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New eBook Bundles: 6/12/18

Here are the new ebook bundles that went on sale today!

The Jerry Mitchell Series by Larry Bond

Poster Placeholder of - 98 Larry Bond’s action-packed, military thriller Jerry Mitchell novels follow a U.S. Navy officer on international missions around the world to prevent conflicts from escalating into devastating wars.

This discounted ebundle includes Dangerous Ground, Cold Choices, Exit Plan, Shattered Trident, and Fatal Thunder.

The Green Universe Trilogy by Jay Lake

Placeholder of  -45 She was sold to the Undying Duke when she was only four years old, and raised to be the jewel of his possessions: courtesan, scholar, assassin. But Green had other plans, and with the aid of a Goddess and her own skill with weapons she took control of her destiny.

Green’s world encompasses cities and dusty equatorial villages, steam-powered ships and firearms, and the ever-present meddling of the gods and their parents, the titanics. Green’s service is claimed by the Lily Goddess of Kalimpura, the Black God of Copper Downs, her own personal god Endurance, and the titanic known as Desire; she wants only to be left alone to find her past and make her future.

This discounted ebundle includes Green, Endurance, and Kalimpura.

The Complete Fleet of Worlds: A Ringworld Series by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner

Image Placeholder of - 25Two hundred years before the discovery of the Ringworld, humans discover the history of their ancestors and revolt against the Puppeteers—a race they’ve held as saviors and been serving for generations.

This discounted ebundle includes Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds, Destroyer of Worlds, Betrayer of Worlds, and Fate of Worlds.

Tor Classics Collection: Jules Verne by Jules Verne

Image Place holder  of - 2All editions are complete and unabridged, and feature Introductions and Afterwords.

This discounted ebundle includes Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days.

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New Releases: 5/29/18

Happy New Release Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Arctic Gambit by Larry Bond

Poster Placeholder of - 43 Jerry Mitchell, now the commodore of submarine Development Squadron Five, is dismayed when USS Toledo is reported missing in Arctic waters, close to Russian territory. The vessel is captained by his former shipmate and close friend, Lenny Berg. Eager to investigate, Jerry convinces the Navy to redirect one of his squadron’s boats to find out what happened.

Twelve Days by Steven Barnes

Placeholder of  -54 Around the world, leaders and notorious criminals alike are mysteriously dying. A terrorist group promises a series of deaths within two months. And against the backdrop of the apocalypse, the lives of a small shattered family and a broken soldier are transformed in the bustling city of Atlanta.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Place holder  of - 61 Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

NEW IN PAPERBACK

Assassin’s Price by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Eve of Darkness by S. J. Day & Sylvia Day

NIGHTFLYERS: and Other Stories by George R.R. Martin

Putin’s Gambit by Lou Dobbs & James O. Born

The U.P. Trail and The Call of the Canyon by Zane Grey

Venus by Ben Bova

NEW IN MANGA

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Official Guide Book Merkmal Based on the manga by Kore Yamazaki

Arpeggio of Blue Steel Vol. 13 Story and art by Ark Performance

Merman in My Tub Vol. 7 Story and art by Itokichi

Occultic;Nine Vol. 3 Story by Chiyomaru Shikura; Art by pako

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5 Thrillers by and for the Military for Memorial Day

There are many thrillers starring veterans and young warriors, but a select few are written by authors who served themselves! And no one writes a warrior like a warrior.

In the spirit of the holiday, we’ve picked 5 riveting thrillers written by and for members of the military.

Arctic Gambit by Larry Bond

Poster Placeholder of - 52 By navy veteran Larry Bond, Arctic Gambit tells the story of Jerry Mitchell, now the commodore of submarine Development Squadron Five. When a US vessel goes missing in arctic waters, Mitchell’s investigation will uncover a deadly plot involving nuclear blackmail and a shocking new Russian weapon that could alter the fate of the world. Commodore Mitchell must rely on his training, experience, and just a bit of luck on a mission to destroy the weapon before it starts World War III.

Assassin’s Code by Ward Larsen

Place holder  of - 92 A former US Air Force fighter pilot, Larsen knows how to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Assassin’s Code follows former assassin David Slaton on an adrenaline-packed journey to thwart a terror attack on the French public. It all starts with a cryptic message: On a memory stick, a photograph of the man who will soon assume command of DGSI, France’s elite counterterrorism force.

Flash Points by David Hagberg

Image Placeholder of - 20 Former Air Force cryptographer David Hagberg writes the latest in a thrilling series following Kirk McGarvey, a retired CIA assassin who just can’t stay retired. In Flash Points, someone’s on a mission to kill the president, and McGarvey is looking like collateral damage. When the president’s enemies attempt to organize terror attacks around America and the globe to get the president impeached, McGarvey must leave retirement once more and hunt down the perpetrators.

Final Strike by William Cohen

Image Place holder  of - 40 William Cohen served as the secretary of defense under Clinton and uses that experience to write tense political thrillers. In his latest terrifying adventure, the fate of the entire planet hangs in the balance as an asteroid hurtles toward earth. When Putin’s charismatic successor attempts to use the strike as a weapon against the United States, only an off the books operation by National Security Advisor Sean Falcone has the chance to rescue an American scientist, deflect the asteroid, and avoid a war between nuclear powers.

