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lunedì 18 dicembre 2017

Blurb Blitz & Giveaway: Man of Honor by Chris Malburg



Series: Enforcement Division #4

There is a unit buried within the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Unit 61398—the cyber warfare unit. Li Yong prepared his entire life for command of Unit 61398. Li Yong believed this was the ultimate honor and service to the State 

Then America’s airliners started plunging from the sky. There is no honor in being the world’s worst mass murderer. How do you right the most terrible wrong? How do you prevent the State from slaughtering your entire family if you fail? How do you balance a moral imperative against a lifetime of homeland allegiance? How does Li Yong stop the unstoppable? 

From Chris Malburg, author of God’s Banker, comes the Enforcement Division Series’ next riveting installment--Man of Honor.

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT

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Excerpt
The airliner rolled past the short approach taxiway. The radio crackled with unintelligible static and broken words. The DC-10’s landing lights merely bounced off the thick fog. The pilot pointed the jet’s nose down range. 

The copilot rubbed his slick palms on his pants. This cannot be happening. The captain is ignoring me. Air Traffic Control isn’t responding. For all we know there’s a flock of seagulls ready to fly right into the engines. 

That static must have been the tower giving us clearance, the pilot said. He waited another ten seconds. Screw it. We’re going. He pushed the throttles forward and the DC-10 began its takeoff roll. The jumbo jet rapidly accelerated. Thick fog swallowed it in seconds.

Speed 125, V-1, the nervous copilot called as the DC-10 hurtled over Lanai’s short runway. The jet was now committed to its takeoff roll. He peered into the foggy gloom. Pull up. Pull up!

Goddammit, goddammit, the pilot shouted as he desperately yanked back on the control column and slammed the throttles forward. The DC-10 rotated, its nose coming up off the runway. But it didn’t yet have enough speed to get the lift needed to climb over the 747 crossing the runway. The plane’s empennage scraped over the concrete, leaving a massive trail of sparks in its wake. Fly, baby, fly, the pilot pleaded. 

Author
Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with over 4 million words published in 22 popular business books and four novels. Simon & Schuster, Putnam, Wiley and McGraw Hill all publish Chris' work which is consumed in most western countries. 

After Stanford Writers School, Chris began the fun side of his career. He has crossed the chasm into fiction with the fourth installment in his Enforcement Division series. Man of Honor is a cyber thriller about the storied Chinese PLA's Unit 61398—the cyber terror division. 


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Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: The One Apart by Justine Avery



Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers—every life he’s lived before.

Tres is about to be born... with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again—as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.

He and his teenage mother face life filled with extraordinary challenges as they strive to protect, nurture, and hide how truly different he is. But Tres alone must solve the greatest mystery of all: who is he? The answer is linked to the one question he’s too afraid to ask: why am I?

In his quest, Tres discovers that all is considerably more interconnected and dynamic than he could ever imagine—and fraught with far more danger. He cannot hide from the unseen threat stalking him since his birth.

Life as he knows it—as all know it—is in peril. And Tres is the only one aware.

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT

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Author
Justine Avery is an award-winning author of stories large and small for all. Born in the American Midwest and raised all over the world, she is inherently an explorer, duly fascinated by everything around her and excitedly noting the stories that abound all around. As an avid reader of all genres, she weaves her own stories among them all. She has a predilection for writing speculative fiction and story twists and surprises she can’t even predict herself.

Avery has either lived in or explored all 50 states of the union, over 36 countries, and all but one continent; she lost count after moving 30-some times before the age of 20. She’s intentionally jumped out of airplanes and off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, scuba dived unintentionally with sharks, designed websites, intranets, and technical manuals, bartered with indigenous Panamanians, welded automobile frames, observed at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noba, Japan, and masterminded prosperous internet businesses—to name a few adventures. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree that life has never required, and at age 28, she sold everything she owned and quit corporate life—and her final job—to freelance and travel the world as she always dreamed of. And she’s never looked back.

