By Rachel M. Anderson, Contributing Writer
(Shoreview, MN) –Will humans one day be able to communicate with each other just by thinking? Will our bodies become obsolete and our minds able to travel to different worlds? Ronald E. Peterson, a physicist, futurist, and former executive for Honeywell, says that in the lifetime of our children the possibilities are mind-blowing.
In Peterson’s debut sci-fi novel, Gardeners of the Universe, released on Oct. 5, 2019 by PTB Books of Shoreview, Minn., he showcases a futuristic world where what today may seem impossible has become a reality. The story begins in the not too distant future with the births of three children destined to change the world.
Rianne grows up to lead biological revolutions. Dan creates sentient computers and guides the direction of human evolution. Sarah, in an age of information dissonance, becomes the most trusted individual on Earth, and convinces the world that they must change how and where they live. What sets the three apart from the rest of humanity are genetics and “gifts” that were no accident.
“The book shows how the children and their totally different families adapt to disruptive new technologies in transportation, medicine, communication, as well as global catastrophe. But the focus is on how people will change themselves, through mechanical devices, augmented intelligence, and ultimately changing our genetics, and how those things will affect real people,” says Peterson, a graduate of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California.
As humanity struggles, an ancient alien species, the Torae, aka the “Gardeners,” have come to observe our “transcendence.” They are desperately trying to create new universes to populate. The three young humans are dragged into their schemes while guiding the Earth through the most dangerous and consequential time in its history—the 21st century. This is a story about the profound vision, adaptability, and truth we will need to survive.
“Science fiction transports us to a different world that has difficult ideas at its core,” says Peterson, “and makes us think about the things that could happen. My passion is to tell the human stories of families and children growing up with regular messy lives, but also in the bizarre new world that is right on our doorstep.”
Kirkus Reviews has strong praise for both the author and novel. “Peterson has an impressive background—he’s a physicist and the former vice president of technology at Honeywell—and his expertise comes through in his highly ambitious sci-fi debut, which offers serious speculation into the future of humanity. At the same time, however, the story never feels didactic or constrained by an agenda to educate readers with techno-speak. Instead, the author manages to juggle a large ensemble cast while clearly exploring the ramifications of each paradigm shift within the suspenseful narrative… A fluid, grand-canvas, peripatetic future-history adventure.”
San Francisco Book Review says, “If the most praiseworthy goals of science fiction are to both entertain and educate, then Dr. Peterson has achieved both.”
Copies of Gardeners of the Universe are available in both paperback and ebook formats through the website, PTBBooks.com. The book can also be purchased at bookstores, and through online retailers Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
About the Author
After graduating from Caltech in 1967 and receiving his PhD in condensed matter physics from the University of Illinois in 1972, Ronald E. Peterson worked his way up to the top at Honeywell, retiring as Vice President of Technology and speaking for the entire company’s new product strategy.
He began writing Gardeners of the Universe for his daughters and other youth in classes he taught, showing them the fantastic joys and dangers certain to unfold during their lifetimes. Gardeners of the Universe will be Peterson’s second published book. An Introvert Learns to Fly: A Memoir of Timidity, Panic, Science, Leadership, and Love, was published in early 2018.
In addition to writing, Peterson enjoys traveling, consulting, and volunteering. He manages one of the largest community gardens in Minnesota, the Rice Street Community Gardens, where more than 260 gardeners have plots. Peterson calls it a “remarkable international venture.” The majority of the gardeners are refugees from such countries as Burma, Thailand, Laos and Nepal.
For the past several years he has also led Grandpa Camp for his six young grandchildren who range from preschoolers to teenagers, where he has introduced quantum mechanics and differential equations as well as cooking, photography, and travel experiences. He has the uncanny ability to explain deep science in clear images, a trait crucial in his career, teaching young people, and in writing this book.
Peterson lives with his wife, Miriam, in Minnesota, where she tries to keep his feet on the ground while his head remains in the stars.
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