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Stevens-Arce, James

Entry updated 3 March 2023. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of James Arce Stevens (1945-    ), who prior to 1990 wrote as James A. Stevens. He is perhaps the first Puerto Rican to publish sf, and the most prolific. Stevens-Arce has dedicated his life to textual creation, by writing screen-plays, commercials, short stories or novels; and in diverse genres: crime, fantasy, horror, sf, realism. He has mostly published in English, and has lived most of his life between the mainland and San Juan de Puerto Rico. Up to 1990 he used the shortened working name James A Stevens.

Stevens-Arce has a long publishing career that started in the late 1960s with "Thus Spake Marco Polo" (November 1967 If) as by James A Stevens. Several further short stories appeared in Anthologies and SF Magazines in the US. The following all appeared as by Stevens: "The Birthday Boy" in Generation (anth 1972) edited by David Gerrold; "Syn" in Tomorrow Today (anth 1975) edited by George Zebrowski; "The Children's Circle" and "Emmett" in Unexpected (anth 1976) edited by Jane and Nadra Ballentine; "And I for an Eye" in 2076: The American Tricentennial (anth 1977) edited by Edward Bryant; "This Faithful Soldier's Life" in The Future at War 2: The Spear of Mars (anth 1980) edited by Reginald Bretnor; "Servants of the Lord" in Microcosmic Tales (anth 1980) edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H Greenberg and Joseph D Olander; "Cycles" (December 1985 Stardate); "It's Not How You Play the Game" (February 1986 Stardate); "Into That Good Night" in Afterlives (anth 1986) edited by Pamela Sargent and Ian Watson; "Borboleta" (July-August 1987 Aboriginal Science Fiction). Later works as James Stevens-Arce include "Oscar Carvalho, Spacial" (July-August 1990 Aboriginal Science Fiction); "The Devil's Sentrybox" (March 1992 Amazing); and "Scenes from a Future Marriage" in New Legends (anth 1995) edited by Greg Bear.

His most popular work to date is the internationally acclaimed novel Soulsaver (2000), the story of a futuristic Christian theocracy in a USA where San Juan de Puerto Rico has become the centre of the nation. Soulsaver's main character, Juan Bautista, is a faithful and obedient servant of the Church, who polices and rescues those who commit Suicide. Suicide is not allowed in this Dystopian future, and the corps is in charge of policing those who try, and even resuscitating them so they can be tried for their own murder. The novel has good doses of humour, and is a clear critique of the strength of Religion in mass media in the US. Soulsaver has, however, a religious or fantastic ending that makes the reader ponder about the limits of sf.

Although the final version of Soulsaver was published in 2000, the novel has two earlier versions. The first, much shorter, appeared as "Soulsaver" (September 1983 Asimov's) as by James A Stevens; another version, in Spanish, ws "El salvador de almas" in Premio UPC 1997: novela corta de ciencia ficción ["1997 UPC Award: Science Fiction Short Novel"] (anth 1998) after this had won the prestigious Spanish UPC award in 1997. The novel was also translated into French as Sauverurs D'Âmes (2006). [JCTR]

James Arce Stevens

born Miami, Florida: 12 June 1945

works (selected)

  • Soulsaver (New York: Harcourt, 2000) [first version September 1983 Asimov's as by James A Stevens; rev as "El salvador de almas" ["Soulsaver"] in Premio UPC 1997: novela corta de ciencia ficción (anth 1998): hb/Tom Stvan]


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