New #STEM contest for kids: Mars Medical Challenge

Just announced: A new #STEM contest for kids

Future Engineers Mars Medical Challenge: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in partnership with NASA, is sponsoring a 3D printing design challenge to US students of all ages (5-19, grades K-12). If people spend three years in space traveling to Mars, how will they maintain their physical health? Turn your ideas into devices that can be 3D printed.

For a complete list of #STEM contest opportunities, visit the ScienceThrillers post.

1. Future Engineers’ Mars Medical Challenge: sponsored by American Society of Mechanical Engineers and NASA. The challenge: Create a digital 3D model of an object that could be used by an astronaut to maintain physical health on a 3-year mission to Mars. Your design must be intended to be 3D printed and could be used for a range of medical needs including diagnostic, preventative, first-aid, emergency, surgical, and/or dental purposes


  • K-12 students in US
  • 5-12 year-old and 13-19 year-old divisions
  • Top winners earn trip to Houston/Johnson Space Center; also MakerBot 3D printers
  • Entry deadline: January 25, 2017

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I’ve enjoyed Robert Masello’s history- and science-themed thrillers and reviewed one, The Romanov CrossWhen I heard he has a new release this week The Jekyll Revelation, I thought I’d share. Sounds like a good one! –A.R.

On August 31st, 1888, just as the stage play of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was taking London by storm, the most notorious serial killer in history struck for the first time.

Jack the Ripper.

The grim coincidence did not escape the notice of the police, or the public, and in the hysteria that followed – the Ripper’s rampage continued for the run of the play – suspicion fell on everyone from the star who so convincingly portrayed the savage Mr. Hyde, to the author of the original story, Robert Louis Stevenson himself. Who but the creator of such incarnate evil, it was argued, could have given birth to such an actual monster?

But what if he had?

In THE JEKYLL REVELATION, history and mystery meet in a story as provocative as it is chilling. Spanning centuries and continents, from the darkened doorways of nineteenth-century London to the arid mountains surrounding present-day Los Angeles, THE JEKYLL REVELATION culminates in a terrifying discovery that solves at once an age-old puzzle and a contemporary crime.

The coincidence of the opening of a stage adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the first Jack the Ripper murder provides an intriguing starting point for Masello’s engaging thriller. In 1894 on the island of Samoa, where Stevenson has moved for his health, the writer learns that a native woman has been butchered in the same way as the Ripper’s victims. Stevenson fears that the nightmare he thought had ended in Whitechapel has come halfway across the world “to resume its dreadful enterprise.” The focus shifts to an environmental scientist in present-day California, then back to Stevenson’s creation of his legendary personification of human evil in the late 19th century. The relevance of the present-day action isn’t immediately clear, but readers’ patience will be rewarded. The sections featuring Stevenson undergoing an experimental treatment at a Swiss medical facility are nicely creepy, and Masello (The Einstein Prophecy) tosses in quite a few surprises en route to a delightfully devilish conclusion.
Publishers Weekly

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BLOOD OF THE WHITE BEAR: Guest post by Marcia Calhoun Forecki

ScienceThrillers welcomes Marcia Calhoun Forecki, co-author of Blood of the White Bear along with Gerald Schnitzer. Zoonoses, infectious diseases that jump from one species into another, are scary in real life and make good fiction. Here, the focus in on hantavirus and the Four Corners area of the US.

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Images of a White Bear Kachina erupt from the dreams of virologist Dr. Rachel Bisette and invade her daytime consciousness. The kachina draws Rachel to the Four Corners to lead the search for a vaccine against an exploding and lethal pandemic. One elusive indigenous woman, Eva Yellow Horn, carries the gift of immunity. In her search for Eva, Rachel discovers power beyond science, the secret of an environmental disaster, and the truth of her parents’ death.

