Hotspot - by James Stoness

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The northwest comes alive beneath the creative hands of one of North America's newest writers. James Stoness brings you the romance and excitement as could only have existed in the disaster of the Yellowstone Hotspot.

When strong tremors rocked the surface of Yellowstone National Park, Professor George Curtis took time off from his classes to investigate the causes. Curtis was familiar with the fact that the geological history of the park involved three large eruptions, spaced 600,000 years apart. He was uncomfortably aware that the last 600,000 year cycle was ending and that the surface was rising over the Yellowstone Caldera, a huge crater measuring approximately 44 miles by 27 miles.

Even as Dr. Curtis mused over the fact that the volcanic eruptions on the Yellowstone Plateau were so huge they had the potential to severely wipe out many varieties of life on earth, plans were afoot to include him in a scientific research team. It’s a tough time as political opposition tries to thwart their efforts to close the park because of the imminent danger of a cataclysmic eruption.

Meanwhile hiking boy scouts in Yellowstone’s mountains have to face earthslides and volcanoes as they try to escape. A touring group of seniors on a horse trip is trapped by slides and rising water, while being threatened by a menacing hungry grizzly with three cubs. A young mother finds herself hanging perilously onto the collapsed stairway hanging over the edge of Yellowstone Canyon and trying to hold onto her unconscious husband, and squirming children.

When one of his female geology students appears in Yellowstone and offers her help, Dr. Curtis starts wondering if there are not other important things in life, other than volcanoes.

From The Book:

It was 4:10 P.M., August 6th. Hazel was standing at the rail of the observation platform. The views of the falling water, and the canyon were terrific, and in spite of her fear of heights she was thoroughly enjoying herself.

Unexpectedly, the observation platform began to shake, startling her. Thinking that it was the kids running about causing the movement she started to call out to them to walk more gently. Even as her voice rang out the movement became extremely violent, and a thunderous noise assaulted her ears. Elizabeth fell against her, and Hazel seized her with one hand while holding on to the rail with the other. She saw Larry grab Jack and push him against the corner. Their steel perch seemed to be thrown one way and then another, first bouncing them against the cruel steel railing and then threatening to throw them across the floor with the rebound. The pain in her arm seemed intolerable as she strived to keep Elizabeth and herself from being torn loose to be rolled around on the floor, or worse, thrown over the edge of the madly bouncing deck.

On and on went the violent movements. She saw a piece of the stairway above her fall away from the cliff. Two figures hurtled past disappearing into the void below, followed by large segments of the steel stairs. Something large struck the rail near where she stood, smashing out a large segment of the railing. Elizabeth screamed. Rocks and other debris slid from the cliffs showering their refuge with a constant rain of material. A loud creaking sound was followed by a sharp crack, and she felt their platform shift, and slide. It tilted until it was at a very steep angle and then it stopped.

The swaying stopped as well, and everything was deathly quiet. A few bits of rock and soil fell at random intervals, the rattling breaking the silence. Beneath her Elizabeth moaned. Hazel raised her head looking for Larry and Jack. What she saw almost made her heart stop. Jack was lying partly under the motionless body of her husband. The normal situation had changed. Because the deck was hanging almost vertically, the railing was now the floor. And Larry was lying partly over the edge. She realized that if he was not dead, but unconscious, any movements he might make when waking, could topple both him and Jack over the side to their deaths in the angry river below.

She was petrified. She heard Jack cry out. "Daddy! Mommy!"

"Jack! … Jack! Listen to me. I'm right here. Don't move. Don't you move a muscle. Daddy is hurt. If you move he might fall. Do you understand me?" she asked.

At first he did not answer, then, "Mommy, I want to get up. It hurts… it hurts."

"I understand, sweetheart, but you just stay as you are. Just don't move. It's very important. I'm coming over, okay?"

There was the sound of more weeping and then, "Yes Mommy."

From the Author

Every author loves a good review of one of his novels done by a regular reader who likes the story. It offsets the negativity and bias often shown by so called professional reviewers. Please take time to read this review done by some who read and enjoyed the novel.

Here is Renee Lone Elk

Hot Spot by James Stoness a novel about Yellowstone's caldera remains in my mind as a possibility. I found it to be both historically, geographically, and geologically accurate. As a Wyoming native and a Native American, my interest in Yellowstone has been a life-long passion. My interest was renewed with each chapter. Humor and well-developed believable characters kept me reading. My familiarity with the area made the book even more engrossing and appealing. The action and drama enhanced the pleasure of reading this book. Accurate geographic details brought the scenarios to life. I appreciated the seniors and their plight as well as the children. I would highly recommend Hot Spot as a plausible and, maybe, probable scenario, as an insight into Wyoming history and geography, and as a fun read.

Reviewed by Renee Lone Elk.

Should be made into a movie

By Greg Gerberon

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found it to be suspenseful and educational. The idea of a volcano wiping out Yellowstone National Park is certainly far fetched, or is it? As I write this, Mount St. Helen's is showing signs of rising magma 24 years after its devastating eruption. In Hotspot, the author carefully lays the foundation to the problem and its intricacies. He introduces us to just enough characters that we can get to know them well -- and root for them when they find themselves caught in tough situations. I was certainly surprised several times at the sudden turn of events. For example, if things we're hectic enough, let's toss a bear into the mix. The idea of committed scientists and workers being intimidated by and blocked at every turn by politically-motivated government employees and contractors adds a very plausible sense of realism. Stoness' descriptions of the geology and history of the Yellowstone Plateau is well researched. The scenarios in which the main characters find themselves in the park in the first place are certainly believable and typical of any summer week. If there was one critique, it is that I was left wondering what happened to a few of the characters. Did the warden recover? Did the young family really make it out of the park in time? They were rescued from immediate danger, but they still had to find a way out of the park. As I was reading this book, I could certainly visualize it as a Hollywood movie. I had it on my reading list for too long. I am glad I finally got a chance to enjoy this spellbinding thriller. It makes me want to visit Yellowstone again soon -- after the summer tourists have left, of course. James is a good author with a strong command of vocabulary and an eloquent imagination. I think you'll find Hotspot to be an enjoyable adventure.

What if???


Visiting Yellowstone includes learning about the hotspot beneath the park. Once you begin to think about just what it involves, the possibilities are pretty frightening. Stoness has puts those thoughts into an entertaining story with specifics about what COULD happen that would effect all mankind. The story held my attention and his research is thorough and detailed. If you have gone to Yellowstone or plan to, this is a book to expand your experience. If you are not interested in Yellowstone, well, get interested! It's one of our important National Treasures.

Thrilling and beautifully written

By Cameron Grant

A great read for geology lovers and newcomers alike. The author does a great job of informing the read of geologic events while at the same time crafting realistic and complex characters. I could hardly put the book down and I hope Mr. Stoness writes more books like this in the future!

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