If the world can only handle 8 billion people, as most experts believe, what would happen if we had 10 billion?
This question started circulating through the creative spaces of Richard Cutler’s brain during his long career as facilities director at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.
Sounds like a great book, he thought. Too bad he didn’t have time to write it.
Running 113 buildings with scores of people working for him and over $200 million in collective renovations being made, he was a busy guy.
“It was one of those jobs, you either liked it or you don’t. I think when I was there everyone liked it. I had a great time,” Cutler said. “When a hurricane or a big storm would come up the coast, I’d be camped out down at the lab — I still check in when there’s a big storm. I can’t resist.”
When he retired three years ago, he knew that he wanted to write — especially his story about a future where humanity tries to solve a problem.
“In that job I was the only engineer, so I wrote all the technical stuff if we were looking for a grant request and so forth. I was always writing, but not for fun,” he said.
It took two years of writing in short bursts of inspiration, but he saw his vision through with his first book Course Correction, self-published and available on Amazon.
He will be at the Rochester Council on Aging at 2:30 pm on Thursday, October 12 with copies of his book to sell and sign.
He brings his scientific background and a touch of whimsy to the novel, which imagines a future in 2085 where humanity needs a new home off of Earth.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the people of Earth are affected (badly) by the “Death Flu,” leading the characters on a quest into space for answers.
“Here’s the thing about science fiction — you watch these TV shows and movies and everyone’s just shooting lasers. It’s just like the Old West,” he said. “But there’s a lot more to it than that. At the lab, we were always talking about climate change, Zika virus, and I wondered, in this day and age — and in the future — something really nasty could spread.”
The book runs to 235 pages, and Cutler says he’s sold copies as far away as New Zealand since its release this summer.
Cutler lives in Rochester with his wife Ginny, and he’s enjoying his town role on the Zoning Board of Appeals — a second stint on that board. He also has served as a selectman.
Why town government?
“Well, somebody’s got to do it, you know? I’m reasonably good at it, and I like to help out.” he said.
Cutler is also known for his classic Model T collection, which takes up a good chunk of his side yard on a corner lot on the back roads of Rochester.
He was the first to get hooked on the classic cars, and his wife wasn’t far behind. He built one Model T from original parts, working on it an hour every night over eight years until it was up and running.
He spent 10 days with the Model T Club of New England filming a movie with Ben Affleck, “Live By Night,” a period gangster piece that came out in the fall of 2016. This past summer, he put 3,000 miles on his 1914 Model T, driving with his wife all across America.
“When my wife saw that one, she said, ‘We’re not leaving here without that car.’ As she says, ’They’re like potato chips, you can’t only have one.’ But it’s a great opportunity to get out and see the country, places that people normally don’t go.”
And, as he says, “We like to show off,” as heads turn every time he takes any of the cars out on the roads of Rochester.
At 71, he says he’s “slowed down a little,” but, like his classic cars, there’s still plenty left in the gas tank.
By Jonathan Comey