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H.D. Rogers
H.D. Rogers, author
"The Guardian Orbital Defense System, a network of 104 satellites shielding the U.S. from missile attacks and establishing American hegemony in orbital space, will soon be fully operational. From its inception, mystery and controversy have surrounded the system. Dr. Harold Symes, the scientist who designed the system's artificial intelligence, has disappeared, leaving a calendar containing enigmatic ""TM"" notations. Political opponents of the system, led by Senator Leila Kahlid-Conroy, are raising doubts about the safety of the system, asserting that its artificial intelligence could become uncontrollable and dangerous. And the system's satellites are under attack from Russian, Chinese, and Iranian hackers and antisatellite weapons. While FBI Special Agent Christine Lasco, investigates the disappearances of Dr. Symes and retired Supreme Court Justice Warren Winton, whose personal calendar also contains the mysterious ""TM"" entries, attacks on the Guardian system continue. Aided by Senator Kahlid-Conroy, foreign governments attempt to abduct the system's primary architect, Dr. Stanley Jacobson. Equipped with ingenious weapons designed by Dr. Jacobson, Mac Slade, the fiancé of Special Agent Lasco, engages in spectacular firefights with the abductors. But Slade cannot defend Dr. Jacobson or the Guardian system from the political campaign that threatens to shut the system down or from Project Supernova, the Chinese plot to destroy the four huge satellites that contain the Guardian system's artificial intelligence. Will the Senate Committee on Armed Services deactivate the Guardian Orbital Defense System, known as GODS, or will Project Supernova destroy it? Only at the end, when the mystery of the ""TM"" entries is solved, will the fate of GODS and the destiny of Mac Slade be determined."
This tech-thriller epic, Rogers’ debut, blends firefight action, a grabber of a mystery, international political intrigue, and an AI-driven U.S. missile defense program called the Guardian Orbital Defense System—read it as an acronym for a hint as to why it strikes so many as ominous. As GODS becomes operational, and other nations’ hackers target the system, the scientist who designed its controversial AI goes missing, as does a supreme court justice. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and it’s up to ex Delta Force soldier Mac Slade and his fiancée, FBI Special Agent Christine Lasco, to rescue Dr. Stanley Jacobson and make sense of an irresistible clue: the mysterious “TM”s in the missing scientist’s calendar. Saving the abducted luminaries might not be enough, as threats both domestic and foreign target the Guardian system—and possibly the United States itself.

From those “TM”s to the uneasy possibilities of AI, Rogers offers several strong hooks early in the novel, mysteries that tickle the imagination and stir dread at the potential answers, which tend to point towards global crises. Fortunately, then, his hero proves himself in the opening pages, offering a polite warning and then fragging invaders of a laboratory to “a bloody mist.” A sentence like “To Mac Slade, the best defense was usually a well-planned counteroffensive” exemplifies the novel that follows—if that gets your juices flowing, you’ll find much here to cheer.

It's not all machine-gunnings, though. Rogers digs into the legwork an investigation demands, and he relishes teasing out the political implications of GODS. His narrative features a sprawling (and chatty) international cast, flirty dinners between the sharply sketched heroes, the literal fireworks of missile defense tests, and conspiracy theorizing in the top echelons of D.C. power. The action is inventive, if slowed down by a surfeit of adverbs, and the mysteries, when revealed, will satisfy fans of the genre. Others may find the novel’s length daunting.

Takeaway: Missile defense, AI, and international intrigue and action power this epic tech thriller.

Great for fans of: Ben Coes, Christine Feehan.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A