James Van Pelt

An interviewer asked the author if he wanted to be the next Stephen King: he said, "No, I want to be the first James Van Pelt."

Follow James to get notified about new stories and posts.


Subscribe to support James's work and read subscriber-only content.

James Van Pelt fell in love with Zenna Henderson, Ray Bradbury, Ursula le Guin, Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey and a host of others when he started reading. In elementary school, he told his mom he wanted to grow up to be a Ray Bradbury, like Bradbury was a job instead of a person. His work has appeared in Asimov's, Analog, Clarkesworld and many other venues. Stories have been reprinted in Year's Best anthologies and gathered in five of his collections. He has been a finalist for the Nebula, the Sturgeon Award, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He recently retired from teaching high school English (37 years), to write full time.

Stories · Posts · Books

The Comeback

Mar 15, 2019 · 4,473 words (17 minutes) · 1 like · 33 views

Humor Science Fiction Romance baseball

Baseball is a game of unlikely stories, of fortunes turned on a wild pitch or a bad hop or a miracle play. A lot has changed in the game from the early 1900s, but in 2051, its nature is still the same. As said in the movie, Bull Durham: "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

dirt covered Official Baseball ball in person's baseball mitts
Happy Ending

Mar 8, 2019 · 4,927 words (18 minutes) · 24 views

Fantasy Horror Literary Fiction metafiction

A creative writing teacher, a gifted but rebellious student, and an examination of which way the arrow of time points.

Nothing is Normal

Feb 28, 2019 · 5,737 words (21 minutes) · 37 views

Mystery Science Fiction Future Noir Noir

The Eisenhower tunnel cuts beneath the Continental Divide in Colorado, giving I-70 an easier route through the mountains. In the future, when cars are gone, it will be a long, climate-controlled city for low income workers in a world where emotions can be bought or sold, and where even a drug dealer searches for meaning.

people om tunnel
The Diorama

Feb 15, 2019 · 6,932 words (26 minutes) · 2 likes · 77 views

Fantasy Literary Fiction Love

Restrictive neighborhood covenants protect property values and maintain a sense of propriety in a subdivision, but they also allow the most controlling people power that they can't resist. Maybe not everyone wants to be like everyone else. Maybe that's a good thing.

bird's eyeview of city
Nor a Lender Be

Feb 9, 2019 · 7,436 words (28 minutes) · 2 likes · 66 views

Science Fiction

Although school districts beg the voters for money to buy computers or to replace crumbling buildings or to implement new testing programs, everyone knows that nothing is better for kids than a good teacher. What if technology discovered a way to put a perfect teacher in every classroom? What is a perfect teacher?

On the Road with the American Dead

Feb 1, 2019 · 4,147 words (16 minutes) · 89 views

Fantasy Horror Literary Fiction Historical Strange

Some of the country's most beautiful roads crisscross the midwest, long, lonely stretches where a solo driver has plenty of time to think and let the thoughts run idle. And, occasionally, if his mind is right and circumstances line up, he gets to hear a story.

person driving vehicle
Once They Were Monarchs

Jan 25, 2019 · 4,013 words (15 minutes) · 2 likes · 63 views

Fantasy Horror Mystery

Swimming pools in the summer are about sun and water and lying on towels and watchful guards on the towers. And sometimes there's a troll. I was a lifeguard for many summers, in case you ever wonder where writers get ideas. JVP


Jan 19, 2019 · 5,090 words (19 minutes) · 72 views

Fantasy Science Fiction

Just about every teenager feels out of place, like they don't belong, even the really confident, successful looking ones. For some of them, this feeling is worse than others. If you would like a soundtrack to this story, try Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill." JVP

silhouetto of creature during golden hour
Everything's Unlikely

Jan 11, 2019 · 1,516 words (6 minutes) · 1 like · 81 views

Fantasy Literary Fiction Love Strange

Chance rules our lives. It's true! But it's also true that luck favors the prepared. I found that this is a fun story to read out loud. More people relate to the odd mechanism of suspense in the story than I would have thought. Maybe one of the reasons the story works out loud is that I am gray-haired, have a moustache and gold-rimmed glasses. You'll see why that is relevant if you read the story. JVP

Parallel Highways

Jan 5, 2019 · 5,503 words (21 minutes) · 83 views

Fantasy Horror

I'm a small-town Colorado kid, so when I went to the LA WorldCon in 1996, the Los Angeles traffic startled me. On the second day, while trying to find my way to Anaheim and the convention, I started thinking about The Flying Dutchman and his poor, cursed crew. "Parallel Highways" rose out of that juxtaposition of traffic and legend. JVP

cars passing through north and south