The 40-Minute War

The 40-Minute War

On a clear day in April, terrorists in a commandeered Saudi airliner divert from their flight path in a suicide mission to detonate a nuclear device directly over the White House.

“After Washington, D.C. is vaporized by a nuclear surface blast, Marc Beck, wonder boy of the American foreign service, prevails on Ashmead, covert action chief, to help him fly two batches of anticancer serum from Israel to the Houston White House. From the moment the establish their gritty relationship, life is filled with treachery and terror for Beck (who) must deal with one cliffhanger after another during the desperate days that follow. This novel shocks us with a sudden, satisfying ending." - Publishers Weekly

“Adventure, suspense, high-tech – this book has it all, from the best new storytellers we have. You have to read this one.” – Dr. Jerry Pournelle, author of The Mote in God’s Eye and Mercenary

“Headlong and vivid – real characters drawn starkly against the catastrophe they race to undo.” – David Drake, author of Hammer’s Slammers

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About the Book
[excerpt from The 40 Minute War]


The question people asked one another after that day in April was no longer, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”

But like that earlier and, by comparison, milder tragedy, everyone remembered exactly where they were when they got the word that the Forty-Minute War had begun—and ended.

To most Foreign Service officers, even in the Mediterranean, word came earlier than it did to Marc Beck, who was babysitting a convention of genetic engineers with astronomical security clearances being held at a private estate on the Red Sea when an aide slipped him a note.

The State Department being what it was, the note was cryptic — HP/NSB B-1; RSVP — but the Israeli hand holding it out to him was as white as the paper and shaking like a leaf: the aide, loaned to him from Israeli Military Intelligence, was seconded from a Saiyeret crack commando unit and one look at that blanched face was all Beck needed to confirm the urgency of the coded message.

The prefix HP was familiar, even routine: Home Plate — Washington; following it, instead of an operation’s cryptonym, was the acronym for Nuclear Surface Blast; after that came the standard letter-number intelligence appraisal, B-1, which told Beck that the information was from a usually reliable source and confirmed by other sources; the RSVP appended was somebody’s cynical joke.

Given the above, he left the genetic engineers to their Israeli hosts and RSVP’d toward Jerusalem at a hundred eighty klicks per hour, eschewing a driver and pushing his Corps Diplomatique Plymouth well beyond the laws of man and physics in exactly the way every new diplomat was warned against when first posted overseas. He would never remember the cars he ran off the road into the soft sand, and later into one another; he only remembered the sky, which he watched through his double-gradient aviator’s glasses for some sign of thermal shock wave, a flash of light, a mushroom cloud, a doomsday darkening in the northeast over Iran—and the radio, which was stubbornly refusing to confirm or deny what the little piece of State Department letterhead in his pocket said.

Beck wasn’t naive but he couldn’t believe that the bombing of his nation’s capital wasn’t newsworthy. Damn it to hell, Ashmead’s report had been right on the money: the Islamic Jihad had actually done it! Nobody believed they could—or would . . . nobody but a handful of Ashmead’s field-weary counter-terrorists who couldn’t write a grammatical report.

Beck, in fifteen years of overseas postings, had never been party to an error of this magnitude. He’d signed off on a negative analysis of Ashmead’s intelligence, along with everyone else whose opinion he respected, right up to CIA’s Regional Commander for the Middle East and his own Bureau Chief, Dickson. It wasn’t going to look nearly as bad in his superiors’ files as it was in his. He was praying that Muffy and the kids were safe in East Hampton as he wheeled the competent Plymouth past an Israeli convoy on the move, their desert camouflage reminding him, if he needed the reminder, that he was posted in a war zone.

The worst that could happen, he decided, was that he’d be sent Stateside — headquarters wouldn’t sack the lot of them, even if old Claymore was a puff of radioactive dust wafting over the Mall by now.

And that wouldn’t be all bad, as far as Beck was concerned—he was ready for a rest. The only cure for the craziness that seeped into your bones when you lived in a terrorist environment was to leave that environment. He’d been here seventeen months as State’s liaison without portfolio, trying to reduce friction among the various intelligence services crawling over Israel like ants on a picnic table.

And he’d been doing pretty well — Ashmead had trusted Beck, and Ashmead, the Agency’s Area Covert Action Chief, didn’t trust anybody; Mossad and Shin Bet honchos invited Beck to weapons tests and gave him Saiyeret commandos, no questions asked, when he needed security boys, as he had for the genetic engineering conference — pretty well, until today.

