The first solar eclipse of the millennium and a series of intense solar flares have triggered a monumental series of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and tsunamis around the entire circumference of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The cataclysmic forces unleashed by these violent events bring down Air Force One in the middle of the ocean killing the President of the USA and everyone else on board. (Uh oh ... we can smell a political crisis there, can't we!) Ex-Navy Seal, Jack Kirkland, is on board a deep sea submersible exploring a sunken Japanese vessel reputed to be carrying an enormous hoard of gold bullion when this series of inexplicable disasters shatter the earth's crust. Kirkland narrowly escapes death avoiding an undersea eruption and lava flow as the Japanese freighter is swallowed into the earth's crust before his very eyes.
Sounds very promising, doesn't it?
Well, I'll admit it. I thoroughly enjoy a well-written techno-thriller with lots of slam-bang action; pops and bangs, bells and whistles; boy-girl action; insufferably evil bad guys; and lots of Hollywood thrills, chills and heroics thrown in. I'm even willing to be a reading wimp and have my credibility pushed around by a bully-boy author who stretches things to the limit!
But "Deep Fathom" went way, way beyond those limits and pushed my belief meter well beyond the red zone and right off the scale.
Within the range of a brief 450 page novel, here are just a few of the things that Rollins would have you read about - nuclear war between the US and China; the solution to the cosmological problem of dark energy and dark matter; the translation of a hitherto entirely unknown ancient pictographic language by a computer artificial intelligence; the solution of the Bermuda Triangle mystery; time travel; amateur computer hackers hi-jacking an abandoned orbiting satellite and using it as a platform to fire particle weapons; the discovery of a Pacific equivalent to the lost civilization of Atlantis and a society of cut-throat warriors guarding these long hidden secrets; and (are you ready for this?) anti-gravity!
Even for a sci-fi novel of the space opera variety, this would be over the top but for a novel that bills itself as techno-thriller, it verges on laughable.
There is no doubt that Rollins has skill to create characters, suspense, action, dialogue and plot. But he's got to rein it in and avoid dumping it all into a single novel. He might even try a pure sci-fi novel. Now that just might fly!