Welcome to Sirosserthrillers website, where you will find Kindle Action-thrillers and ebooks to download. Need some excitement and escapism? Then look no further, fast-paced action-adventure thrillers Tipping Point , Impact Point and latest Robert Spire thriller, Melt Zone are for you. Available in paperback novel and ebook download.
Tipping Point: Ecological Thriller When eminent climatologist, Dr Dale Stanton, studying the Atlantic Ocean's Thermohaline Circulation is found murdered, his last will leads environmental lawyer Robert Spire on a roller-coaster adventure from Wales, London, San Francisco and Paris to the freezing wilderness of the Arctic on a quest to prevent an environmental disaster. A perfect blend of action, adventure and thrills, with an environmental twist- Available in paperback or ebook download from Amazon.
Impact Point: Cataclysmic Technothriller Robert Spire is back for another fast-paced adventure as he tries to solve the riddle of the mysterious deaths of two blue whales, both found with the mineral olivine in their blood. Great for anyone who enjoys High-tech adventure thrillers with an apocalyptic theme. Available in paperback or ebook download from Amazon.
Melt Zone is now available. In 1938, the German New Swabia Expedition left Hamburg for Antarctica aboard the MS Schwabenland. The secret expedition arrived at the Princess Martha Coast, in an area which had been claimed by Norway as Dronning Maud Land, and began charting the region. Nazi German marker darts were dropped along the coast to mark out the new territory...75 years later, satellite photographs discover something very odd happening in Eastern Antarctica...Purchase ebook from Amazon UK and Amazon USA now.
Interested in the environment? Want to know more about climate change? Then the fact-based A-Z of Global Warming might be just what you're looking for. The 2012 updated version is now out! - The Kindle ebook download version now has hyperlinks to take the reader to source material and news stories...New material in every chapter, at no extra cost...don't miss it!
Drop by to keep an eye out for free eBook downloads too!
RAPID ANTARCTIC ICE MELT…
A HUNT ACROSS EUROPE…
A DECADES-OLD NAZI MYTH…
BERLIN 4th 1944
CAPTAIN OTTO BAUER hurried along the tree-lined bank of the Landwehrkanal toward the Bendlerblock, tightly clutching in his right hand the dossier that had just been handed to him. The sun was low in the sky, leaving long shadows on the surface of the slow moving waterway and on the imposing stone building standing a short distance away on the opposite side of the canal, former headquarters to the Imperial German Navy.
Bauer stopped by a tree to catch his breath and mopped his forehead. He was certain someone had been following him, but there was no sign of anyone on the narrow path that ran alongside the canal. His heart was beating faster than it should be. He was only forty-five years old, and fit, but the contents of the dossier and the secrecy surrounding its delivery had scared the hell out of him. He was nervous and concerned for his safety, both factors no doubt causing his pulse to race.
He took a few deep breaths to try and calm himself before continuing toward the bridge fifty feet further along the canal bank. He reached it safely and ran across the narrow canal bridge and checked behind him. There was nobody there. He emerged from the trees on the other side of the bank and onto the main street, just as two armed guards marched past, MP44 assault rifles strapped to their shoulders.
Bauer checked the route was clear. One of the army’s latest tanks, a King Tiger was stationed some distance down the street, a visible show of security following last month’s failed attempt on Hitler’s life.
He approached the ministry building, which up until five weeks ago was occupied by the Wehrmacht officers who’d plotted against the Fuhrer. Yellow light spilled out into the darkening evening from the building’s large square windows.
The ministry was under the control of the SS and housed the temporary office of SS Officer Erich Voss.
As he looked up at the imposing building, he wished the assassination attempt on Hitler had been successful. He secretly despised the man who was leading his great nation to destruction.
Otto Bauer raised his arm to the armed guard as he walked through the high rectangular entranceway to the main door where a second guard greeted him and checked his papers. “Heil Hitler!” The guard said, allowing him through.
Bauer reluctantly returned the salute.
He walked briskly along the marble floor corridor and up to the second floor where Voss’s office was situated. As he reached the corridor he stopped to catch his breath again and tidied his hair. He glanced down at the manila folder in his hand. The words Streng Geheim; Top Secret – Deutsche Antarktis Basis, were emblazoned in red ink across the front.
He greeted the armed guard standing outside the door, knocked and walked into the room. “Heil Hitler!” He saluted Voss, who was sitting behind a large oak desk.
“Heil Hitler!” Voss repeated calmly, looking up from some paperwork he was studying.
Bauer lowered his arm and handed the folder to his superior. “The information you requested Herr Voss. It doesn’t appear good, disaster has struck.”
Erich Voss raised his hand to silence him, remaining seated as he slowly scrutinised the documents that had been in the folder. “Has anyone else seen this information?” Voss asked, looking up.
Bauer shook his head. “Only my contact I assume Mein Herr.”
“Very well,” Voss said, inserting the documents back into the folder. “You’re task is complete. I will inform Herr Himmler in the morning. The necessary orders will be given to resolve this matter.”
Bauer nodded. “Heil Hitler!” he said raising his arm.
“Heil!” Voss replied, from behind his desk. “Guten abend Herr Bauer, I trust you will enjoy the rest of your evening. My guard will escort you out.”
Bauer nodded apprehensively and turned to leave the room. As he stepped into the corridor, the last thing he heard was a single gunshot, followed by the thud of his own body hitting the cold polished marble floor.
Queen Maud Land
THE JANUARY SUMMER sun glared off the Antarctic ice sheet, making it difficult for the two-man, one woman team to see properly as they cautiously made their way across the expanse of white to the location locked into their hand-help GPS equipment.
Dr Adam Hancock raised the global positioning device to his face and studied it through his tinted snow goggles to check their current position. “According to this, the area should be just eighty metres further on, over that elevated ridge,” he said, pointing.
Dr Adam Hancock and Dr Greg Neilson stopped to rest and studied the low ridge of ice and snow ahead.
Professor Amy Martin, the youngest member of the group trudged on, pulling her equipment-laden sled. “Come on you two. I told you I wouldn’t be hanging around for you. That’s why I asked for younger and fitter team mates!” she shouted, only half joking.
The two men shrugged at each other, picked up the ropes attached to their sleds and continued on toward the ridge.
The team of climatologists had been assembled at short notice by the UK’s Met Office and GLENCOM – Global Environmental Command Unit – to go and visually inspect and take ice-core samples and measurements from a large melt zone that had appeared over a vast area of glacier in Queen Maud Land, three-hundred kilometres inland from Antarctica’s Southern Ocean coast. Photographs taken by ESA’s Envisat Satellite, just before it mysteriously malfunctioned, had shown the area of rapidly melting ice to be in the region of eighty by one-hundred and sixty square kilometres in size, and inexplicable in terms of global warming in the region.
Professor Amy Martin ascended the gentle ridge, elevated some three metres above the surrounding glacier. The Antarctic sky was an incredible deep blue, the temperature fifteen below zero according to her wrist monitor. She felt privileged to be part of the UK’s new environmental unit, GLENCOM, established to monitor the globe’s environmental health and to deal with any threats against it and its inhabitants. Field trips like this, she thought, made all the hard training worthwhile.
She reached the top of the ridge, sucked in the sub-zero air and looked out over a vast shallow depression, the glacier clearly melting as if from some mysterious, invisible heat source. She shook her head as she stared out across the glacial plain. High above in the azure sky a loan contrail was just about visible, the airliner creating it, a tiny silver spec as it crossed the South Pole.
The glacial plain extended, it seemed, forever in all directions, but Amy knew it ended abruptly approximately three-hundred kilometres north of their position in thirty metre-high sheer ice cliffs, lapped by the Southern Ocean. What the hell could be causing this? She raised her binoculars and surveyed the vast sea of white through her goggles. Some five kilometres away, off to the right, she spotted a mountain ridge, the jagged peaks must be the peaks of the Wohlthat Mountains, she considered.
“See anything interesting?” Hancock asked, as he and Greg Neilson reached the top of the ridge.
“Yeah, a vast area of glacier which appears to be melting, just like the satellite data suggested.”
Hancock checked his GPS equipment. “Coordinates check. This is definitely the right location.”
“You don’t need the GPS to tell us that,” Neilson said, wiping his brow. He bent down and pulled a piton from the bag on his sled, hammered it into the ice and looped the end of the rope of their sleds around it, preventing the sleds and equipment from sliding back down the slope. “Let’s have a look then,” he said, raising his binoculars.