He focused through the Plymouth’s tinted glass on the sun- baked road ahead, blinked, then cranked the steering wheel around and the Plymouth went up on two wheels to avoid a woman and a donkey crossing the road directly in his path. Beyond them, eucalyptus whispered, their leaves shimmying in a white-hot breeze. Pretty well, Beck knew, wasn’t good enough when you were in the field. Beck’s official post was that of Special Assistant to the Ambassador and he did perform some nebulous duties in that capacity; his real status was that of Assistant to the Chief for Operations of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Middle East. The Bureau, called INR by those who worked for it, was going to take a lot of flak over this botch: by fragging CIA’s high-priority-flagged warning of an imminent terrorist attack on Home Plate, they had end-run themselves.

He hoped to hell they hadn’t end-run the whole intelligence community—or the whole blessed US of A: a “Nuclear Incident” like this could start a damned war.

The thought made him nervous and he began punching but- tons on the Plymouth’s multiband. When the radio chattered on blithely in Hebrew, Arabic and English of quotidian affairs between musical interludes, he could only assume that stringent Israeli security measures were in effect.

And that made good sense: only the parental and unceasing care of the US kept Israel from destruction by her enemies. But then again, it was ridiculous to assume that even the Israelis would censor news of that magnitude. So it had to be something more: sensitive negotiations must be in progress.

And this, finally, cracked Beck’s calm: in the air-conditioned sedan, he began to sweat. There was something really wrong and Beck, a high-powered polymath with an MIT education who just happened to be a Senior Arab Specialist because languages and his- tory to him were recreational drugs, was beginning to realize what it might be.

By the time he careened into East Jerusalem, he was getting visual confirmation: too many of the wrong kind of official vehicles on streets not as busy as they should have been; too few of others.

Driving up to the new temporary American Consulate—the last one had been car-bombed three weeks before with no casualties, thanks to another of Ashmead’s terse and profane warnings — he was praying in nonsectarian fashion for the English-language radio commentator to drop even a hint of the nuking of Home Plate.

But it wasn’t forthcoming. He told himself that there was no way it could be as bad as he was assuming it was—at home, once Defcon Three was reached, the whole country would have known about it. A state of actual war ought to leak, even in Israel.

RSVP. Right. Check.

A pair of stone-faced Marines stopped him at the compound gates, their M16s on full auto. It was the weapons which told him for sure, before one Marine said, “I guess you know we’d really appreciate a confirm or deny on this, Sir, if and when you can — some sort of damage estimate . . . we’ve all got family—”

“As soon as I know, Sergeant. What are all those people doing in there?” Beyond the guardpost, a queue of civilians had formed. Beck could imagine what the Americans in their rumpled polyesters wanted; he was just trying to cover his own confusion.

A glance in the rearview mirror showed him too many cars with rental plates parked on the street outside the compound; as he watched, a taxi pulled up and a woman with a boyish haircut and the custom-tailored bush jacket of a press type got out, a carryall in hand. She was crying.

“Just citizens, Sir—you know you can’t keep something like this . . . rumors, that is . . . quiet long,” said the Marine sergeant thickly.

When Beck looked up at the guard, he saw that the man’s chin had doubled and his lips were white. “Hey there,” Beck caught the Marine’s anguished but disciplined gaze and held it, “when the going gets tough . . . Right?”

The Marine squared his shoulders: “That’s right, sir,” he replied, and Beck wished that individual courage such as the guard’s could make any difference in something like this.

As if reading his mind, the Marine offered, “As long as we’ve got a government . . . well, you know — it’s got us.”

Haven’t lost your touch, anyway, Beck told himself, feeling something akin to love for the Marine in that instant.

Then the woman with the carryall hiked up the drive, hallooing, then breaking into a trot. She had on sensible tennis shoes and the bag was now over her shoulder but tears still ran down her face and it was too swollen to tell if it might have been pretty.

Beck was about to put the Plymouth in gear when she put a hand on its fender, then on the half-open glass of his window: “American?” Her voice was husky, but it might have been from emotion. She ducked her head to peer into his car and he decided she was probably very pretty — she knuckled her eyes and said, “Thank God . . . I saw the CD on your car . . . look, let me go in with you. I can’t stand in that line. Please?”

The Marine was telling her with firm politeness not to bother Beck and the way was clear before him, the Plymouth idling. All he had to do was drive on.

