Santa's Computer Christmas, poetry, December 1, 2009
The Attraction of Heavenly Bodies, fiction, June 1, 2009
The Last Homecoming, fiction, June 1, 2010
Writers' Workshops, reviews, nonfiction, June 1, 2010
The Last Teamster, fiction, Issue 19, June 1 2011
The Bone Necklace, fiction, Issue 27, June 1, 2014
Don't Forget, fiction, Issue 38, March 15, 2017
When did you start writing? My first short story was called “The Red Planet,” written in third grade, about a glacier covering Oklahoma. I didn’t know then that the glaciers didn’t make it that far south! I didn’t get “serious” about it until 1992 when I started putting short stories together for the first of many workshops since then. That first one was with Rachel McAlpin in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
When and what and where did you first get published? In 1997 at the now defunct web-zine E-scape. The story was "The Sacrifices of War." E-scape was a great web-zine, but a little ahead of its time.
What themes do you like to write about? I am particularly drawn to themes that explore the interface between what we call science and spirituality--cultural and social contrasts colored by science and spirituality interfaces, etc. Another way of describing this might be contemplation of different definitions of reality, different value systems etc. On another level I like to write stories that hinge on unintended consequences of...well almost anything. In sci-fi that could be unintended consequences of technology, in fantasy it could be unintended consequences of magic or spirituality. For me "fantasy" isn't swords, wizards and dragons, it is "weirdness" that can't be explained away strictly, or easily by science. My sci-fi often employs pseudo science and hand waving to "allow" for interesting things to happen. Some people call that soft science fiction. So I guess I fall in the cracks between a lot of larger themes. But the cracks are more interesting to me.
Why do you write? It feels so good when I see "The End" appear on the last page. Also, there is just a lot inside me that wants out. Keeping it all trapped inside without an avenue for escape would probably result in an insurgency amongst the synapses that could have a lot of collateral damage.
Why do you write Science Fiction and/or Fantasy? Because that’s what I write when I am not writing the other stuff, which I write more and more of lately. But sci-fi was my first infatuation and it still tugs hardest at my heart strings. Mainstream has this much possibility (.). Speculative fiction--which is how I prefer to think of SF, has this much possibility (O).
What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? Some books I've enjoyed reading in the last couple years are Paolo Bacigalupi's Wind-up Girl, Jack McDevitt's Time Travelers Never Die, Stuart Archer Cohen's The Army of the Republic, Max Brooks' World War Z, Sara Gruen's Ape House, Peter Hoeg's The Woman and the Ape, Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch, Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow. And then there are lots of "mainstream" books that feed my muse...actually a couple of the above are only marginally speculative fiction. But I find that most of my "structured" reading (books/stories chosen on purpose) touches on the themes mentioned earlier. I love books and stories that fly higher because of a strong character voice. And I love getting into the heads of other cultural views of reality, of humanity, of spirituality. But no book or story can ride on theme alone. The stories and characters have to be compelling in themselves, and these all do a good job of interlacing all the facets.
Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story? Jeez Louise, lotsa both. Mainstream: Chinua Achebe, Pat Conroy, Clyde Edgerton, Ernest Hemingway, Khaled Hosseini, Barbara Kingsolver, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yukio Mishima, Frank McCourt, Herman Melville, Ian Pears, Mary Doria Russell, John Kennedy Toole. Speculative Fiction: Paolo Bacigalupi, Greg Bear, David Brin, Philip K. Dick, M. John Harrison, Robert Heinlein, Nancy Kress, Jack McDevitt, Paul Park, Frederik Pohl, Richard Paul Russo, John Scalzi, Charles Sheffield, Dan Simmons, Walter Tevis; Stories: Blood Music, The Postman, Ender’s Game, A Skanner Darkley,The Speed of Dark, Rachel in Love, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Good News From Outer Space, The Necessary Beggar, The Old Man’s War series, The Coyote Series, Perfume, The Man Who Fell to Earth. My favorite book ever is a toss up between The Great Santini, Prince of Tides and Blood Music, with ‘Tis close up in there. Don’t ask me to explain any of these choices. You asked about favorites not about what I think are the greatest, most enduring, loftiest etc. They are just what I like; and the list is about half what it should be. I like a lot of things, and I read a lot of non-fiction too.
What are you trying to say with your fiction? I think I try to tell whoever reads my stuff what is driving me crazy, what is under my skin, what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, what makes me stay up nights contemplating all the weird "what ifs" that loop through my head, all the beauty I wish others could see, all the ugliness I wish others could see, all the stuff I refuse to look at that I know I should look at...something like all that.
Do you blog? Where? Yesss! At my website: www.BobSojka.com
If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say? "Boo!"
Bob was born in Chicago, grew up in Riverside, California, and earned a BA in English and a PhD in Soil Science at the University of California. He has lived and worked across the US and in a few foreign countries as an Ag/Enviro Scientist, publishing nearly 300 technical papers, book chapters. He retired from his scientific job in 2008 (dumb move given the economy) and accepted a full time position as curator of the Princess Linda Helgeland nature reserve and vintage Japanese car park, which features a purple house, the world’s largest totally unutilized organic vegetable garden, and the most complete collection of plastic hummingbird feeders and gaudy plastic flamingos within eyeshot of Curry Crossroads. He is also the custodian of Elvis the guitar-playing cat and Chewy the wonder dog's mausoleum, and play monitor of Lucy Fur the devil-dog puppy. Bob has two grown (groaning?) children who, although constantly embarrassed by him, still seem to love him deeply, as does the Princess. Bob accepts cash donations in any amount on behalf of his many selfish interests.