Guest post: Quantum dystopia in WHEN THE EYE SEES ITSELF

We don’t do much futuristic dystopian SciFi here at, but author Eric Borgerson made a strong case for his novel When the Eye Sees Itself. Timely and intelligent, this novel deals with themes of quantum entanglement, mass surveillance, mass incarceration, political struggle, descent into darkness and addiction, state sponsored terror and torture, and “spiritual awakening amidst the ashes of shattered conventions. It is a compelling tale about power, the kind that imprisons and the kind that sets us free, all of it borne of our interpenetrated minds.”

Scroll down to enter to win a paperback copy of Borgerson’s book!

When the Eye Sees Itself by Eric Borgerson. Dystopian science fiction. (January 2018)

When the Eye Sees Itself weaves a dazzlingly complex web of interconnection – institutional, psychological, political, cultural, economic, conscious, even subatomic – and shows how tugging on a thread within it can pull everyone down, or up.

The story takes place in a country that classifies people by temperamental balance, segregating Vulnerables and Aggressives from the ranks of Citizens who are deemed to possess a functional balance.

A legal challenge becomes the catalyst for a surge of unrest among the excluded classes, with Vulnerable and Aggressive activists squaring off against the conservative Citizen’s Action League over the rules for entry into the powered class.

Under the surface of this political conflict lurks a new technology – Quantum Field Resonance Imaging– which allows people to interpenetrate quantum neural fields and touch minds. The technology is in use for illicit and noble purposes, on small scales and large, officially and in the shadows.

Nothing is as it seems, and as the mind-linking technology peels back the veneer of ordinary perception, layer upon layer of deception and collusion are exposed, revealing abuses of power so profound they threaten to annihilate the country in civil war. Yet, an even more fundamental shift can be heard rumbling from beneath, as still deeper strata of illusion are blasted away and the struggle for control becomes more and more subtle.

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Entanglement: Personal, political, and quantum

Guest post by Eric Borgerson

Q: How would you characterize this novel?

A: It is a bit of a genre-bender. It is a legal and political drama with a science fiction dimension that holds together multiple axes of a very complex plot. Some have characterized it as falling under the rubric of cyberpunk, which seems apt. I also believe it qualifies as a science thriller.

The main themes are interconnection and power, both power over and power from within. The story takes place in a society that segregates people by temperament: Vulnerables who need protection from others, Aggressives, who require restraint, and Citizens, who are deemed to possess a balanced midrange of the temperamental poles. The thresholds governing classification within that scheme evolve over time, driven by scientific, political, economic, and social forces.

The story begins with a woman classified as a Vulnerable but who possesses pronounced Vulnerable and Aggressive features, who files a petition to broaden the criteria for Citizenship. Her case triggers an upsurge in social unrest, with Aggressive and Vulnerable activists squaring off against the conservative Citizens Action League over access to the powered Citizen class.

Q; What is the science aspect of the story?

A: Lurking behind this conflict is a new technology: Quantum Field Resonance Imaging, which allows people literally to touch minds. Arrays of micro particle accelerator guns worn around the cranium stream and receive subatomic particles through a user’s brain, creating a quantum field projection of the user’s mind. In our world, Continue reading

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James Rollins interviewed for THE BIG THRILL

I loved this interview of James Rollins, author of the science thriller Sigma Force series. It focuses on his new release THE DEMON CROWN but wanders around other topics as well. The interviewer, Nancy Bilyeau, is herself an accomplished thriller writer whose specialty is historical fiction set in England, with a nun as a series heroine.

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Guest post: Can our brains see the future? Cole Carver on VECTOR RISING welcomes author Cole Carver to discuss the neurobiology behind his science fiction thriller VECTOR RISING. And he’s giving away a paperback copy! Scroll down to enter.

Vector Rising by Cole Carver. Science fiction thriller. (November 2017)

The present moment is a knife-edge, and someone’s discovered how to wield it.

