Chapter 1 of Burning Earth: Climate Wars

Burning Earth: Climate Wars is now available on Amazon, and you can buy the book HERE, but for anyone who would like to read some of the novel before buying, you can read through the first three chapters on the site, starting with Chapter One, below.

Chapter One

The Old Man of Alhambra

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Leon C. Megginson

The old man’s home was located in what was once a bustling Spanish city, back in the glory days of humanity, when carbon-burning jets crossed the skies in their thousands and deposited millions of tourists into ancient cities like Granada.

Simone Gray paused wearily at the bottom of the hill leading up to a massive castle that encircled the mountain like the crown on a king.

The temperature was well over 40 degrees, and Simone had been travelling for days through the devastated landscape of Iberia, landing by boat in Bordeaux and pushing her way south by any means possible to the almost uninhabited region of Andalucia. Simone was toughened up from years in the field as a reporter, covering protests and disasters and even full-scale wars, but a week of travel in a land where roads were closed, trains shut down, and air travel nonexistent had worn her out. 

Her feet and back ached. The pack felt like it was crushing her, and she felt sick and dizzy from the oppressive waves of heat. She was also stressed out almost beyond her considerable limits. The south of Spain had collapsed decades ago under a growing onslaught of heat and drought, and very few people still lived in the vast region of Andalucia. The coast was virtually deserted, with low-lying cities partially inundated by the rising seas, and towns in the foothills roasting in the year-round heat that in summer was hot enough to kill an adult human in less than an hour. 

Once the largest centre for greenhouse growing in Europe, Andalucia’s farming industry was virtually terminated, and only the mountains of the Sierra Nevada were still populated, mainly by those descendants left behind by the brutal wars between the EU and Spain on one side and invading armies of desperate Muslims from Africa from the ‘40s through the ‘60s.

The road south of Toledo was considered dangerous for travel, and from the city of Jaen onward the route was infested with bandits and gangs, and up in the hills past Granada it was widely considered suicide to travel alone, especially as a woman; even a woman packing a Glock assault rifle and semi auto handgun. 

Simone had used her rifle twice on the way down from Toledo; once near the city of Baeza when some bandits tried to hijack their bus at a makeshift roadblock near the town of Teruel. No one died, but the guide-slash-bodyguard she’d hired in Madrid decided to bail, and got off the bus in Baeza. The second time happened coming in to Granada from the north, when a gang of ill-advised men decided wrongly she looked like easy prey. She’d sent them off, howling with rage, two of them leaking bright red blood into their filthy robes.

Now she had finally arrived in the ruins of old Granada, and had this one last hill to climb. Weirdly, her grandfather lived on the grounds of an ancient fortified castle and palace complex, the once-famed Alhambra that played host to sultans and kings and later to millions of tourists over several centuries, and was now home to a ratty little group of eccentric survivors of the climate meltdown in southern Spain. Simone had never been here, but had pictures of her grandfather and his crazy friends posing on the castle walls, or tending their crops in the castle’s expansive gardens, or building the pumps and the water tanks that kept them all alive.
Her grandfather had gone full survivalist, living in a commune with no medical care within hundreds of kilometres, and now he was old and sick. She was here to bring him home, if she could talk the old fool into it. He was stubborn, she knew, but she was more than his match. At least, that’s what she told herself.

Simone wiped away some sweat that had snuck down past her bandanna, readjusted her backpack and assault rifle, and began to climb a narrow set of stairs leading between the ruins of ancient buildings, probably more than 500 years old. 

Simone’s grandfather had always had a thing for Spain and Portugal, and he was old enough to have travelled here before everything went to hell. Back then, Simone knew, her grandfather had backpacked his way through Europe in the late 2040s as a young man, and San Sebastien was the first town he came to in Spain. When Simone was growing up, Grandpa would tell long, winding, often hilarious and just as frequently somewhat scandalous stories of his time in Spain; running with the bulls in Pamplona, hitchhiking down to Andalucia, getting into bar fights in Salamanca, a tussle with the police in Barcelona, dance parties in Malaga and over on the Algarve Coast of Portugal.

Simone knew him mainly from her own childhood, a time coloured darkly by the Cascadian War of Independence in the late ‘60s, when her mother and father died in the fighting during the wars of secession between the United States and the states of California, Oregon and Washington. Her father was a lot like the old man, in many ways; stubborn, fiery, adventurous, and unpredictable, and in the times leading up to the second rebellion in California he surprised no one by joining the rebels and and taking his family into the hills south of San Francisco, where he and the California Irregulars launched guerrilla attacks on the US Army. 

It was in one one of those attacks that the Gray family’s life changed forever. American drone units managed to surveil some of the rebels as they retreated back to their base, and an attack wiped out most of the adults in the camps strung out through what used to be the Sierra Azul eco-preserve, south of San Jose. Simone’s mother and father were both killed, and it took weeks for her grandfather to find her in the refugee camps.

The old man was just as shattered as she was, losing not only his son, but also his wife and his daughter during a bombing raid in Santa Cruz that left him permanently scarred by shrapnel. But her grandfather had taken her from the camps, and with grim determination he’d carried her north through Oregon and Washington all the way up to British Columbia, where he applied for refugee status and eventually won Canadian citizenship for them both. 

Simone always had an uneasy relationship with her grandfather. After the war he’d lost the sense of easy-going humour he was known for as a young man, becoming grim and angry. He’d taken to drinking heavily for many years, and he was definitely not a ‘happy drunk’. He’d never harmed Simone, but he would kick over tables, punch his fist through walls and doors, and once even threw their television out the apartment window. Eventually Social Services workers took Simone away and put her into foster care, so while she knew she owed the old man for saving her from the camps, she also couldn’t help but blame him for ending up in orphanages and foster homes.

Eventually, her grandfather gave up on family and hit the road, working his way back across to Spain where – as he’d often told her – he’d lived the happiest and most carefree times of his life.

Simone wondered, as she puffed her way up the steep stone stairway, just how carefree he was now in this torrid hell-scape that was modern-day Andalucia. Compared to her home in Ottawa, Granada looked barely inhabitable. While some of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada were still green, the valley bottom was dusty and dry. The city of Granada was largely deserted, and many of the great cathedrals and palaces of its heyday were pockmarked or holed by cannon shells and bullets. 

The survivors of the climate apocalypse in this region, she knew, were mainly holed up in the castle above her, or even further up in the mountains where there was still water enough to provide for small subsistence farms. Other bands of survivors of war and the climate apocalypse wandered the land looking for prey; they survived by raiding farms or robbing travellers, and the lawlessness of Andalucia had driven most of the population north into Catalan or France.

“He must have lost his mind,” Simone thought. “Even Madrid looks like a paradise compared to this hellhole.”

And just then she saw it; a flash of movement up ahead behind what looked like a collapsed pile of rubble. She whirled quickly to the left, hid behind a pillar supporting a rock wall, smoothly unshouldered her rifle, and then peaked out. 

Sure enough, she could see two heavily bearded men peeking over the rubble, and one of them was also carrying some sort of military-issue assault rifle, the barrel just poking up behind the rocks. In an eye-blink Simone realized the rubble wasn’t there randomly; it had been placed there as a barrier or roadblock of sorts for anyone climbing up to the castle. 

“Who are you?”, she shouted in shaky Spanish. “What do you want?”

One of the men shouted back in rapid fire Spanish, but the other interrupted, saying, “Quiet! She obviously speaks English,” and then called down to her, “We are watching out for a visitor, a woman, named Simone Gray. Would you be that person?”

Simone felt a rush of relief that left her weak at the knees and sagged against the rugged rock wall. She had been in a gunfight not two hours earlier and was still badly shaken, so discovering these two men had been sent from her grandfather felt like she had tossed off a massive weight from her shoulders. For the first time in weeks she began to relax.

“Yes,” she shouted after a moment. “I’m Simone, here to see my grandfather. Is he here?”

“Señor Ricardo is at the Alhambra, waiting for you quite eagerly,” said the English-speaking guard, stepping out from behind the rubble. “We’re here to take you through the gate.”


Only 20 minutes later Simone and her self-appointed guards came to the end of the steep hill. They followed an old road – probably last paved a few decades earlier and now filled with potholes and tarmac buckled by years of intense heat – that ended at a thick castle wall and a massive steel gate. Simone had traveled extensively through Europe and was used to the sight of old castles and palaces, but even she was taken aback. Photos of the Alhambra didn’t do it justice. The fortress and the palaces within were massive but ornate, the grounds and buildings more like a small town than a fortified castle. As they walked through the gate, closely scrutinized by more armed guards, Simone got her first clear look at the world her grandfather now inhabited. 

Directly ahead were a number of smaller stone buildings, now used apparently as homes and quarters for the guards manning the front gate. Off to the left, looming over the city, she could see El Castillo – the Castle – where more men and women were standing on the parapets armed with a bizarre assortment of weapons, from assault rifles to crossbows, bows and arrows, swords and axes, and at least three large machine guns or auto cannon, all mounted on tripods. 

Both men and women wore dusty, white robes, with ammo belts crossing their chests and either hoods or wide sun hats protecting them from the brutal sunlight.

After a thorough search by a fierce looking woman with an eye patch, Simone gave up her firearms and knives and followed her guides further into the complex, which was even more impressive. As they walked toward the castle Simone saw a Moorish style palace off to the right, and this is where the men took her.

More guards, more searches, and Simone entered one of the most wondrous buildings she had ever seen. All the walls were built of marble, and every wall covered in ornate carvings of Arabic lettering and symmetrical designs. The temperature plunged once inside, and Simone found herself feeling almost comfortable as she was led through a warren of arched passageways and courtyards, passing dozens of rooms that apparently now served as small homes for the families who now called the Alhambra their home. 

