Bob Mayer Mixes SciFi with Military/Political Thrillers in "The Rock"

Post date: Mar 13, 2015 5:50:10 PM

The Rock

When you talk about military science fiction, two of the names you frequently hear mentioned are Robert Doherty and Bob Mayer. That's quite a coincidence, because both are New York Times best- selling authors of the genre. Both are also West Point graduates and former U.S. Army Green Berets. And both...well, they're both the same man.

I mention this because when I first became aware of Doherty/Mayer I was confused. Which was which? Doherty's Amazon page says he lives in Seattle, Mayer's says Tennessee. Would the real author please stand up?

Well, the real author is Bob Mayer, and The Rock—originally written under his Doherty penname—is, so far, my favorite book of his.

The detonation of a nuclear device stolen by terrorists triggers a mysterious radio transmission that emanates from Ayres Rock in Australia and jams American satellite transmissions. Analysis of the transmission reveals a message echoing the recorded greetings the space probe Voyager took on its interplanetary journey, and a set of names. Those people—a deep black special ops soldier, an alcoholic geologist, a psychologically unstable prodigy, and a government analyst of future trends—are brought to "the rock," as it's called, to solve the mystery of the transmissions. In the process, they discover what appears to be an interstellar threat to mankind.

Written in the early 1990s, the book is a bit technically dated—there is no Internet and the characters have to look things up in an almanac—but that doesn't detract from the story. Mayer masterfully mixes elements of sci-fi with thrillers of the military, political, and techno variety. His military background allows him to write believable military and combat action scenes without the mistakes writers without military experience often make. And while I haven't read much of Mayer's expansive oeuvre yet, The Rock seems to be a more serious work than the other books of his I've read. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy sci-fi and military action.