Monday, April 8, 2019

Twilight's End - WWIII in the Pacific

About Twilight’s End:

   If you are an old Kirov Series fan and you haven’t checked in to see what been happening with Volsky, Fedorov, Karpov and the rest, you’ve been missing out. The entire 40 book series has just described a massive loop in time, and our heroes have finally returned to 2021. The Season 6 opener, Homecoming then began a haunting replay of what happened that day in the Norwegian Sea when Kirov went out for live fire exercises, yet the Karpov and Fedorov aboard the ship are not the unknowing souls they were in book 1. They carry all the experience and recollections of the entire journey they took through the past, and how the author pulled that off will be left unsaid here in case you haven’t started Homecoming yet.
   Karpov and Fedorov have returned to their own time with one mission in mind—prevent the initial shift of Kirov to the past. Homecoming therefore draws a thick dividing line between the main series and what now follows. Everything that happened in the first 40 books was the tale of Kirov’s journey after that fateful accident in the Norwegian Sea sent them hurtling back in time. Everything that happens now, from book 41 forward, is a delightful revisiting of Season 1 events, in effect, telling the tale of what would have happened to the ship and crew if they had not shifted back in time.
   Now we get something very special, and the author is writing these volumes with an eye towards welcoming readers back that may have jumped ship in the past, and also inviting new readers to jump right in here. They can begin the series with Homecoming, and when this season concludes, move back to book 1, Kirov, to see what happens to the ship if it failed to avoid the accident with Orel. All books from 41 forward act as a kind of prelude to the main series where Kirov shifts to the 1940’s.
   In Homecoming, Fedorov and Karpov suddenly find themselves in their own war, one their ship was built to fight and win—WWIII. The author has brought the series home to its roots, and now we get treated to an hour by hour depiction of the outbreak of WWIII in the Norwegian Sea. What? Didn’t the war begin in the Pacific? Series veterans recall how the officers and crew determined the starting point of the war way back in book 3, Pacific Storm. Yet by preventing Kirov from shifting in that accident with Orel, something has already changed. Instead of vanishing mysteriously in the Norwegian Sea, Kirov’s presence becomes a magnet for trouble.
   When a British submarine, and one series readers have met before, receives an order to find and kill Kirov, they face the man who is now back in the Captain’s chair aboard our favorite battlecruiser, Vladimir Karpov. That little spat soon escalates, as Fedorov and Karpov realize the Russian Northern fleet is heading out to sea, and that a long planned war is unleashed when Russia makes a move on the Baltic States, just as it did with the Crimea and Ukraine. What follows is cover to cover naval/air action, with all the modern ships, planes and missiles on both sides, and with Volsky, Karpov, Fedorov and the entire cast of characters we’ve been following right in the thick of it all.
   It’s as if Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager finally returns home only to find the Federation is suddenly embroiled in a major war with the Romulans. Here, as the action spills over into the next book, Kill Chain, events we got glimpses of in the first season of the Kirov Series start to replay, only vastly extended and detailed, as they are sewn into the fabric of this emerging mega conflict in 2021.
   Argos Fire is also featured, as a means by which the author can present other theater actions in the war where Kirov is not present. This leads to a revised and extended battle with the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and a special assignment in the Med involving other characters we met there in the main WWII series. This is classic Kirov Series naval action, as it was in the beginning during Season 1, only now the author is showing us the war that every major power seems to be preparing for these days, a war we may all live to see become a grim reality given the current state of affairs in the world.
   Things we saw happen in book 1 of the series begin to reassert themselves in an eerie but welcome echo of the book that launched a thousand ships, Kirov. The second book, Kill Chain takes the emerging conflict into a higher gear when Karpov challenges the American carriers arriving to seal off the G.I.U.K Gap. Now the devious and cagey Captain uses all his hard fought battle experience in what becomes known as the Battle of the Denmark Strait.
   The Author is taking this down to the level of individual weapons systems and missiles. It’s a war, he says on more than one occasion, that is a “come as you are party,” and a chilling depiction of what might result if things were to heat up anytime soon in our world. All the various nations involved will fight it with the ships, planes and weapons they bought in the years leading up to this conflict. To see just how many missiles they will have to fire, the author had dug into US Navy open source procurement budgets and justification documents to see, for example, just how many LRASM, SLAM-ER, and Multi-Mission Tomahawks the US would actually have to take to sea if a major war broke out in August of 2021. You’ll be shocked to find out what the real state of readiness is these days.