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The story behind Blood of the White Bear

Guest post by Marcia Calhoun Forecki

In 2010, I edited a charming and very funny memoir called My Floating Grandmother by Gerald Schnitzer. Jerry tells about growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930’s, in an energetic Jewish family that included two bootlegger uncles and, of course, his floating grandmother.  The writing style reminded me a lot of Neil Simon, that wonderful self-deprecating humor. We communicated by email about my edits and questions. Through that correspondence, our friendship grew. I was overwhelmed when this amazing story-teller asked me to collaborate on a project that became our book, Blood of the White Bear.

Jerry was always modest about his resume, which included screenwriting, producing and directing movies, documentaries, television series and commercials. He was responsible for the film made by the government of an atomic bomb test in New Mexico in the 1950’s. As our friendship grew, Jerry shared more and more details of his inspiring life. Jerry wrote the screenplays of nearly all the Bowery Boys movies I watched on Saturday morning television as a child. He made a documentary about commercial fishing narrated by William Conrad, with music composed and played by Gustavo Santaolalla. I admit it, I was star-struck.

Jerry sent me fourteen pages of handwritten notes about a virologist, Dr. Rachel Bisette, pulled to the Four Corners by visions of the White Bear Kachina. There she fights a lethal pandemic. One elusive indigenous woman, Eva Yellow Horn, carries the gift of immunity. In her search for Eva, Rachel discovers power beyond science, and the truth of her parents’ death.  Fourteen hand-written pages. It was a beginning.

I stared at those fourteen pages for a long time. Where to start, how to find the characters, how to tell a coherent story from someone else’s notes?  I had read and loved John Barry’s non-fiction book, The Great Influenza, about the pandemic of 1918, so I felt I had a pretty basic understanding of what happens when a zoonotic disease jumps species, from animal to human. The two ingredients needed for an epidemic are high lethality of the disease and ease of transmission. When both criteria are met, in a world of rapid and prolific travel, the potential for a pandemic arises.

The science was easily available on the internet. We decided to write about a fictional, mutated hantavirus. These viruses are endemic to field mice, and epidemics have broken out from time to time in the American southwest. The virus was called Sin Nombre. The Unnamed virus! I also found a lot of information about public health practices, including CDC protocols.

We hit upon the title, Blood of the White Bear, referring to the immunity found in the old healer’s blood. For Aleut and Haida people, the bear is a symbol of motherhood and child protection. For the Lakota people, the bear also has healing symbolism. I loved writing the loving yet mysterious character of Eva Yellow Horn, our book’s white bear.

Our collaboration, Blood of the White Bear was published in 2013. The book went on to become a finalist in the Willa Awards sponsored by Women Writing the West.

Jerry lived in California and I live in Iowa. We collaborated by email and telephone. We never met face to face. Now we never can. Jerry passed in January 2016. Jerry was 98 years old when he died. Jerry saw stories in everything. He influenced me as a writer probably more than I know. I was also proud to call him a friend.

Buy Blood of the White Bear from amazon

Masks reveal as much as they conceal in Blood of the White Bear, a novel that smoulders with mystery and crackles with suspense, so much so that readers may start seeing Kachina dolls over their own shoulders in the wee small hours. – Gary D. Rhodes, writer and filmmaker.

About the Author:

Marcia Calhoun Forecki has published three novels and a memoir about her deaf son. She has published numerous short stories, including “The Gift of the Spanish Lady,” about the 1918 influenza pandemic, which was a Pushcart nominee. See

Buy Blood of the White Bear from, Barnes & Noble

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SciThri new releases: October 2016

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:


Cardiac by Jeffrey Monaghan (2016). Medical/technothriller.

What if the one thing meant to keep you alive was used to kill you?

Embattled CEO Jack Getty is nervous. This is his final chance to save his company. He is announcing his firm’s breakthrough discovery at the world’s largest annual biotech conference. A discovery that trials show will extend human life by 75%. But as Jack approaches the podium, he suffers a major heart attack and collapses onto the stage, stunning the conference attendees.

Jack is rushed to the emergency room where surgeons implant the latest Wi-Fi enabled pacemaker, saving his life in the process. What Jack doesn’t know, however, is that an underground hacking group has its sights set on manipulating his “secure” pacemaker to get information only he can provide. Despite the hackers unrelenting terror, Jack refuses to give them what they want and soon starts to uncover the true motives of this mysterious and powerful group.