Nathan Beckett sees everything just before it happens. While normal human eyesight predicts motion by a tenth of a second, Beckett’s ability is nearly thirtyfold. Now, a covert agency wants to turn him into a weapon. Beckett refuses until he learns his choice might risk the life of a mother he barely knows.

As the former foster child hones his gift, Beckett realizes some people aren’t satisfied with mere seconds of future-seeing. A rogue scientist is testing the limits of precognition and developing a neurogenetic virus that may put countless lives in danger. Beckett soon finds himself caught between a traumatic past and visions of increasingly deadly futures.

Vector Rising combines neurobiology with relentless action in the battle between fate and free will.

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The Future of Future-Seeing

Guest post by Cole Carver

Imagine your five senses are five people in a boat. The boat is being steered from below deck by a captain who can’t see what’s going on above. It’s not a great spot to be in, since the boat is currently tumbling down a river filled with jagged, boat-sinking rocks.

Each of the five senses—each “person”—is leaning over the edge of the boat and shouting back what they see, hear, smell, etc., so that the captain below can adjust their course. But because there’s a delay between seeing the danger and correcting the route, each person has to shout out not what’s happening now, but what’s about to happen.

“Turn right!” “Full speed!” “Stop!” Too slow, and the boat glances off a rock. The senses adjust, and start calling out what they see even further into the future.

This is what we experience every day as humans. The boat in this scenario is you.

Specifically, this is what happens with human vision. There’s a difference in the light that hits your eye and the vision you perceive. Your brain needs about a tenth of a second to process this sensory input. But we don’t have a tenth of a second to spare. We need to dodge the sabre-toothed tiger. We need to slam on the brakes on the freeway. We need to do these things immediately.

Our brains have evolved to imagine what the world will look like one-tenth of a second from now. They are the captains below deck, steering in response to a world that hasn’t yet come to pass. Evolution hasn’t just shaped our reflexes, it’s actually shaped how we see the world, and what we see is a one-tenth of a second into the future.

It turns out we can measure these reactions and future-seeing capabilities. Scientists like Dr. Mark Changizi have even shown how optical illusions are proof that our brains are constantly projecting where things will be, not where they are. The joke with optical illusions is that our brains end up guessing wrong.

Therein lies the challenge: we need to see a little bit of the future to make up for our sensory lag. And yet, the more we try to predict, the more inaccuracies we risk, and suddenly we end up turning too soon, and sinking the boat. But given enough predictability, and enough data from our senses, we could potentially “see” much, much further.

This is Nathan Beckett’s gift and his curse. In Vector Rising, we see the challenges that come with seeing several seconds ahead. Imagine losing fight after fight because you keep swinging too early. We also see Beckett’s success, as he learns to control his gift with the help of a shady government agency. The risk of seeing the wrong future is always there, but it’s nothing compared to the dangers Beckett faces when this neurogenetic science falls into the wrong hands.

Early readers of Vector Rising have been fascinated with the reality of future-seeing humans (the book also offers an exclusive interview with a neurobiologist in which these foundations are discussed). From the gift of precognition to the threat of deadly viruses, Vector Rising is a perfect read for thriller fans and science buffs alike.

About the Author:

Cole Carver is an award-winning writer of technothrillers that combine speculative technology with fast-paced action. Born in Seattle, Cole received his MFA in Creative Writing while working as a collegiate gymnast, a stunt double, and a halftime performer for the NBA. He now lives in Northern Nevada with his wife amidst the rattlesnakes and rabbitbrush. Learn more about Cole and his new novel, Vector Rising, at

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Book review: THE DEMON CROWN by James Rollins book review of The Demon Crown by James Rollins (Sigma Force # 13)

(extraordinary; top 10-15% of SciThri)

Tech rating (out of 5):

Publication date: December 2017
Category: Science thriller

An intro from the author:


