Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Beware the Ides of March..."

Kirov Series: Volume 36


  Vladimir Karpov takes his private war to the Marianas, and meets Admiral Kita’s Task Force head on as the mighty Kirov once again joins the action in the Pacific.
The Allied Generals meet to decide their strategy, and the fate of Operation Overlord hangs in the balance. Then the war in the West takes a dramatic turn when Rommel and Guderian launch their bid to isolate and destroy Patton’s 7th Army in Operation Valkyrie. The battle that results rapidly redraws the lines on the war maps, and threatens to decide the outcome in the West. As the fiery General Patton commits everything to hold his position, he then launches a stunning counterattack, but in a most unexpected direction.

  As Manstein makes his dramatic withdrawal to the Dnieper, the shifting loyalties of Ivan Volkov take him to a dangerous meeting in Leningrad with Sergei Kirov. There he makes his final bid for a cease fire and peace terms with the Soviet Union, and a startling offer that becomes much more than it seems.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Here There Be Dragons...

Kirov Series #35


NOTE: This was originally titled "1944" but as all the action here occurs in late 1943, that title is now reserved for the next book, Volume 36.

 AVAILABLE NOW : $4.99 (Kindle Version)

About Dragonfall

Here comes the next volume of the long running Kirov Series, and right on schedule, only it has been retitled Dragonfall. The title it releases, 1944, will instead become volume 36, and largely because this action packed book needed all its chapters to finish off 1943.

We begin with a welcome return to the battlecruiser Kirov. With the Siberian off with Fedorov aboard Tunguska on their mission to get after Tyrenkov, the younger Karpov has taken command of our favorite ship, and his restless energy soon leads to battle. Eager to get the war moving against the Japanese, he decides to first clear up a logistical problem he had in supplying Petropavlovsk, the major port on the southeast coast of Kamchatka, taken earlier in the war. It can only be supplied by landing on the west coast, and hauling supplies over the rugged terrain of Kamchatka, so Karpov wants to open a sea lane through the 1st Kurile Strait.

The problem thee is the de-facto Japanese occupation of Shumushu and Paramushiro, two islands just off the southern tip of Kamchatka. Artillery, air units and naval units make any convoy through that strait a near suicide mission, and Karpov sees the only solution—assault and occupy those islands to clear the sea lane. This sets up the opening three chapters, as the mighty Kirov leads the Siberian offensive to accomplish this task.

Part II then takes up to the US strategy in the south Pacific. MacArthur wants Tulagi, but Nimitz wants to continue into the Marshalls. They will both get what they want, for the US finds itself strong enough to mount both offensives simultaneously. Yet the Combined Fleet has also reached its high water mark. Admiral Kita pledges his 21st century task force to serve Yamamoto’s needs, and they plan to go gunning for the US carriers. Enter Vladimir Karpov, and Kirov is back again by Part III, aptly entitled “Ambush.” Those next three chapters again bring Kirov and Kazan into direct confrontation with Admiral Kita and company, and the missiles and fireworks fly.

The next nine chapters take us to the East Front, for the onset of the Soviet Winter offensive. It has to major aims this time around, the capture of Kharkov in the south, and then the isolation of all German forces stubbornly defending at Moscow. Sergei Kirov wants his cities back. In all this action, we now see what the Soviet army has become capable of, and how the German situation grows ever more desperate in the East. The fortunes of some German Generals falter and fail, while others rise to take their place in the intense fighting that characterizes these nine chapters.

Part VII, “All Hallows Eve” then takes us to Southern France to relate what the Allies are doing there in their last big offensive of 1943. Beginning in late October, the action rages into late November with drives by Patton, Clark, O’Connor, and Montgomery all complicating Rommel’s defense, which struggles desperately to hold back the Allied surge. The action finally shocks Hitler into seeing the gravity of the threat now posed by the US and British forces in France.

