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."

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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


Happy Ending

Published Mar 8, 2019 · 4,927 words (18 minutes) · 65 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.

A Clock


Nothing is Normal

Published Feb 28, 2019 · 5,737 words (21 minutes) · 79 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.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, South Korea.


The Diorama

Published Feb 15, 2019 · 6,932 words (26 minutes) · 2 likes · 129 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.


Nor a Lender Be

Published Feb 9, 2019 · 7,436 words (28 minutes) · 2 likes · 115 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

Published Feb 1, 2019 · 4,147 words (16 minutes) · 134 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.

Steering Wheel Driver Hand


Once They Were Monarchs

Published Jan 25, 2019 · 4,013 words (15 minutes) · 2 likes · 99 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

Monarch butterfly sitting on a flower



Published Jan 19, 2019 · 5,090 words (19 minutes) · 116 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

Antony Gormley did an extraordinary job in creating these sculptures in Lake Ballard Western Australia. Visions of aliens in an alien landscape came to mind.


Everything's Unlikely

Published Jan 11, 2019 · 1,516 words (6 minutes) · 1 like · 119 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

Published Jan 5, 2019 · 5,503 words (21 minutes) · 135 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


Eight Words

Published Dec 28, 2018 · 2,721 words (10 minutes) · 130 views

Fantasy Horror Literary Fiction Love

Because I’ve written ghost stories, I'm often asked during panels at conventions if I've ever seen a ghost. At first I said that I didn't believe, but inevitably that meant that someone would wait in the hall to earnestly tell me of their encounters with ghosts. Now, I say I don't believe in flying saucers, but I want to see one. To see a flying saucer, an alien spaceship, would open the universe to possibilities that don't seem to exist. Seeing a ghost would do the same thing. JVP