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Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel Hardcover – June 26, 2012
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Amazon Exclusive: Q & A with James Rollins
Q: In Bloodline, you introduce two new characters, Tucker and Kane, a pair unlike any your readers have seen before. Tell us about them, and why you decided to write about them?
James Rollins: First of all, I wanted to honor these unique American heroes. Tucker Wayne is a former captain with the Army Rangers. After two tours of duty in Afghanistan, he leaves the service disillusioned after a bloody battle. Aided by members of his own unit, Tucker steals his war dog, Kane.
What I liked best about exploring this pair's unique relationship is a phrase commonly used by military war dog handlers--It runs down the lead--describing how the emotions of the pair became shared over time, binding them together as firmly as any leash. And it's that bond and ability for the two to operate as one that I wanted to explore in this novel.
Q: Can you tell us about your research into military dogs?
JR: About a year and half ago, I was lucky enough to participate in a USO tour of authors to military bases in Iraq and Kuwait. There, I saw several of these war dogs in action. I was also able to meet and talk to a veterinary school classmate of mine who works with the veterinary corps out in Iraq. After that encounter, it got me thinking about writing this book, of honoring these unique war heroes on the page.
Q: Women play a large role in Bloodline. How are you able to write from the point of view of women so well?
JR: I have three sisters who make sure I get those details correct, but also during my USO tour to Iraq and Kuwait, I got a chance to talk at length to women in the field--to hear what it's like to be a female in the armed services. And that'[s something I tried to capture accurately.
Q: Your novels always delve into the cutting edge of science. What is the scientific basis behind Bloodline?
JR: The root of this book came from a recent article in Time magazine. The cover declared: 2045, the Year Man Becomes Immortal. I read that and wondered how that could become true. Could immortality be achievable in our lifetime? It sent me into a yearlong and chilling investigation into the frontiers of life extension.
Q: What are some of these new discoveries involving immortality?
JR: I've learned that there are actually two competing schools of study when it comes to the search for immortality. On one side, scientists are looking at moving man into machines, moving our consciousness into a synthetic arena. Scientists in Switzerland right now are working with IBM to create the first virtual human brain and say they are about a decade off from achieving this goal.
On the other side of the scientific fence, researchers are also looking at moving machines into us: basically replacing our failing parts with artificial organs. We already have synthetic pancreases and mechanical hearts, and these scientific advancements continue to accelerate, especially with the explosive growth of nanotechnology, which involves engineering at the atomic level.
Q: Now to the last and most pressing question: How close are we to achieving immortality?
JR: That's a good question--and the answer is the most startling revelation I discovered while researching this story, something I share within the pages of this book. In Bloodline, readers will learn a shocking scientific truth about the nature of mankind: That immortal beings already walk among us today.
If you want to know who they are, if you want to learn how to live forever--read Bloodline.
"Terrible secrets, the sweep of history, an epic canvas, breathless action...nobody--and I mean nobody--does this stuff better than Rollins." -- Lee Child on The Devil Colony
"James Rollins is a master of international action and intrigue." -- Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Rollins combines real-world science with high-octane action to create rousing stories of adventure that are as exciting as any movie." -- Chicago Sun-Times
"Riveting....Rollins gets better with each book, and his position at the top of this particular subgenre remains unshaken." -- Publishers Weekly on The Devil Colony --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
"`There's been a kidnapping off the Seychelles by Somali pirates. A high-value American target. Painter wanted to know if you were up for a mission.' Gray frowned. Why was Sigma involved with a simple kidnapping? There were plenty of policing and maritime agencies that could attend to such a crime. Sigma Force--made up of Special Forces soldiers who had been retrained in various scientific disciplines--was a covert wing for DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Sigma teams were sent out into the world to protect against global threats, not to address the kidnapping of a single American."
Well, there's high-value, and then there's HIGH-VALUE. And this kidnapping victim is the latter. And wouldn't you know, this crime eventually leads back to the Guild. This is the book Mr. Rollins has been promising readers. It is the ultimate showdown between these two organizations. And, yes, Sigma is called upon to fulfill the mission stated above. The Guild's plot goes well beyond kidnapping, but I shall decline to elucidate further. What I will do, instead, is highlight some of the strengths and weaknesses of the book.
