Bill Hyde has penned four science fiction books. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Bill Hyde has penned four science fiction books. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Riding the rails to writing science fiction tales

Bill Hyde has enjoyed writing since retiring in 2004

After retiring as a locomotive engineer in 2004, Bill Hyde is enjoying writing science fiction books inspired by a recurring dream.

“Even when I was still working and sleeping in a bunkhouse, I’d wake up dreaming this story,” Hyde said.

When he completed his first book Lord of the Earth, which he gave a cliffhanger ending, he found he was not ready to let the story go. He then followed up by writing The Archon and finally Return to Earth.

“I called it my trilogy and remembered that J.R.R. Tolkien had written his trilogy after he’d written The Hobbit. I, however, waited until now to write The Homecoming. It’s more like Lord of the Earth – the next generation.”

Hyde said he has endeavoured not to make his books like any of the Star Trek or Babylon 5 series and really make the stories his own. His character Altonan Arkonaan, who is a genius, has nothing to do but study with the artificial intelligence characters in the story, and uses that knowledge to try to save the Earth.

“He gets deeper and deeper into problems because the Earth is a quagmire, well in my book it is,” Hyde said.

Originally from Ontario, Hyde grew up reading.

He used to go the library every Saturday where there was a puppet show at 11 a.m. and patrons were allowed to sign out five books.

“I took those five books home and I read them and the next Saturday went back, returned them and took out five more.”

Living in Toronto he’d read comic books about western stories so when he moved to B.C. in 1971 and was living in ranch and lumbering country he loved it.

“It was like my childhood dreams coming true.”

He has lived in Williams Lake since 1989, where he worked for BC Rail until 2004 when CN took it over and he accepted a buyout.

Bill and his wife, Evelyn, have been married for 28 years. She is originally from the Philippines and their relationship started off by writing letters to one another.

“She had a cousin in Williams Lake who used to own a store on Dog Creek Road. She introduced them as pen pals.”

They have two children – Billy, 26, and Angelica, 19, – and over the years have spent time as a family in the Philippines so the children could have that experience as well.

Billy took Grade 5 and Angelica did Grade 6 in Gumaca, Quezon province.

“We have a home there and spend six months of the year there,” he said.

He enjoys when his wife cooks for large gatherings. Recently one was held outside at their home where the women sat on one side and spoke Tagalog, the language of the central Philippines.

“I’ve tried to learn Tagalog for decades and find when I’m in the Philippines I know more words, but back home not so much,” Hyde said.

Their home off South Lakeside has a clear view of the railway tracks and to this day, he will look out the window when a train is going by.

“I can tell how well the economy is doing when I see how many cars are on the train,” he said.

READ MORE: Rail buffs gather at the museum

Besides being a writer, Hyde is also a musician.

A longtime friend of Murray Hoffman, Hyde said they met after the Cariboo Gold Dance Band in 1990 put out a call for a bass player who could read music.

He’s been playing with the band ever since.

“When I almost had to quit because of my arthritis, Murray went and found a tiny little u-bass. He brought it to my house and was waiting with Mike Barbour in my living room.”

When Hyde opened the case, he thought it was a joke or a toy at first.

“My God that thing had a bassy sound and I’ve been able to play it without hardly moving my fingers that much. I had a fretless bass but every note I played hurt.”

Thanks to Hoffman, Hyde can still play and keep his brain active.

“That’s the way you keep going. You don’t sit back, you keep doing stuff,” he said.

READ MORE:Cariboo Gold Dance Band sharpening skills in preparation for 2021 shows

Hyde is also starting to dream again, although he’s trying hard not to, he said.

His books are self-published through Xlibris and available at The Open Book in Williams Lake.

As for becoming an emptynester at some point in the future, he chuckled and said at his age he is lucky to still have Angelica living with them at home.

“Most people are emptynesters at my age,” he said.

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