Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and storms

Posted Monday, 1 December, 2014 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

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Category 5 by Paul Mark Tag

{ Book 1 of the Science Thrillers Trilogy }

{ Book 2 : Prophecy }

{ Book 3 : White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy }

Published By: iUniverse (@iUniverse)

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback, & Ebook

Genre(s): Fiction | Science Technothriller | Espionage & Intrigue | Science Fact

Converse via: #ScienceThrillersTrilogy, #technothriller#PaulMarkTag

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Acquired Book By: Whilst my path crossed originally with Mr. Tag through my participation of his blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & Media (on behalf of “How Much Do You Love Me?”), we have continued to stay in touch since the tour ended. What I found most fascinating about his historical fiction debut is how soul stirring the narrative was depicted against the backdrop of war and the timelessness of his approach to etch a story out of our collective emotional hearts. I was very moved by his multi-cultural characters and of a story taken straight out of history and World War II. Thus, when I was approached to receive his Science Thrillers Trilogy in exchange for an honest review, I was most delighted indeed! To be honoured with the chance to read his science fiction based on science fact thrillers would enable me to see a new dimension of his writing style and voice!

I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Paul Mark Tag, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and stormsCategory 5
by Paul Mark Tag
Source: Direct from Author

Dr. Victor Mark Silverstein is a Jewish African-American whose background is as unusual as his personality. He lives a privileged life as the Naval Research Laboratory's preeminent meteorologist and scientist. But beneath the facade of a self-centered, arrogant personality lies a seething, vulnerable man whose secrets have plagued his sleep since 1982. That's when he discovered the truth about what happened to his girlfriend, Sylvia.

In the year 2007, his nightmares become a reality when weather satellites detect an environmental aberration. Memories from college at Penn State -- and their accompanying heartbreak -- push their way back into Silverstein's life. Only he knows the root cause of the phenomenon and its scientific basis -- and the mastermind behind it all.

This fast-paced thriller spans the globe: from the Suez Canal and Christmas Island to Istanbul, Turkey; to Monterey, California and Washington, DC; and finally to Bermuda. Silverstein and his feisty female assistant, Dr. Linda Kipling, begin a desparate and harrowing pursuit for the truth and for those responsible. With time running out and the environmental catastrophe unfolding, they must survive a terrifying ride through the eyewall of a hurricane. The final showdown pits good against evil and intellect against loyalty. Along the way, Silverstein finds peace and becomes reacquainted with a faith he abandoned long ago.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Science Fiction, Thriller

Places to find the book:

Also by this author: How Much Do You Love Me?, Author Interview : Paul Mark Tag (on "How Much Do You Love Me?")

Series: Science Thrillers Trilogy, No.1

Also in this series: Beneath Creek Waters

Published by iUniverse

on 31st April, 2005

Format: Paperback

Pages: 324

About Paul Mark Tag

How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag

Paul Mark Tag graduated with degrees in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and worked for the Naval Research Laboratory as a research scientist for over thirty years before retiring to write fiction. For years prior to retirement, and the following year exclusively, he honed his skills writing short stories. These have been published in StoryBytes, Potpourri, Green’s Magazine, and The Storyteller, as well as The Errant Ricochet: Max Raeburn’s Legacy.

In 2005, Tag published his first thriller, Category 5, which took advantage of his knowledge of meteorology and weather modification. Prophecy and White Thaw: The Helheim Conspiracy followed Category 5, with White Thaw tackling global climate change, a topical subject these days. With his historical novel How Much Do You Love Me? Tag has switched genres. He lives with his wife, Becky, in Monterey, California.

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The science within Category 5:

I have oft wondered why there isn’t more talk about modifications and protocols to augment the severity of natural disasters as we have seen played in science fiction modules. Weather modification has been a hearty subject for a long time, but I was always drawn to the natural disaster films which attempted to either clarify the issue in layman’s terms or give a plausible example of what could happen if we start to monk about with natural systems we have no business altering by artificial means. The theory within the novel Category 5 is hugged close to my own thoughts and musings on the topic at large; if you could find a way to interject a change of severity and course of a storm whilst it is already in-progress and growing in strength. It is plausible because anyone who has stood outside during a severe weather occurrence starts to denote a few things in the atmosphere; the least of which is the changing colours of the sky itself, but moreso, the change of ambiance of the time of the occurrence itself.