Hancock did likewise, standing in silence on the vast ice plateaux, looking for any clues as to what might be causing the glacier to melt.
The team had been flown in by helicopter from the Halley Research Station after a flight from the UK via Buenos Aires four days previously. The satellite photographs had been delivered to GLENCOM’s London, Vauxhall base after a routine pass of the area by ESA’s Envisat Satellite. It transpired that a keen intern working at the European Space Agency had compared recent photographs with a set taken three months earlier and had noticed the difference in topography, which had in turn led to the group’s speedy dispatch to Antarctica as soon as weather had permitted. The fact that ESA had now lost their massive Earth-observing satellite after ten years was very unfortunate, as no further images from the satellite were possible.
Hancock checked the time. “It’s approaching three p.m. I know we have unlimited light, but the temperature will start dropping significantly in a few hours. I suggest we get some ice-cores from various locations, insert the temperature monitoring pods and return tomorrow to get the rest done. What do you say?”
“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Amy Martin said.
“Let’s get on with it, I’m getting hungry,” Neilson added.
Hancock nodded and the two of them started unpacking the ice-core extraction equipment from the sleds.
“I’ll go and plant the temp sensor pods along the perimeter of the melt zone,” Professor Martin said, making her way down the gently sloping ridge to the edge of the vast plateaux of melting ice. She reached the level ground and started pulling the temperature sensor equipment from her backpack. Each cylindrical device was about the size of a dumbbell, without the weights, and had a half-metre long ‘spike’ fitted with sensors that pulled out to secure it into the ice. Further sensors were fitted to the cylinder which rested above the level of the ice. The devices were designed to precisely measure the smallest variation in temperature above and below the surface of the glacier.
She made her way along the flat surface three metres or so, following the edge of the ice bank that rose on her left and bent down and inserted the first sensor into the ice. The long stainless steel spike slid easily into the surface of the glacier, the ice making a dull squeak as its molecules were compressed as the spike was driven in.
She glanced up at the other two, still assembling the ice-core boring equipment at the top of the bank some ten metres away. She continued with her task and bent down to insert the second of the fifteen pods. As she forced the second sensor in, she heard a low distant rumble. She stopped what she was doing and listened, glancing up at the guys on the ridge. There was no reaction from them, they clearly hadn’t heard anything. Then she heard it again, but it couldn’t possibly be. The sound was coming from beneath the ice!
She knelt down and put the side of her head to the surface. The low rumble became louder, like a freight-train passing deep underneath. All of a sudden, a crack appeared, travelling out thirty metres from her position, accompanied by a sound like snapping tree branches. “What the hell?” She screamed, as the ice around her fractured into half-metre wide cracks, exposing the light blue compacted ice below.
“Guys, I’m in trouble,” she shouted, just as a twenty metre-wide chasm opened up beneath her.
Hancock and Neilson heard her screams. Neilson was the first to turn around to see what was going on. “What the fuck? Amy… Amy!” he shouted.
A huge crevasse had opened in the ice where Amy had been placing the temp pods. From his position on the ridge, the crevasse looked like a bottomless hole, snow-white at the top, with blue, green and finally cobalt-steel ice visible lower down in the glacier.
Hancock dropped the ice core extractor, raised his binoculars and studied the scene, just as another huge split in the ice travelled up the ridge towards their position at breakneck speed.
“Get the hell outa here,” Neilson shouted, as the crack opened wider and engulfed the both of them before they could react. They fell some three metres down to a ledge that formed a two-metre wide spiral ramp which appeared to drop into the depths of the glacier.
Hancock reached for his ice pick and rammed it into the ice.
Neilson who was positioned slightly lower than him held onto his waist.
Hancock had his arm extended forward, his hand clenching the handle of his ice pick. “OK, don’t move a muscle,” he said, quietly.
“Jesus Christ, its far worse than I thought,” Neilson said, his voice trembling.
“Amy, are you OK?” Hancock shouted.
A faint voice echoed up from somewhere beneath them. “I…I think my legs are broken.”
“Thank God, she’s still alive,” Hancock said. “Greg, have you got the GPS homing beacon on you?”
Neilson carefully reached down to his belt. “Yes, I think so,” he said, after a few moments.
“Good, turn it on, be careful.”
As he spoke, the ice ramp they were resting on let out a squeak, quickly followed by a resonating crack before giving way. The two of them slid uncontrollably down into the crevasse, landing awkwardly with a dull thud in an ice cavern some thirty-metres below the surface. Chunks of ice and snow landed around them.
“Ah shit,” Neilson said, “I’ve sliced my hand on something.” He pulled it from the loose pile of snow and ice piled around them. His hand was dripping in blood; his little finger had been severed from his palm, attached only by ripped flesh. He strapped it up with a handkerchief, feeling no pain from the wound.
Using his good hand, he carefully reached into the mound of snow, found the object that had caused the damage and yanked it to the surface. “What the hell?”
His hand was clasped around the top half of a rusty metal dart, approximately one metre in length. The sharp end had separated from the main body. He had sliced his hand on one of three sharp steel fins at the stabilizing end. Embossed into each fin was a German Swastika.
“Jesus, you guys took your time!” Amy shouted, from behind a vertical column of ice.
Hancock had landed on his side. He moved his legs and then pushed himself up with his left arm and yelped in pain. “Shit, I think my arm’s bust,” he said, looking at Neilson.
Neilson shuffled over and helped Hancock to his feet. “I appear to be alright. Apart from this,” he said, raising his injured hand into the air.
They found Professor Martin a few metres away, behind a thick column of ice, lying on the floor alongside the sheer vertical side of the crevasse, her right leg twisted in an unnatural position beneath her.
“Shit, are you in pain?” Hancock asked her.
“Only when I try and move,” Amy replied, gritting her teeth in obvious discomfort.
Neilson looked up the vertical wall of blue ice to the surface. The ice was a stunning powder blue where the sunlight struck the sides of the crevasse above, becoming almost cobalt blue, even turquoise lower down. The large crack they had fallen through couldn’t be seen, although light was still penetrating from the opening way above them. “We must be at least thirty metres down here.”
“Have you turned the GPS transponder on?” Amy asked.
“I was just about to when the ledge collapsed,” Neilson said. “I’ll do it now.” He trudged back to the location of their fall and his backpack. He removed the transponder from his bag and picked up the large metal dart that had sheered through his hand to show his two colleagues. He walked back to where they were both lying and held it up. “What do you suppose this is?”
“Where did you find it?” Amy asked.
“It must have been in the ice. Cut clean through my hand when I landed on it. There’s a Nazi Swastika on the fin here.”
A loud rumble resonated up through the ice, shaking the surface beneath them. Snow and chunks of ice rained down from above, narrowly missing the three of them.
“What the hell was that?” Neilson shouted.
Then, the vertical ice face in front of them started to crack. A large split travelled up some ten metres from the base of the cave, then moved horizontally the same distance and back down again, forming a large square in the solid ice.
“What on Earth?” Amy said, as the other two dragged her away from the vertical wall.
Without warning the large square section of ice fell away, shattering on the cavern floor like a sheet of glass.
The stunned climatologists looked up in silence. Behind the wall of ice was a solid surface, steel-grey in colour and apparently man-made. A seam could clearly be made out running centrally up the middle of the structure, similar to the closed doors on an elevator.
The three of them looked at each other, momentarily lost for words. “OK guys, this is freaking me out. Please tell me what we’re looking at?” Amy said, taking out her TerreStar satellite phone to take photographs.
“I got no God damn idea,” Hancock said, shaking his head. He slowly moved over to the solid steel wall, the only sound was a squeaking coming from the snow and ice as it compacted under his boots. “Look over here, there are markings, some kind of inscription,” he said.
Neilson moved forward to take a closer look.
Amy handed him the phone. “Get a photo of it.”
He took a photograph of the faint lettering, positioned at shoulder height on the far right hand side of the steel structure.
He handed the phone back to Amy. “Quick, send the image back to GLENCOM.”
Amy did as requested, her fingers trembling from the cold, and now fear. As she pressed the send button, the ground beneath them started to shake again followed by a hydraulic groan which emanated from behind the steel structure. Then, the seam in the centre started to separate. Blocks of ice started falling down again, missing them by inches.