“…a heart-pounding novel that dances on the fringe of the dangers lurking within today’s modern technologies.”

Recipient by Dean Mayes (2016). Psychological/medical thriller.

Casey Schillinge is a vivacious young woman on the verge of making her mark on the world. While backpacking, she is struck down by a tropical disease and suffers cardiac failure. But at the eleventh hour, Casey receives a life-saving heart transplant and a rare second chance to begin again. Three years later, Casey has become a withdrawn shell of her former self: she is estranged from her loved ones, afraid of open spaces and rides the line between legitimate and criminal work. The worst of her troubles come in the form of violent night terrors; so frightening that she resorts to extreme measures to keep herself from sleeping. When she can take no more, she embarks on a desperate search for the source of her dreams. In so doing, she makes a shocking discovery surrounding the tragic fate of the donor whose heart now beats inside her chest. As she delves deeper into the mystery of her donor, she realizes her dreams are not a figment of her imagination, but a real life nightmare.

The Kafir Project by Lee Burvine (2016). Speculative fiction thriller with science and religion.

Astronomer and TV science guy Gevin Rees just landed the interview of a lifetime with the world’s most famous physicist. Remarkable, because the eccentric genius is notoriously reclusive … and he’s already dead.

What happens next forces Rees to run for his life from not one but two deadly assassins and global powers desperate to bury what he’s just uncovered. Mind-blowing technology and solid evidence that would rewrite religious history and challenge the faith of billions.

“…blends together credible scientific concepts with religious history to craft a fast-paced and truly page-turning adventure. It’s hard to avoid comparisons with Dan Brown. What if it were possible to go back and view the foundations of the major religions–to know for certain what happened, and what didn’t? How might those truths change the world? This thought experiment is just one thread in a tapestry weaving together quantum computing, relativity, observational time travel, DNA data storage, archaeology, and international politics.”

The Darkest Side of Saturn by Tony Taylor (2014). Hard science fiction.

Two astronomers discover an asteroid on a potential collision course with Earth.

Harris Mitchel and Diana Muse are old friends and scientific rivals, but when they jointly discover a new asteroid, which they name Baby, their lives are upended for good. Harris’s wife Jennifer is growing increasingly frustrated with his dedication to work over marriage. A fundamentalist minister with money troubles hopes to boost his ministry by taking public exception to Mitchel’s advocacy of science as a new frontier and a new inspiration – and a conservative radio personality is stoking the fight for his audience’s amusement. A New Age community views Mitchel as a new prophet. But the stakes are higher than any of them realize, since Baby appears to be on a collision course with Earth. Can Harris and Diana manage to save the world as well as their own personal lives?

Spores: Don’t Even Breathe by Douglas Parker (2016). Science thriller/Horror.

The good folk of small town Fulton are dying in a horror of bleeding and hallucination.

It is up to the town’s redoubtable Chief of Police, Marion Quirke, and it’s only doctor, Shona Price, to find the truth. But soon the two women are mired in a world of conspiracy and deception as the media; politicians and big business all manipulate the fate of Fulton for their own ends.

As the disease spreads it carries lies, fear and chaos with it. Marion, Shona and their small band of allies must decide just how much they will risk in their fight to get the truth before the public. First though, they must uncover exactly what that truth is.

What on earth is this terrible disease, and where did it come from? Is it an accident of nature or a deliberate attack? An isolated incident or deeply connected to mysterious events in China, Australia and Iraq? What is the real interest of Homeland Security in all this and is it just coincidence that the Presidential election is only weeks away?

Only one thing is certain – deadly spores are in the air. It’s time for you to be afraid and do what you’re told. Don’t ask questions, don’t leave the house, don’t even breathe…


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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Got yard? Habitat Network citizen science to help wildlife

This press release came to me and really caught my eye. Habitat Network is a new digital platform with an important goal: to help people make better use of land in urban areas in order to provide habitat for wildlife. In California where I live, we’ve been thinking about tearing up the grass to conserve water. Habitat Network might give me the tools to do it not just for water, but for wildlife.