But there was something so urgent and so helpless about her, like a lost kitten, that he motioned to the passenger side even though, by then, he’d noticed the press credentials clipped to her breast pocket.

So had the Marine — he didn’t delay them.

The woman got in, slammed the door and slouched against the seat, her head back, pulse pounding in her throat, fingers splayed in her short chestnut hair: “Christ,” she said. “Christ. I still don’t believe it.” Then she turned her head and stared at him fiercely: “Do you, Mister — ?”

“Beck. And you probably know more than I do, unless The New York Times isn’t what it used to be, Ms. Patrick.” He’d read it on her press pass, automatically checking the photo — of a pretty girl trying not to be — against the face above: Christine Patrick of The New York Times — the enemy.

One of the first things State taught its people was how to give a nonbriefing. He wouldn’t have to worry about that this time; but another was how to extract information from the unwary without giving any signs that an interrogation was under way.

He was gearing up to do just that as he wheeled the car slowly toward the staff parking lot past the queue of anxious faces when she volunteered, “We’re at war with the Soviets—nuclear war. That’s all I know, except I’m wondering why I’m not dead.” She sniffled and wiped her face with a crooked arm in an angry gesture. “I guess we’ll be the ones who die slowly . . .” She turned in her seat to look at him. “Beck, you said, right? Do you have a gun, Beck?”

“Me?” he said innocently. “Why, whatever for, Ms. Patrick?”

“Shit, the world is ending and you’re Ms.-ing me? To blow my head off, that’s what for, like . . .” Her lower lip quivered and she stopped, then began again, eyes flashing: “And people call me Chris — or, anyway, they did. And I’m — I was — a Miss, not a Ms., whatever that is.”

“Chris,” he amended, grinning in spite of himself as he pulled into his slot before a sign that said “Reserved” — they didn’t advertise reserved for whom, not in Jerusalem.


“So what, Chris?” He turned off the ignition and removed his key.

“So, do you have one or not? Can I borrow it?”

“Aren’t you being a little premature, Chris?” He was used to dealing with other people’s problems; her manic distress had a calming effect on him, despite what she’d said. The press was paranoid; all she had were assumptions and a grandstander’s instinct he couldn’t help liking: she was providing him with some comic relief. She grimaced and the grimace turned into a canny pout: “I don’t know, that’s what I’m saying — you tell me, Mr. Beck. Beck . . . that’s German, isn’t it? Isn’t that kind of — inappropriate, here? Can’t we get on a first-name basis? Life is looking kind of short . . .”

A gamin smile came and went on her sun-freckled face. “Let’s make a deal — you tell me everything you know and I promise I won’t report it until . . . until — ” Her throat closed up and she shook her head miserably as she fought to clear it “—until there’s somebody to report it to . . .”

“Whoa, slow down.” One leg out of the car, Beck wondered why he was wasting his time — RSVP — but said kindly, rolling back his mental tape of her remarks with professional ease, “Call me Marc, if you want, but everybody calls me Beck. It’s no problem and it’s not German. As for a deal — I really don’t know as much as you do, yet. You must have a local chief to report to — if there’s been any megatonnage released, the EMP will have put satellite links and all sorts of other semiconductor-driven com channels down temporarily. Don’t assume so much, okay?” He reached out and squeezed her arm.

“EMP?” She made no attempt to open her door, just sat in her seat, watching him.

“Electromagnetic pulse. Are you coming? You said you wanted to get past the civilians on line and I said I’d take you in — but once you’re in, you’ll have to wait for me . . .” He didn’t know why he was doing this, except that he didn’t want to leave her in his car and she had a nice uptilt to the breast under her plastic press pass, “. . . if you want more than the official story, that is.”

“Great! Thanks!” She flashed him a look the kitten might have if he’d taken it home to a saucer of milk, then opened her door; as she got out and he power-locked the Plymouth, he couldn’t help noticing that she had a fine ass, muscular thighs under her desert cloth pants, and that because she’d taken his mind off . . . things, he’d probably promised more than he could deliver: the crisis committee meeting he was walking into would probably last well into the night.

He hoped not. Beck wasn’t above the occasional indiscretion and he realized what he wanted most in the world right now was to think it would matter if he got his ashes hauled by a newsie: he wanted things to be normal once again.

By the time they reached the ad hoc consulate’s front steps, that hope was nearly eradicated: the people on line were hysterical, each in his or her fashion, and hysteria communicates itself like nothing else.

