Does life exist on other planets? James Templer has been turning this question over in his head for most of his life. Now, well into his golden years, he's decided to write about it.
Templer, 85, has made himself into a science fiction author, recently self-publishing his second book, "Jahaz Chronicles II." The sequel to his first book, which follows the protagonist Earthling, Tagast, through his adventures on Venus in its quest for survival.
The Hilton Head Island resident discusses why science fiction should get more respect.
Question. How long have you been writing?
Answer. The last few years. I like to write, but I've never had the time. I know there's no money in writing, certainly in the subject I write about.
Q. How did you get into science fiction?
A. I've always been intrigued. I feel strongly there are intelligent beings out in the universe. We just lack the ability to communicate with them. But it's an issue of dealing with the huge distances between potentially inhabitable planets.
Q. Intelligent life? How intelligent?
A. Well, let's assume we're intelligent. I assume they could match or exceed our intelligence.
Q. Think we could meet some of these aliens anytime soon?
A. No (laughs).
Q. How did you get to Hilton Head?
A. I'm South African. I was born in East Africa. I went to Britain for an education. World War II came along, and I went back to East Africa for my schooling. I ended up in the Navy for five years. I moved to South Africa and lived there for many years. I migrated here about 10 years ago. My brother retired here after working for Georgia Tech. Things had deteriorated so much in South Africa.
Q. How often are you writing?
A. A while. I have a full-time job at Avis. But I'm pretty old, too. I'm 85. It takes quite a while. It took me about a year to write the book. I don't play golf. I write.
Q. Do you expect to sell anything?
A. I write for myself. There's not a lot of demand for those types of books, anyway.
Q. Why is that?
A. People nowadays are more interested in other things. Someone writes a juicy book about scandal in Washington and the book sells like hell. To me the more important things are what's going to happen in the future. How will we move around in space? Will we contact beings?
Q. I know I'd be more interested in intelligent aliens than another politician having an affair.
A. See? But we'll have to see if we can ever communicate with them.