For those of us not born with sensitivity to the Force or with the god-like powers of Thor, a new book by local author Ash Bishop explores the extraordinary life of an ordinary man.
“Intergalactic Exterminators Inc.” was recently sent for publication and will be available in the fall. The story centers on Russ Wesley, a wanderer who moves around the United States without a direction in life. Upon learning that his grandfather de el has died — and with the guilt Russ carries from not helping his family during the illness — Russ offers to help with the family bookstore. There he finds a rock that is “acting funny,” according to the author, and turns out to be a beacon for extraterrestrial life.
Russ is summoned to another world, where he takes a job as an exterminator, hunting a species that jumps from one world to another and destroys ecosystems.
“So he’s still a blue-collar worker,” Bishop said with a laugh. “Even in extraordinary circumstances. He’s still a guy that wants to help but he doesn’t know how.
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Bishop, a University City resident with children who attend The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, said that characterization was deliberate.
“I really like heroes that aren’t the chosen one, not destined for greatness,” Bishop said. “They don’t have this manifest destiny to fulfill. My favorite author is Philip K. Dick, who wrote ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ — the story on which the movie ‘Blade Runner’ was based. He tends to have characters that I wanted to emulate. There is such a resurgence of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, but that is a ‘chosen one’ narrative. Luke [Skywalker] is right there in the midst of the hero’s journey.”
Bishop was further inspired by the “Men in Black” film series, “even though those characters are more like government workers,” and the “goofiness” of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.
He said he uses humor to deliver messages of everyday heroism and the importance of kindness.
“I want people to think about the heroic nature of the everyday person. We shouldn’t look to the chosen one to save us,” he said. “We should recognize the capacity for good inside ourselves, even if we don’t think we’re great.”
“The world in my book is full of incredible diversity, yet we are as similar as we are different,” he added. “We all want love, respect, success, etc. Even the bad sentient beings are decent. I tried to define a monster, and in our story, the monster destroys ecosystems. The exterminator’s jobs are to relocate or destroy them, depending on how dangerous they are.”
“I want people to think about the heroic nature of the everyday person. … We should recognize the capacity for good inside ourselves, even if we don’t think we’re great.”
— Ash Bishop
“Intergalactic Exterminators Inc.” is Bishop’s third book but the first to be published for distribution. He started writing while in college at UC Santa Barbara and continued while completing San Diego State University’s master of fine arts program. After that, I have taught at community colleges. During the evenings and summers when he was not working, Bishop would write.
Now he writes a blog and works for a nonprofit that helps military veterans.
Learn more or order “Intergalactic Exterminators Inc.” at ash-bishop.com. ◆