“My God, it’s opening up!” Neilson shouted, moving back from the structure.
The massive steel door slowly parted, like elevator doors in slow motion. As it opened, they could see the door was made from at least twenty-centimetre-thick steel, possibly coated in stainless steel, as no rust or corrosion was evident. The hydraulic whine got louder.
“This is incredible,” Hancock said, looking at each of his colleagues in turn.
The doors continued opening, retracting, it appeared into the ice, but obviously into the solid structure now visible within the glacier.
They all stared into the dark void, which seemingly stretching into the depths of the glacier. A rectangular tunnel, ten metres square, constructed from virtually seamless steel panels disappeared into the darkness. At the base of it, a deep central grove, like an inverted monorail track was visible.
In the darkness a pin-prick of light blinked on, glowing deep red and instantly getting larger.
The three climatologists shielded their faces as a blast of hot air rushed out of the tunnel. Before they could comprehend what was happening, the ball of light grew to fill the shaft, glowing brighter, becoming hotter.
A resonating and low frequency hum filled the ice cave. The heat from the red glowing object became unbearable. Then, a red orb emerged from the tunnel, engulfing Hancock and Neilson in flames.
Amy closed her eyes, the searing heat burning into her for an instant. The pain was unbearable, the intense red light visible through her eyelids like a furnace and then darkness again.
The flight attendant on the Qantas A380 Airbus en route to Los Angeles lent over the sleeping passenger seated in the aisle seat of the rear upper Premium Economy cabin. “There you go sir, enjoy,” she said, in a soft Australian accent, handing the passenger his vodka and tonic.
“Thank you,” Anthony John said, straightening his seat. He stirred his drink and glanced out of the window at the glistening glacial ice thirty-nine thousand feet below.
John relaxed back into his seat, thinking about the meeting he’d had the day before in Sidney, negotiations to expand his LA-based architectural practise into one of Sidney’s up and coming suburbs. His thoughts drifted from building design to the design and engineering of the aircraft he was on. The last time he’d flown to Australia was on a 747, but this plane was incredible, he could barely hear the four massive Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines.
Most of the passengers in the quiet cabin appeared to be dozing. He sipped his drink and looked out of the window at the coastline of Antarctica below. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something, a pin-prick of red light against the white. It appeared to be the afterburner from a fighter jet.
He sat up in his seat and pressed his face to the window. The red glow was getting brighter, larger. What the hell was it? John glanced around the cabin; no one else appeared to have noticed. The woman beside him was still sleeping.
He estimated the object to be some five-thousand feet below the plane, perhaps two miles behind. It was like nothing he’d ever seen before. Stories of UFO sightings he’d read about flashed through his mind. He couldn’t think what he could be looking at. The red glow became brighter. He looked for the flight attendant, but she was way down the opposite end of the aisle. He looked back out of the window. The object was now almost level with the aircraft, still some distance behind, off the starboard side. Had the pilots seen it?
The cabin’s LED lights faded, blinked out and flickered on again. John stared aghast as the truck-sized glowing orb flew level with the aircraft, like a ball of plasma, which appeared to be under intelligent control. His drink slipped through his hand, spilling over his neighbour, waking her with a start. John was oblivious to her protestations as he watched the object accelerate toward the front of the aircraft.
Captain James Hunter tapped the Primary Flight liquid crystal display screen in front of him. “That’s never happened before,” he said, glancing at First Officer Roger Stapleton. “Have you noticed that happening on any other flight?”
“Never,” Stapleton said, frowning at the flickering display.
Suddenly the aircraft’s flight management system registered an overload in the electrical power supply to the electro-hydrostatic actuators controlling the ailerons. Red lights flashed on the console in front of them. The interconnecting wing ailerons tilted, one up, one down sending the aircraft into a roll. The FMS instructed the four Trent engines to reduce power in response.
“Christ, disengaged the autopilot,” Captain Hunter shouted as the A380 started to stall.
As Hunter and Stapleton yanked the four engine thrust levers back they were blinded as the cockpit was bathed in a powerful red light.
“What the hell is that?” Captain Hunter shouted, wrestling with the Airbus’s controls as the A380 went into a steep rolling dive; dropping through the air like a stone toward the vast white continent of Antarctica below.
A light on the console confirmed the cabin’s oxygen equipment had been deployed; the two pilots had already donned theirs. The digits on the altimeter were going crazy – they had already dropped thirteen thousand feet.
Through the flight-deck windows the pilots watched the glowing orb track the aircraft as they descended. Then, in an instant the red glow blinked out as quickly as it had appeared. Three seconds later engine thrust returned to normal and the electrical fault with the ailerons appeared to correct itself.
Captain Hunter shook his head and wiped his brow as the A380 levelled off at 5,875 feet.
“Mayday, mayday,” the first officer shouted into his headset. This is Qantas flight F-WWSK AIB–SK on route to Los Angeles, requesting an emergency landing.”
There was a pause in the static, and a clear voice then said; “This is Mount Pleasant ATC, Falkland Islands, please confirm current status and reason for request?”
“Electrical fault. We just dropped twenty-five thousand feet. Problem appears to have rectified itself for now. Repeat request for emergency landing, over.”
There was a further pause. “Permission granted. You are cleared to land at Mount Pleasant Airport, over.”
Captain Hunter exhaled a sigh of relief. “I’d better reassure the passengers. I don’t know what the hell that thing was, but I’m not going to hold anything back in the debriefing.”
Stapleton nodded. “I need the toilet,” he said, unbuckling himself.
MELT ZONE – AVAILABLE 15TH MARCH 2013.
Shark attack! What terrifies you...?
I was trying to think of a suitable blog to write for Halloween and considered writing about my top ten scary films or something like that, but when I heard the news of a recent fatal shark attack off Surf Beach in California, I realised that for me, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of being attacked by a shark, particularly the great white variety. The chances of this happening to anyone is of course remote, but for a truly terrifying look at the global shark attack situation, here’s my very late blog – dum dum…dum dum dum dum… dum dum dum dum dum dum…
Following the recent California shark attack, where unfortunate Mr Francisco Javier Solorio Jr. became the latest fatal shark attack victim, I decided to find out how many shark attacks occur worldwide, and was surprised by the answer. Below are the worst cases that have taken place just in the last 12 months, most recent first. Let’s see where the most risky places to swim or surf are, and who has ended up as a fatal statistic for the ocean’s apex predator….and also those that have had a very lucky escape…
4th November 2012 – Marcelino Riglos, had his right foot and ankle bitten by a Tiger Shark while spear fishing in Hawaii.
30th October 2012 – Scott Stephens, 25, is resting in fair condition after emergency surgery at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, Calif. after sustaining multiple mid-torso bites from a White shark estimated at 9-to-10 feet long.
27th October 2012 – 51-year-old woman from California was attacked over the weekend by a shark off Makena Landing Beach Park on Maui
23rd October 2012 – Mr Francisco Solorio Jr fatally wounded in California
25th September – Brandon Tyler had a lucky escape when out surfing in Florida when he had his left arm bitten
10th September 2012 – Lucky escape for Kylie Maguire, 29, was bitten on the thighs and buttocks by what is believed to have been a three-metre Bull shark.
6th September 2012 – Another lucky escape for James Fyfe while out surfing in Florida. He lost so much blood he may have lot consciousness
26th August 2012 – In the last week of August, the body of Tiago Jose de Oliveira da Silva, 18, was found in the sea just south of Recife, in north-eastern Brazil. An autopsy ruled he had been killed by sharks. His death was the 56th shark attack in Recife in 20 years.
6th August 2012 – Luck escape for Fabien Bujon attacked by a Bull shark in the Reunion Islands. Witnesses said the shark had severed a hand and a foot from the victim, but he made it back to the beach by himself.
30th July 2012 – Lucky escape for Chris Myers. Massachusetts officials confirm it was a great White shark that attacked a swimmer off Cape Cod last week. Click on the link to hear the 911 call.
23rd July 2012 – Alexandre Rassica was fatally attacked in the Reunion Islands while out surfing
14th July 2012 – Ben Linden - bit of an unfortunate name – was fatally attacked by a massive White shark while out surfing in Western Australia.
If the above doesn’t scare you, these terrifying statistics from The SHARK ATTACK files will;
119 incidents with 17 fatal attacks
16 male, 1 female
Most horrifying – Peter Clarkson in Australia, consumed by two white sharks as the boat captain looked on.