He’d wandered through Sabra and Shatilla with some very unhappy Israelis one morning and seen much worse among the living as they counted the dead — but those weren’t Americans. Until that moment, he hadn’t realized how privileged he’d always felt, how much of his professional calm was based in the assumption that is country was safe from the horrors he drifted among, always half a world away.

His stomach began to churn and he felt his solar plexus shooting adrenaline into him as, hand on Chris Patrick’s trembling arm, beneath which an unladylike stain of perspiration was beginning to spread, he shepherded her through the crowd, ignoring everyone who reached out to him or called to him because he looked as if he were in control, as if he knew what he was doing, as if, in his accustomed economical way, he could make everything all right.

But this wasn’t a matter of a lost passport or stolen luggage — this was lost faith and stolen dreams. Damn the Islamic Jihad! Damn Dickson! Damn himself, too — and Ashmead, for not going to the wall when his net’s report wasn’t believed.

Still, as he guided the reporter he’d befriended through the outer anteroom, he hadn’t come to grips with the situation—not because he was emotionally incapable, but because he reflexively refused to consider situations about which he had no information.

And it was this internal discipline, this forcing of his perceptions outward, where information could be gathered, that made him realize what no one — not the civilians waiting in the anteroom or the three harried clerks trying to keep order there — had realized: that there was trouble of a more immediate sort beyond the sharp turn in the corridor directly ahead.

He couldn’t explain to Chris Patrick, whom he should have left behind in the anteroom, what alerted him — he didn’t want to make a sound. He touched a finger to her lips while taking hold of her chin and turning her face toward him: Quiet, he pantomimed. Stay here.

Quizzically, she flicked a glance ahead, then nodded that she understood and would comply. As he moved silently past her, she was clutching her carryall in both hands.

Then he forgot about her: the sounds of scuffle he’d heard were gone now and he was about to walk blindly into he-didn’t-know-what. In Jerusalem, he never carried a side arm; it was a perk he maintained he didn’t need, a regulation he disagreed was necessary, even if he was dealing all too often with people who understood little else: he was from State, not CIA, and he liked to keep the definition clear, wanted no guilt by association.

But he was armed, after a fashion. As he slid down the corridor, he unbuckled his belt and slipped the buckle-knife from its integral sheath of crocodile leather, grasping the wicked three-inch blade by its handle as he sidled around the corner.

Before him was a scene from a very standard nightmare: a crazed, burly civilian in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts was holding a balding man in a custom-tailored suit in front of him; beyond the big tourist who was holding Dickson in a hammerlock stood four very unhappy-looking consulate staffers—two of them plainclothed security people with their issue S&Ws at their feet and their fingers entwined on top of their heads.

One of the security men was blond and Beck worked out with him on occasion; his expression of relief was so palpable that Beck thought the big civilian would surely notice and that would be the end of Dickson—and probably Beck.

The overweight six-footer in the howlie shirt was sobbing truculently, “— get me on some frigging plane with this asshole, now, do you hear me! I’ve got to get home! I’ve got a wife and kids, a business to run! Now kick those damn heaters over here or I’m going to crack this s.o.b.’s neck like so much . . .” in a Brooklyn accent.

Beck was moving with as much stealth as he could muster toward the sopping Hawaiian shirt stuck to the huge back that, as he closed, Beck realized was trembling. He felt a moment of pity for the panicked man from Brooklyn as he closed the final distance and grabbed a handful of the hostage-taker’s graying hair with his left hand while shoving the little buckle-knife to the right of the base of the man’s skull.

“Freeze, old man,” Beck said evenly, letting the point pierce whitening skin.

“Fuck!” said the man from Brooklyn. “I’m frozen, I’m frozen.” He began to sob in earnest now and pushed Beck’s chief away from him with enough force to send Dickson sprawling on the floor, saying, “I just want to go home, that’s all. See what’s left. Find my family. Nobody will tell me anything! The phones aren’t working! I’ve got to call my wife — Do something . . . Go home, I just want to go home — find out if — if everything’s all right.” As if he’d forgotten that he was held at knife-point, centimeters away from certain death, the big man from Brooklyn buried his face in hamlike hands.

“That’s what we all want, old man, believe me,” Beck said gently, though his grip on the hostage-taker’s hair was still painfully tight. “And that’s what we’re trying to do here — find out what’s what, make sure everybody gets home, if . . . when,” he amended savagely, “it’s possible — safe and possible. Now you be a good old guy and let us help you.”

Meanwhile, the security men were retrieving their guns and the staffers their chief.