   But in keeping with the primary motif of the entire series, there’s always a twist. On the Russian side, we get an enhanced and modernized Russian Navy here, because in the course of the main series, Fedorov learns that their initial shift back in time was not the first occurrence of that event. The real original point of departure occurred on an earlier time line, and that is where we find ourselves for this story.
   The world Kirov left behind in book 1 had only that single battlecruiser left functional, and one more laid up near Vladivostok, but not in a battle ready state. Here, the situation is much improved. In addition to Kirov, the Russians have Pyotr Velikiy, Admiral Nakhimov and Admiral Lazarev, all having completed their modernization programs. They also have a few other ships that are currently planned, which gives them a more modern fleet by 2021. While ruthless in limiting missile counts on the one hand, the author, a long time simulation designer, tinkers with the question behind any good war game—what if? It was that ‘what if’ that took us to the German attack on Gibraltar in the main series, the Operations in Syria and Iraq, Montgomery’s intrepid defense of Singapore, Yamamoto forsaking the Midway operation, and a detailed struggle for the Fiji Island group in its place, and so much more.
   So what if the Russian Navy were stronger than it is now? What if Russia and China form a Eurasian Alliance to support each other’s geopolitical ambitions? That’s where this war is taking us, because book three, Twilight’s End, will re-tell events that led to the outbreak of the war in the Pacific. China has been involved with a massive shipbuilding program, and here the author projects what they will be able to put to sea by 2021, including their newest Renhai class destroyer, which is an answer the US Ticonderoga Class cruisers. They will also have and three carriers, completing the third presently under construction.
   It begins with that spat over the Diaoyutai / Senkaku islands in the east China Sea, though the action is re-simulated here. Things quickly escalate. As war has already broken out in the European theater, China takes advantage of this to make their long planed move on Taiwan. We got the outlines of that plan in season one, and here we get the detailed account of that part of the war. Now the greatest military power on earth, the United States, must fight a two front war against very strong peer adversaries, and this is how the author thinks it will play out.
   Much has been written about the strain on the US Navy that led to several inexplicable accidents in recent years. How do Burke class destroyers with all those sophisticated radars not see and easily avoid the collisions that were reported? What happened to force a 25 year low on US carrier deployments in September of 2018? The Navy has taken a hard look at these questions, and more than a few heads rolled last year. The law of overstretch has been in play, and to give the US room for maneuver against the powerful Eurasian Alliance, the author assumes the USN has made necessary reforms and improvements to enhance readiness. Otherwise they could never get as many carriers out to sea as this war will require.
   So here it comes….
   Every question batted around by the think tanks will be put to the test in these volumes. Can the network of Western Alliances hold up? Will hypersonic missiles prove to be the decisive weapon of a conventional WWIII? Is the Anti-access / Area Denial strategy China has devised with its ballistic missile threat real? How many missiles does it really take in the offense to saturate and overcome a modern SAM defense? Are US carrier strike groups still the masters of any sea engagement, or do they have a fatal vulnerability in the missile age? How good is the F-35 in real combat? What can it actually carry when it goes into battle? Can the F-22 Raptors prevail over the most advanced 5th Generation planes being produced by Russia and China? How does the US answer the threat of China’s ballistic missiles?
   It’s all here, every plane type, ship class, weapon system, radar, and all the strategies both sides have drilled on for decades, and it gets down to what loadouts all these planes and ships can actually carry, and how many missiles are really out there in the arsenals of the world’s great powers. That’s important, because once those missiles inventories run low, bad things tend to happen.
   WWIII is presented here in the same loving detail the author treated us to in his amazing alternate history of WWII. The first three volumes of “The Next War” are out now with the release of Twilight’s End in early April. The books have all the flavor, excitement and action of the original series, and still lay in just a hint of mystery. Series readers know that somewhere in the middle of every season, the author introduces a twist. Here at the outset, we’re getting treated to an hour by hour, missile by missile depiction of the war that may be on our near horizon, and one the author hopes we never see.
Sign me up!
Out now: Kirov Series: The Next War
Vol 1 Homecoming, Vol 2 Kill Chain, Vol 3 Twilight’s End
More to come!