98 incidents with 11 fatal
10 male, 1 female
Most horrifying – Henry Usimewa in Fiji, taken by a large shark in front of friends and family.
112 incidents with 14 fatal
13 male, 1 female
Most horrifying – French citizen Katrina Tipio in Egypt, bitten on the leg when surfacing, shark still biting her when she was pulled onto the boat.
It’s difficult to imagine what must go through a person’s mind when being attacked by a shark, I get jittery enough when just looking out into the deep blue sea when swimming or scuba diving, especially in some of the more exotic locations of the world, which is a rare occasion. I remember vividly arriving in Hawaii – on honeymoon – and being desperate to get into the water. I did, and followed two turtles as they swam off the rocky reef close to the hotel. The sea was deep and i thought about sharks, but not enough to put me off searching for the two turtles I’d seen. Looking back, i’m note sure if i’d be able to go swimming in the deep ocean again, even though it was close to a rocky reef. I think I have become more afraid with age however, despite watching Jaws for the first time when aged only 9.
This blog is for all those brave souls who go to the aid of shark attack victims, swimming out to help someone, knowing the apex predator is still lurking about beneath the ocean, and of course all the survivors of shark attacks, families and friends of those unlucky people listed that have been killed by the ocean’s most feared creature.
It’s not all bad news of course if you enjoy swimming, surfing and scuba diving. Despite the horrifying prospect of being attacked by a shark, according to Discovery News, the odds of you getting killed are of course not that great…
“Sharks always seem to be taking the rap as man-eating villains –- in the media, movies and books. So let’s get a little perspective. Your chances of being attacked by a shark are just one in 11.5 million, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. On average, there are about 65 shark attacks worldwide each year; a handful are fatal. You are more likely to be killed by a dog, snake or in a car collision with a deer. You’re also 30 times more likely to be killed by lightning and three times more likely to drown at the beach than die from a shark attack, according to ISAF.
Even digging a sand hole is more dangerous…”
So, after reading this, what terrifies you?
Wimbledon Or Washout?
Wimbledon starts tomorrow! I love Wimbledon, or I should say, I used to love Wimbledon when it was filled with players like John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Steffi Graph, Chris Everett and Martina Navaratalova! Yep, I’m showing my age a bit here, but looking back, I have fond memories of great matches involving the above players, exciting rallies and of course long hot summers…
When I look back at some of the matches, I must have been only 12, hard to believe, but my best memories of Wimbledon are from around that age until I was in my late twenties – so around 1995 I guess. By that time, most of the above players had played their last matches and my memories of the Wimbledon tournament are of newer but far less exciting players and matches – and bad weather!
The only benefit of the rained off matches is that sometimes the old classic games are shown on T.V!
The Wimbledon weather this year is looking distictively wet towards middle of the first week - no surprises there – which will mean the tournament going into three weeks possibly, so plenty of time to show old matches maybe? If not, I’ve dredged a few up from U-Tube anyway so in case you’ve all forgotten, you can see what I mean…
First off, some John McEnroe classic tantrums – not Wimbledon, but who cares?!
What about the classic tie break with McEnroe and Borg in 1980?
Or this 1986 Becker and Lendl final;
A lot of people say that the reason for those great rallies is because of the older wooden raquets the players used. The modern raquets just give too much speed, meaning the game is all about power shots, rather than exciting rallies, and this seems to be true. Ahh well, it’s a good job the older classic matches are still available to watch, especially on a rained off Wimbledon day.
In fact i've discovered that my memories of the Wimbledon weather are not all as it seems!
Wimbledon weather facts
- The warmest Wimbledon Championship on record was 1976, where temperatures averaged at 25.4 C.
- In 1997, 118.3 mm of rain fell during the championships, making it the wettest Wimbledon on record.
- Perhaps rather unfairly, Wimbledon has always been associated with bad weather and particularly with rain. But actually play has only been totally rained off 32 times in 125 years.
- Most years, some rain does fall during the championships, however there have been seven years where rain did not interrupt play at all – 1931, 1976, 1977, 1993 and 1995, 2009 and 2010.
UK winner facts
Last British female singles winner - Virginia Wade 1977
Last British Male singles winner - Fred Perry 1936
So, If it does rain, and you get bored, then there’s always Robert Spire action-adventure thrillers TIPPING POINT, IMPACT POINT to keep you entertained. Foranyone interested in the bad weather and climate, THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING!
Enjoy the Wimbledon fortnight, and just remember – whatever the weather, it used to be so much better!
THE TUNGUSKA EVENT
Just after 7 AM on June 30th 1908 a massive air blast occurred over Tunguska in Siberia – the Tunguska event – caused by a meteorite or comet fragment. The blast released the same amount of energy as 185 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. The object is thought to have been around 120 feet in diameter. It will happen again, it’s just a question of where and when…
Ever since I first saw a picture of the flattened trees radiating out from a central location in a desolate region of Siberia when aged about 11, I was fascinated by what could have caused the devastation that occurred there in 1908. Various theories were put forward;
A crashed UFO
A miniature black hole striking the Earth
Or of course an exploding comet fragment of meteorite.
Well, recently Italian scientists who have been searching for remnants and evidence of what could have caused the explosion, think they may have found evidence of a stony fragment at the bottom of lake Cheko. The story can be read HERE.
I also found a great U-Tube video taken from the wonderful Carl Sagan’s cosmos program. It’s not on long and well worth a watch.
Fascinated and equally concerned by the event, I decided to weave the facts into an action thriller, which turned into Robert Spire’s second adventure IMPACT POINT. Why not click on ‘Look Inside’ on the Amazon page and read the first few chapters…
Whether you’re a newbie publisher or a more established author, here is a trio of books from established authors that I found very useful and interesting. The following Kindle books are targeted at Kindle book publishing and Kindle book promotion.
First off John Locke’s How I Sold A Million eBooks In 5 Months.
John Locke, as i’m sure you all know – unless you’ve been on a desert island someplace – holds the mantle for becoming the world’s first self published Kindle author to sell over 1 million ebooks. His book on how he did it gives an honest and frank explanation of how he managed it, although I’m sure his books must also be very good to be selling by the bucket load. I’ve not read any yet, but millions have. An example of Mr Locke’s marketing skills is his ability to write a Western – hardly a popular genre – and make it a top selling Kindle book. Follow The Stone is still selling very very well. In fact, we are reminded from his website that “Every 7 seconds, 24 hours a day, a John Locke novel is downloaded somewhere in the world!” Not bad eh?
His book discusses the main promotional tools Twitter and blogging in some detail and his ability to reach potential readers through relevant and touching blogs which it seems go almost viral, spreading the word about his Kindle books in the process. See my Amazon review of his book HERE.
My second recommendation is Michael R Hicks’ book The Path To Self Publishing Success. Mr Hicks is a successful Kindle author with his SciFi “In Her Name” novels and recently gave up his day job after Kindle book sales took off. The guide gives a detailed account of all you need to know to turn your novel into a Kindle published book and then how to go about promoting it. Some interesting stuff about pricing structure, use of Twitter in particular and monetizing websites. Helps arm the author with the right tools to get on the path to Kindle publishing success. His novel Season Of The Harvest and its well worth a read. The authors website can be found HERE.
Finally, we have author J.A Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing. To be honest, I’m still only 75% through this ebook because it is one information-packed guide on literally (no pun intended) everything you need to know about the publishing industry. Here is a list of what the book contains;
BREAKING IN – Over forty essays on how to find an agent and sell your writing.
PUBLISHING – More than twenty essays about the publishing business, and how it works.
PROMOTION – Over fifty essays on marketing, advertising, and self-promotion.
TOURING – Extensive, in-depth details on how to do book tours and signings.
INTERNET – Dozens of essays on how writers can effectively use the world wide web.
EBOOKS – Speculation and real-life examples of digital publishing, the Kindle, print on demand, and self-publishing.
MOTIVATION – Over fifty essays guaranteed to enlighten and inspire your writing efforts.
Mr Konrath is the author of the Jack Daniels thriller series, where each novel is named after a well-known cocktail. His blog, A NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING is essential reading for anyone wanting an insight into book publishing and promoting.
You really need to read this book to see how much effort this guy puts into promoting, touring and writing. In fact, I have no idea how he has time to blog! Amazing.