Rage by Ken Shufeldt

Placeholder of  -65 Ken Shufeldt is a Naval veteran and author of explosive thrillers. In Rage, former Marine Victor Garcia is added to the GOP ticket as VP and token minority. But when his running mate wins the election and immediately disappears, Victor becomes acting president and a series of attacks and disasters throws the country into chaos. Not even his record as a war hero will protect him from dirty politicians and a violent push toward anarchy that only he can stop.

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Apocalypse Logic

Place holder  of - 37 By Larry Bond & Chris Carlson

Things are going to get a little strange when your starting premise is “the world is ending.”

On March 1st, 2018, President Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian Federal Assembly. During the speech, he rattled not just one saber, but six, describing a range of new weapons that he claimed would make U.S. ballistic missile defenses “useless.” In addition to the RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBM, and Kinzhal hypersonic land attack missile, he discussed the Status-6 nuclear2 torpedo.

Why the superscript? Because the Status-6 is a nuclear, nuclear torpedo. In other words, not only does it have a nuclear warhead, it’s nuclear-powered as well. This is not a hypothetical weapon system. The Russians are in the prototype design and testing phase that they plan to complete by 2020. They even have two submarines designed to carry it under construction.

Vladimir was not revealing anything new. Word of this system first appeared three years ago, in a Bill Gertz article on Project Kanyon published in the Washington Free Beacon on 8 September 2015. About two months later, a widely televised briefing to a group of senior officers of the Russian General Staff, attended by President Putin, included a remarkably clear image of a page in the briefing book (see below). While other shots with the briefing book had the pages blurred, this one was not. It’s clear the Russians wanted us to know about this, which is entirely sensible. Anyone who has watched Dr. Strangelove knows deterrence only works if the other side knows about it.

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Image from Covert Shores.

The Status-6 is a huge beast. Discard the image the word “torpedo” creates in your mind. A typical submarine-launched torpedo has a diameter of 533mm (21 inches) and is about 6-7 meters (20-23 feet) long. The Status-6 is 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) in diameter and 24 meters (79 feet) long. Look at the accompanying illustration from a popular website, Covert Shores, to see a comparison of the Status-6 with a conventional torpedo. Despite its size, the Status-6 is fast, travelling at 100 knots, and has a range of 5,400 nautical miles – this is why it is nuclear-powered. It would also operate at extreme depths, 1,000 meters, which makes it immune to all U.S. undersea weaponry.

The Status-6 is capable of and expected to carry a multi-megaton warhead. Reportedly, the warhead casing also includes a lot of cobalt, which in a nuclear detonation would become cobalt-60, a nasty radioactive isotope. Since the weapon would be detonated in the shallow water of a port or harbor, the amount of radioactive fallout would be immense. In sum, this is one honkin’ big dirty bomb.

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Image from Covert Shores.

Why would the Russians design such a fearsome device? Because the guiding principle of “Mutually Assured Destruction” isn’t as assured as the Russians would like. The working theory has been that as long as the U.S. and the USSR Russia would destroy each other, neither would use their ICBMs.

That’s worked for decades, but the situation is changing. If you like, use 1991 and Operation Desert Storm as a milestone, when a Patriot missile made the first combat kill of a tactical ballistic missile (an Iraqi Scud, 18 January 1991). The U.S. military now routinely fields anti-tactical ballistic missile capability in its ships and air defense systems – to include very unpopular, from a Russian point of view, land based sites in Romania and Poland. Oh, and let’s not forget it was the U.S. that walked away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 and now has Ground-Based Midcourse Defense sites in Alaska and California.  And while the ground-based interceptors don’t have a great hit record right now, it’s likely that improving technology could allow the U.S. to shoot down large numbers of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

From the Russian perspective, this is a Bad Thing. If the Russian response to a U.S. nuclear first strike can be blunted, then the Americans might launch a sneak attack. In Defensespeak, improving ABM technology is “destabilizing.” It increases the risk of nuclear attack.

Now, the Russians are also improving their own air defense systems, and that includes some that have an ABM-capability, but this isn’t about what is, but what could be. Neither side can shoot down large numbers of ICBMs right now, but what if the U.S. could? You gotta plan for the worst case.

While it is conceivable that the U.S. might be able to field an ABM system that could destroy a lot Russian ICBMs, there is no known technology or stuff on the drawing board, not even nukes that could stop a deep running 100-knot torpedo.

It is this invulnerability the Russians are after. The nuclear bomber leg of the nuclear triad, even with cruise missiles, lacks stealth and is vulnerable to air defenses. The ICBM leg is vulnerable to developing ABM technology, and Russia cannot guarantee the security of their reduced ballistic missile submarine force.

The Status-6 is not a first-strike weapon, or even their first choice for a retaliatory strike, as it will be heard coming for days – a high-speed nuclear-powered torpedo will be noisy. Submarine- and ground-launched ballistic missiles are much faster. These would be launched in any case after the Russians received word of a U.S. attack, or if they chose to initiate a first strike. Instead, the Status-6 would be a second-strike weapon used to finish off any port cities or naval bases that remained after the first wave of Russian attacks.

In one sense, piling even more radioactive sunshine into a nuclear apocalypse is irrelevant. But the idea of these massive weapons specifically targeting the last few survivors, at least along the U.S. coast, is chilling.

The most important thing to understand is that the Russians built this fearsome machine as a defensive weapon, on the strategic level. This monster torpedo can’t stop our missiles, but it will make us have second thoughts about launching them.

Remember Putin’s boast about making US missile defenses useless? His purpose was not to threaten the West with a new range of offensive weapons, but to reassure his own people, and remind us, that if the West strikes first, Russia will return the favor.