After this brief three chapter roundup on action in the West, we then return to the Pacific. The title of this volume is derived from this action, for a full 16 of the 36 chapters in the book deal with battles in the Pacific, and Kirov is right in the middle of things. Yamamoto throws the Kido-Butai at the US Navy, intending to counterattack through the Solomon Sea towards Tulagi, which is Bull Halsey’s watch. At the same time, Nagumo sets out to see if he can stop Nimitz in the Marshalls, which is soon seen as the more immediate threat by Yamamoto. He decides to reinforce Nagumo at the expense of Hara’s operation in the Solomons, and two big carrier actions result as the resurgent Kido-Butai meets the ever strengthening power of the US fast carrier task forces under Spruance, Mitscher, Fletcher and Ziggy Sprague.

I won’t tell you which dragon gets slain, but its right in line with all the great Pacific battles we’ve see thus far. After this segment concludes in Chapter 31, the book the reserves the last five chapters for Fedorov and the Siberian Karpov’s mission against Tyrenkov, which has taken a strange twist when the airship arrives just hours before the event it is named after. This segment takes up right where it left off at the conclusion of Event Horizon, and drives that plot line forward, with all its many ramifications and consequences involving the viability of the altered states we have been living in for so long.

Ending with a recap of all the great action of 1943, this volume concludes on New Year’s Eve of that year, and we are now poised to enter the decisive year that will entitle the next volume, 1944. This compelling and detailed alternate history of the war drives faithfully on, and now we’re entering territory that will feature some of the most colorful and interesting battles of the war. The Allies are still planning a cross channel attack. The heavy bombers may lead off a major breakout operation in France akin to Operation Cobra. There may be a big airborne operation like Market Garden in the offing. The US may blunder into the nightmare that was Hurtgen Forest. Hitler will most certainly risk everything in one more counterattack like the Battle of the Bulge. The U.S. will surely go for the Marianas at Saipan and Tinian soon, even while MacArthur hastens to invade New Georgia so he can break the Bismarck Barrier and be in a position to return to his cherished Philippines. And oh yes, Georgie Zhukov will have his mind set on crossing the Dnieper.

I’ll be there!

AVAILABLE NOW : $4.99 (Kindle Version)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Season 5 Premier


Available Now

Season Five Begins with Prime Meridian

    The War in the West takes a dangerous step forward when Churchill orders a dramatic retaliatory strike on Germany. Even as plans are laid for the invasion of Italy, Marshall and Eisenhower now steer the course of the campaign in a bold new direction. But first, the last of the German fleet in the Med must be challenged at sea. In the battle that follows, the German battlecruiser Kaiser Wilhelm soon finds itself grappling with a mystery, and strange new foes on the high seas.
       Meanwhile, Gennadi Orlov makes a most fateful decision and sets out to find Ivan Volkov in 1908. He is joined by a most unexpected visitor, but they soon find that they are not the only ones in the hunt, and events in the crucial year of 1908 now threaten to spiral out of control.
      The Fairchild group continues its quest for the lost key, even as the Meridian Project team detects the onset of a dangerous wave of utter annihilation in the distant future that threatens the integrity of Time itself.

  The Grand Finality they have long feared begins to cast its ever deepening shadow, and the fate of the Prime Meridian is now in grave jeopardy.


    After being upstaged by Sir Roger Ames in the marvelous retelling of the Waterloo Campaign,Field of Glory, Season 5 now begins with Prime Meridian. Like the Season 4 Premier, Doppelganger, the book’s striking cover hints strongly that this volume will take us deeper into the mysteries, and consequences, of time travel, which has always been at the heart of the series itself. Readers know that ‘nothing is written,’ nothing ever certain, and ‘everything is permitted, ‘as the old Ismali saying goes. In Prime Meridian, several missions into the past now present us with some startling twists, and grave consequences.

    Even as the war continues, with the Allies now poised to make their invasion of Italy, the Germans must decide how and where to defend. Kesselring argues strongly that the key ports and airfield complexes in the south should be defended, while Rommel holds that everything should simply be pulled back to the Apennine Range and only the Po Valley should be held. At the same time, the Allies are dickering over any number of options now open to them after the fall of Corsica. Churchill proposes a daring move into the Balkans, Montgomery prefers his historical “Heel and Toe” operations, and with Sardinia in hand, now Allied air power can easily cover a thrust aimed directly at Rome. The plan that is finally chosen is, however, most unexpected, a conspiracy born of collusion between Eisenhower and General Marshall.

