About the Author

Cello BridgeJim Aikin is earnestly attempting to enjoy living on this planet, in spite of the obvious difficulties that buzz like gnats around the process.

Starting in 2015, he slid sideways out of music technology and retuned his brain to focus on an older obsession: writing fiction. Fantasy fiction, to be specific. His first two novels were published as science fiction, but he has never used the word “airlock” in a story, and probably never will. His four-volume fantasy epic, the Leafstone saga, was published in 2018 and is available in paperback or e-book format on Amazon, as are two more recent books, While Caesar Sang of Hercules (a fat mystery set in ancient Rome) and The House of Broken Dolls (a story collection).

In his free time, he fiddles around with synthesizers and music software. If you’re into that sort of thing, you can send your browser scurrying over to https://midiguru.bandcamp.com. There you’ll find five “CDs” of original (or mostly original) music, available at bargain prices. In past years he has written hundreds of product reviews and tutorials for a variety of magazines, mainly Keyboard and Electronic Musician. Sadly, the corporate ownership of those magazines has saddled freelance writers with a contract that contains provisions Jim finds problematical, so his days as a magazine writer are history. Anyway, Keyboard no longer exists.

He is the author of four nonfiction books — Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming, 2nd edition and Chords & Harmony (both from Hal Leonard Publications) and Csound Power and Picture Yourself Playing Cello (both from Cengage Learning/Course Technology). As of 2021, the Hal Leonard titles still seem to be in print, but the Cengage books are pretty much gone.

His fantasy stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and other magazines. His first two novels (Walk the Moons Road and The Wall at the Edge of the World) are out of print — but wait! The Wall at the Edge of the World is back in print, in a spiffy self-published edition. Find it on Amazon.

Until quite recently, he taught cello privately in Livermore, California. He has performed with a number of local groups, including the Livermore Valley Opera, the Pleasanton Chamber Players, the Silicon Valley Symphony, the Pleasanton Playhouse, the Redwood Symphony, the Diablo Symphony, and the Livermore-Amador Symphony.

He has released seven works of interactive fiction (text-based computer games, in other words) — “Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina,” “Lydia’s Heart,” “Mrs. Pepper’s Nasty Secret” (co-authored with Eric Eve), “April in Paris,” “A Flustered Duck,” “The White Bull,” and “Captivity.” The duck won first place in the annual Spring Thing competition for 2009.

His personal website is https://jimaikin.net. Email sent to jim@jimaikin.net will reach him.

23 Responses to About the Author

  1. I have read some of your articles. Some are very good. But you are no midiguru. You mistakenly think that MIDI started in the 80’s. Wrong. Don’t hate, but it was pioneered by myself, Casio, SIEL, and Nilford Labs in the 79’s. Anytime you want the real facts, contact the true MIDIGuru.

  2. midiguru says:

    Interesting comment, Bruce. I’d love to know more about this bit of history! There were certainly digital precursors to MIDI, including the Oberheim System and a Roland system whose name I can’t recall offhand — was it the Roland Digital Bus? MIDI itself was based largely on the latter.

    The MIDI Specification was developed jointly by Sequential Circuits, Roland, Yamaha, Korg, and a couple of other companies; there were six in all. I’d have to look up the details. Casio may have been one of them, but SIEL definitely wasn’t. You may have been involved at that point; I wasn’t an insider, and wouldn’t know.

    I didn’t recall Nilford Labs, but from a quick websearch, it appears they were involved with Atari and Hybrid Arts in the 1986 era. That would have been a couple of years after MIDI appeared. What they were doing prior to that I wouldn’t know.

    Anytime you’d care to share the real facts with the rest of the universe, feel free to trot them out. I’ll run your data past Dave Smith and the folks at the MMA and get their recollections.

    In any case, the history of MIDI has nothing to do with the question of who qualifies as a MIDI guru. You could have stepped out of a flying saucer yesterday and still know tons more about MIDI, synthesizers, and digital audio than I do. Or not.

    I’ve been writing articles on music technology for Keyboard since the early ’80s. I currently write mostly for Keyboard, but in the past I’ve written extensively for EM, Mix, and the late, lamented Virtual Instruments. You can find articles by me on the O’Reilly site, and I’ve written several features for Drum. I was the chief editor on Peter Kirn’s book Real World Digital Audio (Peachpit Press), and my own book, Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming, is still in print through Hal Leonard.