Aside from her native English, Avery speaks a bit of Japanese and a bit more Spanish, her accent is an ever-evolving mixture of Midwestern American with notes of the Deep South and indiscriminate British vocabulary and rhythm, and she says “eh”—like the Kiwis, not the Canadians. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her husband, British film director Devon Avery, and their three adopted children: Becks, Sam, and Lia. She writes from wherever her curiosity takes her.

Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and creatives, explorers and imaginers, and cordially invites you to say hello—or konnichiwa.


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Promo Blitz: One Season by Louis White



Angelo Astone has just been recruited by the Tassie Devils to play in the National Australian Rules Competition. The 18-year-old from country Victoria is about to fulfil his life’s dream of playing professional Aussie Rules, however, trouble awaits in unforeseen ways.

Todd Thomson, the club captain and one of the best players in the competition, has a drug problem and is grooming young players to sell for him. Off the field, the club is $20 million in debt and a boardroom crisis is looming as opposing powers struggle to get their way. Two of the board members, Wang Li and Rahul Patel, from China and India respectively, not only want to buy the club outright but also want to host a NARC match in their home country and will do anything to get that opportunity.

One Season depicts one topsy-turvy ride of a professional sporting club who think the only boundaries that exist are the ones marking the oval.


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Author
Louis White is an established freelance journalist who resides in Sydney, Australia. Throughout his career he has contributed to leading publications such as The Australian, The Sydney Morning, The Age and The Australian Financial Review newspapers, along with other prominent consumer magazines and websites.

While living in the United Kingdom, Louis White wrote articles for The Times, The Guardian and Financial Times newspapers. He also completed an Executive MBA from the Cranfield School of Management.

He has covered a wide variety of subject matter in his reporting, though his passions lie in the areas of business and sport. In this novel, One Season, he has managed to successfully combine both.


Cover Reveal: Clowders by Vanessa Morgan



Clervaux, Luxembourg. This secluded, picturesque town in the middle of Europe is home to more cats than people. For years, tourists have flocked to this place – also known as “cat haven” – to meet the cats and buy cat-related souvenirs.

When Aidan, Jess and their five-year-old daughter, Eleonore, move from America to Clervaux, it seems as if they’ve arrived in paradise. It soon becomes clear, though, that the inhabitants’ adoration of their cats is unhealthy. According to a local legend, each time a cat dies, nine human lives are taken as a punishment. To tourists, these tales are supernatural folklore, created to frighten children on cold winter nights. But for the inhabitants of Clervaux, the danger is darkly, horrifyingly real.

Initially, Aidan and Jess regard this as local superstition, but when Jess runs over a cat after a night out in the town, people start dying, one by one, and each time it happens, a clowder of cats can be seen roaming the premises.

Are they falling victim to the collective paranoia infecting the entire town? Or is something horrible waiting for them? Something unspeakably evil.

Aidan and Jess’ move to Europe may just have been the worst decision they ever made.

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Author
Vanessa Morgan is an author, screenwriter, and blogger. Three of her stories (The Strangers Outside, A Good Man, and Next to Her) have become movies. When she's not working on her latest book, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, digging through flea markets, or photographing felines for her blog, Traveling Cats. She lives in Belgium.

Links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Better Dead by Pamela Kopfler




As the owner of a charming Louisiana bed and breakfast, Holly Davis believes in Southern hospitality—but she draws the line at welcoming the ghost of her cheating husband...

Burl Davis checked out of this life a little earlier than expected—before Holly could serve him with divorce papers over his extramarital flings. Unfortunately, it was not before he nearly bankrupted her beloved B&B, Holly Grove, a converted plantation that has been in her family for generations. Holly would never wish anyone dead, but three months later she’s feeling a lot more relief than grief.

