WHAT I READ IN 2019 and the first month of 2020

This topic often comes up in conversation, and I often lead with “I don’t read nearly as much as I did before I started writing.” While that may be true, after doing a little back-tracking into 2019, I came up with a fairly healthy list of books that I somehow found the time to read.

I’d like to share that list with you, to include a few words about the titles or series. I’ll also link these titles to Amazon if you want to dig deeper. No affiliate income is derived from these links. I probably missed a few books…as I created the list, I thought of more.

LITERARY FICTION:

  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – Heart wrenching, based on the true story about one Polish-Jewish family’s epic struggle to survive the World War II. Compelling from star to finish.
  • YES…I need to expand this section in 2020!

HORROR:

  • Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – Modern day, sublime version of The Exorcist…and so much more. The end will blow you away.
  • Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Trembly – Made me scared to get up in the middle of the night…again.
  • The Outsider by Stephen King – King at his best. Read the book and then watch the HBO series. They compliment each other perfectly.
  • The Institute by Stephen King – Loved this one. Had an epic feel. The end will leave you thinking hard for days to come.
  • We Sang In The Dark by Joe Hart – (Not yet released) This one left me afraid of the dark for a while. Joe has a way of doing that with his novels.

THRILLER (Any subgenre):

  • Recursion by Blake Crouch – Mind-blowing. Just get it right now and take this incredible journey.
  • Don’t Make a Sound by T.R. Ragan – (Not yet released) Takes the revenge thriller to the next level in a gritty and chillingly realistic hunt for a killer.
  • Origami Man by Matthew FitzSimmons – (Not yet released) Hard to beat the first four books in the Gibson Vaughn series, but FitzSimmons does it handily. Highly recommend the series!
  • A Gambler’s Jury by Victor Methos – Underdog, scrappy lawyer caught up in vicious conspiracy. Edgar nomination for Best Novel.
  • The Killer’s Wife by Victor Methos – Serial killers and a haunted prosecutor. Twists and turns galore.
  • Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza – Edgy, tense…will keep you guessing until the end.
  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty – One of the most inventive premises I’ve read in a long time. Unputdownable.
  • Green Sun by Kent Anderson – A hypnotic cop thriller set in early 1980’s Oakland, California. Couldn’t put it down.
  • The Eighth Sister (Charles Jenkins Book 1) by Robert Dugoni – Flawlessly executed espionage novel and white-knuckle journey through the byzantine world of modern intelligence.
  • The Last Agent by Robert Dugoni – (Not yet released) Book 2 in Charles Jenkins series. Knocks it out of the park with a full throttle cat and mouse spy story.
  • The Killer Collective by Barry Eisler – A mashup of Eisler’s most iconic characters in full-tilt covert operations thriller.
  • Dark Tomorrow (Lisa Tanchik Book 2) by Reece Hirsch – (Not yet released) Cyber-espionage and warfare amidst a high stakes federal manhunt for a murderous sleeper agent.
  • The Spider Heist by Jason Kasper – Not your ordinary bank heist book. Not by a long shot. High octane action and twisty plot.
  • The David Rivers Thrillers (Books 1-5) by Jason Kasper – Gritty, brutal, unapologetic action by a former Green Beret. Burned through these books one after another.
  • Murder Board (Boston Crime Thriller Book 1) by Brian Shea – Brian Shea is the real deal. A veteran detective turned thriller author…It truly doesn’t get any better.
  • The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre – Classic le Carre. Meticulous. Sets the standard.

POST-APOCALYPTIC/DYSTOPIAN/SCI-FI:

  • Bar at the End of the World by Tom Abrahams – Tom takes a killer premise and builds a dystopian world like you’ve never seen before.
  • Winter World (The Long Winter Trilogy Book 1) by A.G. Riddle – Classic A.G. Riddle. End of the world story that takes reader across space and time.
  • Solar War by A.G. Riddle – Book 2 in the Long Winter Trilogy. Riddle does what he does best…pushes the story to unimaginable places.
  • Our War by Craig DiLouie – A second civil war burns out of control across America. Brilliant rendering of a worst case scenario that feels all too real.
  • Sons of War by Nicholas Sansbury Smith – (Not yet released) As always, Smith reboots the post-apocalyptic genre with a unique story of a societal collapse.
  • The Path Between Worlds by Paul Antony Jones – Epic, saga like potential set in a world beyond imagination, but eerily familiar.
  • Forward Collection (short stories by Andy Weir, Blake Crouch, NK Jemisin, Paul Tremblay, Veronica Roth and Amor Towles) – Take your pick…you can’t go wrong with this powerhouse group of authors.
  • The Second Sleep by Robert Harris – Eerie from start to finish. A slow burn, dystopian masterpiece.

NON-FICTION:

  • Red Notice by Bill Browder – A sweeping indictment of Russian corruption and malice. Fast paced, expertly crafted. A must read.
  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – Investigative masterpiece chronicling the rise and fall of Theranous, a nebulous and sinister Silicon Valley startup.
  • The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder – Hard hitting book. “A stunning new chronicle of the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europe and America.
  • The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis – “Masterfully and vividly unspools the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works.

THE RAID (Ryan Decker 2) is now available

Book 2 in the Ryan Decker series is now available internationally at Amazon (see links below book cover) in ebook, paper and audiobook formats.

A Border Patrol murder exposes a high-level conspiracy in USA Today bestselling author Steven Konkoly’s explosive thriller.

After exposing and dismantling a deep-state conspiracy that nearly destroyed his life, Ryan Decker finds his covert skills have put him on the radar of influential Senator Steele. Now Steele needs his help. Two patrol agents were killed in a bizarre explosion near the US-Mexico border—and the evidence doesn’t line up with the official story.

Enlisted by Steele to run an undercover, off-the-books investigation, Decker and his partner, Harlow, head to the border town of Tecate. But when they’re caught in an ambush, Decker realizes they’ve stumbled onto something far more dangerous than any of them understood.

The cover-up is rooted deep in the Department of Defense itself. Fearful for their own lives and unable to trust anyone outside their small circle of skilled associates, Decker and Harlow set in motion a risky plan to stop a criminal conspiracy.

US AND INTERNATIONAL LINKS BELOW! Available at AMAZON in ebook, hard copy, hard cover and audiobook form.

CLICK HERE FOR THE U.S. STORE

CLICK HERE FOR THE UK STORE

CLICK HERE FOR AUSTRALIA

CLICK HERE FOR CANADA

THE RESCUE (Ryan Decker Book One) — The #1 Thriller on Amazon during March 2019!

WOW! It has been over a year since I last posted here. Crazy that more than a year has passed since the last Steven Konkoly book. I promise I won’t make you wait that long again. That said, I think you’ll find the long wait to have been well worth it.

THE RESCUE has arrived, featuring Ryan Decker, Harlow Mackenzie and a cast of memorable characters that early readers have thoroughly enjoyed. Don’t take my word for it! Over 600 reviews with a 4.6 out of 5 average speak for THE RESCUE.

US AND INTERNATIONAL LINKS BELOW! Available at AMAZON in ebook, hard copy, hard cover and audiobook form.

CLICK HERE FOR THE U.S. STORE

CLICK HERE FOR THE UK STORE

CLICK HERE FOR AUSTRALIA

CLICK HERE FOR CANADA


Sucked into a FIRE STORM

That’s what will happen when you start reading book 3 in The Zulu Virus Chronicles!

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Fire extinguisher is probably the right answer.

FIRE STORM: Book 3 in The Zulu Virus Chronicles is now available in ebook and hard copy format. Audiobook will be available in mid-March.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE KINDLE BOOK

CLICK HERE OT ORDER A PAPER COPY

SOMETHING MERCILESS WATCHES OVER THE OUTBREAK–GUIDING ITS COURSE.

Having narrowly survived the KILL BOX, HOT ZONE’s hardened survivors and their KILL BOX allies separate to pursue different objectives–outside of the Indianapolis quarantine zone.

For David Olson, that means bringing his son south, to the safe haven of his parents’ home–far away from the infected cities. Eric Larsen takes him up on the offer to rest and heal at the house, before departing on the long journey to find his family in Colorado.

For Rich and his secretive black ops team, that means transporting Dr. Chang and Dr. Hale to a secure facility out east, where they will join the nation’s few surviving bioweapons researchers–with the hopes of pinpointing the source of the virus and possibly developing a vaccine.

Neither group will get very far, before the true face of the evil controlling the Zulu Virus arrives–tempting them with irresistible opportunities.

DANGEROUS OPPORTUNITIES, WITH THE POTENTIAL TO SWEEP THEM RIGHT INTO A LETHAL FIRESTORM

Your KILL BOX has arrived

Not something you normally hear! 

