Friday, January 13, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Gordon Gumpertz author of Red Hot Sky

Join Gordon Gumpertz, author of the action/adventure novel, Red Hot Sky, as he virtually tours the blogosphere January 3 – February 29 2012 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About the Book...

CO2 buildup in earth’s atmosphere reaches a tipping point. Global weather destabilizes, turns chaotic. Ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes pummel the earth nonstop. A secret computer model reveals that the frantic weather will peak out, and transform world climate into an alien environment devastating to human survival.

Scientists Ben Mason, Claudine Manet, and Bertrand Short are developers of the computer model. Ben and Claudine are lovers as well as lab partners. While they work frantically to head off the approaching catastrophe, a disgraced Russian general hacks into their model and sees earth’s bleak future as his opportunity for ultimate world power.

Ben, who had left the CIA to develop the computer model at the national lab,  is reactivated by the Agency and sent on a perilous mission to block the rogue general’s plot. Claudine, not realizing that Ben is on a secret mission, misunderstands his absence, putting their relationship on thin ice.

Claudine is placed in charge of a massive NASA project that, if completed on time, could stop the approaching doomsday climate change. But her project is stalled by bureaucracy. Ben is on the run in hostile territory. The climate change calamity steadily approaches.

About the Author...

Gordon Gumpertz brings fiction readers another exciting action/adventure experience in his new novel RED HOT SKY. This is the author’s second book, following his highly acclaimed novel TSUNAMI.

In addition to writing novels, Gordon has won gold and silver awards in national and regional short story competitions. He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Palm Springs Writers Guild, a UCLA graduate, and an instrument-rated private pilot. He keeps his website current by blogging on natural disasters and natural phenomena.

Gordon and his wife Jenny live not far from the San Andreas fault, where the Pacific Plate thrusts into the North American Plate, building increasingly high levels of faultline stress which, the seismologists say, may soon produce the Big One.

Visit his website at

Read the First Chapter...