I hope this selection of helpful books helps you all in your writing careers. Good luck! Click the following link if you enjoy, or fancy trying ECO-THEMED THRILLERS.
Amazon KDP Select : Kindle Book Promotion
KDP Select is a relatively new promotional tool offered by Amazon to their Kindle authors who sign up to a 3 month exclusivity deal when you publish your ebook. You must agree to only publish your ebook on the Amazon Kindle platform to the exclusion of all other e-readers during the 3 month period. In return you get 5 days when you can offer your hard written book for free, and get the benefit of Amazon’s Kindle lending library.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
You might be thinking? If your book is only available on the Kindle, what about all the lost sales from the other reading devices, The Nook, Sony or I-Pads that you probably service though your Smashwords account? Well, those sales will be lost, but how many sales were you really getting from those sources anyway?
I had 2 books selling via Smashwords and Kindle before I joined KDP Select. THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING and TIPPING POINT. Combined sales for both on Smashwords were about 10 a month. Sales via Kindle were a combined 30-40 a month. No big deal, but still sales. So, I decided to go exclusively with Amazon’s KDP Select programme and started by giving away Tipping Point for free for two days during the last weekend of January 2012.
Well, I was amazed to say the least. By Sunday evening, 4,500 copies of TIPPING POINT had been downloaded. Around 2500 in the UK and 2000 in the USA, not forgetting about 75 in Germany! So what’s the benefit of that You might ask? Well, 4,500 readers – hopefully they read and enjoyed the book – are now aware of me and my other two books, THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING and recently released Robert Spire thriller number 2 – IMPACT POINT.
Since then I’ve used all my 5 free giveaway days on both TIPPING POINT and IMPACT POINT. I’ve a few left for the A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING and I admit the subsequent giveaways weren’t downloaded at anywhere close to the level of the first 2 day giveaway of TIPPING POINT, but still a few hundred readers downloaded my books each time.
EFFECT ON GENERAL SALES
After the first free promotion ended, actual paid for sales of TIPPING POINT continued and I sold around 80 by the Monday morning and sales reached 360 for all 3 books in the month of February. That’s up from 30 sales for 2 books the month before joining KDP Select.
March sales were 152 for 3 books.
April sales so far are 92.
This translates to a quadrupling of sales following the free downloads after signing up for KDP Select.
Amazon Prime provides a free Kindle book lending service to Amazon customers. For an annual fee, Prime members receive free delivery of all Amazon products and can borrow one book a month from the lending library – you the author get paid however from money set aside by Amazon. The payment varies depending upon how many people have borrowed your books and how many other authors have lent theirs out. This month Amazon set aside $600,000. Payment is usually an amount equivalent to selling your book for $1.99 or so.
KDP Select increases your sales simply because the free downloads increase the visibility of your book both on Amazon’s rankings as the free books are downloaded and via the “Customers who bought this item also bought,” promotion. This has the overall effect of helping with your book sales as more and more readers become aware of it and the important part – hopefully enjoy reading it!
Well done Amazon!
Blue Whales And Asteroids
An unlikely combination I appreciate, but nonetheless the title sums up the story line of IMPACT POINT Kindle Thriller. So, how can whales and rocks from space be connected?
Well for one, both blue whales and asteroids and comets are pretty rare, but unlike asteroids and comets, blue whales are unlikely to harm you, unless of course your name is Captain Ahab in Moby Dick. OK, so it wasn’t a blue whale that got him, but you know what I mean! On the other hand, if a large asteroid or comet strikes the Earth, we would all be vaporized, much like the dinosaurs were 65 million years ago.
First of all, some facts. The blue whale is the largest creature that has lived, yes, even bigger than any dinosaur that ever existed. There are estimated to be only around 5-12,000 blue whales left in the world’s oceans, down from around 200,000 – 250,000 back at the start of the Twentieth Century, before man hunted them to virtual extinction. Thankfully their numbers are now increasing, but they still face numerous threats from shipping, global warming, increasing levels of ocean noise and being attacked by its natural predator, the orca whale.
In IMPACT POINT, Robert Spire’s adventure is kick started after a blue whale beaches itself in front of him on his local stretch of Welsh coastline. A second whale is discovered in South Carolina in the USA. What is the connection? It transpires that both whales have ingested the mineral olivine, to discover why, you’ll have to read the book otherwise i’ll give away too many spoilers! Suffice to say, Spire is helped in his task by marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea; her name is actually an anagram for Dr Sylvia Earle – American oceanographer and author of many a book on the world’s oceans and its lifeforms.
What about the space rocks? My fascination began long ago, when I first read about the massive comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. That comet is thought to have been 10 kilometers wide and left an impact crater – the Chicxulub crater – 180 km in diameter and 10 km deep in the Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico, which just happens to be the ancient home of the Mayans, who just happen to foretell the end of the world in December 2012, but that’s another story…
Back to space rocks. First some facts.
Asteroids, leftovers from the formation of our solar system generally reside in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and there are millions of them.
Near Earth asteroids have orbits that take them close to the Earth. NASA has found 19,500 objects between 100 meters and 1000 meters in size to date. There are 981 over 1000 meters in size, with an estimated 70 objects over 1000 meters still undetected. In November 2011, an aircraft-sized asteroid 2005 YU55 passed by Earth at only 201,700 miles away, closer than the Moon!
The next closest approach that we know about will be Apophis, when on Friday, April 13th – yes, that’s the genuine date – it will pass by at only around 18,300 miles away, a very close shave. Needless to say, NASA are keeping a close eye on it!
Meteoroids are generally classified as space rocks less than 10 meters across – these are the shooting stars that people often spot streaking across the night sky.
Comets are icy bodies with nuclei – ranging from hundreds of meters to tens of kilometers across – comprised of ice, dust and rock. Just over 4000 are known about. The comet or asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was about 10 kilometers across.
Centaurs are objects that display characteristics of both comets and asteroids. They have unstable orbits that cross one or more of the giant planets. It is estimated there are about 44,000 of them with diameters over 1 kilometer.
Pholus, one such Centaur is thought to be partly composed of olivine.
So, if the above facts don’t scare you a little, try IMPACT POINT. Your thoughts when looking up at the night sky will never be the same again!
NASA’s Missing Moon Rocks and new Kindle Thriller - IMPACT POINT.
“The US space agency Nasa recently announced that many of the Moon rocks brought back to Earth from two Apollo space missions have gone missing. They were given as gifts to the nations of the world. So what happened to them?
Towards the end of the Apollo 17 mission on 13 December 1972, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt – the last men to have set foot on the Moon – picked up a rock.
Cernan announced: “We’d like to share a piece of this rock with so many of the countries throughout the world.”
His wish was fulfilled.
President Richard Nixon ordered that the brick-sized rock be broken up into fragments and sent to 135 foreign heads of state and the 50 US states.
Each “goodwill Moon rock” was encased in a lucite ball and mounted on a wooden plaque with the recipient nations’ flag attached.
Moon rock collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was also distributed to the same nations and US states.
There were 370 pieces gathered for this purpose from the two missions. Two hundred and seventy were given to nations of the world and 100 to the 50 US states.
But 184 of these are lost, stolen or unaccounted for – 160 around the world and 24 in the US.
The rocks were distributed to countries ranging from Afghanistan to Trinidad and Tobago.
“Gaddafi’s government was given two Moon rocks – they’re missing. Romania is missing its Apollo 17 goodwill Moon rock,” says Joseph Gutheinz Jr, the Texas-based lawyer and former Nasa agent, who has become known as the “Moon rock hunter”. His search continues… story credited to BBC News
Speaking of missing Moon rocks, New Robert Spire thriller IMPACT POINT out now on the Kindle involves Spire in the investigation of multiple blue whale deaths after two of the world’s largest ever creatures wash up on both sides of the Atlantic. The mystery deepens following the discovery of the mineral olivine in the mammal’s blood.
The death of philanthropist Julian Smithies in the USA opens up a new lead after a rare and valuable olivine-rich meteorite is stolen from his home.
Spire finds himself on a dangerous adventure as he and marine biologist Dr Sally Rivea travel to the Bahamas in an attempt to uncover the clues. The more they discover, the more the terrifying truth is revealed. Can the seemingly inevitable cataclysm be prevented?
Robert Spire’s latest adventure might be the world’s last…
A-Z of Global Warming - Free on Amazon Kindle!
