The disclosure of a novelist's professional career in a brief biography summary, such as the one here, could well predispose a careless reader to draw a narrow opinion of the novelist and perhaps bias the reader about the work itself. A novel must stand on its own legs, the judgment of it not warped because we've learned the author happened to be a plumber, librarian or veterinarian. That Wallace Stevens spent his working years in insurance did not detract from the accolades he received as a famous poet. Take my case. As a mechanical engineer with a career in aerospace, I might be easily pigeon-holed as a technical guy looking for a retirement hobby, and who, with skills at the word processor, decides to take up authorship - perhaps something along the lines of a genre novel or memoir which would draw on his career experiences. Well, that would be at best only partly true. I believe I fit better in the shoes of that insurance executive who mined his fertile creativity when free of the strictures of his daytime office. Biases aside now. I grew up near California's Gold Rush country and my early experiences there and abiding interest in its history and environment inspired part of the historical backdrop to my novel, "The Winged and Garlanded Nike." I began my professional career in the defense industry working on secret missile, satellite and related projects. Later I spent twenty-five years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) involved in the design of atmospheric research experiments carried on sounding rockets and high-altitude aircraft and balloons. But similar to the influence of the Gold Rush country, my experience in the aerospace industry serves more as a setting and structure for the novel rather than as the main subject of it. Both serve to illustrate the novel's trenchant theme: "Gold and Uranium - equal in weight and maybe in consequence." My career in the defense industry during the early years of the Cold War brought home the inanity and the terrifying danger of the spread of thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles, many still armed and poised - though we don't like to think about it. Later I associated with scientists who studied the possible disastrous atmospheric effects resulting from a future nuclear war. These were the influence mix that prompted the writing of this novel. Its documentation and drama were inspired by my interest and research in the history, politics and personalities behind the Cold War and the 'Uranium Adventure,' but my love of literature, irony and mystery demanded that the narratives in this long saga be inclusive of sentiment, metaphor, wit and - murder. They help to leaven the bottom line in this novel – the issue of the millenium, the nuclear genie.
Regent Press, Berkeley, CA
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