KIRKUS REVIEW of Atmosphere
In this conclusion of a techno-thriller trilogy, two key humans who share a psychic bond with abandoned alien spaceships on Earth deal with a cosmic disaster.
In Clarke’s (Triangle, 2017, etc.) previous sci-fi installment, U.S. Navy scientist and pilot Jason Parker became the first human to successfully steer a lost alien spaceship, thanks to his interaction with ancient amphibious extraterrestrials—dubbed “Frogs”—hidden in Earth’s oceans and lakes. Parker and fellow researcher Laura Smith may even be reincarnations of aliens; they seemed to share otherworldly psychic bonds, insights, and remote-viewing powers.
The Frogs harbored secrets: They genetically engineered a humanlike species (nicknamed “Trolls”) as slaves. These beings remained behind, along with much “Frogship” material, when the aliens abruptly fled Earth (following their discovery during a Russian-American aquatic face-off). But why did the ETs really depart? Disconcerting hints come in this volume, which begins with more Frogships turning up, one mangled in Arctic ice, the other in the South China Sea.
Chinese Communists, of course, would love to get their hands on the technology. But Clarke has a yen for making readers look in one direction while taking the story in another, and abruptly, Jason and Laura are forced into a long-shot rescue mission. The U.S. maintains secret Mars colonies, but some type of catastrophe or attack has occurred there.
Barely comprehending how to move a Frogship, Jason must speed the giant metallic triangle to the red planet before the survivors’ air runs out. Then there are the Trolls and what they won’t tell humans. The author deftly brings the disparate elements together in the end along with shoutouts to the real-life British paranormal journal Fortean Times and fantasy author Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and a strange aside that a scientist happens to be married to a music/modeling superstar, no details given. While a lot of the questions in the series are answered, much ambiguity remains. At times, it’s nice that not every enigma gets dutifully checked off; at other times, it’s frustrating. And perhaps not every reader will be as fixated as Clarke (a proud Navy man) on aspects of deep-sea welding. Still, it’s a satisfying trip for the mind that, in the long run, nicely blends blazing adventure sci-fi with the more thoughtful, speculative variety pondering humankind’s destiny.
An engaging wrap-up to a sci-fi series that manages to be apocalyptic, upbeat, intelligent, and pro–U.S. military." --- Kirkus Reviews
Readers' Favorite reviews (by fellow authors around the world)
Atmosphere is a work of compelling science fiction penned by author John Clarke, and forms the third book in The Jason Parker Trilogy. This novel follows the events of Middle Waters and Triangle to bring us a climactic conclusion of alien technological investigations and the superpower countries of Earth battling to be the ones to get their hands on dangerous intel. Jason and Laura are back with all their expertise at hand, pairing up with a variety of new and interesting ‘experts’ in unusual fields to uncover the truth of the power that everyone is seeking. What results is a race against time to save humanity not from the alien threat, but from itself.
Genetic warfare and political tensions collide beautifully in the talented writing of author John Clarke. Although this is a science fiction novel, the concept of aliens is dealt with in very human terms, and I liked the connections to other human belief systems and how it all connected together. Jason and Laura make for an intelligent double act in their investigative quest, playing the roles of true heroes against a world gone mad with the prospect of power and weaponry. As such, their dialogue is sharp and informative, with plenty of science fact blended in, which will please hardcore fans of the genre. I loved the underlying tension, which is well maintained right to the final pages. Overall, Atmosphere is an accomplished work which places humanity at the center of the science fiction concept, and is a highly recommended read for serious fans of the genre. – K.C. Finn, award winning author from the U.K.
Atmosphere by John Clarke is the third and final edition of the Jason Parker trilogy and it is definitely a challenging read, but the challenge is well worth the taking. And for those who have read the first two installments, Middle Waters and Triangle, Atmosphere is a fitting culmination of a science fiction novel that takes us from the depths of the ocean to mystifying outer space. The story opens with a big bang as Earth is hit with a near extinction level gamma-ray burst or GRB. Top government scientists Jason Parker then teams up with a troll called Truman, a synesthete cosmologist, an Osage Marine from the Tzu Washtaki clan, a blind remote viewer and the help of extraterrestrial technology. Their mission is to save the world and with China and the United States of America locked in conflict, it is an impossibly gargantuan task, to say the least.