I have observed there is a stillness when your outside observing weather as it occurs; hurricanes by far have the worst calm within the eye whereas the calm center of a tornado is daunting on a different level completely. Both the eye and the center of both storms do have one particular thing in common: they are fair warning of what is coming next. If we start to use science to control what is naturally occurring and thereby has it’s own cycle of influence on the natural world, are we then able to justify the results if the outcome is less than equal to the projected end results? Sometimes what you beg trouble for is far worse than living through what has already arrived.

Part of me is curious of what is not understood and cannot be explained; climate and meteorology have always held strong influences on me (where I live notwithstanding) and a part of this might stem from my great-grandfather whose fascination with electricity was directly linked to his curiosity about lightning. If only I could travel back in time to speak to him about his own observations and what he gleamed by staring down the bolts of pure electricity as they lit up the evening skies and gave a shuddering start to the extreme weather of his era.

When they started to talk about ocean temperatures I nearly chuckled to myself — I still remember flying over the Gulf for the first time and noticing the differences in both density and colourations of the ocean’s surface. Part of me mused if the variations had anything to do with temperatures as much as the depth of the particular portions I was flying over; as that is one observation you cannot gleam standing on the ground. Flying reveals a lot about our world as the juxtaposition increases the mind to accept the larger view more to scale than when we are looking down rather than sideways or up. The ocean sciences (from oceanography to geophysics to geothermal plate tectonics) were a keen interest of mine whilst growing up. Naturally I would evolve into appreciating every sub-field inter-related to Environmental Science, Climatology, Meteorology and Natural Weather or Disasters such as Snow Science, Vulcanology, and Glaciology. Tag has written a novel a science geek like me is overjoyed to have found existing in science fiction! It is a thread of theory combined with real-life plausible scenarios which have the most direct impact on mass causality and aftermath; a warning of a tale about the temptations of where science can lead man to technology that can offset the balance of order and chaos.

There is a point in the story where Silverstein is mentioned as studying forensic meteorologist – giving me a bit of pause as I was most intrigued at that designation. (the forensic sciences are another thread of interest of mine) I was curious if this is what Paleoclimatology was originally called or if the forensic side of meteorology is a sub-field exploring a completely different branch of data. Considering climate and weather are generally studied separately, I found it quite fascinating to see this inside the novel.

My Review of Category 5:

Tag does a wonderful job in the opening of Category 5 to lay the groundwork of the thriller itself — to give us a plausible reason to become curious about what is going to cause the hurricane and what could potentially be the trigger behind the action taken to put so many lives at risk. Growing up in a state bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, I still remember what it was like for families who survived Hurricane Andrew (a Category 5 hurricane from 1992) who had to seek new jobs and residences far outside the sphere of where they were when the hurricane came ashore. Lives are upturnt in the blink of an eye, as like tornadoes (of which my state is also well known to have in high frequency) hurricanes can become monstrous with little warning. They inflict harm without conscience and they leave behind a wrath of destruction in their wake to visually stun an observer who arrives on scene or watches the documentary footage via The Weather Channel.

I had a suspicion an element of the plot would involve a conspiracy of some kind and that the key people behind the conspiracy would halt at all costs the information to leak out as quickly as putting a cork in a leaky pipe. Therefore it came to no surprise that before the end of the first chapter someone had the unexpected exit out of the story! Part of the set-up to this one particular character’s demise and the back-story arc itself, started to remind me of why I loved reading military-esque adventures by Tom Clancy. What I applauded in seeing however, was how two characters were pitted against each other: Silverstein and Fitzby. Fitzby is the perfect antagonist on the level he has no empathy or line of remorse for his actions nor for his narcissism! Silverstein crossed paths with him in college, which set the stage to keel into a downward spiral by the time their paths would re-collide with each other. A few bits of the narrative reminded me of a recent read of mine (Drone Games) published by Cedar Fort, wherein where the shadows dance outside the light take on a trajectory to a similar location but the stitchings of the stories are unique to themselves.

Fitzby has such an inflated level of security within his own confidence as a scientist and as an innovator for cross-usage of modern technology with climatology; he leaves himself a bit blindsided not to pick up on certain clues that would have saved his soul a bit of anguish. Not that he was lily white and free of being guilty of sin, but it is who he places his trust in to achieve his goals — as to him, that is the bottomline moreso than appreciation of wealth: to realise seeing his innovations thrive and take shape in the real world. He’s a man who is trumped by his peers for logical sensibility but he is ruined by his pride and his vengeance for power.

