In 2001, When Jack Skillingstead entered Stephen King’s “On Writing” competition, King selected Jack’s entry as one of five winners. In 2003 Asimov’s published Jack’s first professional sale. “Dead Worlds” was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and was reprinted in two Year’s Best anthologies. Since then Jack has sold more than thirty stories to professional markets. Golden Gryphon Press issued a archival quality hardcover collection of his stories in 2009. Also in 2009 Fairwood Press published Harbinger, a science fiction novel. Both books were nominated for Locus Awards.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack recently…


Kristin Centorcelli: Jack, your brand new novel, Life on the Preservation, will be out at the end of May! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Jack Skillingstead: Yes, May 28 is the pub date. Life on the Preservation is my third book (I’ve been publishing in professional markets since 2003), though it’s the first that will receive wide distribution. Of course, I’ve wanted to write since an early age. I remember thinking about it in a very conscious way when I was about twelve years old. It seemed like the only option, and it still seems that way. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a writer — you know, the guy with his byline in a magazine or on the cover of a book. I wanted to be able to do it. Find the good stuff, if there was any, and present my unique vision. I thought it would take a long time, and it did. I was raised in a working class environment, and that sort of defined my prospects in the mundane world. While my siblings were taking out loans and working jobs to pay for college degrees I was exclusively focused on writing and reading. What made it harder was that, despite all my efforts, I was a terrible writer in those days. But there was a spark. I came very close to selling my early efforts. In retrospect, thank God I didn’t. It would have ruined me. I wasn’t ready.
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Here is the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead.

Here’s the synopsis:

Inside the Seattle Preservation Dome it’s always the Fifth of October, the city caught in an endless time loop. “Reformed” graffiti artist Ian Palmer is the only one who knows the truth, and he is desperate to wake up the rest of the city before the alien Curator of this human museum erases Ian’s identity forever.

Outside the Dome the world lies in apocalyptic ruin. Small town teenager Kylie is the only survivor to escape both the initial shock wave and the effects of the poison rains that follow. Now she must make her way across the blasted lands pursued by a mad priest and menaced by skin-and-bone things that might once have been human. Her destination is the Preservation, and her mission is to destroy it. But once inside, she meets Ian, and together they discover that Preservation reality is even stranger than it already appears.  Discover the reality bending SF of this new author in this astonishing story.

Book info as per Amazon US [Also available via Amazon UK]:

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Solaris (May 28, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1781081174
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781081174

“Best of the Year” lists start appearing as early as November, so we are perhaps a little late in asking folks around the community:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2009?

[Also added was this note: They don't have to have been released in 2009. Feel free to choose any combination of genres (science fiction/fantasy/horror) and media (books/movies/shows) you wish to include.]

Read on to see their picks (and also check out Part 1)…

Jack McDevitt
Jack McDevitt is the author of fifteen novels including The Devil’s Eye and Time Travelers Never Die, both from Ace. McDevitt has been a frequent Nebula finalist. He won for his 2006 novel, Seeker.

Books I most enjoyed:

  • WWW:Wake, Robert Sawyer
  • Mars Life, Ben Bova
  • Plague Zone, Jeff Carlson
  • Overthrowing Heaven, Mark Van Name
  • Rift in the Sky, Julie Czerneda

I’ve just started Galileo’s Dream, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Am hooked already.

We haven’t seen any SF films I can recall. A TV series that stands out: FlashForward.

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We always remember our first. (Yes, I’m talking about reading!) We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What book introduced you to science fiction?

Check below to see their responses. And tell us what book got you started!

Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick is the author of 50 novels, 200 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of 50 anthologies, as well as the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe. According to Locus, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages.

Back when I was 9 or 10 years old, I was reading one of the EC horror comics, and my mother chanced to look over my shoulder, and it must have been a typically gruesome EC panel that she saw, because she ripped it out of my hands and took it away from me.

I argued that this was censorship, which she had always told me she was against, and she, dancing on the head of a pin, explained that it wasn’t censorship because the pictures would give me nightmares, and that she would never think of censoring my reading, just my looking (which, she pointed out, Hollywood’s code did all the time and no adults objected, or at least not any she knew of), and I could buy any horror book I wanted, just no more horror comics.

I went right out to the bookstore with a quarter clutched in my outraged little hand. I’m sure she thought I’d pick up something like Frankenstein, which is all but unreadable to the average ten-year- old…but instead I bought the first “horror” title I came across, which was the Groff Conklin anthology, Science Fiction Terror Tales. I still remember the first three stories: Ray Bradbury’s “Punishment Without Crime”; Fred Brown’s “Arena”; and Bob Sheckley’s “The Leech”. By the time I had read them, I was hooked on science fiction — and I remain hooked to this very day.

So I am now 58 novels, 14 collections, 236 stories, 2 screenplays, 1 comic book, 163 articles and essays, and 47 edited anthologies into my science fiction career, all thanks an unread horror comic and a read-again-and-again-and-again science fiction anthology.

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SF Tidbits for 9/4/09

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