Greetings, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. It is a warm spring day here in my little corner of the Sunshine State; the current temperature is 81˚F (27˚C) under partly sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 11 MPH (17 KM/H) and 54% humidity, the feels-like temperature is 82˚F (28˚C). Today’s forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 85˚F (29˚C). Tonight, we can expect mostly clear skies and a low of 62˚F (17˚C).
I’m a military fiction fan. Ever since I read General John Hackett’s The Third World War: August 1985 when I was still in high school, I have gravitated toward novels about future hypothetical wars along the lines of Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising and Harold Coyle’s Team Yankee: A Novel of World War III. I even have an alternate history book by Alfred Coppel, The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan, in my Ikea bookcase.
Having said that, I don’t buy a lot of military fiction as of late, though; not many authors can write a compelling or believable “near-future” war novel that takes what we know about, say, the People’s Republic of China and the U.S./NATO in 2021 and extrapolates that knowledge into a thrilling, thought-provoking book.
So when I was browsing recently in Amazon for a new book to buy and saw an advert for 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, I was, shall we say, somewhat skeptical.
I mean, okay, the pitch for the story seemed interesting. Here is the publisher’s blurb – or part of it, anyway:
On March 12, 2034, US Navy Commodore Sarah Hunt is on the bridge of her flagship, the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, conducting a routine freedom of navigation patrol in the South China Sea when her ship detects an unflagged trawler in clear distress, smoke billowing from its bridge. On that same day, US Marine aviator Major Chris “Wedge” Mitchell is flying an F35E Lightning over the Strait of Hormuz, testing a new stealth technology as he flirts with Iranian airspace. By the end of that day, Wedge will be an Iranian prisoner, and Sarah Hunt’s destroyer will lie at the bottom of the sea, sunk by the Chinese Navy. Iran and China have clearly coordinated their moves, which involve the use of powerful new forms of cyber weaponry that render US ships and planes defenseless. In a single day, America’s faith in its military’s strategic pre-eminence is in tatters. A new, terrifying era is at hand.
At first, I shook my head and said, “Nah. This is just going to be another Sinophobic screed by a right-wing nutjob who self-published this on Amazon. And it probably won’t be well-written, either.”
I was about to “x out” of the product page for 2034 when I looked at the names of the two authors – Elliott Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis.
I was not familiar with Ackerman or his writing, but I do know who James Stavridis is. He’s a retired U.S. Navy admiral who commanded the U.S. Southern Command – headquartered not far from where I used to live in Miami – in the late 2000s and retired from the Navy in 2013 after serving as NATO’s Supreme Commander. A respected scholar and author – he also writes regularly for Time magazine and has written several books, including two memoirs – Stavridis now works as an operating executive for the Carlyle Group.
Hmm, I thought. Maybe this book won’t be too bad, then. And with that, I decided to pre-order 2034, even though I still was a bit worried that I’d spent good money on a lemon of a book, something that I have done on a few occasions.
I received my copy on April 1, and I have been reading 2034 in dribs and drabs whenever I get a chance. When I finish it, I’ll write a review. For now, though, I am happy to say that I did not end up with a lemon of a novel.
Well, that’s all that I have the time to share with you today, Dear Reader. Other than the screenplay that I’m writing, I don’t have much in the way of news, so I’ll just close for now. Until next time, then, stay safe, stay healthy, get vaccinated, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.