Silverstein on the other hand is consumed by raw guilt, intense fear and a spirit turnt against his own faith. I gathered a sense he is self-condemning himself for circumstances beyond his control and in so doing, self-harming his psyche. The main vein of connection between Silverstein and Fitzby is that they are both top level geniuses in their respective field; to the detriment of those around them as their social skills are a bit absent. Silverstein is deeply committed to his work, his research, and for understanding the anomalies within the science behind the weather he studies. He’s a natural bourne workaholic whose entire life revolves around his work.

The character who took me by surprise was Kipling: a happy surprise in how her character is a complete about-face to most female characters found in either technothrillers or military/spy novels. She commands her presence and her personality is quite brilliantly written because she has a nonchalance about her which only masks the fact she understands more than she allows to be seen. The fact she was given a moment to voice her thoughts on ethnicity and how she grew up colour blind as her parents were liberal Hippie’s brought the topic of diversity and equality to the forefront of her character’s internal make-up. She has an innate respect and admiration for everyone and chooses to get to know someone on a personal level rather than being presumptuous based on a leading reputation; such as she has done with Silverstein whose reputation greets you long before you shake the man’s hand.

For the weather and climate geek (such as myself), Tag has knitted in a lot of wicked stellar facts in relation to how weather is monitored, understood and studied. I found myself caught up in the sequences where the meteorologists are defending themselves (as their characters struggle with confidence when society misjudges their fields and positions) inside their own headspace whilst the foundation of where the science helps them understand what is being seen outside visually is quite impressive. It is definitely a thriller for science fiction and science geeks alike as you get to tagalong with such an eagle eye view of the analytics as much as the metrics for the forward motion of the plot!

You get so caught up in the chase to catch up to Fitzby as he is the one who caused Silverstein’s PTSD symptoms originally and the one who is bent on causing an epic Category 5 hurricane to pummel and destroy everyone in the path he is dictating should be affected by it. It is how Silverstein and Kipling’s strength of bond and trust in each other give them the ability to overtake Fitzby’s plans that is what will keep you up at night reading! Once the science is explained, Category 5 becomes a fast moving train — where if you are not running alongside the characters to see how the final score is settled, you’re going to miss everything in the blink of an eye!

On the diversity and equality in literature writing style of Mr. Tag:

Tag has a wonderful way of introducing you to a character not limited to their skin tone or their hue of eye colour, but of their character make-up, personality quirks and the ways in which they individualistically stand out from their peers. He draws you inside the very fiber of who they are by showing you a bit of how their character is presented on the exterior without limiting himself to traditional character descriptions. He does of course give you a full presentation of who they are, but he relies more on how we would approach each other in person rather than how characters are generally depicted upon a printed page. He gives them a bit of breath of freedom to be just as they are without overtly giving away too much all at once. I enjoy this style because it drives to the heart of what makes each character tick on the inside and what could theoretically cause them to act in such a vile manner towards society as a whole.

Part of this trait in Tag’s writings, I happily observed whilst reading How Much Do You Love Me? because at the core of who he is as a writer is a trained eye for the sociological and the psychological impacts of behaviour and the deviations of where a human can align themselves on behalf of what is good and what is inherently evil. It is never a straight line and Tag is not one to back off from showing the gray middle ground either.

I had forgotten to mention I took it upon myself to thread Mr. Tag’s thrillers on my blog and throughout the twitterverse as #ScienceThrillersTrilogy to help spark a conversation for those who want to spread the word about the novels themselves. I know other social readers like having tags to use on Twitter and thereby I felt as the series is untitled this was the best solution. This is another example of how I’m a spontaneous hashtag creator!

A small note on the use of vulgarity & on the level of visceral imagery:

I knew ahead of time of receiving this trilogy there would be a smattering of stronger words used sporadically as Mr. Tag told me prior to my acceptance of receiving the series. However, I wanted to say, I grew up reading Tom Clancy and other military/spy novels, to where I am sure the language within the stories bartered on a line between what would be considered acceptable and/or relevant to the stories within that genre; as let’s face it, most high tension stories of this kind are not always without vulgarity. However, the use of how the words are constructed to reflect an emotional response and/or a high octane moment where a strong word is viable to the character is acceptable to me. I did not worry about how Tag would use the words in his thrillers because I came out of appreciating his historical fiction debut. Trust me, you can tell a lot about a writer by seeing a different side of their writing life, and for me, it clued me in to the fact he only would use what would be necessary rather than excessive. I was not proved wrong.