Eventually they came out to an equally ornate garden, filled with sculptures, pools and ancient fountains, but the fountains ran dry and the pools filled with dirt and vegetables. The gardens probably featured flowers and ornamental bushes in the past, but now were filled with food crops and fruit trees. At the far end of the garden a series of carved, arched windows looked out over the city of Granada and the valley below, and beneath one of the windows sat a hunched figure on a stone bench, a hood pulled down over his face as he stared at the ground.

She recognized him instantly, and was surprised to find her heart pounding in her chest.

“Poppa,” she called. “Is that you?”

The old man looked up. Simone recognized the broad scar across his face, the hawklike nose, the deep-set eyes. He looked directly into her eyes and his craggy face cracked open in a crooked smile.

Unaccountably, she began to cry.


Simone thought later it must have been the smile. Her grandfather had very rarely smiled in the years she lived with him, but as soon as she’d seen him her mind flashed back to California before the fighting, when she would visit her grandparents at their home in Sonoma. Her poppa smiled like that then, and never really since … or at least not until now. 

Horrified, embarrassed, Simone had covered her face, and her grandfather had shocked her even more by getting up and wrapping his long, skinny arms around her and bringing her in close, holding her until she stopped shaking and the tears stopped pouring from her eyes and wetting his robe. 

“Sorry,” she finally muttered. “It’s been a rough few days.”

Her grandfather pushed her away a bit, grinning again. “It’s been a rough few decades,” he answered. “If you aren’t crying, there’s probably something wrong with you.”

For the first time, she smiled back. “I guess so,” she said. “Honestly, I haven’t cried in … I can’t actually remember the last time.”

“Then you’re overdue,” said Poppa. “And you’re probably hungry and thirsty. Let’s get you watered and fed.”

Poppa told the guards they could leave, which they did reluctantly, obviously enjoying the drama, and led her further into the palace to a heavily shaded area where some men and women were cooking something over a solar stove in a heavy, steaming pot. After introducing her to several people whose names she immediately forgot, they went to a table carved completely from white marble and sat down. 

“Obviously, I’m very happy you’re here,” he began. “I have really missed you … and I was very worried about you travelling here. Even with a guard it’s dangerous in Andalucia these days.”

“Actually,” she said, “my guard took off way back in Baeza. I managed to get a ride with some people coming this way, mainly because I had a better rifle, and I walked the rest of the way from the mountain pass. It took me two days.”

“Jesus,” he said, looking at her with those intense grey eyes. “You’re lucky you got here alive.” He reached out and covered her hand with his own bony, wrinkled hands. Simone couldn’t help but wonder, ‘is this my grandfather’? He seemed like such a different person, and not just because he had aged decades. 

Poppa, or Ricardo as they called him in the Alhambra, seemed like a man at peace, calm and happy and engaged with people. He had never been that, not since she was a small child. It was all a bit weird, disconcerting. She kept finding herself staring at him as if he was someone she didn’t quite recognize.

Like most of the others, Poppa wore a loose white robe that fell close to his knees, with some white pants under that and a pair of sandals made of some sort of plant material, like hemp. The only thing she recognized on him from the past was his wedding ring and the shrapnel scars on his face.

Simone found herself telling him, and a growing number of people in the cookhouse, about her voyage across the burning land of southern Spain. The hyper loop from her reporting assignment in Edinburgh to England, the boat to Bordeaux, and then train from there to Madrid where she met up with the bodyguard, and then the long trip south in the ill-fated e-bus that was almost hijacked near Baeza. 

She even told them about the men who tried to attack her on the outskirts of Granada, and the brief gunfight in which she’d driven them off.

“My lord,” said Poppa, “did you kill anyone?”

“I don’t think so,” she answered. “I hit a couple, but they ran away, so ….”

“Well,” he answered, that old fierce look returning to his eyes for a second. “They got what they deserved either way,” and the rest nodded.

“Around here you unavoidably have to do your talking with a gun or a sword sometimes,” Poppa added unapologetically. “Don’t feel bad; animals like that get what they deserve.”

Over lunch Poppa told his own stories. Some she’d heard from the time when he’d first moved here, and there was still phone service and internet in what he liked to call the Badlands. But that had disappeared a long time ago, and other than the last letter she’d gotten two months earlier she had heard nothing at all for almost a decade.

As she knew, Poppa left Canada after she was seized by the Ministry social workers, who promptly put a no-contact order in place after he “lost his temper” at a custody hearing. He worked his way across the ocean on a freighter, eventually landing in the port at Bordeaux. He had no real plan; his body seemed to make its own decisions on where to go and what to do, independent of his conscious mind.

“Now I know, I just hadn’t processed everything that happened,” he explained. “I lost my entire family except for you, and then I lost you too. All that was left of me was rage and grief, and I guess I wanted to die but not pull the trigger myself. I did some crazy things. I wandered through these badlands like I was tempting fate, but I guess fate had other plans.”

Poppa said he had almost blindly made his way to Granada, the place where he’d met his wife Clara so many years before. 

“But, it wasn’t the same place at all,” he said. “I went into the city. I went to the cathedral and found it full of these bandits, but I had a pistol and they didn’t, so I got out of that one.

“Then I went over to the Bib Rambla, this plaza in the old town. That’s where I lived with your grandmother for a while. After all the shooting into the air the bandits left me alone for a while, and eventually I left and looked up and saw the Alhambra. And I thought, that would be a good place to end it. Throw myself off the castle wall, y’know, and at least I could die in beauty.”

“And that’s when we found him,” said an old woman who had helped cook the stew. “There weren’t as many of us then, but we had hidden ourselves here in the castle because it was the only place you could really defend yourself. 

“He came up looking like a crazy old bird, with that big beak of his, yelling like a lunatic, and for some reason the Jefe – the Chief – decided to let him in.” She grinned, revealing several missing teeth, and added, “We’ve been regretting it ever since.”

“Me too,” said Poppa, with his crooked grin. “Your cooking is truly awful.” 

For some inexplicable reason, that got Simone weepy again.


Simone spent a week at the Alhambra before she got serious about telling the old man he’d have to come home. Fortunately, after that first day she’d gotten some sleep, collapsing right after lunch and sleeping more than 18 hours straight, and she’d stopped weeping every time someone smiled. 

She’d just been tired, Simone told herself. And after all, the old man represented some pretty shitty memories, but some pretty good ones too. In fact, he was all that was left from her childhood. Maybe it wasn’t that weird she’d shed a few tears, but she was back in control, and the time for shedding tears was over and done. 

Simone prided herself on her toughness, mentally and physically. She’d spent her required two years in the Canadian Armed Forces when she was just 18 and reached the rank of Sergeant after her own Sergeant was killed in a border skirmish with US Forces in Quebec.

But the military wasn’t for her, and after discharge she attended Carleton University’s journalism program. Soon after graduation she started working for CBC News as an intern when she was only 22-years-old. It was there that Simone, for the first time, felt she’d found a home of sorts, and she worked long, grinding hours that helped her get hired on full-time the following year.

She’d grown up with war and death, but now it seemed she actually had some power to change things through her work and her writing. Simone thought at first she wanted to be a war correspondent, and tried that on for a while. As a frontline soldier, her skills made her a natural choice for CBC’s editors, but after a few years in hot zones around the world Simone found that covering a war on the ground wasn’t enough. She wanted to affect the decisions that led to war. She wanted to expose those who sought power and wealth through the killing of others, and decided to get into political coverage.

That decision made her career, and after five years at CBC she joined the Investigative Unit with a specialty in covering politics. Over the next nine years Simone broke stories not only in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, but in the European Union, in Russia, in the US capitol in Denver, and in China. 

Most recently Simone had worked heavily in Stockholm, the capital of the so-called ‘Viking Alliance’ of Scandinavia and the Baltic States that most conceded was now the planet’s leading superpower, even more influential than Canada or Russia. She also spent a year in Edinburgh, uncovering the machinations behind Scotland’s ever-strengthening alliance with the Vikings, all of which helped quell the fractious English counties, which the Scots had conquered back in ‘79. 

That’s where she’d met her current boyfriend, Jamie Grant, a brawny Scottish war photographer who she considered pretty much perfect. He was just as tough as she was, he was smart and savvy about digging out stories and sources, and as a former member of the Scottish Highland Commandos, he knew how to survive in the most dangerous regions.

Add to that the fact he was hot, funny, and not interested in a long-term commitment, and Simone felt he was pretty much just right. Right now Jamie was actually in Canada, having finagled an assignment to cover the border skirmishes between Canada and the United States; an assignment that also gave him the chance to hang out with his new girlfriend for a bit. 

Even so, when she let him know she was leaving for Europe again, he just looked at her and said, “But, I still get to kip at yer place, right?”

So yeah, perfect.


Simone chose a relatively cool evening to broach the topic she had come here to discuss. After a week in Alhambra it had become clear that while her grandfather was clearly happy here, his health was deteriorating quickly. 

The Alhambra had two doctors who lived in the castle complex, but there was no electricity and precious few medicines. People who were badly injured or very sick in Alhambra tended to die painfully, and Poppa was both sick and very old. Other than the rich, most people didn’t often live much past 70, and Poppa was now a 78-year-old man with arthritis, a wide selection of old war injuries, an alarming rustle in his chest, and a look in his eyes that Simone had seen before in those who have very few days ahead of them. 

