Thriller Sub-genre: Techno-Thriller
Future of the series: The next book in the series is entitled The Savage Deeps with an expected release date in 2019.
The Simon Review
On Black Friday, November 23, 2018, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was released that gives a dire warning that if actions to reduce the emissions of green-house gasses goes unchecked, climate change will result in significant consequences to the planet and bring serious hardships to the human population. Yet, our present administration wants to look into the past and feels that burning coal and reducing restrictions on industries that pollute is a better option for the American people. We as a nation must look to the future, not the past, to make this world a good place to live for future generations. Even though our government is not looking into the future there are others that are and one of them is author Timothy S. Johnston and his series ‘The Rise of Oceania’ envisions a future under the sea.
Johnston’s series takes place about hundred years into the future, where the results of climate change have flooded most of the coastal areas of the world. If we can’t control the rising oceans, why not join them? The series begins in the underwater world of Trieste City located off the coast of Florida. In the first book of the series, The War Beneath, Truman McClusky, a former spy that worked with Trieste City Intelligence (TCI), is propositioned by his former boss, George Shanks, to help track down Johnny Chang, a former spy for TCI that turned rogue, who has stolen some revolutionary technology from its inventor Dr. Katherine Wells. McClusky is motivated to hunt down his former colleague and friend who after siding with the Chinese, captured McClusky and tortured him for information. McClusky was eventually released through a prisoner exchange, but his animosity toward Chang meant he was ready for revenge. McClusky boards a small submarine to pursue Chang and is accompanied by Dr. Wells, but McClusky would find that his quest for his former friend would turn his world upside down.
Johnston’s The War Beneath follows in the tradition of Tom Clancy and Larry Bond, except that all of the war machines are futuristic. If you like novels like The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising, you will certainly enjoy The War Beneath. Lots of action, neat technology, and interesting characters pretty much sums it up. My only complaint was that the romantic story between McClusky and Wells seemed forced and the storyline could have been done without it. Truman McClusky will be returning in 2019 in the next addition to the series, The Savage Deeps.
What about the science? Johnston is trained in and teaches Earth Sciences and his narrative on McClusky’s travel through the oceans of the world reflects that expertise. Johnston provides a mixture of real world technology and technology that is, at this point, theoretical.
The Truman McClusky Technical Word in Review: Inert gas- is a gas that is chemically stable under certain conditions. Originally inert gases were considered to be the noble gasses which are the elements found in the first column of the periodic table which includes helium (He), neon (Ne), argon (Ar), krypton (Kr), xenon (Xe), and radon (Rn). These gases are chemically very stable mainly because their outer shell of electrons is full which means that these elements do not need to complex with anything in order to make their electronic configuration stable.
But not all inert gases are noble gases. Nitrogen in our atmosphere is considered to be inert mainly because nitrogen, as a gas, exist as N2, two nitrogen atoms that are bond together with a triple bond (N≡N). Breaking a triple bond is very difficult making nitrogen gas very unreactive.
“You know,” I said finally, “it’s weird that we use helium for deep dives.”
She frowned. “Why’s that? It’s common practice. It’s inert and can replace nitrogen in our air supply. It doesn’t have harmful side effects, as long as there is enough oxygen present.”
“It does change our voices.”
“That’s not a problem. People have lived with it for years now. Decades.”
“But why helium? Why not some other inert gas?”
“What else–“ She stopped suddenly and looked at me. “I suppose we could use a substitute. But we just don’t have anything in storage.”
I thought back to the story as I remembered it. In the 1940s, a Swedish inventor named Arne Zetterström invented a hydrogen-oxygen mix he used to dive 162 meters in the Baltic. The mix worked, but during his decompression ascent, his assistant made an error and the Swede died as a result. Following this, people mostly abandoned the use of hydrogen in deep dives, though it was the best of the inert gasses to use. His death was now associated with hydrogen.
Katherine was looking at me. “You’re thinking of using hydrogen, aren’t you?”– The War Beneath
Normally hydrogen gas would never be considered to be inert. The destruction of the Hindenburg in 1937 gives a good case as to why hydrogen is not considered inert. Though there are many conspiracy theories has to why the Hindenburg went up in flames, the consensus is that it was simple static electricity and exposure to some oxygen that caused the explosion. But under certain conditions, hydrogen can be considered inert. As mentioned in the quote above, hydrogen mixed with a certain amount of oxygen can form a stable mixture. Hydrogen can exist in a noncombustible form if there is less than 4% of hydrogen in a composition of air. Our atmosphere contains only 0.000053% of hydrogen, so it obviously would be stable in this situation. It is also stable when mixed with oxygen if the percentage of hydrogen is equal or greater than 94%. Any less it would become highly reactive.
In the case of deep sea diving, a hydrogen/oxygen mixture known as hydrox, which has an oxygen percentage of 4%, is more desirable than other gaseous mixtures. When diving deep the pressure exerted on the air in our lungs, which is primarily nitrogen, will increase in density and will make breathing more difficult if not impossible. Replacing nitrogen with another lighter gas such as helium will make the air composition in the lungs less dense thus making it easier to breathe. But in very deep diving situations, even a helium gas mixture will become too dense which is why hydrogen, which is lighter than helium, is the best choice for diving in very deep waters.
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Books in the Series by Order:
It only took two seconds to realize someone was following me.
Truman McClusky: A spy that works for the Trieste City Intelligence (TCI)
Katherine Wells: A scientist and engineer that works with McClusky to get back some stolen that she invented
George Shanks: Director of the TCI
Johnny Chang: Former TCI operative that now works for the Chinese
Meagan McClusky: Truman’s twin sister
The underwater city of Trieste and other parts of the ocean
Living and working underwater can be a dangerous thing. First the bulkheads sweat, then there’s a trickle of water . . .
. . . and then in an instant you’re gone. The only thing left is a bloody pulp in the dark water and crushed bone fragments on the seafloor.
And you can’t bolt to the surface in an emergency. . . . The bends will get you.
But that’s not the worst. When you’re living underwater and also working as a spy for your city, that’s when things get really dangerous.
Truman McClusky has been out of the intelligence business for years, working the kelp farms and helping his city Trieste flourish on the shallow continental shelf just off the coast of Florida. Until his former partner shows up, that is, steals a piece of valuable new technology and makes a mad dash into the Atlantic. Before he knows it, Mac ends up back in the game, chasing the spy to not only recapture the tech, but to kill his former friend.
But when he learns the grim truth behind the theft, it sends his stable life into turmoil and plunges him into an even deadlier mission: evade the submarines of hostile foreign powers, escape assassins, and forge through the world’s oceans at breakneck pace on a daring quest to survive, with more lethal secrets than he thought possible in his pocket.
The future of the city depends on McClusky . . . if he can make it back home
#2-The Savage Deeps- (Expected release date 2019)
#3-Fatal Depth- (Expected release date 2020)