War, by any means possible . . .

This is reality, not a premise for a book:

Multiple former officials and security researchers said the cyberattacks on Arizona’s and Illinois’ voter databases could be part of a suspected Russian attempt to meddle in the U.S. election, a campaign that has already included successful intrusions at major Democratic Party organizations and the selective leaking of documents embarrassing to Democrats. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has alleged that the digital attacks on her party are an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime to sway the election to GOP nominee Donald Trump. Moscow has denied any involvement.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/fbi-states-voting-systems-digital-assualt-227523#ixzz4InvfNNLW 

Triumph amid tragedy

A girl is rescued from the ruins of the earthquake in Amatrice, Italy.

On the border . . .

Russia prepares to move again:
Ukraine’s president warned of a possible invasion by Russia, further fraying nerves that have been on edge since his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin accused his neighbor last week of engaging in “terror” tactics in Crimea.

The actual motives this time may be more in the way of intimidation than invasion, but either way it's unacceptable.

Crime at the ATM

Part of the plot in Puppet Master turns on a scam involving ATM machines. Because it’s fiction, the plot is a bit more involved and advanced than what you might encounter in real life – but that’s scary enough.

Here’s a good briefer on what to watch out for:

Krebsonsecurity.com is hands-down one the best and most accessible site on all manner of internet fraud for “regular” folk. (But make sure to take it small enough doses that your paranoia level isn’t overwhelmed.)

Covers . . .

This year's most popular motif seems to be . . . faces coming out of darkness.

It's not just us:

Here's the cover for novelist Javier Marias's new book, which is also coming out in November:

We don't pretend to have invented the idea, by the way. I count at least three books with somewhat similar ideas over the past two or three years, and more on the way. When one designer has a good idea, others follow.
Announcing . . .

. . . my new book with blind Special Forces Major Ivan Castro, to be published this November by St. Martin's Press.

Book's website (still a work in progress at this point).
The 'Equation' Group . . .

. . . one of the real-life inspirations for Puppet Master.

CANCUN, Mexico — In 2009, one or more prestigious researchers received a CD by mail that contained pictures and other materials from a recent scientific conference they attended in Houston. The scientists didn't know it then, but the disc also delivered a malicious payload developed by a highly advanced hacking operation that had been active since at least 2001. The CD, it seems, was tampered with on its way through the mail.

I suspect that the real life intrigue, in this case at least, is even more mind-blowing than fiction can ever be.

(There's not much hacking in book 1; more in book 2 and beyond. You can preorder here.)
Fact follows fiction . . .

. . .  in southeast Asia.


PERTH, Australia — On July 29, loudspeakers and screens for national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines were hijacked in two major Vietnam airports in the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Offensive messages and what has been described by state media as "distorted information" about Vietnam and the Philippines’ claims to the South China Sea were displayed on flight information screens and broadcast over the public address systems.

Shades of Red Dragon Rising; (book one at Amazon.com / B&N / your local indie store.

1984 . . .

. . . but Big Brother is actually for hire.

Forget telephoto lenses and fake mustaches: The most important tools for America’s 35,000 private investigators are database subscription services. For more than a decade, professional snoops have been able to search troves of public and nonpublic records—known addresses, DMV records, photographs of a person’s car—and condense them into comprehensive reports costing as little as $10. Now they can combine that information with the kinds of things marketers know about you, such as which politicians you donate to, what you spend on groceries, and whether it’s weird that you ate in last night, to create a portrait of your life and predict your behavior.


(The underlying technology is similar to tech used in Puppet Master. There, of course, it won't be used for nefarious purposes . . . at least not yet.)

Fact or fiction?

How about both?

Sometimes fiction and fact overlap - this story details an ISIS branch that plays a key role in the next installment of Puppetmasters, due out this time next year:

Up, up, and away . . .

F-35A ready to fight:

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- The F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter aircraft was declared 'combat ready' by Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the commander of Air Combat Command, Aug 2.