Guest post: PHOENIX AFTERLIFE by James Leth welcomes author James Leth to tell us about his debut science fiction novel Phoenix Afterlife.

Support and the author by buying Phoenix Afterlife at–if you don’t win the book giveaway below!

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Mind vs Brain: Author James Leth on Phoenix Afterlife

Based on current theories of the mind’s emergence from the brain, Phoenix Afterlife is a story about the nature of consciousness, the quest for immortality, and the meaning of humanity. The story takes place just a few years in the future in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Summary: Dr. Alice Kurz is a neuroscientist driven by the memory of her grandmother, who raised her and then succumbed to Alzheimer’s. For years, Alice has been studying how to repair the brain to save damaged minds. All she needs now is a test subject for the nanotechnology her team has developed. She finds him in Eliot Stearns, a research librarian skilled at seeing the larger perspective and interested in everything.

When Eliot meets Alice, he’s drawn to her immediately. The experiment requires him to be isolated from the world for five days, communicating only with Alice and the other researchers through a videoconference system. Misgivings aside, Eliot finds the study—and Alice—too interesting to refuse. But there is far more to the experiment than he’s been told, and others on the project have their own agendas: “Trick” Trilby, the lead software developer, who knows that the project’s technology could lead to a kind of immortality; Matthius Pin, the first test subject, determined to have nothing more to do with the project; Sam Gleigh, the reclusive billionaire investor; and Dr. Gold, the psychologist locked in a strange conflict of wills with Alice Kurz.

Eliot never foresaw the danger inherent in the experiment. Once inside, he has no control over how long the “five-day” study might last. When he discovers evidence that he’s already been sequestered far longer than that, he realizes that the nanotechnology placed in his brain may be altering his memory. Is the woman he’s grown to love keeping him prisoner? Is there any way to escape? Or will he spend the rest of his life repeating the five-day study over and over again?

This book is available in paperback or e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iBooks.

About the author:

Phoenix Afterlife is my debut novel. The technology in this story is informed by two degrees in computer science from MIT and over 30 years’ experience in engineering R&D. I live in Colorado, where I’m currently working on my second novel.

Visit my websites at and Goodreads.

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PACIFIC BURN Japan thriller now in paperback: win!

Author Barry Lancet knows Japan.

As an expatriate American who is married to a Japanese woman and has lived and worked in Japan for decades, Lancet started writing thriller fiction with his award-winning debut Japantown using what he knows. This arresting series of smart thrillers stars Jim Brodie, an American expert on Japanese art and antiques. I reviewed the third book in Lancet’s series, Pacific Burn, when it was published. Now, the paperback version is going on sale and I’m pleased to reprint my review and offer a giveaway.
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Tech rating (out of 5):  N/A

Publication date: February 9, 2016 Paperback release February 28, 2017
Category: international action thriller/mystery

Summary (from the publisher):

Japanese antiques dealer and PI Jim Brodie goes up against the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security—and a killer operating on both sides of the Pacific.

In recognition for his role in solving the Japantown murders in San Francisco, antiques dealer and sometime-PI Jim Brodie has just been brought on as the liaison for the mayor’s new Pacific Rim Friendship Program. Brodie in turn recruits his friend, the renowned Japanese artist Ken Nobuki, and after a promising meeting with city officials and a picture-perfect photo op, Brodie and Nobuki leave City Hall for a waiting limo.

But as soon as they exit the building, a sniper attacks them from the roof of the Asian Art Museum. Quick thinking allows Brodie to escape, but Nobuki ends up hospitalized and in a coma. Brodie soon realizes that, with the suspicious and untimely death of Nobuki’s oldest son a week earlier in Napa Valley, someone may be targeting his friend’s family—and killing them off one by one.

Suspects are nearly too numerous to name—and could be in the United States or anywhere along the Pacific Rim. The quest for answers takes Brodie from his beloved San Francisco to Washington, DC, in a confrontation with the DHS, the CIA, and the FBI; then on to Tokyo, Kyoto, and beyond, in search of what his Japanese sources tell him is a legendary killer in both senses of the word—said to be more rumor than real, but deadlier than anything else they’ve ever encountered if the whispers are true.