FOURTEEN NOVELS—8,000 pages—6,300 Amazon reviews later, I bring you….

A FIFTEENTH NOVEL. 

KILL BOX: Book 2 in The Zulu Virus Chronicles is now available in ebook and hard copy format. Audiobook is on the way (early January).

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE EBOOK

CLICK HERE TO ORDER A PAPER COPY

A LETHAL BIOWEAPON HAS BEEN RELEASED ACROSS AMERICA.

With their daring escape plan thwarted at the last possible moment, HOT ZONE’s motley band of survivors faces a worst-case scenario. Forced to take refuge near the epicenter of the bioweapons outbreak, deep inside in a city gone mad, THEIR TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

Unable to slow or adequately contain the infected population, the government has triggered KILL BOX, a desperate and merciless contingency protocol.

HOT ZONE’s survivors have less than twenty-four hours to escape the KILL BOX.

The Zulu Virus Chronicles places you at ground zero during a chillingly realistic, insidious “event.” This is a story about regular people from different walks of life coming together to survive an unthinkable disaster.

Welcome to the KILL BOX!

 

Author Steven Konkoly and the Wonderful World of Audiobooks

I know. The blog post title sounds like some kind of movie nobody should watch, or an audiobook nobody should listen to! I figured the worse the title, the more curious you’d be. Morbidly curious.

HOT ZONE just hit the audiobook shelves at Audible and iTunes, so instead of a post with a single title, I thought I’d create a post listing all of my audiobook titles. A one stop reference for those of you with long commutes, long walks to take, long breaks at work OR those of you who simply don’t like to “READ.” I know who you are!

CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW FOR EACH STORE

I’ll start with HOT ZONE and break it down by series after that. Happy Listening!

HOT ZONE at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES



THE PERSEID COLLAPSE SERIES

 

THE PERSEID COLLAPSE (BOOK 1) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

EVENT HORIZON (BOOK 2) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

POINT OF CRISIS (BOOK 3) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

DISPATCHES (BOOK 4) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES (sort of a prequel)



THE BLACK FLAGGED SERIES

 

ALPHA (Book 1) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

REDUX (Book 2) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

APEX (Book 3) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

VEKTOR (Book 4) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

OMEGA (Book 5) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES



THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES

 

FRACTURED STATE (Book 1) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

ROGUE STATE (Book 2) at  AUDIBLE | iTUNES

 

Welcome to the HOT ZONE

Not words you’d typically want to hear under any other circumstances.

HOT ZONE, the first book in THE ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES, is now available in Kindle or hard copy on Amazon. The audiobook version will follow in August. HOT ZONE is also enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.

CLICK HERE TO GRAB THE KINDLE VERSION

CLICK HERE TO GRAB A PAPER COPY

While you wait for you book to arrive or download, check out my recent chat with LEE WEST, author of the Blue Lives Apocalypse series. Lee was one of first to read HOT ZONE, providing some spot on developmental advice. You can also CLICK HERE to check out THE ZULU CHRONICLES VIRUS PRIMER for more information about the series.

QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH STEVEN KONKOLY:

Lee: Having just finished HOT ZONE, I’ll start out by saying “I see what you did there.”

Steve: Is that a good or bad thing?

Lee: It’s a very good thing. For those of you wondering, there’s a subtle tie-in to one of your previous series, I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that it’s brilliant, hiding just below the surface. Obviously, you did this on purpose. Can you expand on that?

Steve: Guilty as charged. When I set out to write another series in the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/disaster genre, I wanted to take it in a different direction than most of the books recently written in the genre. I didn’t have to look very far. I had been sitting on a devastating scenario since 2012, when I wrote REDUX: A Black Flagged thriller. I had already created the perfect bioweapon, and put it in the hands of some very nefarious people. They just never got to use it thanks to some skilled and enterprising American operatives. The ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES imagines what might have happened if that virus had been released.

Lee: So this isn’t a Black Flagged book.

Steve: Right. Fans of those books will find a few Easter Eggs, but this is an entirely new story that every thriller reader will enjoy. There’s no homework required to read the ZVC books.

Lee: That’s good to hear. Nobody likes homework. You obviously enjoy unleashing viruses on the world—that sounded kind of odd, didn’t it?

Steve: It did, but let’s go with it.

Lee: I’ll rephrase it. This isn’t the first time you’ve fictionally unleashed a virus on an unsuspecting world. Your first novel, The Jakarta Pandemic, imagined what it might take for an everyday family to survive a lethal pandemic and the ensuing societal collapse. In HOT ZONE, I strongly sensed a return to that type of storytelling.

Steve: I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that. I really wanted to return to my roots with the ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES, and tell the kind of story that launched my career. The Jakarta Pandemic was an intimate, if not claustrophobic, look at a pandemic’s impact on “normal people.” It focused less on the disease itself and more on the unpredictability of the human factor.

Lee: That’s what made it so fascinating in my opinion. It bucked all previous trends, focusing on regular citizens instead of the usual “CDC scientist running around the world saving the day.” Your characters barely left their neighborhood, and the neighborhood nearly killed them.

Steve: I take a similar approach in HOT ZONE, but the characters won’t have the luxury of lingering in one place for very long. Readers will get a taste of several different walks of life, as the disaster unfolds around this diverse group of characters. By the time the outbreak is in full swing, the characters will be doing what they do best in my books. Trying to survive. Moving frequently will be one of the keys to survival in this series.

Lee: You certainly don’t make it easy on your characters in this one. I can attest to that. I do have to call you out on one thing. There’s a hint of conspiracy in HOT ZONE, and a scientist who looks like he might be in a position to “save the day.” He definitely falls into the regular character category for now, but I see some potential. Am I wrong?

Steve: I can neither confirm nor deny the expansion of his role in future books, but I do like to take characters out of their comfort zones, so we’ll see. As for hints of conspiracy in HOT ZONE—don’t forget that we’re talking about a suspected, widespread bioweapons release on U.S. soil. A conspiracy lurks. I just haven’t decided how much of it will come into play within the series. Right now, it’s in the background, where it might reach out from time to time to hinder or even help the characters—the true focus of the story.

Lee: HOT ZONE is a frighteningly realistic look at a bioweapons attack from several angles on the ground. You obviously put a ton of research and thought into this scenario. So…why bioweapons?

Steve: Because bioweapons scare the $#@% out of me! Seriously. I wrote The Jakarta Pandemic partly because I’ve always been obsessed with viruses and biological warfare. I blame Stephen King’s The Stand, which I read as a teenager. People forget that Captain Trips, the virus in The Stand, originated in a fictional U.S. bioweapons lab. The beginning of that book was brilliant, and stuck with me for years. Still does. I’m rambling. After The Jakarta Pandemic, I didn’t stray far from viruses. No wonder. Right?

Lee: I see where you’re coming from, now.

Steve: I don’t like to be predictable. That’s a bad thing for an author.

Lee: You’re hardly predictable, especially with HOT ZONE. I guarantee readers won’t see where this book is headed. Last question. You claimed to have “created” the perfect bioweapon. What did you mean by that, fictionally of course.

Steve: I appreciate the disclaimer. I don’t need any more black vans on the block. Bioweapons in general are horrifying by nature, designed not only to kill and maim, but to inflict fear. A slow killer that requires the maximum amount of resources to handle. There’s no easy solution when dealing with an effective bioweapons attack. Unlike bullets or bombs, a properly designed bioweapon can cripple everyone, but leave them alive—needing extensive on site care and support. The impact of a bioweapon can’t be underestimated or overstated. It’s more like the “perfect weapon.” And in the grand scheme of terrorist weapons, they can be relatively inexpensive, flying under the radar in hidden laboratories around the world, or right here in the U.S.

Lee: Thanks for scaring the $#@! out of me, Steve.

Steve: Any time. Sleep tight.

THE ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES PRIMER

WITH LESS THAN TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE PROJECTED RELEASE IN LATE JUNE…I figured it was time to give give you more than just a few teasers about HOT ZONE, book one in The Zulu Virus Chronicles.

Before I go crazy here, I want to highlight an opportunity to be an integral part of the The Zulu Virus Chronicles launch. I plan to provide advanced reader copies (ARCs) of HOT ZONE (and all future books in this series) to a sizable group of readers. I can’t include everyone in this, but for those of you that would be willing to read a free copy of the books ahead of the launch, and possibly share your opinion of the book with the pubic, I will consider you a candidate. I will also form a members only group on Facebook, where we can “hang out,” and I can pass news, launch material and get your opinion on aspects of the story. You don’t have to be on Facebook to be part of this group. If you’re interested in doing this, send me an email at freebooks@striblingmedia.com OR message me directly at my author page on Facebook by CLICKING HERE.  

