Dry Iceby Bill Evans, Marianna Jameson
Flint Corp., a multinational agribusiness, has perfected weather control, altering the atmosphere to create and steer storms and reaping massive profits from the resulting crop failures and successes. When Greg, the inventor and chief programmer, goes rogue, pummeling Flint’s own holdings, hotshot young weather scientist Tess is sent to Antarctica to
Flint Corp., a multinational agribusiness, has perfected weather control, altering the atmosphere to create and steer storms and reaping massive profits from the resulting crop failures and successes. When Greg, the inventor and chief programmer, goes rogue, pummeling Flint’s own holdings, hotshot young weather scientist Tess is sent to Antarctica to oust him and take control of the TESLA installation. But Greg won’t go quietly—he’s left more than one time bomb in TESLA’s programming, weather disasters that will cause worldwide death and destruction.
“Engrossing…reads like tomorrow's terrifying headlines.” Publishers Weekly
“Compelling reading.” George Stephanopoulos, Anchor, Good Morning America
“Scarier than a terrifying tornado!” Regis Philbin
“Excites and entertains from first page to last. Not just a great thriller, it's sometimes funny and always deeply human.” Bill Cosby
“Evans skillfully wields his knowledge of meteorology to develop weather as a compelling and fearsome character in the action of the story. Bad weather has never been this good!” Sam Champion, ABC-TV Weather Editor
“A thrilling, compelling tale of what could happen when modern technology is able to shape global weather patterns to achieve military advantages. Storm warning: as events unfold you will not be able to put this down!” Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Gordon Cucullu, author of Inside Gitmo
“Bill Evans is my one of my favorite weather men. When he combined Nicholas Tesla, a lab in Antarctica and folks who are trying to weaponize the weather, then I knew I was in for a great ride. Buy this book!” Whoopi Goldberg
“An intercontinental thriller that imagines how future atmospheric discoveries could tip the balance of corporate and political power. New York's weather expert creates meteorological mayhem with a dose of reality you can only get from a weather expert.” Brian Norcross, Hurricane Specialist, The Weather Channel
“Dry Ice teeters right between between science fiction and science-fact. Just like a tornado, it takes you in its grip immediately and then scares the hell out of you.” Dave Price
“A wild ride from beginning to end. Antarctica may be thousands of miles from you, but you're not safe. Look out, it's Survivor: Earth.” Paul "Cubby" Bryant, morning radio personality, WKTU-FM, New York
“Bill Evans has written an excellent techno-thriller with an amazing sense of detail. The tension builds throughout.” Jeffrey Lyons, Lyons and Bailes
“A superb thriller of a disaster untold until now. Suspenseful and shocking.” Clive Cussler, New York Times bestselling author, on Category 7
“Category 7 is a well-researched thriller whose building devastation will keep the reader ‘churning' through the pages.” Steve Alten, New York Times bestselling author of MEG
“Just sit back and let the action wash over you. A fast-paced action-adventure that promises a rousing finale and delivers it.” Booklist on Category 7
“A clever debut…fast-paced storytelling.” Kirkus Reviews on Category 7
- Tom Doherty Associates
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.56(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.06(d)
Read an Excerpt
By Bill Evans, Marianna Jameson
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2011 William H. Evans and Marianna Jameson
All rights reserved.
In the most remote location on the most remote continent on earth, the eerie landscape lay shadowless under a moonless sky as dark and vast as eternity. The high, empty, frozen plains of snow and ice cast up a feeble, hungry glow. The only light came from stars that glittered intermittently through the heavy cloud cover.
It was mid-March in central East Antarctica, and late in the evening of just another workday at the Terrestrial Energy Southern Land Array — TESLA — installation. The only sound to be heard, inside or out, was that of the wind, screaming at more than one hundred miles per hour across the empty, miles-thick ice sheet. The torrent of air slammed into the state-of-the-art research station and blasted across the large fields of radomes covering the many antennae that comprised the station's sole purpose and reason it existed.