ScienceThrillers review:

Barry Lancet delivers again in Pacific Burn, book #3 of the Jim Brodie series that began with his award-winning debut Japantown. This time, Brodie’s connections in the art world entangle him in a web of violence on both sides of the Pacific when members of a famed ceramicist’s family are being murdered one by one. The killer is Japan’s most secretive, legendary assassin: The Shadow Walker, a legend born amid the hot, fuming vents of a volcano near Japan’s Pompeii.

What sets Pacific Burn and the other Brodie thrillers apart from other well-written suspense/action novels on the market is the Japanese flavor. Author Barry Lancet is an American who has lived in Japan for decades. His intimate personal knowledge of the history, language, culture, geography, and especially the art of Japan suffuses the book. As usual, Lancet includes several scenes that Japanophiles will salivate over. In this installment, readers visit a cosplay convention and manga museum, a temple, a bamboo forest, an active volcano, and of course several different types of Japanese restaurants, including a terrific scene involving fugu, the poisonous pufferfish. In Tokyo Kill, I learned about the history of samurai swords. In this volume, there’s an introduction to the art of Japanese tea bowls. Brodie’s life, and the murders in this story, are also anchored in the San Francisco area, and we’re treated to a couple of scenes in Napa.

The Jim Brodie character remains a reluctant hero, trying to hold together a dual life as a dealer in rarified Japanese art and head of a Tokyo-based security agency while raising a young daughter alone. (Brodie is a widower, a plot line you can follow in Japantown.) His extraordinary prowess with martial arts combined with street fighting techniques is brilliantly described by Lancet in his fight scenes, which walk the line between superheroism and human frailty.

If you enjoyed Japantown or Tokyo Kill, you’ll be pleased to see that the quality continues with Pacific Burn. If you’re a thriller fan who hasn’t read Lancet’s series, get on board. You can read the books in any order because they are stand-alones, though you might want to start with #1 (Japantown). Heck, get all three books because binge-reading is likely!

If you like contemporary thriller novels set in Japan, watch for the August 2017 release of The Han Agent by yours truly, Amy Rogers. A Japanese pharmaceutical company with historical ties to war crimes hires an American scientist after she was fired for doing illegal work on the influenza virus.

Read the ScienceThrillers reviews of Japantown and Tokyo Kill

An advance reader copy of this book was given to me with no promise of a review, good or bad.

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SciThri new releases: February 2017

Here’s the occasional roundup of newly released, or new to me, indie science & medical thrillers.  These books are among the many I don’t have time to read and review, but genre fans might enjoy.

If you are an author or publicist and would like your book listed, contact me with title, author, release date, weblinks, and summary. Only books with scientific or medical themes or characters will be included. Ask me about hosting a giveaway raffle on your behalf (paper books only).

SciThri New (or new to me) Releases:

Special this month: Book giveaway!


Fragment by Craig Russell (2016). Ecothriller. Fragment explores a range of scientific topics from the physics of ocean wave formation to issues of climate change, polar ice and ocean currents. It delves deep into the frontiers of whale sonar and speculates in fascinating ways on the possibility of interspecies communication.

When avalanching glaciers thrust a massive Antarctic ice sheet into the open ocean, the captain of an atomic submarine must risk his vessel to rescue the survivors of a smashed polar research station; in Washington the President’s top advisor scrambles to spin the disaster to suit his master’s political aims; and meanwhile two intrepid newsmen sail south into the storm-lashed Drake Passage to discover the truth.

Onboard the submarine, as the colossal ice sheet begins its drift toward South America and the world begins to take notice, scientists uncover a secret that will threaten the future of America’s military power and change the fate of humanity.

And beneath the human chaos one brave blue whale fights for the survival of his species.

Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award winner and author of Flashforward, adapted for the ABC-TV series staring Joseph Fiennes and John Cho, calls Fragment “A wonderfully thoughtful eco-thriller from one of Canada’s best writers.”
a Rafflecopter giveaway FRAGMENT

A Sickness in Time by MF Thomas and Nicholas Thurkettle. Science fiction thriller.