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF. What exactly can you expect from The Zulu Virus Chronicles?

Fans of my Black Flagged books will be somewhat familiar with the Zulu Virus, which has been featured in that series. The Zulu Virus Chronicles, however, takes place in a world mostly separate from the Black Flagged series. An alternate reality, so to speak. Black Flagged readers will catch a few “Easter eggs,” but The Zulu Virus Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic thriller saga, with a strong hint of political/government conspiracy. The setting is current day, in a Midwest city—Indianapolis. Much of the action takes place within a thirty minute drive of my house. I’ve driven the routes. Walked the streets. Shopped in the same stores. Visited the locations. I kind of feel bad inflicting this disaster on my new hometown, but it’s what I do. Scarborough, Maine was never the same after The Jakarta Pandemic. I just hope my new neighbors don’t think I’m crazy…too.

With that said, here’s the cover and blurb for HOT ZONE, BOOK ONE. After the blurb, you’ll find several sample chapters, which will introduce you to all of the main characters, and hopefully scare the $#@! out of you. Keep in mind. The weaponized virus you’ll meet in these chapters was not my idea. Minds far more disturbed thought of this first. I just hope they never successfully create and deploy it.

By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

-William Shakespeare’s Macbeth-

SOMETHING INSIDIOUS HAS EMERGED—RIGHT IN THE HEARTLAND OF OUR NATION.

Dr. Lauren Hale, a hospital resident, is nearly killed by a raving mad emergency room patient, in a senseless, unprovoked attack.

Officer David Olson, veteran cop and former Marine, returns from a father-son camping trip to discover that his ex-wife has vanished under bizarre circumstances, and his police department is on the verge of collapse.

Jack and Emma Harper, a young upwardly mobile couple, find their cozy, city neighborhood rapidly descending into madness.

Dr. Eugene Chang, a research scientist for major pharmaceutical company, makes a shocking discovery that might explain the rapidly spreading wave of illness and violence gripping the city.

Eric Larsen, leader of a top-secret, rapid-response unit, circles high above Indianapolis, in an unmarked military transport. Mission still unknown, his team waits to parachute into the night.

WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS, ALL OF THEIR WORLDS WILL COLLIDE, driving them to join forces to survive the living nightmare that has been unleashed on their city—AND THE NATION.

WELCOME TO THE HOT ZONE!



SAMPLE CHAPTERS BELOW. Keep in mind, these have not been professionally edited. This is a raw, sneak peek into HOT ZONE.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SAMPLE CHAPTERS IN WORD FORMAT

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SAMPLE CHAPTERS IN PDF FORMAT

 

MAY DEALS

THE DEALS AND NEW RELEASES KEEP ON COMING! I’ll keep this short, in bullet format, because my wife informed me that I have a tendency to ramble…and she’s the boss.

1.) Both novels in my Fractured State series (near future covert operations and conspiracy thriller) have been discounted by my publisher to $1.99. They aren’t free, but at $1.99 each, you’re looking at a 75% discount for the series. Click the images below to grab a copy from the U.S. Amazon store. Sorry, but the deal is not available outside of the U.S.

 

 

 

 

2.) Long time good friend and fellow author, Lee West, just released Resist and Evade, sequel to the smash hit, Survive and Escape. Lee’s Blue Lives Apocalypse Series focuses on the police response during a widespread EMP event; a unique twist in an overworked genre. At my recommendation, Lee keeps the series at a very affordable $2.99 each. Trust me. These books are a steal at the price. Check out this series if you’re looking for something new in the post-apocalyptic genre. CLICK ON THE IMAGES for the U.S. Amazon Store.

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Bestselling author and good friend, Nicholas Sansbury Smith, has taken the post-apocalyptic genre by storm with his TRACKERS series. Nick rocked the military post-apocalyptic thriller world with his EXTINCTION CYCLE series, bringing that same expertise to the TRACKERS books. THE HUNTED, book 2 in the series hits the shelves (ebook and paper) on May 4. THE STORM, book 3, comes in October 2017. This is a very reasonably priced, rock-solid series of books. The first book is $2.99, a complete steal for this USA Today Bestselling author. CLICK ON THE IMAGES for the U.S. Amazon Store. You can also follow Nick through his newsletter by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Later this week, I’m going to reveal the full premise of my upcoming series, THE ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES, to include a few initial chapters. I’m beyond excited about this series—the first book will be available in June 2017.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED READERSHIP AND SUPPORT!

 

A CONSPIRACY COME FULL CIRCLE—THE BLACK FLAGGED LEGACY AND BEYOND

***Post-apocalyptic fans will find some VERY exciting news at the end of this post (new series), so keep reading. Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the Black Flagged series***

I’ve led readers on a wild ride through the Black Flagged series, most of that ride centered around a particularly nasty, weaponized virus created by Dr. Anatoly Reznikov, a devilishly unhinged, former employee of the Russian Federation’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR Institute).

REDUX (Book 2) followed Dr. Reznikov to Monchegorsk, Russia, where he infected a city of 60,000 inhabitants with the ZULU Virus—in a twisted revenge plot against the Russian government. Readers saw first hand what can happen to a populated area hit with the virus.

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APEX (Book 3) brought the ZULU Virus to the United States, where it was snatched from the hands of Al Qaeda, by a sophisticated domestic terrorist group that had orchestrated the creation and delivery of the virus from the very start.

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VEKTOR (Book 4) extinguished the bioweapons threat created by Dr. Reznikov, along with the illegal bioweapons research program at the Vector Institute—ALMOST.

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OMEGA (Book 5) brings Dr. Reznikov and his designer viruses back into the spotlight, amidst political turmoil in the United States and a blossoming conspiracy.

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VORTEX (Book 6)—TO BE RELEASED IN 2017 OR EARLY 2018—will marry Dr. Reznikov’s lethal creations to the ultimate conspiracy against the United States.

Excited yet! I am. The conspiracy introduced in REDUX (Book 2) will come full circle in VORTEX (Book 6), which I promise will be unlike anything you’ve read before. I know, that’s a tall order.



Why should post-apocalyptic readers and fans be excited by all of this?

Think The Jakarta Pandemic meets The Perseid Collapse, with a hint of conspiracy. Still not convinced?

CLICK HERE (PDF) to read a few of the hard core post-apocalyptic chapters from Black Flagged Redux to get a taste of what’s to come. This series will not be directly linked to the current Black Flagged books. It is a standalone, post-apocalyptic series based on a worst-case scenario release of the ZULU Virus in the United States.

virus-imageWHAT IS THE ZULU VIRUS? Check out the description of the virus taken directly from the Black Flagged novels. 

“A weaponized form of herpes simplex encephalitis, genetically modified to aggressively attack the brain’s temporal lobe. Left untreated, herpes simplex encephalitis has a high fatality rate. Near seventy percent. Treated aggressively, we can reduce this to thirty percent.”

“If the Zulu virus is released into a public water source, containment of the disease itself will not be our biggest challenge. Physical containment of the impacted community and the management of information will be your biggest priority. Weaponized encephalitis is the ultimate biological weapon.”

“Herpes simplex encephalitis does more than produce casualties…In those treated aggressively, less than three percent regain normal brain function. This can vary from very mild to severe impairment, depending upon several factors. Early treatment with high dose, intravenous acyclovir is the only modifiable factor scientists have identified.”

“If released in a municipal water supply, unknown to the population, it has the potential to affect nearly everyone. Take a small town of twenty thousand people. Even if we discovered the attack immediately after the virus circulated through the drinking water and treated everyone in the town with acyclovir, 95% of them will suffer neurological impairment at varying levels. 19,000 citizens. Neurological impairment will range from full homicidal rage and hyper-aggressive behavior to minor seizures. Brain damage in almost every case.”

Media Report regarding situation in Monchegorsk, Russian Federation taken from Black Flagged Apex—IMAGINE THE SAME REPORT COMING OUT OF INDIANAPOLIS.

“Confirmed news from the area is scarce, but persistent rumors of a deadly epidemic continue to surface. So far, nobody has been able to confirm the shocking and unbelievable footage sent anonymously to Reuters, suggesting that the Russian military is systematically destroying the city and killing its inhabitants. Russian officials have made no comment. One thing is for certain, the Russian government has taken extraordinary measures to seal off the area surrounding Monchegorsk. What is truly frightening is the fact that the world hasn’t seen an emergency government response on this scale from the Russian government since Chernobyl.”

