WORTH, Texas — In "The Eye of God," the new
adventure novel from James Rollins, the Sigma Force team
of soldiers-turned-scientists have four days to save the
world before it’s obliterated by debris from a passing
team’s success depends on locating a downed satellite
in the remote reaches of Mongolia.
was putting finishing touches on his
everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plot — which not only
incorporates cutting-edge scientific theories involving
dark energy, quantum entanglement and multiple
universes, but also centuries-old conspiracy theories
about the treasures of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan
and the travels of Thomas the Apostle — when part of
the book didn’t seem quite so farfetched anymore.
because there was an unexpected explosion over Russia in
February, courtesy of the Chelyabinsk meteor.
was writing about near-Earth objects crashing into our
planet when all of a sudden this piece of rock blew up
in the upper atmosphere," Rollins says. "If it
had struck the Earth with its full force, it would have
hit with the kinetic energy equivalent to 20 to 30
would have meant major devastation. And the scary part
is we didn’t even know it was coming. It felt a little
bit prophetic. I was like, ‘Is somebody up there
looking over my shoulder while I’m writing?’"
Eye of God" (William Morrow, $27.99) is the author’s
ninth Sigma Force thriller.
a good starting point for the uninitiated, though,
because Rollins jettisoned a multi-book story arc in
last year’s release and hit the "restart"
button in this one.
think it’s important to refresh the series
occasionally," Rollins says. "Sometimes
readers can be intimidated, thinking that they’ve got
to understand the whole backstory to appreciate a new
novel in the series. This allows them to jump on board
without feeling lost."
thrillers tend to have a little of everything in them.
grounded in hard-core scientific fact, they freely
venture into science fiction. They seamlessly blend
history, myth, theology and crackpot conspiracy theory.
They are equal parts action, espionage, travelogue and
explains his storytelling approach this way: "It’s
my sandbox and I want to play with all the toys that are
genesis of "The Eye of God," he says, was news
of the upcoming arrival of Comet ISON, which will pass
by Earth in November.
expected to be the brightest comet seen in our skies for
the last couple of millennia," Rollins says.
"It’s going to be so bright, you’ll be able to
see it in the daytime. So I invented my own comet, IKON,
which brings with it the threat of widespread death and
Rollins started piling idea on top of idea.
recently visited Fermilab (a Department of Energy
laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics,
located near Chicago) and I got to talk to the
physicists there," he says. "During lunch, I
was saying, ‘I’m always looking for that next idea
for a book. What’s the cool thing that you guys are
working on that most people aren’t aware of?’
told me their theory that the universe might be a giant
hologram. They’re pretty sure that, in the inside
sphere of the universe, there’s code written that
defines a hologram that shapes our universe.
said, ‘That sounds pretty out there. Do you really
believe that?’ And they said, ‘The consensus among
physicists now is that it’s probably true.’ And they
hope to prove it at Fermilab. They’re developing a
Holometer to test the theory.
the concept of ‘How much of our reality is real?’
became sort of the crux of this book."
course, it wouldn’t be a James Rollins book if he didn’t
also reach back into history.
are two great historic treasures that are missing,"
he says. "One belonged to Attila the Hun, who was
supposedly buried in a triple coffin of iron, silver and
gold, with the treasure of his vast empire buried with
him. Then there was Genghis Khan, who was supposedly
buried with all the treasures of his vast conquests and
was like, ‘Which story do I want to do?’ Then I
thought, ‘What if these two mysteries could overlap in
some way?’ So I wrote about them both."
Sigma team — which includes reader favorites Gray
Pierce, Monk Kokkalis and Joe Kowalski, along with a
couple of newcomers — must solve the Attila the Hun /
Genghis Khan riddles before they’ll be able to save
Earth from a flaming rainstorm of space debris.
yeah, and did we mention that one new member of the team
has magnetic fingertips? Rollins has woven that into the
futuristic as it sounds, he says the technology, which
allows users to sense objects with strong
electromagnetic signatures, already exists.
spoke with a couple of people who have had it
done," he says. "The way they describe what it’s
like, and the things they’re able to sense that most
people are oblivious to, it makes me want to do it.
have always been fascinated by people trying to merge
the human anatomy with mechanics. I talked to one guy
who has RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips
implanted underneath his skin, so that only he can
unlock his car door and his cell phone and his laptop.
sounds like science fiction, but the truth is the future