Gary Bloom’s Journey: Crafting Sci-Fi & Embracing Geekdom


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Take a Sci-Fi and comic book fan who grew up in a household where everyone enjoyed reading, sprinkle in a lot of determination and imagination, and you might end up with someone like Gary Bloom. The Geek Post got a chance to ask Gary some questions about his life and his debut novel “Antares Ascended.”

Geek Post: Can you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to become a sci-fi author?

Gary: I’ve been a big sci-fi and comic book fan for decades. My parents were big readers, and we couldn’t afford premium cable channels as a kid… so it was all about painting the imagination in our heads. We used to hit up used bookstores and load up, whenever possible. While they were far more into mysteries, they didn’t press their genre on me… and I marveled at the new worlds! Michael A Stackpole’s writing has been a companion for a long time. Phelan Kell is the reason that my Star Wars RPG character was named Phelan Rand (back with the original West End Games version).

Reading all these stories and comic books captured my imagination and sent my head spinning with possibilities. I vividly remember the Battletech stories, and then other Stackpole. Oh, and when Heir to the Empire first came out… it was fantastic!! I started trying out some of my own stories, just short stories, in my later elementary years, and then my teenage years. When I hit college, and this Internet thing really became a big deal, I found the concept of fan fiction, which was so cool. For those of us who read “Future State”, I am curious how many people stumbled upon “DC Futures” decades ago. I had printed out a ton of them at the computer lab at the University at Albany, and finally threw them away when we moved a couple of years ago. I’m bummed that my Google search just came up empty because that is what got me to start writing fan fiction. Yet… as much as I loved Star Wars, there were things that I wanted to do a little differently.

Antares Ascended” was born out of something that I’d created way back when called Wolf Brigade. Mostly an idea, and not deep writing, but the groundwork was laid… and then laid aside. I started a small business with a friend where I was writing a few monthly serials, the first about a group named Wolf Squadron. (I used to have a thing about wolves; fortunately, I’ve eased off it).

Geek Post: Can you give us a brief overview of your debut novel Antares Ascended and tell us a bit about what readers can expect from it?

Gary: Antares Ascended is a bit flipped from what so many of us think of in science fiction: the Empire is good. Hard to believe, but the rebellion that the readers step into the middle of was started by the murder of the Archon’s wife and brother by his own nephew. (That’s right, Tupan Virachoa is responsible for the death of not just his aunt, but his own father). It gets worse because he also included his elder brother on the hit list. And why? Even worse: it was inspired by his mother, who actually comes from House Virachoa, the ancient enemy of House Antares. An attempt at quelling old animosities by bringing Ocala Virachoa into the family was a failure by Ogan’s father during his reign and has resulted in tragedy.

What the reader will follow is the frustrations that Ogan Antares deals with, mixed with his fears; he doesn’t want everything to devolve into the War of Lords. And if someone is asking, “what in the world is that?” It’s the bloody affair that preceded the Empire, following the merging of the mysterious “Travelers” with the native “Volets” to form the Homyn race (which, it turns out, are a naturally violent race).

As an aside, there are enough hints dropped that most folks will be able to figure out who the Travelers were. It’s not spoiling anything to say that they were from a different universe, wound up here by accident, and crashed onto the planet Doma. You’ll spend most of this book on that planet, but get to explore it a little, meeting various characters and personalities, and start putting together some of the rules of this world… which the characters tend to take for granted. The rules come easily enough, though. And you’ll absolutely find a mix of animals you’ve heard of with those you haven’t. A few more clues to where the Travelers came from.

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Geek Post: How did your family and friends react when they learned you were writing a sci-fi novel? Did they provide support or inspiration?

Gary: This was met with mostly positivity. When I was just writing it, I didn’t talk too much about it; it’s when it was done that I got the most reaction. First off, I’m lucky to have married an incredibly supportive woman who keeps reminding me that age is just a number, and it’s never “too late” to do something until you’re dead. While I’d love to call her my biggest fan, that might be my daughter instead. She thinks this is so cool and has openly talked about us writing a book together one day. She has been writing her own stories in school, so I could see that being an actual future item. Many of my friends, when I’d mentioned asking if they’d just share it out, jumped on to buy copies of their own. A couple of them already wrote cool reviews on Amazon, which made me feel really good.

Geek Post: In Antares Ascended, who is your favorite character, and can you tell us a bit about them?

Gary: Full disclosure, I’ve been knee deep in book two for a couple of months now, so my favorite character shifts when we get there. For book one, however, Ogan Antares is my favorite. He’s a good guy (in both the sense of alignment, and being a quality fella), but it was important to me that he be flawed. Not that the Archon of an alien multi-planet empire is based on me (it’s definitely not), I did give him a little of my own insecurities. Ogan is good and strong, but he has a well-documented fear of the Prophecy that a Virachoa will rise again, and sow chaos. He loses his temper. He sometimes makes questionable judgement, and then must make good for them. At the end of the day, he is more positive than negative, but he’s far from flawless. He is real.

