All the freshwater on Earth is gone. Now the alien invaders are working on the oceans and they are down to about half their volume. If humanity is going to fight back, then the time is now. In the last book, the Cheyenne Mountain biosphere team proved that their new weapon was capable of disabling the alien shields so they shared that technology with the Ghosts of Atlantis, the last remaining military submarine. Now they have discovered a potential new alien vulnerability which could allow an attack to disable all of the aliens planetwide. They shared this knowledge with the GoA as well and Captain Noble has decided it is worth the risk to launch such an attack. While his team works on a longer range version of the weapon to make this possible Noble notices that biosphere goes dark. He must now decide between his attack plan and investigating what happened to the scientists who made it all possible - the scientists he promised to protect.
Dr. Sophie Winston and her small band of survivors now understand how dire their circumstances are, but unfortunately they are not aligned on how best to move forward. The aliens have already removed all of the fresh water from the planet and now they are working on the oceans where they are sucking the water into the toward their orbiting ships. Back on land the aliens have set up a number of "human farms" where they mount people onto poles and slowly drain the water from their bodies. The human farm that has been discovered in Colorado Springs has Sgt Overton adamant about mounting a rescue mission to save as many people as possible but Sophie believes that such a mission would put them all at risk and she refuses to authorize it. The strain of this disagreement has them both at their breaking points.
In the year 2055 an unprecedented series of solar storms results in a coronal mass ejection (CME) that bombards the Earth with radiation and renders many locations uninhabitable. This cataclysm motivates the governments of the world to start collaborating on a joint project to start to populate another world - Mars. New Tech Corporation (NTC) becomes responsible for getting humans to the red planet and they are hiring the best scientists in the world to make it happen. Their sense of urgency in this endeavor is off the charts and that is because they know something that most people on Earth don't - the CME of 2055 was not a random event.
Back in the 1850s when The Power arrived on Earth and started granting magical abilities to a handful of humans, it seemed like a potential boon for the human race. 80 years later tells us otherwise as the level of strife between those with abilities and those without has become a real issue, but it also pales in comparison to what lies ahead. It turns out that The Power has been fleeing from planet to planet for millennia in a vain attempt to escape a voracious predator, and Earth is just the latest stop. This predator has consumed countless worlds in pursuit of The Power and Earth is next up on the menu. Of course, Heavy Jake Sullivan is not going to go down without a fight, and while he is no match for this world eating entity, he is also not planning to fight alone...
The first book of the Grimnoir Chronicles focused a lot on Heavy Jake Sullivan, but it also offered up a number of teasers indicating that Faye Vierra was somehow different from other Actives. Well this book explores her differences in great detail while at the same time delving deep into the source of the magical abilities that give the Actives their power. Add in the new Office of the Coordinator of Information (OCI), a shady organization that is hell bent on rounding up Actives for the "safety of the people", and you have a story that is action packed from cover to cover.
Hard Magic kicks off the Grimnoir Chronicles which turns out to be a difficult series to categorize. It takes elements of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Steampunk, and Alternate History and mashes them all into a noir style story worthy of a graphic novel. None of that really sounds like my kind of thing but I found this book compelling right from the start. Set in the 1930s, this alternate history has 1% of the population with some kind of magical ability, and the strongest of them are known as Actives. The World War is over, alcohol is still illegal in the US, and Jake Sullivan is down on his luck just trying to get out the hole he finds himself in. A former war hero and ex-con, Jake just has one more job to do for the government before his debt to society is paid and then he can go on with his life as a private investigator. Jake is also a Heavy, a powerful Active capable of manipulating gravity, so it is unlikely that the US government is just going to let him walk away when this job is over...
The events of The Storm set this series up for a big finish and this book does not disappoint. The citizens of Estes Park are fighting for their lives and even if they manage to survive things will never go back to the way they were. The same is true for the entire world as Chinese troops are on US soil and Chinese fighter jets are flying overhead. While some welcome the foreign "aid" being offered others view it as a threat and mobilize to push back these unwanted invaders. It all adds up to put the country on the brink of collapsing as war is everywhere and the main characters can no longer prevent it from happening. Now the question is, can they survive it?
A month has now gone by since the EMP attack and life as we knew it in the United States is a thing of the past. Nicholas Sansbury Smith continues to tell a story about relationships and what people will do for those they care about even as the world around them crumbles. This time it is Albert Randall, Secretary Montgomery's bodyguard, who heads out into a lawless world to find his missing sister. This journey exposes us to one of the FEMA survival centers that has been set up and it shows how the remaining government forces are ill equipped to hold back the gangs and domestic terrorists that are rising in power. These same threats are being faced by Estes Park as Chief Colton and Raven do their best to survive and find a way to protect their small town.
While the country crumbles around her, newly promoted Secretary of Defense Charlize Montgomery plans to risk her own life in an attempt to save her disabled son Ty; however, before she can figure how she is going to get the job done the new President sends a team of marines to get the job done. Unfortunately those marines are not prepared for the rise of the "Sons of Liberty" who have formed their own army and have taken control of the area in Colorado where Ty was last seen. Meanwhile in nearby Estes Park, the inhabitants are still struggling to find their way forward and deal with life in the aftermath of an EMP attack. Winter is approaching and tempers flare about how best to handle enforcing the law and feeding everyone with an impending food shortage on the horizon.
This is my third post-apocalyptic series from Nicholas Sansbury Smith and unlike Hell Divers or the Extinction Cycle this one offers up a much more realistic, and therefore possible, scenario as a backdrop. Similar to One Second After this book shows us the impact of an EMP attack on a small community, which happens to be one of the author's favorite places to visit, Estes Park, Colorado. Trackers also broadens the canvas beyond the small community by detailing the impact the attack has on the US government back in DC by following one of the Senators with some ties back to the Estes Park area. To set it apart from the competition Smith also adds in a murder mystery and a good dose of American Indian folklore which gives it a unique flavor within a crowded genre.