It’s Climate Emergency Week in New York City, and thousands of environmentalists are protesting the ongoing destruction of our planet. At the same time, a rogue eco-terrorist group starts a methodical campaign of assassination intended to force the coal and oil tycoons to switch to renewable energy. One by one, the terrorists murder the fossil-fuel billionaires and reactionary politicians who were labeled “The Five Worst Climate Criminals” by Max Mirsky, investigative journalist and environmental activist. Max is appalled that the terrorists are using his list to select their targets, and his horror grows when the radical group kidnaps his daughter. He can’t sit back and wait for the FBI to solve the case; he must rescue his daughter and stop the killings before the outrage and backlash destroy all hopes for a climate-change solution.
“Mark Alpert’s latest tour-de-force, THE DOOMSDAY SHOW, is sure to be as controversial as it is challenging, exciting, thought-provoking—and most importantly, fun. The twists and turns come fast and furious, risking whiplash. I read it in one sitting and may dive in again.”
—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom of Bones
Mark Alpert’s THE DOOMSDAY SHOW sets a new benchmark for techno-thrillers. When terrorists armed with microwave weapons and drone swarms begin assassinating fossil-fuel company leaders, it wreaks havoc on the corporate world. These next-gen assassins outsmart the FBI but meet their match against the Doomsday Company—an unlikely band of heroes who use their eccentric wiles to take on the world’s smartest villains. Alpert, the internationally bestselling author of FINAL THEORY, has engineered a wild, twisty ride, with humor and action worthy of the big screen!
— Andrews & Wilson, WSJ & Amazon Bestselling Authors of the TIER ONE series
Award-winning author Mark Alpert recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, THE DOOMSDAY SHOW.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
For THE DOOMSDAY SHOW, the plot came first, or more precisely, a plot question: What will happen if global warming keeps getting worse, and the floods and wildfires and heat waves keep devastating the poor and vulnerable? It seems inevitable that the victims of environmental disaster will eventually rise up and target the people responsible for their plight—the fossil-fuel tycoons and their political backers. Sooner or later, eco-terrorists will begin to assassinate the coal and oil barons and anyone else who blocks efforts to curb climate change. This kind of plot seemed ideal for a thriller, so then I considered the question of who would be the best characters to confront the radical terrorist group. It would be interesting, I thought, if the book’s heroes were more moderate climate activists who believe that the assassinations would only hurt their cause. This juxtaposition would allow me to explore the moral issue of whether violence can be justified when the fate of the whole planet is at stake.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge was making sure that THE DOOMSDAY SHOW turned out to be an exciting, suspenseful, truly entertaining thriller and not another gloomy dystopian climate-change novel that only leaves readers feeling hopeless. That’s why I set the book in the present day rather than the far future, to make it clear that we can still save our planet from climate devastation if we get our priorities straight. And that’s why Max Mirsky and the other heroes of the thriller are all members of an activist street-theater group called the Doomsday Company, which performs musical comedy sketches that mock the billionaire kingpins of the coal and oil industries. Like the novels of Carl Hiaasen and Edward Abbey, THE DOOMSDAY SHOW delivers its serious environmentalist message with a healthy dose of humor. Max and his fellow Doomsday troupers are thrown into a wild battle with radical eco-prophets and devious assassins who use drone swarms and microwave weapons to cut down the fossil-fuel plutocrats. The story is fast and furious and fun.
Was there anything new you discovered or that surprised you as you wrote this book?
I’ve written 11 published thrillers (for the full list, see my website: www.markalpert.com), and by now I’m quite familiar with the mechanics of staging suspenseful gunfights and high-speed chases and shocking revelations, all of which are well represented in THE DOOMSDAY SHOW. But in this novel, I also tried to convey the dark absurdity of the climate crisis, which is all about the perverse stubbornness of a society that refuses to switch to a cleaner, safer future. The coal and oil tycoons use all kinds of arguments to camouflage their greed, and sometimes a clever joke is the best way to unveil their suicidal stupidity. I had a lot of fun composing the musical parodies sung by the actors in the Doomsday Company as they confront the fossil-fuel billionaires. The activist performers are the comic heroes of this novel, and it was a new delight for me to portray their riotous outrage and ingenious stratagems.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
What I left unsaid, for obvious reasons, is that some of the villains of THE DOOMSDAY SHOW are very similar to real-life public figures who have been in the news a lot recently. Although coal and oil companies have acted badly enough in the past few years, resisting calls to quickly transition to renewable energy, I’m even more outraged by the behavior of their politician allies, some of whom have major investments in fossil-fuel businesses. Last year, for example, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia almost single-handedly blocked a climate-action bill that would have threatened his primary source of income, an old mine that produces “gob,” low-quality coal waste that produces even more greenhouse gases when burned than ordinary coal does. In THE DOOMSDAY SHOW, a West Virginia senator gets his comeuppance from the murderous eco-terrorists. My novel also features a former US president desperately seeking to reclaim the White House by any means available, legal or otherwise. He, too, becomes a target of the terrorists, because he rejected and reversed so many climate initiatives during his presidential term. Don’t get me wrong—I’m no fan of assassination—but the climate crisis has gotten so dire that I think we should criticize, shun, boycott, and mock these corrupt malefactors at every opportunity. THE DOOMSDAY SHOW is my contribution to this effort.
Mark Alpert is the internationally bestselling author of eleven thrillers. His first novel, Final Theory (Simon & Schuster, 2008), was published in 23 languages, optioned for film, and condensed for Reader’s Digest. It was followed by The Omega Theory (Simon & Schuster, 2011), Extinction (St. Martin’s Press, 2013), The Furies (St. Martin’s, 2014), The Orion Plan (St. Martin’s, 2016), and The Coming Storm (St. Martin’s, 2019). He’s also written a trilogy of Young Adult thrillers; the first book in the trilogy, The Six (Sourcebooks, 2015), was a finalist for the Beehive, Nutmeg, and Cybils awards. His latest thrillers are Saint Joan of New York: A Novel about God and String Theory (Springer, 2019) and THE DOOMSDAY SHOW (Severn House, 2022). In 2021 he won the Best Novel award from the William Faulkner Literary Competition, and his short fiction has appeared in Playboy.
Alpert studied astrophysics at Princeton University. His undergraduate thesis on general relativity in a (2 + 1)-dimensional spacetime was published in General Relativity and Gravitation and has been cited more than a hundred times in academic journals. He received an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and worked in journalism for 25 years, writing for newspapers, magazines, and television shows. He was an editor at Scientific American for ten years, and that’s where he found the ideas for several of his thrillers. His website: www.markalpert.com.