Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Guest Post with W. Michael Gear - Pariah

Photo Content from W. Michael Gear

W. Michael Gear was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A fourth generation Colorado native, his family had been involved in hard-rock mining, cattle ranching, and journalism. After his father's death in 1959, Michael's mother received her Master's degree in journalism and began teaching. In 1962 she married Joseph J. Cook, who taught tool and die making, and the family lived in Lakewood, Colorado, until 1968. At that time they moved to Fort Collins so that Joe could pursue his Ph.D.. During those years the family lived in the foothills above Horsetooth Reservoir.

It was there that Mike developed a love of history, anthropology, and motorcycles. They would color his future and fill his imagination for the rest of his life. During summers he volunteered labor on local ranches or at the farm east of Greeley and landed his first real job: picking up trash at the lake and cleaning outhouses. It has been said that his exposure to trash led him into archaeology. We will not speculate about what cleaning the outhouses might have led him to. On his first dig as a professional archaeologist in 1976 he discovered that two thousand year old human trash isn't nearly as obnoxious as the new stuff.

Michael graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1972 and pursued both his Bachelor's (1976) and Master's (1979) degrees at Colorado State University. Upon completion of his Master's - his specialty was in physical anthropology - he went to work for Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs as a field archaeologist.

It was in the winter of 1978 that he wrote his first novel. Irritated by historical inaccuracies in Western fiction, he swore he could do better. He was "taking retirement in installments," archaeology being a seasonal career, in the cabin his great uncle Aubrey had built. One cold January night he read a Western novel about a trail drive in which steers (castrated males) had calves. The historical inaccuracies of the story bothered him all night. The next morning, still incensed, he chunked wood into the stove and hunkered over the typewriter. There, on the mining claim, at nine thousand feet outside of Empire, Colorado he hammered out his first five hundred and fifty page novel. Yes, that first manuscript still exists, but if there is justice in the universe, no one will ever see it. It reads wretchedly - but the historical facts are correct!

Beginning in 1981, Michael, along with two partners, put together his own archaeological consulting company. Pronghorn Anthropological Associates began doing cultural resource management studies in 1982, and, although Michael sold his interest in 1984, to this day the company remains in business in Casper, Wyoming. During the years, Michael has worked throughout the western United States doing archaeological surveys, testing, and mitigation for pipelines, oil wells, power lines, timber sales, and highway construction. He learned the value of strong black coffee, developed a palate for chocolate donuts, and ferreted out every quality Mexican restaurant in eight states. He spent nine months of the year traveling from project to project with his trowel and dig kit, a clapped-out '72 Wonder Blazer, and his boon companion, Tedi, a noble tri-color Sheltie.

That fateful day in November, 1981, was delightfully clear, cold, and still in Laramie, Wyoming. Archaeologists from all over the state had arrived at the University of Wyoming for the annual meetings of the Wyoming Association of Professional Archaeologists. It was there, in the meeting room, way too early after a much too long night, that Mike first laid eyes on the most beautiful woman in the world: Kathleen O'Neal Gear. The BLM State Archaeologist, Ray Leicht, introduced him to the pretty anthropologist and historian, and best of all, Ray invited Mike to lunch with Kathleen. It was the perfect beginning for a long and wondrous relationship. Not only does Ray make a mean violin, he's not half bad as a matchmaker either. Michael and Kathleen were married on October 1, 1982.

As a result of changes in Federal policy, the long hours away from home, the ever growing dream of writing full time, Michael sold his interest in Pronghorn Anthropological Associates in 1984.

All through 1985 Mike wrote full time while Kathy worked for another year. Many of her colleagues asked, "But has he made any money yet?" Finally, in 1986, Kathy left the Bureau of Land Management and the two of them moved to the Colorado cabin at Empire. For the next three years, with no running water and only two wood stoves for heat, they pounded out novel after novel. Mike wrote eight before he finally sold one. Kathy wrote five non fiction books, and sold the first novel she ever pitched.