In 2038, the human race is in a death spiral, yet most people do not know it yet. Technology intended to make us better and stronger has instead birthed a strange and terrible plague we may not be able to stop. When wealthy tech entrepreneur Josh Scribner’s young daughter begins to succumb to this illness, he dedicates his fortune in a desperate effort to save her life. Working with friend & celebrated physicist Min-Jun Dan, Josh develops the ability to send objects back through time. Their goal to recruit an agent in the past who might change our fatal path.

In our present day, a traumatized Air Force veteran finds a strange message in the woods on a camping trip, drawing her into an adventure spanning decades. With the future of humanity at stake, Maria Kerrigan and her friends become the unlikely heroes taking up the secret fight against our future doom.

A few words from the author: “I wrote the first draft of my first novel, Seeing by Moonlight, while working extensively in Germany and Switzerland. The story was inspired by my exposure to the history of the Nazi rocketry program and their extensive plans that were ended prematurely as the Allies won WWII. In the case of A Sickness in Time, the story was inspired by some time I spent in Rome. As I was walking near the ruins of Mars Hill, on a road first laid down a millennium ago, I came across an odd, glass and steel box. The contrast of this modern device in an ancient city made me start thinking about the reasons why someone would try to communicate across time.

Because of my work in the medical technology field, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to use medical technology to help people. There are so many opportunities to reduce pain, restore health and extend life. But from a perspective of writing fiction, it’s interesting to think about how medical technology could be subverted to hurt individuals or society. Medical advances have transformed the modern world. Consider the effect of antibiotics, insulin, pacemakers, and vaccines and the hundreds of millions of lives that have been saved through these discoveries and inventions. Yet what would happen if a ubiquitous technology that was supposed to make us better and stronger birthed a strange and terrible plague we may not be able to stop?”

The Chemist by Alan J. Field. Science + terrorism thriller (2016).

The most virulent weapon of mass destruction will be unleashed upon the world, but Delta Force veteran Daniel Strong isn’t about to let that happen. Recalled from the depths of drug addiction and depression, Danny is the last chance for the CIA to stop an auction in New York where powerful weapons dealers are to bid for the right to proliferate a deadly neurotoxin. The road to finding the auction’s location leads directly to the weapon’s creator: a devil in Tory Burch flats and heroin addict who has committed the chemical compound to memory. Yet Danny isn’t the only one chasing her. He must protect her from a sadistic Palestinian terrorist known only as Sabir, who wants to use the weapon to destroy Israel and will do anything–including torture–to get it. Danny must walk a fine line to control his obsession to resolve a dark secret from his past and his feelings for the chemist that could compromise the operation’s objective–before it’s too late.

Midwest Book Review says about The Chemist: “It’s rare to see a protagonist so tortured by his role in an international hunt, which pulls forth his own deeply buried secrets and angst in the process. Thrillers usually formulate plots where there are distinct friends and enemies, with the protagonist on one side or the other, but not here. One of the delights of The Chemist is that there are no clear boundaries of blackand white or good and evil. Instead, it places the protagonist on a tight ropeof tension as he tries to figure out his place within a tale of stunning plot twists that builds into something much more than just another obvious effort to save the world. Readers who enjoy international intrigue and spicy confrontations will appreciate the fact that scenes in The Chemist wind from Beirut to New York City, Afghanistan to Israel,and from hackers and hostiles to would-be rescuers and failed missions.”

Forbidden Birth by Dr. William Rubin (2016). Medical / serial killer thriller. Violent action reminiscent of Tess Gerritsen.

Doctor Christopher Ravello is driven by an unquenchable desire to avenge his mother’s senseless murder. He forsakes a lucrative career in medicine, and plunges headlong into the brutal, unforgiving world of a New York City homicide detective. Head of the new Division of Medical Crimes, Ravello’s first case pits him against a brilliant, sadistic serial killer. Known only as The Giver, he is hell bent on subjecting young women and their unborn babies to his illicit experiments. As the body count rises, New York City is engulfed in fear. Fighting an illness which threatens his job, immersed in turmoil at home due to his radical career change, Ravello struggles to understand who The Giver is and where he will strike next. Just as he discovers the killer’s identity the unspeakable happens, and Ravello is confronted with an agonizing choice: will he play it safe or make the ultimate sacrifice to save his loved ones and the city he is sworn to protect and serve?