BUY E-BOOK - Twilight's End, (Kirov Series, The Next War, Volume 3)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

John Schettler’s Kirov Series Surges into WWIII

The final season of the Kirov Series surges ahead into volume two, Kill Chain. As this segment of the story has been underway at John’s writing desk for some time, these volumes will be coming out sooner, on a more accelerated publication schedule. This release comes just 30 days after the season opener, Homecoming, and the action set up at the end of that book now erupts here as “the Battle of the Denmark Strait.” The title of the book is derived from the military term Kill-Chain, as the author quotes from Wikipedia, “…originally used as a military concept related to the structure of an attack; consisting of target identification, force dispatch to target, decision and order to attack the target, and finally the destruction of the target.”

    Here the incident that was sparked on Naval Day when the Ambush fired on Kirov in the Norwegian Sea develops like a bad storm. The Russian Northern Fleet has sortied to join Papa Volsky at sea, and he soon receives orders to move to the Denmark Strait. A reluctant warrior, Volsky is soon troubled by more than his orders. The same debilitating vertigo attack that felled him in the opening volume of the series happens here as before, which leaves Karpov in control of the ship at this crucial time.

    Now Karpov must face down not one, but two US Carrier Strike Groups that have surged to close off the G.I.U.K. Gap. Meanwhile, beneath the seas, the Russian submarine Belgorod is attempting to slip through the Denmark Strait, with a maw filled with doomsday torpedoes. Everything that made this series so great is here as we enter this final season, which is strongly centered on Kirov, and all the main characters the series veterans have come to know and love. Karpov and Fedorov have managed to prevent the ship from shifting to the past, but now they find themselves in the broiling waters of an emerging third world war.

    That’s the action this final season will be presenting, and in the same loving detail as with the many battles of WWII shown in earlier volumes. It will be the next war, as the author sees it coming, and he is carefully projecting what assets, in the air and on or under the seas, each side will have by late 2021. Yet as always, there’s a welcome twist here, and one that just throws in the question at the heart of any wargame: “What if?”

    We saw that in the main series, when the author asked any number of questions during his long alternate history of WWII—What if the German Plan Z ships had been built, and the Graf Zeppelin? What if the Germans had taken control of the French fleet in 1941? What if Germany had invaded Spain, seized Gibraltar and the Canary Islands, and initiated Hitler’s “Plan Orient,” which became Operations Condor and  Phoenix in John’s tale. Here we get some of the same educated speculation. What if the Russian naval building program had been stronger, and they had been able to upgrade and refit more of their aging ships?

    We have already seen Karpov and Fedorov discover that, instead of a single viable battlecruiser, this Russian navy still has all four of its Kirov Class ships, and with deadly new sensors and weapons like the hypersonic Zircon, the stealthy Onyx, and the long range Kalibr cruise missile that was Russia’s answer to the American Tomahawk. There will be more changes in the Russian order of battle, things that even surprise Karpov and Fedorov when they are discovered, just as they are shocked to learn that the man they had been stalking in the past, Tyrenkov, has also appeared here, and at the very top of the food chain!

    Volume two of this season now focuses heavily on the naval action in the Denmark Strait, and the Russian Operation Blizzard aimed at securing the North Cape of Norway. They are both a part of the overall struggle for control of the Norwegian Sea, as NATO’s mainstay, the United States, strains to move reinforcements into the North Atlantic. In all of this, the author has gone so far as to count heads on missile procurement dating from 2017 and forward through 2021, finding out exactly how many were purchased and on order, and how many might be delivered. All in all, it paints a chilling wash of realism over the  speculative things he does when tinkering with orders of battle. The world we are in here is just slightly different from our own, but the realities of current naval posture and real readiness for war on all sides is a strong underpinning for the outcomes presented here.

