Meet John Ayliff (@johnayliff) – #BFIVoyager

jaTell us about yourself

As well as being an amateur writer for as long as I can remember, I’ve also worked in the games industry and written content for a major online game. I like character-driven space opera and hard science fiction.

Tell us about your latest book

My first novel, Belt Three, is due to be published in summer 2015 by HarperVoyager. Three hundred years after the Earth was destroyed by alien Worldbreakers, a remnant of humanity ekes out an existence in the debris. The main character is a lower-class clone who is masquerading as a member of the naturally-born ruling class – until a space pirate kidnaps him, kills his ship’s crew, and forces him to help her on her obsessive campaign against the Worldbreakers.

What sparked your love of Sci-Fi?

I think it was Return of the Jedi. I saw it at a young age without any knowledge of the previous Star Wars films, so I couldn’t follow the plot, but attempting to make sense of the images fired up my imagination.

Your favourite Sci-Fi film (s) and why?

Aliens, for its masterful handling of tension; 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gravity, both for making space travel look real by the standards of their day.

Book v film?

As a novelist I’d like to say books, and it is books that I find most intellectually stimulating, but it’s films that provide the images that stick with me and that instantly come to my mind when I think of science fiction. Books influence me in a cerebral way, but films inspire me.

Greatest Sci-Fi book character?

Breq from Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. Reading one character with multiple bodies in multiple places at once was thrilling.

Greatest Sci-Fi film moment?

The final space battle of Star Trek VI. ‘Target that explosion and fire!’
Sci-fi or Science Fiction?

Either, depending on the context. Science Fiction when being formal, Sci-Fi when trying to save space.

Is there a Sci-Fi book you’d like to see made into a film?

Cities in Flight by James Blish, because the flying cities could be really impressive when seen on-screen.

Which fictional planet would you like to live on, and why?

Somewhere deep inside Iain M Banks’s Culture sounds like a nice place to live.

Favourite technology from science fiction that you wish had happened?

Robots, as imagined by Golden Age science fiction in which robots did all the work and humans lived lives of leisure with all their needs provided for.

Advice for any young people starting their Sci-Fi journey – essential viewing/reading?

Read and watch widely. Sample the whole history of the genre, not just the present day or whatever period first got you interested. Read authors you haven’t read before. Read books and authors that other authors cite as being influential on them. I’d hesitate to name any particular works as essential, because I’m still exploring the genre and I find a new essential book every few weeks.

Outside of literature and film, what inspires your writing?

Video games inspire me in the same way that films and books do, by giving me new stories to think about. Art, especially fantasy art, inspires me to think about what the story behind the picture might be. Music inspires me in a different way: it doesn’t give me ideas as such, but there are parts of my book that I strongly associate with particular pieces of music.

Are you on social media?

Yes: I have a blog at, I’m on Twitter at @johnayliff, and my Facebook page is

Jon’s first novel, Belt Three will be available to purchase following publication by HarperVoyager in summer 2015.

Want to join some of the finest science fiction writers, screen-writers, designers and scientists for this weekend’s virtual #BFIVoyager sci-fi festival? Sign up free here!

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