Beck was aware that the man he was holding wanted to slump to the floor; the Brooklyn voice was whining now, calling the names of his family each in turn, and bewailing the state of the world in New York Yiddish.

Beck removed the point of the knife from the thick bull neck and, with a glance to make sure the security men were ready to take over, released his grip on the old fellow’s hair.

The man slumped and everyone started talking at once.

Dickson was on his feet, brushing furiously at the arms of his silk suit, a look of sick fury in his eyes: “Beck,” he said tartly, “we’ve been waiting for you. In my office.”

No “thank you,” no “glad you happened along,” just business, as if it were an everyday occurrence for Beck to interdict a hostage-taker single-handedly.

It wasn’t: his fingers were shaking and swollen and he had trouble slipping the buckle-knife back in its housing, especially while trying to convince the security men that, under the circumstances, they ought to content themselves with escorting the bereaved man to the front gates.

The staffers were scurrying back to their desks and to a luckless civilian seated at one of them whom Beck hadn’t noticed in the heat of the moment, when he heard a pair of hands clapping directly behind him.

He wheeled around and confronted Chris Patrick, leaning against the wall, clapping her hands in a slow and measured fashion with a wide but sardonic grin on her face: “I thought I told you to stay where you were, Patrick. What do you think this is, a youth hostel? A refugee camp?” Since the consulate was about to become a little of each, Beck brought himself up short and apologized sheepishly: “I’m sorry. But remember our deal — you’ve come about as far as you can right now.”

She ignored everything he’d said: “You were fantastic. And my mother always said I couldn’t pick’em.”

Beck, in his turn, ignored that: “Pickwick, see what you can do for this lady. All the courtesies and whatever you can manage above and beyond, on my say-so, all right? She’s going to wait here for me . . .”

Pickwick, the senior staffer present, was straightening his desk’s paperwork fastidiously. “If you insist, Mr. Beck, though I’ve fifty people out in the outer office with prior —”

Beck was already heading toward the door through which Dickson had disappeared.

Inside it, seated on a makeshift, make-do collection of bad furniture borrowed from half the missions in town, was the consulate’s senior staff, sharing a certain pallor not in the least lessened by the pile of gas masks, counter-biochemical warfare suits, radiation counters and plastic film-sensitive badges on the table before them.

“Jesus,” Beck said, fingering the compendium of last-ditch nightmare preparations. “That bad, is it?” Looking around, he realized that he was the only man in the room who didn’t have a small red radiation-sensitive badge pinned to his lapel: he took one from the box and put it on, took three more and slipped them in his pocket, feeling as if he was in the middle of a bad dream just waiting to wake up.

The Second Secretary, who had been polishing his gold-rimmed glasses, stared up at Beck with an expression of glum horror that made his sharp, beady eyes seem like an imbecile’s.

“Beck.” Dickson was rod-straight, standing at the head of the table: “Why the fuck won’t you carry your damned gun like you’ve been told to? Your degrees aren’t bulletproof, and it’s going to be open season on Americans as soon as the rest of the world realizes how thoroughly we’ve pissed in everybody’s drinking water.”

The four other senior staffers were like limp rag dolls. Beck had the impulse to find some cold water to throw on them.

“Answer one question for me, Dickson, and I promise I’ll strap on my government-issue iron — if I like the answer.”

“Go ahead, smart-ass.” Dickson’s reaction to personal danger was always fury after the crisis had passed. During one, he was any- body’s best man.

“The question is, do we still have a government?”

The First Secretary, a black man with distinguished graying temples, turned his face to the window and began quietly to weep.

“Of course we’ve got a government — we’ve got a roaring mad ex-Vice President who’s taking the Oath of Office —” Dickson glanced at his watch “— even as we speak, safe as he can be underground at . . . you know where.”

Beck didn’t: the new President could be at the Aerospace Defense Command Center, Norad, or any of a half dozen other sanctuaries. “Beggs, you mean?” Beck said distastefully: Claymore had been a hothead, but comprehensible; Beggs was a politician through and through, a viper.

“Beggs. Claymore put a bullet in his mouth after he pushed the button. The war lasted,” Dickson sat on the table, running his fingers absently through the gear meant to protect them from chemical warfare, and began Beck’s briefing with acid precision, his previous emotion gone now as he began doing what he knew he did very well, “exactly forty minutes — one salvo each, unrecallable, of course, mostly submarine-launched, we think: our Deltas, their SS-NX-20s and SS-N-18s.”