And, it was clear the old man really had missed her, and wanted to be with her. Simone knew Poppa could settle just as easily in Ottawa as here, and of all the countries in the world, Canada was certainly among the richest and could boast some of the best health care. 

Unlike countries further south, like the United States, global warming had actually brought some benefits to places like Canada, Scandinavia and Russia, which now had the largest agricultural production numbers in the world, as well as most of the fresh water. Not surprisingly, while billions of people had died of disease, starvation, and war in tropical and equatorial regions, Canada leveraged its relatively favourable climate to become one of the richest and most powerful nations on earth, rivalled only the Viking Alliance and Russia, and to a certain extent by Argentina and Chile. 

As an ally of the Vikings and the Scots, Canada was also politically and militarily powerful. Other than occasional small border skirmishes with what was left of the United States, Canada had few rivals in the Western Hemisphere, and took advantage of that fact to become an economic powerhouse. 

It just made sense for the old man to come back to Canada. If he stayed here, he might not even last the rest of the year. Simone watched her grandfather when he wasn’t aware, and when his guard was down she would often see his shoulders slump, or his face grimace in sudden pain, and even on a few occasions watched as his hand clutched at his chest. 

Old man Ricardo was not just unwell. He was dying, and dying in a place with no drugs and no modern medicine would be terrible, as Simone well knew. It wouldn’t be easy, but Simone would have to force the old man to listen to reason. She would ask the current Jefe, the Chief, to provide an escort as far as Toledo, and then she’d pick up the train from there for the beginning of a long trip to Canada.

As it turned out, the old man found her as she was up on the castle ramparts, staring down at the ruined city and ruminating about how she could keep him alive on the road home. She could hear him gasping as he pulled himself up the stairs, a younger Arabic man named Youseff gripping him gently but firmly under the arm.

“There you are,” the old man puffed, before turning to the younger man. “It’s okay Youseff, I’m okay from here. My granddaughter will just throw me over her shoulder and carry me back down!”

Youseff grinned uncertainly – he didn’t know much English, and few people here had neural net translators – but still retreated and made his way back to his post.

“Hey Pops,” said Simone, giving him a hug, and putting a supportive shoulder under his arm. “I’m glad you’re here. I’ve got something I wanted to talk about.”

Poppa threw out his now well-worn grin and answered, “I know; you literally have the worst poker face I’ve ever seen.”

“You know that’s not true,” Simone said. “Youseff is far worse. But really, we gotta talk.”

“I know,” the old man repeated, looking her straight in the eye. “There’s a whole life to figure out here, and it’s about time we figured it out together.”

Simone wasn’t that surprised. Her grandfather was old and sick, but he was still sharp. In fact, he seemed mentally and emotionally sharper now than when she was a child in his care … but then, he no longer drank, and he was no longer plagued by the death of his family.

“Okay,” she said, and while she wasn’t aware of it, the old man saw her square up her shoulders the way she had always done when bracing for something difficult. “I’m gonna just come out and say it: I think … 

“You should stay and live with me,” the old man interrupted. 

Simone froze. “What?”

“I said, you should come and live with me. Here. In the Alhambra.” The old man looked completely serious, not insane at all, but what he was saying was just flat out crazy. 

After a pause, Simone said, “Seriously … “

“I am serious,” said her grandfather. “Serious as I’ve ever been. I know what you were going to say. You want me to leave here, go back to some civilized place like the EU or Canada …”


“But that’s not going to happen. This is my …..”

“Why not?”, interrupted Simone. “You’ve got to face facts, Poppa. This place is … beautiful, yes … but it’s also completely Third World. There’s no hospitals, no medicine, no doctors …”

“We have two doctors …,” the old man interjected.

“Yeah, with no proper surgery, no proper equipment, no anaesthesia … and it’s not like you can just call an ambulance when things go sideways. It took me three days to get here just from Toledo!”

“I know, what you’re saying makes all kinds of logical sense,” said her grandfather calmly. “But it doesn’t make sense to me.”

“Why not?” Simone demanded, putting her hands on her hips like an angry child, which made Ricardo smile.

“Because this is my home,” he said. “Canada is not … and I don’t think it’s really your home either. That’s why you should move here.”

“That’s ridiculous!”, she sputtered. “I’ve been living in Canada almost my entire life! My work is there, my … my …”

He looked at her very directly, in a way that made her feel awkward, like she was a child again.

“What else is there back in Canada?” he asked. “Your work is not in Canada; you travel all over the world, and almost never go home. You said so yourself! You have no family there, your friends are like you, spread out all over the world, even your boyfriend is from a different continent!”

“Maybe so, but Canada is my home base … and it’s safe!,” Simone spat. She noticed some of the guards on the parapet looking their way, and with a deep breath forced herself to lower her voice.

“Anyhow, we’re not talking about me,” she said, prompting her grandfather to raise one eyebrow dubiously. “We’re talking about you, and the simple fact is, if you stay here, you’ll die. And you’ll probably not die well!”

Richard, or Ricardo as he was known these days, looked at her quietly for a long beat. “Simone,” he said. “I’m going to die anyway. The choice is not whether I live or die, the choice is about where I die, and who will be with me when I pass on. And I choose to die here. 

“This may not be your idea of a place to live, but it is mine,” he went on, holding up a hand against her next argument. “I came here after losing everything … even you … and I had lost myself. But, I ended up here, and these people, this community, put me back together. They have become the family I lost. They’re my friends and my neighbours, and they’ve given me purpose for the first time since you were taken away.

“You have to see … if I leave here, I might as well be dead, because this is where my life is.”

Simone was silent for a moment, taking all this in. The old man was stubborn … but after living with these people for a week, she could actually understand his point. She had seen the old man hanging out with his friends at dinner, teaching kids to read, even doing his guard duty with a rifle clutched in his old hands. He was clearly sick, and often in pain, but she had to admit … he looked … happy.

“I get what you’re saying,” Simone finally said. “I know you lost your family, and me, and really everything … but … I’m your family. And I’m back! You could come to Canada, and it would be different. We would be together, and you’d be safe, and you’d have proper care. You wouldn’t have to be in pain all the time, and …”

Again, the old man held up his hand. “Man, you are so stubborn!,” he said with his crooked grin. “I can never figure out if I’m more proud of you, or more exasperated … you can be very frustrating!

“But, I came up here to say something too,” and he looked at her very directly. “If you’re honest with yourself, you know that we’ll go to Canada, and then you will get another assignment, and you’ll rocket off to some far-off part of the world … or maybe you won’t … and over time you’ll turn down those assignments and come to resent having to take care of this sick old man ….”

“I would never …” she began, but he interrupted again. 

“Yeah, you would, and you know it,” he said. “I came here to say something else, and since you know I don’t have that much time left, I get to speak first.

“I’ve been watching you, Simone,” he explained. “I think you’re a bit like me … maybe a LOT like me. You lost your family too, including me, but unlike me, you’ve never replaced it.

“You run around the world, looking for trouble, seeking out meaning in your life by breaking one story, and then another story, and then another story, and I get it; it probably feels pretty good for a day or two, and then you have to move on to the next one to keep feeling okay.

“But I think the truth is, you need a place to settle too, you need a real community, and something real to fight for, and maybe something close to a family of your own. You’re not going to find that on your never-ending tour of war zones and refugee camps, but you could find it here.”

Simone was quiet for a long beat, then turned and looked over the Alhambra, seeing the steam rising from the solar cookers, the workers out in the fields, the warriors leaning out over the parapets with their assault rifles held close. 

“And you call me stubborn,” she said, making him laugh.

“Seriously, Simone, I didn’t agree to have you come here so you could take me away,” he said. “I brought you here so you could stay. I brought you here because you are my true family, and I really think you could be happy here. 

“You think we’re poor, and we are. You think we are in constant danger, and we are. But, we also have created this home, this little community, and all of us believe it’s worth fighting for. We’re free here, and while you say I can be safe in Canada, I don’t think any of us are safe anywhere

“I know people, I’ve been around a long time, and I don’t think this current peace is going to hold. I think there’s going to be another war, and another, and another, until finally some fool hits the button and lets the missiles fly … so, to be honest, I think we’re just as safe, or unsafe, here as anywhere else. 

“At least here, I choose where I die, and who I die with.”


That didn’t end the argument, but Simone already knew she’d lost. They’d squabbled over the details, but the path for each was clear. The old man had decided a long time ago that this was where he would live, and it’s where he would die. 

Most of their discussions from that point on … lasting days, because the old man was indeed stubborn … was about Simone staying in Granada. It made no sense, obviously, but Simone found herself strangely drawn to the idea. She had never really been in a place where you would just settle, and where your time was spent on the basics of life, like growing food, taking care of the sick, finding or making the materials you needed to live. 

The people in this commune-style life were not ecstatically happy by any stretch. They were dirt poor, had a diet limited to what they could grow and the occasional meat from chickens and goats, and they were in constant danger on their foraging missions from gangs of bandits … although, for the most part, bandits knew better than to confront the warriors of Alhambra in combat.

What they did have, which Simone had never experienced, was a sense of community. After another week, she actually got it. The old man was happy because he belonged somewhere. He had a purpose. He had respect and love from hundreds of people. He was not just an anonymous number in the vast population of a country like Canada; he was known by all and would be missed by all.

So, she knew he would stay, and she accepted it … but she also knew she would not make this place her home. And after a week, she told Richard of her decision. 

“It’s not that I don’t want to stay with you,” she said, as the two met over a small campfire in the palace garden. “And, I get what you’re saying about having this community, this family. Part of me would like to have that too … but you have to understand, I have something else that you can’t give me here.”

She looked directly at the old man, his serious face lit up by the flames, his eyes invisible in black shadow.

