Discovering Lewis Shiner, Thanks to Prisoners of Gravity!

Yesterday’s post on CRUCIFIED DREAMS led to a comment on facebook by Lewis Shiner, a contributor to the antho and very fine writer. His story, “Love in Vain”, was also a fave (most of them are!), and it was really cool to have him pop by and drop off a comment.

Shiner first cut across my radar while watching re-runs of the classic Canadian SF/F interview show, PRISONERS OF GRAVITY (1989-1994). If you never caught POG, as we called it, here’s the gist: Commander Rick (Rick Green of FRANTICS and RED GREEN fame) is in command of an orbiting space station that gets every channel and phone line on earth (he even has a modem!), and since he’s a comic book and genre fan, he uses this tech to interview the big names in the field about everything from sex to death to rock and roll.

It was a great show. Tons of fun interviews with Harlan Ellison and Alan Moore, though the fan favorite was Neil Gaiman, who’s rising stardom with THE SAND MAN comics was still reaching its apex. Lots of grizzled veterans like Robert Silverberg, the late Jack Williamson, and the late Hal Clement also filled in the ranks.

But it was even more fun to see and hear from writers who were new to me, including Lewis Shiner. He was cool. He was a cyberpunk. He made comparisons between “corporate rock” and “corporate SF”! He had a rock and roll outlaw vibe, though a quiet and smart one. And so I went hunting for his short fiction. In a used book store in Kingston, I came across an old TWILIGHT ZONE magazine that had, if you can believe it, stories by Shiner, Joe Lansdale, and Robertson Davies! Now how awesome is that? I gobbled up the issue and loved Shiner’s “Tommy and the Talking Dog,” which you can read here.

Justin Howe and I both champion Shiner’s short stories, which are almost all available for free online here. Shiner’s short stuff is dark, smooth, and smart horror and fantasy fiction, with some forays into SFish territory as well. I’d recommend “White City” for you Tesla fans, “Steam Engine Time” for you rock and rollers, and the aforementioned “Love in Vain.”

So, after catching re-broadcasts of a Canadian provincial TV show about SF, after stumbling upon a stray magazine in a bookstore, and after making a post on FB, Lewis Shiner popped by to say hi. How cool is that?

I may be a historian, but I prefer the present and the future!



About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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