Until Burl’s ghost appears as an unwelcome guest. Before his spirit can move on, her not-so-dearly departed needs Holly’s human help to bust up the drug smuggling ring he was involved with. She has reservations, to say the least, but agrees to assist him if he’ll make a show of haunting the B&B to draw in visitors. But when Holly’s former love, Jack McCann, mysteriously resurfaces in town and checks in, she has to wonder if her B&B is big enough for the ghost of her husband and the very real physical presence of her old flame...

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT - B&N - iBooks - Kobo

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Excerpt: Issuu

Author
Pamela Kopfler is Southern-fried and sassy. She writes award-winning humorous mysteries with a kick of Southern sass. Her debut novel, Better Dead, is the first in her B&B Spirits Mystery series (Kensington Books).

She can stir up a roux, mix a cocktail, shoot anything (as long as it doesn’t have eyes), and loves swapping stories. Putting words on the page keeps her alligator mouth from overloading her hummingbird heinie in real life. It doesn’t hurt to be married to a saint who is an attorney either. She marks her time on earth by the lives of the dogs she has loved and who often show up in her stories. Her current fur baby is a seventy-pound pup in black. He thinks he’s a fearless hunter when he’s not pretending he’s a lapdog.

Pamela lives in South Louisiana where the spirits are restless, the food is spicy, and the living is divine.

Links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

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domenica 17 dicembre 2017

Book Tour Grand Finale & Giveaway: Terror by Eamonn Hickson



Have you ever felt that society consciously tries to undermine you? 

In a society where everyone strives for growth, where everyone tries to build towards the heavens, there are some who wish to bring it plummeting down. 

Terror is a thriller in which three people from different walks of life find a common enemy in the contemporary world. Yet, unlike most, they decide to do something about it. 

Following his best friend’s death, military man Milton Haynes is forced to see a psychiatrist while he challenges his dishonourable discharge. Ally Winston, one year after being viciously assaulted, struggles to slot into the life her father has laid out for her, while Nestor Frings returns to Boston to find his parents have sold their home due to financial issues. 

The three initially voice their pains through non-violent means, however, they soon find their efforts futile. In a world where outsiders are considered dangerous and are not to be trusted, it will be the insiders who do the damage. Follow Milton, Ally and Nestor as they come to, what they perceive to be, the inevitable conclusion: they must commit a terror attack.


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Author
Eamonn Hickson is an Irish author of three novels. He currently works as a radio journalist in Tralee, Co Kerry.

Links: Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Blaze by Sierra Cross




The demon is still out there.

Tenebris—the monster who killed my parents, violated my mind, and destroyed my coven sister Callie—has gone into deep hiding. I won’t rest until I find him and personally take him down.

Luckily the vampires have a bead on him, and they want me along for the demon-hunting ride. But with his brand new skinsuit and the magic amulet he stole from a witch, Tenebris is more powerful than ever. I’m not dumb enough to go up against my mortal enemy without the Coven of Fire at my side. The vampires, however, flat-out refuse to let my “non-traditional” coven in on the job. It seems that no one in the magicborn community respects us, no matter how many lives we save or how many sacrifices we make.

Callie was one sacrifice too many.

So screw the vampires. Forget working within a system that won’t accept us. Matt, Asher, Liv, and I may be misfits, but we’re a coven. And our coven is not complete without Callie. Somehow, we’ve got to track her down and find a way to save her. Then, we’re going to avenge our loved ones and take down Tenebris once and for all...but we’ll do it as a coven. As a family. One witch for all and all for one, no magicborn left behind.

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT

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Author
Spells and skyscrapers. Warriors and warlocks. Coven secrets and forbidden romances. Sierra Cross lives for urban fantasy, for modern magic and the bold supernatural beings who stalk our contemporary world. Her Spelldrift universe stars kickass witches and their heroic guardians, as well as vampires, shifters, mages, Fidei, and the dark demonic forces that threaten them all.

Links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Amazon

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sabato 16 dicembre 2017

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Vigilante by Summer Lane



Series: Collapse

I swore to protect her before I even knew her.
Now, it’s the creed I live by.