    Yet everything these men grapple with pales before the dilemma now facing Fedorov and company. A triumvirate of our local heroes, Volsky, Fedorov, and Karpov (the Siberian), finally agree on an attempt to eliminate Ivan Volkov to prevent the rise of the Orenburg Federation. Yet their plans are complicated by the great loose cannon in the story, one Gennadi Orlov. Separated from Fedorov’s team on their last mission to Ilanskiy, Orlov has remained behind in 1908. Now he makes a fateful choice when he detects another modern day naval service jacket signal, and realizes who it must be.

    Orlov has always been a wild card in the deck of the main series characters on the battlecruiser Kirov. His bumbling about, impulsive decisions, strange finds on the tundra of Siberia, have always introduced some of the major plot twists of the series, and that will certainly be the case again here. First, Orlov finds he is not alone as he sets off to hunt down Ivan Volkov. The plan hatched by Fedorov and company is now about to undergo a convulsive twist, and the implications are more threatening to the integrity of the history than anything that has yet happened in the series.

    Meanwhile, the Meridian Project cannot fail to notice what is happening from the vantage point of the Berkeley Lab facility in 2021. With war imminent, their Golem monitors now present a startling series of variations originating from 1908 and migrating all along the continuum, to their present. As all the series character sets slowly come to the same realizations about what is happening, the author uses the Meridian Team to explain all the time theory behind this development and make it more graspable. The striking cover illustrates this as well, though you won’t find out what the Hindu statue means until very near the end of this one. It’s an amazing synthesis of the author’s entire universe of writing, all blooming now in the middle of this marathon retelling of the history of WWII.

    Ever since the arrival of physicist Paul Dorland, reprising his role as Lieutenant Commander Wellings from the final book in the author’s Meridian time travel series, he and his project team of four intrepid researchers have made occasional cameo appearances in the story. We last saw them take notice of a new historical variation cause by Sir Roger Ames in Field of Glory. In fact, they even attempted to prevent his intervention there, but he was able to slip away on the eve of Waterloo, which led to that excellent retelling of the entire campaign. The time travel, while often brought keenly into focus, is always just a vehicle for the author to take us into some corner of the history where he has undoubtedly spent a long time grazing. Field of Glory is now as one of the most outstanding alternate history books ever penned, and as volume 1 in the Keyholder’s Saga, we get the promise of more to come in that series. In Prime Meridian, Dorland and his team appear again, getting about three full chapters near the end of this volume, largely used by the author to explain the consequences of things the other characters are doing, and to advance the mystery around the formation of that Grand Finality Elena Fairchild was warning about.

    Yet in spite of the cover emphasizing the time travel aspects of the story, this book is mostly focused on the history. The first 15 chapters all continue the evolving war in the West. Then we get a clever an interesting diversion in Part VI, where the author takes us on a little journey with the Russian Baltic fleet enroute to its fated appointment in the Tsushima Straits. That little incident makes a clever back-stitch to those events, which were echoed when Karpov arrived in 1908 with Kirov, deciding to reset the history in Russia’s favor. We all saw how that turned out. That segment sets up another intriguing loop involving the strange talisman Orlov discovered in Siberia, the Devil’s Teardrop. Then we get that seeming diversion stitched right back into the main story line where the German raider Kaiser Wilhelm has again broken off from Raeder’s task force. As before, mischief and mayhem lie dead ahead.

    All in all, Prime Meridian launches Season 5 quite well. We get new beginnings, echoes of past segments in the series, lines drawn to connect some of the many subplots, and at the end of this one, a terrifying twist that few will likely expect. Ahead lies the remaining months of 1943, and then the decisive year of 1944 in this long retelling of the war…. Assuming the time line holds together long enough for the author to write it all. Something tells me it will, as Mr. Schettler has, on more than one occasion, vowed that he would take the series all the way to the end of the war.