    The tactics pursued by Karpov were born in the ships the Russians decided to build, and with the weapons and their capabilities or shortcomings. The author keenly contrasts the ongoing development of Russian missiles, from the Moskit Sunburn we all became familiar with in the earlier volumes, through the dread Zircon that now moves at hypersonic speeds. By contrast, the US destroyers, if they have them at all, will still be lugging the old Harpoon into battle, a weapon first put into service in 1977. Yes, the new stuff is depicted here, like the American LRASM, but then we get to that head count on the missiles actually in inventory. It’s chilling.

    The actual results of the many naval battles ahead, however, were not simply things John decided himself. They were carefully simulated in today’s premier Air / Naval combat simulation software, (Command: Modern Naval/Air Operations, abbreviated CMANO.) This five star design was deemed so accurate that the US military actually utilizes it as a training tool, and here it serves as the final arbiter of whether or not a missile strikes its intended target in these battles. All the capabilities of every weapon are carefully modeled by the software, along with each and every offensive and defensive sensor involved. Virtually every modern ship and plane type in the world is in the vast database, and so it presents a sprawling canvas for John to paint upon as he brings us his account of a war that is all too close for comfort.

    The opening segment of Kill Chain is entitled “The Doomsday Clock,” a measure of how close the world presently is to doomsday, and determined at the start of each year by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. As these events unfold here in fiction, it is still sobering to learn that in January of 2019, the doomsday clock was reset to just two minutes before midnight. It hasn’t been that close since 1953, when the scientists wrote: “The hands of the clock of doom have moved again. Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western Civilization.”

    The events of this final season are the author’s view of what those last few pendulum swings could be before the end witnessed by the entire crew of Kirov, when they inadvertently shifted too far forward and saw a blighted world in the future. As such, this story educates as much as it entertains. It takes us into the mindset and strategy driving the war from every side, the Russians, NATO, the US, and the Chinese. The battles begin here in the Norwegian Sea, but things soon spread to other theaters as well. An oil platform is struck and destroyed in the Gulf of Mexico, supertankers are under attack in the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea. In this volume, the Fairchild corporate security ship Argos Fire finds foes in the skies over that famous “wine dark sea” and again in the Eastern Med, when they are pressed into service to cover and escort Brigadier Kinlan’s troops from Mersa Matruh to Italy. In this we see how the author plans to use Argos Fire to show us what happens in other theaters of the war, as Kirov cannot be everywhere at once.

    As this volume ends, however, there is a major shift in the action to the Pacific, where events presented in Men of War are recounted, and re-simulated to show how a flashpoint in the East China Sea gets the pendulum moving in the vast Pacific Theater.
   All in all, it’s just mainstream classic Kirov Series action from stem to stern in these books, a season that has all the flavor and color of the series openers in Season 1. And, as the author explains, the volumes of this final season can stand as a prelude to the main 40 book series that focused so heavily on WWII. This was done to invite new readers to enter with the first book of this last season, Homecoming, and they can then read this entire season here before moving to the main series with book one. In effect, this is what would have happened to Kirov and crew if they hadn’t had that fateful accident with Orel in the Norwegian Sea.

    This is World War Three….
    Kill Chain, Volume 2 in the final season (#42 overall) is just loaded with naval air combat on many fronts. Don’t miss it! Available Now for Amazon Kindle. Apple fans can also read it with the free kindle Ap.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Kirov Series Comes Home to its Roots

Karpov and Fedorov have finally returned to the day before the ship first vanished in 2021--their mission: prevent the ship from ever shifting back to the cauldron of WWII.

Kirov Series veterans and new readers alike are in for a treat! The long alternative history of WWII that began in volume 9 of the series, Altered States, has finally concluded, but the story itself still remains unfinished. Plot lines involving all the major characters from 2021 must be resolved, and this volume is the first in the final season of the series, which promises to tie off every last loose end. But in taking this route, returning to 2021, the eight volumes of this final season will stand as a prelude to the series as a whole, inviting new readers to jump in right here.

"I'm writing this final season with new readers in mind," said John. "It's going to be set on the stage of the emerging war in 2021, one that is even now beginning to cast its shadow over our world. This is how I think that war will begin, and play out, and all these volumes will now be centered on Kirov and crew, and those other characters from 2021 who have "seen the elephant" and experienced a sojourn in the past as Kirov did."