MORE NEWS ABOUT THIS SERIES TO COME! Enjoy this cover reveal. 

OMEGA

1160 Steve Konkoly BLACK FLAGGED banner

FINALLY! Three years isn’t that long…right?

Don’t spend another second waiting. CLICK HERE TO ORDER

1543-steven-konkoly-omega_2THANK YOU for very patiently waiting for this book. I released Black Flagged VEKTOR (Book 4) in the summer of 2013, after deciding to take a short break from the series. I’d written four books back-to-back in two years and was starting to see the Black Flagged characters in my sleep. That short break turned into a long detour. Six books and several novellas, in two different series, to be exact. I really appreciate your loyalty and patience. I think you’ll find OMEGA worth the wait.

I had a lot of time to ponder the fifth book, which I thought would be the last novel in the core series. I’m very pleased to let you know that there will be a sixth book. Halfway through OMEGA, I realized that the finale I had in mind for this story was worth a full novel, so you can expect book six within the next year or so. I don’t want to give too much away, but the scope of the conspiracy unveiled in OMEGA is vast and devastating, unlike anything you may have read before.

On that note, I need to make a statement that I’ve never included in my books before OMEGA:

All characters and corporations or establishments appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Why the disclaimer? You’ll soon find out. Here’s a little background and a hint. In 2012, I created a fictitious political movement for Black Flagged APEX, called True America. Some similarities in core beliefs between the Tea Party movement and True America existed, but my intention, as stated in APEX, was to create a third, viable party vying for political power. I had plans for True America later in the series. Fast-forward to the spring of 2016, when I finished the first third of OMEGA, in which True America shocks the establishment and wins the 2008 (series time) presidential election. You can probably see where this is headed.

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t” — Mark Twain.

Black Flagged OMEGA takes place in 2009, roughly two years after the events of Black Flagged VEKTOR.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER OMEGA TODAY

OMEGA is available in Kindlebook and Hardcopy. The audiobook version will be available in April 2017.

THREE YEARS LATER—HOW DO YOU REIGNITE A SERIES?

WITH A BIGGER CONSPIRACY, AND A COMPLETE SHAKE-UP

 

1543-steven-konkoly-omega_2OMEGA: A BLACK FLAGGED THRILLER (Book 5) redefines the characters, organizations and all of the relationships readers have come to known in the Black Flagged series. At the same time, OMEGA introduces a blistering conspiracy perpetrated at the highest levels of power.

VORTEX: A BLACK FLAGGED THRILLER (Book 6—COMING IN 2018) will unleash a disturbingly familiar, but entirely reimagined conspiracy to the American people.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER TODAY AND GET IT TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT!

“A joint U.S.- Russian Special Forces raid against a hidden laboratory yields an alarming discovery. Anatoly Reznikov, the deranged bioweapons scientist stolen from U.S. custody a few years earlier, vanished minutes before the attack—taking his deadly work with him.

In the United States, Beltway power brokers grapple withTrue America’s surprise presidential win, finding the new administration to be anything but easy to work with. Karl Berg, demoted within the CIA due to the sudden shift in agency leadership, seeks to stay out of trouble, and retire quietly—a task he finds impossible when news of Reznikov’s near-capture unofficially reaches his desk.

Oblivious to the growing threats domestic and abroad, Daniel and Jessica Petrovich finalize their plan to abandon the “Black Flag” business for good, only to have it delayed by close-hitting news. A last minute trip to the United States drags them closer to an unfolding plot in the heart of Washington D.C.

A plot connected to everyone and everything the Petrovich’s have touched. A diabolical conspiracy none of them saw coming—AND ONLY ONE GROUP CAN STOP!”

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes of the Fractured State Series: Part Five—THE UNFOLDING BATTLE OVER WATER

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For those of you who’ve read FRACTURED STATE, you’ve probably guessed that the key conflict of the series revolves around WATER. While the public faces of the One Nation Coalition (anti-secessionists) and the California Liberation Movement (secessionists) fight over the fate of California and the disposition of its natural and man-made resources in Fractured State, a game changing plot has been set in motion that will be exposed in ROGUE STATE. A plot that could potentially undermine the billions of dollars invested by One Nation Coalition supporters to ensure the future of the profits in the Golden State. 

Nathan Fisher’s family, along with David Quinn find themselves at the very heart of a second conspiracy aimed at virtually guaranteeing California’s secession from the United States. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll leave you with a few clues.

1.) The image below shows a recent picture of Lake Mead, on the reservoir side of the Hoover Dam. The light colored rock represents the water level several years ago. The drop over the last decade has been drastic, unlike anything seen since the dam’s construction. The continuing drought has dropped the water level of Lake Mead to critical levels. In the 2035 world of Fractured State, the level would be at least four to five times lower,  at the point where water trickles downriver. At that level, no water can be pumped to Las Vegas, or diverted to Arizona. The electrical power plant run by the flowing water has been decommissioned. California receives little to no water from a source that had once provided most of Southern California’s water supply.

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2.) In 2035, the only peaceful way to restore the Colorado River flow would be to either convince multi-billionaire agriculture barons in the Great Plains to stop illegally diverting water, the only way for them to currently water their crops, OR, to convince the U.S. government to stop the illegal redirection of water from the Colorado River. Southwestern states have pursued both options for nearly two decades, but nothing has changed.

3.) Another option exists. Rivers flow naturally, unless they’re obstructed. You can probably guess the rest.

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If you’re interested in digging deeper into the politics,history and controversies surrounding the Colorado River Basin and other major fresh water sources, you can explore this links:

Overview of the Colorado River Basin

The disappearance of ground water throughout the world

Lake Powell slowly vanishing

Lake Mead sinks to record lows

$650 million pump station constructed to draw water from lowest levels of Lake Mead

California continues to draw from Lake Mead water bank despite record low levels

Spoiler article for Book 3. Read the entire article. 

Draining of the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest source of fresh water in the Great Plains.

Speculative article about what happens if the Colorado is denied to California

Dust Bowl days are here again.

Return of the Dust Bowl.

CLICK HERE TO GRAB A COPY OF ROGUE STATE 

Read Behind the Scenes PART 1, PART 2, PART 3 and PART 4

 

 

Behind the Scenes of the Fractured State Series: Part Four—WHAT’S NEW IN ROGUE STATE?

If you missed them, read Part One, Part Two and Part Three of Behind the Scenes of the Fractured State series!

Konkoly-RogueState-21878-CV-FL-V1With the launch of ROGUE STATE (Book 2 in the Fractured State Series) a few days away, I wanted to give readers and fans a look behind the curtains of the upcoming release. I thought I’d go with a TOP TEN list, because it’s early and I don’t have to come up with clever seaways between paragraphs. I have a 10 hour writing day ahead of me, so bear with this streamlined process. What this really means is that 1.) I haven’t had enough coffee yet. AND 2.) I’m getting a little lazier, truth be told.

HERE’S WHAT READERS CAN EXPECT ON JANUARY 10th!

predator-invisible-camo1.) Adaptive Camouflage: Sometimes called “active camouflage,” this fledgling technology today will be fully developed and available to the military and highest bidder in the 2035 world created for Rogue State. You can imagine the tactical benefits of rendering a vehicle or operative invisible to the naked eye or infrared detection. Check out a few links describing today’s efforts to harness this technology. The image to the right is from the movie Predator, I couldn’t resist…the ultimate in adaptive camouflage.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a11105/behold-the-octopus-inspired-adaptive-camouflage-17108661/

http://www.military.com/video/logistics-and-supplies/military-equipment/new-hi-tech-adaptiv-camo-system/2450498175001

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-01/active-camouflage-system-uses-e-ink-make-tanks-invisible-battlefield

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3072599/US-Army-developing-invisibility-suit-soldiers-say-begin-trials-just-18-months.html

rifle-camera2.) Rifle mounted, goggle integrated cameras: This isn’t exactly something new, but it isn’t routinely fielded today. I got the idea from playing Call of Duty and did some research. Like anything that might provide the modern day field operative or soldier an advantage, companies are putting consider time and money into development. Consider the benefit of being able to stick your rifle around a corner, see a target and shoot it.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2649051/The-app-lets-shoot-round-corners-Smart-rifle-uses-Google-glass-sight.html

https://defensesystems.com/articles/2016/10/31/wireless.aspx

face_recognition_fr_pic33.) Facial Recognition Software is widely, publicly and openly used by law enforcement and government agencies in 2035. A few states have declared it unconstitutional and prohibit the use of FRS technology. This isn’t new either, but as far as we know, proactive, wide scale use by the government hasn’t been implemented yet—OR HAS IT?  Here’s a quick paragraph from Rogue State describing the problem.