Just in time to tuck under the Christmas tree, the latest Sigma Force adventure—THE DEMON CROWN—hits bookstores this week. As an added bonus, a good chunk of the story takes place in Hawaii, so it’s like getting a little island vacation to escape the winter blues—of course, it’s a “Sigma Vacation,” so don’t expect to get too much rest and relaxation. In fact, to quote my editor, this novel is the most frightening story I’ve ever written. What’s it about? To offer a few tantalizing clues, here are some of the questions that will be answered within the pages of THE DEMON CROWN:

—What truly killed the dinosaurs? (It’s not what you think.)
—What biological threat keeps Homeland Security up at night?
—Why did the man who founded the Smithsonian Institution—James Smithson—never set foot in America? And a century later, why did the inventor Alexander Graham Bell sneak off to Europe under a cloak of secrecy to steal the founder’s bones from an Italian graveyard?
—Finally, how close are we to discovering the secret of life after death? Or have we already discovered it?

And those are only a handful of the revelations you’ll find in the latest adventure. I hope you all enjoy the mayhem to come.

ScienceThrillers review:

Rollins’s editor was right. The Demon Crown, book #13 in his fantastic Sigma Force series, is indeed the most frightening Rollins book yet. Once again I had the privilege of reading an early copy and was dazzled by the author’s imagination. Rollins finds the most fascinating bits of real history and science, such as the ones he describes above, and weaves them into pulse-pounding stories of action and adventure with lovable characters of both sexes. Travel to exotic places is part of the deal. In Demon Crown, I particularly loved the scenes near Hana, Maui, Hawaii, an area I’m fond of. I was captivated by the history and geography he uses in Eastern Europe. And Rollins introduces a new character whom I simply loved–a plucky librarian, you could say.

On top of all that, the author adds real science. The Demon Crown is loaded with science gems in its themes. As usual, Rollins takes those gems and stretches them into speculative fiction, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

I’m posting the official book plot summary below for you, but really, all you need to know is this. If you are a science thriller fan who hasn’t read James Rollins yet, do it. Now. If you are a fan of James Rollins, order this book. Now. Then curl up and enjoy.

Support and the book’s author: Click to buy The Demon Crown from or

Author’s website:

If you like The Demon Crown, you might enjoy Reversion by Amy Rogers

Summary (from the publisher):

Off the coast of Brazil, a team of scientists discovers a horror like no other, an island where all life has been eradicated, consumed and possessed by a species beyond imagination. Before they can report their discovery, a mysterious agency attacks the group, killing them all, save one, an entomologist, an expert on venomous creatures, Professor Ken Matsui from Cornell University.

Strangest of all, this inexplicable threat traces back to a terrifying secret buried a century ago Continue reading

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Book review: DEAD ON ARRIVAL by Matt Richtel book review of Dead on Arrival by Matt Richtel


(excellent; top 30% of SciThri)

Tech rating (out of 5):

Publication date: August 2017
Category: Science thriller / Science fiction

Summary (from the publisher):

An airplane touches down at a desolate airport in a remote Colorado ski town. Shortly after landing, Dr. Lyle Martin, a world-class infectious disease specialist, is brusquely awakened to shocking news: Everyone not on the plane appears to be dead. The world has gone dark. While they were in the air, a lethal new kind of virus surfaced, threatening mankind’s survival, and now Martin—one of the most sought-after virologists on the planet until his career took a precipitous slide—is at the center of the investigation.

Moving at lightning pace from the snowbound Rockies to the secret campus of Google X, where unlimited budgets may be producing wonders beyond our capacity to control, Dead on Arrival is a brilliantly imaginative, intricately plotted thriller that draws on Matt Richtel’s years of science and technology reporting for the New York Times, and establishes him as one of the premier thriller writers working today.

ScienceThrillers review:

You cannot top the opening of Pulitzer prizewinning author Matt Richtel’s new techno-paranoid nightmare, DEAD ON ARRIVAL. For thriller setups, this is gold: A small commercial jet lands at a smallish commercial airport, at night, in the winter. Communications from the ground had ceased minutes before. The airport is dark. No one, nothing is moving or greets the plane. The creepiness and mystery play out for 150 pages, split into two sections by an interlude from three years earlier. Then something else entirely happens. The compulsion to find out what’s really going on guaranteed that I would keep reading.