The people of TESLA, twenty scientists and software developers and fourteen support staff, were the only island of humanity in this part of the earth's coldest, highest desert. Their nearest neighbor on that high-altitude plateau was the aging Soviet-era Vostok Base. Located as it was near the Pole of Inaccessibility — the most isolated outpost on earth — Vostok sat tantalizingly close to the South Geomagnetic Pole, the best place on the planet to study, monitor, and alter nature's electromagnetism.
The industrial giant Flint AgroChemical had chosen to quietly build the sleek, high-tech, $250 million TESLA even closer to that pole.
Flint's decision had left the Russians livid, the Americans astonished, and the Australians amused. The Chinese, aggressive newcomers to the Ice, still seethed with silent, stoic rage. One by one, those nations, and several others, had turned their polar-orbiting reconnaissance satellites toward TESLA to watch the goings-on.
Although the installation's antennae covered nearly one hundred acres, there wasn't much for the cameras to track — by design. Every antenna at TESLA was either buried under many feet of snow and ice, as was the Extremely Low Frequency field, or hidden under massive radomes. Some of the shelters were spherical, some geodesic; some low, others nearly two stories tall. Whatever their shape, the carefully crafted structures offered little resistance to the wind while protecting the delicate equipment within their walls. But that wasn't the only defense they provided.
The radomes frustrated the prying "eyes" of the multi-spectrum, high-resolution cameras trained on them from non-Flint-owned satellites. The complex composite materials used to build the radomes prevented snow and ice from building up on the surfaces while also preventing the units from emitting a heat signature. Their non-reflective surfaces bore a subtle camouflage pattern that rendered the large edifices nearly invisible during both the twenty-four-hour sunlight of the Antarctic summer and the deep-space darkness of the polar winter. No matter the intensity of the light directed at them, the radomes appeared no more sinister than the oddly carved snowdrifts surrounding them.
That invisibility was little more than a gesture really, a high-tech Bronx salute to those who made watching the installation a priority. Interested parties — competitors as well as nations — had antennae of their own that continually swept the earth's atmosphere, alert to the faintest of electromagnetic signals, which made it impossible for Flint to hide the signals TESLA sent out. The company's sole consolation was that no outsiders knew what the strange and heavily encrypted signals meant. Or did.
The vast arrays of receivers, composed of numerous shapes and configurations, captured communications from transmitters in precisely chosen locations the world over. This delicate but powerful network existed to gather and monitor vast quantities of minute data about the world's weather. The rest of the antenna arrays were powerful transmitters that sent forth data and commands to receivers and repeaters across the globe.
TESLA's control center and habitat sat not two hundred yards from the edge of the nearest antenna array. The elliptical, three-story structure stood tall above the ice plateau on massive hydraulic pillars. The exterior skin was the same dull, patterned covering the radomes wore, and a bracelet of windows encircled each of the floors. The garage unit sat at ground level between the pylons.
The station's long-legged, shallow-domed design was more functional than aesthetic. Too many early polar stations had been lost within mere decades to encroaching snowdrifts that slowly, inevitably, built up and then froze solid, encasing the stations in impenetrable prisons of ice. TESLA's sleek, aerodynamic design was cutting-edge, yet the entire installation resembled nothing so much as a 1950s cinematic concept of a futuristic moon station.
The scientists and developers living and working at the installation represented the pinnacle of their fields of study — artificial intelligence, informatics, agrometeorology, plasma physics, ionospheric mechanics, and other even more arcane subjects. They had willingly eschewed the pleasures of civilization to work at changing the way the world worked.
A small cluster of the resident geniuses tapped away at their keyboards, working silently and nearly elbow to elbow in the "sandbox," the sequestered communal work area that occupied one end of the installation's high-security upper level. Some of the researchers were crafting new algorithms or speculating on outcomes, while others conducted white- and black-box testing of their software. Uniformly, their tasks were labors of love in a research endeavor never before undertaken by any private company. Governments had tried, but none had succeeded because none had had the leadership of a man as single-minded and intent on success as the one in charge of TESLA: Greg Simpson.