–Amy (@ScienceThriller)

Online Platform Helps Citizen Scientists Transform Outdoor Space into Wildlife-Friendly Habitat

Create Wildlife-Friendly Spaces With Habitat Network
Free citizen-science tool can be used anywhere

For release: October 3, 2016

Ithaca, NY, & Arlington, VA--Did you know that your yard, office patio, or city park could provide important habitat for dozens of plants and animals?

Native plants attract more birds. Photo by Shane Marvelli, Habitat Network member.

Today, The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology launched Habitat Network, a free online citizen-science platform that invites people to map their outdoor space, share it with others, and learn more about supporting wildlife habitat and other natural functions in cities and towns across the country.

Forty million acres of U.S. land are covered by lawn–usually non-native grass that has minimal ecological function and costs property owners more than $30 billion to maintain. Habitat Network offers alternate solutions for yards, parks, and other urban green spaces to support birds, pollinators, and other wildlife, plus manage water resources, and reduce use of chemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers. Habitat Network can be used on properties of all sizes and types–from a shared urban garden in a city park to a large suburban backyard or nature preserve.

What can a Habitat Network help you do?

  • Attract a variety of birds and wildlife to your home, school, or business
  • Manage rainwater
  • Help protect bees and other pollinators
  • Compare your map to other network members’ and become inspired to add habitat features with our new goal-setting tool that analyzes your map

“Science shows us that small changes in the way properties are managed can make a huge impact towards improving our environment,” said Megan Whatton, project manager for Habitat Network at The Nature Conservancy. “Creating and conserving nature within cities, towns and neighborhoods are key to global conservation.”

The mapping tool is also a social network, inviting participants to share information and learn from their neighbors. And over time, the self-reported information from citizen scientists using the Habitat Network will provide data the Conservancy and the Lab can use to understand how much habitat exists in our cities and towns and what role that habitat can play in benefiting wildlife and humans.

A swallowtail butterfly rests on a liatris plant. Photo by Shane Marvelli, Habitat Network member.

“The number and diversity of butterfly species on our property is impressive, especially considering there were essentially zero when we moved in,” said Richard Barry, of Essex, Massachusetts, who has mapped his property with Habitat Network. “The other big success has been the bird life visiting us…often there is a big crowd of birds using the stream as a birdbath.”

The Habitat Network website, which builds on prior habitat programs at the Cornell Lab and the Conservancy, already has 345,000 users–primarily in the United States–who have mapped more than 20,000 yards, gardens, and parks.

“It’s a great way to get to know your yard better. You are really the expert about what’s going on around your house or neighborhood, and we want to tap into that expertise in a way that can benefit the scientific community,” said Rhiannon Crain, project leader for Habitat Network at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are also launching a two-year initiative in a handful of pilot cities where they will work with local organizations to test best practices for creating habitats in urban areas. For example, in Seattle, The Nature Conservancy will use the Habitat Network to track the progress of an initiative to install 20,000 rain gardens across the city.

Additional projects could include planting native trees for shade or to improve air and water quality, and efforts to boost pollinator populations. Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., will develop Habitat Network pilot projects in coordination with local partners over the coming year.

Go to to sign up for an account and get started mapping, sharing, and learning about sustainable practices you can implement in yards, schoolyards, parks, and corporate campuses.###
Editors: Download photos and sample maps.

Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137,
Lisa Park, The Nature Conservancy, (408) 821-9255,

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

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CLUSTER OF LIES: environmental science thriller by Samuel Marquis

ScienceThrillers welcomes Samuel Marquis, hydrogeologist and author of environmental science thriller Cluster of Lies. Cancer clusters are frightening and mysterious–good material for a thriller novel!

Do you agree? Enter to win a paper copy of Cluster of Lies below.