Order Your Copy

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 Follow Larry Bond online on Facebook and his website.

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Excerpt: Arctic Gambit by Larry Bond

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Poster Placeholder of - 87 Jerry Mitchell, now the commodore of submarine Development Squadron Five, is dismayed when USS Toledo is reported missing in Arctic waters, close to Russian territory. The vessel is captained by his former shipmate and close friend, Lenny Berg. Eager to investigate, Jerry convinces the Navy to redirect one of his squadron’s boats to find out what happened.

It turns out Toledo was sunk just outside of Russian territorial waters by a torpedo launched from a naval mine. Even more disturbing is the discovery that Russia is building a deadly weapon. Engineers have modified the STATUS-6, a strategic nuclear-propelled, nuclear armed torpedo that is already operational, into a stealthy first strike weapon: Drakon. This new tool would allow the Russians to launch a completely covert nuclear decapitation strike on the USA.

The new Russian president has plans for Europe, and is more than willing to use nuclear blackmail—or an actual attack—to keep the Americans from interfering. To avoid a Russian war in Europe, and a nuclear catastrophe at home, Mitchell must find a way to destroy the Drakon launcher before it’s too late.

Arctic Gambit will be available on May 29th. Please enjoy this excerpt, and continue reading on Criminal Element!

1: Phone Call

Emily felt Jerry’s body tense, and she came fully awake. He was sitting up, rigid, listening to the phone.

Small-hours phone calls were hardly worth mentioning in the Mitchell home. Jerry had given his staff a fair-sized list of situations that required contacting the squadron commander immediately, regardless of the hour. She usually slept straight through them. Most were just a notification, or a simple question. Jerry would say a few words, hang up, and go back to sleep himself.

But this time, he listened and asked quick, short questions. If his body language hadn’t alerted her, his tone would have—softly spoken, but intense, and Emily knew enough about submariners to become more concerned the longer he spoke.

“How long?” then, “Who has been notified?”

After a long pause, he added, “Yes, go ahead, but I’m coming in anyway. Tell the driver I’ll be ready in fifteen. Good work, Myron.” Jerry set the phone down, then turned to Emily.

“It was Myron Wheatly,” he explained softly, because four-year-old Charlotte was sprawled between them, thankfully still sound asleep. LCDR Wheatly was the squadron maintenance officer, and the command duty officer that night. “We got a call from SUBRON Twelve in Groton. Toledo has missed her last three communications windows.”

Alarm flashed through her, and she had to remember to whisper. “Lenny Berg’s boat? It’s overdue?”

“Not officially,” he cautioned. “That won’t be until it’s due back at base, several weeks from now.”

“But does Jane . . .”

Charlotte stirred, stopping Emily in midsentence. Jerry took the opportunity to smoothly disengage from the little girl’s arm and ease himself out of bed. He’d heard the concern in his wife’s voice, and came around to her side of the bed, kneeling down next to her head to whisper.

“There are a lot of reasons she could be out of comms, and SUBRON Twelve is already working the problem. They called me because Captain Dorr knows Lenny’s a good friend of ours. I’m going in so I can get a classified briefing, and to make sure Myron didn’t miss anything.”

Emily nodded. Time to be the commodore’s wife. “I can get Charlotte to daycare, no prob,” she added. Sometimes she rode with daddy to the base’s daycare, but not at 0440. “And this is still classified,” she stated, although it was really a question.

“Tippy-top,” Jerry confirmed as he got dressed. “But not officially. They’re just keeping the information close-hold to avoid worrying the families. They won’t even tell the other boats in Squadron Twelve until it’s necessary. Hopefully, it won’t be.”

Long practice helped Jerry get downstairs and outside just as the duty driver arrived. As he got in, Logistics Specialist Second Class Matthews reached back and handed Jerry a printout. “Commodore, Mr. Wheatly said you’d want to see this, and there’s a travel mug of coffee in the cup holder next to you.”

“Bless you, Petty Officer Matthews,” Jerry answered, taking the document and placing it in his lap. Reaching for the coffee with one hand while turning on a small reading light with the other, he saw that the document was a timeline of USS Toledo’s patrol, and now search. The last transmission from her was four days ago.

He frowned, feeling guilty about lying to Emily. Well, not exactly lying, but he hadn’t told her that the navy’s standard procedure after a sub missed two comm windows was to send out a priority message, “You OK? Please respond.” The balloon officially went up when the deadline for an answer to that call had passed. That had been at 0700 this morning, eastern time, hence the predawn call to Jerry.

The part of Jerry still waking up groused that they could have waited another few hours to call, but the people on SUBRON 12’s staff knew that Lenny and Jerry had been shipmates and close friends ever since they served together on Memphis. How many years ago? He and Emily were godparents to Lenny and Jane’s oldest boy, Ethan. While Jerry’s star had risen a little faster than his friend’s, he was sure that after Lenny finished his command tour on Toledo, he would be moving up.

They were right to call, whatever the hour. Jerry’s squadron, Submarine Development Squadron Five, controlled three boats, all fitted with advanced technology that might someday be fitted to the rest of the submarine fleet, or unique equipment that would allow a sub to perform a difficult, very specialized task, such as retrieving large heavy objects from the ocean floor, or carrying underwater robots for scouting. If any of that gear could help find Toledo, or save her if she was in trouble, he didn’t want to waste a minute.