Based on online reviews, readers are polarized by this book. Some love it, some hate it. I think part of the issue is expectations. Richtel sets up a stunning, action/plague thriller opening but the long middle of the book does not read like that kind of story. It’s more literary, cerebral. Richtel has a particular style of psychological writing, using subtext and asides to enhance the dialog. Not everyone will like it. But for those who do, it’s a home run. In addition, the protagonist, like others in Richtel’s books, is a flawed and at times unlikeable human being. For some readers, dislike for a main character directly transfers into dislike for the story.

I’m a fan of Richtel’s work and I like the way he plays with a book’s reality–always slippery, uncertain. Things you think are true may not always be what they appear. DEAD ON ARRIVAL targets themes that run through both his fiction and investigative journalism: an unease with the extremes to which technology is dragging us, a questioning of the assumptions of Silicon Valley. DEAD ON ARRIVAL is a scary story for our time.

An advance reader copy of this book was given to me by the publisher.

Support and the book’s author: Click to buy Dead on Arrival from

Author’s website:

Other books by Matt Richtel, reviewed by The Doomsday Equation; A Deadly Wandering (nonfiction); The Cloud

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Ed Yong’s Microbiome book now videos!

My favorite popular science book of the year, I CONTAIN MULTITUDES by British science communicator Ed Yong (my review here), is now being adapted into a series of YouTube videos. This book is all about the microbiome–microorganisms that live in and on other life forms and are necessary for life in countless ways. Here’s the first, focusing on the role of gut microorganisms in termite digestion:

YouTube Preview Image

Yes, he did say, “intergenerational butt licking.”

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Release day GENOME by A.G. Riddle

A.G. Riddle is one of the world’s most successful independent authors. Riddle writes SciFi/SciThri, and today is release day for book 2 in his Extinction Files series. Read about GENOME below.

Genome by A.G. Riddle (2017; science thriller, series)

A code hidden in the human genome…
Will reveal the ultimate secret of human existence.
And could hold humanity’s only hope of survival.

* * *

In 2003, the first human genome was sequenced. But the secrets it held were never revealed.

The truth was discovered thirty years ago, almost by accident. Dr. Paul Kraus had spent his entire career searching for what he called humanity’s lost tribes–human ancestors who had gone extinct. When Kraus compared the DNA samples of the lost tribes with our own, he found a pattern of changes: a code. At the time, the technology didn’t exist to unravel what it meant. To protect the secret, Kraus hid his work and disappeared. Now the technology exists to finally understand the mysterious code buried in the human genome, but finding the pieces of Kraus’s research is more dangerous than anyone imagined.

Dr. Peyton Shaw and her mother have obtained part of Kraus’s research–and a cryptic message that could lead to the remaining pieces. They believe his work is the key to stopping a global conspiracy–and an event that will change humanity forever.

The ultimate secret, buried in the human genome, will change our very understanding of what it means to be human. For Peyton, finding it may come at an incredible price. She must weigh the lives of strangers against those she loves: Desmond Hughes and her mother. With time running out, Peyton makes a fateful choice–one that can never be undone.

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Guest post: Smallpox and a MacGyver chemist in thriller DEADLY SAVAGE welcomes award-winning author and chemist Dave Edlund, whose latest Peter Savage thriller Deadly Savage invokes the great historic scourge of smallpox.

Deadly Savage by Dave Edlund. Action/ international political / bioterror thriller. (April 2016)

When militants invade the Belarusian State University in Minsk, Peter and his father are caught in the crossfire. Held hostage by gunmen who look suspiciously like Russian soldiers, Peter Savage uncovers a deadly plot to kill thousands of innocent civilians—and lay the blame at the feet of the United States government. In a desperate attempt to avoid a global war, Commander James Nicolaou and Peter are called to the front lines of the sinister campaign, and the stakes have never been higher.

