I’ve had people asking about getting my books on audio for several years now. I’ve given it a shot a couple of times, but things haven’t worked out to continue with the ACX Royalty Share arrangement. However, a couple of months ago, I was contacted by Tantor Media, asking if the audio rights to the Maelstrom Rising series were available. Tantor’s not a small company; they’ve got thousands of audiobooks in their catalog. So, I signed on. Escalation is out today. Holding Action is in production, and will be out on the 10th of December. Steve Marvel is narrating, and while I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, I’ve communicated with him some, and his attention to detail is admirable, and his rendition of the news stories in the Prologue (in the Sample) is spot on. Meanwhile, I’m hammering away at Crimson Star. It’s being a bit of a bear, but I’m getting a handle on it. Taking the scene back to CONUS presents a whole new set of complications. Preorder and release date are still yet to be determined; I’ve got to get closer to finishing first. Kill or Capture‘s been out for a bit now.
So far, the Maelstrom Rising series has mostly focused on the fact that conventional combat in future war is anything but dead. But there’s an irregular side to it, too, and the future is going to feature as much of the irregular, asymmetric side as the conventional, combined-arms side. There’s an article over on Borderland Beat about just that side of warfare, a side that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the modern world. Future conflicts will mostly be waged by drug cartels, mafia groups, gangs, and terrorists. It is time to rethink our rules of engagement. Wars are on the rebound. There are twice as many civil conflicts today, for example, as there were in 2001. And the number of nonstate armed groups participating in the bloodshed is multiplying. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), roughly half of today’s wars involve between three and nine opposing groups. Just over 20 percent involve more than 10 competing blocs. In a handful, including ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, hundreds of armed groups vie for control.
So, James Rosone, the author of the World War III, Red Storm, and now the Second American Civil War series (why yes, we write about very similar stuff), has put together a group promo on Bookfunnel for the 4th of July. James and I write similar stuff, and he offered to bring a bunch of other thriller authors on board. Since I just ran a KDP Countdown on Escalation, and I’m currently working on outlining Brannigan’s Blackhearts #7, I threw Kill Yuan in there. So, if you haven’t picked that one up (it seems like quite a few people haven’t, since it was originally a complete stand-alone), you can get the ebook this week for only $0.99! And you can add the Audible version (yes, this is one of two of my books on audio; if more people buy it, I might be able to get some more done) for free when you buy the ebook. A twofer! A Warrior Without A War Slowly Dies But a warrior looking for a war should be careful what he wishes for. Dan Tackett feels like he’s on a downward spiral, and has been ever since his wife died. But he should have known that
Holding Action is live! Matt Bowen and his team made it out of Slovakia by the skin of their teeth. But the fight’s not over. And there’s no rest for the weary. The European Defense Council, desperate to salvage their dream of a Europe reshaped in their image, threaten invasion of Poland. The Triarii and what is left of American forces in Northern Europe stand by their Polish allies. But they’re outnumbered and outgunned. And they might well be watching the wrong part of the border. The brutal series about the next World War continues in a storm of fire and steel!
“Shit,” Phil whispered. “I knew they had a fucking drone up.” I didn’t answer, but scanned the road carefully. Once again, thanks to the woods, we were far closer than we should have been, but the spotlights weren’t pointed at the woods, not yet, and the rising growl of the helicopter, along with the rumble of the armored cars’ diesels, seemed to have drowned out what little noise we were making. Slowly, carefully, I eased back deeper into the shadows, Phil doing the same. Looking up and down the road, I didn’t see a good spot to cross. The six armored vehicles were spaced out along the road. They were too close to slip through, and too spread out to find a good spot to go around. At least, not with that helicopter closing in. Two klicks of open country separated us from the border at its nearest point, and that would have entailed going through Leuba. As urgent as it was that we get the information back to Poland, we weren’t going to do anyone any good if we went charging out there and got killed or captured. And as confident as I was in my team in combat,
Three Weeks Later, And Still Few Answers It has been three weeks since the beginning of the catastrophic blackout that has cut off electrical power to the Pacific Coast, the Southwest, much of the Southeast, and the Eastern Seaboard. Efforts to restore the grid in effected areas have largely met with failure, either due to technical problems or attacks by gangs. This seems to have bolstered theories that the blackout was caused by a terrorist attack. Authorities that this reporter was able to reach have not endorsed this view, however, insisting that there is no solid evidence of such an attack. Nor have the rash of infrastructure attacks been linked by any such authorities. The official, who preferred to remain anonymous, dismissed such links as “conspiracy theories.”
As I’ve written elsewhere, setting a story in the near future sometimes requires some attempt at clairvoyance. Some of the weapons systems that will be used in a future war are still in development. Some might not exist yet, but getting too crazy sci-fi could derail things, so I’ve got to strike a balance. One of those systems that I introduce in Escalation is the M5 Powell Infantry Fighting Vehicle. This is set up as the replacement for the M2 Bradley IFV, which has been in service since 1981. Now, there is an M2 replacement in the works. The Army calls it the Next Generation Combat Vehicle program, and the Request For Proposals went out in March of this year. Right at the moment, there are three major contenders, the BAE Systems CV90 Mk IV, the Rheinmetall and Raytheon Lynx IFV, and the General Dynamics Griffin III.
The Maelstrom Rising series already features some “cutting-edge” tech. Some of that tech has already been fielded; some of it is in development. One of these pieces of tech are “kamikaze drones,” which get employed to devastating effect in Escalation. A couple of my readers have commented on how scary they are. But they’re real, and we’re going to see more of them in the years to come. (Side note: While tech will feature in the Maelstrom Rising series, it will never be depicted as the panacea that you might find in a lot of ’90s techno-thrillers. Anyone who has read my stuff before should already be aware of that. High tech complicates logistics, and logistics are already hampering everybody’s war effort in Maelstrom Rising.) These kamikaze drones have been in development for some time. The US and Israel appear to have been the primary developers. The US has begun fielding the Switchblade drone several years ago.
Russian actions across the former Soviet Union…have been met with open hostility from the West. While that hostility is not misplaced, given the general disregard for the Laws of Ground Warfare displayed by Russian forces, both regular and irregular, and the realities of alliances on the ground, it has led to clashes and showdowns, especially in Syria, where the Russians are backing Bashar al Assad’s government, while the US and the West have backed militias they consider to be democratic rebels
It’s not just Africa, either. Chinese companies have taken over the bulk of the resource extraction from Afghanistan, and Chinese companies have done business with Mexican cartels for illegally mined iron, stolen petroleum, and other natural resources which have become a major source of cartel income.While there have been many scenarios about war with China published, any major war between China and the West will doubtless involve considerable combat in Africa and Latin America, to cut Beijing off from its vassals and the resources they can provide.On the cyber warfare front, there have been many indicators that have not been corroborated, but the Chinese cyber warfare unit has been active against the United States for some time.