Jerry desperately hoped that some circumstance or combination of circumstances had prevented Toledo from communicating, although it was hard to imagine what that could be. Subs had more than one way of phoning home, and sub sailors were pretty creative.

Thinking about Lenny and their days serving together aboard USS Memphis made him think about Memphis’s captain, then Commander Lowell Hardy. Their skipper had also moved on and up since that cruise. Jerry had the urge to call Hardy. Not to tell him about Lenny. He’d already know. Just to talk and share their worries. But you can’t just phone the president of the United States.

 

“He’s agreed to let SUBFOR and SUBRON Twelve handle the search, at least for now.” Commander Russ Chatham was on the CNO’s intelligence staff. He leaned back in his chair, visibly relieved.

Rear Admiral Mike Sanders, Chatham’s boss, smiled. “How was your first time briefing the president?”

Chatham just shook his head. “A typical nuke. He wanted to know everything. Thanks for warning me.”

Sanders’s smile widened. “Bitter experience, Rusty. You don’t get a pass from Hardy because you’re an aviator.”

“He knows as much about Toledo’s status, and Tensor, as anyone in the Navy right now. I could tell he wanted to ask more questions, or tell us to do something else, but he knew there was nothing else to learn, and we were already doing everything we could.”

“With any other politician, you would have lost an hour explaining why adding more searchers wouldn’t help, or why we haven’t already announced her as overdue.”

Rusty countered, “But he still wants updates twice a day, and immediate word if something new pops up.”

Admiral Sanders replied, “And hopefully it’ll be good news. In which case this just becomes part of Toledo’s patrol report, and no fuss. If we do declare her overdue, with the search area right next to Russian waters, too many questions will be asked about why we were there. It’s not a normal patrol zone. The last thing we want to do is draw anyone’s attention to Tensor.” Even in a very secure space, Sanders used the code word for the intelligence target, rather than its name.

“Since the location of our patrol zones are classified, we could just say it was a routine patrol zone, and only the Navy’s head shed would know we were lying.”

“The Russians have at least a general idea of where we normally operate. They would know,” Sanders argued. “And nothing we say will prevent them from raising a very public fuss about operating so close to their waters.”

“A lot of good it will do them.” Rusty grinned. “Hardy doesn’t put up with that crap.”

Sanders nodded and returned the grin. “I voted for him, too.”

 

“Let it go, dear.”

Senator Lowell Hardy (D-CT) looked up from his newspaper. His wife, Joanna, lay next to him. They made a habit of reading together each night before they slept. For both of them, spending quiet time next to the most important person in their life was more than beneficial.

“I could hear your teeth grinding,” she explained. “It’s not worth the aggravation.”

“I do not grind my teeth,” Hardy protested firmly.

“No you don’t. Well, at least not physically anyway,” she said, smiling, “but you mutter and grumble any time you’re reading something that upsets you, and we’re supposed to be unwinding.” She leaned over to look at the page. “I knew it! Another article on the primaries.”

Hardy held the paper up in one hand, as if displaying evidence. “Walters is a moron. I learned more about economics at the academy than he did heading that committee. And that ‘White Paper’ on the military he’s released is a piece of bovine excrement!”

“He’s got to get his name out there, after all, dear. It’s how the system works.”

“Is this really the best the Democratic Party can do? And Walters is the favorite! The others are even worse! Would you divorce me if I voted Republican this time around?”

She shook head but smiled. “No, but you might want to buy a comfortable couch.”

“I hear what passes for thoughtful policy in this town and I’m appalled. Reality doesn’t stand a chance against ideology and political convenience. If I thought I had an ice cube’s chance in blast furnace . . .”

“ . . . I’d run myself,” she completed. She leaned over and kissed him. “You’ve been saying that a lot lately. Be careful what you wish for.” Turning around, she leaned over and opened the drawer on the nightstand by the bed. After some rustling, she pulled out a manila folder. “I’ve done a little research, and called a few friends.” She opened the folder and withdrew a handwritten note. “Here, read this.”

Hardy put the newspaper aside and fiddled with the reading light before focusing on the single half-sized sheet of paper. The letterhead leapt off the page. It read simply, “The White House,” with the presidential seal embossed in gold over the letters.

Joanna,

I think your idea is an excellent one, and if Lowell ever decides to run, tell him he will have my full support. Better yet, see if you can bring him around to that idea. I know he will do a great job sitting in my chair.

Kenneth L. Myles

It didn’t take long to read, and Hardy read it at least twice more before noting the date. “This is over a year ago!” he exclaimed.

“Here’s another one, it’s a little more recent,” she said smoothly, “from President Huber.”

He started to speak, but she cut him off. “I waited until you’d made your feelings clear. I feel the same way—in fact, I think you’d make a great president, and I’ve thought so for some time.”

“But these notes . . .” he protested.

“Only three people know about each of these notes, and two of them are in this room. I’ve also sounded out other friends in the party and outside, always privately: ‘What if?’ Their universal reaction was ‘Yes!’ and ‘What’s holding him back?’”

She pointed to the folder. “I’ve sketched out a rough campaign organization.” Then grabbing his hand firmly said, “Lowell, you have more than just a chance. You could win. Seriously.”

“I feel a little like I’m being railroaded,” he mused.

She made a dismissive gesture. “You’re too damn sensible, too practical to ever say, ‘I want to be president.’ It’s my job as the objective observer in this household to point out the opportunity.”

