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Book Talk: Bowers, ‘Ambush at Galaxy Gulch’

If science fiction is your thing, you need to know about our local sci-fi writer, John Bowers. Mr. Bowers, a long-time resident of Madera, has published 22 books, 12 of them in his epic “Nick Walker, U.F. Marshal” series. He’s written five novels in his Starport Series, and five in his “The Fighter Queen Saga” series. He was kind enough to let me read “Ambush at Galaxy Gulch” (2020, 380 pages in paperback format), his latest publication featuring Nick Walker.

The book opens with a scene from the Old West, specifically Abilene, Kansas, in 1869. Doesn’t sound like sci-fi, does it? However, we quickly learn that the plot revolves around the production of a vid, the future equivalent of a movie. The vid is being “filmed” in the year 0449 (Colonial Calendar) on Alpha Centauri II, a place that supports human life. In fact, it’s so well adapted for producing Old West vids that Rod Manchester, producer of the current project, is thinking about buying thousands of acres for future use.

The entire Manchester family is involved in the production of “Ambush at Galaxy Gulch,” starring Rod Manchester as Yancy West, the hero of the vid series. Rod’s wife Dina is the director, and his daughter Holly has a part that requires her to kiss an actor who has onion breath, a point of contention between Holly and Dina.

By invitation, U.F. (United Federation) Marshal Nick Walker is on the set, and Rod wants him to consider taking over the role of Yancy West — Nick’s favorite vid character — or even starring in a series based on his own heroic exploits.

For now, Nick is just enjoying the activity on the sets, and he’s fascinated by the whole processes of creating vids. However, “accidents” begin to happen, and when some of the guns fire off real shells, Nick’s skills as a famous lawman come into play. There are lots of futuristic things that are described in the novel, but the story essentially boils down to a good old who done it. As Mr. Bowers told me, his work is “science fiction that doesn’t taste like science fiction.”

Currently, four of Mr. Bowers books are shelved at our local library. Otherwise, they and his others may be purchased from His books are available in both paperback editions and Kindle format, and they are reasonably priced. Although I’ve only read Ambush at Galaxy Gulch, I can tell that it would be advantageous to read the series in order: (1) Asteroid Outpost; (2) Sirian Summer; (3) Rebel Guns of Alpha Centauri; (4) Victoria Cross: United Federation Attorney; (5) Bounty Hunter at Binary Flats; (6) Gunfight at the Alpha Centauri Express; (7) Manhunt on Tau Ceti 4; (8) Assassin on Centauri B; (9) Revolt on Alpha 2; (10) Return to Sirius; Victoria Cross: (11) Colonial Defense Attorney; and (12) Ambush at Galaxy Gulch, which Mr. Bowers calls Nick’s “final adventure.” He writes on the back cover, “Nick Walker must not only get to the bottom of events on the movie set, but try to survive a threat to himself and his family. If it’s the last thing he ever does….”

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Jim Glynn may be contacted at


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