Do you enjoy thrillers with real science? Read Petroplague by Dr. Amy Rogers. Oil-eating bacteria contaminate the fuel supply of Los Angeles and paralyze the city. “Compellingly written, technically literate” “top 5 on my best of 2011 list” “the science is utterly believable” “I couldn’t put this one down”

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Guest post: BRAIN DAMAGE by Freida McFadden welcomes physician and novelist Freida McFadden (AKA Dr. Fizzy McFizz, creator of “A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor“) to tell us about her latest medical thriller, and the odd neurologic deficit at the heart of the story.

Brain Damage by Freida McFadden. Medical mystery/thriller.

After years of hard work, Dr. Charly McKenna finally has it all. Prosperous career as a dermatologist? Check. Spacious apartment overlooking Central Park? Check. Handsome lawyer husband? Double check.

Then one night, a bullet rips through the right side of her skull and she loses everything.

As Charly struggles to recover from her brain injury, she begins to realize that the events of that fateful night are trapped in the damaged right side of her brain. Now she must put the jigsaw pieces together to discover the identity of the man who tried to kill her… before he finishes the job he started.

Support and the author by buying Brain Damage at

Guest post by Freida McFadden

As a specialist in brain injury, one deficit that I see a lot of patients struggle with is something called left hemineglect. In this condition, an injury to the right side of the brain causes not only weakness of the left side, but a tendency to ignore the left side of the world completely. A patient with left neglect might forget to eat the left-sided contents of their lunch tray, may not see visitors on their left side, or in some cases, may even deny that their own left arm or leg belongs to them.

In my novel Brain Damage, a woman is shot by an unidentified assailant in the right side of her brain, and must struggle with the loss of the left side of her world as she recovers in a rehabilitation hospital, all the while trying to remember the events that led to her injury. Please enjoy an excerpt of Brain Damage:

I see that a strange man is standing in my room.

Unfamiliar visitors are not completely unusual around here. Actually, it’s entirely possible that I have met him before, maybe many times before, and I just don’t remember him. I assume he works here, based on his blue scrubs and ID badge hanging off his chest pocket. But there’s something ominous about him.

Continue reading

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Guest essay: Science: A special way of knowing welcomes teacher and writer A.G. Moore, a principal of Rhythm Prism Publishing (“Unique Books for Hungry Minds”). Moore shares an essay on the origins of scientific thought. Please check out her nonfiction books for ages 8-13 (below) and enter to win one of 2 sets!

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Science: A Special Way of Knowing
Guest post by A.G. Moore

People have been staring into the night sky for thousands of years. Some accept what they see, close their eyes and go to sleep. Some wonder at the mystery of the night. They question how the stars came to be.

It was in such a moment that science, and religion, were born. A yearning grew to explain what was observed. Religious beliefs arose, and multiplied. However, religion was not sufficient for some.

In the eleventh century, an Islamic polymath named Alhazen laid down the basic principles of what would come to be known as the scientific method. It was a system that demanded objectivity and proof. Alhazen wrote that a scientist should “…make himself an enemy of all he reads, and … attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency. 

Interestingly, as Alhazen advocated for evidence-based inquiry, he became a critic of belief in religious orthodoxy. Years after his death, many of Alhazen’s writings were translated into Latin. His principles of proof influenced centuries of European scientists. Some of Alhazen’s most significant research was in the field of optics. This work laid the foundation for the invention of the telescope, hundreds of years later.

As with so many advances in science, the telescope was devised in the midst of a flurry of activity. Several inventors offered designs, but in 1608, Hans Lippershey of the Netherlands was officially credited with submitting the first. Soon a scientist in Italy, Galileo Galilei, heard of this invention, and improved upon it.

With the Lippershey/Galileo rudimentary telescope, night-gazers could behold the heavens and see what early observers had never dreamed. Galileo’s observation of the skies led him to a startling conclusion: the earth was not the center of the universe. This suggestion put him in direct conflict with religious authorities of the time. He was imprisoned and threatened with death. Galileo denied the proof of his telescope and bowed to belief. He withdrew his dangerous views, and lived.