Uriah True is a dangerous man. His past is cloaked in secrecy, and he writes his future in the blood of the people he kills. After the Great Global War, he leaves the militias behind to prey on the scum that remain loyal to the cruel and tyrannical regime of the defeated enemy Omega in this dangerous and new post-apocalyptic world.

Some call him The Hunter. Some call him Death.

He calls it vengeance for what the war took from him.

Hunt, kill, repeat.

When he uncovers a plot that could bring death to the only person he’s ever loved, he’ll do anything to stop it.

Anything.

The only problem? He may already be too late.

A thrilling novel from #1 bestselling author Summer Lane, creator of the smash-hit Collapse Series, Zero Trilogy, Bravo Saga, Unbreakable Seal, and the historical romantic thriller, Running with Wolves. Vigilante is a novel that stands alone, and is set within the Collapse Universe.

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT - B&N

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Author
Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 19 hit books, including the Collapse Series and hotly anticipated Resurrection Series. She owns Writing Belle Publishing and Writing Belle Magazine. She is also an experienced journalist and creative writing instructor. Summer lives in California with her husband, Scott, and their German Shepherd, Kona.

Links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads - Instagram

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: The Empyrean Gate - Part 1 by Z. Rockward



In space, no one can fill your awkward silences for you...

At the turn of the 23rd century, Liam Boyer’s parents led the construction of the Empyrean Gate, an intergalactic spaceway to an advanced civilization with the technology to fix Earth’s environmental crisis. But when an extremist named Kin sabotages the Gate on opening day, he tears apart the two worlds—and Liam’s family. In the three decades since then, Liam has dedicated his life to bringing Kin to justice and seeing the Gate rebuilt.

Yona Kabul works on one of Earth’s trash satellites, assigned to salvage and recycle anything she can from the landfill before it’s fed to the sun to be disposed of forever. Just before her satellite’s suncineration, Liam arrives in pursuit of Kin, who has come to dig up a long lost weapon with the intent of using it to destroy the Gate once and for all.

When Yona is recruited to work with Liam, he has no intention of letting her slow him down. But the more she proves herself, the more he begins to see her value, in more ways than one. Soon they find themselves on a path with unpredictable twists, dangerous turns of the heart, and unimaginable stakes. Can they stop Kin before he shuts the door between the two worlds forever and dooms Earth to environmental disaster?

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT - B&N - Kobo - iBooks

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Author
Z lives in the wild west and marvels at the weather every day. She likes pole dancing, drawing, and feminism. She tries to avoid cliches but sometimes can’t resist.

Links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Playing Dead by Bronson Palmer



In the halls of Andrew Jackson High School, Jenaiya is a nobody. Less than a nobody. She’s practically invisible. An awkward, shy freshman, she very rarely gets any attention at all, unless she’s being harassed by the school’s multitude of bullies. In short, she’s not anyone’s idea of a hero.

But in Age of Z, a post-apocalyptic multiplayer zombie game, she’s a gun-wielding, fast-talking GOD. She’s one of the top ten players in the online dystopia, and she doesn’t suffer fools lightly. It’s just the way she plays, and she likes it that way. She can become the person she wishes herself to be in the real world.

However, when the game gets overrun by trolls and n00bs who threaten to destroy the game by turning it into yet another online shooter, Jenaiya cannot sit still and let that happen. The very existence of the game is on the line, as people leave in droves, and she gathers a rag-tag group of players to fight back against this new kind of ‘brainless’ horde. They have wildly different personalities but one goal: rid the game of the real monsters.

Jenaiya will have to outsmart her enemies, outplay the bullies, and return Age of Z to its former glory. Otherwise, it’s game over, and she’ll have to confront the real world that awaits her on the other side of the computer screen.

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Author's Links: Facebook - Twitter

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Book Blitz & Giveaway: Ice Kingdom by Tiana Warner




The final adventure in the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy...

