Paul Guthrie

Biography

I am a scientist by training and vocation. I received a BA in Physics from Cornell University, followed by a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Massachusetts. After graduation I went to work for NASA at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD. My work was primarily in the development of computer models to simulate the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere in order to understand ozone depletion and climate change. After thirteen years I left NASA and joined a consulting firm in San Rafael CA, working mainly on air pollution issues for the EPA. By then I was irrevocably committed to the use of computers and the development of software. In 1999 I left the environmental field entirely and became involved in developing software for biotechnology and medical applications, which I continue to do part time. Starting in 2002, however, I decided to pursue another interest, that of writing fiction. I continue to live in the San Francisco Bay area, still married to the same person after forty years. We have two grown children.

Smashwords Interview

What are your five favorite books, and why?
1.Anything by William Gibson, especially "Idoru" and "Virtual Light." Gibson combines compelling speculation about technology that is just out of reach with insight about what people really do and why - and most of the "why" is fascinatingly perverse.
2."A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin. Swords and sorcery with blood and guts and sex, and background mysteries revealed tantalizingly slowly. Plus, you never know when he will kill off a character you thought was central.
3. "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara. The best example I know of history told from the inside out. The Battle of Gettysburg with the real events and completely credible (but invented) dialog among the participants.
4. "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons. On the surface a space opera, but with so many subtleties and so much intellectual and literary depth you don't notice. How can you resist a church based on a symbiont life form (called the cruciform) which allows you to be resurrected, but binds you forever?
5. Assembling California" by John McPhee. A book about the geology of California - and about geology in general and about geologists and about learning about geology. McPhee is the master of narrative nonfiction and the detail that makes the story, and there are many levels to this one.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Before I began to write I was a working scientist, a physicist by training, and I read quite a bit of science fiction and fantasy - speculative fiction. "The Wrong God" is nominally speculative fiction, but it breaks with a lot of traditions. It began with an observation: in traditional fantasy, magic is old wisdom. There is a sacred text, a prophecy, and/or a really old wise-man to explain to the hero what must be done. As a scientist, this annoyed me. Where were the stories about the discovery of magic? Since magic in fantasy literature tends to be lethal, how did the poor, bumbling discoverers survive? So I set out to write such a story. It’s about two contemporary scientists, Andy and John, who discover magic and get into trouble. Here’s the pitch:

Since the beginnings of history people have believed in magic, but California science writer Andy Taggart is not one of them. Until the day that John Chalk, his old friend from grad school, makes a ballpoint pen rise to stand on end – untouched. From that moment Andy is caught up in John’s mystery. Is this an illusion or is it new physics? Why can John do things that other people can’t – things that will mark him in some eyes as a worker of miracles? And why does John think someone is watching him?

Someone is watching. Wendell Murchison is possibly the most powerful man in America. He controls wealth, his own cable news network, an army of evangelical political operatives, and the President of the United States, but he wants more. From the new America of terrorist sleeper cells, detention camps and legalized torture he sees a path to levels of power not seen since the Inquisition. He would make a new all-out war of religion; all he needs is a leader – the New Prophet, John Chalk. Whether John believes or not.

When John refuses and disappears, Andy is left to face an adversary who will offer bribes, publish lies, send goon squads to beat him - whatever it takes to force him to betray John. Under constant surveillance and unsure who he can trust, Andy can’t stand alone; he has to find John. But even together, what can they do against Murchison? Levitating pens won’t stop him and there’s no point in hoping for miracles if you don’t believe in anybody’s gods.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Paul Guthrie online


Books

The Rule
Price: Free! Words: 2,040. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
(4.00)
For a Romany girl in Ireland in 1692 there are no rights, only rules. Who she can marry. Where her family may camp. And a special rule if she can work the tatcho dook, the true magic.
The Wrong God
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 109,820. Language: English. Published: August 18, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
Since the beginnings of history people have believed in magic, but California science writer Andy Taggart is not one of them. Until the day that John Chalk, his old friend from grad school, makes a ballpoint pen rise to stand on end – untouched. From that moment Andy is caught up in John’s mystery. Why can John do things that other people can’t? And why does he think someone is watching him?

Paul Guthrie’s tag cloud

award    fantasy    gypsy    ireland    magic    politics    religion    science