Braving a new world in Rochester resident's futuristic first novel

By Andrea Ray | Oct 13, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray Rochester resident Richard Cutler's stopped by the Rochester Council on Aging to promote his new book, "Course Correction."

Rochester — Aliens. Technology. Science. Climate change.

That's what the characters in Rochester resident Richard Cutler's book "Course Correction" are dealing with—plus a massive, deadly virus which has wiped 90 percent of the world's population out.

Cutler, the current chair of Rochester's Zoning Board of Appeals, said the ideas for the book had always been in his head. He began the book about three years before he retired from a longtime career as the director of facilities and projects at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.

"I always had all these thoughts and ideas on climate change, on all sorts of things," he clarified. "I was able to bring them all together in this book."

Cutler's book begins in 2067. The world is inhabited by roughly 10 billion people. "Far more than the eight billion that experts say the Earth can comfortably accomodate," Cutler explained. Ada Sylva is the captain of a space mission, leading 90,000 people into space to establish a colony on an alien world, all to help move people off of an overpopulated earth.

What she doesn't know is that, in the time she's been away, a deadly virus has wiped out over 90 percent of the world's population.

Cutler based the deadly virus on the 1918 Spanish Influenza. That epidemic killed around 50 to 100 million people. At the time, that was roughly 3 to 5 percent of the global population.

"And that was before there was really widespread travel," Cutler added. "It was much more insulated. Imagine what a virus like that could do today."

He let his own imagination play in his novel. In 2085, the remnants of humanity—all 800 million of them, a mere fraction of the 10 billion Ada left behind—are living in a reformatted United States, subject to the brutal storms and rising waters of climate change. Ada's brother Karl is amongst those eking out an existence after the virus, deep in Alaska. Another cousin, Abel, has mastered technology and is using drones to run an agricultural empire, while remaining separate from other humans.

The family will all run into a mysterious group of 'beings' who are looking to return humanity to what they see as its 'proper course.'

"I was always fascinated by the idea of angels, or other beings," Cutler said. "People always say that we don't see them anymore, but I wonder if maybe we do. For this book," he added, "I thought maybe they're not angels but aliens, who have always been watching over humanity. They help out when it seems like we were in trouble."

"Course Correction" is Cutler's first novel, but he said he's always been writing. "Most of my career was grant-writing," he said, "or as I like to refer to it, 'creative writing'."

His family appears throughout the novel; Cutler's love for old cars appears in the form of the family's heirloom 1914 Model T. The family, while living in Alaska, is originally from Massachusetts. The three main characters are all named after Cutler's grandchildren. "They're too young to know yet," he chuckled, "but they'll see."

Cutler self-published the novel through the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Program. Copies of "Course Correction" retail for $14.95 (the Kindle edition is $8.50) and can be found on




Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.