Meela and Lysi have unleashed Sisiutl, legendary two-headed serpent of the Pacific Northwest. It was supposed to be an ally that would help them win the war. Instead, it has fallen under the control of King Adaro, ruler of the Pacific Ocean. If Meela and Lysi can’t stop him, Adaro will use the deadly serpent to rid the oceans of mankind.

With the American military using catastrophic weapons of their own to retaliate, Meela and Lysi must make peace between humans and merpeople before one race destroys the other. The journey will risk their lives and put their relationship to the test—but the vengeance that has been consuming Meela’s thoughts, day and night, might prove even more dangerous.

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT - B&N - Kobo

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Author
Tiana Warner is the best selling author of the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy. Her books have been acclaimed by Writer’s Digest, Foreword Reviews, and the Dante Rossetti Awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia. Tiana enjoys riding her horse, Bailey, and is an active supporter of animal welfare.

Links: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

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venerdì 15 dicembre 2017

Virtual Book Tour & Giveaway: The Remains in the Pond by Ann Swann



Senior prom is the happiest night of Gabi’s life. Her crush has just revealed that he is every bit as infatuated with her as she is with him. When he has a car wreck and is transported to the hospital in a coma, Gabi feels as if she’s taken a knife to the heart. But his jealous cousin, Rose, sees her chance to give the knife an even harder twist. She convinces Gabi to meet her at a local parking spot outside town. It's a night that will change several lives forever. One of the girls will return, and one will become known as the remains in the pond.

Purchase: Amazon US - Amazon IT

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Interview with the Author
Tell us a little about how you got started as an author and how you came up with the idea for this book?
I’ve always written stories, ever since I was in Jr. High school, but I didn’t start publishing until I was in college and won some short story contests.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? In particular, did you steal some characteristics from yourself or people you know for the main characters?
The main character in this book may have a bit of me in her, but not much. I’m much more suspicious and way more stubborn. The character of Matt is based on a guy I went to a dance with in high school (we never went out again, ugh), and the character of Rose is based on every rude girl I’ve ever encountered. Reece is simply my ideal man, a kind, hard working surfer-dude who can also cook.

Which author/authors or particular books have inspired you?
I’m inspired by everyone from Mary Stewart and her Merlin books, to Ray Bradbury and his speculative fiction, to Stephen King’s horror and Nicholas Sparks’ romances.

What were some of your favorite reads of the past year?
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, A Man Called Ove (I think this may have been earlier), Once and For all by Sara Dessen, and The Midnight Line by Lee Child.

For the aspiring writers out there, can you tell us something about how you develop your plot?
For plot development, I start out with my opening scenes and my ending scenes, once I know where I’m going then I begin to plot how I’m going to get there. I don’t use index cards, but I do make notes for each upcoming chapter as I write.

Tell us about your future? Next book?
I’m currently working on a romance set near the fictional town of Stutter Creek. I can’t say the title yet (superstitious), but I will say it is a lot steamier than my other books. I’ve also got book 4 in the Phantoms series ready to go to the editor, and I have another YA that is finished and awaiting editing.

Author
Ann has been a writer since junior high school, but to pay the bills she’s waited tables, delivered newspapers, cleaned other people's houses, taught school, and even had a short stint as a secretary in a rock-n-roll radio station. She also worked as a 911 operator and a police dispatcher.

Ann’s stories began to win awards in her college days. Since then she’s published novels, novellas, and short stories. But even if no one ever bought another book, Ann wouldn’t stop writing. For her it’s the cathartic pause in a sometimes-crazy world. Most of the time, it even keeps her sane.


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Cover Reveal: All Systems Down by Sam Boush


Series: The Cyber War #1

24 hours.
That’s all it takes. 
A new kind of war has begun. 

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.

And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate. 

Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.

Brendan must do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. 

In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.

Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage. 

For fans of Revolution, Tom Clancy, and Thom Stark’s May Day, All Systems Down is a riveting cyber war thriller which presents a threat so credible you’ll be questioning reality. 