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What if…smallpox?

Guest post by Dave Edlund

Deadly Savage is an action-political thriller with a large dose of science. The plot, which unfolds mostly in Minsk, Belarus, envisions an audacious plot to weaken NATO. The key is weaponized smallpox virus.

The history of smallpox is fascinating, albeit devilish at times (e.g., campaign of genocide against Native Americans). Until 1973, schoolchildren in the U.S. routinely received smallpox vaccinations. The last reported case of naturally occurring smallpox was in 1977, and on May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization proclaimed the virus to be eradicated globally. But during the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia developed highly contagious and lethal strains of smallpox, as well as the technology to weaponize the virus, in the lab.

To this day, viable samples of smallpox are kept at two locations—one is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the other is the Vector Research Center in Koltsovo, Siberia. However, a shocking discovery on July 1, 2014, refutes this official position. Six glass vials dated to 1954 containing smallpox were discovered in a cardboard box in an unsecured FDA laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health. Even after 60 years, the virus in two of the vials was still viable and capable of causing infection. How many other samples are out there, unaccounted for? And given that the Soviets were manufacturing 20 tons of weaponized virus annually in the mid-70s, how certain can anyone be that it was all destroyed? Troubling questions, given that our youngest generations have never been vaccinated against smallpox, and those who did receive vaccine in the 60s and 70s have a compromised measure of protection. Modern populations have never been more vulnerable to this terrifying weapon.

In Deadly Savage, the protagonist, Peter Savage, finds himself besieged by pro-Russian militia within a science building on the campus of the prestigious Belarussian State University. Peter is a chemist by education and he’s an inventor, quite comfortable tinkering with a variety of hardware. In short order, he makes his way to the chemistry storeroom where he assembles some offensive weapons—but perhaps not what you’re imagining. I stayed away from explosives (too obvious) for a few reasons, not the least of which are time and reliability. As a chemist myself, I know that making effective explosives takes time—something my main character doesn’t have.

Eventually, Peter finds an aerosol device for dispersing the virus, and he is challenged to arrive at a method of rendering it inoperative. Again, the most obvious methods must be avoided since the case is thought to be booby-trapped—it cannot be touched, moved, incinerated, or blown up. He draws on his knowledge of physics and his manual assembly skills as an inventor to derive an ingenious solution.

But who is making these aerosol-dispersion machines to spread smallpox virus? Hard data is required. Once again, the campus science building provides a necessary tool in the form of an electron microscope. A rigorous analysis of trace particles from a deactivated aerosol machine—mostly dust and pollen—provides invaluable clues. With this fingerprint, the U.S. government is ready to present their case to the United Nations. However, condemnation is not sufficient to ensure the deadly virus will never be used again.

But what is? The answer may be more terrifying than the virus.

Deadly Savage is available wherever books are sold, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. You will find links to purchase, reviews, and sample chapters here

About the Author Dave Edlund:

A member of the International Thriller Writers, Dave Edlund writes action-political thrillers often compared to the Dirk Pitt novels by Clive Cussler, the Sigma Series novels by James Rollins, and the Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy. His current release, “Hunting Savage”, is “…required reading for any thriller aficionado”, Steve Berry, author of “The 14th Colony”, New York Times and #1 International bestselling author.

Edlund’s award-winning debut, “Crossing Savage”, was followed by “Relentless Savage” and the critically acclaimed “Deadly Savage”. He lives with his family and four dogs in Central Oregon. A graduate of the University of Oregon (Ph.D. in chemistry), he has dedicated his professional career to developing new technology to support the hydrogen economy. “I strive to bring cutting-edge science and technology into my stories, and then to extrapolate that innovation beyond what is presently known, but is plausible,” Edlund explains. An avid outdoorsman, you are likely to find the author in the deep woods far away from other people when he is not writing. To connect with Dave Edlund or to request a Skype visit, contact him at

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