So it looks like Karpov again becomes a major player in events
And a major threat, now that he finds himself in 1909.
Why that year?
Several factors. One is that the
fracturing of time that was caused by the Tunguska Event originates in the year 1908. Things in the future have a tendency to fall backward towards that moment, June 30, 1908
when something came out of the sky and struck the earth. It has been the source of much speculation, investigation and mystery, and it generates a great deal of mystery here
in this series as well. Another reason is that I was always fascinated by the “scareships” of 1909, and thought this would be a clever way to explain them. The
airship “pulses” as it actually appears, and is seen in many places over England before time actually drops it into a given moment.
So now Karpov is in a position to cause a lot of trouble.
That’s an understatement. From his current position he can change
everything, and he realizes that. Whether or not he actually does initiate a catastrophic change in the time line remains to be seen, but he is certainly thinking about
First he has some family business to take care of.
Yes, that was an odd event that occurred during the research. I
was just looking through events of 1909, and came across the Petrov incident. I’ve always said that “the story is out there in the history—go find it,”
and this is what happened here.
Karpov is getting a little paranoid when he sees those other names associated with that event. Did
you make all that up?
Not at all! That’s the fascinating thing about it. Finding the names of Karpov, Fedorov and Rodenko in that history, all involved as
they were recounted here in my story, is historical. I was really as surprised by it as Karpov was himself! I realize we can’t talk about it here now, as it will become
a “spoiler,” but that was the history as I uncovered it. The part I made up was in making Sergie Karpov the Captain’s Great Grandfather.
Yet that plot line still remains a bit of a teaser by the end of this book.
Correct. I ended Grand Alliance with Karpov, and
I’ll end Hammer of God with him as well. He’s a powerful character, the center of much of the conflict everywhere in the series. Karpov is the Lucifer who led the Fallen Angels back through 1945 and then to 1908, and now he’s re-invented himself in Siberia. So his dark energy and drive is a good way to set up what is coming next in Crescendo Of Doom. I had a lot to cover here in Hammer of God, but I managed to give Karpov a full six chapters, though I placed them at the end of this novel. They will be much involved with the fate of Ivan Volkov, and by extension, the Orenburg Federation.
And that decides the fate of the whole war!
In many respects, yes, Karpov has that power in his hands now. Yet throughout the
series we have seen that, while he often wields great power, he seldom does so in a way that really furthers his aims. It’s the foibles and faults in his character that
become his undoing, but they also take us to some very interesting places.
We got a nice chapter inside Ivan Volkov’s head this time too.
Right. He has plans of his own when he learns Karpov’s airship has gone missing. The operation he dreams up is going to bring the airships back in the next
volume. Standby for action! That plot line, and the rivalry between Karpov and Volkov will get major attention. In fact, I think I may open with it, leading off with Karpov at
the top of the lineup for Crescendo of Doom.
I didn’t know much about the campaigns featured in Hammer of God, but I do now!
Yes, few people will have even heard of Operation Exporter, which becomes Operation Scimitar in my alternate history. Yet it was the toughest fighting the British had
until El Alamein. The French really put up a good fight, and things get even more complicated when the Germans arrive.
So there is no invasion of Crete?
At least not at this point. The Germans conclude that it leads them in the wrong direction, and so they choose another target, one that furthers the longer term
strategic aim of eventually taking Egypt.
Is Rommel leaving the story now as you move into the Middle East?
all. After his defeat at Bir el Khamsa, he is rebuilding the Afrika Korps at Mersa Brega, and receiving new units and supplies, but that takes time. So while he’s on the
bench for a while, that interval became the perfect opportunity for me to cover these important campaigns in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, and to create that as a new front in the
war that can pose a credible threat to Egypt from the north and east. In the meantime, Rommel is fattening up, because the British don’t have the forces to go on the
offensive against him. As you will see in this book, Operation Scimitar eventually pulls troops from Kinlan’s Brigade when Wavell and O’Connor have a long talk
about what they might do.
Then we’ll see Rommel again?
Yes. Think of him like a good starting pitcher.
He’s just getting his four days rest now, but will take the mound again soon, in Crescendo of Doom. Expect fireworks on two fronts, and other places, as the story
The war is looking very difficult for the British.
It is. Without Kinlan’s 7th Brigade, and the
presence of Kirov, Argos Fire and Kazan in the Med, it was likely that they would have been swept right out of Egypt. Even as things stand now, the outcome of the conflict in the Middle East, and the Med, remains in doubt. Yet we are on the eve of great events. The decision Karpov makes at the end of Hammer of God is going to set up something big.
This book also sees the Russian Marines involved in a number of smaller missions.
Small grains of sand that might start an avalanche. Yes, Fedorov is studying the history looking for places where he can find a lever to move events in a favorable direction. In the end, he realizes that he has to think in a more military sense, using the great asset he has in mobility and firepower to best advantage. You'll see what he decides. Those missions are also plot devices that accomplish a number of things. They allow me to keep major series core characters in the thick of the land campaign, so I can present things through their experiences and viewpoint, and through Fedorov’s analysis and reflection.
Yet two major events are looming on the near horizon. The War in the east is about to begin!
And that was the heart of the
fighting in WWII. It consumes 80% of Germany’s war effort in the real history, but we don’t know how things will play out this time with Russia divided. Then the
other event I think you allude to is the coming of July 28, 1941, the date Kirov first arrived in the past. That creates a real paradox, and it gets more discussion in this book as it darkens the minds of several of the main characters. I won’t cross that bridge until the 16th book, Paradox Hour. In the meantime, while readers catch up by reading Hammer of God,
I’ll be busy writing Crescendo of Doom.
And is there anything beyond Paradox Hour? Do we need to worry that the series is ending there?
As before, that is going to depend on reader support. So far the interest has been solid since Altered States, and a core group of die-hards has stayed with the
series—enough to justify me staying with it. A lot of work goes into every one of these novels. I also have a few other projects I’m fiddling with, some related to
the Kirov Saga. The series is so long and complex now that I was thinking of producing a readers companion guide to the series, with a guide for all the many characters
appearing, fictional and historical. Perhaps a listing of key events, objects, nexus points in the story, and a comprehensive chronology that shows the time line of everything
that happened. At the moment I use something like that myself as I write—a spreadsheet over 500 lines deep that lists what happens in each chapter of the series. Often
times I have to go back and check on something, and it comes in very handy. I’d also like to get it all into Wikipedia, but I just haven’t got the time to do that
now, nor can I find anyone who has the knowhow or time to do it just yet. Then I’d also like to pull all the Argos Fire story line together into a stand-alone novel and get that released, but I only have so much time, so my main effort stays with writing the next scheduled novel. One thing I’ve just about completed is a complete edit of the first three books. I’m going to re-release them as one continuous file, the complete opening trilogy for new readers to get into the series. That is almost ready.
The more the merrier! Keep writing John!