Apr 07 2010


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(Last updated: March 1, 2018)

ISFDB, the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, has a brief entry for me here.

I’m generally not one for tooting my own horn, as it were, but I keep getting bio requests for conference program books and “about the author” blurbs, so I might as well put some of that up here.


Alastair Mayer was born in London, England, and moved with his family to Toronto, Canada, on his seventh birthday. They later moved to Ottawa, Canada, where he attended Ridgemont High School (yes, really). He served three years in the reserves with the army’s Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, training as a radio and teletype operator and spending one summer as a tel-op in a then-secret NORAD bunker. (Said bunker has since been decommissioned and is now a tourist attraction.) After a year at Algonquin College studying chemical technology he attended Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, majoring in Life Sciences with an eye toward medicine and biomedical engineering. When he discovered a natural talent for computers he switched his major to Computer and Information Science.

Alastair worked various odd jobs in high school and college, including chef’s assistant, life guard, bartender, AV technician, clerk, print shop machine operator, farm hand, security guard, and computer programmer and operator. After college his career centered around computers and software, working for a typesetting company, several different consulting companies, on the Computer Centre staff at Concordia University in Montreal and later at the University of Guelph. He left academia again to work in fields including GIS and telecommunications, when he moved to Colorado. He has worked for such companies as IBM, Lockheed-Martin, Hewlett-Packard, and Dish.

While at the University of Guelph, Alastair developed a computer conferencing system known as CoSy, which became widely popular and was acquired by Byte Magazine for their nascent BIX online forum system. Through Byte, Alastair met science fiction and computer author Dr. Jerry Pournelle, whom he also knew through the L5 Society. Pournelle invited him to participate in several meetings of the Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy.

Somewhere in the course of the above, Alastair found time to: briefly take up skydiving and do a couple of jumps; join college archery, pistol and fencing clubs; become an accomplished SCUBA diver; develop software to automate a photometric observatory; be a sometime member of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), Planetary Society, and L5 Society (where he served as president of two different chapters, although not simultaneously); and earn his pilot’s license. He has three now-adult children, a daughter and twin boys, the latter in college.

Alastair has always been an explorer. He did frequent camping trips in the Canadian woods, including hiking, biking and canoe trips. He’s explored caves both above and below water, hiked a glacier, done hundreds of scuba dives including at night, under ice, and on shipwrecks. His flying time includes aerobatics and solo cross-country trips of over a thousand miles, and – as a passenger – over the Nazca Lines in Peru. Alastair has visited every continent except Antarctica, and never left Leningrad (the city changed its name back to St. Petersburg while he was visiting). He has always wanted to explore space (his father was a member of the British Interplanetary Society, as is Alastair), and was briefly an Astronaut Candidate for the Canadian Space Program, but has resigned himself to exploring it through his stories.


In addition to too-numerous reports and in-house technical documents, Alastair Mayer has published (as Alastair J.W. Mayer) articles and papers in the computer and space fields, including:

  • ACM SIGPLAN NOTICES, Vol. 16, No. 11 (November 1981). “Value Receiving Procedures”
  • COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE NEWS, Vol. 10. No. 4, (June 1982) “The Architecture of the Burroughs B5500 — 20 Years Later, Still Ahead of the Times?”
  • PROCEEDINGS OF THE 1985 WORKSHOP ON COMPUTER CONFERENCING AND ELECTRONIC MESSAGING, Guelph, January 1985. “User Friendliness at 300 Baud: The CoSy Approach to the Human Interface”
  • BYTE MAGAZINE: Vol. 10, No. 13, (Dec. 1985). “[Conferencing System] Storage Architectures”
  • BYTE MAGAZINE: Vol. 11, No. 5, (May 1986). “System Review: The AT&T UNIX PC”
  • BYTE MAGAZINE: Vol. 12, No. 5, (May 1987). “System Review: The Commodore 64-C”
  • High Frontier’s NEWSWATCH: Vol. VI, No. 12, (December 1989). “The Experimental Spaceship (SSX)” (cover story)
  • FINAL FRONTIER MAGAZINE: Vol. 4, No. 2, (March/April 1991). “Mass Transit” (in the Notes from Earth section)
  • SPACE MANUFACTURING 8 ENERGY AND MATERIALS FROM SPACE (Proceedings of the Ten Princeton/AIAA/SSI conference on Space Manufacturing), Princeton, May 1991.“The Aresian Well: Piping Martian Volatiles to the Inner Solar System”
  • ENGINEERING, CONSTRUCTION, AND OPERATIONS IN SPACE III (SPACE ‘92, Proceedings of the Third International Conference), Denver, June 1992.“Power Sources for Lunar Bases”

(For more details on the above, see the Papers page.)

Mayer also contributing to the reports generated from several of the meetings of the Citzen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy, and was an assistant editor of the Proceedings of the 1988 International Space Development Conference.

More recently (as should be apparent from this web site), Alastair has been writing and publishing (as Alastair Mayer) speculative fiction , including:

  • “Snowball”, in the anthology Footprints (Hadley Rille Books, July 2009).
  • “The Gremlin Gambit”, in the online magazine MindFlights (September 2009).
  • “Light Conversation”, in the magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact (June 2010).
  • “Poetic Justice”, in the anthology Space Horrors (Full Throttle Space Tales #4) (Flying Pen Press, October 2010)
  • “Small Penalties”, in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (April 2011).
  • “Stone Age”, in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (June 2011).
  • “The Sock Problem”, in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (October 2011).
  • “Strobe Effect” (with Brad Torgersen), in Analog Science Fiction and Fact (November 2012)

Since the publication of his first novel, The Chara Talisman in 2011, Alastair has gone on to publish two sequels to it, The Reticuli Deception (2012) and The Eridani Convergence (2017), as well as a prequel trilogy, the Alpha Centauri series (First Landing (2016), Sawyer’s World (2017) and The Return(2017)). He is currently working on fourth volumes in both series.

I won’t explain here just why, but Larry Niven signed my copy of his Neutron Star with the inscription “for Al Mayer, for saving civilization”.

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