After what feels like an eternity has passed, Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey grace our bookshelves with a new addition to their epic techno-thriller saga: The Enigma Threat. This new installment is brimming with excitement, adventure and the captivating character development that we have come to know and love from this series. Not only are we visited by characters we had grown attached to in previous books, we are introduced, quite literally, to the next generation. This sets the stage for future books in the series with a new cast and allows us to witness our favorites in the newest and most unpredictable role ever: as parents.
As in previous books, Breakfield and Burkey breakdown the intricate tale they are weaving into digestible chapters. While it might seem overwhelming to pick up a book with double-digit chapter listings, they are developed in such a way that it allows the reader to remain engaged and makes the scene changes easier to follow. The pacing is just quick enough that you won’t get bored, but not too fast that you feel completely lost. As always, it’s not completely necessary to read previous books in the series, however it lends an enormous amount of backstory and character development if you do.
With such a large cast it might be difficult to remember who appeared previously and who is completely new. This is fine for new readers, but for existing fans you may have to jog your memory a bit to place some of the characters in the Enigma timeline. This is a normal effect with series that have so many installments and that have been running for such a long time. While the specialized terms are helpful, especially for newcomers or those not well versed in cyber technology and espionage, it might also be helpful to have a character list and identify which books they were previously seen in. This can help sort out who is new and who is returning, plus give new readers the opportunity to hunt down previous appearances by their favorite characters.
Charles Breakfield and Roxanne Burkey deliver another smashing installment to the Enigma series with The Enigma Threat. There is something for everyone in this exciting and gripping adventure. With characters new and old gracing the pages readers will find the excellent content they’ve come to love and expect from this amazing duo. You can’t go wrong adding this book to your library.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B08KHMF579
Tags: action, adventure, author, book, book review, bookblogger, charles breakfield, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, roxanne burkey, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, techno-thriller, technothriller, The Enigma Threat, thriller, writer, writing
Resistor is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a cyberpunk, fantasy, and a thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I knew I wanted to write a cyberpunk novel with a twist from the onset. I love the aesthetic of cyberpunk settings, but I wanted to mix that future tech with magic, because I always find that to be such an interesting mix. What can magic do that smart technology can’t? What kind of relationship would people with magic have in regards to someone who can put that magic into a device they can wield just as easily? The rest, in terms of the other genres that crop up, happened organically. I wanted to write something that was an epic, fun adventure, something that was maybe a little silly when it comes to banter and how serious the story takes itself, but with these moments of really raw intensity. I wanted to have just as much fun writing this story as readers would when they dove in, but while still covering heavy hitting topics like grief and depression, and certain genres and tropes cover those themes better than others, so I tended to pull from those elements when necessary. It does make Resistor a little hard to pin down in terms of genre, but I don’t consider that to be a bad thing, either.
Ellinor is an intriguing character. What were some obstacles you felt were important in shaping her character?
For Ellinor, her biggest obstacle, and what shapes her personality most for this first book, is her anger, her overwhelming sense of loss and betrayal. Ellinor’s grief for what happened to her husband never much progressed past the anger and rage stages, which had to color all of her actions and interactions with the other characters in the book – including former friends. In a way, Ellinor wants to remain angry because it’s safer for her, safer than feeling friendship or attachment again after being so profoundly hurt. But that’s not really her personality at her core, so shaping Ellinor to where she forces herself to be angry and grumpy, and mean, toward everyone when part of her doesn’t want to be was a very fine line both Ellinor, and I as the writer, had to toe. Ellinor has to be mean, and grouchy, and therefore a bit unlikable because that’s what she wants, she doesn’t want people to get close to her again. But if she was too unlikable for the reader, well, that’s just a bad time for everyone! So while this kind of obstacle was important to shaping her character and character arc in general, to show how far back from the brink she has to come, it was also an obstacle for me as a writer!
