Sunnyvale author’s sci-fi series continues to grow – The Mercury News


In his “Blessings of Gaia” series, Sunnyvale author Robert Balmanno cast the hero as a boy working to revive writing in the face of global and technological collapse.

The theme suits a writer who is surrounded by books during his part-time job at the Sunnyvale Public Library, but also lives in an area known for the latest tech gadgets. Her new novel, “Embers of the Earth”, is the third in a series of four.

“It deals with issues of the human condition in ever-deeper ways. Schematically, the questions I explore are the environment, politics and religion, and science and the relationship between these,” explains Balmanno.

The idea for the book series, which has been in development since 1993, came in part after seeing a children’s show celebrating Earth Day. At the end of the show, he noticed in the credits that the show’s financiers were oil and chemical companies.

“That’s what sparked in my mind that powerful interests might present themselves very differently than they might otherwise. It’s the original seed that gave rise to the idea of ​​a fantasy world where, say, 50 years in the future, where a totalitarian regime takes over. My characters struggle with that,” says Balmanno.

He’s happy to see that between the time he started writing sci-fi/dystopian novels, issues like climate control and environmental damage have become hot topics. Balmanno has been writing for nearly four decades and penned six manuscripts for unpublished novels before the “Blessings of Gaia” series took off.

It’s a happy coincidence that over the past 10 years or so dystopian novels have become popular, even though Balmanno’s series has been a labor of love long before the trend. Balmanno’s first book, “September Snow” was conceived in 1993 and published in 2006 by Berkeley publisher Regent Press.

Since then, “The Blessings of Gaia” series has sold over 8,500 copies. All three of the four-part series, “September Snow”, “Runes of Iona” and now “Embers of the Earth” are set in the same setting, but occur at different times with different characters and can be read in an autonomous way. entries.

“It makes 40 years of writing totally worthwhile. It really is a great read,” he says of his latest book. “It deals with so many incredible questions – the question of oral tradition and writing. The main character is then tasked with writing a foundational document, essentially a bible, and he’s under tremendous pressure to change critical things.

Her novels have received favorable reviews online and readers have fallen in love with her work.

“My youngest reader that I know is 11 years old; my oldest reader is 94,” says Balmanno. “The 94-year-old is hilarious. I’m guessing she lives in Los Altos, and she kept checking Sunnyvale library books and kept them for months and would rack up huge fines. I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I wanted to tell her: ‘If you buy my books, you will save money.’ »

As a tribute to the woman and all her library fines, Balmanno named a minor character in the series after her.

All Balmanno books can be purchased from and can also be ordered from Barnes and Noble, but only physical copies. In keeping with his series’ theme of technological failure and his admiration for the art of writing, Balmanno has not made electronic versions of his novels available.

Meet the author

Balmanno will embark on a meet and sign mini tour with local stops March 12 at Barnes and Noble, 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd. and at Barnes and Noble at 5353 Almaden Expressway on April 2. Both events will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and readers will be able to purchase Balmanno’s new novel “Embers of the Earth” and chat with him.

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