John Clarke's Atmosphere is a dystopian science fiction novel that is based on actual scientific details so the chances of it becoming a reality is not a very remote possibility. Set amidst an all too familiar geopolitical background, the twists and turns of this story are quite relatable. But what makes Atmosphere doubly enthralling is that aside from the thrills, excitement, mystery, and adventure, of which it has plenty, the novel is not only about the survival of planet Earth but also its transcendence into one that can withstand future catastrophes through evolution. Kudos to John Clarke for coming up with a science fiction novel that defies the imagination but feels so very real. – Maria Beltran, Philippines
In Atmosphere: A Novel by John Clarke, a hundred feet below the Ross Sea - which is frozen - there is an ancient flying saucer trapped among glacial ice and volcanic rock. Top divers from the navy have been tasked with the job of getting information from the crash site. Government scientists Jason Parker and Laura Smith join forces with an unlikely band of brothers in order to save the world. When the forces of good and the forces of not so good go head to head over the same issue, will humanity survive? Or will it all fall apart in the end?
My first confession is that I have not read the first two installments of this book series. I do plan on going back to read them now that I have read this one though. The second confession is that this book works very well as a stand-alone as well. I might have missed a few finer points here and there but, overall, author John Clarke has done a fantastic job in making this book one that can be followed even without the other two. This is a fast-paced story and it does not pull any punches at all. I found myself feeling like I was running a very hard and fast marathon with every page that I finished. It is very clear the author knows his stuff when it comes to diving and the naval end of things, which adds even more weight to the enjoyment of this book. If you love good science fiction, don’t miss out on this book or the series. I would put this on my must-read list for sure. – Kathryn Bennett, Indiana
KIRKUS REVIEW of Middle Waters
Odd disappearances and deaths, UFOs, and incredible deep-sea technology threaten to submerge naval scientist Jason Parker in alien intrigue.
In James Cameron’s cinematic blockbuster The Abyss, the nail-biting tale of undersea disaster and deep-water military jeopardy took a sudden detour into being an alien-first-contact epic. Clarke’s sci-fi techno-thriller debut isn’t too far from Cameron’s original release, though Clarke more neatly flays those different genres flopping around like fish in a rowboat. Jason Parker is a stalwart U.S. Navy scientist and pilot who, from the air, witnesses what appears to be a UFO splashdown off Florida. Thanks to his expertise, timing, and perhaps a bit of predestination, Parker is on the scene for a series of mysterious deaths among deep-water divers as well as the recovery of an incredible new Russian weapon, a supersonic torpedo. The Tom Clancy–esque gizmo turns out to be a bit of a red herring for the actual secret pursued by semiruthless operatives of the U.S. government. Experiments in psychic “remote viewing” have revealed the existence of intelligence and phenomena not quite of this Earth, hidden in the abyssal depths of the Marianas Trench and the Gulf of Mexico. Parker, who begins hearing voices and glimpsing “shadow people,” finds himself and pretty young oceanography student Laura Smith stalked by, if not Men in Black, then at least Men in Green. The author, an expert in scuba and marine minutiae, knows how to tell a good tale while also measuring the specs of a rebreather apparatus; he even tosses in some real-life ufological lore about which paranormalists have been howling for some time. But rather than filching from Whitley Strieber or other usual suspects, he gives the creatures his own Rod Serling–esque spin (for quite a few chapters, the rationalist hero dismisses the toadlike aliens as hallucinations). It still feels like a bit of a mashup, but the story flows nicely and doesn’t anchor itself to the ballast of too much technical jargon. Bonus points for salutes to Fortean Times magazine and the fairy tale of “The Frog Prince.”
A buoyant undersea-alien yarn that’d make an awesome beach read.