Hardy laughed. “You’re not very objective, or unbiased in this case, my love.”

“No, I’m not,” she acknowledged, smiling, “but I’ve got thirty-plus years experience in this town, and I’ve worked directly for two presidents. You’ve made a lot of friends here, and more importantly, you’re highly respected—even by those who disagree with you. And you’re right. Walters is too focused on jobs, Mendoza’s too inexperienced, and nobody can figure out why Pickering is running.”

She laid a hand on his arm, reassuring him. “You can stop the train and get off any time you like. I can put this folder back in the drawer. It will still be good four or eight years from now, but you can run—and win—right now.”

She watched his expression, or rather expressions, as he considered what might be the most important decision of his life. She knew what he would do, though. Lowell had never turned away from a job that needed to be done, regardless of how long it took or tough it might be.

He held out his hand. “Let me see what you’ve got in there.”

 

“And that was really the last challenge to Senator Hardy’s chances of winning the nomination. Waiting until this late date to choose a running mate was risky, but my sources tell me that the deal that allowed Mendoza to accept the VP slot was not finalized until very late last night.”

“Literally at the eleventh hour,” another commentator supplied. “But it really had come down to only Mendoza and Hardy, especially after Pickering’s campaign imploded and Walters did so badly in the debates.”

The woman anchor nodded her head and added, “The lack of any baggage didn’t hurt Hardy, either. Both Walters and Pickering spent a lot of time on the defensive, attempting to justify their far left–leaning positions to a skeptical electorate. With Hardy’s highly successful terms in both the House and Senate as a centrist, and Mendoza’s one in the House, balance has become a virtue.”

“But now with Mendoza’s more progressive portfolio on jobs and immigration added to Hardy’s strengths on national security, foreign policy, and the environment, he stands a good chance to win the presidency this November.”

Jerry stared at the TV, half listening to the two commentators, and half struggling to come to grips with what was transpiring. It was all too surreal. His former skipper, friend, and mentor had just won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination . . . What the hell just happened? he asked himself, again.

Emily literally bounced with excitement beside him; she clearly was enthused by the prospect of their good friends taking up residence in the White House. “Jerry, isn’t this marvelous! Lowell will be a fantastic president! It’s a shame that Carly is too young to understand the honor of having the president and first lady as her godparents.” She stroked the sleeping toddler’s hair as she spoke, beaming with pride.

Emily’s highlighting of the close relationship the two families shared caused Jerry to close his eyes and lean his head back on the couch. He didn’t dare say what his inside voice was screaming, instead he merely pointed out the obvious. “It’s a bit premature to schedule Christmas dinner at the White House, Emily. Lowell still has to win the general election.”

An annoyed frown popped on her face. “Why are you so negative, Jerry? Lowell has far more experience than Crenshaw and is definitely more levelheaded. I don’t understand why you’re not thrilled for him and Joanna. Don’t you want him to be president?”

There was no winning this presidential debate. Sighing quietly, he tried to keep his voice level. “Of course, I want to see Lowell become president, Emily, and yes, he most definitely has my vote. But, there will be professional complications with that outcome.”

The frown melted away; she understood. “You’re still having issues with your reputation, aren’t you? People still believe you enjoy undeserved political favor, even after all you’ve done?”

Jerry nodded. “A month doesn’t go by that I don’t hear at least one offhanded comment from some general officer at the five-sided funny farm. My boss, and the other submariners, know better and are really supportive, but it still bothers me—maybe more than it should. I just can’t see how things wouldn’t get worse if Lowell is elected president, and I think it’s very likely he will be. Being close to a sitting president has been difficult for my superiors and me. Can you imagine the strain Lowell’s election will create? It’s not like we’ve been hiding the close bonds we have with him and Joanna.”

Standing, he reached for the sleeping child in Emily’s lap. “In a way, I’m glad we’ll be moving to Bangor before the election. I need to get away from all this bureaucracy and politics, and back to where I belong . . . back to the boats.”

 

A knock on the suite’s door interrupted the aide. Jenny opened the door and a dark-suited Secret Service agent reported, “Mr. President, we’re ready to move.”

Lowell Hardy, dressed in what was becoming an all-too-familiar tuxedo, called, “Joanna, it’s time.”

She swept into the room in a green-and-silver designer gown that almost reached the floor. They’d done things with her hair, still red but mixed with gray, piling up and holding it in place with small ornaments that matched her dress.

“Oh my. Wow!” Hardy clapped appreciatively. “Why did I even bother to put on a tuxedo? Nobody’s going to be looking at me.”

“Mr. President, Dr. Patterson, we really must proceed,” the agent insisted. They were scheduled to personally attend a total of ten official inaugural balls that night, and there were over a hundred unofficial balls and other celebrations happening in Washington. Even the president had to allow for what would be crazy traffic.

Reflexively, Hardy checked for his car keys and cell phone, then stopped himself. He wouldn’t need either of those for the next four years. At least he still had a handkerchief.

“We’ll finish that message in the car, Jenny,” he instructed. There were reports of troop movements near the Estonian border, and while there was no imminent threat, it was likely the Russians were getting ready to test the new administration. In between dances, he’d work.

 

It wasn’t Jerry’s preferred option, but in the end, he did talk to the president, although it was Hardy who called him. Jerry was still at the squadron offices when the call came from Dwight Sellers, Hardy’s Chief of Staff. “The President would like to speak with you in about five minutes.”

