Views of outer space intertwined with first novel

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By Pat Wellington

Oak Run resident John Zaner is a career Computer systems Engineer and worked on the cutting edge of computer technology for the Department of Defense for more than two decades.  This, and his experience as an FAA licensed pilot, inspired him to write his first novel, Circle of Hope, which chronicles a journey into outer space by modern Noahs building intergalactic arks to save survivors of a doomed earth.

Such urgency will consume three generations of the fictional McFarland family, beginning with Phineas McFarland who’s a boy (probably patterned after the author himself) in his obsession with aircraft.

“The red and yellow biplane twisted and rolled in the calmness of the evening sky.  The only spectator of this air show was a youngster standing next to a fence in an empty pasture.  The young fellow was holding an electronic gadget with an antenna.  But wait, that is a transmitter and this is not a spectator; this youngster is actually doing the flying.” The year is 2009.

Flash forward to 2026 when Phineas, with years at NASA behind him, is continuing his own research into planet colonization and has completed building his personal robot,  “Rivit,” one of Zaner’s most compelling creatures.

In a recent interview John told me that he spent two years on research, because he wanted his book to contain hard science fiction based on real science. 

Although the technical terms he used were somewhat overwhelming for a reader like me, he hopes the book will appeal to sci-fi fans, science buffs and particularly young people interested in the future and science’s role in it. He has detailed every step in the process from recycling oxygen to mining ore on asteroids.

Zaner is in good company with people like Stephen Hawking and other scientists who not only think that colonization of other planets is feasible –  but that we are running out of time to start working on it. 

Some give our planet 100 years, some as little as 50 before nuclear wars, pandemic lethal viruses, or sudden global warming will make Earth uninhabitable.

When not writing or flying his own model planes, Zaner is involved in the serious work of designing unmanned aircraft for sheriffs’ departments in Central Florida who are engaged in tracking down drug smugglers. 

Their manned aircraft have been fired upon numerous times and they are evaluating the possibility that drones with surveillance equipment can do the job while ensuring safety. 

In fact, Zaner believes that drones are the wave of the future. FedEx is one company that is looking into using drones and I read in a recent issue of USA Today that the first Predator B unmanned aircraft for border duty will assist Border Patrol forces as early as January.

Zaner will be signing his book at Barnes & Noble on Jan. 24.

Pat Wellington is a retired English professor and freelance writer who shares her passion for books with others. She rarely reviews local authors – there are too many of them. But she will critique a homegrown book once in a while, usually at the editor’s request.