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Maps Kirov Reviews


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A continuing Interview with John Schettler - Author Of the Kirov series novels.

I had no idea that Turning Point was going to pull a Kinlan on us!
You’re speaking of the eruption of Krakatoa, and the arrival of Takami an dcrew.

What else? That was a completely unexpected twist, but yet one very well foreshadowed by prior events in the series. You seem to have a love affair with volcanoes.

Large explosive events… True, we saw the Demon Volcano send Kirov to 1945 in 9 Days Falling, and now we get Krakatoa. Yes, I’ve long wondered what a major event like that eruption might due to the course of human history if it occurred in modern times. This first emerged in my fiction and time travel writing when I wrote Meridian 15 years ago. There I wrote about an eruptions of Cumbre Vieja on the island of La Palma. That volcano just missed WWII with an eruption that lasted 37 days in 1949, and it erupted again in 1971. Scientists say it will erupt again, and the unstable western flank could collapse into the sea causing a major tsunami event that could seriously threaten the Eastern seaboard. That was the background event that happens in Part I of Meridian, but the project team soon learns that it was not a natural event, but one brought about by a terrorist act involving a nuke. I thought about popping off Cumbre Vieja in the middle of Operation Condor, but then decided that would be stepping on too many footprints I walked in the Meridian series, which has now made a cameo in the Kirov series with Dorland’s appearance this season. But there was Krakatoa, and I just couldn’t resist.

Well we have all the ground tilled for that event by the Demon Volcano eruption, and the whole revelation made by Director Kamenski concerning the effect of large explosive events on spacetime.
Yes, and we also have paid a visit to the Tunguska event itself. Fedorov has actually seen it’s glow on the horizon, along with Sergie Kirov, which was historical, by the way. Kirov had just been released from prison after being picked up by the Okhrana for suspected complicity in revolutionary actions. He was on the Trans Siberian rail heading east to visit relatives when Tunguska happened. So he had to have seen it, or even heard it. I find these things in the history, and then give them my fictional spin, which is all part of the fun. In this case, since we have an alternate timeline here, it was easy for me to predicate that the dates and times of these natural events like Krakatoa are not fixed, they could happen at other times, and so that’s the rabbit I pulled out of my hat in Turning Point
Along with Takami!

Again, we have similar events with Argos Fire arriving in the past, and of course the coming of Kinlan’s Brigade, and later the auxiliary ships the British now call “the Funnies.” Both those arrivals had secret catalysts that trace back to Tunguska, but the Krakatoa event was just sheer power, an explosive event so massive that it ruptured time, just like the Demon volcano event.

This presented some interesting scenes as the Japanese crew try to determine which side they’re on.
An echo of what the crew of Kirov went through. Kirov took on all comers, but here the circumstances forced Takami to side with their homeland. What else could they do?

Is Fukada a shadow of Karpov?
He has something of Karpov’s nationalism, which prompts him to lead the argument that Takami must support Japan. Yet Fukada is nowhere near as dark a character as Karpov, nowhere near as complex.. At the moment, the crew of Takami has just barely been sketched out as a group of new characters, but I haven’t had time to really develop those characters yet. They will develop over time, assuming they survive. Harada is a bit conflicted by it all. The solution to try and approach Yamamoto and end the war was a logical choice to service both ends of the argument at the same time.

They were pretty bold to reveal who and what they were like that so quickly.
Yes, the crew of Kirov kept in secret for a good deal longer. Here they came to realize their power to influence events did not reside entirely with their missiles. To wield that power, they had to first reveal who they really were, and have it be believed.

Once again we get that riveting sequence where a major historical character “sees the Elephant.” But it never gets old.
Thanks. These scenes are necessary, though in the case of Takami and their crew, I relied on my readers willing suspension of disbelief, and the long history I have already laid out concerning this. Yet I still wanted some tension in those scenes where Harada and Fukada go to Yamamoto. Admiral Ugaki helped me wit that.