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In this second thriller in the Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, mysterious deaths are taking place in the Rocky Mountain region outside Denver, Colorado. Joe Higheagle–a full-blooded Cheyenne geologist who has recently become an overnight celebrity for bringing down a billionaire corporate polluter–is hired to investigate Dakota Ranch, where four boys have recently died from a rare form of brain cancer, and Silverado Knolls, a glitzy soon-to-be-built development. He quickly finds himself entangled in an environmental cancer cluster investigation as well as a murderous conspiracy in which friend and foe are indistinguishable and a series of seemingly impenetrable roadblocks are thrown in his path.

Real science in fiction: The power of writing what you know

Guest post by Samuel Marquis

When it comes to getting the scientific details right in fiction, the clichéd advice to “write what you know” is one of the best pieces of literary advice. Why? Because if your actual background is well-grounded in science and you can turn a proper phase, your science-based novel is going to be a hundred times more authentic than even that of a National Book Award Winner with an MFA from Harvard. And authenticity counts for a great deal to most thriller readers.

My Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series (Blind Thrust: A Mass Murder Mystery and Cluster of Lies) is based on my nearly thirty years as a professional hydrogeologist involved in environmental health risk assessments, groundwater flow and transport modeling investigations, and serving as a groundwater expert witness in class action litigation cases. The verisimilitude factor is high in the series for the simple reason that I cheat: my Cheyenne protagonist Joe Higheagle does what I do for a living. In short, he rings true to readers because he is based upon my three decades of experience in the environmental industry. I know, how unfair.

For example, my earthquake thriller Blind Thrust is specifically based on my experiences in California and Texas as a Registered Professional Geologist in assessing earthquake hazards and fault classifications on behalf of real-estate developers in environmental site assessments. Consequently, when one book reviewer read the book, he could tell at once that it was written by an industry insider: “Blind Thrust is a page-turning adventure that will hold its audience with the attention to detail only a really well-researched author can bring to the table. The science of earthquakes is fascinating, and Marquis has captured this science and packaged it into a really fine thriller ‘against the clock’ style for almost anyone to pick up and enjoy, and readers will no doubt want more from Higheagle and his intrepid grandfather once they have devoured this installment.” Not bad, right? But again, I cheated because the book is about what I do for a living.

The original inspiration for Cluster of Lies, Book 2 of the Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, was drawn from my professional experience working on the Rosamond cancer cluster case in Southern California. Think Erin Brockovich, A Civil Action, and Michael Clayton. Visiting the town, reviewing the documents on file in the local library, and interviewing the residents who had experienced the cancer cluster firsthand had a profound impact on me, and I would not have written the novel without having worked on Rosamond. Like most environmental cancer clusters, the Rosamond cancer cluster remains a mystery to this day and unresolved real-world mysteries are always a good starting point for a thriller.

In the case of Cluster of Lies, it was both my professional experience and the emotional context that provided powerful fodder for the novel. When I read the documents and worked on the project, I could not help but feel the sense of sadness, frustration, powerlessness, and anger of the families and townspeople who had been adversely impacted by the cancer cluster. The visceral emotions I felt in investigating the cluster ultimately enhanced the narrative power of the novel. Most importantly, without the combined real-world scientific and emotional experience of Rosamond, I would never have written Cluster of Lies.

Okay, so I cheated. But there’s no denying my Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series rings authentic because I took the clichéd advice to “write what I know.”

Buy Cluster of Lies from amazon

About the author:

Samuel Marquis is a bestselling, award-winning suspense author. He works by day as a VP–Principal Hydrogeologist with an environmental firm in Boulder, Colorado, and by night as the spinner of the Joe Higheagle Environmental Sleuth Series, the Nick Lassiter International Espionage Series, and a World War Two Trilogy. His thrillers have been #1 Denver Post bestsellers, received multiple national book awards (Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year, USA Best Book, Beverly Hills, and Next Generation Indie), and garnered glowing reviews from #1 bestseller James Patterson, Kirkus, and Foreword Reviews (5 Stars). His website is and for publicity inquiries, please contact Chelsea Apple at

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THE X CURE: Guest post by Bruce Forciea