Geek Post: Can you tell us about any challenges you faced during the writing process and how you overcame them? Do you have any writing rituals or habits that contribute to the process?

Gary: The challenges were something a bit interesting, at least in my mind. You see, Antares Ascended started as a monthly serial that I wrote on Patreon for about three years. My initial thought was that I’d easily just package it all together and turn it into a book. Super quick, super easy. But, like Ogan, it turned out that my initial thought was a mistake.

It made sense to just read what I’d written before I just tossed it out there. And as I read, I realized that parts of the story glossed over too much, so I needed to write more. And then there were new characters that I realized would make sense to incorporate. I got to a point where I realized it was going to turn into two books, because there was just a natural stopping point. Then the challenge came with bottling up the flow of ideas, forcing me to create a scratch pad to jot a whole lot down. There were threads that could have spun off to become tales of their own. That led to the decision that this would need to be a three-book series. And I’d been doing a lot with the pantheon of gods early in the serial… which I decided to put aside for now, because I was dreaming up additional myths and legends (that’ll probably be a book unto itself).

So, if you’re asking about my biggest challenge, it’s that my simple idea turned out not to be a simple idea. And now I’ve had to keep track of a whole lot more, build more into my universe, and portion my time to keep writing and writing and writing. Which might not seem like a bad thing. Because it’s not. This is what we call a nice problem to have, right? Granted, I’m also being realistic with myself, and I don’t think I can get more than two books out per year. We’ll see, maybe I can move a little faster, but I’d rather make the stories good than just crank them out.
An interesting non-writing challenge has come from Amazon themselves. Apparently, something happened with Google and Apple raising their percentage of sales in the marketplaces, so Amazon doesn’t allow you to buy books in the app anymore. You need to go to the website directly; it is certainly a bit of a pain that I’m still working around.

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Geek Post: Are there any authors that inspire you? Where can that inspiration be seen in your process and final product?

Gary: Of course there are! I probably talk about Michael A. Stackpole and Timothy Zahn more than anyone else. Zahn has driven my desire to have underlying plots within plots, characters working cross purpose, and looking for a place to insert a twist. Stackpole had a significant impact on my character development. Not having flawless superheroes, but instead making them question themselves, have anxieties to overcome, need to evolve, and accomplishing tasks – a lot of that comes from him. There are trace elements of Dune that pop up in my writing; I have consumed every book in the original series, and nearly every book written by Brian Herbert and KJA. One of my reviews on Amazon includes the statement, “If you are a fan of old-fashioned sci-fi sagas like Foundation and Dune that deal with sprawling political drama, the fate of empires, and the clandestine machinations of despicable villains, Antares Ascended is a book that should be in your Kindle library.”

Geek Post: Sci-Fi tends to be a genre that requires extra forethought on science and invention. What sets tech apart in your Sci-Fi world from other worlds within that genre? Did you have any further challenges in developing those parts of the world and story?

Gary: There were a few things that I did a little bit differently. For one, I decided that this was a society that had figured out the construction of space elevators to get themselves off planet, and are able to travel through space; however, they can’t fly. To the point where, when someone tries to suggest that to one of the brightest minds in the Empire, it is laughed off. I don’t dig too deep into why because the scientists already know why. But it is also why, on Doma, watercraft are frequently used to traverse the vast expanses of the oceans.

I also lean heavily into one of the original concepts, back in the Wolf Brigade iteration, which is a weapon. The “pulse baton” has similarities to what we would call a baseball bat (and they even call it a “bat” for short, sometimes). When used as a melee weapon, which is most often, it has vibrational properties from internal energy, does a lot of damage, and is even used in gladiator combat. When used by archers, it fires a plasma burst from what looks like a rifled opening, which goes deep down the shaft, close to the handle. There are some pulse batons that even have both properties. The pulse baton is a big enough deal that the arena sport is the most popular, and official, sport of the Empire.

Something else that sets the universe aside is another result of the original race of the Travelers merging with the Indigenous Volets. As Homyns, whose skin tones are all maroons, pinks and purples, everyone has a hard, fleshy, dark purple lump on each of their palms. These are now the Volets. When three or more Homyns join hands and press their Volets together, they enter a shared mindspace called Karva. Thoughts can be conveyed as words and images, memories, emotions. There are some who are more powerful than others at controlling themselves, and others, within Karva. We will see retellings and manipulations (which is supposed to be impossible, isn’t it?!?) within Karva. In book 2, I am expanding the powers of Karva, as well.

This is such an important part of who and what Homyn society is. Karva is utilized in government; the reason that the Council of Travelers sit around a round table is to make it easier for them to join up in a circuit. It’s used within government to prosecute suspects and refine judgement. It is a firm part of worship, with the priesthood being incredibly skilled in Karva. That’s just a central tenet.
Speaking of the priesthood, there’s also something a bit important there, too… but I’ll leave that for the readers to discover.

