High Five with James Smythe – A Lowest Heaven Special

LH_PB_7The Lowest Heaven is the latest collection of short stories to be published by Jurassic London and brought to you by the great Pornokitsch. It’s a sci-fi spectacular featuring some of the hottest names in modern genre publishing and containing photography from the collection of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

All this week we’re celebrating the release of The Lowest Heaven by bringing you everything from exclusive High Five interviews such as this one to reviews and even an indepth look at that stunning cover with the artist himself Mr Joey Hi-Fi.

To kick us off we have a High Five interview with the awesome James Smythe.


James Smythe is the author of The Testimony, The Explorer and The Machine (HarperCollins), among other things. He also writes narratives for video games and teaches Creative Writing so he certainly knows a thing or two about story telling.

Every one of the J For Jetpack team have read The Explorer which was released earlier this year and every one of us loved it. It’s claustrophobic, gripping and one of those books you insist your friends simply must read.

His The Lowest Heaven story is called “The Grand Tour” and influenced by the Voyager 1 probe.

On With the Show…

1) To start this off, what was the inspiration behind your story in The Lowest Heaven?

I’ve always wanted to write an alien invasion story, and this seemed the perfect opportunity.

Plus, I wanted to rip off Fallout a bit in terms of the setting – I’ve been meaning to get to that for a while. Also, I wanted to write about demonic possession. So, basically: the three things managed to roll into one when I was reading about, and thinking about, the amazing Voyager 1 probe; and, in particular, the golden record that we put inside it. What would another civilisation make of the music? Of the sounds? And, most importantly, of the radioactive isotope we sent them?

2) What is it that attracts you to science-fiction as a genre and what one sci-fi thing, be it book, movie or real life event, has influenced you the most?


Yikes indeed

It’s freedom, mainly. There’s expectations with so many other genres: tropes that it feels like you have to meet. With modern SF, there’s the void. Fill it as you will.

And, ET. That was the first thing that ever scared me. My uncle had a pirate videotape of it before it was even out in the cinema, and I watched it from behind a sofa and quivered. Then, a few months later, I was visited by ET. He was at my window. It wasn’t a dream.

I think that explains a lot.

3) Okay, so you’re going on a mission in to space. What is your mission? What three people (alive or not so alive) will you take with you? And most importantly what cool name would you give your ship?

I’m going to Gliese 581g, to kick off terraforming it. It’s going to take a while. I’d take my dog, Stephen King (to tell me some stories on the flight), and my astrophysicist friend Rob Simpson, because he’d kill me if I went without him.

4) The age ol’ question, do you think we’re alone in the universe?

No. But that doesn’t mean we should go looking for life. I think that if there is something, it’ll be so incomprehensible that we probably shouldn’t ever meet it.

5) Finally, we say J for Jetpack, you say J for…?

Djames. (The D is silent.)

Thanks James!


If you want to know more about James Smythe check out his website here or catch him on Twitter at @jpsmythe.

The Lowest Heaven is released this Thursday 13 June 2013 from Jurassic London. For more information check out the website here.

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3 Responses to High Five with James Smythe – A Lowest Heaven Special

  1. Jared says:

    Question for James, if he had to enter the world of pro wrestling, with a stage name based on one of his own books, which would it be?

    James “The Explorer” Smythe seems like the obvious one, but being known as “The Testimony” or “The Machine” would be pretty badass.

  2. James Smythe says:

    James ‘The Explorer’ Smythe is more a porn than wrestling name, I think.

    ‘The Machine’ is a better wrestling name, surely?

    “I AM THE MACHINE! My signature move is a modified piledriver known as The Memory Wipe! PURGE! COMMIT! REPLENISH!”

    In fact, that’s really good. Career change time!

  3. Jared says:

    I can hear the crowd cheering that: PUUUUUUURGE!

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