“Federal law enforcement agencies devoted significant funding to co-opting municipal and state FRS feeds, posing a significant detection risk. The Department of Homeland Security maintained a massive persons-of-interest FRS database, reportedly tracking the real-time movements of nearly a million people.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/10/20/from-cellphone-tracking-to-facial-recognition-minority-report-is-here/#25840ce6742a

4.) Most of  Texas, the American Southwest and the western half of the lower breadbasket states have become the New Dust Bowl, an area ravaged by drought severe weather patterns. Massive dust storms and firestorms have driven most of the population, in the worst hit areas (Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas) away permanently.

mexi35.) Taking advantage of the population resettlement, drug cartels from Mexico have seized control of most of Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico border no longer exists as a barrier in those areas, and fierce battles rage between well equipped cartel soldiers and National Guard units in key border cities along the Texas border. It’s fair to say that the State Department has issued a travel advisory to Americans thinking about vacationing in Mexico. Much of Rogue State takes place a few miles south of the border or in these lawless U.S. areas.

6.) Social Media Network monitoring provides real time crime and terrorist information for law enforcement agencies and our government. Once again, this isn’t something I imagined. It’s happening today—I just took it to a new level in Rogue State.

http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/computers/item/7248-fbi-pursues-social-media-surveillance-to-gather-intelligence

https://it.ojp.gov/documents/roleoffusioncentersincounteringviolentextremism_compliant.pdf

i-qyrtdrhisa7.) Mercenaries used by corporations to achieve their “goals.” You already got a good taste of this in Fractured State. CERBERUS is essentially a high-end mercenary outfit retained by corporations to safeguard their financial interests—or create new ones. In Rogue State, you’ll meet a slightly less refined group of mercenaries, comprised of former Russian Special Forces (GRU) operators. They specialize in murder and mayhem, which will unfold spectacularly and gruesomely.

https://informnapalm.org/en/russian-private-military-companies-as-licensed-tool-of-terror/

8.) New Characters: Sounds kind of boring, but trust me, you’ll like some of the new faces that appear in Rogue State. David Quinn’s father, Stuart Quinn plays a key role, along with David’s brother in-law, Blake. The Russian mercenary commander, Chukov, won’t fail to make an impression. He’s a piece of work, and was a pleasure to write. Nissie Keane, a hacker employed by CERBERUS will play an important role in Rogue State and future books (spoiler). Finally, readers will get to know Jose (Nathan and company’s mysterious savior from book one) very well, along with some of his most trusted California Liberation Movement operatives.

9.) Fracking: And not the kind from the rebooted Battlestar Galactica show. I won’t say much about this, because it would be a big spoiler for the rest of the series. Let’s just say that CERBERUS isn’t looking for oil in the California desert.

shutterstock_12301414310.) A Bigger Plot Unfolds: I’ll talk more about this in the fifth Behind The Scenes article, but it will become clear to Nathan Fisher and David Quinn that the California Liberation Movement is far more than what it seems to the public. They’ll face a tough decision when confronted with the full scope of Jose’s plan.

Click here to order ROGUE STATE TODAY for $4.99 and grab FRACTURED STATE for $1.99. 

Check out Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Five of Behind the Scenes of the Fractured State series!

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2016 YEAR IN REVIEW (Part Two): Thriller reads

(Click here for Part One-Post Apocalyptic and Dystopian novels)

If you’re read this in the other post, go ahead and skip this paragraph. Instead of the traditional “end of the year review” about what I’ve accomplished as a writer, I wanted to highlight something different this year. What I accomplished as a reader. 2016 was without a doubt my best year as an author from every angle, but it was also one of the best years I can remember as a reader.

2016 introduced me to new writers and firmly solidified my commitment to some of my previous favorites. Below you’ll find my 2016 THRILLER reading list, in no particular order. This is not an all encompassing list by any means. I’ll probably add to the list as the days go forward. It’s also worth mentioning that you should strongly consider checking out the backlists and earlier in series books for ALL of these authors. 

Poisonfeather by Matthew Fitzsimmons

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 

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Embrace the Fire by Stephen England

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The Last Girl by Joe Hart

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First to Kill by Andrew Peterson

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The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler

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Pushing Brilliance by Tim Tigner

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Furious by T.R. Ragan

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Need to Find You by Joseph Souza

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Written in Fire by Marcus Sakey

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Once Was Lost by Matt Iden

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Captive in Chief by Murray McDonald

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Jihadi Apprentice by David Bruns and J.R. Olson

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The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins

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Rules for Revenge by Ian Graham

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Cold Blood by Alex Shaw

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2016 YEAR IN REVIEW (Part One): Post Apocalyptic and Dystopian reads

(Click here for Part Two-Thrillers if post-apocalyptic/dystopian isn’t your kind of story)

Instead of the traditional “end of the year review” about what I’ve accomplished as a writer, I wanted to highlight something different this year. What I accomplished as a reader. 2016 was without a doubt my best year as an author from every angle, but it was also one of the best years I can remember as a reader.

2016 brought some exciting new names to the POST APOCALYPTIC and DYSTOPIAN genres, in addition to plenty of releases from the “tried and true” PA authors of the past several years. Below you’ll find my 2016 reading list, in no particular order. Some of the books are first in a new series. Some are a 5th or 6th in a series. Each author is worth checking out in full! Many have written multiple series. I hope you get as much entertainment out of these as I did.

Survive and Escape by Lee West

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Trackers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

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Surrender the Sun by A.R Shaw

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Spaceman by Tom Abrahams

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Push Back by R.E. McDermott

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Blood Honor by Russell Blake

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Unexpected World by Chris Pike

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Devil Dog by Boyd Craven

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Canine Plague by Burt Walker

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Cry Havoc by Angery American

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Locker Nine by Franklin Horton

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Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

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Trial by Murray McDonald

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Razor’s Edge by G. Michael Hopf

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Gavin’s Woman 

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99 CENT CHARITY BOXSETS for the holidays!

UPDATE 12/14/16: The THRILLER THIRTEEN boxset raised close to $4,000 for the International Justice Mission. A HUGE THANK YOU to the thousands of readers that supported this cause, and grabbed a great compilation of stories. On top of that, the boxset hit the USA Today Bestseller List! See below:

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SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE HERE! Each boxset on sale for 99 CENTS! The best part? One of my stories is included in each set! Already read my books? No worries. You’ll find novels and novellas by some of the top authors out there.

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UPDATE 12/11/16: THIS BOXSET IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR THE LIMITED TIME OFFER OF 99 CENTS. 

THRILLER THIRTEEN  features novellas and short stories by bestselling authors in thriller, mystery and crime. All proceeds go to the International Justice Mission, an organization dedicated to fighting human slavery and trafficking around the globe. You’ll find ORIGINS: A Black Flagged Short Story in this boxset, which takes readers back to Daniel Petrovich’s early years as a Black Flagged operative. It’s a gritty, brutal look at Daniel’s undercover mission to infiltrate a Serbian paramilitary group during Slobodan Milosevic’s reign of terror in Yugoslavia.

 

KILLS, CHILLS AND THRILLS features a “first in a series novel” from seven bestselling authors that spawned fan-fiction Kindle Worlds. Proceeds will go to Read Aloud America, an organization dedicated to promoting family literacy in the United States. I have contributed The Perseid Collapse to the boxset; a book that has spawned 35 fan-fiction stories set in that post-apocalyptic world. The fan-fiction worlds created by seven authors featured in the boxset have inspired more than 200 stories set in those worlds.

AN EARLY HOLIDAY GIFT! Sort of…

The long awaited fifth book in the Black Flagged series is now available for PREORDER. Ebook version only for the preorder. Hardcopy and audiobook versions will be available closer to the FEBRUARY 20, 2017 release date.

BOOK FIVE has been renamed OMEGA (Reprisals and Vortex are gone), to symbolize the events and circumstances that will unfold in the story. Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, and Alpha is the first. It is no coincidence that the series starts with Alpha and ends with Omega. Beginning and end. And that doesn’t mean the series ends with OMEGA. It means things as series readers know it will change significantly…you’ll see what I mean. GRAB A COPY OF OMEGA TODAY!

1543-steven-konkoly-omega_2

OMEGA: A Black Flagged Thriller (Book 5)

“A joint U.S.- Russian Special Forces raid against a hidden laboratory yields an alarming discovery. Anatoly Reznikov, the deranged bioweapons scientist stolen from U.S. custody a few years earlier, vanished minutes before the attack—taking his deadly work with him.

