Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Author: David Berko
Publish date: August 28, 2015
While Zero Hour is billed as a science fiction/ political thriller, the sci fi elements are far less pronounced than the political message David Berko makes very overt from the first page on. It’s sci fi in the same mold as Tom Clancy’s Net Force series in the sense the story is earthbound, set in the not-so-distant future, and there’s advanced technology in the mix. Another unavoidable similarity to Clancey is Berko’s conservatism. In his future world of 2041, it’s progressive socialism, academic liberals, and political correctness that led to America’s second Civil War resulting in the U.S. fragmenting into six independent entities.
In Book one of Berko’s Before the End series, these fiendish socialists are controlled by a long-standing and extremely powerful shadow government called Scorpion. It’s opposed by President Alexander Toporvsky, the free-market leader of the Free Republic of North America consisting of Alaska, Hawaii, with a hoped for alliance with Texas. It’s the Free Republic where patriotic stalwarts work to restore Constitutional principles and a stronger reliance on the Bible as both sides of the war see what’s coming in terms of the End Times.
Zero Hour is different from most dystopian novels as we don’t spend time with those suffering from the catastrophe of 2041, but rather with billionaires on golf courses, in a souped-up Area 51, and in the company of the power brokers plotting their moves and counter-moves. In fact, there’s no evidence anyone is living in unpleasant circumstances other than the select few who become Scorpion targets. In The first half of the book, Berko largely establishes his often dispensable characters while revealing the dastardly scope of Scorpion. The second half, again in the mold of Clancy, is the fast-paced covert operations of Scorpion kidnap and killer squads stirring up the country while the Free Republic tries to figure out how to react.
In his Foreword, Berko tells us the Before the End series was inspired by the direction he fears the U.S. is taking, that his books are to inform as well as entertain, and that he’s a “watchman on the wall.” It’s rather disconcerting to read a very unsubtle yarn casting anyone on the left of Berko’s ideals as out-and-out evil. At least he admits he’s not predicting the future. Judging from the epilogue, book two is going to expand the scope of his geopolitics with a prominent role for Israel and an attempt to Christianize the Jews. Is that an alien spacecraft in the final two paragraphs?
So reader appreciation will likely depend on your responses to Berko’s stated agenda, but if you can look past the ideology, Zero Hour might quench your taste for a high-octane thrill ride centered on a deadly conspiracy that might be setting the stage for the Second Coming.