Ancient knowledge and present-day evildoers threaten the world order in the latest entry in Cussler and Morrison’s Oregon series (Typhoon Fury, 2017).
In 261 B.C.E., Indian ruler Ashoka the Terrible had nine Scrolls of Knowledge that together would help someone rule the world. Over the millennia, they were kept separately by Nine Unknown Men who, until 200 years ago, were all from India. Now, eight of the nine possessors have a plan for world domination, while the ninth, Mallik, has a “new goal to save the human race.” His Colossus is “the most advanced artificial intelligence project ever devised” and would fulfill Ashoka’s dream “to harness ultimate knowledge for the benefit of mankind.” It would concentrate untold power in the hands of a few, but it may become humans’ master instead of its servant. How those old scrolls contain so much unique and critical information is left unanswered; for example, how did the Scroll for communications help one man build a giant telecom empire? It’s not the strongest premise for a thriller, but never mind. The heroes are an all-American patriotic crew on the Oregon, “the most advanced spy ship ever built.” The ship, sailing in the Indian Ocean, is disguised to look like a sorry mess from the outside, but it’s really a high-tech wonder. The crew’s challenges include a missile targeting the U.S. naval base at remote Diego Garcia with a payload of the deadliest-ever Russian nerve agent Novichok. Also, crew members risk getting cooked as they swim near molten underwater lava. Onboard a vessel, they may be gunned down by a machine gun hidden inside a cake or cut down by a flying hunga munga. All the world’s computers may become disabled by an electromagnetic pulse, and Colossus may achieve singularity.
Readers probably won’t lie awake worrying whether all this could really happen. Fast-moving, implausible fun.