In the United States, Beltway power brokers grapple with True America’s surprise presidential win, finding the new administration to be anything but easy to work with. Karl Berg, demoted within the CIA due to the sudden shift in agency leadership, seeks to stay out of trouble, and retire quietly—a task he finds impossible when news of Reznikov’s near-capture unofficially reaches his desk.

Oblivious to the growing threats domestic and abroad, Daniel and Jessica Petrovich finalize their plan to abandon the “Black Flag” business for good. An unforeseen, last minute personal trip to the United States drags them into an unfolding plot, based in the rotten heart of Washington D.C.

A plot connected to everyone and everything the Petrovich’s have touched. A diabolical conspiracy nobody saw coming—AND ONLY ONE GROUP CAN STOP.”

POST ELECTION DAY MADNESS SALE

Update: Due to a small mistake, the deal for The Perseid Collapse books will commence in the UK on Nov 11. I can’t offer the discount on The Jakarta Pandemic in the UK at this time.

Because a relaxing book about SOCIETAL COLLAPSE is just what the doctor ordered after this election. I don’t know about you, but I’m SO GLAD it’s over. 

ALL OF MY POST-APOCALYPTIC BOOKS ARE DEEPLY DISCOUNTED FOR A LIMITED TIME. 

—You can grab THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC  for FREE if you’re a member of Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited, if not, it’s half price at $2.99. CLICK HERE FOR THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC

1390 Steve Konkoly ebook THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC_symbol_2015

 

 

 

 

 

THE PERSEID COLLAPSE books are $1.99 or less—EACH. OR, you can grab the entire series for less than $7. CHECK OUT THE PERSEID COLLAPSE BOOKS

Book One

Book Two

Book Three

Book Four

 

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

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After more than a year since my last novel sized release…

I finally have something to prove that I haven’t been on a 14 month sabbatical from writing! 

FRACTURED STATE is now available for purchase as an ebook, audiobook or hardcopy.

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO GRAB A COPY AT AMAZON.COM (U.S)

FOLLOW THIS UNIVERSAL LINK if you’re outside the U.S.

I know you’re going to love Fractured State, and the rest of the books to come. The series promises to be incredible. I just delivered the second book to my publisher, Thomas and Mercer, and they’re busy tearing it apart—in a good way.

Check out Thomas and Mercer’s series description for a taste of the entire series. This paragraph absolutely captures the essence of what I set out to accomplish…almost like mind reading!

“Steven Konkoly’s Fractured State series charts a nightmarish near-future vision of America, ravaged by environmental devastation and teetering on the brink of political collapse. When average family man Nathan Fisher unwittingly learns of a terrifying conspiracy at the highest levels of power, he and his family must run for their lives, pursued by ruthless killers and aided by a resourceful Marine with a mysterious agenda of his own. Unrelenting suspense; rich, relatable characters; and a vividly imagined, all-too-believable future world of high technology and low-down violence: welcome to Fractured State.”

Thank you for checking out the series. Don’t forget to check out some of my earlier “behind the scenes” of Fractured State posts!

BEHIND THE SCENES of Fractured State

Behind the Scenes of the Fractured State Series: Part Three—THE FULL SERIES MAP

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THE SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES HAS RADICALLY CHANGED BY 2035

THE FRACTURED STATE series sweeps you through this vast, twisted landscape with reluctant hero, Nathan Fisher, as he fights against all odds to keep his family alive.

Click on the map to enlarge and explore.

ORDER Fractured State today!

Also, check out Behind the Scenes PART ONE , PART TWO, PART FOUR and PART FIVE.

Fractured State Map3

Behind the Scenes of THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES: PART 2

Fractured State coverBuilding the greater world surrounding THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES was a serious blast, but inventing the details of a near-future world was the proverbial “icing on the cake.” This is the kind of stuff I live for as a writer, and Fractured State was a fertile playground for these details. That said, it wasn’t easy.

Set 20 years in the future, I found myself walking a thin line between advancing technology far enough to create a “wow factor” and keeping it familiar enough to the reader. The last thing I wanted to do was create a new vocabulary for readers.

Here’s a fantastic example of that struggle, with a slightly disappointing ending. What do you call a cell phone/smart phone 20 years from now? The answer isn’t simple, or is it? I got a crazy idea during the developmental edit, based on a suggestion from my developmental editor (I blame David!), to replace every instance of smartphone with the term LINK. We’d discussed the technology upgrades evident in the manuscript and agreed that the device served as more of a communications link, but we couldn’t call it a COMLINK. That term had been coined by the Star Wars franchise years ago, and it didn’t sound right, anyway.

But what about LINK? That’s simple, catchy…hey, 20 years from now, people might be looking back at Fractured State and saying, Steven Konkoly used the term first, now everyone calls their phone a LINK. Communications companies will be paying me billions to license the term…it sounded fantastic, until it didn’t. Actually, it was my editor at Thomas and Mercer that essentially said something to the effect of, “I don’t know. It’s cool and all, but forcing readers to use the word LINK instead of phone throughout the story might get a little annoying.” Too kitschy, so I dropped LINK and went back to phone or satphone. Lesson learned. The device had more bells and whistles, but it essentially did the same thing it does today…let’s you talk to people. Why complicate matters?

But one creative disappointment can’t ruin the creative process for me. NOT EVEN CLOSE. That was ONE device out of hundreds used in the novel, and I had a ton of fun with the rest. Too much fun, probably.

mq-9-reaper_001-ts600If you’ve read any of my books, you probably can guess that I like weapons. From knives to attack helicopters, I don’t shy away from the details, and I like my characters to make the best use of the weaponry available to them. Fractured State gave me the unique opportunity to take systems currently in development, and imagine them in widespread use 20 years from now. Every firearm is more compact and versatile, ammunition is far more lethal, heavy duty weapons systems normally employed by armies are now available to mercenary groups, and the effectiveness of personal protective equipment has increased to counter this new lethality. Take a look at the following links, along with a brief explanation of how I chose to employ that technology in Fractured State.

Guided sniper munitions – Used by assassins in a coordinated attack against a politician at his reinforced mansion. The effect is rather gruesome, as you can imagine.

ge5mcdjxhbxj9sfxla38Color night vision technology – I call it synthetic daylight…heard it here first! This actually presented a bit of a challenge, since describing what the characters see through these goggles is no different than what they’d see in the daylight. At times, my developmental editor couldn’t remember if it was night or day. To remedy this, I added some additional features to the goggle’s display, which measured light intensity and could tell the wearer how dark it was outside.

Liquid gel body armor – This has so much promise for the future in my opinion. Form fitting and reactive, liquid gel body armor can potentially stop any type of munition, evenly spreading the brunt force of the impact to reduce internal injuries commonly seen with solid plate armor.

Dragonskin armor – Recently rejected by the U.S. Army, I see a future for this type of armor. Lighter, shape conforming and effective against armor piercing ammunition…I could see this as standard issue.

Rifle launched missiles – I don’t actually use these in the books, but damn if this isn’t cool.

xm25Smart grenade launchers – I take this one step further, and apply the same range finding automation to an automatic grenade launcher system. The effects are spectacularly devastating…and messy of course.

Hand launched surveillance drones – Nothing new about the Raven, except the newer versions can fly longer and transmit more data. Putting two of these in the air, one of the teams in the book finds a “needle in a haystack.”

See through wall radar and imaging devices – Can you imagine looking at a 3-Dimensional schematic of a building and seeing a live image of everyone inside? It’s not really possible today, but in 2035…

Bullet resistant glass (nothing new, but this video is COOL) – I find some creative uses for glass like this in the series…in ways you might not expect.

Missile firing drones – Over U.S. airspace? You bet, especially when operated by Cerberus International…and to make matters worse, the drones are mostly undetectable.

Active or adaptive camouflage – Can you turn a vehicle invisible? With enough money and 20 years of research and development. Why not?

Converting seawater to energy – This method is energy intensive, but when co-located with a nuclear power plant?

Desalination plants – Reality today, and critical to survival in a drought parched future.

This is a very short list of some of the types of technology upgrades found in Fractured State, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is slightly reimagined in this series, from sinks that recycle water for rinsing to mandatory  GPS tracking systems installed on every vehicle to measure fuel efficiency and restrict movement. Life has changed…it’s up to the reader to decide if the change is for better or worse.

