Dennis W. Green was working at WMT-FM, looking for a CD. It wasn’t on the rack where it was supposed to be. When he looked again, there it was.
“Of course,” he says, “it had just moved. I was in a parallel universe.”
That idea sat in the back of his mind for 20 years until it pushed itself forward to inspire “Traveler,” a new science fiction mystery thriller that hops between parallel universes.
“Traveler,” Green’s first novel, features a “stream-jumping” traveler in the form of police detective Trav Becker, who meets himself in those alternate universes and, with help from his brilliant scientist friend Sam, keeps altering those realities, often with unexpected consequences.
Green, 53, says he’s been a “sci-fi geek” all his life. He joined a sci-fi book club when he was 14 and read a book or two of sci-fi a week, with a detour into mysteries and thrillers in the 1990s. The discussion at dinner with his wife, Debbie, and their two sons, he says, was more likely to concern “time-travel causality than homework.”
“I’ve always loved the parallel universe conceit--what if things had gone differently at the macro or micro level, what if Hitler had won World War II,” Green says.
By day, Green is general manager of KCCK-FM, the jazz station based at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. By night and weekend, he is one of the best-known public faces in Cedar Rapids, emceeing events, writing scripts for and performing in the Follies. In the early mornings, you’ll find him in the pool with the Milky Way Masters swim club.
As Green says on his website (denniswgreen.com), he’s also “a writer, radio personality, actor, college administrator, sports announcer, tech geek, husband and dad who lives his life by Robert Heinlein’s admonition: ‘Specialization is for insects.’ ”
Green’s love of music is apparent in “Traveler.”
“My (musical) tastes and Trav’s tastes are about the same--kind of a mash-up of old obscure album rock and cool jazz,” he says, adding you can find links to the book’s eclectic mix of music on his website.
Green’s knowledge of science also is on display.
“Most of the science I know I picked up from reading great sci-fi writers,” he allows. “They had degrees in physics so I didn’t have to go out and get one.”
In writing his novel, Green adds, his goal was to make the book’s science plausible, without going too deeply into detail, but also to explain enough that non-sci-fi readers could understand what’s going on.
He says he’s been surprised by how much his female “beta readers” have liked the book.
“When I was writing it, I was thinking it would be kind of straight sci-fi, something for us geeks--and I use that term with the utmost love; these are my people--but in talking with my publisher about what genre it is, she suggested it’s a thriller with sci-fi overtones, not just straight sci-fi.”
Green also mentions the debt he owes Lennox Randon and Rob Cline, his partners in a Sunday night writing group. Randon, who has terminal cancer, started the group with Cline, with Green joining them shortly thereafter. Each of the self-dubbed “Writing Lads” now has a novel published.
“There would be no ‘Traveler’ without Lennox Randon,” Green says.Green plans to have Trav Becker return in a second book, “Prisoner,” and, if things work out, perhaps in a third novel, “Soldier.” At least that’s the plan for now, at least in this stream.