“I’ll be standing by,” Jerry answered. Sellers hadn’t bothered to ask if he would be available. The chief of staff’s tone implied that he was on a tight schedule, and so was the president.

Reflexively, Jerry sat up straighter and started neatening up his desk. He paused, laughing at his actions, then shrugged and continued. His desk was pretty messy. Besides, it gave him something to do.

The secure phone finally rang, and Jerry forced himself to wait for the second ring before picking it up. “Commodore Mitchell.”

“Jerry, how’s Emily? How’s my goddaughter?”

“Charlotte just turned four, and Emily already wants her to take ballet lessons.” He didn’t sound happy.

“But she’ll look so cute in that outfit. Every little girl wants to be a ballerina,” Hardy argued.

“Have you been talking to Emily, again, Mr. President? I’m not hearing a lot of support on my end,” Jerry said. Hardy laughed.

“A wise general chooses his battles carefully,” Hardy quoted. “You’re going to lose this one. Just like I always lost whenever you pushed an idea. And before you ask, yes, the SecDef and the rest of your chain of command knows we’re speaking. I told the CNO I needed to hear your reasons straight from you, not third or fourth hand.”

That was why Hardy had taken the time to call. Jerry got straight to the point. “Jimmy Carter is the best boat in the Navy for this kind of work. She’s a full generation ahead of what Seawolf had on board when we went looking for Severodvinsk so many years ago.”

Hardy said, “They briefed me on Jimmy Carter’s status, of course. She’s been out running around the Arctic for over two months already. Do you have a plan to get her resupplied?”

“Absolutely, Skipper,” Jerry replied using Hardy’s old title. “But you’re not sure if you should send her?” he prompted.

Hardy sighed. “Your logic is sound, Jerry, and I want to know what happened to Lenny as much as you do, but Jimmy Carter is a valuable, even unique, national intelligence asset. I know you read her last patrol report, so you’re well aware of the kind of work she’s doing for us. She earned another Presidential Unit Citation from that mission.

“What do we miss by having her do this job, instead?” Hardy continued. “And we can’t afford to lose another boat, especially her.”

Jerry understood immediately. The president was asking “Big Picture” questions, things possibly more important long term than solving the mystery of a lost submarine.

“Mr. President, Jimmy Carter is conducting weapons experiments right now and has all the equipment on board to do a detailed search—she doesn’t have to return to base. We’ll have a Coast Guard icebreaker with a special navy detachment bring her the supplies she’ll need, and she can head straight to Toledo’s last known location. Carter is used to getting in and out of sensitive areas. She can do it quickly, quietly, and by having her cross over the Arctic Circle, we deny the Russians any intel that she is even being sent to poke around their backyard. She can figure out what the hell happened without the Russians ever knowing she was there.”

“That last part is more important than you know,” Hardy remarked. “The borscht is bubbling quite enough as it is. We don’t need to add any more heat to the fire.”

The president paused briefly. “That’s it, then. Get her there as fast as you can, Jerry. We’ll transfer operational control to SUBRON Twelve for the duration of the mission. You’ll get orders through the chain very soon. Tell Captain Weiss I said Godspeed.”

“I will, Skipper. And good luck to you as well.”

“Thanks, Jerry.” Hardy broke the connection and Jerry glanced at the clock. He had some phone calls to make. It was 1815, but his staff’s working day was not going to be over any time soon.

Copyright © 2018 by Larry Bond

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$2.99 eBook Sale: First Team: Fires of War by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice

Poster Placeholder of - 75The ebook edition of First Team: Fires of War by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice is on sale now for only $2.99! This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today.

About First Team: Fires of War: “The Team,” led by top CIA officer Bob Ferguson, and supported by Special Forces commando Stephen Rankin and Marine Jack Young, is authorized to take immediate action, beyond the bureaucratic restraints of US intelligence or the military establishment, in the ever-surprising War on Terror.

After years of exhaustive negotiations, North Korea’s Kim Jong Il abruptly agrees to surrender all of his nuclear weapons. This sudden change in policy has the US suspicious, and the Team is dispatched to uncover the truth. Newest Team operative, the young and beautiful Thera Majed, goes undercover during the preliminary inspections of the entire Korean peninsula, on a mission so sensitive that she will be disavowed if discovered. But when she discovers hidden weapons in South Korea, a firestorm of debate is set off in Washington. A public announcement of their suspicions could derail the North Korean agreement, and the South Korean government may not even be aware of the weapons’ existence. Ferg and the rest of the Team jump in to investigate, and the closer they get to the truth, the harder mysterious forces work to keep them away. Someone is planning for a full-scale nuclear attack that would throw the civilized world into political and economic upheaval, and Ferg and the Team are the only ones in the position to stop them.

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This sale ends May 4th.

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How “Techno” Should a Thriller Be?

Fatal ThunderWritten by Larry Bond

The term techno-thriller is synonymous with Tom Clancy, who re-introduced the genre with The Hunt For Red October, and then cemented its presence with Red Storm Rising. Both were more than bestsellers, and since then dozens of other authors have written similar stories; some excellent, others not so much.

Any genre has rules and conventions. Horses and cowboys make it a western. If there are aliens or spaceships, it’s science fiction. If there is a private investigator and a dead body, then it’s a detective story (the bad girl client is optional). If aliens committed the murder, then it’s back to being sci-fi.