The existence of the Terrestrial Energy Southern Land Array was an open secret within a small group of scientists, corporate executives, and American military commanders, but its true purpose was known to few. TESLA existed to influence the weather. Perhaps control would be the better word. Or manipulate.
In the deliberate darkness of his office near the sandbox, TESLA's chief scientist, Greg Simpson, sat hunched over his keyboard, watching data stream onto his screen in real time.
It was always this way: the lights off, the room lit only by the soft glow of the bank of flat-screen monitors on his desk. The first time he'd brought a transmitter array on line — telling no one that he was going live, only that he was conducting a power test — he'd sought the darkness instinctively, perhaps to lessen the magnitude of what he was doing. But that unconscious, reflexive timidity had been quickly usurped by an almost otherworldly elation. Greg had come to believe that his actions deserved a reverence reserved for the miraculous, and he savored the experience alone, in this hushed gloaming that recalled cathedrals. And tombs.
Greg had always longed to apply the theories of the twentieth-century scientist and visionary Nikola Tesla to the greater world. To Greg, Tesla had always been both a genius and a virtual mentor. He revered Tesla as much as others had reviled the man. No, "reviled" wasn't the right word. The scientific community had dismissed Tesla as an interesting crackpot, part forward-thinker and part snake-oil salesman. But that hadn't stopped any of them from blithely cherry-picking his ideas. When Tesla died, the U.S. government had moved in like a strike force to confiscate his papers. They tested and even implemented his most immediately useful inventions. The rest had been left to molder.
When Greg had earned his own lab space, his own assistants, and just enough autonomy, he had begun refining and even testing some of the great man's less well-known theories. He used them to build his own reputation and then, as Nikola Tesla was never able to, Greg cashed in.
Greg typed commands on his keyboard and the sensitive mechanisms within certain of the radomes responded. Without so much as a click or a hum to compete with the roar of the wind on the other side of its shelter, a fixed, towering dipole array came to life. In other radomes, oddly curved dishes spun and tilted, some dramatically, some imperceptibly, moving into new positions that targeted specific coordinates in the sky.
The movements were timed and calibrated to the nanosecond. By the time each rig was settled in its place, alert and awaiting the next command, the generators in the low-slung power station on the near side of the antenna fields had achieved peak operational efficiency. Dedicated power boxes placed among the radomes ramped up to "go" mode, ready to supply the enormous wattage needed by the arrays. With a gentle tap of his finger, Greg executed the command. Mere nanoseconds later the fully juiced antennae emitted synchronous bursts of unimaginably powerful electromagnetic energy into the southern sky.
Instantly, though invisibly to the naked eye, the suddenly supercharged bands of the ionosphere, miles wide, began to shiver and shimmy, to warp and buckle as electrons and protons reacted, alternately colliding and repelling each other in ways that nature never intended. The effect was that of a massive earthquake in the atmosphere.
Seconds later, the secondary effect triggered, sending streaks of luminous greens and blues rippling through the clouds and across the endless black of the sky, flashing and shimmering like a kaleidoscope spun too fast. To any untrained eye, it would appear to be just another glorious display of the aurora australis.
The huge waves of energy snaked their way around the globe as TESLA's transmitters powered down and returned to "sleep" mode to await the next assignment. The installation's scientists dispassionately noted the direction, duration, and magnitude of the bursts, then moved on to other tasks.
Within hours or days, depending on where they called home, citizens of the planet would marvel at the beautiful spring weather, curse the autumn storms that pummeled them, or weep at the unfathomable devastation caused by nature's unpredictability.