    All in all, I’ve shared my assorted bits of wisdom, information, speculation, and opinion with hundreds of thousands of people over the past 25 years. I’ve received thank-you emails from Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur.

    I’m sure your consulting business, which is described very briefly on your website, is doing yeoman service for musicians in your local area (though as far as I can see, your site doesn’t actually say what area that is, which would probably tend to discourage potential customers). It appears from your site that you’re also a reseller for Sonar and Pro Tools. Other than that, I’m not sure what your claims to guru-dom are.

    Maybe we should have a face-off on programming Reason tracks or something. That might be fun!

  3. Nathan Jerpe says:

    Enjoying the blog, Jim, mostly for the IF musings but the overall tone seems to agree with me as well. I’ll be sure to stay tuned for more posts as I’m hoping to do some IF development myself.

    As it happens I’m also a fan of electronic music (mostly dub, ambience, IDM, etc.) although I am far more an enthusiastic listener than a tinkerer.


  4. Pingback: Teaching with Interactive Fiction « Electric Archaeology: Digital Media for Learning and Research

  5. Dear Jim,

    I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve got piles of old Keyboard Magazine’s in my bookshelf and I always enjoyed your synth reviews, tech tips, other windows, etc etc. Great stuff, totally timeless.

  6. Chad Cottle says:

    Dear Jim,

    I have a copy of your novel The Wall at the Edge of the World. It’s been some time since I read it, but I remember loving it very much.

    I’m about to read it again, but I’d truly love to see it on Kindle since I have a Kindle DX. I don’t suppose you owe the electronic rights to your own novel? If so, do you have any plans to publish it on Kindle? It isn’t too hard to do. If there is no way this will be available for Kindle, I’ll have to scan my copy and make my own personal electonic Kindle edition.

    Please, don’t warn me about sharing my personal copy of it if I do actually scan it. I will *never* do such a thing. It will remain on my Kindle only, forever.

    I see you have two other novels, one self-published. Do you have any idea where I might get copies of them? I’m very interested.

    Thanks for any response.

    Chad Cottle

  7. Ashley Franks says:

    I recently stumbled on The Wall at the Edge of the World while it sat forgotten on my brother-in-law’s former childhood bedroom bookshelf. I needed something to read during a quiet weekend away and the name caught my attention. It was an amazing story that I could not put down. When I finished, I knew that this amazing sci-fi writer must have written many more books because his talent was evident. So I admit to being surprised when I could only find one other book (which I found, purchased, but still need to read…though just from the summary, I’m fairly certain I will enjoy).

    So why did you stop writing sci-fi (if it’s not too forward of me to ask)? I’m sad that there are not tons of “Jim Aikin” novels for me to consume. I read by Authors usually. If I find I Really love a book, I will devour everything written by that author.

    Thanks for such an awesome story!

    • midiguru says:

      Thanks for the praise — it’s appreciated. After that book (this would be in 1993), I wrote a fantasy novel that my agent tried to sell, but nobody would buy it. In retrospect, it wasn’t that strong a story.

      Since then, with years in between, I’ve written a couple more novels that that agent didn’t feel optimistic enough about to even try selling. And if nobody is buying, why write?

      The truth is, I’m a better writer than I am a storyteller. Finding a story that I want to tell, that makes sense to me, and that doesn’t fall apart while I’m in the middle of it, is not easy for me. I’ve done it a few times, but then there are the marketing issues. If a book is too long, for example, the paper and shipping will be too expensive for the publisher. You may think that shouldn’t make a difference, but it does.

      You can read eight of my short stories on my website (www.musicwords.net) — four of them published in the leading magazines, four never published. I have another eight that I haven’t gotten around to uploading yet. I’ll do that as soon as I get an email from even one reader saying he or she read and enjoyed the stories.

  8. Josh says:

    Just read the wall at the edge of the world. Wow, what a Fantastic book thanks for writing it.