Publisher's Weekly Review of Middle Waters
“This SF thriller starts out well and displays some nice touches of humor … Clarke, a veteran Navy diving scientist, is especially effective in translating his expertise into fiction in the gripping opening chapter, as an unusual incident claims the lives of two divers off the coast of Alabama. Someone, or something, ripped the helmet off one of the men; the other died of the bends after he saw some “bizarre, bright orange geometric figures” who conveyed a cryptic apology. The mystery of the divers’ deaths, and a slew of other oddities—a patch of cold dark water that kills everything in its path, an extraterrestrial unidentified submerged object—engage scientist Jason Parker. He begins to experience some anomalies himself, including hearing voices advising him to stay alert. There are some light moments; Jason can’t believe that a colleague is “from another planet, especially not a planet of telepathic frogs.” — Publishers Weekly (Booklife)
KIRKUS REVIEW of Triangle
U.S. Navy scientist Jason Parker and other operatives mobilize to secure secrets and technologies left on Earth by a race of aquatic aliens in Clarke’s (Middle Waters, 2014) sequel.
The author, a diving scientist for the Navy, continues his series about a steely, Dirk Pitt–style hero who knows his way around deep-water dives, sunken caves, paranormal phenomena, and romance with attractive women. Parker made contact with amphibianlike extraterrestrials, colloquially known as “Frogs,” who dwelt unseen in Earth’s deepest oceans for some 10,000 years. Russian weapons tests led to the creatures’ sudden (and rather ominous) departure at the end of the last book. Now there’s evidence that, in their haste, the Frogs left behind some very important property. In Siberia, Russians find one of the alien’s triangular spacecraft, seemingly abandoned in a deep lake. Meanwhile, in Mexico, Parker and a Navy rescue team stumble across an enigmatic tribe of benign, bioluminescent, telepathic humanoids living underground who were genetically sired by the Frogs as slave labor. And then there are other, derelict spaceships, some of them detected by CIA operatives via extrasensory “remote viewing.” The book’s mix of psychic phenomena and hard-science submarine tech is a bit eccentric, and the author gives shoutouts and salutes to the 1989 James Cameron film The Abyss as well as to the fantastic fiction of James Patterson and Robert Jordan. The characterization tends to be basic, but readers who like the novel’s Tom Clancy–ish acronyms (a glossary of military jargon is provided), superpower rivalry (the Russians are even called “Commies” in dialogue), and suspenseful, Clive Cussler–esque, high-risk salvage ops likely won’t mind. The third act, meanwhile, brings in loads of speculation from the ufological and parapsychology realms and a not-so-subtle plea to give parascience more respect. In a cute addendum, Clarke recaps Middle Waters’ premise in the form of an article from the real-life fringe-science and occult journal Fortean Times.
A seaworthy mashup of military techno-thriller and alien-contact fare.
A Sci-Fi author's review of Triangle
Triangle is a hard science fiction story that pushes hard science fiction limits. The story is full of surprises. Technically, it is chock full of accurate deep-water saturation diving (something I know a lot about, because I am a professional saturation diver -- among other things), high-speed small jet piloting (I don't fly small jets, but am a pilot), high-level military operations (I've been deeply involved in highly classified submarine and diving espionage operations), insightful black-ops descriptions (ditto), and even Oval Office conversations that come off as genuine (I am personally acquainted with one president, and friends with several high-level government people). I can tell you that Clark nailed these, especially his Navy diver banter!
The hard science fiction limits that Clarke pushes revolve around remote viewing. Clarke presumes that this capability is real and can be developed. His main character, Jason Parker, has this capability, but not so well developed as a couple of other characters. Remote viewing plays a significant role in Triangle, and Clarke pulled me into it, and forced me to suspend my disbelief.
Triangle has aliens, highly advanced alien technology, government agencies (from several nations) vying to control this technology, highly skilled saturation divers doing what these guys do, and Clarke ties it all together with an edge-of-your-seat tale of suspense. This is a great read from a fine writer! --- Robert G. Williscroft, Author, Submariner, Diver