Were you satisfied with how the alternate history wound up?
"Yes, that fifth season of the series had a heavy focus on the war in the West, where most of the battles people associate with WWII took place. I took the Pacific War as far as the clearing of the Marianas, but events in the West, ending Germany's war, force Japan to seek terms. This will be explained in these final volumes by way of a few flashbacks, mostly involving Yamamoto, Kita, Karpov (the Doppelganger), still afloat in 1944 aboard one version of Kirov. As for the massive Operation Bragration on the Ostfront, I saw no point in trying to depict that huge battle on the same level of detail as I was covering the war in the West, so news of that comes to the Generals as they make that last push to and over the Rhine, finally ending Germany's war. I had always wanted to do an alternative history like that, but it had to featiure the historical characters, front and center, which sidelined the characters from 2021, and that was a deliberate choice I made."

How so? What was the reasoning behind that?
Basically, I wanted the war to be resolved by the men of 1944, and not by some decisive intervention by characters from 2021. One of the things that became apparent was that, even with the power they possessed, the soldiers and sailors of 2021 were not able to make truly decisive interventions. Yes, the course of the history was clearly changed by their presence, but the real decisive outcomes were won by the men of the 1940s, and they sacrifice laid upon the altar of war. What I used Kirov for was to redress the advantages Germany obtained at sea, with the capture of the French Fleet. Kirov aided the Royal Navy to neutralize that, and eventually win through to permit Operation Torch. Kirov also made the eventual naval control of the Med by the Allies a certainty, and so in many ways, that set the war back on a normal track after Germany took Gibraltar, Malta, and the Canary Islands."

What about Kinlan and the 7th Armored Brigade?
"I used them to check the growing power of Rommel in North Africa, but only until the Allies obtained the same parity they had won by the end of 1942. After that, I removed Kinlan from that action, and left it up to the local Generals. As we saw, Great Britain had recovered to a point where it could fight in North Africa, in Syria, and then in Iraq, hard pressed by Hitler's Plan Orient and Operation Phoenix, but still holding their own. Later, I used Berg's brigade to redress that advantage given to the British by Kinlan, but as we have seen, not even that brigade of Leopard 2A7 tanks was going to stop the juggernaut that the Allied armies became in France by 1944.

And will we see the resolution of Admiral Kita's foray in time?
"Yes, those characters will all be coming forward into this final season, but again, what I did there was to place a check on the decisive power of Kirov in the Pacific. I'll flash back there in volume three of this final season, and tie off all the Pacific war stuff. You can also look for action this season for both Kinlan and Berg, because their local selves are right there, in 2021, and their units will both be swept into this emerging WWIII as it plays out the conventional war engagements. Kirov and crew are caught up in that as well, and they are trying to prevent the general exchange of nuclear weapons that ended the world they knew. How they do that remains to be seen this season."

So then this final season will be all about that war in 2021?
"Correct, with the exception of a few flashbacks to tie off the Pacific and bring both Kirov and Kita forward again. This is going to be a very detailed series of books on WWIII. I gave readers a peek at this in a couple volumes from Season 1. Those engagements will repeat here, but they will be different--in both sequence, action and outcome. So there will be that haunting echo of those events that both Karpov and Fedorov learned about, but it will be different."

Well, how is Kirov going to return from the Pacific if the ship is already there in the Norwegian Sea?
"You will have to wait and see on that one. Yes, it's a thorny problem due to the prohibition against co-location, but I have a solution. The readers might take a guess and email me what they think will happen with that."

OK, so where does this volume take us?
"Right back to the hours and days before those live fire exercises in the Norwegian Sea. I included a prelude for new readers, explaining how Fedorov and Karpov determined to make this their final mission. I wanted this season to be something that could bring in new readers and reinvigorate the series. Having to go 40 books deep to get here is somewhat intimidating, so I'm writing this in a way that explains things to a person entering the series right here, with Homecoming. In fact, these eight volumes will be a general prelude to the series as a whole, where books 1-40 take place in WWII. People can start here, read through this eight volume series, and then I'll bridge them right into volume 1 of the general series.