However, Galileo’s concession to religion did not end the quest for understanding. Science was restless. Questions, though silenced, would not go away. In time, the rational approach to knowledge gained adherents. One scientist after another claimed to explain a mystery of nature. Boldly, confidently, these investigators entered the twentieth century. Then, through the actions of one obscure physicist, upheaval struck at the heart of certainty.

Using the tools of proof, creativity and insight, Albert Einstein proposed, in 1905, that the rules of the universe, accepted since Newton, were not valid. Shaken, many scientists rejected Einstein’s new Theory of Relativity. They wanted more proof than his equations offered. That proof came in 1919, with the direct observation of a solar eclipse. Scientists saw in this spectacular display of nature that light behaved as Einstein had predicted and not as Newton’s laws dictated.

Since the 1919 eclipse, scientists, and ordinary people, have gazed into the night sky with a perplexed wonder, not unlike that of their earliest ancestors. How did the universe begin? Will it expand forever, or will it collapse upon itself? Will the earth one day be swallowed up by a black hole?

Science remains restless. As the construction of ever more powerful telescopes allows astronomers to view farther into the night sky, questions abound. Religion, however, remains essentially confident. It does not require proof, but merely belief, a willingness to take a leap of faith.

Science is a sterner taskmaster. It will not be settled, unless its answers are supported by proof, by using the objective principles laid down by Alhazen.

Somewhere, maybe today, maybe tomorrow, a scientist will come along, perhaps another Alhazen or an Einstein, who will answer the questions that puzzle us. Perhaps that future scientist will read these very words and be inspired. Wouldn’t that be something?

If you liked this blog, check out A.G. Moore’s books for students: Jonas Salk, Marie Curie, Marie Curie Radium Polonium with Study GuideFlorence Nightingale and What is Radioactivity? Available from Rhythm Prism on Amazon, iBook and Nook.

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Book review: LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren book review of Lab Girl by Hope Jahren


Publication date: April 2016
Category: Science memoir

Summary (from the publisher):

An illuminating debut memoir of a woman in science; a moving portrait of a longtime friendship; and a stunningly fresh look at plants that will forever change how you see the natural world

Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.

Lab Girl
is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

ScienceThrillers review:

Lab Girl had a well-financed launch by the publisher (loads of “buzz”), and as soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to read it. The scientist-author of this memoir, Hope Jahren, is a woman about my age, who also grew up in rural southern Minnesota. I was eager to read her story about a life in science.

What did I think of Lab Girl?

I think it’s two different books inside a single cover. One of the books was mind-blowingly beautiful. The other, not so much.

What makes this book definitely worth reading are the chapters that are essentially free-standing essays about plant science. As others reviewers have noted, read these and you will never look at trees the same way again. Jahren’s appreciation of the plant world is as rich and deep as Minnesota soil. She will bring you into a tree’s point of view, create drama in a tree’s slowly unfolding life story, show you the complexity you cannot see with your eyes. I absolutely savored each one of these literate, scientific interludes in the book. Jahren artfully constructs each essay as a kind of link or metaphor for the surrounding chapters–plant science as life story. And it works!

Here are some openings from these chapters to give you a flavor:

No risk is more terrifying than that taken by the first root. A lucky root will eventually find water, but its first job is to anchor–to anchor an embryo and forever end its mobile phase, however passive that mobility was.

The American South is a plant’s idea of Eden. Summers are hot, but who cares, because the rain is generous and the sunshine predictable…The heavy humidity that chokes us is like nectar to a plant; it allows it to relax and open its pores, and to drink in the atmosphere, confident that evaporation will not interfere.

The life of a deciduous tree is ruled by its annual budget.