  9. danleuca says:

    Hi Jim,

    I am so glad I found this blog, I was actually looking for you for a while. I have bought your book “Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming” quite a while ago from amazon.
    However, the CD that accompanies the book came broken into pieces in its plastic sleeve. I wondered if you can help me with another CD, or some place where I could download the sound examples. I can send you a picture with me and the book and broken CD. Thank you so much in advance.

    • midiguru says:

      Have you contacted the retailer who sold you the book? If they won’t help, I can rip the examples and make them available to you as a personal download, but you should contact the retailer first.

      • Hi Jim,

        I have tried to solve the broken CD problem, however since I bought the book in 2007 from amazon.com and then I chose one of several suppliers which I cannot remember now, I do not have any receipt anymore(bank statements, etc are being destroyed after few years by me)…so you are my only hope. The book is excellent but without the sound examples I am really getting half the story…Please help me, I can send you pictures with the book and broken CD. My personal email is lucadean@yahoo.co.uk

  10. danleuca says:

    Sorry Jim, it’s me again…my best friend is doing 3D animation. He would like to read your SF stories and maybe we can strike a deal to make a movie out of the best one. Please get in touch.

  11. paula says:

    jim had to tell ya i luved the “wall at the end of the world” when i read it, since the book had been borrowed i never found it again.today i had an overwhelming urge to read it again and share it with friends i have spent hours googling it finally came across your name..i have yet to read your others to be honest,but as far as the genra id put u in my top 3 only r.a salvatore and james clemens….and im very biased when it comes to books.but i would appriciate it (if its possible)to maybe add it to a few online libraries.its literary genius…..i dont beg often but im pleading!!!!!!!

    • midiguru says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Paula. At this point, the only way I could make the book available online would be to (a) retype it or (b) acquire some really good optical character reading software and scan the pages. I’ve looked around for a good freeware OCR program for Windows, but haven’t found one. If you know of one, please let me know! I have seven or eight copies of the book, and I would be willing to slice the pages out of one in order to scan it.

      The job would still take days, because I’d have to clean up the files. I’m happy to do the work, but I’m reluctant to spend $$$ on an OCR program and then also put in a ton of work.

      • paula says:

        i am again overwhelmed,this time by how quick a man of your stature,and as much to do as you gets back with his fans…im new to pc’s and def new to programs i am just now getting the art of google down to a science..normally i would have been astounded by someone saying tht they would “slice”a few pages..(in my opinion would be like the book burnings of ww2)but in this case i would find it a greater sacrifice for the good of man kind.like i said im new to the program thing but i have alot of friends that are very “nerd friendly”so if there is a free one i’ll search high and low…btw have u thought of maybe making it into a movie?and if it already is one forgive my ignorance i live my life in books and not in front of the tube….. thanks again 1)for your time& 2)most of all for an inspiring mind paula

  12. Mike Horgan says:

    I am sure I read this book — about a sort of high-tech privileged society out of touch with a nature-al society — and was so totally really liking the read. I am looking at ReadIris 12 for Mac a good one, and Nuance’s OmniPage (on sale at their site for $99), both are great and good OCR tools. I am about to put OmniPage to a greater test. It’d be nice if someone could order 999 copies or whatever amount, to get this work back in print. :)).

  13. Autumn M. Pease says:

    Hey Jim,

    This is the only way I know to get a hold of you. Love to hear from you.

  14. Ricardo says:

    Hello, Jim. A man of many qualities, no doubt, chiefly to me the deep and engaging works of interactive fiction you’ve been authoring all these years – thanks for the ride! I occasionally also drop by to read your articles and rants, always a good reading either way.

  15. Alen says:

    Found this blog through the very old (2009) entry “The Future of Keyboard Magazine.” Amazingly the magazine is still surviving although it seems to be hanging on by a thread. It’s “wafer thin” and a disappointing read compared to the thick issues of yesteryear (I read it religiously back in the late 70’s and early 80’s). Back then your product reviews were comprehensive and always a treat to read. Today’s reviews are too short and barely scratch the surface.

    • midiguru says:

      Yeah, Keyboard ain’t what it used to be, that’s for sure. But then, I’m not what I used to be either….

  16. Pingback: Writing Exercises | Lani Longshore's Blog

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