Interested in climate change? Global Warming? The environment? If so, get your hands on a free copy of A-Z of Global Warming today! Educate your Kindle with an A-Z guide on the complex subject for FREE!
Tipping Point - Free on Amazon Kindle!
TIPPING POINT Eco-Action thriller was free on the Kindle between 28th-29th January 2012, and i was amazed that 4250 Kindle owners downloaded it within 48 hours! To all those who grabbed the chance, i thank you. Hope you enjoy the read, if so please leave a review on Amazon if you get the chance…they all help!
Drop by for more free giveaways in the weeks and months to ahead...
Amazon and global warming
We start our A–Z journey on global warming with the Amazon Rainforest, which has an incredibly important role to play in maintaining balance in the Earth’s climate, in ways that are only just being understood. The Amazon is inextricably linked to the issue of global warming and therefore a very good place to start our inquiry into what may be the biggest threat to our existence on this planet.
The Amazon river basin contains the largest rainforest on Earth and covers approximately forty per cent of the South American continent. The rainforest is located in eight countries. Brazil has sixty per cent, with Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana between them containing the rest. The Amazon forest is a natural reservoir of genetic diversity, containing the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest that exists. The Amazon contains an amazing thirty per cent of Earth’s species. One square kilometre can sustain about 90,000 tons of living plants! It’s also amazing to consider that one in five of all the birds in the world make the rainforest their home. The Amazon basin is drained by the Amazon River, the world’s second longest after the Nile. The river is essentially the lifeline of the forest. It is the most voluminous on Earth and itsdaily freshwater discharge into the Atlantic is enough to supply New York City’s freshwater needs for nine years! New measurements recently taken by scientists, however, suggest that the Amazon may actually be the longest river in the world. No doubt this will be confirmed if true, at some point in the future!
A few thousand years ago tropical rainforests covered as much as twelve per cent of the Earth’s land surface, but today the figure is below five per cent. The largest stretch of rainforest can be found in the Amazon river basin, over half of which is situated in Brazil.
Why is the Amazon so important in the context of global warming?
The rainforest acts as a major store of carbon and produces enormous amounts of oxygen. The Amazon has been referred to as ‘the lungs of the Earth’ because of its affect on the climate. The way this is achieved is of course through photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and trees use the energy from sunlight to produce food by taking CO2 from the air and water and converting it to carbon. The by-product of this is oxygen. The Amazon therefore helps recycle CO2 by turning it into oxygen, and it is estimated that the Amazon produces about twenty per cent of this essential gas for Earth’s atmosphere.
Trees, plants and CO2
Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been measured since 1958, from a monitoring station located on Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. They show sharp annual increases and decreases in CO2 levels, similar to the tooth on a saw. The readings seem to mimic a breath of air being taken in and out, almost as if the Earth is breathing. They correspond to the amount of vegetation on the planet (most of which is in the northern hemisphere, as the landmass there is greater), taking in CO2, and giving out oxygen. During summer in the northern hemisphere, when the Earth is tilted towards the sun, Earth’s vegetation is able to photosynthesise, resulting in an uptake of CO2, causing worldwide CO2 levels to drop. In winter in the northern hemisphere, when Earth’s axis is tilted away from the sun, the opposite happens, causing CO2 levels to rise again. When one becomes aware of the correlation between the Earth’s vegetation and CO2 levels, it is easy to understand why the Amazon, and rainforests in general, are such an important part of Earth’s ecosystem.
The problem is, however, that although the measurements taken at the volcano in Hawaii show sharp up and down annual readings, the measurements also show a simultaneous steady upward trend in CO2 levels. The importance of CO2 in relation to global warming will be a recurring theme throughout this book, and will be looked at further in Chapter C.
What has been happening in the Amazon?
A worrying trend is the Amazon having experienced two consecutive years of drought, in 2005 and 2006. The drought in 2006, which left rivers dry, stranded thousands of villagers, and put regional commerce at a standstill, was the worst on record. A second year of drought is of great concern to researchers studying the Amazon ecosystem. Field studies by the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Centre in the USA, suggest that Amazon forest ecosystems may not withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without starting to break down. Severe drought weakens forest trees and dries leaf litter leaving forests susceptible to land-clearing fires set during the July-October period each year. According to the Woods Hole Research Centre, it also puts forest ecosystems at risk of shifting into a savannah-like state.
A recent experiment carried out by a team of researchers suspended 5,600 large plastic panels between 1 and 4 metres (3.2– 13.1 feet) above the ground to mimic severe drought conditions, where as much as eighty per cent of a one-hectare plot is deprived of eighty per cent of rainfall. Measuring rainfall, soil moisture, leaf and canopy characteristics over time, it was found that after four years the rainforest trees began to die while leaf litter dried and became tinder for wild fires.
Another factor is the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, a climatic phenomenon that influences much of the climate in the region, particularly Northeast Brazil, and the northern Amazon. ENSO brings with it dry conditions in the above areas, and manmade climate change is thought to increase this naturally occurring phenomenon in the future. ENSO is further looked at in Chapter W. Some climate models have suggested that temperatures in the Amazon may increase by 2 to 3°C (3.6–5.4°F) by the year 2050, together with a decrease in rainfall during the dry period. If the drought continues, based on the results of the aforementioned experiment, 2007/8 could be a turning point for the forest, which may mean that a tipping point will be reached where the forest will start to die, with catastrophic consequences for Earth’s climate. If this trend continues, according to the WWF, between thirty and sixty per cent of the Amazon rainforest could become dry savannah, rendering the forest a source of CO2 instead of a sink/store of it, which it currently is.
There are ways in which we can all help try and sustain this vast and ecologically important expanse of rainforest, and these will be discussed in Chapter Y. The Amazon will be further considered in Chapter D, where the problem of deforestation is looked at.
The Amazon rainforest contains about thirty per cent of Earth’s species.
World rainforest cover has over thousands of years decreased from twelve per cent to five per cent.
The Amazon helps to recycle CO2, a gas which contributes to global warming and while doing so produces about twenty per cent of Earth’s oxygen.
CO2 levels rise and fall with the seasons. There is greater landmass and hence vegetation in the northern hemisphere, which means that when Earth is tilted towards the sun during northern summertime, CO2 levels drop as a result of there being greater uptake of CO2 from photosynthesis. During the winter, the opposite happens and CO2 levels rise again.
Enjoy this excerpt? If so, download your copy of THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING(US) (UK) now on Kindle or available on paperback.
IMPACT POINT - Action-adventure
thriller. 2012: The end of the world?
ECO-THRILLERS: A NEW GENRE?
Perhaps it’s time to treat your Kindle to a new thriller? How about an Eco-thriller? This blog is devoted to the books currently out there which combine action, adventure and thrills, with a threat – either natural or man-made – to the environment, which results in local or even global disaster and destruction. Sound like a good recipe? Read on…
You don’t have to be a ‘Tree-hugger’ – no offence to trees or hugging intended – to enjoy these types of books. In fact, although these titles are all fictional, not only do you get a decent story and fast-paced read, but the books are quite often very informative and laced with science, so the reader also usually learns something in the process…What could be better?
Eco-thrillers have actually been around for a good while. The 1950s and 1960s were laced with “Our planet is getting mad" themes, which were told through the numerous science fiction films that came out during that period.
“The Day The Earth Stood Still,” based on author Harry Bates’ short 1940s story, “Farewell To The Master,” which came with a message from outer space that Earth needed to be saved from mankind, is probably one of the most well-known of those films, but I dare say, not many people have heard of the book, or even the author.
More recently, movies such as “The Day After Tomorrow,” about the sudden halting of the Atlantic Ocean Thermohaline Circulation, based on the 1999 book, “The Coming Global Superstorm,” by Whitley Strieber and Art Bell, and Richard Matheson’s last man on the planet, “I am Legend,” based on a book of the same title, actually written in 1954, brought environmental disaster movies to the masses.
These are great examples of the eco-thriller disaster genre, which are based on books from decades ago. We also have British authors like JG Ballard who, in 1962 wrote “The Drowned World,” a story about solar radiation melting the poles, causing soaring temperatures which leave Europe and North America submerged in tropical lagoons.
Another British author, Charles Eric Maine was writing eco-thrillers back in 1958 with “The Tide Went Out,” about mankind’s nuclear tests busting open the Earth’s crust which causes all the ocean’s to run into the planet’s interior, and you guessed it, environmental disaster ensues…great stuff!