ScienceThrillers welcomes Dr. Bruce Forciea, author of The X Cure. A pharmaceutical company employing hit men? Seems like people are willing to believe it…

I believe this: Book giveaway! Enter to win a paper copy of The X Cure. (US mailing addresses only)

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Dr. Alex Winter, a brilliant biomedical engineer, teams with Dr. Xiu Ling, a beautiful Chinese scientist, to discover a revolutionary cure for cancer. But Tando Pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest and richest drug producer, also has an interest in the cure, and when they discover that the treatment is flawed as recipients begin to die after four months, causing a media frenzy and a drop in Tando’s stock, they call upon their ‘Mercenary Soldiers of Medicine’ to maintain global domination.

The Science Behind the X-Cure

Guest post by author Bruce Forciea

In The X-Cure, a small startup battles a global pharmaceutical company in order to bring a cancer cure to the world. The story is fiction, but includes some hard science along with some popular themes based in reality.

The main character, Dr. Alex Winter, develops a device that kills cancer cells by using radio frequencies. His device is based on the mysterious Rife machine (which really existed) built by Royal Rife, an American inventor, in the 1930’s. Rife’s machine purportedly killed cancer cells by producing resonances that destroyed them. When the medical establishment rejected his cure, he blamed it on a conspiracy. Today, there are still followers of his ideas and some versions of Rife’s machine are available for purchase.

Alex falls in love with another scientist, Dr. Xiu Ling. Her work is on resveratrol, a nutrient found in grapes. Alex and Xiu discover that through combining their work, cancer can be cured. Resveratrol does indeed exist and one can buy it in health food stores. Some research supports resveratrol as an anti-aging and possible anti-cancer supplement with an epigenetic effect. Perhaps a refined or highly concentrated form of resveratrol may someday be available as an anti-aging substance.

The idea that a pharmaceutical company would attempt to sabotage a natural cure is based on the author’s experience in alternative medicine. Many alternative treatments have been disregarded by the medical establishment despite their effectiveness. Big Pharma tends to avoid developing products based on nutrients because they are classified as food substances by the FDA which decreases their profitability. The fictional evil global pharmaceutical company (Tando Pharmaceuticals) closely monitors all activity by its competitors, mainstream and alternative alike. It does so with a secret underground mercenary army of agents.

The X-Cure begins when Alex attends a conference and meets Xiu Ling. The story develops from there and includes a number of twists and turns. The story contains adventure, betrayal, spies, and an assortment of eclectic characters. Readers interested in science, science fiction and adventure should enjoy it.

My next book, Alan 2, is scheduled for release this winter. Alan 2 is about an artificial intelligence scientist who develops a method for downloading part of his brain’s neural network into a computer operating system. The program begins to cause problems on a global scale including developing a cult following.

Buy The X Cure from amazon


About the author:

Bruce Forciea is known for taking complex scientific concepts and making them easy to understand through engaging stories and simple explanations. He is an Amazon Best Selling Author and author of several books on healing and biology along with two novels. His fiction writing draws on a diverse and eclectic background that includes designing digital circuits, treating thousands of patients, and teaching. Dr. Forciea lives in Wisconsin and loves writing during the solitude of the long Northern winters.

Author’s websiteTwitter; Facebook



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THE FURIES BOG: Guest post by Deborah Jackson

ScienceThrillers welcomes Deborah Jackson author of The Furies Bog, a science fiction mystery set on both Earth and Mars. In this novel, Mars is being reborn in a massive terraforming enterprise. But a secret lies beneath its surface—evidence of an unprecedented feat of genetic engineering. Felicity Cratchett, a petite archaeology grad student, must find the link between this secret and bog bodies that have been newly discovered on Earth, before an ancient cabal tinkers with evolution and changes the face of the solar system forever.

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A bog may be Earth’s undoing, but it will be a gift to Mars.

