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November 9, 2001     Cape Gazette
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November 9, 2001

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CAPE LIFE CAPE GAZETTE, Friday Nov. 9 - Nov. 15, 2001 - 27 I I Novel takes re:00.ders on high adventure By Jim Cresson Oceanographer Dr. James Powlik's third science- based novel, "The Wave," is a must read for anyone living along the Atl'antic coast. A regulaF summer visitor to the Cape Region, Powlik is based in Washington, D.C., where he serves as an information consultant and adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Commerce. He also serves as an education and policy consultant to numerous nonprofit organizations, public attractions and school pro- grams. Powlik's research specialties include the dynamics and effects POWLIK of global waves, harmful algal blooms and the impact of coastal pollution. The author of numerous articles and research texts, Powlik has also authored the nonfiction work, "Deadly Tide" and the science-based novels "Sea Change" (Island Books ISBN 0-440-23508-1) and Meltdown" (Delacorte Press ISBN 0-385-33400-!). "The Wave," published by Raggedtooth Press (ISBN 0-9677304-3-0), is of the same genre as Powlik's earlier works in that it dramatically details a believable event within the complex world of nat- ural science and the everyday world of human behav- ior. The late-1999 release of "Sea Change" posed the tale of a toxic microorganism in coastal waters with the potential to paralyze an entire pod of whales or liquefy human flesh within minutes. The 2000 release of "Meltdown," the sequel to "Sea Change," poses another deadly mystery as a flood of radiation in the Arctic threatens to destroy the fnost important supply of fresh water on the planet. Not only are Powlik's carefully constructed stories captivatingly believable, but they have been coming true, one after another in varying uncanny degrees. Less than six months after the release of "Sea Change," the East Coast experienced a variety of noxious algal blooms and the appearance of unusual- ly toxic microorganisms from Florida north to New Jersey. Shortly after the release of "'Meltdown," the Russian nuclear sub, Kursk, experienced an onboard explosion that killed all 118 sailors and threatened to Igak radiation into the north Pacific. And the same day "The Wave" was released early this summer, volcanic Mt. Palma (Cumbre Vieja) in the Canary Islands experienced a minor eruption, threatening a more significant event in the not-too- dint future. CNN News ran a detailed story on how such an eruption could cause a mega-tsunami. The BBC and Discovery Channel have also been air- ing mega-tsunami features recently. Discovery Channel's 1999 production "Unseen Forces of Ocean Mysteries," which aired nationally in October, actually credits the demise of the dinosaur age to a super-tsunami created by a meteor impact in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the fierce force of tsunami super waves that claimed the dinosaurs, the report concluded, more so than the climate change from impact-created cloud cover over Earth, as often thought. "The Wave" is all about a super-tsunami created .when the 6,400-meter-tall Mt. Palma blows its magma chamber, collapses into the Atlantic, sends a plume of hot ash 60,000 feet into the atmosphere and spews a river of molten mud across the remains of La Palma Island, the least developed of the seven main Canary Islands. The story opens amid the ongoing scientific stud- ies of Mt. Palma under several different disciplines. A Spanish geologist is one of a few on-site volcano observers who make daily trips up the mountain, checking its minute changes with great dedication of purpose, When he discovers the terribly burned remains of a fellow geologist caught in a newly formed steam vent on the mountainside one morning, the stage is set for a drama that builds to a crescendo as the mountain comes apart and the wave is created. A professor of oceanography, who traded the rugged life of on-site study for the more reserved life Continued on page 28 There is enough suspicion to go around In light of recent events, we have been called upon again and again by our country to go about our normal lives. We assume this means continuing our daily trips to the basement to stockpile boxes of Cipro, in between frequent runs to the Army Navy store for a fresh supply of gas masks and biochem- ical suits, We've also been asked to report any suspicious activity or people, which is a little bit more difficult since the majority of us know a whole group of people we reluc- tantly refer to as "related by mar- riage." We have long suspected that a few possess brains similar to elevators that don't go all the way to the top. Yet these warn- ings somehow seem like they would be easier to carry out dur- ing the summer months. For that is a time when we can more read- ily identify evildoers, lurking around in their thong bikinis, that AROUND TOWN Nancy Katz are filled out by model-thin beau- tiful women who cause adult men to forget to move their arms, kick their feet and breathe while swim- ming, and all the other women on the beach to puke. They can't be up to any good. Sometimes evildoers think the summer provides them with more of an opportunity tO infiltrate large events like weddings and family reunions and wreak havoc. But the risk of injury from min- gling with the families of the bride and groom is considered too great. Mainly because by the'end of the evening, you can be sure, "some- one will have driven their car into the nearest building that probably houses something like an assisted living facility. A guy could be standing at the altar waiting for his vision in white to walk to down the aisle. The music is soft, the flowers are fragrant and he feels the love sur- rounding such a momentous occa- sion. The suspicion here is among the occupants filling the entire left side of the aisle, most think the groom is a homicidal maniac who probably just escaped from the state asylum, but also bears a striking resemblance to Jessie Jackson Jr. As long as they can remember he has never spoken a coherent sentence. Always yakking about being somebody. And there is enough suspicion to go around. The bride, as she makes her way down the path to commitment, is all smiles holding her romantic bouquet of blush- colored roses. This is unfortunate because the other side of the aisle has always been wary of anyone with just one tooth and suspects she is probably one of these gold digging city slickers who is mar- rying him for his extensive collec- tion of hubcaps. It's not just an event in the sum- mer, but. visitors who can more readily be identified as suspicious. Take for example a guy driv!ng a black Lexus with its tinted win- dows rolled down, exposing six pit bulls that are chained to the door handles. As he idles at the light, blasting reggae music from Bob Marley, you can just barely make out the end of a grenade launcher sticking out of the trunk and some kind of animal that looks like a crocodile. Fortunately the authorities are very alert. The suspicious person who is in the act of breaking the law is quickly, identified as a nun who pulled up next to him who is not wearing a seat belt. But the winter poses special problems for identifying suspi- cious activity. We start to look alike. After a summer of downing a gteady diet of carbohydrates and mai tais, most of ug are reduced to wearing the color black. You can make a left turn. There are plenty of parking spaces. The price check guy only takes five seconds to return. But you have to remember, as they saying goes, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't fol- lowing you.