Chapter One - Red Hot Sky
Ben Mason pulled on a ski jacket and watch cap and walked out of his Arlington apartment into the bitterest ice storm he could remember. Head down, he forged his way to his aging Chevy Blazer. He set the defrost on max and inched through the whiteout, finally reaching the lab in Falls Church at 7:35 p.m.
His lab partner, Shorty, six-foot-five Bertrand Short, stared at rows of rolling numbers on his computer screen. “Worried you wouldn’t make it.”
“Test run’s still scheduled for midnight, right?”
Shorty clicked an icon on his screen. “Nobody’s said otherwise.”
“No ice storm’s bad enough to keep me away. This could be the most crucial night of our lives.” Ben pulled off his watch cap and ran fingers through his black hair, then draped his parka on a coat rack.
Shorty finally looked up, the light catching glints of red in his thatch of blond hair and the two days of stubble. “Jesus H. Christ! You look like you been set on by a pack of hungry coyotes.”
Ben stretched his wiry six-foot body. “I was working the speed bag at the gym, and this pro came in looking for a sparring partner. I got lucky and knocked him down with a left hook. Big mistake.”
“About as smart as goosing a rattlesnake. No headgear?”
Ben poured coffee and wrapped his hands around the warm mug. “Forgot, and he tagged me a couple times.”
Shorty said, “You oughtn’t to go around messing with those pros. You mighta boxed in college, but you’re too damn old and too damn slow now. You’ve come in more than once with those blue eyes of yours closed down to slits. One a these days they’ll knock out what little brains you got left.”
“Keeps me in shape. And I’m okay.”
“Glad to hear that, because Secretary Flagler’s been trying to get you.”
Ben called on the secretary of energy’s private line. “Sorry, Mr. Secretary, I got tied up.”
Flagler’s voice sounded tinny on the speakerphone. “Beeson’s gunning for you.”
“Doesn’t surprise me. Did you explain?”
“He won’t listen. Wants to get you and Dr. Short up there before his committee on a fishing expedition. Anyhow, expect a call from the senator himself.”
Ben massaged his sore temple. “What’ll I say?”
A pause. The lab was after-work quiet. Flagler wheezed, “Try not to antagonize. He has a lot of power and could hurt us.”
A half hour later, Ben and Shorty were looking at the florid face and angry eyes of Senator Marcus Beeson on the other end of a videophone connection.
“I’ll tell you straight away I’m pretty damn mad. You two are making me late for a New Year’s Eve supper with the vice president and his wife.”
Ben tried to sound respectful. “Sorry your evening is messed up, Senator, but I don’t understand how we ….”
“Well let me tell you. I found out this is the night you’re planning to run that damn fool experiment. I’m telling you not to do it. If you do, you and Dr. Short will be called before my committee.” Bushy black and white eyebrows slanted up. Each word was accompanied by a rap of knuckle on desktop. “And I’ll have the FBI investigate you for violating national security.”
“This was all cleared by Secretary Flagler,” Ben said.
“I’m flying to London with him in the morning. I’ll damn soon find out if he’s part of this conspiracy. Or just gullible. Grabbing control of all ten of our country’s new supercomputers at the same time undermines national defense. Christ, who do you guys think you are?”
Ben said, “The secretary and I met with the directors of the national labs involved. They understand the importance of the experiment. And we’re asking for time only between midnight and five. They all agreed on midnight January first because it’s the time of lowest demand.”
Beeson’s jowls swayed as he shook his head. “If they did, they’re a bunch of misguided fools. The whole cabinet’s called to complain. Defense, homeland, intelligence, treasury, interior, health, everybody. Just exactly what is it gives you priority over the military and every other department in the government?”
Bertrand Short spoke, his twang straight Oklahoma. “We’re tryin’ to find out what the greenhouse effect’ll do to our future climate, and that’s why we built this here global warming computer model. But like I told Ben, we need a computer the size of Texas to make it work.”
Beeson’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t know what you’re really trying to pull, but I intend to get to the bottom of it, and when I do there’ll be hell to pay.”
Ben said, “Shorty, I mean Dr. Short, is right. Computing power’s what we need, and a lot of it. So I came up with the idea of hooking all ten of the new Quantum Five-Thousands together by satellite to create one massive computing source.”
“Why can’t you get what you need with one or two?”
“Senator, there’s just too much data in the model ….”
Shorty picked it up. “We got historic records and prehistoric measurements of just about everything that’s ever happened to this planet since the ice age. Temperature, humidity, rain, snow, drought, flood, volcanoes, earthquakes. Hour by hour. Every centimeter of the earth’s surface, subsurface, oceans, and atmosphere.”
Ben said, “It’ll take all ten running together to digest that much data and establish the trend lines and push them forward far enough.”
Senator Beeson wagged a sausage finger at the camera. “Your so-called greenhouse research is a waste of taxpayer money. Weather’s getting hotter, everybody knows that.”
Ben said, “Hotter, sure, but more erratic. We just don’t know where this greenhouse thing is taking us. If our computer model works, it’ll show future climate patterns and give us a big advantage in strategic planning. Economic and military.”
Beeson’s scoff sounded like a pig at feeding time. “What are you people really up to? I know a cock-and-bull story when I hear it. This greenhouse stuff is a smokescreen. Something’s going on. I can smell it.” His sausage finger wagged a warning. “You can expect a summons to appear before my committee. Both of you.”
Ben was still seething when he called Secretary Flagler to tell him they’d just been royally reamed out by Senator Beeson.
Flagler said, “I’ll try to calm him down tomorrow. Now let’s review the ground rules. The directors of all ten labs have agreed to give you midnight to five a.m. eastern standard for this test phase. That’ll be you and Dr. Short and Dr. Manet to make sure the hookup works.”
“Dr. Manet’s on an emergency trip to New Orleans.”
“Okay. So just you and Dr. Short will decide if this hookup is viable. All ten computers will be standing by to receive your satellite signal in exactly one hour and twenty-nine minutes. Is everything ready at your end?”
“We’re all set, Mr. Secretary.”
“Give me a report at four thirty in the morning. Call me at home. I’m leaving for the airport at five. Senator Beeson and I are catching an early flight to London for that energy conference.”