What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
I love books that make me feel things; that can just as easily tug all my heart strings as they can make me laugh, or get my heart racing with action. I had also been itching to write a heroine who wasn’t instantly likeable, that wasn’t a chosen one, was violent and angry. You don’t see that often in fantasy, where the main female character is kind of mean! So, because I was already vibing pretty hard with the cyberpunk aesthetic, and my last fantasy series was magic light, I wanted to lean more into the things I hadn’t done before. I started world building and coming up with a world, a magic system, and then figuring out how a character who was going to grow a lot over the course of their arc would fit into that. That’s typically how I write most of my novels, I store all these interesting ideas or creatures, or worlds and then figure out what would happen if I were to put a certain kind of person at the center of it all. I am mostly a pantser when it comes to writing my books, letting the characters drive, with only a vague outline for every 10 chapters or so as I go along, except when it comes to world and character building. That is always meticulously crafted before I start with the plot.
This is book one in your Ellinor series. What can readers expect in book two?
Book 2 will pretty much start right where the first book left off, so Ellinor and those she’s with do have a plan and goal in mind for what they need to do by the end of the next story. But the biggest thing the reader will see is the continuing evolution of Ellinor’s character arc, her, almost reluctantly at times, releasing her anger and prejudices. Of finding a new purpose and reasons to keep living beyond her desire for vengeance. Book two will also see a lot more of Kai and Jelani! Kai goes through a lot of growth and very raw and real moments in the second book, while there is also a lot of evolution in Jelani’s relationships, including more of his little sister who is briefly introduced in the first book. You’ll also see a lot more of the Ashlings and where and how zey live in the next installment which means, while there will still be a lot of colorful magic, readers can expect to see more of the tech side of Eerden as well. Book two is just as action packed, with some of my most cinematic fight scenes to date, according to my early readers. So a lot of what readers enjoyed in this adventure will be back and in greater force in the next book, which is good because a lot of the character growth that occurs is very painful, metally and physically in some cases. But the ending is worth the struggle, I promise!
Posted in Interviews
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The One Singularity follows a scientist who creates an Artificial General Intelligence that solves the world’s problems, but then cannot be stopped. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
Hundreds of scientists have raised concerns about what we’re building, so that isn’t unique. The unique things about this book are the predictions of AGI from 232 AD, and seeing the world through the eyes of the Amish. Additionally, instead of focusing on just AGI, I attempted to look at the big picture of how technology, in all its facets, affects us. An example is that critical thinking and memorization are reduced because of our increasing reliance on technology to give us the answers.
George Adams is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Part of his character is me. I believe that technology has helped humanity; however, many times, there are unforeseen consequences. Additionally, while most people want to use technology to help the world, there are some who use it to destroy the world.
Also, I wanted to show George under tremendous stress – his work, finances, and marriage. His intention was to create the last invention of humans. Unfortunately, he didn’t anticipate the alternative meaning.
I enjoyed the detailed development of the AGI and how it changed over time. What were some sources that informed the development of the AGI in the story?
Well, a lot of AI today is performed with neural networks; however, I wanted to pull in a hybrid configuration with a quantum computer. I graduated from college in the 1970s, and even though we studied quantum mechanics, I didn’t think too much about it in my career. It wasn’t until the development of the quantum computer and then achieving quantum supremacy that I became excited.
Now add to this the philosophical and scientific question of consciousness, as well as the theological propositions of the soul. A conundrum is created, and this turns out to be AGI – The One.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The sequel to The One Singularity is The One. The One was released in 2018 and is available now. The third book in the series will be available in a couple of years.
Newton’s Cradle follows Terence who is forced to steal secrets from his boss and finds technology that can change the world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I’ve always been a bit of a science geek, and these are certainly interesting times to live in, having profound consequences for society. Just think of how the Internet and cell phones, in such a short time span, have changed the way we learn and communicate. Now, what if humanity gained access to free, clean and unlimited energy? No need for expensive and polluting oil, coal, or nuclear fission. How’s that for a game-changer? Or a central premise for a novel?
Terence is an interesting and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
This might sound pretentious. But I wanted the novel to be a discussion of life itself, as much as a plain thriller story. You know, the trials and tribulations we all face in life while chasing out our destinies. Terence is a vehicle for exploring these issues. I wanted him to be likable, but with character flaws, having consequences for himself as well as people close to him. And then follow his journey into self-actualization.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Did you plan the plot before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
First of all, I’m glad you liked it. As for the question: definitely the latter. I had a vague idea, of course, of corporate struggle, self-interested personalities, and betrayal. But the idea of Cold Fusion as a central theme entered later into the writing. Other plot devices, likewise. Central characters were there at an early stage, sub-plots and minor characters showed up later. It’s a bit like a jig-saw, missing bits and pieces somehow appear and fall into place.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on a screenplay. Gangsters and heists at the heart of it. Including a discussion of life itself. We’ll see how it goes.
