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REVIEW: Retribution Times Two
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Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
Montreal, QC
Saturday, December 18, 2021


REVIEW: Retribution Times Two
 

Author: Paul Mark Tag

Publisher: iUniverse

ISBN:978-1-6632-2226-8

The prospect for a Russian President or American President triggering a nuclear strike on the other is slim, provided they are not deranged. 

We are aware that both countries maintain their missiles on hair-trigger alert to empower them to launch within minutes of a decision to do so in reply to a warning of an incoming attack. The alarm would be set off from their respective data received from radars and satellites. 

What if a devious computer hacker manipulates these warning systems to bring about a misleading visual display of incoming missiles targeted at the USA and Russia? Each country would conclude that they are being invaded by the other? Is there some kind of security valve between the two countries that could block an accidental missile launch by either one? Can the missiles be ordered back or destroyed before they approach land?

This is one of the dreaded themes in Paul Mark Tag's Retribution Times Two, which involves a Russian immigrant to the USA, Kathy Ann Erickson (AKA, Viktoriya Ratimirovna Popova. Erickson undertakes to avenge the murdering of her family in Afghanistan by the Russians.

Erickson gives considerable reflection to creating the perfect storm needed to generate nuclear war that would be inevitable between Russia and the USA. 

Her first horrendous plan affects the airspace within the USA that comprises twenty-one centers. All are disabled. These centers ensure a smooth operation for aircraft passing over the continent. Her intent was to make it appear that the Russians were behind the hacking of the system. In fact, in her ingenuity, she makes certain that the hacking would be traced back to a Moscow location near to the foreign intelligence service of the Russian Federation. 

To achieve her plan, she signals the Americans will not stand for this conduct by the Russians. They would shut down the comparable Russian air traffic control system. Erickson also sabotages hydroelectric power generation facilities. 

And this was not her only villainous plot. How about drawing the two most powerful nations in the world into a nuclear Armageddon? Quite a triumph when you realize that one woman acting alone could precipitate an unpredictable escalation between the two nuclear superpowers.

The story's second nefarious theme involves Raymond Charles Brickman III, a National Satellite Operations Facility employed in Suitland, Maryland. Brickman attempts to coerce the U.S. government into paying Civil War reparations to the South. 

He threatens to sabotage U.S. Weather satellites if the U.S. refuses to acquiesce. Brickman is a specialist in meteorological satellites, especially in command and control. To demonstrate he is serious, he hacks into the system, causing the loss of the monitoring capability of NOAA-20, the country's newest polar-orbiting weather satellite. He threatens to immobilize more weather satellites if his requests are not satisfied.

We learn Brickman is a proud Southerner. His great-great-grandfather, Howard Edward Jones, fought under General Lee and died at Gettysburg fighting the Union Army under the command of General Winfield Hancock. Brickman's supervisor is an offspring of Winfield Hancock. Brickman wishes to vindicate the death of his great-great-grandfather, which he feels had been caused by General Hancock. His great-great-grandmother, having lost her spouse, slaves, revenue source, and social status, took her own life. Full of bitterness, this leads Brickman to murder his boss.

Incidentally, each perpetrator is unaware of the other's devious plan.

Thrown into the tale are two protagonists, Dr Victor Mark Silverstein, senior analyst at the Naval Research Laboratory in Monterey, California. He is assisted by Dr Linda Ann Kipling, who works for him at the laboratory. They are also part-time undercover CIA operatives.

Also, part of the team to help ward off a nuclear confrontation are Hector Rodriguez, senior counterintelligence agent for the CIA, and Erickson's uncle, Oleg Vladimirovich Popov, Deputy Director, SVR Directorate X, Science and Technology of the Russian Federation. These characters merge and prove to be genuinely valuable in defusing the calamity that is about to unravel. Yes, Russians and Americans are functioning jointly to save humanity. 

You have to agree that the very notion that what transpires in the novel is truly alarming. Could this ever happen? 

Lag's novel is filled with vivid details that absolutely reinforce his statement mentioned in his "Author's Note" that his objective is to create an interesting story within realistic scientific, theoretical, temporal, and geographic boundaries.

The story unfolds with a kind of extraordinary realism. Lag's characters are credible, and the events could actually happen. The narrative even prompted me to undertake some exploration and guess what? Wikipedia has revealed several events since 1956 where there has been a close nuclear call involving scary incidents. These could have led to at least one unintended nuclear detonation or explosion. It makes you wonder how safe are we if Tag's novel could come to pass? 

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Paul Mark Tag

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

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Name: Norm Goldman
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