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Dennis Green’s ‘Traitor’ completes his sci-fi trilogy

By Mary Sharp, The Gazette Dennis W. Green has arrived at a memorable waypoint in his sci-fi world. “Traitor,” the last book in his “Traveler Chronicles” trilogy, is now in print.

“It feels good,” said Green, a well-known emcee at community events and general manager for the past 20 years of jazz station KCCK-FM in Cedar Rapids.

Completing the trilogy means saying goodbye to characters Green has been thinking and writing about for almost 10 years — in “Traveler” (2013), “Prisoner” (2015) and now “Traitor.”

Trav Becker, the main character, is a police detective and reluctant savior of the universe. He travels between alternate reality streams, trying to find one where he and his friends can stay alive and where he can end up with Mary.

There’s Sam Marcus, a brilliant scientist and Trav’s good friend; Adam, Trav’s partner, who might — or might not — have been killed on the job; Morgan, a compelling clairvoyant; and Sophie, a persistent 14-year-old and another stream-jumping traveler in “Traitor.”

The series is full of action, crisp dialogue and reality-bending moments, such as when the “real” Trav is set upon by a legion of bad Travs sent to kill him by a bad Sam.

Green explained the series’ stream-jumping premise in a 2013 Gazette interview by saying he was at work one day, 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 said, “it had just moved. I was in a parallel universe.”

The same thing happens with your car keys, as his novels explain. You’ve looked everywhere … and then you find them in a spot you know you’ve already checked.

RANDON IMPACT

Green credits two people for seeing him through three novels: his wife, Debbie, who kept telling him she wanted to know how the story ends, and Lennox Randon, a world adventurer and fellow writer who died at age 59 in 2018 of gastrointestinal cancer.

Randon pulled together a writing group in 2011 — “The Writing Lads” — that included Randon, Green and Rob Cline, director of marketing at Hancher Auditorium and a freelance writer for The Gazette’s Books pages.

“Randon gave us the support and inspiration to do this,” Green said. “And I hope we gave him the opportunity to not just write but to enjoy the fruits of his writing.

“I’m thankful Lennox Randon came into my life and not just because I wouldn’t have sat down to write these books without him,” Green said. “Through his grace and strength, he not only showed how to live, but how to die.”

All three of the writing lads published their first novels in 2013.

THE STAKES

In many ways, Green said, the final book in the trilogy is the story of Mary, Trav’s true love, who appeared briefly in the first two novels.

“I’ve always wanted to write good women characters,” Green said. “And Mary has always been Trav’s goal. If he can fix all this stuff, he can be with Mary. It was time she stepped up and showed why she is the ideal partner for Trav.”

She does that, and then some, though not all the good guys get out alive.

“There have to be stakes,” Green said. “If everybody comes through just fine, what’s the point of the story? You don’t want to play with your readers’ emotions, but you want to be true. The stakes need to be real.”

SCI-FI GENRE

Green said he was surprised by how popular “Traveler” was with female readers. Science fiction is a genre that’s typically appealed to — let’s just say it — nerdy guys, a label Green proudly embraces.

“I wrote it for me,” he said. “But the people who seemed to love it the most tended to be women. … When I was growing up, you kind of had to hide that you liked comics and sci-fi. Today’s nerds have it so easy! Everyone loves this stuff.”

He attributes the explosion of interest in science fiction books and movies to the question: What if?

“I think all of us ask ourselves ‘what if?’ every day — about our jobs, relationships, choices.

“Science fiction asks ‘what if?’ for the biggest questions,” he said. “What if the Russians had made it to the moon first? What if the South had won the Civil War?

“When you see the consequences writ large, I think maybe it makes it a little easier for us to live with the outcomes of our own decisions. Plus, we’re always looking for a little escape from our own everyday existence. And what better escape is there than reading or watching a hero triumph over his or her own inner demons to achieve a victory?”

TELLING STORIES

Green, 59, said he was able to write three novels only after his two sons were older and demands on his time somewhat let up. Being older and “having some miles on me” also helped him feel “competent to tell stories.”

He’d like to write another book and has a couple of sci-fi ideas in mind, plus a comic spy thriller.

His advice for aspiring writers?

“Carve out some time to write, even if it’s only a couple of days a week,” he said. “A lot of your creating work can be done while you’re doing other stuff. Have the mind-set that you can hardly wait to write — rather than having it be a chore.

“At the end of the day, though, you just have to sit down in front of the computer and start typing,” he said. “Resist the temptation to go back and fix stuff you’ve already written. Make a note to go back and fix something, but keep writing.”

Comments: mary.sharp@thegazette. com

The Writing Lads — Lennox Randon (from left), Dennis Green and Rob Cline — are shown in 2013, the year each published his first novel. Green has finished his “Traveler Chronicles” sci-fi trilogy, which he began in 2011 at Randon’s urging. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

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