of Engagement by
David Bruns and J. R. Olson brings to the forefront the real
threat of cyber warfare in this military thriller. Both authors
use their past experiences as naval officers to bring a wealth
of accuracy and realism to the story, which only serves to
heighten its authenticity. Bruns is a former submarine officer
who left the business world behind to write sci-fi novels
Olson spent more than 20 years in the Navy, retiring as a
commander, and now teaches college courses in Intelligence/Counter-Terrorism.
This tale of clear and present danger forewarns how cyberwarfare
is the next battleground that can play out on the world stage.
Although some military thrillers can sometimes be bogged down
in the details, this one has just the right balance between
information given, plot development, and action.
The authors noted, “There is a certain level of expectation
from the reader that they will get a plausible explanation.
We wanted to make it realistic and interesting without bogging
it down in the details. I have the benefit of a son who is
a computer science major, so I can run by him bits of information.
We did not want to write a Skynet book like Terminator that
takes over the world. The threat we wrote about is man-made.
The ability for computers to make decisions is far greater
than any human being. In the future, this whole cyber arena
may be computers fighting other computers. Although we made
up “Happy Panda” and “Trident,” we
wanted to make sure that we created realistic systems with
As in real life, Russia is in the midst of the trouble making.
A criminal enterprise known as Bratva is losing money on its
arms dealing business, so its leadership hires a North Korean
go between to create havoc. Rafiq Roshed, one of the world’s
most wanted cyber terrorists, now residing in North Korea,
is enlisted to pit China, Japan, and America. The nations
with the three most powerful navies, on a collision course
for World War III. He inserts a computer virus into a country's
command system to gain control and has it begin to learn how
to carry on its warfare. First penetrating the Chinese, he
has their war machine launch a series of attacks on the U.S.
Pacific forces. As China and Japan are losing control of their
military, the U.S. is also in danger of doing the same. Casualties
are mounting, and an apocalypse is looming large. The only
way to stop this disaster from creating further trouble is
to stop it at its source.
plot driven military thriller does not have a single hero
but realistically shows how a team working together can complete
the mission. Midshipmen Michael Goodwin, Janet Everett, and
Andrea Ramirez are asked to find and eliminate the source
before it is too late. Working collectively, they must connect
the dots to find and destroy the deadly virus and its handler,
authors felt they wanted to write “a book identifying
and developing a story around the threats of the 21stCentury.
We are hoping to take a threat not talked about publicly and
dial it up to an ’11.’ We were driven to write
about cyber security. The Naval Academy has a new facility
called Hopper Hall that houses the cyber security program.
The midshipmen majoring in it will be able to study it from
a national security perspective. The heroes of our story are
the team of three midshipmen.”
are left with an unsettling feeling after reading this story.
It heightens a frightening wake-up call. Fans of military
thrillers will delve into the intrigue and heart pounding
action of this novel. It has plenty of clever twists, strategic
moves, and high stakes.