Arts

Livermore: Crime and sci-fi stories make for a good read

Local author uses diverse background to develop characters, plots

Livermore writer John G. Bluck has released his latest short story volume, "Florida Grand Theft & Other Tales," with the same gutsy characters that pleased fans in his previous works.

Livermore author John G. Bluck with his latest book, "Florida Grand Theft & Other Tales." (Contributed photo)

This volume, available in paperback and e-book, begins with seven crime stories followed by nine of science fiction with the genres sometimes overlapping.

"It's only natural that I would write in both the crime-mystery and science fiction genres," Bluck said. "At the beginning of my career I worked in Washington, D.C., as a television daytime crime cinematographer. After that I worked 30 years for NASA."

Bluck retired from NASA in 2008 as a public affairs officer at Moffett Field commuting on ACE train, which gave him time to write -- and people-watch.

"I get my ideas a number of ways, many through observation, just watching people," he said. "I think you need to have a Walter Mitty mind to come up with ideas -- it takes a bit of daydreaming to come up with things."

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Although he'd been working on some of the stories for as long as 15 years, others he wrote during the pandemic as he mused on the changing world. One story, "Big Brother's Bracelets," directly relates to the aftermath of COVID-19.

He noted that some things in his futuristic stories are already becoming reality, saying testing done on artificial intelligence "robots" has shown that when put into competition against each other they will begin to cheat to win.

Many of the stories are set in the Tri-Valley but others are in places Bluck has lived or visited, such as when a computer hacker escapes to Naples, Italy, a trip he remembers fondly.

Bluck often writes first-person as a woman.

"I've heard there are a lot more women readers," he commented with a laugh. "And I have two daughters and a wife. I figure, what the heck, we're all human beings."

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He has been using a book on psychology to help develop his characters, he said.

(Contributed image)

"I try to create different kinds of people and put them in the same area and let them loose," Bluck said. "I plan or plot my stories to a certain extent but I like to let my characters go wild."

Bluck said he garners a lot of support from the Tri-Valley Writers club.

"After I retired I went and I loved it," he said. "They are really a lot of fun."

Plus they help each other by sharing their writing and giving advice.

"Several of the writers were policemen and they seem to like my books," Bluck said. "They like my crime and mystery better -- they might be more real to them."

In Bluck's other book of short stories, "Venus Warning & Other Tales," the title story he wrote 20 years ago cautions about climate change.

"I wanted people to know the dangers of global warming," he said. "I really think one of the biggest problems with the world is population explosion. Too many people use more and more resources. And with global warming, we have vast migrations of people."

Bluck also is the author of the mystery novella, "The Knight Prowler," which explores a fictional murder in Livermore, and a mystery novel, "Death in the Holler," set in Kentucky where his daughter lives.

His next project is another full-length book, tentatively titled, "Murder at NASA."

"I think that would be a great location, and I'm just chomping at the bit to start working on that one," Bluck said.

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Livermore: Crime and sci-fi stories make for a good read

Local author uses diverse background to develop characters, plots

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 4:16 pm

Livermore writer John G. Bluck has released his latest short story volume, "Florida Grand Theft & Other Tales," with the same gutsy characters that pleased fans in his previous works.

This volume, available in paperback and e-book, begins with seven crime stories followed by nine of science fiction with the genres sometimes overlapping.

"It's only natural that I would write in both the crime-mystery and science fiction genres," Bluck said. "At the beginning of my career I worked in Washington, D.C., as a television daytime crime cinematographer. After that I worked 30 years for NASA."

Bluck retired from NASA in 2008 as a public affairs officer at Moffett Field commuting on ACE train, which gave him time to write -- and people-watch.

"I get my ideas a number of ways, many through observation, just watching people," he said. "I think you need to have a Walter Mitty mind to come up with ideas -- it takes a bit of daydreaming to come up with things."

Although he'd been working on some of the stories for as long as 15 years, others he wrote during the pandemic as he mused on the changing world. One story, "Big Brother's Bracelets," directly relates to the aftermath of COVID-19.

He noted that some things in his futuristic stories are already becoming reality, saying testing done on artificial intelligence "robots" has shown that when put into competition against each other they will begin to cheat to win.

Many of the stories are set in the Tri-Valley but others are in places Bluck has lived or visited, such as when a computer hacker escapes to Naples, Italy, a trip he remembers fondly.

Bluck often writes first-person as a woman.

"I've heard there are a lot more women readers," he commented with a laugh. "And I have two daughters and a wife. I figure, what the heck, we're all human beings."

He has been using a book on psychology to help develop his characters, he said.

"I try to create different kinds of people and put them in the same area and let them loose," Bluck said. "I plan or plot my stories to a certain extent but I like to let my characters go wild."

Bluck said he garners a lot of support from the Tri-Valley Writers club.

"After I retired I went and I loved it," he said. "They are really a lot of fun."

Plus they help each other by sharing their writing and giving advice.

"Several of the writers were policemen and they seem to like my books," Bluck said. "They like my crime and mystery better -- they might be more real to them."

In Bluck's other book of short stories, "Venus Warning & Other Tales," the title story he wrote 20 years ago cautions about climate change.

"I wanted people to know the dangers of global warming," he said. "I really think one of the biggest problems with the world is population explosion. Too many people use more and more resources. And with global warming, we have vast migrations of people."

Bluck also is the author of the mystery novella, "The Knight Prowler," which explores a fictional murder in Livermore, and a mystery novel, "Death in the Holler," set in Kentucky where his daughter lives.

His next project is another full-length book, tentatively titled, "Murder at NASA."

"I think that would be a great location, and I'm just chomping at the bit to start working on that one," Bluck said.

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