    And we get to take that wonderful ride!
    Look for Prime Meridian coming October 1, and welcome to Season 5.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Coming September 1

Keyholders Saga, Volume I


A Special Letter to Kirov Series readers concerning this book:

Dear Readers,
   As I labored to complete the final volume of Season Four, (Prime Meridian) the story suddenly took me on a journey that was far longer than the one I had planned. I was working on a segment involving the Duke of Elvington, and the mystery of the Keyholders. It was meant to simply give that plot line a little more ink, and carry his journey forward. In truth, he has been in the back of my mind for some time since first introduced way back in season one, and many readers have written to me asking what ever happened to him, and whether we would ever get to see what he was up to with his Footman Ian Thomas.
   As I wrote this segment, it began to draw me into his secret little mission again, and I also included the Meridian Project Team, who have now discovered the Duke’s name appearing suspiciously in and around variations in the history that they have been monitoring. I meant to stop there, and then continue on with my rampage through WWII, but the Waterloo battle was so compelling that I just kept going. The sound of drum and fife, the hard tramp of marching soldiers, and the distant rumble of cannon drew me inexorably to the Duke’s journey, and his strange rivalry with Fortier.

   I have always held to an important principle in my writing—when the story is there, alive in your mind and emerging from your imagination, by god, write it! So I did.  But Prime Meridian will be along very soon, and I will have it for you on Oct 1st. I just could not finish both volumes in 60 days, and Field of Glory was selected to prempt Prime Meridian and come out first. You should think of it as an essential part of the Kirov Series as a whole, and it will contain material vital to what happens in the series as it continues, so don't miss out.
  This battle was a place I have long wanted to go, and it dovetailed into several other aspects of the series as a whole: the physical time rifts created by the Tunguska Event, the mystery of the key found within the Selene Horse and then lost on HMS Rodney, and the expedition now launched by Fairchild and company to try and get to a place in the history where that key might be recovered before it was lost. In effect, the story I present to you here in this special edition is still an essential part of the Kirov Series.
   Sir Roger is also in pursuit of that key, using the one he already had to try and find it in an earlier time period--hence, his journey to the year 1815. But these novels are all about military history, and how could I set Ames and Thomas ashore at Ostend on the eve of Waterloo, and then tiptoe by the thunder of the campaign that would begin a day later? I could not. The urge to go there became irresistible, and so in order to show you what Sir Roger Ames and his rival Fortier were doing, I had to give you good look at the Waterloo Campaign they were tampering with, for that was where the deadly game between Sir Roger and his Rival Jean Michel Fortier was being played out.

   When Lord Nelson made an appearance in the story we learned that Fortier had been trying to bend the history towards a French victory at Trafalgar, one that would permit Bonaparte to carry out his plan to invade England. That plan was foiled, and you will learn more about Ames part in accomplishing that here. Yet that little victory did not end Fortier’s ambitions, as this tale will reveal. There are many key Nexus Points in the history where hidden Pushpoints lurk, just waiting to be found. Fortier thought he could find them at Waterloo, the campaign that seemed to be balanced on a razor’s edge, the “nearest run thing” that Wellington himself said he ever saw.
   I had to decide how to best develop and present this intriguing subplot. I could string it along, dropping chapters into books throughout Season Five, but suddenly that story line just took hold, and before I knew it, I had written this long alternate history depiction Waterloo campaign! The thought of slicing that all up and stuffing parts in to four or five books next season just seemed unappealing to me. The narrative had its own drama and gravity, and I just came to think that it simply had to be concentrated in one volume.

   So here it is, a special edition that has now slipped into the line of books in the series like someone sneaking into line at the movie theater. I will make it the Season Four Finale here, one of the most climatic battles in all modern history. Prime Meridian will then become the Season Five Premier, but you will not have to wait two more months for it. Since it is already more than half finished as of this writing, it will be released Oct 1. That volume has a major twist of the rope in terms of Allied strategy, is it pulls the war in a very different direction. And without my obsession with Waterloo taking up so many of its chapters, I can now focus better on that twist, and all the plot lines involving Orlov, Fedorov and Karpov.
   But it is Ames we follow most closely in this volume, and with him, we will inevitably be drawn into the dramatic events of mid-June, 1815, and the great battle of Waterloo. His tale is essential to the “Keyholder’s Saga,” and it is a road that must be taken in order to carry that mystery forward. That saga may end up seeing us visit other places in the history touched by the deep web of time rifts that have opened as a consequence of Tunguska, and also one that may reveal the other Keyholders who have thus far remained hidden.

