Very little is known about John Lazarus’s life in America before moving to China. He left behind no wife or children, and in fact, Dragon Eagle still hasn’t been able to contact any family members in the United States. Unlike our other authors, his online profile was pretty much non-existent. If it hadn’t been for an intern of ours stumbling across his personal effects at a State Department auction in Shanghai, his brilliance might’ve been forever lost. (Which is of course ironic, as Zero Point Infinity and his short stories are largely concerned with immortality in the digital age and man’s quest for permanence in an impermanent world.)
John Lazarus moved to China in the mid-90s as a cultural ambassador for a religious organization, which unfortunately for legal reasons, we’re unable to mention the name of. From his journals, it’s clear he quickly grew disillusioned with his missionary work. There’s frequent reference to “insurmountable cultural barriers” and “an unwillingness on the part of the Chinese people to have their personality tests electronically monitored.” He also became frustrated with the church leadership and their refusal to “adjust the price of auditing sessions to meet local economic conditions.”
He left the church in 1997. Here’s what he wrote of the decision:
“I actually lucked out leaving [REDACTED] when I did for two reasons: first, less than a month after I left, the church was banned from doing business in China and several of my fellow missionaries were incarcerated, and two, because I hadn’t returned to LA, I was safe from the harassment crews [REDACTED] often sends after ex-members.”
Fortunately, his time with the church wasn’t all for naught. The skills he’d acquired made Lazarus a perfect candidate for Heian Schwarz LLP, an international trade firm located in Shanghai. He worked as a legal aide there for a decade until his death in 2008.
Lazarus’s work was never published in his lifetime, and it’s not hard to see why. Zero Point Infinity, along with the majority of his short fiction, offer harsh criticisms of the religious and corporate institutions he built his life around, albeit from the safety of their futuristic settings. Was he afraid of damaging his reputation at Heian Schwarz? Did they reveal a self-loathing he wasn’t comfortable sharing? Or was he wary of attracting the attention of [REDACTED]’s leadership, and perhaps of the retaliation the church would take against family members – if he had any – back home, retaliation that Dragon Eagle has almost certainly now assured?
Whatever his intent, Lazarus’s work – achingly personal and thematically universal – is too important to keep hidden. The world is certainly better off with it, even if 70 percent of the revenue goes to [REDACTED].