Ben walked to the window. Crunch time. The future of the planet might well be at stake, as well as his job as head of the project team and his standing in the scientific community. The ice storm had cleared for the moment. A half-moon spread pale light over Falls Church and the sleet-covered grounds and low buildings of National Science Laboratories. The big dish antennae would be iced over. Would that screw up the satellite link?
If things didn’t work, he’d never get a second chance, probably be demoted to some dead-end job. Maybe the CIA would take him back. He’d left the agency after two years and accepted this job with NSL because his work in the CIA lab was boring. He’d wanted more excitement. Now he had it. Everything was riding on the outcome. Well, nothing more he could do at this point. Just wait.
Shorty fidgeted and went to the john. He opened the window and took in great gulps of fresh air. Finally they were only seconds away from their moment of truth.
Ben pushed the start button. He stared at the panel of ten indicator lights that would confirm connection with each of the supercomputers. All dark. He held his breath.
Shorty hovered over the indicator panel. “We got satellite lag time, but didn’t figure it’d take this long.”
Ben said softly, fervently, as if coaxing dice in a crap game, “Come on, system. Come on!”
A moment later, the first green light blinked on. Lawrence Livermore. After a few more seconds, JPL, Sandia, and National Science Laboratories lit up, followed by a ten-second delay. Then Los Alamos, Oakridge, Brookhaven, and Argonne came on at the same time. All but two were now in the green. NOAA-Princeton winked on. Finally, Cornell. At last, all ten online.
Ben yelled, “All right!” He slapped palms with Shorty.
Shorty said, “We got the power hooked up. Now let’s see if the dang thing works.”
Ben inserted the disk and hit Enter.
A date appeared in the upper right-hand corner. One month from today. A Robinson’s Projection of the earth popped onto the screen. The resolution was amazing. Every feature of the earth’s surface stood out in multihued three-dimensional relief.
“Good lord above!” Shorty said. “Never thought I’d see a grid scale this fine. All that computer power is really doing the job.” He put his coffee mug down with a thunk. “I know it’s only a simulation, but sure as shootin’ looks like the real thing.”
Ben just looked at the display for a few minutes, savoring the beauty of it and the fact that everything seemed to be working. “I’m going to click forward now month by month to look at the rest of this year, then go for year two.” He left each month on the screen for two minutes before moving to the next.
Shorty studied the screen alongside Ben. Both were quiet, intent.
“End of year two,” Ben said. “What do you think so far?”
“If our model’s right, the world’s in for one mighty big shitload of weather.”
“You see a pattern?”
“Chaos is what I see.”
Ben nodded. “Heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, ice storms, dust storms, floods, blizzards, droughts. Nonstop. One on top of the other. “Same erratic weather we’ve been having the past few years, only worse.” He tapped the mouse. “Let’s go out one more.”
Shorty’s brown eyes lingered on the screen at the end of year three. “Holy frijoles! Ain’t never seen nuthin’ like it.”
Ben’s smile was a half grimace. “You can drop the country cousin routine anytime.”
“Well, I’m serious, Pardner. Weather’s working itself up into some kind of frenzy. Like the Fourth of July when they build to the grand finale and shoot the works.”
Ben sipped his cold coffee. “Yeah, pretty frantic everywhere.”
“Look at Europe!” Shorty leaned in close. “Monsoon rains melting the snow, rivers busting their banks.”
“Everyplace has something bad going on. Ready for year four?” Ben asked.
“Before we go there, I’d like to say something. What we’re doing has never been done before. Looking into the future has always been the province of the Lord.”
Ben swung away from the keyboard. “We’ll have to make sure it’s a power to be used only to help mankind. Never to harm.”
Shorty patted a hand-stitched Justin boot. “Let’s go to the next year. Don’t think we’re gonna like whatever’s coming, but I got my boots on, so I’m as ready as ever I’ll be.”
Ben launched into year four. He stopped when he got to April. “Hey! Where’d the storms go?”
Shorty scratched his blond chin stubble. “Look, Ben. Pink blotches all over. Big time drought!”
They studied the wide belt of pink patches wrapping around the earth, extending from the equator thousands of miles north and south.
Ben waved a hand at the monitor. “Can this be right? Most of the world drying up?”
“Strangest drought pattern I’ve ever seen. Just about every last speck of wet weather’s moving to the polar regions.”
Ben checked worldwide ocean temperatures and currents, but all the normal indicators of an El Nino or oscillation effect were missing. This was something quite different. He clicked to five years out.
Shorty muttered, “Pink patches remind me of a gal I used to know wore polka dot underpants. But these blotches are humongous. Thousands of miles across.”
Ben ran the cursor up and down the screen. “General drought digging in between the fifty-degree parallels. Scattered exceptions.”
“Go out to years six and seven,” Shorty said. “See if the dang thing’s still there.”
Ben clicked and stared. “What do you make of this?”
Shorty craned his head over Ben’s shoulder. “Whoa there. Spots are a deeper red. Looks like the planet’s come down with a case of the measles.”
“Redder means hotter.”  Ben switched to a blowup of North America, then zoomed in to a close-up of the red spot hovering over the plains states. He tweaked the focus and resolution, zoomed back out a little to make sure the boundaries of the area were clearly defined. Shorty hitched his chair up close. They stared at the screen a long time, bodies tense, thrust forward.
Finally Ben sagged back in his chair and looked at Shorty. “As bad as it looks?”
Shorty tucked his red western shirt into boot-cut jeans. He stretched to his full six foot five and bent down to look again. “All I can say is, this’s weirder than a cow with twelve tits.” He put his finger on the spot, then the projected date. “Is that what the simulation is telling us? This is the way things’ll be seven years from now?”
“Exactly. That’s what the model says.”
Shorty’s voice was uneasy. “I know this can happen on someplace like Jupiter. But here? On our own planet?”

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** Disclosure: I did not accept any compensation from the sponsors other than review copies, my views are my own, reviewed by I see it~!! **