Great idea. This series deserves a much bigger audience.
"That was partly the idea behind the Audio Book project, to create a movie like experience of the opening novels, which still remain my favorites of the entire series. Yet it will be quite expensive to hire top voice talent for that, and then do the mixing, sound editing, music. Just the first book, for example, could take 20 to 30 hours of audio time, and that is at $200 per hour. That would cost $4000 to $6000 for just one voice reader, and we were thinking of getting more voices to represent key characters, and then one general narrator. So that's expensive--hence the fundraiser."

How is the project going?
Off to a very slow start. It may be that readers just are not generally interested in an audio book format. We'll continue the campaign for a couple of more months, and they'll let us know, one way or the other. Yet if every series reader just donated at the lowest level, we would reach our funding goal. Let's see what happens. For now, my creative energies are fixed firmly on Kirov and crew as I bring the series home.

Any hints on what this Homecoming brings?
War as it happens in the Norwegian Sea, and the vital "North Flank of NATO." We're going to see just how good these naval forces on either side, their ships, planes and missiles, really are.

Are these just outcomes you create?
No, this will be heavily simulated in the best naval air simulation currently available, Command Naval / Air Operations. (CMANO) I'm designing scenarios in that system for every engagement, and using CMANO to test the results. That software is as good as it gets. It is even used by the US Navy and other defense agencies as a training tool."

Friday, November 30, 2018


We're making history (our way)!


Perhaps the closest we will ever get to a movie version of Kirov will be a professional audio book project, and this is now on the radar screen. The expense required to do it right, hiring enough voice talent to bring the characters to life, has prompted us to see if readers might support this project through a “Go Fund Me” campaign to offer the first three volumes of the Kirov Series  as audiobooks. We’re trying to raise $25,000 to do this, and here are the different levels where you can contribute to help make the project a reality.

Support us at the $20 level as a way to say “Thanks” to the author for delivering 40 volumes of this incredible series with such dedication, and also get a sales code that will deliver a free kindle version of a coming book from the final season of the series.

Support us at the $50 level and receive any single volume of the Kirov Series you designate as a book, personally autographed by the author.

Support us at the $100 level and receive a free copy of one  finished audiobook in either digital or CD format, and an autographed copy of that same novel in book form.

Support us at the $200 level and receive the opening trilogy of the  Series as finished audio books when complete, including all three autographed paperbacks.

Support us at the $500 level and receive all three audiobooks as above and also any single 8 volume season of the Kirov Series as paperbacks signed by the author.

Support us at the $1000 level and receive all three audiobooks and also the entire first 40 volumes of the Kirov Series, with each one autographed by the author.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018


Kirov Series - Volume 38


London endures a mass raid by the combined airship fleets of Orenburg and Germany, with a witches’ brew of deadly new weapons to avenge the firebombing of Hamburg.     Patton and Bradley supercharge Operation Thunder with a massive bombardment to break the German line, and all hell break loose on the Western Front. Desperate to save the 7th Army, von Rundstedt and Guderian order a withdrawal to the Seine, and the race is on as Patton drives for a bridgehead at Rouen. When the battle heats up, the US Armored Captains are stunned by the arrival of a deadly new German heavy tank, and a brigade that moves like lightning in the storm of fire and steel.   As the Allies drive to stop the German V-1s in the Pas-de-Calais, a sudden breakthrough opens to gateway to one of Europe’s largest deep water ports, Antwerp. A daring plan is now devised to seize the port with thunderclap surprise. Meanwhile, Fedorov and Karpov are storm hunting when they have a chance encounter with an old enemy in the skies over the Norwegian Sea. Now they strive to stop a deadly enemy attack on the eastern seaboard, and prevent the imminent destruction of New York.

Kirov Saga: 38

John Schettler

Part I – Aldersturm
Part II – Operation Thunder
Part III – Hercules
Part IV – The Second Labor
Part V – Resurrection
Part VI – Relentless
Part VII – Robbing Peter
Part VIII– Breakthroughs
Part IX – Soldier On
Part X – History’s Shadow
Part XI – Chance Encounters
Part XII – Flies in the Ointment

For Kindle: $4.99     Trade Paperback Coming Soon on Amazon.