PREORDER FRACTURED STATE

READ Behind the Scenes Part One, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five

Behind the Scenes of THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES: PART ONE

Fractured State coverWith the release of FRACTURED STATE less than a month away, I thought I’d give readers and fans a look behind the scenes at the creation of the near future, dystopian world supporting the story. As most of you know, I spend a considerable amount of time envisioning and creating the worlds behind my fiction. The process is time consuming, and if left unchecked, can take on a life of its own. I know this from experience. When I started to create the world for my first novel, The Jakarta Pandemic, I reached a point, long into the early stages of development, where I asked myself: “When are you going to actually start writing the story?” I didn’t have an answer, which in itself was my answer. It was time to quit researching the world, describing characters on notepads, creating maps, developing timelines—AND TIME TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. I had spent months world building, when I could and should have been writing.

With that lesson SORT OF learned—a few times, I’ve developed a rough world-building process that gets me started and keeps me on the right track.

IMG_13421.) Creating a world to support a series requires me to create a ALTERNATE HISTORY, or in the case of Fractured State, a FUTURE set 20 years from today. Either way, I start out with a TIMELINE OF EVENTS. This is outside of the story plot. For the Fractured State series, I started in 2016 and envisioned the world, national, state and personal-level events that would land the reader on page one. As you can see, this sheet has endured coffee and beer stains, many on-the-fly changes and an accidental “throw away” since I created it in early 2015. It rarely leaves my side while I’m writing.

2.) For the kind of deep background and expansive geographical reach involved in writing a series like Fractured State, I find the use of MAPS to be invaluable. I create them throughout the entire process, starting with big picture world building maps down to individual scene orientation maps. Every complex, action oriented scene likely originated with a sketch.

IMG_1343
First map created

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Map of California’s present and future energy sites

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Motel scene in Rogue State (Book 2)…little spoiler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Whether based in the past, present or future, I also create lists and descriptions of the organizations involved in the story. Past and present is easy…a few clicks on Google and you have a nice organizational chart of the CIA. Future requires a little more work. In Fractured State, I envisioned San Diego County as an entity that effectively absorbed every municipality throughout the current county, providing town administration, resource management, leadership and police functions for the entire geography. San Diego County Police Department (SDCPD) officers patrol the streets of Chula Vista, CA, south of San Diego, just he same as the streets of Carlsbad, CA—40 miles away.

In Fractured State, Nathan Fisher, the story’s main character, works as a water reclamation engineer at the San Diego Water Reclamation Authority, an entity that does not exist today. Since water reclamation is a critical part of Californian’s lives in my story, I gave it an organization separate, but subordinate to the existing Water Authority. Of course, in the resource stressed world of Fractured State, both authorities serve under the San Diego County Resource Authority. Yeah, I have fun with this stuff. Sorry to put you to sleep!

4.) Throughout the creation of the TIMELINE, MAPS and boring ORGANIZATIONS, I’m constantly researching topics related to the big picture to generate new ideas, validate previously envisioned plot points or expand the story.

lake meadFor Fractured State, I spent a lot of time studying WATER sources in California, the rest of the southwest and the Great Plains. While the events in my story are purely fictional, the historic, ongoing drought in California and the U.S. Southwest is REAL. Frighteningly real. California’s current drought started me on the path to writing this series. The more I researched, the more I knew I had the background for an incredible story. What if the drought continued for another 20 years like many climatologists agree is possible? AND what if the effects of the drought were intensified by corrupt group of greedy industrialists and enforced by a ruthless mercenary army on their payroll? Secession? Mayhem? All of the above.

Check out some of the original bookmarked links that I used to get a feel for the drought issues facing California and the nation. It’s scary stuff. All of it. I just listed them as LINK. Click on any or all to give yourself a fright.

LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK.

ORDER FRACTURED STATE TODAY!

READ BEHIND THE SCENES PART 2, PART 3, PART 4 and PART 5

Introducing FRACTURED STATE

Fractured State coverI’m so excited to get this book into your hands, I barely know where to start. Seriously, I’ve been staring at the same few sentences for the past ten minutes. I’ll make this easy on both of us, and start with an emotionally charged statement.

Fans of my previous novels will absolutely love this book! I know that’s a bold claim, but I really believe it. Fractured State brings the best of the Black Flagged and Perseid Collapse books to life in a fast paced, stylish thriller series. At its very core, Fractured State is a story about an innocent family—inadvertently dragged into the middle of a lethal struggle to determine California’s fate.

I’m going to vastly over simplify the story here, but picture Alex Fletcher and his family ruthlessly pursued through a near future, dystopian southern California, by a Black Flagged-like group with unlimited resources and an unquenchable thirst for murder. Unlike Alex, the new main character, Nathan Fisher, doesn’t have the hard skills required to keep his family alive against professional killers. He’s crafty—the son of a retired Marine Sergeant Major—but he’s in way over his head in Fractured State. Nathan gets help from an unlikely source—a Marine officer thrust into the situation by chance. Together, they fight to stay one step ahead of the shadowy group’s relentless efforts to silence the Fishers. You’re going to love these characters just as much as the story.

PREORDER FRACTURED STATE NOW! (That’s just a suggestion)

For those of you thinking — “Wow, Steve couldn’t describe one of his books to save his own life!” Here is the official description for Fractured State.

“In 2035, the southwestern United States is ravaged by drought, reeling from an environmental catastrophe that has left the landscape a chaotic, depleted ruin. California, still viably inhabitable due to its oppressive social controls, marshals state-of-the-art surveillance technology and totalitarian policies to preserve its fragile hold on rapidly dwindling resources and an increasingly unsettled population.

After a prominent California congresswoman is assassinated for her support of the state’s secession from the United States, Nathan Fisher—accidental witness to a clandestine military-style operation—is drawn into an unraveling conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of power and threatens the lives of Fisher and his family.

Hunted by ruthless killers seeking to ensure his silence, suspected by the authorities, and aided only by a loyal Marine officer with a mysterious agenda, Fisher and his loved ones must somehow stay a step ahead of their relentless pursuers, navigating a ruined world in a desperate search for sanctuary.”

PREORDER TODAY!

The complete Perseid Collapse interview…

by Randy Powers of Practical Tactical.

This isn’t the first time Randy has challenged me to dissect one of my novels. Our early 2013 discussion of The Jakarta Pandemic is one of the most thorough, well-constructed interviews I’ve had the pleasure of giving. Mr. Powers puts time and thought into meaningful questions, which deeply explore the themes buried in my work. Even if I didn’t have themes, I’d have to make them up to satisfy Randy’s incredibly rich line of questioning 🙂

THE INTERVIEW:

The Fletchers are back in The Perseid Collapse and, I’ve got to say, we’ve missed them. Six years after the the Jakarta pandemic ravaged the life they had known Alex and Kate are pushing ahead into the new reality and are even sending their son Ryan off to college. How about you take it from there and tell us a little bit about the Fletchers and sort of set the stage for what’s going on in The Perseid Collapse?

The Fletchers are trying as much as they can to maintain a normal life. They live in the same home as they did in the first book. I struggled with whether they should stay in that house, whether there was too much bad juju in that neighborhood, a lot went down. They learned that bugging in like they did in The Jakarta Pandemic, although Maine is not as populated as some areas, in a relatively crowded neighborhood in a suburb was not a good idea then and it won’t be a good idea next time because the next time it’s going to be worse. Even if it’s the same or a lesser disaster, it’s going to end up being worse because the memories are fresh. The Fletchers made some money, or retained more money than everyone else, when everything was more or less wiped out after the Jakarta pandemic. So that’s kind of where the novel starts. Their son is on to college, they’re out on their sailboat, which is part of that normal life. They’re not afraid to go out, but they’re cautious. They have preparations. They have BOLT kits. They don’t live like most Americans, but they maintain the appearance that they do.

The Perseid Collapse opens up in China (something I certainly was not expecting) and once again it seems the Red Dragon is impacting the Fletchers world. Can you offer us a little insight into your motivation here?

I think it reflects more of my techno-thriller background that I’ve developed over the last four books in the Black Flagged series. I wanted to give readers a little more. Often times reading other books where you see an America that has been impacted by an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse), there was never an explanation for what happened or even a hint of it….For me, I like to know a little more. So, I set up this international conspiracy based on the Chinese to get them back on the international scene and level things.

One of the things I noticed very early in the book is even though they’re the same people, no one that survived the Jakarta Pandemic escaped without being changed in some way. I noticed it in Kate first, but as the story moved along I saw the same thing in each of core characters and especially in Alex. Everyone seems to have a bit more edge to them and felt a bit grittier. Not in a bad way, but in a real way, and it seems like our group of survivors are more comfortable with themselves and with each other in their reality following the pandemic. Was this intentional and do you want to walk us through your thought process on how each member of the Durham Road group has come through their last six years?