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Over three years have passed since Maggie’s near fatal injury. She is restless running the team’s special ops missions from the safety of the Grid. No sooner does she re-enter the real world when her past finds her. In an instant, Maggie’s life is forever changed. Unsure who to trust, Maggie tries to navigate her new reality. Will she be able to choose her future, or will she remain trapped in the web of enemies she created?
Posted in book trailer
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The Enigma Beyond explores how AI and supercomputers are manufacturing choices in our lives. Do you see this happening today with our current AI?
The move to put Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily lives has already started. If you have an iPhone you probably already talk to Siri. Alexa is already handling your calendar and telling you about the weather, or changing music on demand. In the high-tech world, we already use to interpret security alarms received in our data centers. The established streaming media companies have been using it to tell you about your next binge-watching exercise. These are the somewhat tame AI applications homing their skills to understand human thought processes. We wanted to explore what would happen if our lax attitude towards letting AI govern itself rather than the creator. Once we had that premise, we wanted to see Who Won the AI WARS.
This book is the eleventh volume of The Enigma series and remains riveting and exciting. What were some challenges you set for yourself as writers with this book?
The challenge is always about building a credible scenario for a great story to be told. The small details, the overlooked poor decisions, and the hopelessly heroic assumptions are needed to craft a plausible situation that we can interject our characters into. While we like “Once upon a time” type stories they simply don’t work in the techno-thriller world. We have to use known technology that can then be stretched so the reader goes “yeesh, that’s so possible! How do they get out of this scenario?” It is a real challenge in our stories to create that desired line of doubt about fiction or reality.
The science inserted in the fiction was well balanced. How did you manage to keep the story grounded while still providing the fantastic edge science fiction stories usually provide?
The technology we use in our books has either already been deployed in the data center (Cloud or on premise), or is close to becoming commercialized. We do a great deal of research and spend a lot of time trying to understand how to use the new goodies coming on line for our consumption. For that, we must understand how it will be attacked by bad actors from the Dark Net. When you spend a lot of time thinking like the bad guys, you’d be surprised about all the crazy scenarios we can create that are not that farfetched. A word of advice: don’t spend too much time or mental cycles in the Dark Net, just take some precautions.
What is the next project your working on and when will it be available?
We are currently working on two big projects for 2020. One is a non-fiction collection of Internet security from Gloabl fellow professionals/leaders. We target this to be available in the 1st quarter of 2020 as an eBook initially. We are also working on The Enigma Combat (Working title for Book 12 in The Enigma Series). Additionally, we continue to build our portfolio of short stories. And those are only the ones we are active on right now.
What happens when technology outruns our humanity?
Humans continue to give their decision making over to Artificial Intelligence. Or, was it simply confiscated? Computers are delivering manufactured choices to each person via their ever-pervasive personal devices. The seduction of mankind is eminent unless our champions can stop them.
The R-Group, with their own next generation youth, are poised to take on one of their most complex adversaries, supercomputers run by greedy powerful technological geniuses. The training for the new members of the R-Group is live, in the form of a real world cyber assault crisis. ICABOD, R-Group’s supercomputer, is their best weapon for this battle.
With corporate self-discipline gone and the power of U.S. Congressional oversight crippled, the dominance of the technical oligopolies has risen to dictate their terms.
MAG, the consortium of global technology predators, have come together to bring their insidious plans to fruition using humans’ desire for the easy and effortless lifestyles, even as it steals their freedoms. For groups caught in the cyber crosshairs, time has already run out. The social media noise blinds humanity to what is happening. MAG uses it to seize control of politics, healthcare, finances, and defense systems.
Award winning authors Breakfield and Burkey take readers, in their 11th book in The Enigma Series, on a one way trip to keeping or giving up their most precious human quality, the freedom to choose. No one saw it coming when they built computers to ease their work. Where are the guardrails to protect humans from giving up too much? Can humanity take back control?