The financial markets would churn, creating vast wealth for the executives at Flint. And, in the Pentagon, military leaders would smile grimly as field reports came in, for they had learned how to play God.CHAPTER 2
Outstretched like a crabbed, admonishing finger, the skinny, steep-sided Wakhan Salient in the farthest northeastern reaches of Afghanistan pokes the sensitive borders of Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan. Though once part of the famous ancient trading route known as the Silk Road, traversed by the explorer Marco Polo, this long, rugged, narrow valley is a land forgotten by Time. Despite its proximity to politically touchy neighbors, the Wakhan Salient had for the most part been left in peace, in the care of peoples who had inhabited it for centuries; its terrain is too harsh and too remote to be useful to the Afghan government or the occupying forces of foreign armies.
Though steeped comfortably in their timeworn culture, the small, poor populations of Wakhi farmers and Kyrgyz livestock herders had welcomed the exploratory trekkers from Flint AgroChemical when they had arrived several years earlier. The Western strangers, rather rare in that part of the world, had shared grand tales of increased crop yields, paid-for infrastructure, and generators that worked.
While battles raged to the south, the farmers in the safe, pristine Wakhan uplands gladly entered the twenty-first century, courtesy of Flint. For its part, the company was doing little more than getting its foot in the door in a country that, once the war was over, would be hungry for stability, prosperity, and independence from foreign nations. The desperately short summers and excruciatingly cold winters of this high, remote, unforgiving valley made it the perfect test bed for Flint's latest line of genetically modified crops. If the project was successful, as Flint intended it to be, the company would redefine the world's understanding of the term "arable land." Along the way, Flint would ingratiate itself with national and local Afghan leaders and the new American president. The newly elected leader was a dove amid the Pentagon's coterie of war hawks; to the astonished disbelief of her military commanders, Commander-in-Chief Helena Hernandez wanted peace, rather than her administration, to reign in Afghanistan.
As if its executives had known ahead of time about the dramatic upheaval that would take place in the American political landscape, Flint had spent several years quietly making inroads with the Afghan agricultural ministry in Kabul. It poured money into the small, gasping, rural northeastern economies like it was water from heaven. The firm built infrastructure, literally and figuratively cementing its relationships with regional powerbrokers. The new occupant of the White House had been pleased and vocal about it — and the Pentagon stonily silent — as together they watched a single corporation do what an economic and military powerhouse could not.
Winter in the Wakhan Corridor had been unremarkable that year. As always, the wind was a constant. Bitterly, skin-searingly cold, it wailed mercilessly outside the isolated, cave-like huts that, until last year, had been reliant on yak dung for illumination and warmth. Those days of primitive existence were over; families that had been subsistence farmers for centuries now had enough heat, enough light, and enough food to satisfy their needs. Children spent their days in a newly built school instead of working in the fields, and adults could turn a spigot to get water instead of depending on snowmelt to quench their thirst and irrigate their crops.
Though it was the middle of March, there was no expectation of an early spring. Warmth was always slow to arrive in this land nestled tightly between the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountain ranges, but the scraped-raw beauty of the place made up for the winter's length. The night sky was strewn with stars, with no clouds to obscure their luminescence. Razor-sharp silhouettes of the mountains edging the valley wore their high snows majestically. Pale blue and glowing in the almost primeval darkness, the snowfields resembled nothing so much as an ethereal tiara settled delicately on the top of the earth.
From the other side of the planet, Greg Simpson decided to destroy the serenity of that beautiful night in the frigid highlands of northeastern Afghanistan as a lesson to Flint, and to the world. He was going to teach everyone the true meaning of the word power. And show them who held it. All of it.
His game of vengeance began with a rapid and unseasonable rise in temperature. The few brave hikers who venture to cross the Wakhan ranges every year know enough to climb by night, aware that at such altitudes the snow's hard surface crust softens quickly under daylight's strong, unfiltered sunlight. As the dawn broke that day, however, the endless expanse of hard snowpack had already become glistening mush. The softened snow blanketing the peaks began to melt, to trickle, then rush, then thunder down the steep, barren slopes, pushing rocks and mud ahead of it into the tiny settlements sparsely dotting the slim corridor. The farmers' fields, so miraculously prosperous the season before and already furrowed and primed for another bountiful year, were washed away. As were the farmers, their families, livestock, livelihoods. Their goodwill.