So, it seems the eco-thriller genre is really a sub-genre which has been around for decades, just more usually dressed up as science fiction it would seem.
I have read a decent selection of eco-thrillers and also written one myself. Below is a little information on my favourites. You can make your own minds up as to whether you think this genre is for you. There is also a list of the books that I haven’t yet read, but ones that are certainly on my Kindle download list!
I’m actually surprised that the eco-thriller genre doesn’t have its own niche on Amazon, but maybe that will change soon, as there’s plenty of great books out there. Whilst the world doesn’t face the same kind of threats as it did in the 1950s, one hopes, it does face mounting environmental ones. This should mean that the eco-thriller genre will be around for a long time to come.
Let’s just hope we're all around long enough to read them...!
So, in no particular order then, here’s my list;
The Rapture by Liz Jenson.
When a wheel-bound psychologist is assigned to help a young girl locked up in an asylum to decipher her seemingly crazy rants and random scribbling’s of natural disasters, her first thoughts are that the girl is crazy. When certain events appear to come true however, it soon appears that the girl might not be deranged as first thought, but have the ability to foresee a future global environmental catastrophe.
A well written, pacey novel with an interesting subject matter – 3.5 eco-stars
Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd.
Not so much an eco-thriller, but included on the basis that the main protagonist is a climate scientist. This book is about Adam Kindred who, following a fleeting meeting with a man in a restaurant has his life turned upside down after he has to go off radar in London whilst all the while trying to prove his innocence following a murder he didn’t commit.
A vividly written novel with simmering drama – 3 eco-stars
Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler.
The master of adventure novels pulls off another great adventure-thriller with a global warming/environmental theme. Dirk Pitt becomes involved with a search for a mineral which may be capable of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Expect science, thrills, adventure, action and good story-telling – 4.5 eco-stars
Tipping Point by Si Rosser – yes me!
An action-adventure thriller with an environmental twist is the best way I could describe my book. Robert Spire, the main character is an environmental lawyer, but little time is devoted in the book to any legal back-story, this is no legal thriller. Instead Spire is immersed in a global adventure following the mysterious deaths of two climatologists. Action and thrills take place in Wales, London, Paris, San Francisco and the Arctic as Spire goes on a quest in search of answers. Meanwhile global environmental disaster looms…
I won’t rate my own book, but here’s what the readers are saying;
“Tip top global adventure”
“Great yarn, couldn’t put it down”
“Well-crafted environmental thriller”
Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child.
This book I thought was a great read. Again, you could argue that this is a techno-thriller, but in my view it has all the elements of an eco-thriller. A team of scientists monitoring climate change near an old disused Artic base discover something – a prehistoric creature frozen solid in an ice cave. The sponsors of a nature programme funding the project fly in to film the creature as it is thawed from its ancient resting place. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose!
Fast-paced, scary, vividly written Arctic thriller – 4.5 eco-stars
Here’s another bunch of great sounding eco-thrillers that are on my to read list; Enjoy!
Freezing Point and Boiling Point
I Am Legend
The Tide Went Out
No More Ice
News is just out that Arctic ice levels are now be at their second lowest ever level, following the 2011 summer melt season, second only to the 2007 record. The NSIDC will be confirming this sometime in October 2011.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at how global warming is affecting the Earth’s coldest regions and ice sheets, collectively called the cryosphere, derived from a Greek word meaning frost or cold. It is used to describe the areas of the Earth’s surface where water is in a solid form, usually snow or ice. These areas include sea ice, freshwater ice, glaciers, permafrost and snow.
The Earth’s polar icecaps, found at the North and South poles, contain the largest concentrations of ice on Earth. The North pole is home to the Arctic, and the South pole the Antarctic. Also in the north is the massive Greenland ice sheet. Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets sit on top of continents or landmasses, whereas the Arctic is a frozen ocean. Sea ice however is found in both the North and South polar regions, and in total it covers an area about twenty times the size of Canada.
WHAT IS SEA ICE ?
Well, it is simply frozen ocean water. It forms and melts in the ocean. Icebergs, glaciers, ice sheets/shelves, however, all originate on land, and are formed with fresh not saltwater. Sea ice grows in the winter months and melts during the summer. Some ice remains all year round, and about fifteen per cent of the world’s oceans are covered during part of the year.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT ?
Ice has a bright reflective surface, so as sunlight strikes it most of it is reflected back into space. As such, areas covered by ice don’t absorb much of the sun’s energy, allowing temperatures in the polar regions to remain cool. If higher temperatures melt the ice over time, as is beginning to happen, then more of the sun’s energy can be absorbed by the ice-free sea or land, allowing temperatures to rise further.
The term ‘albedo’ is used to determine how well a surface reflects solar energy. A surface with an albedo of zero means that it is a perfect absorber of the sun’s energy, such as a black surface. An albedo of one means that the surface is a perfect reflector, such as a white surface. Sea ice will reflect about fifty to seventy per cent of the sun’s energy. Open sea reflects about six per cent, whereas snow-covered ice about ninety per cent, simply because it’s white and therefore has a higher reflective surface.
Just as the Amazon regulates climate by absorbing and storing huge amounts of CO2, the ice-covered regions of Earth act much in the same way, by regulating temperature and reflecting large amounts of solar energy back into space. If these regions melt, then not only will ocean levels rise but temperatures will also increase.
HOW IS THE ARCTIC RESPONDING TO GLOBAL WARMING ?
The North pole sits right in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, which is fenced in by eight different countries. During the winter the ice extends over the entire ocean and onto the fringes of the land. During the summer, the ice retreats back into the ocean. Air temperatures in the region have, on average, increased by about 5°C (9°F) over the last 100 years, which is higher than anywhere else on the planet. This has caused Arctic sea ice to decrease by about fourteen per cent since the 1970s.
The local Inuit population have started to notice the warmer summers, the earlier break-up of the ice in spring, and extensive areas of melting permafrost in places like Alaska and Siberia. This in turn is affecting their hunting season, foundations of properties and other infrastructure in the region. Arctic sea ice has been measured by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) and NASA, using satellite data, and the findings are that massive reductions in sea ice are occurring at the end of the northern summer.
The sea ice extends to about 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,792,000 square miles) during winter, and down to an average 7,000,000 square kilometres (2,703,000 square miles) during the summer. It therefore loses just over fifty per cent of ice cover after the summer melt season. The annual average extent of Arctic sea ice has decreased by about three per cent per decade since about 1980, which is the equivalent of an area of about 750,000 square kilometres (289,575 square miles). The amount of ice left after the summer melt is also decreasing by about 7.7 per cent each decade.
NSIDC measures Arctic sea-ice extent, or the area of ocean that is covered by at least fifteen per cent ice, which typically reaches its minimum in September, at the end of the summer melt season.
In 2007, NSIDC data reveals that Arctic sea ice during the 2007 melt season plummeted to the lowest levels since satellite measurements began in 1979. The September sea-ice minimum went down to 4,130,000 square kilometres (1,594,000 square miles), the lowest September on record, shattering the previous record for the month, set in 2005, by twenty-three per cent. Computer models however have predicted the Arctic will be ice-free in the summer months from 2080 if the overall warming trend continues.
In March 2007, a fire onboard the British nuclear submarine HMSTireless forced it to the surface. Two sailors died in the explosion. The Navy had been conducting tests under the Arctic and the data retrieved indicated that the summer Arctic sea ice may actually be gone by as soon as 2020. This however appears to be a worst-case scenario.
Arctic sea ice is about 2 to 3 metres (6.5 to 9.8 feet) thick on average, so a loss of 7,000,000 square kilometres (2,703,000 square miles) times 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) (thickness) is a considerable amount of water. Melting sea ice however does not necessarily add much to sea-level rise when it melts, much like melting ice cubes in a glass do not cause the glass to overflow. Melting glaciers and ice-covered continents however are a different matter and when they melt, sea levels will rise.
A new NASA-led study found a twenty-three per cent loss in the extent of the Arctic’s thick year-round sea ice cover during the past two winters. The scientists discovered less perennial sea ice in March 2007 than ever before. This drastic reduction is the primary cause of this summer’s fastest-ever sea-ice retreat on record and subsequent smallest-ever extent of total Arctic coverage.