Geek Post: When you are not busy writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?

Gary: Maybe I have too many hobbies, and I’d get more books out more often! Since the pandemic started while my daughter was in kindergarten, we spent a lot of time putting together as many Star Wars LEGO sets as possible. A few sets broke in our move (and Obi-Wan and Yoda’s houses are now just pieces in her LEGO collection, along with Luke and Leia swinging across the lost bridge on the Death Star), but we’ve kept up our time together on it, years later. We just finished the Imperial Shuttle, and R2-D2 is up next. We have a display in my office that we love to fill up.

I am also an avid comic book reader, who takes her to the comic shop with me once a week; she has a burgeoning collection. My wife and I try to take her to a couple of comic conventions each year, too. We’re all big readers in our house, so I’m on my Kindle when my nose isn’t inside a comic book.
On top of that, I love to play guitar, although that’s become the odd-hobby-out lately. A shame, since I’ve been playing since I was thirteen… but I’m going to teach the small fry, which will reignite the love!
The last of them are just athletics. Now in my forties, I’m still playing basketball and coaching my daughter’s elementary school team. It’s a lot of fun, good exercise, and gives us one more daddy-daughter activity. My wife was so intent on making sure we had a close relationship, from the day that we found out we were having a girl, and the three of us certainly make the most of it. Although, to be fair, when we do the bedtime routine, I’m still reading her kids level sci-fi and fantasy books (she loves The Magic Treehouse, for instance).

Geek Post: Do you consider yourself a Geek and what does that mean to you?

Gary: Some of my closest friends and I have talked about how we were Geeks before it was cool to be a Geek. Riding our bikes across town to visit our comic book shop religiously. Talking about and reading about Star Wars long before the Prequels were announced. Many years ago, we played that original Star Wars RPG from West End Games, and we’re all getting together again this summer for a reunion! (Our original GM has put together a cool new adventure, since we all wrote our own back then anyway, and we’re going to have some of our kids play)

To me, though, Geek has a different connotation. It’s really about passion. Patton Oswalt talks about the concept of “mythologies” and how his daughter was really into My Little Pony, but he doesn’t have time to learn a whole new mythology like he knows his Star Wars et al. And then he proceeds to hammer through the different pony types, some of the main characters, and the dynamics. I laughed because of the intended joke, but also because my daughter was very into MLP for a while; I learned the same aspects that he did. She even collected MLP comic books for a couple of years; she was passionate. Now her passion is for Pokemon, and still Star Wars. I love the passion!!

But that’s just it. You can be a geek beyond just sci-fi and fantasy. As much as I know about DC Comics and Star Wars and other worlds built by some of my favorite authors and show runners (I had long ago admitted to my wife that one of my initial attractions was her similarity to Katee Sackhoff’s “Starbuck” – I totally married a badass) … I’m also a music geek (because of my dad). My classic rock and blues knowledge extends to places that other people don’t always jive with; Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Foo Fighters are my favorite musicians, but I’m also a big Bill Perry fan (I encourage you to look him up), and my old band used to play “No Expectations” just as much as we played “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Stones. I’m that guy that, when I finally got to attend the NBA Draft, I stayed deep into the second round (and knew who all those guys were). During an early date for my wife and I, she asked if she could put on the NFL Draft; watching all seven rounds has become an annual tradition for us. We’re sports geeks every bit as much as we are in our science fiction and fantasy lives.

In all honesty, I find that to make people more interesting, whatever your passion is, embrace your geekdom for it, and go full bore! And if people laugh at you, forget ’em!


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Geek Post: Lastly, do you have any pets? We would love to learn about them too.

Gary: My wife laughed when I told her that this was the final question. You see, I was not a dog person. But my (then 4yo) daughter and wife desperately wanted one. I finally agreed if I could pick the breed and name; I’m allergic to dogs. We got Duke, our Cavapoo, and in the beginning, we were not pals. Fast forward 4 years, and we got my daughter a 3yo mini poodle from the same breeder, who was retired as a mom. This was a birthday gift. Two days later, we ended up “fostering” a puppy that the breeder needed someone to look after (the people who purchased him did not treat him well). Four days later, she chose to surrender him to us, and he just turned one… and is a big old ball of energy. After 3 1/2 months, the previous owners hadn’t given him a collar, a bed, any toys, or even named him, so my mythology obsessed little girl came up with Apollo.

So, how is the not-a-dog-guy handling this? Well, I do like Apollo and Pancake (also named by the then-birthday girl; mommy is a chef). But Duke… Duke is my guy. Often, we share a recliner, he is snuggled next to me, while I read a comic book or my kindle. At this point, I think the other two dogs have figured it out, too: I’ll pet you; I’ll walk you; I’ll make you feel a part of the family. But Duke, that’s my guy.


The Geek Post would like to extend a very warm thank you to Gary Bloom for his time. Make sure to check out Antares Ascended and follow him on Facebook and X (Twitter) below. 

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