Back in 1993, before the Average Joe even had e-mail, I was enthralled with the promise of the Internet and with a technology called virtual reality.
Actually, I was interested in the Internet, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and genetic engineering. And when I get interested in something, a novel usually results.
People say "Write what you know." I say, "Write what you'd like to know. Write what you're interested in."
I turned my interest in VR, AI, and bioengineering into a trilogy of thrillers I love to this day.
These novels were released in 1995, 1996, and 1997, respectively.
Virtually Eliminated is Ethan's first adventure. The tagline reads "Can one man of faith stop a killer who stalks cyberspace." I always liked that.
The premise is that Ethan is just a regular Joe—a Christian husband and family man—working as a VR programmer in the near future.
There has been a rash of electrocu-tion murders all over the world, in which the victim had always been connected to virtual reality gear and logged into "GlobeNet" when the murder took place.
This captures Ethan's attention and he begins putting together a theory that these are not unrelated accidents, as authorities believe, but the work of a single serial killer.
He contacts the FBI with his theory, and the mayhem begins.
My very first mental image for this story was of two men locked in combat in a virtual world. The actual people doing the fighting would be logged in from widely separated locations, but they'd be grappling in a virtual chokehold online. As they careen around in their battle they fall through various artificial worlds: the Pyramids, the moon, a spreadsheet, etc.
You'll find this sequence at the climax of this novel.
Though I wrote this novel in 1994 I'm very pleased with how it's held up. Indeed, I wouldn't change a thing about the writing. I would, however, bump the entire trilogy another 30 years into the future. We've caught up to the timeframe mentioned in the books, and technology isn't anywhere near what I wrote about. Oopth!
Terminal Logic is Ethan's second adventure. The events of the previous story caused him to move his family out to a remote home in East Texas.
But Ethan, being Ethan, had to make it a "smart home," with all the automat-ed amenities, including a household computer named HAL. What else?
Snooping around online, as Ethan is wont to do, he discovers another rash of mysterious deaths stemming from people's involvement with GlobeNet. He thinks he's onto another serial killer.
He's right. Except that he's terribly wrong.
This time the killer isn't human.
In this novel the savvy reader will see not only more high-tech thrills but also my first foray into the world of the military. It's a theme I enlarge in the third novel in the trilogy and then expand greatly in my second trilogy, the Operation: Firebrand series.
Because most people (me included) felt Terminal Logic had a weak cover and a strange title, and because this is the novel that has sold the least well of all six I've published, it has always held a special place in my heart. I don't know if it's my favorite, but it's the one I like introducing people to.
In the third installment of the series, Ethan's derring-do in the previous two stories has earned him the attention of the White House and the invitation to lead a multi-agency anti-cyber-terrorism unit.
I felt so smart when, several years after the book was published, President Bush formed Homeland Security and created the very agency I'd predicted in this novel.
However, like all initiatives that try to get old "friendly adversaries" to work together, Ethan's team is beset with turf wars and interagency squabbling. Nor is Ethan immune to the political maneuvering that characterizes governmental agencies (at least on TV!).
Finding himself temporarily kicked out of the agency the president had assigned him to lead, and faced with a terrorist group attempting to purchase biological weapons from an offshore biotech firm, Ethan has to leave his computers behind and get his hands dirty.
He travels to Clipperton Island in the Pacific, where he hopes to thwart the terrorists and defeat the high-tech mercenaries who are providing them with electronic protections for do-gooders like him.
Throw Ethan into a remote island with Middle Eastern terrorists, a biological weapon, Navy SEALs, and a Category 4 typhoon, and you've got the makings for Ethan's most thrilling adventure of all.
Be sure to catch "Kludge," the short story from the Ethan Hamilton story world.
"Kludge" is an adventure that Ethan's son, Jordan, had one day when only his machines could save him.
"Kludge" was published in Breakaway magazine.