The hard work paid off in March of 1987 when Tor Books bought LONG RIDE HOME on Thursday and DAW Books bought the Spider trilogy the following Tuesday. Kathy made her first sale that summer, and they were on their way. In answer to Kathy's one-time colleagues, it would seem that he can pay the bills after all.

In all, Michael has published twelve novels under his own name and co-authored another thirty-four with Kathleen. His work runs the gamut from historical, to prehistorical, to science fiction, to modern thrillers. All of his work deals with some aspect of anthropological theory. His MORNING RIVER was nominated for the Pulitzer prize in fiction, and the National Book Award in 1998.

Currently residing in Thermopolis, Wyoming, Michael has returned to his lifelong loves. He lives on a ranch that contains a stratified, two-hundred-and-fifty acre archaeological site, some of the most outstanding scenery in the world, and unlimited opportunities to practice his shooting. A twenty thousand volume library keeps him up to date in the anthropological field, as do the annual Society for American Archaeology and American Association of Physical Anthropology meetings he attends every year. He and Kathy are raising some of the most glorious bison in North America, and a bug-spattered BMW 1100RT motorcycle waits to take them cross country for summer events. His office window looks out over the Wind River Indian Reservation and the nearest neighbor is an Arapaho Ranch line camp six and half miles to the southeast.

1) I can’t help it! I’m an anthropologist. Everything I tackle is written through an anthropological lens. PARIAH is no exception. The book reeks of anthropology.

2) My training as a physical anthropologist and evolutionary biologist led me to Dortmund Weisbach’s character. The question was begged: What are all these humans running around down on Donovan doing to a pristine environment? The modern conservation ethic is to remove humans from habitat. Dortmund, of course, would seek that very quarantine. But, dang. Things have gone terribly wrong. Since conservation is Weisbacher’s religion, methinks the poor boy is in for a rude awakening. For an author, a character like this is a delight. The man has Truth! So, what's he going to do when we slap him in the face with a whole different reality? Nothing in life is more fun than skewering a sacred cow.

3)Talina finds out that the TriNA is driving her crazy, spinning out transfer RNA to play with her thoughts and intrude into her consciousness. In addition, she’s worn out her welcome in Port Authority. She stood up for the quetzals, and now that they’re making her insane. She’s more than a pariah, she’s a danger to others. In a desperate bid for escape, she ties Raya Turnienko to her own bed, and flies south to Mundo. Is there a better place to wrestle with demons?

4) After ABANDONED, a lot of people have been waiting for another glimpse of Kylee Simonov, and how she’s doing as a “wild child” down at Mundo. Fact was: I couldn’t wait to throw Kylee and Talina together. They’ve both got quetzal demons to deal with. And, oh my, it turns out that the initial assumption that TriNA knowledge only goes one way, was...well, wrong! Now Kylee has Talina in her head, and visey versy. All of which put a whole new level of spin on what the smart molcules are doing to humans.

5) Dan Wirth figured he was the meanest dirty dog on the planet. At least until the survey ship, VIXEN dropped Tamarland Benteen on the planet. As an author, I loved Benteen. He stirs everything up. The guy is the ultimate predator, an assassin out of time and place. Completely ruthless, he’s a political animal. Not only does he scare the crap out of unscareable Dan Wirth, but he’s got his sights set on Port Authority. Now, with Talina gone walkabout, what are Yvette and Shig going to do with this guy? How does a Libertarian society deal with a tyrant?

6) Kalico Aguila’s got a problem. Her mine is finally functioning. But it’s become painfully obvious that she and her people need Port Authority. And suddenly, it’s about to fall apart. Why? Because that perpetually irritating Shig Mosadek has turned Tam Benteen loose in that simple, na├»ve, and vulnerable colony. How long can she hang on if Benteen’s coup succeeds?

7) Meanwhile, out if the bush, Talina Perez and Kylee, find themselves stuck with...oh no, not Dortmund Weisbacher! But, yes, unfortunately the crusading professor is bumbling about in the bush, pissing himself over his first face-to-face with quetzals. And when Talina is knocked out of the equation by too many quetzals, it’s just the professor and Kylee. Call that an explosive relationship doomed to mayhem.

