IT would be fair to say that the cannibalistic tendencies of dark elves or the killing capabilities of a specially programmed breed of T-Rex are hardly the kind of subjects that occupy most people’s thoughts when they retire.

But pottering around the garden, taking up fishing, joining a fitness club or reading The Complete Works of Shakespeare are not pensioner Barry Woodham’s idea of a blissful retirement.

Barry, 70, who has lived in Swindon all his life, spends endless hours writing science-fiction books that whisk his dedicated following of readers on soaring flights of fantasy to distant planets billions of years back and forth in time.

There they encounter a galaxy of bizarre, outlandish characters: Eleon “the Halfling daughter of the cruel Madock;” the beast-master Shoo-lin; Toarvak 6 “destroyer of worlds,” and a chimp called Joom.

And let’s not forget Link-soo-Shan, The Tyrant. “She’s a nasty piece of work,” says Barry, with some satisfaction.

His books are populated by a lively assortment of species from all corners of the universe: Gnathe, Bazantii, Ladgoo, Goss, Vogb, Kresh, Transentients.

Clearly, he has great fun making up names for these otherworldly beings who interact with humans and intelligent apes during his complex, extravagantly woven yarns.

“I am a story-teller. I write for the sheer joy of it,” says Barry. “All of my books have been great fun to write.

“People who read my books say it’s the sort of science fiction they read 20 or 30 years ago – aliens, time travel, powers of the mind, space travel – before all the heavy political intrigue took over.”

A former draughtsman-turned design engineer, Barry, a grandfather with three sons – Roger, 46, David, 44, and Stevan, 42 – has produced seven books since he took early retirement at 54.

However, he has been unable to find a publisher and pays for the publication of his tomes, which all boast finely illustrated sleeves.

Barry – whose works are also available on Kindle – admits that he struggles to break even, despite boasting glowing internet reviews and readers from as far as Australia and the States.

“It costs me £1,000 to publish each book – I need to sell 3,000 to recoup it all.”

He goes on: “Not finding a publisher has been frustrating – especially when you look at some of the reviews my books have received on Amazon.

“I’ve been absolutely amazed at the nice things people have written about them.

“All I can do is keep writing the books and putting them out myself.”

The son of a Swindon boot-maker Barry, a former pupil of Sandford Street School in the town centre, worked for local firms Lister, Plessey and Magnaflux before moving to a nuclear fusion project JET near Abingdon.

He was 12 when he read Hugh Lofting’s 1928 fantasy Dr Doolittle in the Moon, sparking a life-long interest in science fiction.

He gobbled-up books by the masters of sci-fi – Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Frank Herbert, and his favourite, “the mind-blowing” Tad Williams.

His semi-detached house off Marlborough Road, Swindon, is crammed with long out-of-print magazines.

“We have science fiction magazines going back to the Fifties,” sighs his wife, Janet. “They’re all in chronological order,” enthuses Barry.

He goes on: “I have read a magazine called Analog for at least 55 years. I have read thousands upon thousands of short stories, novels, novellas by all kinds of writers. I still have SF magazines from years and years ago… I can’t bear to throw them away.”

Barry’s job at JET involved writing instruction manuals on how machines worked but his head, so to speak, was swimming in a galaxy far, far away.

During lunch hours he began scribbling down ideas for what became his first novel, Genesis 2.

Says Barry: “Some of my work colleagues began reading what I had written and started asking ‘what happens next – when’s the next chapter?’”

Encouraged, Barry retired with the aid of a legacy to focus on writing. His debut novel Genesis 2 – all 140,000 words of it – took two years to write.

It was the first of five books that became the Genesis series.

Says Barry: “They explore the co-operation of human and aliens against a common enemy.”

Genesis harks back to the Big Bang before progressing to the end of the universe – and then onto the start of a new universe. “It’s a very wide tapestry.”

The first copy of Barry’s seventh book Molock’s Wand has just arrived from the printers in Cirencester.

Like its predecessor The Elf War, there is a strong fantasy element with elves, dwarves, gnomes and raptors jammed into the action alongside humans.

Barry – who writes under the name Barry E Woodham – swiftly rebuffs any suggestion that his elves and dwarves are Tolkienesque.

“My elves work with physics not magic,” he asserts – the very idea of magic being a wholly alien concept.

He delved deeply into the Nordic mythology before creating his singular brand of elves – light elves (good) and dark ones (bad.) Piling all of his books onto the living room table, Barry says: “That’s more than 15 years’ worth of work there.” It’s an impressive haul.

There is a hint of the eccentric professor about Barry as he enthusiastically jumps from book to book while expounding on his work.

“Did you know that one day the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with our own?” I must admit, no.

“It won’t for billions of years,” he reassures me, before going on: “Just suppose that the collision was deliberate and had been speeded-up to destroy the Milky Way.” This is the plot of his fourth book, Genesis Search.

Predictable, Barry’s stuff isn’t.

“I throw my characters into some very strange situations” he says.

Barry adds: “I just love doing it – as well as everything else, it keeps the grey cells working.”

Barry offers me the first three chapters of his eighth book, Star-Seed to peruse.

“I warn you, it’s pretty weird,” he says.

And with that he’s back at the computer, leaping into chapter four; his mind buzzing with elves, goblins and raptors.