   With the decision made to concentrate Sir Roger’s adventure into one volume here, I thought it best to reprise the few chapters scattered about in earlier volumes, as far back as Devil’s Garden and Armageddon. This would serve two goals: firstly, it would to concentrate the whole story here, like an army that has all of its corps present for battle. Secondly, it would make this novel capable of standing alone for any new reader interested in this history—in effect, “Keyholder’s saga, Volume I.” New readers would learn who the Duke of Elvington was, meet his Footman Thomas, and learn how they actually got to the scene of these events without having to find and read chapters here and there in three or four other Kirov Series novels. Otherwise, they would be lost.
   All in all, it just made sense to present the story this way, concentrating that subplot here instead of continuing to deliver it in small bites next season. So the opening six chapters will catch us all up, and then the rest of the book is all new material. Series readers may also find that I have seeded new “clues” in this opening material that they were not aware of when they first read it, so that helps as well.

   To simulate what happens in these events, I created a massive wargame map of Belgium, from Brussels to just south of Charleroi, and at 200 meters per hex. It was based on the excellent period map by Ferraris to be as accurate as possible, and I provide a link to that map so you can all use it to follow along and find the places mentioned in the narrative. As I do with all the alternate history battles in the series, this campaign was intensively researched and “gamed out” as I wrote the chapters presented here. It has long been a battle that has always been a personal obsession for me, I hope my enthusiasm for this campaign has inspired my prose.

Enjoy! - John Schettler

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Kirov Saga: Nexus Deep

Book 31 in the Kirov Series
By John Schettler


Volume 31 is right on schedule, and Nexus Deep opens with Admiral Cunningham aboard HMS Nelson as that lumbering battleship heads out to sea from Alexandria. Big things are soon to be afoot in the Mediterranean theater, but the author then makes a most unexpected transition to the famous Admiral that battleship was named for, Nelson himself aboard HMS Victory, in the year 1805. No, there was no time travel for the old WWII battlewagon, but it is a very clever opening that foreshadows a lot that happens in this book.

Old Lord Nelson becomes important for a couple reasons. The first we get an interesting look into the Admiral’s mind through his letters to the Admiralty, and orders to various ships, (one of which becomes very important.)  The author presents his view of what is most strategically important about the British situation in the Med. Is it Gibraltar? Malta? Not at all. Keep that in mind, for it will bear on decisions made by other Admirals and General over 140 years later, as the Allies close in on Tunis and Bizerte with a final grand offensive in Tunisia that aims at ending the war in North Africa.

If they do win through in Tunisia, where will they go next? That was the question settled at the Casablanca conference, but the outcome will be quite different here when Marshall, Brooke and all the Generals and Admirals get together. While Sicily is the obvious next target, the words of Lord Nelson echo through the history, and one would do well to heed them. Here they come on the lips of Admiral Tovey, who weighs in with his opinion from the naval perspective, much to Montgomery’s chagrin. The Tee-totaling British General is all set to tee up his familiar plan for the invasion of Sicily, but the fact that Malta remains in German hands presents a problem that the conference must now work out.

The result of their decisions is played out here before this novel ends, but there is a lot more going on, and some of it has to do with a Deep Nexus Point that has yawned open at the very outset of this volume.Elena Fairchild is now ready to launch her mission into the deeps of St. Michael’s Cave beneath the Rock, and that little adventure suddenly presents her intrepid team with the prospect of paradox. Intelligence Chief Mack Morgan plays the Devil’s Advocate as they work through the mission planning, but the real devilry happens later when this inkling of paradox emerges once the mission has already been launched. This plot line has been foreshadowed many times, and indeed, Fairchild got the idea for the mission from one Professor Dorland, long ago at the Azores conference. There, the time sleuthing Physics Professor (a primary character in the author’s Meridian Series time travel novels) makes his cameo appearances in the Kirov Series disguised as Lieutenant Commander  Wellings. Remember all that foreboding discussion about Paradox, Gordian knots and Grand Finalities? That shadow is again rising in the background as Fairchild is dead set on retrieving the key lost on Nelson’s sister ship, HMS Rodney.