“Out in the world, I have a mission, a purpose of my own,” she continued. “I know war is coming … honestly, it’s never actually stopped. But my job, like all of the other reporters out there in the world, is to find the truth of what governments are up to, and hopefully to prevent some of these conflicts, and to give people the information they need to decide their own fate.”

“No offence, I know you’re a good reporter, but do you really think one person is going to make a difference?”, he interjected.

“It’s not about one person,” she answered seriously. “I used to think that I could make a big difference by myself, but I later learned that reporters are like army ants; one reporter alone can’t do much, but hundreds or thousands of us, all seeking the truth, and giving it to people in their millions … yeah, then we make a difference.

“I might just be one of many, but if people like me give up … then who is going to make up the many?”

“Well,” said the old man, “maybe someone else can take a turn.”

Simone looked at him, knowing what she would say next was goodbye, and probably forever.

“No Poppa,” she said fiercely, her eyes growing hot. “I was born for this. You talk about meaning … well … this is mine! I was born to fight the short-sighted greed of the rich and the powerful, the people who led us down this path, and just because other people can do it doesn’t give me an excuse to quit.

“You have your community, and your family, and I’m glad you’re finally happy,” she added. “But I’m not trying to be happy. I’m here to fight. And as much as I’d like to stay here with you and these good people, that’s what I’m going to do. 

“I’m going back. And I’m going to fight in my own small way for what’s left of this world.”

There was a long silence, uncomfortably long. Her grandfather looked down at the little fire, breathing heavily, and she knew he was crying. She came around to the other side of the fire, sat and put her arm around him without talking, feeling his frailty and the tremendous weight of age and accumulated tragedy weighing him down. 

“You sound just like your father, when he went to war,” the old man finally said.

They sat together until the fire died out.


Burning Earth: Climate Wars Available Now on Amazon

Finally! It seemed like a long wait, but my first novel is now available for sale on Amazon. For all those who put in a pre-order for the e-book, you can now download the book to your Kindle app or device. Thanks for ordering by the way; it’s much appreciated.

For anyone who prefers a physical book, or hasn’t ordered the e-book yet, you can find the book by clicking HERE or going to this URL: https://www.amazon.com/Burning-Earth-Climate-Gary-Symons-ebook/dp/B085453R53/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=burning+earth%3A+climate+wars&qid=1584288899&sr=8-1

If you haven’t heard of the book yet, Burning Earth is a Sci Fi novel set in the year 2101, after climate change has left great swaths of the world in ruins. Entire regions are under water; others suffer droughts and famine, or are transformed into uninhabitable deserts.

Against this backdrop of runaway global warming, nations battle for increasingly scarce resources. In this novel, first of a five novel story arc, hotter countries that have suffered more damage conspired to invade and occupy their cooler, more prosperous neighbours with a goal of acquiring arable land and precious water resources.

Two reporters from Scotland and Canada uncover the plot, and race to halt a rapidly brewing global that threatens not only to kill millions of people, but perhaps to end all life on Earth.

What makes the novel more chilling is that it is based very precisely on the current research by scientists with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which made various projections of what the world will look like, depending upon how humanity responds to the threat of climate change. Among other things, the IPCC predicts that if rising nationalism, populism and isolationism prevent cooperation between governments, then the worst case scenario of more than four degrees Celsius of global warming will occur, and the world described in Burning Earth will become a reality.

Large parts of Florida, and Louisiana would be submerged beneath the sea. The Central Valley of California would be hammered by drought and become unable to supply America with half of its produce. The Great Plains would periodically become a dustbowl, and famine would return to the United States.

While countries like Canada, Russia, Greenland and Scandinavia would see more land come available for agriculture, other countries would suffer a similar fate to the US. The IPCC predicts southern Spain would become a desert and largely uninhabitable. Most of southern Vietnam would be lost to the sea, as well as several regions in southern China. Australia would be devastated by fire and desertification, the Great Barrier Reef completely destroyed, and many parts of the country no longer livable for human beings.

The equatorial belt would, of course, be hardest hit, with temperatures rising so high during the daytime that even a healthy adult would die within hours. In short, the entire equatorial region could become uninhabitable by human beings, meaning most of the Muslim world could disappear forever; Israelis would experience a new diaspora, Central Africa would cease to exist, and the jungles of South America would go up in flames.

In the world of 2101 there are literally hundreds of millions of refugees roaming the world, being turned away from the northern and southern nations that fear their own resources will be overwhelmed … and of course, that touches off the conflict for resources that underpins the novel.

While that sounds pretty bleak, and it is, the novel focuses on the people at the centre of the action; the diplomats working to preserve the peace, the world leaders making life and death decisions for millions of people, and particularly the two reporters who fight for the truth and for the future of what is left of humanity.

The Research That Led Me to Write My First Novel, Burning Earth: Climate Wars

By Gary Symons

Since my first novel hit the Amazon shelves, and also hit the Top 20 for Canadian high tech Sci Fi, a lot of people asked me why I wrote this book. Why this topic, and why now?

See Burning Earth: Climate Wars on Amazon

It came generally out of my concerns about climate change, and the more research I did, the more concerned I became. While I no longer work full-time in journalism, I’m still a journalist at heart. Research and writing is my life’s blood, and I literally can’t stop myself from spending hour upon hour researching topics of interest.

But the precise inspiration came when I read sections of the research which will be published in the next major report – The Sixth Assessment Report, or AR6 – by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That report is due in 2021, but some parts of it can be seen now. This particular area of research I’m referring to has less to do with climatology, and more to do with politics, industry, culture, and human nature.

The research essentially led to the establishment of various political and socioeconomic scenarios to see what impact they would have on climate change in the future. These are called ‘Shared Socio-economic Pathways, or ‘SSPs’. Without getting two complicated, they essentially look at five different scenarios and how they impact humanity’s attempts to mitigate global warming over the next 80 years.

The SSP scenarios range from a relatively rosy scene in SSP-1, called ‘Taking the Green Road’, to very negative scenarios such as SSP-3, with the authors call ‘The Rocky Road’. The first scenario results in global warming of 1 to 1.9 degrees of global warming over pre-industrial levels, and paints a pretty bright future of our world in 2100.

By contrast, SSP-3 is indeed a Rocky Road. It shows what would theoretically happen if the world’s efforts to mitigate climate change are interrupted or derailed by increased nationalism, a lack of global cooperation, continuing disparity between rich and poor nations, increased military conflict, and so on. Climatologists predict that if the SSP-3 scenario is followed, it will result in a temperature increase of more than 4 degrees Celsius, perhaps even 5 degrees.

That may not sound like that much, but it would result in a catastrophic rise in sea levels of more than two metres; large parts of the world becoming too hot for humans to live in; the collapse of major agricultural areas; widespread famine and plagues; the inability to feed a growing population; and as a result, almost constant military conflict. It is, quite literally, our road to ruin.

Here’s the actual summary of the SSP-3 scenario:

“SSP3: Regional rivalry (A Rocky Road)[edit]

A resurgent nationalism, concerns about competitiveness and security, and regional conflicts push countries to increasingly focus on domestic or, at most, regional issues. Policies shift over time to become increasingly oriented toward national and regional security issues. Countries focus on achieving energy and food security goals within their own regions at the expense of broader-based development. Investments in education and technological development decline. Economic development is slow, consumption is material-intensive, and inequalities persist or worsen over time. Population growth is low in industrialized and high in developing countries. A low international priority for addressing environmental concerns leads to strong environmental degradation in some regions.”

The reason this struck me is that, even while scientists are researching these scenarios, the world has clearly taken a hard turn toward SSP-3, and away from SSP-1. Specifically the last five years have seen a sharp rise in nationalism in the United States, Europe, many parts of South America, Russia and China. The brief period of cooperation we saw after the Cold War and prior to the Arab Spring has now descended into a state of global chaos.

In the United States, the White House and Senate have pulled back from their allies and friends in all manner of things, from its bonds to NATO to its trade links with the EU to cooperation on the Paris Accord. As well, the White House has reversed decades of progress in environmental protection, and has thrown its considerable weight behind the fossil fuel industry.

Nationalism has also risen in Italy, France, the UK, several Eastern European nations, Russia, most of the Middle Eastern nations, and so on. Part of this was clearly driven by the massive waves of refugees flooding into Europe from conflicts in the Middle East. Some might say these events had little to do with climate change, but in fact, most experts say the conflict in Syria was driven by years of drought, brought on by increasing temperatures and changing weather patterns.

What is truly terrifying about SSP-3 is that there is a feedback loop that increases its effect over time. In other words, the longer cooperation is held back by nationalism and isolationism, the higher global temperatures become, creating more refugees and conflict, which creates even more nationalism and isolationism. And so on.

In the book The Uninhabitable Earth, author David Wallace-Wells explains this feedback loop very effectively, describing a world where we could see in this century a billion or more refugees searching for safe haven, only to meet a literal wall of steel from wealthier nations attempting to preserve their own wealth and the safety of their own citizens. It is, in fact, perfectly logical for nations to do so. Governments serve the people who vote them into power; not refugees from other countries.

Right now, we can’t even handle a few million refugees. The idea of a billion refugees is beyond comprehension.

In my novel, Burning Earth: Climate Wars, this trend is taken to its logical extreme. Hotter countries face economic devastation, starvation, plague and internal conflict, leading to waves of refugees leaving their homes. Richer nations – just as they are doing today – reject the majority of these refugees, and conflicts erupt on their borders, or even within their countries, driven by terror attacks. In turn, this leads to even greater militarism and isolationism, driving the mitigation of climate change to the bottom of the human priority list.