You determine who wins in the AI Wars.
Human beings mastered technology and designed it to make work easier. However, they are now the servants to that technology. It seems that every day humans surrender more and more to technology. The R-Group yet again is on a mission to save humanity from their own creations. With new blood in the consortium, things are bound to be interesting. Will ICABOD be useful in this fight? Which side will win the war? What is to be done about the rowdy congressional oversight team? Can human beings break free of this self-inflicted dictatorship?
Breakfield and Burkey have written eleven installments in this series. It seems like the plot, prose and even character build get better with every installment. This mysterious thriller is colored with intrigue and adventure. The authors have done a great job of narrating R-group’s mission. They have described the Enigma universe in such vivid detail. The reader will walk around the scene as the chaos unfolds and technology takes over human beings’ lives. This book is an explosion of great characters and brilliant plot twists that left me sufficiently entertained.
Authors Burkey and Breakfield are very good at presenting their characters. The characters are well rounded and presented with just enough transparency to reveal their true natures but enough mystery to create an enigma. The characters are relatable and serve to execute the plot quite well. There is so much talent and determination in the characters. Despite all the hurdles and challenges that face the group, they keep going and that resolution is felt in the writing. You can tell from the tone and smooth prose that the authors have a good relationship with their characters.
The Enigma Beyond being the eleventh volume of this series remains riveting and exciting. It’s a continuation from previous installments but it did not leave me feeling like I joined a conversation in the middle. As a reader, you will find this book so well written and the plot so clever that you will want to go back in time to be introduced to the characters in their infancy. It makes for such a wonderful addition to the series despite being self-sufficient on its own.
The authors continue their mission of waking people up to the possibility of an enslaved humanity. They do it with great stories. The reader will be taken on one literary sojourn filled with mystery and intrigue after another. The Enigma Beyond will keep you gripped and teetering on the edge of your seat right from the beginning. You will certainly enjoy the authors’ uncanny ability to maintain novelty in a series that has run for so long.
Pages: 369 | ASIN: B0818875T3
Rok was living a great life. He was a detective, something he’d aspired to be since childhood. Even better, he was working each day with one of his oldest friends. His girlfriend was more perfect for him than Rok could have ever imagined. Things were good. Until his stolen laptop is returned in the mail, containing a diary entry dated the following day. Each day brings a new update, eerily predicting events in the next 24 hours. As Rok tries to understand the why, how, and who of the situation, everything in his previously idyllic life is upended and he realizes he no longer knows anything.
720 Heartbeats, by Jaka Tomc is an intriguing mix of noir style detective drama, traditional love story, and mind bending science fiction, in a story that comes full circle before its end. What begins with Rok and his best friend Boris on an assignment soon turns into an unwanted and improbable adventure. When Rok’s laptop mysteriously reappears at home, he finds the journal entry but doesn’t give it too much thought. It isn’t until a couple of days have passed that he realizes it gives an accurate, albeit vague, glimpse into the future and by then, Rok is plagued with questions about how it can happen, and who is writing the diary. Things only get weirder when he decides that the only explanation is that it’s a future version of him, which spurns many discussions with Sara about alternate dimensions, the non-linear nature of time, and whether the decisions of present day Rok can change the outcomes of events for future Rok. To complicate matters further, his professional life becomes muddled when he learns some hard truths about people he thought he could trust. Within a week, and with the return of his laptop, Rok’s entire life changes.
Tomc does a wonderful job with his character’s development and dialogue, namely between Rok and Sara. Their conversations feel sincere, and cover the necessary points of the story without feeling forced. The other characters, while very much important to the plot, nonetheless remain very much in the background. Their interactions are still good, but slightly more flat. The story itself is frequently interrupted by Rok’s inner monologue about the randomness of life, the beauty of love, and various other philosophical musings. Although thought provoking the first few times, these tangents quickly become repetitive and, with a few exceptions, add little to the story. Despite that, the book is truly captivating and unique in the way it weaves genres together.
720 Heartbeats isn’t lengthy, but manages to contain plenty of action and mystery, and I had a hard time putting it down. The subtle implications presented at the end truly screws with your head as you wonder… what just happened?
Pages: 145 | ASIN: B07DS81NZR