Balfour was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and wrote his first novel before he was 3 months old.
It wasn't very good.
moved to Orange County, California when he was ten. An avid science
fiction reader, he started writing short fiction when he was fourteen.
Hundreds of short stories later, his first professional sales occurred
in 1981, when he was finally able to beat the editor of Twilight
Zone Magazine into submission with a flurry of manuscripts.
continued to write a variety of SF, contemporary fantasy, and horror
stories that were published during the following years as Balfour
supported his habit by working as a delivery truck driver, comic
book writer, commercial photographer, low-budget screenwriter, engineering
test driver for Subaru, college bookstore manager, freelance journalist,
NASA computer scientist, management consultant, and computer game
developer/designer (also starting three software companies of his
own). Some might say that Balfour can't hold a job, but he says
there are three explanations for his variety of occupations –
he likes to learn new things, he likes to write, and he likes to
living around Los Angeles for ten years, Balfour felt obligated
to study film production at UCLA. When he realized that there were
only about eight very busy people in California who were actually
employed in film production, he made the natural switch and became
a computer science major at the University of California, Santa
Cruz. Desperate for people with artificial intelligence training,
NASA hired Balfour at Ames Research Center. When they needed someone
to push computer buttons on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, a high-altitude
research aircraft, NASA put Balfour on a team to capture infrared
images of the Space Shuttle on reentry.
enjoyed pushing buttons, and there were a few occupations he hadn't
worked at yet, so Balfour became a computer game designer. Involved
in early and successful efforts to bring extensive stories and deeper
characters into computer adventure games, several of Balfour's original
and adapted PC games – such as Neuromancer, Wasteland,
Outpost, and The Dagger of Amon Ra – became
award-winning bestsellers. This also gave him the chance to use
other aspects of his artificial intelligence training.
managing the development of his computer games, Balfour's first
novel, Star Crusader, was published in 1995. A non-fiction
book that explained the science behind his Outpost space
simulation game – sometimes characterized as "Sim City
in space" – was published in 1994. Adopted as a teaching
tool by many high school science classes, the Outpost game
and book remained in print until 2000.
that he might miss something during the dot-com boom, Balfour moved
from the mountains near Yosemite and returned to the San Francisco
Bay Area. As the director of product development for a large educational
software company, he managed the creation of complex websites and
distance learning products. A well-paid cog in the machine of
a multinational corporation, Balfour spent way too much time with
high-tech executives, cultish software developers, and the possibilities
of advanced Internet technologies, causing the darker themes of
his next novels to ferment in his head. Bewildered as always, his
natural response was to then get a degree in science journalism
from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
recent novels, which explore such diverse subjects as artificial
intelligence, nanotechnology, international politics, the future
of the Internet, and the future of marketing, have been well-received.
The Forge of Mars, published by Berkley/Ace
in September of 2002, was a national bestseller. The 2003 sequel,
The Digital Dead, examined realistic near-future
technologies that simulate immortality and how they might be used
by unscrupulous marketers and politicians. Prometheus
Road was published by Berkley/Ace in October of 2004.
most recent novel is Burning Season, a
modern-day techno-thriller, published in January 2012. He is now
working on a historical novel set in ancient Egypt during the reign
of Pharaoh Ramesses III, as well as another modern-day thriller.
Returning to the world of Big Science and Big Shiny Objects such
as x-ray synchrotrons and supercomputers, Balfour took a job with
the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.
Infected with an apparent desire to work for every national lab
in the country, Balfour then took a job with Sandia National Laboratories
in Livermore, California, where he worked in Business Development
and pretended to understand some of what wass going on around him at
the lab (which was much stranger than science fiction).
part of his Sandia job, he was also the president of a nonprofit
technology incubator supporting young companies engaged in advanced
transportation and renewable energy technology development. He then
joined the board of directors for the North Bay iHub and the SoCo Nexus
technology incubator in Sonoma County, California.
Realizing that his life wasn't complicated enough at this point, he is now
splitting his time between working on his PhD in Sociology at Penn State and living
with his wife and various pets a few
miles north of San Francisco in Marin County, California.
for the Flash-Impaired
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