None of this means the world of my novel is inevitable. Action to mitigate climate change is happening. For example, literally hundreds of investment banks and funds have recently joined alliances pledging to increase investment in ‘Clean Tech’, while pulling their support from fossil fuels and dirty industries. At last count the total of investment pledging allegiance to the Clean Tech movement had reached $47 Trillion, more than half the world’s GDP.

The question now is which future we will choose. Will those with a long-term view and dedication to climate change mitigation win the day? Or, will the nationalists and isolationists succeed in frightening their supporters into focusing on the short term goals of border security and their own economic development.

I think the jury is still out on that question. We could still go down either path, and at the end of the SSP-3 pathway, we literally travel a Rocky Road to potential annihilation. As much as possible I have crafted a story in my novel that plausibly shows what that would will look like, based specifically on the SSP-3 scenario. You won’t see the SSP-3 mentioned in my book though; the entire point was to create an entertaining, highly readable novel that paints the picture in simple, emotional terms. It’s a novel, not a climatology report.

Hopefully, however, novels like Burning Earth will create an awareness of the climate crisis at a gut level. In the end, it will be human emotion that either drives the solution to climate change, or that worsens the crisis. Quite literally, what we choose to fear most will determine the future we live in.

Burning Earth: Climate Wars Chapter Three

The third and last exerpt from my new best-selling novel, Burning Earth: Climate Wars. Under Amazon’s rules, I can only publish up to 10 per cent of the book as excerpts, so this is the last instalment on the site, but if you’d like to buy the full novel, you can click the button below.

Chapter Three

Drone Wars

“As long as money continues to seduce the hungry, the hopeless, the broken, the greedy, and the needy, there will always be war between brothers.”  Suzy Kassem

Jamie Grant was happy to hear from his girlfriend Simone … but the timing could have been better. At the time she called, shortly after landing in Ottawa, Jamie was sprinting through a car park in Plattsburgh, New York, a few kilometres from the Plattsburgh Air Force base. The weather was typical for the area in July, hot with humidity up around 90 per cent, and Jamie was sweating like a hog, his usually pale face an alarming shade of red, and his breath coming in big whooping gasps.

When the phone buzzed on silent mode and he saw the caller he skidded to an abrupt halt, and threw himself behind an aging Tesla. As he scrunched in behind the car he commanded his drones: “Hide.”

The AI drones were pretty smart, and very good at hiding. They rapidly split up and descended behind cars and trucks in the car park. Jamie took a couple of deep, cleansing breaths and hit ‘Answer’.

“Hello gorgeous!” he said casually, as if he’d just been interrupted while brewing up some tea. “Are ye back in country, Simone?”

“I am,” answered Simone. “Are you going to be back in Ottawa tonight? Dying to see you … and I’ve got a LOT to tell you.”

Simone sounded excited, and Jamie knew it wasn’t easy getting her blood pressure up so he was curious to hear the story … but he wasn’t dying to hear it.

“I hope so, but I’m having a wee bother at the border,” he said. “This bit o’ mortar fire and the occasional drone strike has got everyone quite excited, so it might be tomorra … and truth to tell, I really really want to talk to ye, but I honestly have to run.” In this case, while Simone couldn’t know it, Jamie meant ‘run’ literally, as in ‘run for your life’.

“Okay,” said Simone, who didn’t like wasting time with long explanations. “Just let me know when you’re on your way. Good luck and stay safe, buddy!”

‘Buddy’. Jamie always felt Simone treated him like they were on the same football team, not as her actual steady boyfriend.

“You too … buddy,” he answered back. “Gotta go now, see you in Ottawa.”

“K,” said Simone. “See ya.” 

Jamie raised his head over the Tesla like a periscope and did a quick 360. All clear, but he could hear sirens keening from multiple directions, and off in the distance helicopters and drones cut through the air. How many were looking for him was an open question that he didn’t want to learn the answer to.

Because Jamie knew the footage he and his drones were carrying could be fatal if the Americans found it on his person. It had all happened with the second so-called Canadian drone strike in Plattsburgh. The first strike a couple of days earlier had hit the US Air Force base with Canadian-made StealthFire missiles, but the Americans had shot down a drone that crashed near the downtown core, killing two people in a WalMart parking lot. Photos of the drone were All-Canadian right down to the maple leaf on its carbon fibre body, and President Detwiler lost no time accusing the Canadians of launching an undeclared war on his country.

Jamie saw the first American telecast of the attack, grabbed his gear, and immediately drove straight south, crossing the border south of Ottawa just before it was closed by Homeland Security, and then making his way over to Plattsburgh.

Jamie’s job title was videographer, but in reality he was more like the human hub of a drone fleet that captured high rez video in often extreme situations. The days of a human carrying a camera and wandering into a firefight were long gone; modern journalists for the big outfits were usually sophisticated cyborgs, using neural nets, antennae, virtual reality glasses and a variety of transmission technologies to dispatch and control the camera-carrying drones. 

Jamie’s neural tech was top notch, and he’d been using that type of technology since he was 19, serving as a comm-tech in the Scottish Highland Commandos back in his home country. After completing his service his choices seemed to be working for a security company, working as a mercenary, or moving into journalism. Sick of killing, Jamie found the choice an easy one, and as it turned out, the job of combat cameraman was one he excelled at. As Simone liked to say, Jamie “…was good at getting into trouble, and almost as good at getting out of it.”

Jamie certainly hoped that was the case … because it seemed he had half the US army after him, not to mention a fleet of killer drones and most of the cops in Plattsburgh.

His drones had been there, in perfect position to pick up footage of a second attack on the airbase … but then things got weird. Right after the attack, with smoke billowing from hangars and aircraft on the tarmac, the attack drones turned and skimmed low over the nearby Lake Champlain, heading back for Canada, minus two that were hit over the base.

But Jamie was right on the lake, and immediately directed a couple of his drones to “Follow with Stealth.” And what they saw, he knew, had the potential to start or end a war, or alternatively get him killed. 

Jamie watched the whole thing from the perspective of one of the drones, using the neural link and projecting the scene onto his VR glasses. As far as anyone else knew, he was just another guy at the beach wearing dark sunglasses, but from Jamie’s perspective it was more like being at the seat of a fighter jet.

When the attack drones came over, Jamie’s drones were perched on tree branches in a marsh not far from the air base. The Canadian drones hissed in quietly, just a few feet over the water, but happened to cross his own drone’s line of sight. Immediately Jamie gave the ‘follow’ command, and four of his tiny stealth drones took off and followed as closely as they could.

As they neared the base the four attack drones suddenly split up, leapt hundreds of feet into the sky, then pointed their noses down and fired two StealthFire missiles each. They then peeled away, each following a different path, twisting and turning to avoid the incoming fire coming sporadically from the ground. Jamie ‘saw’ first one, then two of the attack drones hit. One had a hole punched through it at centre mass, and simply fluttered down out of the sky, while the other belched flame and pinwheeled into a nearby field. 

The two surviving drones levelled out just over the ground, and headed for the lake at full speed, far too fast for his own small drones to track … but Jamie had planned this out in advance. He already had another flight of drones lined up at the Canadian border. They had filmed the drones coming in, and now waited to film them coming out … and it worked perfectly. 

In fact, too perfectly. 

Switching his neural link to the camera drone nearest the attackers’ flight path, he saw and filmed them streaking along the water, with American drones pursuing, but missing widely with their own anti-aircraft missiles and machine guns. The attack drones had a healthy lead, and were weaving through bushes and reeds that made them difficult to track.

At the border the attack drones continued streaking and weaving along the water while the US drones pulled a hard 180 and turned back toward the base … and then the weird thing happened.

The Canadian drones turned around as well.

At first Jamie thought they were just turning to engage the pursuing US drones, but that wasn’t the case. The attackers slowed and went into full stealth mode, and then quietly flew back past his own camera drones at the border, and then past his second flight of drones at the airbase. Again, Jamie switched the neural link so he could follow them all the way. He was also recording the low rez ‘proxy’ footage from all eight drones on a portable drive; the high rez version would have to wait until his drones returned.

Staring with disbelief into his phoney sunglasses, Jamie saw the ‘Canadian’ drones weave their way around inhabited areas of the town and toward the base, where they finally hovered and then landed at a remote corner of the sprawling facility. His own drones caught it all, approaching to within 200 metres to make sure these so-called attack drones could be properly identified.

And that’s when things went to hell.

Jamie was never quite sure how his drones were spotted. It might have been by the other American drones still flitting about, or by a lucky pair of eyes on the ground, or even through the Small Object Lidar Detector (SOLD) units surrounding the base, but suddenly he saw people on the ground pointing in the air, and a couple of drones abruptly spun, focused sharply on his units in an almost human-like way, and sped toward them.

“Oh shit,” said Jamie, and then sent the command, “Evade and Return.”

Seemed like good advice, so he did the same, folding his beach chair and trudging as quickly as possible over the sandy beach to his van. 

The drones were not far away, they could almost get there as fast as he could, and with any luck he could get them to just fly right in the back and take off before anyone put van and drones together. 

Unfortunately, that plan did not quite work out. Jamie’s drones were fast for their size, but they definitely couldn’t outrun the faster military drones, especially the ones with hydrogen jet engines. Jamie sat near the van, controlling the drone that filmed the landing of the fake attacker while ordering the others to run interference. At the same time his other drones from further north were coming in straight and fast, since they’d never been spotted. 

On his VR glasses the ground sped past as he dove down to ground level, so low he had to skip up over fences and cars and down below tree branches or power lines. Off in the distance he could hear the stutter of machine gun fire, and on his glasses saw rounds smashing into the ground all around the drone. 