These events in the Med serve as bookends for this novel, and in the center, the big battles on the Eastern Front are again taking center stage. The cover tells the story well enough for as it prominently features Field Marshal Manstein beneath a Panther Tank overlaid on a faded map of the German Kursk Offensive, Operation Zitadelle. Three plans are considered, Habicht (Hawk), Panther (an expanded version of Habicht), and the historical Zitadelle. Manstein argues strongly for the former, but as always, Hitler gets the last say.

Launched a month early in June of 1943, the German attack aims at regaining the momentum lost to the Soviets during the long defensive struggle against Operation Red Star. Manstein’s “Backhand Blow” was able to halt the enemy offensive, ending with the bitter  and costly battle of Volkov Yar, but while Belgorod was recaptured, the line of the Psel river that was once anchored on Oboyan was never restored. Now Hitler wants that lost terrain back, and he chooses the operation most likely to deliver the goods, and then some. His eyes are again set on a distant political target—you guessed it—Kursk in Operation Zitadelle.

One of the most interesting elements of these novels is the detailed depiction of the decision making on either side. All the key players meet and hash out the plans which will then be presented in the action/battle sequences dead ahead. As the operations proceed, both east and west, you can just feel the palpable turning point in the war playing itself out in this novel. We saw one such event in the Season 3 novel by that same name, Turning Point, and it changed the course of the war in North Africa. This time, the Germans finally reach high tide in Russia, and the dangerous receding ebb tides of mid to late 1943 lie dead ahead. Manstein’s inner muse is heavy with the realization that something has changed. The year that began with grand offensives into the Middle East and deep into Iraq, has now transitioned into a series of desperate holding actions. Both the Soviets and Allied Western forces are now formidable opponents, and the tension in this taut mid-point of the war is apparent on every front. The outcome of the battles presented here will be decisive.

Once it seemed that Germany was invincible, and on her way to a dramatic alternate history victory in WWII. The F├╝hrer had stormed into Poland, France, and then added Spain to his new European Empire, seizing Gibraltar and then moving on into Morocco and the Canary Islands. The Soviets were driven back with heavy losses to Moscow, and watched that city burn in that exciting action from 1941 when Sergei Kirov was rescued by his intelligence master, Berzin, and fled to Leningrad. The Japanese avoided Midway, and then landed on Fiji in the Pacific, while also storming Ceylon in the Indian Ocean. Then we saw Rommel and Guderian run wild in the Middle East and Syria, taking Damascus and Baghdad. It seemed that the Axis powers were surely on the road to Victory. Hitler even had a pair of working prototypes for a ballistic missile, complete with atomic warheads! (And by God, he’s already used one on London.) But things change....

As the novel bends toward its conclusion, Part XI returns us to the Fairchild mission, and a wonderful historical vignette that deepens the mystery of the Keyholders plot line. It seems that the man responsible for the fact that the key aboard Rodney ever got there in the first place, Lord Elgin, also had a son who undertook a most curious mission. This segment Curious Marbles is most riveting, and after twisting another clue into the narrative, the author then brings us to the final segment of this offering, aptly entitled Balance of Terror. The Allies know Hitler has the bomb, and even as they lay their plans for mid-1943, the shadow of that weapon hangs heavily on them all. Churchill comes up with a plan, and uses Tovey to make a most unexpected request of our heroes aboard the mighty Kirov. While they have receded in recent volumes, they nonetheless make appearances here, stage left and stage right, because their mission to 1908 is also gathering momentum. And then… oh yes… there is Orlov. We learn just where the Chief ended up, and what he does next will make all the difference in the world... in many worlds.

Need I say more?

Kirov Saga:
Nexus Deep

John Schettler

Part I – Minerva’s Curse
Part II – Operation Chariot
Part III – Time is Money
Part IV – Zitadelle
Part V – Rumyantsev
Part VI – Confrontation
Part VII – One Small Step
Part VIII– The Road to Taranovka
Part IX – Twenty Divisions
Part X – Collapse
Part XI – Curious Marbles
Part XII – Balance of Terror

36 Chapters, about 106,000 words 

The initial upload of the Kindle file during publication did not have the table of contents hyperlinked, and this will be corrected by 6/30/17.