* * *
A short while later, in a place halfway around the world from the Wakhan, but just as rural and nearly as remote, Maggie Price drove her lumbering twenty-five-year-old 125-horsepower John Deere tractor under the roof of the carport. She turned off the engine and the vibrations she'd endured for the last four hours, and most of the four hours before that, stopped abruptly. She climbed off the beast to stand on shaky legs. It still sometimes seemed hard to believe that she'd traded in her three-year-old fully loaded 5-series Beemer sedan for a ten-year-old Bronco and this aging contraption, both of which had forced her to learn more than she ever wanted to about combustion engines.
Excerpted from Dry Ice by Bill Evans, Marianna Jameson. Copyright © 2011 William H. Evans and Marianna Jameson. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Bill Evans has won multiple Emmy Awards as Senior Meteorologist for WABC, where he can be seen every weekday. He can also be seen on ESPN's Sports Center and Good Morning America. Evans can be heard nationally on the ABC Radio Network, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and ESPN Radio, and in the New York metropolitan area on WPLJ.
He recently completed another weather thriller, Blackmail Earth. In 2011, Evans was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Letters of Humanity by Dowling College. Evans and his family live in Connecticut.
Marianna Jameson has extensive experience writing for the aerospace, defense, and software industries. She is the author of Big Trouble and My Hero. Jameson and her family live in Texas.
In addition to Dry Ice, Evans and Jameson have co-written Category 7, a New York Times bestseller, and Frozen Fire.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Bill Evans comes out with another weather thriller. He has learned from his mistakes in Category 7 (not saying it was bad) which suffered from little action, too many plots, and little character development. Dry Ice has only two main plots, better character development, and no big gaps between action. My only complaint is that they swore too much. I recommend this, overall.
Bill Evans' climate-based novel, Dry Ice, nicely skirts the question of whether global warming is man-made, man-assisted or just imaginary. His characters have mastered the secret science of manipulating weather, and the author has mastered the art of making that science sound plausible. There's big business with huge investments in food crops and parallel interests in technology. There's government with political investments in favored regimes. And there's Tess Beauchamp, scientist, who's invested her life in honest science. Sent to take over Flint Agro-Chemical's super-modern facility in Antarctica, Tess is reunited with former lover, Nik Forde, and her intellectual nemesis, Greg Simpson. But no-one has realized how far Greg will go to avenge losing control of TESLA, or how far his rather shady military controllers may have already gone. High-tech science and low-tech action combine in this meteorological thriller, and the author's clear understanding of climate and weather gives a fine sense of plausibility to the tale. The use of recent events certainly gives verisimilitude to the story, though it can sometimes be distracting-memory replaying the details left out, giving rise to a few too many questions. Perhaps that says more about me than about the book. The writing is clear, the science well-written, dialog convincing, and scenery beautifully described. The tension builds as the story progresses and the final action, though delayed, makes a great movie-scene. In fact, the whole story would make a great movie. In the end, I still believe the scientists who study global warming. But this is a very scary, very intriguing tale of man's control over nature exceeding his control over himself. In a world of disasters, Dry Ice suggests man might cause the biggest disaster of all-and might equally resolve it. A fun science fiction novel, set firmly in the present day, with the whole world hanging in the balance, it's a fine addition to the genre. Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book by a generous friend and enjoyed reading it.
Bill's first two books -- "Category 7" and "Frozen Fire" -- were great reads. This one is even better! Loaded with factual scientific and meteorological information woven into a fast-moving story with a great plot twist at the end! A real page turner and a must-read for everyone! And if you haven't read the first two books, put them on your list too. Can't wait to see Bill's next book. "Dry Ice" is worth at least 10 stars. Congratulations on another winner, Bill -- you and co-author Marianna Jameson have done it again!