These brief, glittering gems of science writing alternate with the “memoir” part of this book. Here’s the problem with reviewing a memoir: I find it impossible to separate the literary merits of the writing from the personality of the subject. In Lab Girl, the writing is unquestionably of high quality and the stories are interesting. Which is why I read the whole book, cover to cover, even though I felt a dislike for the author herself. Jahren rightfully complains about some aspects of a life in science, specifically, the endless, soul-sucking burden of trying to get funding for your lab. Another of her refrains felt to me more like a chip on her shoulder: that she was constantly disrespected because she was a woman. How “true” was her perception? I can’t say. But when it was revealed that the author suffers from severe bipolar disorder, I felt justified in taking some of her attitude with a grain of salt.

The memoir sections are obviously about events in Jahren’s life and scientific career. Most of them revolve around an intense relationship she has with an unusual misfit of a man named Bill. The relationship defies categorization; at times it resembles mother-son; at others, brother-sister. Book clubs should have a field day discussing it.

In summary, this critically acclaimed science memoir is beautifully written throughout. I highly recommend it for the essay chapters. If you read the memoir chapters and are turned off by the narrator, feel free to skip those parts.

Support and the book’s author: Click to buy Lab Girl from

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VECTOR: Guest post by Michael Shusko

ScienceThrillers welcomes multitalented smart guy Michael Shusko, author of Vector, first book in a new military/medical espionage thriller series. Classic SciThri stuff: bioweapons, gene therapy, international terror…Sounds like fun!

All novels featured in guest author posts have been pre-screened by

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When researcher Jawad Khattib gasps his last breath on the Massachusetts General Hospital floor, the Department of Homeland Security wants answers—especially after a preliminary autopsy suggests he died of radiation poisoning. What exactly was Khattib working on? And who was he working for?

DHS Agent Lee Jansen is rushed to Boston and paired with expert toxicologist Dr. Emma Hess to crack the case. All evidence points to the creation of a dirty bomb, but the clues seem too clean, too obvious. During the course of their investigation, they discover the horrible truth. This new weapon is far more deadly than anyone had expected. It isn’t just capable of killing hundreds—it’s capable of killing hundreds of thousands. Can they stop what’s been set in motion by a madman with a dangerous secret before it’s too late?

The Science Behind Vector

Guest post by author Michael Shusko

Genetic therapy using viral vectors is a relatively new, novel and experimental approach in the treatment of a variety of diseases. The basic concept is to use a vector (usually a viral vector) to inject therapeutic DNA into host cells. The targeted effect is to enable the newly inserted DNA to encode for and create therapeutic proteins within the cell to treat disease. While great strides in the past decade have allowed for therapeutic modification of specific genes, directed permanent alterations to endogenous human genes remain problematic. Specifically, identifying and marking in vivo genomic sequences and replacing them with modified DNA to produce life-long effects in a live human is difficult to achieve and, to many, presents ethical dilemmas.

Vector explores this science and touches on the ethical concerns surrounding permanent manipulation of the human genome for beneficent as well as maleficent goals. While investigating a mysterious and concerning death, DHS Agent Lee Jansen (who’s a bit on the bullheaded side) and the beautiful, brilliant Dr. Emma Hess sift through this emerging science as it is currently applied in the field of medicine. When they uncover illegal and unethical applications of this groundbreaking technology, their mission quickly becomes a race against time. The medical and law enforcement communities must combine forces in a high-stakes battle against international crime lords, terrorists and a dark organization. Can they thwart those who want to abuse this powerful technology before millions suffer from its effects? Or is it already too late?

As scientific breakthroughs in gene therapy continue, the medical applications and benefits of this incredible technology will continue to expand. While Vector is a work of fiction, this, like all technology, can easily be misused by unscrupulous and unethical players. Vector is the first title in my Tradecraft series. Future titles in the series will continue to explore contemporary and, at times, controversial issues as they play out on the international stage, interspersed with a backdrop of espionage, clandestine military operations and shady, subversive entities.

About the Author:

michael-shuskoMichael Shusko, MD, MPH, FAAFP, FACOEM, is an author, medical doctor and decorated Marine and Naval officer who has worked on intelligence and medical missions across the globe. Fluent in Arabic, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers University. Post-undergrad, Dr. Shusko transferred from the Marines to the Navy Medical Corps and attended medical school at Wake Forest University.

