alone rocketing toward a massive Alliance fleet, then seconds later is followed by a rampaging horde of reaver ships. When those terrifying wrecks come streaming out of the clouds and the level-headed antagonist known only as The Operative finally begins to panic, I just get goosebumps.
Is there a Sci-Fi book you’d like to see made into a film?
Finch, by Jeff VanderMeer. It’s this creepy, noir story where a city has been overtaken by these monstrous fungal aliens and the main character works as a detective under their employ. I think the right filmmaker could recreate the atmosphere of the book – every description is just so physically repugnant, which kind of reflects the way the humans feel about themselves for putting up with the occupation of their city. I wouldn’t mind seeing VanderMeer’s most recent books – The Southern Reach trilogy – in film form either; but I’d hate for anyone to miss the wonderful language of the narrative.
Favourite technology from science fiction that you wish had happened?
I’m originally from New York and now I live on the other side of the United States, in Portland, Oregon. I still have many close friends back in New York and we’re always complaining about our lack of teleporters. I would settle for being able to teleport a beer from coast to coast on occasion! Also robots.
Your 3 dream dinner dates from the world of Sci-Fi (alive or dead)
Vindaloo with Dave Lister on the Red Dwarf, drinks with Ford, Zaphod, Trillian, and Arthur at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and some time with Philip K. Dick would be excellent.
Outside of literature and film, what inspires your writing?
Depending on your view, comics may be inside or outside of literature… in any case, I’m into a lot of the horror and sci-fi stuff from publishers like Image and Dark Horse. Oh, and I’ve definitely gotten a few story ideas straight from dreams, but I always try to follow Neil Gaiman’s advice on only using the visuals and feelings from a dream, and abandon any notion of plot (dream logic just doesn’t work outside of dreams). I’m also a software engineer, and the fun/annoying quirks of technology, process, and capitalism are always worms their way into the undercurrents of my writing.
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Jason’s book, Unexpected Rain is due to be published in the summer of 2015.
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