Chapter 34 entitled “Barbed Justice” is both a fitting chapter on how those who seek to first do harm to others will be the first to become surprised how karma has a way of boomeranging back what they give; however, it is not for the faint of heart. However, despite the gruesome situation involving a barbed wire fence, I am thankful Tag only went ‘so far’ to describe what was ultimately foreshadowed by the title of the chapter. This particular chapter pushed the envelope for me a bit but thankfully Tag kept the line finely tuned between what could have been far worse in descriptions and what was given instead. I still lament if you have sensitive heart in this regard, you could honestly skip over Chapter 34.

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This book review is courtesy of the author Paul Mark Tag:

How Much Do You Love Me? by Paul Mark Tag

Stay tuned! Next I am reviewing the sequel to Category 5 which is Prophecy!

This book review is part of my contribution for:

SFN Book Review Badge created by Jorie in CanvaSFN 2014 Participant badge created by Jorie in Canva

Part of my enjoyment of reading science fiction is entering into the realm where science fact and science fiction meet at a cross-roads. I personally am a writer who uses this technique herself when composing her own science fiction worlds — therefore it is a joy to start to discover other authors who are finding their own niche within science fiction harbouring a theory of an idea where the science of our world interject directly into the world of the fictional; taking on a lifeblood of danger, suspense, and a pursuit of understanding how everything connects together. I love reading thrillers as much as I love reading science fiction; when sci-fi can give me a strong world built around modern day science and new technologies (as science like your home computer become outdated overnight), I am one happy reader!

I wanted to showcase emerging authors during Sci Fi November 2014 to give readers a chance to find three series within the science fiction realms that they may or may not have considered picking up previously. Tag’s science thrillers trilogy alongside Gray’s Piercing the Veil series and Heal’s time travel mysteries are the perfect pinnacles of where Indie writers are taking Speculative fiction! If I have encouraged you to pick up one of these three series, I look forward to your thoughts and comments in the threads below! Thanks for visiting me this Sci Fi November, and I look forward to participating again in 2015! The first fortnight of December is going to be my extension for SFN: 2014 and the first fortnight of Sci Fi Experience 2015. December also marks the second month of my focus on Indie Writers. Lots of bookishly delightful happenings!!

Please take note of the Related Articles as they were hand selected due to being of cross-reference importance in relation to this book review. This applies to each post on my blog where you see Related Articles underneath the post. Be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the further readings which are offered.

and is being cross-promoted via:

2015 Sci Fi Experience hosted by SteelDroppings
(“Space” by Stephan Martiniere, used with the artist’s permission)

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Reader Interactive Question:

When you pick up a science fiction novel based on science fact what are your personal curiosities to explore in this branch of the genre? Do the Earth Sciences and Natural Weather phenomena implore you to pick up Category 5? Do you live in a region where hurricanes abound or are they simply part of the Weather Channel’s videos that leave you glued to your tv during each storm season? For more traditional science fiction readers, do you have a preference between Hard and Soft Science Fiction!?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Category 5”, book synopsis, author photograph of Paul Mark Tag and author biography were all provided by the author Paul Mark Tag and used with permission. Book Review badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Sci Fi November, #IndieWriterMonth, and Sci Fi Month Book Review badges created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Paleoclimatology – (

Forensic Meteorology – (

Tweets in regards to “Category 5”:

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 1 December, 2014 by jorielov in #IndieWriterMonth, #SciFiReadathon, 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, African-American Literature, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Review (non-blog tour), Debut Author, Debut Novel, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Espionage, Go Indie, Hard Science Fiction, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Meteorology, Methodology of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy, Military Fiction, Modern Day, Natural Disasters & Catastrophic Events, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Post-911 (11th September 2001), RALs | Thons via Blogs, Reading Challenges, Sci-Fi November, Science, Science Fiction, SFN Bingo, Sociological Behavior, Space Science, The Sci-Fi Experience, Uncategorized, Vulgarity in Literature

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One response to “Book Review | “Category 5” (Book 1: Science Thrillers Trilogy) by Paul Mark Tag a technothriller involving catastrophic weather conditions and storms

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and that it had several different aspects that drew you in. One of the pleasures of accepting books for review, vs. going out and buying something you were wanting to read, is finding something that you could engage with.

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