Beck digested that, trying not to let his emotions show: any missiles launched from submarines had a CEP—circular error probability — of as much as a mile, and these were MIRVed missiles: the SS-NX-20s carried twelve MIRVs with a five thousand mile range; the SS-N-18s, three MIRVs with a maximum range of four thousand miles. The strikes would hardly have been surgical. His mind threw up images of fireballs rising forty thousand feet in the air whose “Rem”— Roentgen-Equivalent-in-Man — was as high as four thousand. Seven hours later, one tenth of that radiation would be present, and every seven hours thereafter it would decrease until it reached a low level of three or four Rems per hour, where it would stay for three or four months. Absorb four hundred Rems in a day or a week, and your chances of survival were fifty per cent or less; absorb less than a hundred, and you might pull through with modest care and live another thirty or forty years, though your odds of getting cancer within fifteen or twenty years increased drastically. All he could think of was his family — Muffy, the kids.

But Dickson was still talking: “Beggs and his opposite number — I’m not quite sure who that is just yet — in the Kremlin, did their best to minimize the damage. We can’t get a damage assessment of any consequence, won’t have one for a while: the electromagnetic pulse and some of the Soviets’ first impulses — killer satellites and the like — knocked out almost everything . . . all communications, anyway. We do have some satellites which were transiting the south- ern hemisphere, but . . . well,” and suddenly Dickson slumped and his compact, upper-class little body seemed almost to melt, “we’ll just have to play it by ear.”

“By ear,” Beck repeated numbly as what he was hearing sank in. “You wouldn’t happen to know exactly how many nukes hit us, would you? Where the red zones are?”

“Not yet, I told you. We think there were a lot of misfires, as many as one out of three — old weapons will malfunction — but I’m not suggesting you fly home tonight to take your wife for a carriage ride in Central Park . . . or that you’ll be able to do so any time soon.”

“Not in this lifetime,” the First Secretary muttered.

“We can do without any defeatist talk, Sammy. Beck’s missed all the fun. We were just about to start collating what reports we’ve got —” Dickson’s hand waved aimlessly and Beck realized that Dickson wasn’t taking this as well as he was pretending.

And neither was he: there was a lump in his throat and he kept seeing TV fireballs rising up to heaven. He thought, in a moment of private despair, that if he were lucky, his wife and kids would already be dead. Then he thought about the catastrophe-theory model that purported to prove that any nuclear detonation of consequence would plunge the entire world into an endless night of icy death.

Then he said, “Do we have to put this stuff on?” and poked at the protective masks and suits.

“It’s up to you. It’s kind of hard to work in it. We’ll have enough warning, the Israelis say, of any serious radiation hazard blowing this way.” Dickson blinked like a rabbit in Beck’s headlights. “There’s still — something, you know . . . there’s the Red Cross, and there’s a UN, sort of, though God knows we can’t raise the building it used to be housed in. That’s what we’re doing, trying to find out what we can do to help . . .”

Abruptly, Beck sat down. “Right. Well, let’s see what we’ve got for assets.” And the words reminded him: “You realize that this whole thing, unless I’ve got my signals crossed, happened because none of us had the guts to put our careers on the line and back up Ashmead’s people?”

Nobody said anything for a long time. Beck wanted to get it over with, though: “So it’s our fault, gentlemen. In pursuit of a Palestinian solution, and with a careful eye to the feelings of our oil-producing friends, we may have destroyed the civilized world.”

It wasn’t until much later that Beck remembered Christine Patrick or his convention of genetic engineers.

The first was understandable — she’d just appeared in his life and didn’t bear on the problem at hand; the second was inexcusable — the brainpower sequestered by day on the Dead Sea but allowed the freedom of Jerusalem at night might be the extent of America’s remaining brain trust.


Authors: ,
Genres: Audio Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Perseid Press
Publication Year: 2015
ISBN: 139780991465408
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About the Author
Janet Morris

Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris Morris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the Bangsian fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages. In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition of this landmark series. The third edition is the Author's Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of non-fiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.

Janet says: 'People often ask what book to read first. I recommend "I, the Sun" if you like ancient history; "The Sacred Band," a novel, if you like heroic fantasy; "Lawyers in Hell" if you like historical fantasy set in hell; "Outpassage" if you like hard science fiction; "High Couch of Silistra" if you like far-future dystopian or philosophical novels. I am most enthusiastic about the definitive Perseid Press Author's Cut editions, which I revised and expanded.'

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."