Dr. Shusko’s Middle Eastern experience and language skills coupled with his background in special operations and intelligence keep him busy deploying around the world. He has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia. Dr. Shusko has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently lives in Japan with his wife and 16-year-old triplet boys.

Full bio available at

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New release book review: EVEREST RISING by M.D. Kambic book review of Everest Rising by M.D. Kambic.

Everest Rising cover

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Tech rating (out of 5):



Publication date: November 5, 2016
Category: Science thriller / science fiction / metaphysical


In Vancouver, an earth science firm announces the ability to replicate every known mineral on the planet.

In Switzerland, a seismologist notes a disconcerting anomaly seventy miles below the Earth’s crust.

In Nepal, the world’s highest mountain is growing.

Geophysicist James Von Kamburg leads a crack team of scientists to the Himalayas to decipher an escalating series of portentous signs: frozen glaciers are melting, plants spawn from rock, and leopards move in herds.

A mystical vision at a Buddhist monastery on the mountain forces Von Kamburg to consider science beyond anything imaginable, and to question the need for drastic action.

Jared Griffon, Von Kamburg’s brilliant former student turned rival, arrives in Nepal with no such scruples.

Everest is rising.
A cataclysm begins.

ScienceThrillers review:

Everest Rising first came to me in the autumn of 2015, as a debut author submission to my publishing company ScienceThrillers Media. In his query letter, Matt Kambic revealed a plot element (that I will NOT spoil here) that hooked me into reading the manuscript. I found a text that sparkled with intelligence–I love Kambic’s expansive vocabulary–and a strong sense of place with the setting in Nepal. The plot held together despite some weaknesses in the climax, but the book was riddled with rookie mistakes especially regarding point of view. I wrote up my critique and sent it to the author, along with a rejection. I thought that was the end of my part in this story.

Fast forward six months. Kambic not only listened to my comments, he set out to make himself a better writer. He returned to me a manuscript that had been transformed to a degree I’d never seen in a situation like this. After a few rounds of editing and back-and-forth discussion, we’d polished this debut novel to a professional level and I was proud to publish Everest Rising in November 2016.

Everest Rising is a highly original, genre-blending novel with both real science and speculative fiction elements. Kambic also steers the story into metaphysical questions and a profound ethical dilemma loosely tied to environmentalism. James Von Kamburg, an Oregon-based geologist, is afraid to father a child into a world of environmental decline. His lack of interest in their infertility is slowly pushing away his wife Maggie, an artist who occasionally experiences moments of special insight. Von Kamburg’s reckless former student–and Maggie’s former lover–Jared Griffon declares that he has found (and commercialized) the power to synthesize any mineral from cheap starting materials, and a skeptical Von Kamburg wants to believe that this seemingly impossible feat will benefit the planet. Meanwhile, a team of scientists (an amusing group of New Zealanders!) working in Nepal discovers that Mount Everest is rising–a lot, not the tiny amount expected from continental shifts. Eventually all the players end up in Nepal, where the entire natural world is being turned upside down, and Von Kamburg is faced with choices, any of which might lead to global cataclysm.

If you’re intrigued by exotic locales and Buddhist mysticism, if you like suspense without car chases and gunfights, and you think science should not be separate from ethics, pick up a copy of Everest Rising by MD Kambic.

Buy Everest Rising from publisher; amazon/Createspace; amazon/Kindle; Barnes & Noble; Apple

About the Author:

Matt Kambic hails originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He currently resides in Middle Earth, a half-hour from Hobbiton in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Matt has served as a creative writer, content developer, art director, and executive producer for a portfolio of commercial and academic clients. His work has been featured on television (The Magic Woods), in Disney games (MathQuest with Aladdin), and as a gigantic mural of a WWII “Ghost Bomber” on the side of a Pittsburgh museum (The Heinz History Center). He has also done work for Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Robomatter, The National Robotics Engineering Center, Kennywood Amusement Park, The National Scenic Visitors Center, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

He is an accomplished illustrator and occasional musician.

Everest Rising is Matt’s debut novel. He is currently at work on two novels, the science thriller Tacoma Narrows, and a fantasy, The Three Green Sisters.

Find out more about Matt at his website:

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