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Three Hills writer mines a heavenly theme in sci-fi

The year is 2063, planet Earth is dying and a galactic war is about to erupt.

So sets the scene for a Central Alberta man’s first futuristic novel, Optimus 4, which was published in April.

The 242-page book is a “gritty sci-fi” tied up with an overarching Christian theme, said author Ross Gaehring of Three Hills.

“I’m excited about it. It’s hip and witty and really unlike anything else on the Christian speculative fiction market,” Gaehring, 50, added. “I can’t really characterize it as a traditional Christian novel and it may offend some people. ... I wrote it really for people who may have never heard the Christian message before.”

While Christian novels haven’t been overly popular, Gaehring said interest in the genre is growing and he has been impressed with the social media buzz about Optimus 4 from his Twitter feed and Facebook.

The book follows protagonist Cmdr. Rance Edwards, a fighter pilot and wounded war hero from America’s bloody battle with Europe. With Earth on a downward spiral thanks to the “geopolitical and ecological disasters foretold in the Book of Revelation,” Edwards is to help invade another planet to save the population.

Weave in a tour of the eerie “Dead City” of Detroit where Edwards hangs up his hat, a sideline romance with Edwards’ former fiancée, newly married to another man, and a crazed tyrant in control of “Isolationist America” and you have the rest of the plot.

“It includes conspiracy theories, pop culture, sci-fi, theology, military history, action, even romance, a wide range to suit everyone,” said Gaehring.

The idea for the book had been in Gaehring’s brain since his days as a teenager watching Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.

“I watched these shows and thought, ‘Hey I could do better,’ ” he said with a laugh. “Bit pretentious, I know, but it inspired me to keep to it.”

He had some extra time several years ago and decided to cross the item off his bucket list, banging out the 70,000-word novel in six weeks.

But it took another seven years of editing to get everything just right and submitting to various publishing houses before he saw Optimus 4 become a reality.

“It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, become a writer,” Gaehring said. “I want to continue to pursue it and I’m certainly open to turning my Optimus 4 into a trilogy if there is a demand. I already have an outline for a second book.”

He works full time as the chief administrative officer the Kneehill Housing Corp. in Three Hills, where he lives with his wife Susan.

He plans to do local book signing events over the summer to further promote Optimus 4.

The book is available in eBook and paperback format through Solstice Publishing or

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