The rules for techno-thrillers are:

  1.  A military confrontation or overt conflict.
  2. An emphasis on the technology or hardware that appears in the story.
  3. And the unwritten rule: The good guys win.

These were clear in Hunt. Tom was fascinated technology, and it shows in his descriptions of the nuclear submarines, their weapons, and sensors used in the story. They’re flashy, and because people were not familiar with how they worked, Tom properly explained what they could do, and also what they couldn’t do. It’s important that readers understand a hero’s limitations. Tom had a lot of fun describing them, and that came though in his writing.

Others that have followed Tom in the genre have made technology more than just tools for the characters to use. They’ll include lengthy descriptions of the gear, or when it is used, provide detailed narratives of the electrical firing impulse as it moves from the weapons console to the circuits in the missile. One example that has stuck with me was a character firing a rifle in a battle: “… the 65 grain steel-jacketed bullet, moving at 3100 feet per second …”

I didn’t read much after that, because none of that had anything to do with the story and whether or not the hero hit the guy he was aiming for. Maybe in a movie they could cut in a slow-motion shot of the bullet leaving the rifle, highlighting its energy. In a book, that didn’t work.

Unless they’re important to the plot, I avoid numbers whenever I can. Numbers slow a reader down. If they’re paying attention, they have to pause for just a moment to grasp its importance. Too many numbers, and they stop trying. It may be important that a torpedo moves at forty knots and the hero’s ship only does thirty five, but I might just have a crewman report “It’s too fast, sir, we can’t outrun it.”

Sometime you need explanations. In Exit Plan, our characters used a Cormorant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). This was a real-world design for a UAV that could be launched from a submerged submarine. It would take off from the water and drop supplies to friendly troops ashore and also provide aerial fire support. It looked cool, too.

But explanations and descriptions slow the pace of a story. There are several things a writer can do to fix this. The first trick is to break up a long explanation into many short ones, spaced out and in different forms. Another is to build it into the story. The bad guys don’t understand what just happened to them, and then later on they figure it out, and in the process explain it to the reader.

Another trick is to have a new guy around. He doesn’t know how the gear works, so his comrades have to teach him. Remember Seaman Beaumont in Hunt? Jonesy was always explaining things to Beaumont, which is how the reader found out what the sonarman was up to.

The technology in a techno-thriller is there for the same reason there are horses in westerns. They are tools that let the characters do their job. Like westerns, unless it’s a very special horse, the story should be about the rider, not his mount.

As much as Tom loved technology, his strength and focus was always on the characters. His crewmen in Hunt were fashioned after the former nuclear submariners that worked at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant. They’d come into his insurance office nearby, and after finishing their business, they’d start telling sea stories. Tom listened.

The Hunt for Red October would have disappeared after its first print run (5,000 copies) if it had lacked strong characters or a good story. That’s why I avoid describing my books as techno-thrillers. I like the term “military thriller.” That gets rid of rule number two. Rule number three never changes.

Some books don’t need a lot of technology. Dangerous Ground, the first Jerry Mitchell story, used the “new guy” angle to introduce readers to nuclear submarines (again), but this time focusing on the culture and mindset of the submarine community.  One thing we wanted to show was how submariners, who lived and worked inside a giant machine, related to it.

The most prominent hardware in the book was the Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) used by Jerry and his comrades, and we’ve included unmanned systems in every Jerry Mitchell book since then.

Cold Choices, the second book, was about two submarines that had collided, crippling the Russian boat, and the race to save the crewmen trapped inside. There, the UUV technology served that purpose, but the main story was about the U.S. and Russia working together to save them.

In Exit Plan, number three, the aforementioned Cormorant UAV was about the only technology that was highlighted. The rest of the hardware used by our heroes was commonplace, although outside Jerry’s own experience.

Shattered Trident is really a conventional war story, filled with submarines, cruise missiles, and warships, in addition to UUVs and UAVs, but the focus is on the reasons for the conflict, and our heroes’ search for a way to stop it before it goes too far. The hardware they use needs little explanation for the reader to understand their actions.

The latest Jerry Mitchell story, Fatal Thunder, highlights nuclear forensics early in the book. The U.S. uses it to establish the source of a nuclear weapon detonated in Kashmir, but that gets left behind quickly as the heroes try to solve a conspiracy’s plan before it can be executed.

Another reason I use “military thriller” is that the genre is changing, or more properly reacting to a changing readership’s sensibilities. Back when Hunt and Red Storm Rising were published, the U.S. was in the final stages of a very Cold War. Shots fired in anger were rare. A large part of their appeal was the “what if?” factor. After nearly two and half decades of near constant war, the technology has become commonplace. If the technology has lost its appeal, then what’s left is plot and characters.

Five years after Red Storm, Desert Storm showed us videos of laser-guided bombs every night. The War on Terror removed any remaining air of novelty, rendering laser-guided bombs and black-clad special warfare troops familiar, a routine part of the evening news.

Advice for new authors: Technology is shiny and fun, but don’t become dazzled by its siren song. Use it when you need to, but every time you’re tempted to write a stream of techno-babble, imagine your reader trying to understand the instructions for their DVD player.

Buy Fatal Thunder today:

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New Releases: 5/3/16

Here’s what went on sale today!

Assassin’s Silence by Ward Larsen

Assassin’s Silence by Ward LarsenEvery so often, a great assassin novel comes along: Brad Meltzer’s The Fifth Assassin, David Baldacci’s The Hit, Daniel Silva’s The Kill Artist. Now Ward Larsen brings us Assassin’s Silence, featuring David Slaton, hero of Larsen’sAssassin’s Game and the award-winning The Perfect Assassin.

