Local man releases thought-provoking fiction thriller


By Claire Harlin

Would it be realistic for us to go back to nature and live off the land? Will the world run out of resources? Is there a universal consciousness? What makes people good and what makes them bad? Are institutions necessary in leading mankind in the right direction? What would the world be like if our structured institutions fail?

These are only some of the philosophical questions raised in local resident Rick Emmerson’s new action novel, “The Bear Guardian.” This may seem dense for a fiction thriller, but Emmerson, 68, will be the first to tell you that the book is a fun, easy read. And he should know — for decades the former economist published technical articles on economics, so this exciting retirement project was a breath of fresh air.

“The book explores what is true human nature, among other philosophical questions, but it’s not in a hit-you-over-the-head academic way,” said Emmerson, who has lived in the area since 1971. “It’s all just woven into the story, and the reader can think more deeply if they want. It’s thought-proving, not just a suspense novel.”

“The Bear Guardian” is about a covert government plot that involves sending a team of researchers from Sorrento Valley into the Congo and duping them into thinking they are testing a drug designed to tame violent human behavior. In reality, the government agency is looking to alter the nature of the team’s bonobo test subjects in an effort to suppress a subversive movement of people who live off the land in large numbers. The book has a few local scenes, with some parts taking place at Market Restaurant, located at 3702 Via de la Valle.

The adversary group in the book, which was seen as threat to government, embodies much of Emmerson’s personal values and beliefs.

“They believe one should work hard to act in harmony and create comfort for all living things on Earth. They are a benign group, not a cult or having a religious background, and they are all-inclusive,” he said.

Although it doesn’t say so in the book, Emmerson said he identifies with atheism, and finds spiritual comfort in being awed by nature and loving life.

“The face that I’m here at all; I feel lucky to be here,” he said. “I’m comforted to be part of life. That’s my spiritual center and that was bound to come out in the book somehow.”

While Emmerson is holding an upcoming lecture and signing on Aug. 2 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Del Mar Library, he’s not interested in book sales. He’s actually not even making a dime off the book. He has chosen three charities that directly relate to the themes of the book — conservation, healthcare abroad and animal rights — and every dollar supports those causes. These charities are Direct Relief International, World Wildlife Fund and Best Friends Animal Society.

“It’s for a good cause, and I spend a lot of money on charities anyway,” said Emmerson, who self-published the book out of his own pocket. “More than any commercial interests, I’m interested in people reading it and thinking about it.”

The book is available on, and a free eBook download is also available at