His live feed indicated one drone had been hit and the indicator went suddenly dark, then 30 seconds later another abruptly lost contact as well. Jamie reacted like a fighter pilot, heeling his surviving drones hard left, then right, throwing off the pursuers for a precious minute, enough time to direct them right into the downtown core. 

In his glasses Jamie could see people’s mouths open in startled shouts and screams as two drones whizzed literally through the cars and the crowds of downtown workers and shoppers, but now the military drones had picked up their track again. He brought up a top-down map of the town in one corner of his view, and quickly found what he wanted. 

The drones took a hard right into an alleyway, losing the faster winged pursuers, but three of four pursuing rotor drones managed to follow, the other smashing through a shop window while pedestrians screamed and hit the ground around it. 

Jamie weaved his two drones through the alley, turned another hard right into a short deadend and then sent both into hard reverse, and then added power straight up. Below them the faster military drones rocketed past and smashed right into the building at the end of the lane. Just as his drones cleared the roof a sizeable explosion rocked the little craft, and a searing white light blinded Jamie as the cameras overloaded.

A sonorous boom rocked the town as the drones’ missiles went up, and Jamie whipped off his glasses to look quickly at the town, where a fireball briefly lit up the sky, followed by a burst of black smoke. 

Worse, Jamie saw several men dressed in uniform also turn and look at the explosion, but when they turned back they all looked at him. A family decked out in beach attire were all staring at him as well, a woman pointing right at him. 

“Oh bugger,” thought Jamie, and got up for a quick saunter back to the van.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw the men had picked up their pace; when one started to break into a jog Jamie just said “fuck it,” dropped all pretences, and ran like hell.


While Jamie was in a bad fix, outnumbered and alone in a foreign country filled with hostile soldiers, he had one advantage his pursuers weren’t counting on. 

As a member of Scotland’s elite commandos, Jamie had been given and had taken the option of extending his physical abilities through cybernetic enhancements. These included not only his military grade neural net, but also silicone enhanced musculature in his arms, shoulders, pelvis and legs, and a variety of enhancements that increased his ability to survive injuries. After two tours in war zones, the Scottish military was legally bound to keep his hardware and firmware updated so that he would never be crippled by breakdowns in his cybernetic gear.

In other words, Jamie was fast, very fast, and could jump like an athletic kangaroo. That, coupled with the adrenalin surging through his veins, allowed Jamie to take off like he’d been fired out of a cannon. He left the beach at a sprint, arms pumping, and crossed the street to jump directly over a fence into a private property. Jamie had been chased before, and he knew that unless his pursuers included some US Special Forces, there was no way they could keep up to him as he leapt over fences like a horse through a steeplechase course. At the same time he brought up his look-down map and saw he was little over a kilometre away from a shopping mall with a multi-storey carpark. Jamie kept running, but diverted some of his attention to his robotic gear, directing both his remaining drones and his self-driving Honda van to meet him on the third floor of the parking lot.

Turning into a school zone Jamie could hear cursing and swearing and a sudden cry of pain from behind him. He grinned, picturing the uniformed soldiers falling on their asses as they struggled over the fences he had just leapt over.

“God I love my job!,” he thought goofily, passing a couple of slow-moving cars in the school zone and waving at a bug-eyed volunteer crossing guard.  The carpark wasn’t much further and after leaving the school Jamie could see he was out of sight of his pursuers. He changed direction, taking alleyways on a more direct path toward the carpark, and within 90 seconds entered the mall itself. 

Here he slowed right down and tried hard not to look like a fugitive while still walking quickly toward the carpark. Unfortunately, Jamie was prone to sweating and despite all he could do to look ‘normal’, he could see a couple of security guards giving him the once over as he passed by. He ignored it, hoped they wouldn’t talk to the military guys who were sure to come through sooner or later, and then ran up the stairs three stories to where his van, hopefully, would be waiting for him. 

Just then, his phone rang. “Hello gorgeous!,” he said casually.


Funnily enough, the short conversation with his girlfriend calmed Jamie right down. It was as if that contact with normality wiped the panic out of his mind, and Jamie took a quick second to take stock. 

He could hear a vehicle coming up the curving ramps, and looking over the old Tesla he saw his van coming into view from one direction, while four more of his drones flew in through the open walls of the carpark. 

“Welcome home, boys and girls,” he said, and calmly stepped into the van. 

Like Jamie himself, the van had been altered significantly to better serve the role of a combat camera crew. It was lightly armoured with carbon nanotube plate, and the back was heavily modified to act as both a storage unit and repair shop for the drones. The drones literally flew into the van and stored themselves, but Jamie took the one drone with the most important footage and downloaded that footage into his own drive before letting it rest. He stuck the drive into an inside pocket in his pants, just in case he got separated from the drones or the van.

Clambering into the back, Jamie opened a set of drawers lining the passenger side wall. These contained a wide variety of handy gizmos, but also stored a variety of items used as a disguise. Within minutes Jamie had transformed from a highly visible and very fit looking red-headed Scotsman into a very ordinary middle-aged man with brown hair, decidedly ugly sunglasses, and a middle-aged paunch. Slouching a bit behind the wheel, Jamie examined the map of Plattsburgh and the route to the Canadian border. He knew the border would be closed and all routes heavily guarded, but he had one trick up his sleeve he was pretty sure the Americans wouldn’t expect. 

He was also pretty sure he had little time to waste. Sirens were wailing across the city, and Jamie knew that if he gave his opponents enough time they would eventually lock the entire area down tight. He had to move before that happened, and camouflage himself among the citizens of the town. All he had to do was make it through a short, quick drive back to Lake Champlain, and he’d be fine. 


Instructing the van to drive slowly, Jamie curled the van back down the exit ramps, paid the parking fee with the chip embedded in his wrist, and then went back into manual driving mode for the rest of the trip. He didn’t want to be messing about with buttons if his pursuers spotted him. 

Driving like his nanny on the way to church, Jamie made his way out of the downtown and back toward the lake, but heading further north. He wanted to get to within two or three kilometres of the border before leaving the van, or his plan just wouldn’t work. 

But for all his careful planning, Jamie had neglected one thing. The men chasing him had seen his van, and they had seen his distinctive, retro-looking VR sunglasses. And he found that out the hard way at a stoplight as he panned around, and looked directly into the eyes of one of the same soldiers who had chased him earlier.

He was gratified to see the man had a large rip in his uniform trousers, but considerably less happy to see the soldier shout “There he is,” and pull out a large pistol.

He flipped the soldier his middle finger and stepped on the accelerator, hard. The van didn’t look like much, but would do 0 to 100 kmh in three seconds flat. Jamie’s head snapped back as he heard shots and the ping and whine of bullets ricocheting off the rear doors, the screech of tires as self-driving cars and trucks intelligently hit the brakes and smartly evaded his van. He whizzed through the red light and took evasive action, turning left against traffic and sending more vehicles skidding around him, then right and another left before flooring it and letting the van unwind on a main street that led roughly toward his destination of Allen’s Bay, a marsh area where he hoped to hide until all the fuss died down.

He thought the “Launch drones” command through his neural net, and didn’t bother looking back as his six remaining drones buzzed into life, and exited through a skylight that opened in the back of the van. “Watch for pursuers,” he commanded next. 

By now all of the drones would have downloaded their high res footage into the van’s storage drive, so he didn’t need them anymore. Instead, he had them feed data on possible roadblocks or pursuing vehicles, and in a few seconds that information flooded the map on his Heads Up Display. 

Jamie was now heading north on Margaret Road, which turned into Highway 9 north to the border, but he took the interchange onto the 314, and punched it hard on the straightaway through Cumberland Bay Park.

The HUD showed one roadblock about a half-kilometre ahead, and others off to his left on Highway 9… but there was a park and some empty land off the road to his left. The drones also picked up fast moving vehicles behind, and a screen where a rearview mirror would have been showed a cop car with flashing lights and some sort of armoured car speeding along behind him.

They also picked up some drones far off in the distance, vectoring in from the area around Plattsburgh air base. 

Jamie figured he’d be pretty safe from gunfire right in the middle of town … and then thought twice about that as the armoured car opened up with a roof mounted machine gun. 

This time only some of the rounds pinged off the van’s armour; the others punched right through and some ventilated the passenger seat while two bounced off the bulletproof windscreen and just about took his head off. 

Jamie screamed, all that calm now gone, and wrenched the wheel to the right. He punched a button on the Honda’s dash and shouted “Siri, Offroad mode!,” and felt the van bounce up a few inches. Jamie drove the van across the oncoming lane, scattering some self-driving cars, then leapt the van off the road and into the park, sailing 20 metres through the air before hitting the ground hard and slewing around onto a bicycle path that ran past a marshy pond. He hit the accelerator hard again,  and held on tight while the overpowered van skidded crazily down the path sending cyclists and pedestrians scattering like frightened chickens. 

Jamie risked a quick glance into his rearview screen and then wished he hadn’t.

The cop car had overturned behind him in the park, but it was followed by several others and the armoured car was right behind, not fazed at all by the drop off the road. And about a kilometre back he could see a couple of rotor drones gaining fast. A helicopter pulled up alongside with a human at the controls and a guy with a large mounted machine gun pointing at him through an open side door.

It seemed like a bit of overkill for one reporter in a Honda. 

Jamie got to the end of the park and smashed the van through a chainlink fence leading to some empty fields. 