When it comes to disappearing, David Slaton has few equals. Police in three countries have written off trying to find him. His old employer, Mossad, keeps no forwarding address. Even his wife and son are convinced he is dead. So when an assault team strikes, Slaton is taken by surprise. He kills one man and manages to escape.

Bailey’s Story by Bruce CameronBailey’s Story by Bruce Cameron

Every dog has work to do. Every dog has a purpose.

When Bailey meets eight-year-old Ethan, he quickly figures out his purpose: to play with the boy, to explore the Farm during summers with the boy, and to tidy the boy’s dishes by licking them clean (only when Mom isn’t watching). But Bailey soon learns that life isn’t always so simple–that sometimes bad things happen–and that there can be no greater purpose than to protect the boy he loves.

Better Dead by Max Allan Collins

Better Dead by Max Allan CollinsIt’s the early 1950’s. Joe McCarthy is campaigning to rid America of the Red Menace. Nate Heller is doing legwork for the senator, though the Chicago detective is disheartened by McCarthy’s witch-hunting tactics. He’s made friends with a young staffer, Bobby Kennedy, while trading barbs with a potential enemy, the attorney Roy Cohn, who rubs Heller the wrong way. Not the least of which for successfully prosecuting the so-called Atomic Bomb spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. When famous mystery writer Dashiell Hammett comes to Heller representing a group of showbiz and literary leftists who are engaged in a last minute attempt to save the Rosenbergs, Heller decides to take on the case.

Fatal Thunder by Larry Bond

Fatal Thunder by Larry BondJerry Mitchell, skipper of the USS North Dakota, receives a message from Girish Samant, a submarine captain and former enemy of his, requesting a meeting. Girish once tried to kill Jerry, but now he and Aleksey Petrov, a former Russian sub captain, need the American’s help to uncover a terrible truth: Nuclear weapons of the fallen Soviet Empire are being sold to people more than willing to use them.

But who has stolen the nuclear weapons? ISIS? Al Qaeda? Iran? Hezbollah? No one knows. Furthermore, nuclear explosions destroy all evidence. The world may never know who stole the nukes and set them off.

Over Your Dead Body by Dan Wells

Over Your Dead Body by Dan WellsJohn and Brooke are on their own, hitchhiking from town to town as they hunt the last of the Withered through the midwest–but the Withered are hunting them back, and the FBI is close behind. With each new town, each new truck stop, each new highway, they get closer to a vicious killer who defies every principle of profiling and prediction John knows how to use, and meanwhile Brooke’s fractured psyche teeters on the edge of oblivion, overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of dead personalities sharing her mind. She flips in and out of lucidity, manifesting new names and thoughts and memories every day, until at last the one personality pops up that John never expected and has no idea how to deal with. The last of Nobody’s victims, trapped forever in the body of his last remaining friend.

NEW FROM TOR.COM:

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde

The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran WildeThe kingdom in the Valley has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished.

Jewel Lin and her Lapidary Sima may be the last to enjoy that peace.

The Jeweled Court has been betrayed. As screaming raiders sweep down from the mountains, and Lapidary servants shatter under the pressure, the last princess of the Valley will have to summon up a strength she’s never known. If she can assume her royal dignity, and if Sima can master the most dangerous gemstone in the land, they may be able to survive.

NOW IN PAPERBACK:

The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson

Ellie’s Story by Bruce Cameron

Fast Shuffle by David Black

The Hollow Queen by Elizabeth Haydon

Hover by Anne A. Wilson

Journey of the Dead and the Undertaker’s Wife by Loren D. Estleman

Lash-Up by Larry Bond

The Memory of Earth and the Call of Earth by Orson Scott Card

Power Surge by Ben Bova

Quag Keep by Andre Norton

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Valley of the Shadow by Ralph Peters

Vostok by Steve Alten

NEW IN MANGA: 

Arpeggio of Blue Steel Vol. 7 by Ark Performance

Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner Vol. 1 Story by Nanatsuki Takafumi; Art by Risumai

The Testament of Sister New Devil Vol. 2 by Tetsuto Uesu

See upcoming releases.

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Sneak Peek: Fatal Thunder by Larry Bond

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Fatal ThunderIndia and Pakistan are stalemated in a war that India launched to “remove the threat of terrorism, once and for all.” But India’s early successes have stalled, and with the coming spring, the tide may turn against them. A small but powerful group of Indian senior military officers and civilian security officials have decided to strike at China, Pakistan’s backer and India’s recent enemy in the Littoral Alliance War.

Girish Samant, until recently the captain of Chakra, discovers hints of the far-reaching conspiracy and reaches out to an old enemy, the only person he can trust, Jerry Mitchell. Enjoy this excerpt of Fatal Thunder by Larry Bond.

1

SHOCK WAVE
9 March 2017
1100 EST
CNN

They’d changed the studio’s backdrop to a map of the Kashmir region that slowly morphed into a Google Earth landscape that then zoomed in on the specific area where the detonation had been reported. The network was still waiting for satellite images of the actual explosion site, so the graphics team had marked the spot with a small animated mushroom cloud. Occasionally the background would go to split screen, with one half devoted to the map, and the other showing photos of the Kashmiri countryside, some taken prewar, others since India’s invasion of Pakistan six months ago.

(more…)

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