A retired Morro Bay computer expert and teacher is now dabbling in science fiction, after a lifetime teaching the world about the computing future.
Dr. Robert Bliss, PhD, will sign his new science fiction novel, “A.N.G.E.L.S., Inc.”, which is an acronym for “AmericaN Genetically-Engineered LifeformS,” from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 outside Coalesce Bookstore, 845 Main St., during the weekly Saturday Farmer’s Market.
According to a press release, “The story is about the first genetically-engineered humans. One is a young man who becomes the Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and two others are stunning women and dead-ringers for movie stars Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz.”
As the story unfolds, all three are happily married to normal humans, successful and with seemingly normal, idyllic lives but something is just off.
Set in California and Las Vegas in “the near future,” ANGELS, Inc., is “a hard-hitting action-adventure, as the boxer slugs his way to the title. It also entwines three touching love stories, as the Angels fall in love.”
Bliss explained, “Scientists today disagree on which technological development was the most significant in the 20th Century — the automobile, the airplane, nuclear weapons, the computer, organ transplants, etc.? But, there’s no disagreement on what will be the most significant in the 21st Century — genetic engineering.”
Bliss was a college professor for 30 years, and was the founder and chairman of the Computer Systems Department at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Prior to that, he was a technical writer and systems analyst in the computer and aerospace industries. While there, he went to night school and earned an associate degree in physical science from Cerritos College and then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in management from Cal State Fullerton.
With an MBA in hand, Bliss worked part time at two colleges for a couple of years before landing a full-time job at Saddleback College, where he went on to earn a doctorate degree in administration of higher education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Bliss made three television series for computer education. “In 1988,” the release said, “his ‘Computer Talk’ show allowed viewers to phone in questions, which he answered on the air. In 1989, Saddleback videotaped 28 of his Computer Systems lectures and broadcast them as a telecourse for several years. In 1990, he made the ‘Computer Literacy with Dr. Bliss’ series at KOCE-TV, the PBS station in Orange County. John Wiley & Sons distributed that series nationally.”
Bliss’ imagination has always been in sci-fi stories, a fascination that started at 7. At his high school Science Fair, the news release said, he lectured on space flight ⎯ 4-years before the Russians launched Sputnik and started the Space Race.
In 1968, his vision saw the future when he won an employee suggestion box award “for recommending a machine we now call the Fax.”
These days, Bliss said he’s most interested in “intelligent robots, and genetic engineering.”
“While teaching at Saddleback College,” the release said, “he took sabbaticals at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at M.I.T.; the Robotics Institute at Carnegie-Mellon; and the Knowledge Engineering Lab at Stanford. He also studied with professors at Harvard and Dartmouth “who used A.I. Expert Systems for business decision-making.”