Pre-order: Amazon US - Amazon IT - Kobo

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Excerpt
The sun rising over the Yalu River was the best part of Pak Han-yong’s day.

It began with darkness. In the distance, on the far side of the river, his homeland lay swaddled in unbreaking night. The fields and the factories, the port and the mills all slept. Then the horizon would lighten, from black to blue to gold, and the three faraway smokestacks appeared from the port city of Sinǔiju; first as silhouettes, then as gray fists, casting long shadows.

Next, the sun. Crimson light burned at the edges of red pine forests and reflected off the rice paddies. River, land, and air awoke to the glory of the Supreme Leader and the world’s chosen people. Tears sprung, as they always did, as light brought his beloved North Korea to life.

He observed it all from his desk on the tenth floor of the Shanghai Hotel in Dandong, China, across the border from the land of his ancestors.

China. After two years, Han-yong still had trouble internalizing the wealth of this nation. The Chinese lived in skyscrapers, profligate buildings of steel and glass. So different from his home city of Chongjin, where families lived modestly in single-story harmonica homes, so named because of their resemblance to the tiny boxes that make up the chambers of a harmonica.

On Fuchun Street, ten stories below, cars bustled. Unnecessary, extravagant. In Chongjin, nearly everyone was content to ride a bicycle or take public transit. And when they did drive, his people didn’t smoke like the Chinese. If you smoked, you wouldn’t catch the constant engine problems of your soviet-made Volga or ZIL.

Even from thirty meters above, it was apparent how the well-fed Chinese had been made soft by water that flowed reliably and electricity that ran all day. Food here wasn’t rationed by the gram. No one in China grew strong and clever from struggle and strain. There were no hardships here. And for that, he despised the Chinese, military allies or not.

Long live the Shining Sun of North Korea, he said. These people aren’t better than us. We have nothing to envy in the world. He lowered himself into the seat of his desk, rearranged his mouse so it squared perfectly with his keyboard, took a final sip of tea, and continued to monitor the attack that had started hours earlier.

Today, Han-yong fell into his routine, despite the enormity of the day’s events. Routine was the scaffolding that held his life together. He had woken in the earliest hours, barely speaking to his five roommates in the converted hotel room, had slipped into his pressed uniform, and spit-polished the single silver star on his shoulder. Then, after quickly wiping dust from the portrait of the Supreme Leader that hung alone on the wall, he’d moved to the common area to drink his tea and work until sunrise.

Two years of waiting, and today it has finally begun. He rubbed his hands together. Every day Han-yong worked here, visited the canteen, and bunked in his room. He rarely slept more than five hours. And never, in those two years, had he left the tenth floor of the Shanghai Hotel.

For all the differences between China and North Korea, there was only one that mattered, and it was why Han-yong was here at all. The Internet. On the North Korean side of the river, the global Internet, for all practical purposes, did not exist. There was a limited internal network that pointed to a handful of websites. But North Korea had fewer Internet protocol addresses in the whole country than could be found on a block in some Imperialist cities.

Here in China, though, the Internet reached nearly every corner of the globe. And because of that, Han-yong and the other elite hackers of Unit 101 could touch a banking system in London, a hospital network in New York City, or a data center in Tokyo.

Junior Lieutenant Pak! The gruff voice of the senior lieutenant shattered Han-yong’s reverie and brought him spinning from the window, springing to his feet, fingertips raised to eyebrow in salute. You are to come with me.

The senior lieutenant was very different from Han-yong. He was loud and assertive, tall by North Korean standards, and good-looking enough that he probably did well with women when he took leave—an amenity provided only to senior officers. But, most grating, he was a traditional military officer, untrained in online warfare, and knew just enough to stick his fingers where they didn’t belong.

Still, there was nothing to do but obey.

