Oltion, Jerry 1957-
OLTION, Jerry 1957-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "ol-tee-un"; born September 22, 1957, in Sheridan, WY; son of George (in government administrator) and Pauline Oltion; married Kathleen Palko (a writer), August 11, 1979. Education: University of Wyoming, B.A., 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Music, gardening, astronomy.
CAREER: Writer. Worked variously as a gardener, stonemason, carpenter, oil-field worker, forester, land surveyor, rock 'n' roll disc jockey, printer, proofreader, editor, publisher, computer consultant, movie extra, and garbage-truck driver.
MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Analog Readers' Choice award, 1987; Nebula award, 1997, for Abandon in Place.
Frame of Reference, Questar (Sisters, OR), 1987.
Alliance (novel; "Robots City: Robots and Aliens" series), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Humanity (novel; "Robots City: Robots and Aliens" series), Ace Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Love Songs of a Mad Scientist (stories), Hypatia Press (Washington, DC), 1993.
(With wife, Kathy Oltion) Tales from the Yuletide (stories), Story Books, 1994.
Twilight's End (novel; "Star Trek" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor) Buried Treasures (anthology), Eugene Workshop (Eugene, OR), 1996.
Mudd in Your Eye (novel; "Star Trek" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Where Sea Meets Sky (novel; "Star Trek" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Singing in the Rain (stories), Hypatia Press (Washington, DC), 1998.
(With Kathy Oltion) The Flaming Arrow (novel; "Star Trek" series), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Abandon in Place (novel; based on a novella of the same title), Tor Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Getaway Special (novel), Tor Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(With Adam-Troy Castro) With Stars in Their Eyes (stories), Wildside Press (Denver, CO), 2003.
Twenty Questions (stories), Wheatland Press (Wilsonville, OR), 2003.
Paradise Passed (novel), Wheatland Press (Wilsonville, OR), 2004.
Anywhere but Here (novel; sequel to The Getaway Special), Tor Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Work represented in anthologies, including Space Shuttles, edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh, Signet (New York, NY), 1987; and What Might Have Been, Volume 4, edited by Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992. Contributor to periodicals, including Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Pulphouse, Sirius Visions, and Denali.
UNDER PSEUDONYM RYAN HUGHES
The Darkness before the Dawn (novel; "Dark Sun" series), TSR (Lake Geneva, WI), 1995.
You Only Die Twice (novel), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Hard Crash, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Prophet's Power, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Science-fiction writer Jerry Oltion was raised in rural Wyoming, a location that appears in many of his stories and novels. He has published several collections and contributed to the "Star Wars" series, as well as collaborating with his wife, Kathy Oltion, who is also a writer.
Oltion developed his Nebula-winning novella Abandon in Place into a full-length novel. Christine C. Menefee noted in School Library Journal that it is "equal parts hard science and ghost story, New Physics and New Age." The story is one of nostalgia and begins after the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong. A phantom Saturn V spaceship appears on an abandoned launch pad of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s, Cape Canaveral and heads toward the moon. Writing in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Michelle West commented that "there's something about that image that speaks to the loss of idealism and fervor about the space program as if the space program were our youth. It's almost perfect."
After two more ghostly launches take place, NASA administrators instruct astronaut Rick Spencer to board the ship, disengage its engines, and return to Earth on a shuttle. He boards with his girlfriend, pilot Tessa McClain, and a Japanese scientist, but instead of following orders, they remain on board and complete the mission to the south pole of the moon. They return to Earth hoping that their flight will inspire renewed interest in the space program, but it is seen more as a supernatural event and an indication of the paranormal powers of the crew, which they draw on to revive the program. Booklist reviewer Roberta Johnson wrote that "Oltion captures the imagination in the opening pages and then tells a wonderful what-if story."
In The Getaway Special, Allen Meisner, a member of INSANE—the International Network of Scientists against Nuclear Extermination—invents a "hyperdrive" that can be built by anyone with cheap parts and enables any container that can be made airtight to travel at a speed faster than light. He first tests his invention on the shuttle Discovery and broadcasts instructions on how to build it worldwide. For this he is charged with treason and other crimes by the government. Together with the captain of the Discovery, Judy Gallagher, who has been similarly charged, he escapes when they crash in Wyoming in an escape pod. The pair are helped by a friendly couple and a bank robber, the latter who helps fund their voyage in a septic tank converted into a spaceship through the power of the hyperdrive. They head out to space, where they meet intelligent butterflies and trees and discover that other Earthlings have followed their lead.
"This is as much fun as science fiction can be," remarked Menefee in her School Library Journal review of The Getaway Special. "Oltion makes an entertaining but forceful argument for seeking personal fulfillment through escape," said a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
In the sequel to The Getaway Special, Anywhere but Here, Wyoming couple Trent and Donna Stinson escape from Earth after losing their jobs in the now-fascist United States, which threatens any country that questions its authority and has driven its people away with ever-more-oppressive security. Many Americans have colonized other planets, and it is now illegal to build a hyperdrive vehicle. The couple ignore the law, however, and land on a French planet that the United States attacks with asteroids. Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassada called Anywhere but Here "entertaining as well as thought-provoking."
A profile of Oltion that appears at Sff.net reveals that Paradise Passed, which took him two decades to write, is his own favorite novel. "He poured his heart and soul into it," the online essayist noted, "blending bizarre aliens, wacky religion, good intentions, and bad luck into a coming of age story that will leave you thinking about it long after you're done reading. It's got Jerry's patented sense of humor, but this time that humor comes with an undercurrent of social tension that will keep you on the edge of your chair until the very last page."
Oltion told CA: "I chose science fiction partly because that's what I grew up reading (Heinlein and Niven were my biggest early influences), but partly because SF gives a writer such a boundless playing field in which to speculate on the future of humanity. I am by nature an optimist, and I want to share my ideas of how our society and the world around us might evolve in a positive way. By sharing those ideas, perhaps I will plant the seeds for making them become reality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2000, Roberta Johnson, review of Abandon in Place, p. 625; November 1, 2001, Bryan Baldus, review of The Getaway Special, p. 463; March 15, 2005, Carl Hays, review of Anywhere but Here, p. 1276.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of The Getaway Special, p. 1330.
Kliatt, January, 2004, Lesley S. J. Farmer, review of The Getaway Special, p. 24.
Library Journal, November 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Abandon in Place, p. 101; December, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Getaway Special, p. 181; March 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Anywhere but Here, p. 75.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July, 2001, Michelle West, review of Abandon in Place, p. 49.
MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Anywhere but Here.
Publishers Weekly, November 6, 2000, review of Abandon in Place, p. 75; October 15, 2001, review of The Getaway Special, p. 50; January 17, 2005, review of Anywhere but Here, p. 39.
School Library Journal, April, 2001, Christine C. Menefee, review of Abandon in Place, p. 171; April, 2002, Christine C. Menefee, review of The Getaway Special, p. 186.
Sff.net, http://www.sff.net/ (March 13, 2005), "Jerry Oltion."