Record summer melting has also meant that the usually frozen Northwest Passage waterway, which connects the Atlantic to the Pacific, has become fully navigable, a fact that may raise tensions between Canada, which maintains that the waterway lies in its territorial waters, and other countries in the region. The race is now on to exploit the Arctic’s natural resources as oil companies drill for oil there. A disaster along the lines of the Deepwater-Horizon spill, would be cataclysmic.
For a recent news article showing stark photographic differences over time between Himalayan glaciers, click here.
For more information on the subject of climate change, check out THE A-Z OF GLOBAL WARMING, the above article is taken from chapter N – No More Ice!
Alternatively for a fast paced eco-thriller, involving a race to prevent the Arctic from melting, give your Kindle a treat and try TIPPING POINT.
Do Conkers Drive Spiders Bonkers?!
Whilst writing my next Robert Spire thriller Impact Point, I noticed a large fluffy spider run across the lounge floor. I usually catch them and put them out, but this was a big critter, and worse, it disappeared into the shadows!
With Northern Hemisphere Autumn now in full swing, anyone afraid of our hairy eight-legged friends might be starting to get a little bit nervous. Yes, spiders in all shapes and sizes will be invading our homes through open windows, bath plugs cracks and crevices. In the UK alone there are some 600 different species of spider. Even though our eight legged friends are harmless (Unless you happen to live in the USA, Australia or the Jungle) they are great for getting rid of insects and flies, but it doesn’t stop people being afraid of them.
So, do conkers drive them bonkers? Well my dad swears by it! According to folklore, leaving strategically placed conkers around the house, on window sills, corners of the room and other places where you spot the creepy crawlies will scare the living daylights out of them, but is there any scientific basis for this?
The Royal Society of Chemistry has carried out some experiments to try and find the answers. The most likely explanation is that the conkers may contain some kind of chemical repellent. Spiders it seems have conkerphopia!
However, a junior school in Cornwall carried out a simple experiment which appears to dispel the spider-conker theory, so those strategically placed conkers may be a total waste of time, just eat them instead.
So, if you have arachnophobia, place your conkers around the house, get the Kindle out, sit back, make yourself your favourite drink and relax on the sofa with a good book – an eco-adventure thriller like TIPPING POINT would be a good start.
If you’ve purchased the paperback version and the conkers don’t do their job, you can always whack the hairy critter with it during a chapter break! Enjoy!
TIPPING POINT: The facts behind the fiction
Without giving away too many book spoilers, I thought I’d write a brief blog for anyone who may be wondering if there is any truth behind the themes in my action-adventure thriller TIPPING POINT.
The Tipping Point of the title refers to the point at which an irreversible melting of the Arctic’s ice pack occurs. Other themes explored in the novel are geoengineering, peak oil, the ocean thermohaline circulation and the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet! Whilst Robert Spire is left to solve the deaths of the climatologists in the book, we look at whether these themes have any basis in science fact. Let’s have a look in more detail.
Tipping Point explores the underlying theme that the Arctic is melting from global warming. Each year the ice pack covering the Arctic melts and retreats during the summer and freezes over again in the winter, with its maximum melt each year in September. Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre reveals that Arctic ice cover is on a downward trend. 2007 was the lowest recorded level, but 2011 looks likely to set a new record low. Scientists predict the Arctic may be ice free during the summer between 2013 and 2019, a startling and worrying fact. This would mean the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage - a route between the Atlantic and the Pacific - and give more opportunities for countries and companies to plunder the riches the Arctic has to offer.
In the book, French climatologist Francois Trimaud has developed a specialised form of iron sulphate to fertilise the Arctic Ocean, in order to slow down and reverse the Arctic’s melting ice by increasing Arctic albedo (reflectivity) levels. The experimental substance contains a whitening pigment called Blankoplankton.
Scientists are indeed looking at ways to geoengineer the Earth’s climate to solve, or reduce the effects of global warming. Iron fertilisation of the oceans is one method.
A theme explored in Tipping Point is the possibility that the World’s oil resources are running out, that supplies have reached a peak and are now on a downward curve. This theory was proposed by M King Hubbert, and he successfully predicted that the USA would reach its peak oil production in the early 1970s. Has this now happened with Saudi Arabia’s oil supplies?
Ocean Thermohaline Circulation
In Tipping Point, the book opens with UK climatologist Dr Dale Stanton’s untimely death, preventing him delivering a talk on the Atlantic Ocean's thermohaline circulation. The OTC or great ocean conveyor as it is known, is an important ocean current which brings warm water up from the Equator to the east coast of the USA and Europe in the form of the North Atlantic Drift and Gulf Stream. The film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is based on the premise of the current suddenly failing, heralding in a new ice-age.
The UKs RAPID-WATCH project measures the rate or flow of the ocean current to assess whether its strength is changing. This project runs until 2014.
During a period called the Younger Dryas, a significant shutdown of the current is thought to have caused a rapid decline from relatively warmer conditions back to ice-age conditions in a blink of an eye in climactic terms. A huge influx of fresh water from Lake Agassiz is thought to have been the possible cause. The fresh water flowing into the Atlantic would have disrupted the ocean flow by interfering with its thermohaline conveyor system.
Scientists are concerned that an increase in fresh water flowing into the Atlantic from Greenland’s melting ice sheets could once again disrupt the Thermo (heat) and haline (salt) engine that drives this essential current.
A back story in Tipping Point is the fact that a huge glacier on Greenland is melting, which causes isotactic adjustment of the Greenland continent underneath. Research does indeed show that Greenland glacier ice-melt is accelerating.
These are the facts. Now if you fancy a thrilling action-adventure, why don’t YOU read TIPPING POINT?
My new business cards arrived last week - the ones which have "Tipping Point, A Robert Spire Thriller," printed on them. I put a few in my wallet, thinking, you never know, they might come in handy.
Coming to the end of another weekend in the middle of July, I’m looking out of the window and I ask myself, where is our summer? It's the middle of July, but the weather is lousy. Mind you, in the UK it's supposed to be a scorching 27 degrees Celsius today...wow! Not bad for the middle of summer. Mid-summer’s day was like mid-winter. So what's going on I wondered?
Are we just having another bad summer? Have we already had our summer? The weather in April and May was fantastic, but now it’s lousy. Could something more sinister be going on? Could it be the dreaded G.W word, I'm talking about global warming, you know, climate change.
I recall years ago...I'm thinking back to the 1970s and early 1980s when we used to have long hot summers and cold, snowy winters here in the UK, but no more. Summer is usually wet, what we have of it usually appears in April and May, and at Christmas time, well now you can wear a T-shirt and not catch a chill – apart from last year, snow did actually fall…in October!
Not only that, but there's not a day that goes by without a story in the news about global warming causing melting ice caps, rising sea levels, Arctic methane release, melting the Arctic, ocean acidification, increasing Co2 levels - yes they measure these from Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, and deforestation. These are just some of the consequences.
The planet appears to be doomed. Not only that, but today I found out that a NEO or Near Earth Object - an asteroid in this case passed within 7500 miles of the Earth on Monday 27th June! This thing was only discovered recently, and passed within Earth's geosynchronous satellite population before accelerating back out to space, pretty close eh? And that's not the only one. These things are zipping by all the time. What about all the others that haven't been discovered yet?
So, with this all in mind, I decided I needed a drink. I went out to a local bar and was enjoying a few drinks when an attractive red-head came up to me. She asked, "Have you got a light please?"
I looked into her green eyes and thought, damn, would have been a good time to have a pack of cigarettes, or at least a lighter with me, even though I don't smoke. I said, "sorry, no," but quickly remembered an old booklet of matches I had in my pocket. "Actually, I have," I said, handing her the booklet. "But you shouldn't smoke you know, It’s bad for you, and bad for the planet."
"What do you mean?" She asked, looking amused.
"Global warming," I joked.
"I used to think that was rubbish," she said, "but now I really do think something is going on, I mean look at the weather, middle of summer and it’s terrible!"
I couldn't help joining her for a cigarette, wanting to chat more about the topic, so followed her outside. After two cigarettes - which I felt a little guilty about - and a depressing chat about saving planet Earth from the perils of global warming and asteroid collision, she said to me;
"So, if the is Earth doomed, who can save us? The X-Men, The Green Lantern, Transformers?"
I said, "They are all comic book heroes, but Robert Spire would certainly have a go."
"Robert Spire?" She said. "Who's he?"
I pulled out my wallet and handed her my card.