In the first book of the Perseid, everyone has changed. They’ve retained a lot of their characteristics and their core values, but I think realism has really settled in. I thought it was most obvious in Alex, but I agree with you…and a number of other readers have said that they really liked seeing Kate and learning more about her and her mindset. Like you said, early on she establishes herself…not necessarily forcefully…but you know she’s a force to be reckoned with. She was always like that in the beginning. She was always the one that recommended doing the early shooting. She was kind of the more hard core proponent of violence in the first book. Now that’s kind of transferred over to Alex, but you can definitely see that shift.

This story gets downhill in a hurry and just picks up speed from there. A pandemic virus shook things up for the Fletchers last time around, so what is the disaster catalyst that kicks things off in The Perseid Collapse?

READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE! Sorry to do that to you, but head on over to Randy’s site. He doesn’t bite and you won’t find yourself on a government watch list…like you will reading my stuff!

READ The Jakarta Pandemic Interview.

Resurfacing one of my favorite interviews

With The Perseid Collapse launch rapidly approaching it’s magic date—December 1st, I wanted to bring back some memories of it’s predecessor, The Jakarta Pandemic. TJP was my first novel, kicking my writing career into full gear. A ton has been said about TJP, covering every aspect of the story. I’ve been interviewed several times, and hundreds of independent reviews (individual blogs and websites) have been posted.

Randy Powers of Practical Tactical interviewed me during the late spring of 2013, and his questions blew me away. It was evident from the very start, that he had put an incredible amount of time and thought into my novel. This is by far one of my favorite interviews. He asks some hard questions about the more “controversial” material, giving me an opportunity to explain how I merge fiction with research.

THE INTERVIEW:

Welcome, Steve.  First and foremost, thank you for your service.

Thank you, Randy. I really appreciate the opportunity to dig below the surface of my writing and expose some of the core ideas and concepts that help shape the stories. Regardless of what other authors may claim, writing is a personal endeavor, no matter how far fetched the plot or action may seem to the reader. There is always something deeply personal embedded in the writing, and the threads that wrap around these aspects often define the story’s core essence.

In your writings, there is no such thing as black and white.  You deal in personal confliction and there are no easy answers.  You have also said that your military experience figures heavily into your writings.  With all that said, TJP brings all that together in a complex character and gives us Alex Fletcher.

Ten years out of the Marines, Alex has fully transitioned back into the private sector and seems to be doing quite well.  Putting aside what I assume would be Alex’s tendency to be prepared due to his military experience, I would like to talk a little about what motivated Alex to focus on the threat of a pandemic and make preparations for his family.  At the end of Chapter 5, we learn about a presentation that Alex did for his company Biosphere and the research that went into it.  We learned that process “changed his life” in apparently more ways than just professionally.  Can you talk about how this process impacted Alex and his decisions when it comes to his family’s preparedness?

When I started to conceptualize The Jakarta Pandemic, I wanted to highlight the difficulties of surviving a catastrophic level event in a suburban setting. The leading difficulty in my opinion would be dealing with everyone else’s varying degree of unpreparedness in the face of a complete lack of essential services. With that in mind, I wanted to start Alex in a position of self-sufficiency, and I chose this “presentation” as his catalyst to start preparing for a worst-case scenario. The conclusion Alex draws from his research reflects the culmination of my own examination of the scenario. In a nutshell, it’s not a matter of IF something like this will happen, it’s a matter of WHEN, and WHEN it happens, survival will depend on your basic level of preparedness and planning.

I’ve read that you raised your personal level of preparedness AFTER writing TJP.  I was a bit shocked by that fact.  One of my favorite parts of the book is when we get a first look at the Fletcher’s supplies as we join Alex for an inventory “the Frito supply” for the first time.  You describe the Fletcher’s well rounded stockpile in some detail and even lay out a good plan for rotating food stores as if you had been doing it yourself for a long time.  I particularly appreciated how you pointed out throughout the book that building a stockpile like the Fletcher’s is something that anyone can do if they make a plan and execute it in a practical way.  Was family preparedness and establishing an emergency survival kit a chicken and egg type thing for you as you wrote the book?  And, without divulging too much, how much did Alex teach you about being more prepared and what steps have you taken in your personal life to be better prepared for any future emergency?

Most people are shocked to learn that I never visited a prepper or survivalist website prior to finishing The Jakarta Pandemic. In many ways, I’m glad that I didn’t. I’m a details oriented writer, and despite the fact that the scene you described is exhaustively detailed, I would have driven myself insane trying to get the Fletcher’s “bunker” perfect. I put a considerable amount of thought into the contents of their survival stockpile, starting with the basics: Food, Water, and Medical Supplies…and expanding from there. And I certainly expanded far beyond the basics. Solar panels connected to battery storage, two oil tanks for storing fuel (this is a New England phenomena…most of you have natural gas or propane), wood burning stove (which I don’t think they ever used), generator, antibiotics (unethically obtained through Alex’s employer) and many other items that might come in handy if the shelves at your local Home Depot and grocery store emptied overnight. Imagine going cold turkey off Fritos…devastating. :0)

So to answer your question, I created this incredible stockpile or “bunker” in my novel, and didn’t have so much as three extra cans of vegetables in my own house to back up one of the main themes in my book. A few months after publishing the novel, I took Alex Fletcher’s advice and started to slowly build up a reserve of food and supplies, one shopping trip at a time. It’s truly amazing what you can amass in two years, when you take a systematic, consistent approach to stockpiling supplies. Does my basement now resemble Alex’s? Not even close, but I feel confident that my family could ride out a major disaster, without resorting to desperate measures. Of course, the same question always remains, regardless of how much you prepare…what is your neighbor doing to avoid resorting to desperate measures, and what is your plan to deal their desperation. This becomes a pinnacle issue for Alex, and his plan is woefully lacking in this author’s opinion…on purpose.

Most folks living a preparedness lifestyle understand that planning is paramount to the success of any emergency plan.  This usually means having a plan to ride out an emergency situation at home, also known as sheltering in place or bugging in, and also having a plan to evacuate if the situation dictates, commonly referred to as bugging out.  If the plan is to shelter in place, neighbors can become a real problem like we see in TJP.  We don’t want to give the story away, but what are your thoughts on working with neighbors or building a survival team, given that the necessities of dealing with a pandemic primarily call for isolation?  Makeshift alliances develop in TJP, but should Alex have developed relationships and built his team within the neighborhood well ahead of the pandemic since he viewed it as such a real threat?

This is hard to say. Unfortunately for Alex, his plan from the start was isolation, but he quickly learned that this wasn’t going to be a viable option. Without recognizing the need for a diplomacy based “crowd control” plan prior to the arrival of the pandemic virus, he really shortchanged himself and put his family in danger. With that said, none of us want to view our neighborhood as an episode of Survivor, where shifting alliances and secret plots undermine the ease of living and sense of relaxation we come to expect when we pull into the driveway. Alex had some core friends in the neighborhood, which came in handy as the conflict escalated, and he found a few surprise allies along the way. If anything, Alex could have been more open to dispelling a few stereotypes that hindered him in the beginning. I don’t write big moral lessons into my novels, but Alex’s character gave me the opportunity to point out a few negative behaviors that most of us can find in ourselves from time to time.

Read the full interview

Review of Hugh Howey’s WOOL

When I started to write a review for Hugh Howey’s sensational bestseller WOOL, I found myself with writer’s block. I never get writer’s block. So much has been said about the WOOL series that I struggled to find something new to say…maybe it’s not possible at this point. Hugh Howey is an inspiration to Indie writers like myself, as he continues to slug it out in the trenches, despite the wild success of this series. If you enjoy dystopian science fiction or apocalyptic stories, you can’t pass this one up. Destined to be a classic? I think so. 

What more can be said about Hugh Howey’s WOOL, right? I suspect readers have just barely scratched the surface. WOOL is a delightfully wicked post-apocalyptic story, packed with an even flowing, inexhaustible supply of cleverly crafted allegorical and symbolic devices. From the Silo itself to the division of classes, Howey develops an irresistible world with a jarring number of eye opening parallels to our own pre-apocalyptic existence.

Beyond this lies an engaging dystopian science fiction story, filled with intrigue, deception and hope. The deeper you dig into the series, the better it gets, though I have to admit that the first book in the series was by far my favorite. The job of Sheriff within the Silo reminded me of Sean Connery’s role as Marshall O’Niel, in the early eighties sci-fi classic Outland.

 I agree that Howey’s Wool is destined to be a science fiction classic in the same vein as Heinlein, Bradbury or Asimov. I know this sounds lofty, but Wool has all of the suspenseful, thought provoking, well-developed elements that drew me into the science fiction classics. I look forward to future installments of the Wool series and to catching up on Howey’s books.