* Seichan tells Gray, "We've been ordered to pick up another two teammates, local assets already in the region, with unique skills to help us on this mission." Those who read Rollins' recently published e-short, Tracker: A Short Story Exclusive, have already guessed that I'm referring to retired Army war dog, Kane, and his handler, Tucker. These two are the freshest thing to hit Sigma in quite some time! First, they're just great characters. Former-veterinarian Rollins does a bang-up job writing from a dogs-eye view. These war dogs are unbelievably skilled. What they can do, and how they work with their human, is flat-out fascinating. Are you a fan of Dean Koontz's Watchers? You are going to LOVE Kane!
* I think Rollins' greatest strength is the integration of really smart, completely fascinating, and scarily plausible science into his plots. I have never failed to learn something within his pages. This novel deals with genetics, robotics, and the quest for immortality. At one point, the mad scientist is giving an epic lecture on how men can live indefinitely, and I'm thinking of a huge scientific impediment to that idea. I'm about to proclaim it all BOGUS. Well, almost as if he had read my mind, Rollins addressed my objection. Is it plausible? I don't know. But it sure sounds legit. I proclaim it NOT BOGUS.
* Rollins lets some recently underutilized characters shine in this novel, none more so than Kat Bryant, Sigma's second in command. She's out in the field for the first time in a long time, and this lady knows how to kick some ass. I'll never look at her the same way again. Bloodline is very much an ensemble piece, with everyone getting some face time, and it is stronger for it.
* Which reminds me... Way to write those strong female protagonists, Mr. Rollins! This has always been a strength, and it continues to impress.
* Kowalski. Kowalski is so awesome in his Kowalskiness. Who else, after watching Kane's amazing, life-saving performance under fire, would sum everything up with, "I got to get me one of those dogs"? He's always good for comic relief, but Mr. Rollins shows great restraint in not making this character too over the top, or of over-utilizing him.
* As always, Rollins leaves readers with a fascinating author's note about fact versus fiction. This time around he even includes links to video.
Now, die-hard fan that I am, it makes sense that I see more strengths than weaknesses, but as always, I do have some quibbles.
* For the last few books, Rollins has been trying (successfully) to humanize Seichan, and to reveal more of her background. That is very much the case here, but for me, personally, things were getting a little too... sentimental. You may judge for yourself.
* Also, I don't need to hear any more about the "inexplicable bond between dog and handler, tying them together by something deeper than just hand signals and spoken commands." I LOVED seeing the two in action, and Rollins didn't belabor the point, but any time their "bond" was referenced, I just wanted to roll my eyes. Clearly, I am a horrible person.
* Maybe it's because I'm a Washingtonian, or because I was obsessed with The West Wing, but I found certain elements of the Presidential/White House subplot of the novel strained even my generous suspension of disbelief.
Okay, sorry to prattle on, but there's always so much to talk about with these books! Despite my penchant for criticism, when you get right down to it, James Rollins is at the top of my favorite authors list. As always, he leaves me anxiously awaiting his next installment.
That aside, there were elements in here I really enjoyed. I still loved the characters for the most part. Kowalski is still a hoot and remains one of my favorite characters. He's not an idiot, but his buffoonery provides a much needed lightness to the book because otherwise it'd be uninterrupted action and seriousness. (Others will probably see him as the Jar Jar of the Sigma team, though.) I also can't help but continue to like the women of the series, especially since they are usually some of the toughest characters. It's nice to have women that can hold their own for the most part. The guys? They're good, but Grey just continues to sail into Gary Stu territory. This doesn't mean that I dislike him, just that at times he's a little too perfect for my tastes.
Plot-wise, the book could have used about a good 50-100 pages shaved off. The idea of genetic engineering and DNA manipulation is an interesting one. It brings up a lot of questions as well as opens up the doors for future plot points in the series. I also rather liked the reveals in this book. Some of them you might have expected, some you might not have. The ending of this was particularly tight. This book took me a long time to get through because I just kept losing interest, but the ending makes me somewhat want to pick up the next book eventually. It's just that it takes so freaking long to get to where it wants to be that I couldn't help but get distracted by various different things. I know that it won't be like this for everyone and that the shift to power struggles did contribute to this, but I feel like this will be my last Sigma book for a while.
The bottom line is that this is good and if you've loved the series so far, you'll definitely want to pick this one up. If you're like me and have slowly started to pull away from the series, this book probably won't be the whiz-bang book that draws you back in.