Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Storm - Book Review

The Storm (from the NUMA Files)
By Clive Cussler with Graham Brown
G P Putnam and Sons 2012
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This is a new Clive Cussler book starring my new favourite team - Kurt Austin (Dirk Pitt's protege) and his side kick - Joe Zavala. Their team also has Paul and Gamay Trout.

This adventure takes place almost solely within the Indian Ocean.

During World War 2, a ship called the John Bury went missing into a storm cloud while being attacked by Japanese bombers. It was never seen again.

In 1967, several generations of a powerful bedouin family in Yemen were slaughtered by a jealous competitor because the family controlled one of the best oases in the region. That is how they were powerful. The only survivors of this family were the patriarch (the grandfather) and the youngest grandson - who was aged 4 at the time. The grandfather then raised his grandson (whose name was Jinn) to hate anyone else, to use anyone else and to control everyone else.

In the Present time, a NUMA research vessel is in the Indian ocean measuring water temperatures. The water of the Ocean is several degrees colder than usual for this time of the year and already the monsoons are late. The previous two years the monsoon rains were not as strong as usual, and this year - if the monsoon did not show up - there would be a huge famine in India.

The NUMA scientists discover a cloudy substance in the water and attempt to take samples. but the cloud turns on them and begins to flow all over the boat, consuming everything in sight.They show every intent of consuming the humans as well. One of the scientists sets off a fire in the hopes that this kills the mysterious cloud off but that does not work. The humans are devoured by the cloud and the burnt boat is left to float on the ocean.

It takes a few hours for NUMA to start investigating when all communication with the ship stops abruptly. The boat is eventually discovered and towed to MALE (the capital city)  in the Maldive Islands.

Kurt and Joe and the Gamays are called in and sent to Male to find out what happened.

The cloud turns out to be millions upon millions of "microbots" (like the sci fi nano-technoogy of star trek fame - but slightly bigger - since we havent quite gotten to nanotechnology capability yet)

These microbots are being controlled by someone in order to change the weather,. But first Kurt and Joe need to find out who made them. This leads them to a billionaire named Elwood Marchetti and his artificial island called Aqua Terra. It turns out that original design for these microbots came from Marchetti and his programmer named Otero. But these new bots (the ones who trashed the NUMA boat) have been reprogrammed. The question is - by whom - since Marchetti denies it was him.

Eventually Kurt and Joe are led to Otero as the traitor. He gave control of the bots to a Yemeni man named Jinn. Jinn is using them to change the weather so that instead of the rains falling on India, they fall instead on Pakistan, Central Asia and western China. His financial backers are from various countries including China, Pakistan and for some reason - Egypt.

Jinn eventually wants to use these bits to control the weather for the entire planet.

Kurt and Joe sneak into Yemen and find Jinn's base where they discover that Jinn plans to use these bots to destroy the Aswan high dam because the Egyptian backer is refusing to pay any more money into the scheme. While they are in Yemen, some of Jinn's men tale over the Aqua Terra island and Marchetti, and the Gamays are imprisoned. So Kurt and Joe are forced to split up. Kurt attempt to get to Terra Aqua to rescue the Gamay's while Joe follows the planes filled with barrels of bots just to see where they are going.

Joe ends up in Egypt where he eventually manages to spread a warning about the Aswan dam - which has already been breached. Joe is instrumental in saving the Dam and destroying the bots but not before several thousand people died with the first floods.

Kurt ends up on an unmarked island with what is called a cargo cult - a group of people who were heavily influenced by WW2 soldiers and continue to live life as if the war was still ongoing. It turns out that the ship John Bury ended up on this island. It was carrying a weapon that was supposed to defend against Japanese invaders. The surviving crew of the John Bury taught the local people much about American life, history, and culture at that time (1942) and then when they died they were buried. The locals have been waiting for more American visitors ever since. Once Kurt is able to reassure the people that he is indeed American, he asks them for their help. They send 5 boats of men plus the weapon (from the John Bury) and use it to defeat Jinn and his men on the Aqua Terra.

I enjoyed this story very much. The science behind how storms form, and other meteorological phenomena was fascinating.

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