Vulcan's Forge is a plot conceived by high ranking KGB official, Ivan Kerikov with the aid of unparalleled geologic research scientist Pyotr Borodin some forty years ago. Apparently underwater nuclear testing by the U.S. in the 1950's at the Bikini atoll unexpectedly produced a new and rare metal. The properties exhibited by this metal far surpassed those of any known metal or alloy. Vulcan's Forge attempted to recreate on a large scale the conditions needed to produce this rare metal.
The plot commenced with the scuttling of an ore carrying freighter and the subsequent unleashing of an underwater nuclear explosion under the wreck some 200 miles off the coast of Hawaii.
Philip Mercer, Du Brul's protagonist in this highly implausible novel, is a geologist working for the U.S. Geologic Survey. He is also a top flight mining and geologic consultant imbued with fantastic spy-like skills and instincts. He had trained for four weeks with the CIA prior to being inserted into Iraq on a clandestine mission prior to Desert Storm. Mercer learns of the sinking of the ship the Ocean Seeker which was on an ecologic mission near the site of Vulcan's Forge. It is believed that the sinking was ordered by Takahiro Ohnishi, multi-billionaire industrialist and resident of Hawaii. Ohnishi is secretly colluding with Kerikov in the plot. Ohnishi, a Japanese-American has been promoting racial hatred of caucasians and the eventual secession of Hawaii from the U.S.
Mercer gets drawn into this plot by virtue of a telegram he receives from a long lost friend, Jack Talbot imploring him to protect his daughter. It seems that scientist, Tish Talbot is the lone survivor of the sinking of the Ocean Seeker.
We eventually learn that another undersea explosion will create a volcano on the floor of the Pacific that will bring Vulcan's Forge and its valuable metal, known as bikinium, to the surface. Any land mass more than 200 miles offshore can be claimed by the first to discover it. Since the volcano is close to the 200 mile limit off of Hawaii, the plotters are using the unrest in Hawaii as a back up plan to claim their prize.
Mercer proceeds to unravel the complicated plot with the backing of the President and the heads of the CIA and FBI.
As a first effort Du Brul tries a bit too hard. There are more twists in the plot than a bag of pretzels, giving the story an uneven flow. His segues between the different subplots are often awkward and clumsy. With some better editing and a tad more polish, Du Brul has the creativity to become a major player in the techno-thriller genre.