They waded the corridors in silence, past the desks where scores of other hackers from his unit sat immersed in a war that had begun with an attack on an Imperialist supercarrier only hours earlier. As Han-yong sauntered through the ranks of Unit 101, his pulse quickened with pride. They were the elite, plucked from grade school from across the country and enrolled in Command Automation University in Pyongyang. They had trained with the singular focus of learning to hack into secure enemy networks. They had become warriors. Instead of tanks or drones, their weapons were in code. They had mastered digital viruses, worms, the dedicated denial of service attack, trapdoors, and botnets. They had simulated cyber war amongst themselves and infiltrated foreign targets. At every stage, they had been tested and evaluated, and only the most gifted had come to wear the uniform.

The senior lieutenant stopped the door that led to the stairwell. The colonel has ordered a meeting with you, he said, one hand placed haughtily on his hip, not bothering to meet Han-yong’s eyes. He’d assumed the pose of a Manchurian guerrilla fighter from the war movies. You will speak when spoken to and answer all inquiries in full.

Han-yong couldn’t help himself. Sir, what inquiries?

About the interconnect logic bombs, the senior lieutenant snapped, unlocking the door. The stairwell beyond was devoid of decoration, except for a creamy swirl on the vinyl tile, like the pattern on the lid of a paint can. Hurry now. And he started up the stairs, feet tapping a marching rhythm.

The Imperialists of North America had many weaknesses, but Han-yong had been ordered to focus on the power grid. The system was a relic of the 1960s, set up with no thoughts for security, but instead as a way to balance the supply and demand for electrical power across vast swaths of territory. In their arrogance, the Americans had organized just five power-grid interconnections across the entire country, electrically tied together and operating at the same frequency.

While it may have so far proven a sufficient way to balance loads—power companies with little demand could transfer electricity to areas with greater demand—the reality was that a single significant disturbance could collapse all of the systems tied to the interconnection. And Han-yong did not have the means to cause just a single disturbance.

He had the means to cause thousands.

The project was code-named Sonnimne, after the smallpox gods of Korean mythology that long ago crossed the Yalu River. It was both a nod to the new pestilence they would unleash and a reference to how the plague had already spread in secret, machine to machine, substation to substation.

Han-yong had planted logic bombs—malware that could be triggered in response to an event—in substations across the United States. It had taken months of steadfast work. The difficulty was writing the combustible code within a Trojan application in a way that was at once difficult to detect, easy to spread, and powerful once deployed. While the wait and the work had been excruciating, the payoff would be enormous. And imminent.

They reached the top of the stairs, and the senior lieutenant produced a key to open the gray-painted industrial steel door. The eleventh floor was reserved for high-ranking officers, their quarters, and computer servers that required additional security.

Sweat beaded on Han-yong’s brow. The colonel ranked just three steps below a general, and was likely the most senior military official Han-yong would ever speak to in his career. A slipup here might find him dishonored and discharged, or eating rats in a reeducation camp.

They rounded the first corner through the carpeted corridor, where Han-yong noticed, with more than a little satisfaction, that the smell of mildew pervaded every bit as strongly as in the floor where the junior officers worked. The senior lieutenant pulled up short in front of a door with a brass room number in the Western style. Before they could knock, a man inside bellowed, Junior Lieutenant Pak Han-yong. Come in. Come in.

The voice was not what he’d expected. Friendly. Jovial, even. Han-yong poked his chin through the doorway.

Nothing about the scene that greeted them was as he had imagined. The hotel suite was gaudy by North Korean standards. The walls, which should have been bare except for the requisite photograph of the Supreme Leader, were decorated with paintings of mountains and birds in a style that Han-yong vaguely recognized as Japanese.

The room was not sleeping quarters, but an office far larger than the room Han-yong shared with the other soldiers. At the center of the space, a heavy-grain oak desk displayed unrecognizable artifacts: three swords on a wooden rack, an unfolded fan with red tassels and a painted orange sun, a clay jar in the shape of a boar, and a half-dozen other oddities that Han-yong had never seen. They were beautiful, and he felt guilty for admiring the work of foreigners.