Digging up bog bodies and analyzing corpses are the last things archaeology graduate student Felicity Cratchett wants to do. And when unusual mummies are discovered in the subpolar region of Polar Bear Provincial Park, it’s the last place she wants to go. But since her faculty advisor insists that she log more hours in fieldwork, she has little choice. In a remote bog with a small team of scientists, Felicity unearths the greatest secret of our time—a secret with ties to ancient Rome, roots in Botswana, and a link to the first people to exercise abstract thought. This revelation will challenge the conventional theory of human origins and human evolution.

Meanwhile, astronaut Lucas Wilson, a man tormented with a deep-seated anger, is terraforming Mars. He reluctantly descends to the Red Planet’s surface with his fellow astronauts, preparing to direct their exploration. Mars, in its birth pangs, will challenge every step he takes, with gas explosions and raging rivers, with damaged fuel processors and limited oxygen supplies. In the midst of these disasters, Lucas must keep his companions from discovering a feat of genetic engineering that will transform Mars like nothing has in over a billion years. The double helix of this masterwork twists all the way back to Earth and Felicity’s mummies. But if he fails, Lucas must decide whether to take up Mars’s sword, or to cast the weapon into a bog.

Our Future Depends on Genetic Engineering (and exploration)

Guest post by Deborah Jackson

You may be thinking, yet another story about genetic engineering that leads to the release of mutated organisms that destroy the Earth and remake Mars, right? Or a similar plot to that cheesy movie The Red Planet, where organisms become pathogens? The Furies’ Bog does explore genetic engineering, but not in the same “dire warning” fashion that so many other stories do. There are definitely some instances where tinkering with DNA can lead to adverse effects. But we ignore the exciting potential and benefits of this technology to our peril. Disease- and drought-resistant crops increase food production and will hopefully stave off mass starvation as our world becomes more populated. We are in the process of producing clean energy by reprogramming organisms such as E. coli. New antibiotics. Disease eradication. The list is endless.

But, for a novel to excite you, it must have drama. Change is inevitable, particularly when you think of DNA, where substitutions and mutations occur daily as cells reproduce. So I’ve introduced a potential change, and a guardian at the gate, and a substantial amount of raw science for you to consider. Altering genetic codes is not evil in and of itself. It all depends on how it’s used, who uses it, and what their real intention is. Hence, drama. And, of course, there is the case for where it’s used . . .

Why Mars? Well, the future is in the stars, if we live long enough. We will begin colonizing Mars within the next few decades, according to Elon Musk. Once again, like Columbus and Cartier and Shackleton, we are explorers, charging into the unknown and exposing our frail bodies to harsh conditions. And Mars will be the next link in the human chain. Perhaps it was the first one too (referring to the theory of Panspermia). We may be perfectly content to stay on Earth, conserving resources, reducing our footprint, or utilizing genetic engineering to sustain our population, but very few humans are perfectly content. And I believe, in order for our species to achieve fulfillment, our reach must always exceed our grasp. But can we really survive on such a desolate planet? Only if we consider some alterations.

When Watson and Crick broke the DNA code, they uncapped a genie in a bottle. When the Human Genome Project mapped our DNA, they launched a new era. It’s an era of microscopic and macroscopic exploration. We must step forward, cautiously, but determinedly, into this exciting New World.

Buy The Furies Bog from amazon

© Studio G. R. Martin photography copyrighted images made in Ontario, Canada

© Studio G. R. Martin photography
copyrighted images
made in Ontario, Canada

About the author:

Deborah Jackson received a science degree from the University of Ottawa in 1986, graduated from the Winghill Writing School in Ottawa in 2001, and is the author of several science fiction and historical fiction novels. Deborah is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and SF Canada. Her novels include Ice Tomb and Sinkhole, adult science fiction thrillers, the Time Meddlers series for children, ages 9–14 (Time Meddlers, Time Meddlers Undercover and Time Meddlers on the Nile), and the eerie ghost story, Mosaic. Articles about Deborah and reviews of her books have appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, MORE Magazine, RT BOOKclub Magazine, Canadian Teacher Magazine, SF Site, Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, and many more.

Visit Deborah’s website


Other Purchase Links: SmashwordsKoboiBooksBarnes & Noble

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