The rough ground rocked the van like a pair of maracas and Jamie’s teeth rattled painfully in his head. The map said he had less than a kilometre to go, but the drones were almost on to him and the armoured car was well within firing range. Jamie realized then that no one was shooting, and the map showed why. He had literally driven himself into a corner. There was no way to drive the van out of here, other then back the way he’d come, and that route was covered by cop cars and drones and soldiers and helicopters. 

The cops and the military didn’t plan to shoot him anymore. They planned to capture him. And that, he was pretty sure, would be much worse. Jamie realized he had probably been a little optimistic telling Simone he would see her again in Ottawa. He felt bad about that, but there was no way he was going to let these bastards take him alive. He’d seen what torture looked like first hand, and if he was going to die, he’d rather do it quickly.

Jamie looked ahead and saw his only way to avoid capture, and sighing, decided to take it. “Self destruct,” he told his drones, and didn’t have to look to know they were smashing themselves into the lake or the ground.

He pushed the accelerator all the way down and simultaneously opened the windows. The van rocketed forward and bounced its way hard onto a large concrete slab, likely the foundation for a long-abandoned warehouse. Jamie braced himself for the impact and then drove the van directly off the slab and into the lake where it stopped dead with a monstrous splash. The airbags and the windshield smashed into his face at the same time a rush of water punched in from the window knocking Jamie senseless.

The van rolled, then sank quickly. By the time the soldiers and cops had rolled to a stop the van was completely under the water. Drones circled the area scanning for movement or signs of life, and found nothing.

Chapter 2 of Burning Earth: Climate Wars

Here is the second chapter of my novel, which you can BUY ON AMAZON. I’m only allowed to post three chapters under Amazon rules, but I do want to give prospective readers a good idea what the novel’s like before they plunk down their hard-earned cash! If you like it, you can buy the book by clicking the button below.- Gary Symons

Chapter Two

The Secret Summit

“Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Benjamin Franklin.

It took a full week to get back to Ottawa from the Alhambra survivalist camp. Simone spent a few more days with her grandfather and his motley crew of refugees, dissidents, and ex-soldiers. She resisted their entreaties to stay, and just before leaving she had taken her satellite phone and given it to the old man. 

The Alhambrans had solar panels and a good ham radio, but satellite phones also required an ongoing, paid account that couldn’t be handled by people with no money and no credit. The sat phone would give them a way to reach out into the world, and even provide basic internet. More importantly, it meant she could again speak to her grandfather on a regular basis. She considered it cheap at the price.

In return the Jefe provided her with an armed escort and a solar assisted e-Jeep all the way to Jaen, where she caught a train to Madrid, and then the HyperLoop back to the seaport in Bordeaux. 

Compared to her almost solo journey to Alhambra the trip was arduous, but not dangerous. The fierce looking Alhambra warriors were apparently well known in the region. No one dared send anything worse than a dirty look their way.

By the time she stepped back into her office at the CBC newsroom Simone was raring to get back to work. She’d been carrying a secret with her all the way from Europe, from before her time in Alhambra, all the way from Edinburgh where her sources had leaked information, including some internal emails, about a confidential summit scheduled for February 15th on the remote but luxurious island resort of Paloma, located on the Falkland Islands. 

That in itself wasn’t completely unheard of; top diplomats did occasionally gather during a crisis to see if they could find a peaceful way out of the maze. But it was the topic of this summit that had Simone so interested. She was determined to crash the party, but that would take money; a lot more money than CBC would typically pay out for an investigation.

According to her sources, the summit would include top diplomats and ministers from most of the world’s superpowers, including the allied nations of Canada, the EU, and the Viking Alliance, but also the Brazilians, the Chinese, the Argentinians and the Russians. 

The US had been invited, but the emails Simone had seen indicated the US President, a pompous windbag with a crazy Trumpian hairdo and a predilection for invoking the word of an All-American God, was resisting. 

More importantly to Simone, her sources within the Scottish diplomatic corp were alleging this wasn’t just a summit to prevent the latest trade war or to discuss sanctions against one nation or another. They claimed this summit was being held to stave off the threat of a full-on nuclear conflict. 

When Simone had fiercely told her grandfather she was preparing to fight for the Earth, this threat was what she was secretly referring to. The briefing was scheduled to be held as soon as she got back. Simone didn’t even stop off at home, didn’t even stop to see Jamie, who was out of town covering another random mortar attack in Quebec in any event. She just grabbed her weapons from the secure luggage racks, got into an air-taxi, and went straight to the CBC’s rooftop landing port.

Striding quickly to the editor’s office Simone shrugged off the greetings of fellow reporters and producers; she had priorities today. One month until the summit … and she planned to be there, undercover.

The national news editor, Birgitta Sidhu, saw her coming and got up to open the door and usher her in. “Hey Simone, welcome back,” she said briskly. “I’m bringing head of investigative into this, so have a seat.” Birgitta clacked off down the corridor, her heels beating a rapid-fire tattoo on the tile. 

Simone did so, sitting down at Birgitta’s small conference table, and cracking open her tablet and keyboard while she waited. The thing she loved about Birgitta is she never wasted time with small talk. She was all-business and counted every second of every day as a resource that shouldn’t be squandered; a good attitude for a woman who had to provide a never-ending flow of news for one of the largest networks in the world. 

By the time Birgitta returned with Antoine Shyaka, Simone had already hooked up her tablet to the room’s display screens and brought up the emails on one monitor, and a detailed visual report on the Paloma resort on the other. 

Antoine, a massive man in his 50s, buried Simone’s hand in his own, gave her an equally brief greeting, and then sat and looked at the screen.

“Okay,” he said, his face shaded by the skepticism he was famous for. “Let’s see what ya got.”

“Take a deep breath, guys,” said Simone. “This is pretty wild.”


Simone began by running through the tip she got from a Scottish diplomat in a very hush-hush meeting at a pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. It wasn’t far from the Scottish parliament down the hill, and it was easy for the two of them to lose themselves among the shoppers and tourists who still made their way to the Scottish capital.

But it was the emails that immediately grabbed their interest. One of them was between the Chief of Staff for Katerin Sondstrom, the hawkish Prime Minister of the Viking Alliance, and a number of top Scottish Foreign Service officials. The Scottish Prime Minister, Robert Stuart, was cc’d on the email. After a short preamble, the email stated, “Viking intelligence confirms the lead from CSIS (Canadian Secret Intelligence Service) that the US government has entered into a military alliance with Brazilia and China. Sources deemed reliable indicate purpose of alliance is a simultaneous strike on Canada from the US, on Russia and Mongolia from China, and on Argentina by a combined Brazilia and US force. Timing unknown but may be imminent.”

Antoine and Birgitta both sat back in their seats, their foreheads creased with worry. “Fuck,” said Antoine. “Are you sure this intel is solid? Because if this is true, we could be royally screwed.”

“More like presidentially screwed,” answered Simone. “My sources believe it’s the US President who’s pushing this hardest. I have more intel in here – look, it’s the fifth email, near the bottom – where CSIS states the President actually believes Canada was stolen from the Americans in the War of 1812. All that anti-Canadian sentiment he’s whipping up … I think it’s the public relations precursor to an attack. 

“In other words, we’re the ones with the targets on our backs, and the Americans are the ones with their fingers on the trigger.”

“Good God,” said Birgitta. “That lunatic would pull that trigger too. But, why would all these countries get into a war they don’t have much chance of winning? I mean, the US against Canada? Their military is pretty worn out, right? You think they’re really going to throw that ratty outfit at the second largest military in the world? They’d have to be nuts.”

“Yeah,” said Antoine, before Simone could break in. “But consider what we’re already finding out about the White House this year. I mean, the new Secretary of State is a religious fanatic who believes in the End of Times, and the President is a narcissist and probably a psychopath who can’t stand the idea America has been surpassed by other countries. 

“All of his PR since he got to the White House has been a rehash of the old Trumpian “Make America Great Again” nonsense. I think he really believes he can take us out, and if he believes that, why wouldn’t he?”

Birgitta was more skeptical. “Maybe … but the US has got to know they can’t beat us on the ground. They only have two carriers left. Their airforce is antiquated, their armoured regiments are made up mainly of relics left over from their Civil War, and our drone forces outnumber theirs by at least two to one. Short of a nuclear exchange … which they would surely lose … how exactly are they thinking they can take on Canada?”

This time it was Simone who spoke up. “Good question, but maybe the wrong question,” she argued. “Maybe they have some secret weapon, or maybe they thought they would have the element of surprise … but maybe it’s simpler than that.”

“How do you mean?”, asked Antoine, steepling his long fingers in front of his dark, intelligent face.

“I mean,” said Simone, “sometimes people do things that are not sane when they are really desperate for something. Remember when the North Africans attacked Europe through Spain? Everyone knew they didn’t have a chance in hell! They’d have to defeat both the EU and the Viking Alliance, and they didn’t have close to the forces they needed to defeat either.”

The editors nodded thoughtfully. The Spanish conflict had been one of the great humanitarian disasters of the last century. The EU, overwhelmed by a flood of climate refugees,  had closed its doors to the millions of desperate Africans and Arabs coming from the south, where global warming had led to long years of drought, starvation, and plague. The charismatic leader of Morocco, Abd Al-Hamid, convinced his allies they could push the Europeans back, and return Spain to Moorish rule just as the Spanish had pushed out the Moors many centuries before. 

No one really believed at the time the attack would happen, but it did. Spain was hit by surprise airstrikes that initially grounded their airforce and paralyzed troop movement. Then a massive invasion force landed near the city of Cadiz and rapidly pushed inland, burning down cities and towns as they advanced.