The colonel himself was also a surprise. A crisp military uniform did nothing to hide his bulk. No one Han-yong had ever met carried more than a few pounds of extra weight. How could they, when even prison guards and soldiers, who received the best rations in the country, still lived off just enough to fill their bellies?

Junior Lieutenant, the colonel began, leaning back in his chair, your commanding officer tells me we are ready to move forward with project Sonnimne. And I understand that you have implanted code throughout the US system of interconnects?

Not exactly, sir. Han-yong hesitated, unsure of how much technical detail to provide. I created a zero-day exploit. A new kind of virus, sir. It uses entirely original code. The colonel raised an eyebrow. That means it can’t be detected by malware filters, Han-yong continued. The virus triggered a patch update in the operating systems of the high-voltage distribution facilities and spread throughout.

The colonel inclined forward, his chair squealing under the weight. What do you mean by ‘spread throughout?’ How many facilities have the virus?

Han-yong paused, careful to give the correct information. All of them, sir. All of the distribution facilities in the United States now have the virus.

The senior lieutenant let out a dry cough. Otherwise, for several seconds no one moved or spoke. Han-yong shifted his weight between feet.

But … that must be thousands, the colonel said.

A trickle of sweat trickled down Han-yong’s brow toward his eye, but he ignored it. Yes, sir. There are over nine thousand electric-generating facilities and over three-hundred thousand kilometers of high-voltage lines spread between them. These substations alone carry seventy percent of the most-hated nation’s electricity. They all have the virus.”The sweat droplet fell into his eye. He blinked it away.

Do you mean to say that we have a virus that can wipe out seventy percent of the American electrical grid?

No, sir. When the majority of the US power grid goes down, the lower-voltage lines won’t be able to sustain the added load volume. They will topple under the stress. This virus will wipe out one-hundred percent of the American electrical grid.

The colonel’s mouth hung open as if he were about to speak, but couldn’t, while the senior lieutenant wore a self-satisfied smirk that reminded Han-yong of a least weasel with a bellyful of stolen eggs.

The colonel’s jaw tightened below a layer of fat. If the virus is dispersed so completely, then why has nothing happened? The lights are still on in the West.

Now it was the senior lieutenant’s turn to explain. The virus has two stages. The first is the spreading stage, which is only recently complete. The second stage is activation, when the logic bombs that have been hidden in the code will deploy. We are ready to deploy that on your order, sir. Today, if desired. Along with the hundreds of other attacks Unit 101 has prepared.

Han-yong nodded, proud that his efforts fit so well with the whole. Each team member had his own projects designed to attack global enemies; separate and equally deadly projects to take out Imperialist infrastructure. Some cyber soldiers had built malware to disable railways. Some had built code to choke airline traffic. Still others had built viruses to cripple the Imperialist military communications.

At your command, we can activate the logic bombs with a keystroke, the senior lieutenant continued. The virus will cause the power grid to overheat and self-immolate. I have no way of knowing how long it would take to repair, but every time the Americans try to rebuild the lines, we can bring them down again.

At that, the colonel laughed heartily, the fat of his jowls jiggling with mirth. You both are too young to appreciate the irony in what we are about to do. You see, when the Soviet Union collapsed decades ago, our system also faltered. The subsidies that had sustained us fell away, and our power plants rusted into disuse. Our streets went dark. And many of our cities are still without power, as you know. The fatherland is still in the dark.

Han-yong nodded. All too well, he knew of the humiliations his countrymen had suffered under the sanctions of their enemies.

But our time has come, the colonel continued. Like the thousand-li horse, we are too swift to be mounted, too elegant to be cowed. At last, it has all come together. The fight has only begun, and already the enemy falters. So now we will strike at the heart. Today we will lash out with this and everything we have. This is our chance to repay, blindness for blindness, a world that sent us into blackness.

Author
Sam has worked as a wildland firefighter, journalist, and owner of a mid-sized marketing agency. Though he’s lived in France and Spain, his heart belongs to Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Tehra, two wonderful children, and a messy cat that keeps them from owning anything nice.