Was this a way to balance the series and give Japan a chance to actually win the war?
In some ways, yes. This far in the Altered States segment of the series, all the arrivals from the future have joined the Allies: Kirov, Kazan, Argos Fire, the Funnies, Kinlan’s 7th Brigade. One might say they have proven to be the counterfoil to the tremendous advantage Germany has in finding  Russia fragmented and with the Orenburg Federation joining the Axis. So we see Germany undertaking many operations that historians have long speculated about. They took Gibraltar in Hinge of Fate, and Malta Fell soon after. Those were two of the three lynchpins of British power in the Mediterranean, the third being Alexandria. So we see the forces from the future offsetting this to help Great Britain in the early years of the war and balance the tremendous advantage the Germans get with the French Navy also joining their cause. Without Kirov, Kazan, Argos Fire, and Kinlan, it’s a pretty good bet that Rommel is sitting in Alexandria now, and Britain is pushed back to Iran and India. In the eastern theaters, I moved Vladimir Karpov into the history as he seizes control of the Free Siberian State to oppose Volkov, and now the Japanese. His choices were largely the result of his own actions in 1908. He’s trying to undo the damage he caused there, and reclaim all the territory Japan took from Russia. Yet things fall through the cracks, and the Axis powers also have certain advantages.

Right, that was the whole project Argus thing.
Correct. There the Axis gets a windfall from the future, most unexpected, but very significant. It make the loss of that RPG at Palmyra seem line child’s play. Now the Germans have two functioning ballistic missiles with low yield atomic warheads, and don’t forget that they also are sitting right atop a supposed gateway through time—right there at St. Michael’s Cave on Gibraltar. They do not yet realize what they have there, or with those two missiles from Project Argus, but that may soon change. In the  Pacific, now the Japanese have a challenger worthy to stand at sea against the mighty Kirov.

Is that what’s coming at us in Steel Reign?
That would be telling, but I think the readers can already see where I’m taking that plot line. Yes, Takami and Kirov are on a collision course. It’s going to be a little like Achilles vs Hector, a clash of two champions that could decide the outcome of a good chunk of that history in the Pacific.

Wow. There’s been any number of threads in the naval forums about whether a Ticonderoga class cruiser could take on a Kirov class ship, or even the upgraded Iowa that was in commission for a time.
And I’ve read them all. Everyone has an opinion as to how that battle might resolve itself. But in my story, this is not your base line Kirov Class battlecruiser, but a much upgraded ship. This Kirov has 40 Moskit IIs aboard, not to mention the P-900s, the MOS-IIIs, and extra deck guns. It is also better armored, and has upgraded electronics. And Takami is not really a cruiser but an Aegis equipped destroyer, more like a Burke. That said, it will not be alone. Kurita’s task force will be with it, and so the odds stacking up against Kirov are going to pose a real challenge. Don’t forget what Hayashi did when he put his plane into the battle bridge of Kirov in Pacific Storm.

That’s another thing—the reprise of those characters from Pacific Storm is a nice touch.
It harmonizes with what I have long been spinning out around Tovey. Yes, Yamamoto, Admiral Hara, and the pilots off Carrier Division 5 all return again here.

What about Sanje Iwabuchi?
He’s out there too. These characters will begin to have premonitions, disturbing dreams, and feel the cold shadow of Kirov on their lives in this history as it goes forward. Lots of fun there.

I still shiver with that fantastic ending in Pacific Storm when Iwabuchi takes the cruiser Tone right through Kirov just as it is shifting.
That was one of my favorite series books, which is why I’m enjoying the Pacific War segments so much in this evolution of the story.

So how far into 1942 does this one take us?
We get into Mid May by the end of Steel Reign. This one will cover the pivotal battles that took place in April and May when the US carriers challenged the Kido Butai in the Coral Sea and at Midway. My depiction of those events is presented here, and a campaign develops that even encompasses the Operation Watchtower of the real history, except it happens in a different place. April-May, 1942 was a crucial time in the war, the real turning point for the Japanese dreams of Empire. Let’s see what happens here

You’ve announced the next book as Second Front

That’s where late 1942 takes us. The Allies have to get busy there, and they have to confront and stop German Ambitions in French North Africa. This will see a plan develop akin to the Super-Gymnast / Torch operation. I wanted to get Eisenhower into Steel Reign, but he only made a brief appearance. He take a more prominent place in Second Front and the Allies launch their first big offensive in the West

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