But that had not lasted long. Aircraft and drones flew sortie after sortie against the Moorish Army, and the great navies of the Scots, the EU and the Vikings sailed into the Mediterranean bringing more aircraft, drones, missiles and armed land forces. The invasion had turned into a bloody rout. Cut off from retreat, the Moors were surrounded and massacred, and the combined forces of a vengeful Europe had turned their attention to Africa, launching thousands more sorties by bombers, missiles and drones. 

Al-Hamid ended up being executed by his own people, and in the end more than half a million soldiers and civilians died with no gain for anyone. 

But the Moorish Folly was instructive, Simone argued. “People now are desperate,” she pointed out. “The US was crippled by the Civil Wars, and global warming has really hit them much harder than it has Canada. Their agriculture has been declining for 40 years, their industry isn’t much better, but they still have one of the world’s largest armed forces, and worse, they still have the largest nuclear force in the world.”

“Yeah, but that nuclear force is pretty antiquated next to ours,” pointed out Antoine. 

“Not my point,” replied Simone. “You’re being logical. What I’m saying is that the American president, and maybe his allies, are no longer logical. Maybe they’ve convinced themselves that God is on their side. Or maybe they don’t care if they lose. That lunatic Preacher in the White House might be just as happy if the world turns into a cinder!”

Antoine and Birgitta stayed quiet for a minute after that. “What do you think, Antoine,” asked Birgitta.

Antoine looked deeply troubled, which was rare for him. He had been a war correspondent in the past, among other things covering the bloodshed in Africa as that continent tore itself apart in the wake of the Great Famine. His own family on his mother’s side had come to Canada more than a century before while fleeing the Rwandan genocide, and while most of his family was Quebecois, Antoine was very aware of how madness could overtake an entire society. 

He was also aware that American troops had fired mortar shells across the border yesterday, claiming they were retaliating for a Canadian drone strike in upper state New York.

He turned his dark, serious eyes toward the two women. “I think we need to find out what the fuck is going on before someone burns down the planet,” he said. “Now, how are we getting you into that summit?”

Simone grinned, knowing she’d won the story pitch. “That’s the best part,” she said.


This is Me, When I Saw My Book Hit the Amazon Best Seller Lists in Sci Fi

A guy deserves a cold, frosty beverage when his book hits the bestseller list … not that I need an excuse. By the way, this is an Artisanal cider from the Truck 59 Cidery in WEST KELOWNA, so technically it’s not day drinking. It’s ‘sampling’.

Burning Earth: Climate Wars Hits Top 20 in Amazon Bestseller List

Every time I’ve looked at the Amazon Best Seller lists, my eyebrows crawl a bit higher on my forehead.

I looked at 3:22 p.m. on Feb. 27 at my new novel, Burning Earth: Climate Wars, on its Amazon Page and the book was up to #19 under High Tech Science Fiction, and #54 under Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. The weird thing is the book is on pre-order only, so there are no reviews posted for it yet. All I did was post the first chapter on my Blog, and off it went.

I keep thinking someone is playing a practical joke on me.

In the event it’s all true, and not some delirious dream brought on by too much Neo Citran (yeah, still sick, so that’s awesome), I just want to thank all of you book lovers out there willing to take a chance on a new writer. It is greatly appreciated!

How the Hell did my Unknown Book Become an Amazon Bestseller, When it’s Not Even Out Yet?

I’ve been a writer for 35 years now, but in all that time I never wrote or published a book.

So, I was completely in the dark about what would happen when I published my first novel. That happened just last week, but because I haven’t received the proofs for the paperback yet, I put the novel on Amazon as a pre-order, to be delivered on March 15.

A couple of days ago I was shocked to see the book had hit #76 on the Bestseller List for Hard Science Fiction, and #248 for Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, which is actually a very competitive category. I thought, man, if it stays there I’m the happiest guy in the world.

(Although, admittedly, I’m dying to get in the Top 10, at which point I would become very hard to live with! See my ingratiating, self-serving blog post HERE.)

Anyhow, I woke up this morning, bleary from a three-day head cold, or maybe Kelowna’s first case of coronavirus, and took a gander at my Amazon page. Then I spewed coffee all over my keyboard. As of this post the book hit #23 for High Tech Sci Fi (my favourite genre, by the way) and moved into the Top 100 for the highly competitive Post Apocalyptic Fiction category at #93. You can SEE THE BOOK PAGE HERE.

And that’s for a book in pre-order.

Please keep in mind that I have done nothing intelligent whatsoever in terms of marketing. I basically put out word to some of my friends, started this blog, sent a few copies to reviewers who haven’t even read it yet, and then went along my usual merry way.


Is there another Gary Symons out there who’s a major author? Do people just really like the cover? Is it the book description, or maybe are people just really interested in the topic of climate change in a futuristic Earth? I’m hoping it’s the latter, but who knows.

Obviously, I know I shouldn’t be writing any of this, or even thinking it out loud. I should take credit (somehow) for my brilliant writing or marketing or something. Instead, I am happily baffled.

One thing I am going to do, though, is publish the first three chapters of my novel on this site, so people can actually read a sizeable excerpt and make an informed decision. I actually think the book is quite good; I was truly inspired by the topic and put a tremendous amount of work into the background research which informs the story, and I think it humanizes the topic of climate change in a way that’s been missing in the overall discussion. So, there’s that.

But only a small number of people who have bought the book have actually read an excerpt, so I’m going to fix that today.

To those of you who have bought a copy of Burning Earth: Climate Wars, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means a lot.

For those of you who haven’t, please make a rash and uninformed decision, and plunk down some of your kid’s tuition money, and buy 10 or 20 copies. If I could get to the Top 10, I would literally laugh my ass off.

Thanks again, Gary Symons

I have a $4 favour to ask of you ….

You may have seen I recently published my first novel Burning Earth: Climate Wars for pre-order on Amazon, which you can FIND AT THIS LINK. Yesterday I was blown away to find out my book hit #76 on the Amazon Best Seller List for High Tech Fiction. Apparently, a lot of people hit the wrong button.

My head immediately swelled to three times its already inflated size, and I thought, hey, why not Top Ten?

So, I have a teeny tiny favour to ask. It’ll cost you $3.95 Cdn plus tax in Canada, or $2.99 USD if you go through Amazon.ca.

I am brazenly, and only somewhat ashamedly, asking you to shell out cold hard digital currency for my book, on pre-order. I have the crazy idea that if friends, family, and the morbidly curious decide to do this, my little underdog of a post-apocalyptic novel could hit the Top Ten.

How many people would that take?

The number 10 book as of this writing is ‘Ready Player One’, which is actually a very good book. However, I would also point out that both my mother and my wife think my book is much better than Ready Player One. (No offence, Ernest Cline, it’s just the truth).

I cleverly copied the Amazon Best Seller Ranking of Ready Player One, which was number 1,863 out of all the books on the store, and entered it into an online calculator by TCK Publishing, which tells me Ready Player One probably sold about 119 books in one day. It’s on the internet, so it must be true.

So, to crack the Top 10 in my category, I would have to sell more than 119 books in a day. Any day, doesn’t matter which one. I just want to get on the Top Ten for one frickin’ day in my entire life. Then I can die happy. But I won’t die (at least, not right away). No, I will go to the pub and become insufferable for a solid 24 hours.

I realize this is an ignoble cause, when you could give your money to a variety of worthwhile charities. I understand this is all about vanity and my own overly competitive nature. Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be cool if we got that virtually unknown book to Number Ten?

Also, I would point out that in the end you will also have a spanking new ebook that you can read, or use to prop open a door, or as a coaster when you’re drinking a cold beverage. So, win-win.

All kidding aside, thanks to all of you who bought my book already. And please know, if you don’t buy the book, I won’t hunt you down at your home or place of employment. I’m bigger than that … and also very poor at directions.

((( Editor’s Note: Gary is new at this, and doesn’t really understand the nature of ebooks. To be clear, you cannot use an ebook to prop open a door, or use as a coaster. There are no refunds just because you don’t have a new coaster! )))

My Book Hit the Bestseller List!!!

A couple of days ago I submitted my first novel to Amazon as a pre-order for publication, and wasn’t really expecting anything to happen until the ebook is formally published and downloadable on March 15th.

But today I looked at the Amazon page so I could send a link to a friend of mine, and I was happily shocked to see that the novel is now #76 on the bestseller list for High Tech Fiction (which is also my favourite category to read). It’s also in the top 300 for Post-Apocalyptic fiction.

I’m honestly not quite sure how that happened. Was it just the awesome cover my wife Stephanie designed? Was it a combination of that and perhaps the increasing interest in fiction about climate change? Did a lot of people just hit the wrong button?

Now I’m just hoping that those brave souls who have plunked down $3.95 Canadian ($2.99 in the US) will really enjoy the book. So much pressure! It’s like the lousy golfer who just hit that incredible long drive … but will the ball fall in the lake?

It’s me … so probably. I also suck at golf.

But, if this reaches any of you have bought the book, please know I really appreciate your support of a first-time novelist. Whether the book stays in the bestseller lists is a completely different question, but it was tremendously exciting to see my novel in that list, right under Isaac Asimov yet! Is it possible I’m just hallucinating. Was there something weird in last night’s tacos?

Anyhow, I’m pretty keen on this best-selling writer thing, so let me just ask, brazenly and with only a modicum of shame: Go buy a copy of Burning Earth: Climate Wars! Tell all your friends and family! Rent a billboard or shout it from the rooftops!

Cuz yeah, I’m 76 now, and gunning for #1. James Corey better watch out, because we’re gonna knock Leviathan Wakes off the top shelf.

Also, in my dreams, I’m a really good golfer … but a guy can dream, right?