8) Talina’s path to recovery will hinge on the deepest pathways into her brain. There she must enter the door to the Maya underworld of Xibalba. Plagued by the memory of a priceless pot she broke as a child, it will be the ancient Maya gods, and no little reliance on Rocket’s TriNA, if she has even a chance of putting her shattered self back together.

9) Meanwhile, the quetzals are playing their own deadly game. Maybe they’ve been learning as much from humans as humans have from them. Sneaking in from the bush, the quetzal known as Whitey and two of his kin, are making a play. You see, quetzals realize that the battle for Donovan is a long-term affair. And as people are being killed across Port Authority, it’s but an opening move in the long game.

10) Let’s not forget. Freelander is waiting up in orbit. And one of our characters is going to get way more than he or she bargained for on the ghost ship! Wonder who?

The third book in the thrilling Donovan series, a sci-fi action adventure set on a treacherous alien planet where corporate threats and dangerous creatures imperil the lives of the colonists.

Corporate assassin Tamarland Benteen's last hope is the survey ship Vixen. With a load of scientists aboard under the supervision of Dr. Dortmund Weisbacher, Vixen is tasked with the first comprehensive survey of the newly discovered planet called Donovan. Given that back in Solar System, Boardmember Radcek would have Benteen's brain dissected, he's particularly motivated to make his escape.

The transition that should have taken Vixen years is instantaneous. Worse, a space ship is already orbiting Donovan, and, impossibly, human settlements have been established on the planet. For Dortmund Weisbacher, this is a violation of the most basic conservation tenets. Donovan is an ecological disaster.

Down on Donovan, Talina Perez takes refuge in the ruins of Mundo Base with the wild child, Kylee Simonov. But the quetzals are playing their own deadly game: one that forces Talina and Kylee to flee farther into the wilderness. Too bad they're stuck with Dortmund Weisbacher in the process.

Back in Port Authority, Dan Wirth discovers that he's not the meanest or deadliest man on the planet. Tamarland Benteen is making his play for control of PA. And in the final struggle, if Benteen can't have it, he'll destroy it all.

Praise for the DONOVAN Novels

“What a ride! Excitement, adventure, and intrigue, all told in W. Michael Gear's vivid, compulsively readable prose. A terrific new science-fiction series; Gear hits a home run right out of the park and all the way to Capella.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night

“A marginal colony on a living world--where human life and human will are tested to the limits. An intriguing and inventive new work from Michael Gear, first of a trilogy. Recommended!” —C. J. Cherryh, Hugo Award-winning author of Downbelow Station

“Gear kicks off a new sf series by weaving a number of compelling characters into the narrative, including bold heroine Talina Perez and Donovan itself, a planet teeming with danger and delights in turn.... Fans of epic space opera, like Rachel Bach’s Fortune’s Pawn (2013), will happily lose themselves in Donovan’s orbit.” —Booklist

“W. Michael Gear creates a fun and colorful setting on a planet full of interesting fauna and cunning, deadly animals.” —RT Reviews

“Dark and gritty, this book shows both the best and worst sides of humanity, all while being emotional and thought-provoking.” —It Starts at Midnight

“It's not easy to create an entire new planet setting and to immediately ground the reader in that world, but Gear makes it look easy.... He strikes an impressive balance between only telling us what we need to know when we need to know it and making this feel like a fully-realized place from the get-go.” —Den of Geek

“The novel's prose is as razor-sharp as Donovan's toothy beasts, its characters deftly defined. The enveloping narrative gallops along at a fierce pace and will make Outpost one of the must-read sci-fi releases of 2018 when it arrives on February 20 from DAW Books.” —SyFy Wire

“A thrilling tale of high-stakes survival on an alien planet.” —Dread Central

You can purchase Pariah (Donovan Trilogy #3) at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you W. MICHAEL GEAR for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Pariah (Donovan Trilogy #3) by W. Michael Gear.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like this book has some memorable characters!