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The Devereaux Dilemma

In a future where religion and disease have brought social order to the verge of collapse and where some humans have been biologically and others mechanically enhanced, Jeremiah Jones must find the one man who might be able to fix everything. Problem is that man—Walt Devereaux—may have created bioweapons that could wipe out humanity. Is Devereaux really a dangerous man? Or is Jeremiah simply a pawn in a deadly game? Who can he trust? The nun who is sheltering Devereaux? Jeremiah’s ex-partner and former lover, who betrayed him? The Attorney General who hopes to capture Devereaux to catapult himself to the presidency? Surrounded by questions, the only way Jeremiah will learn the truth is by battling the transgenic Escala and their sworn enemies, the mechanically enhanced Elite Ops. And the odds of survival are slim.

Chapter 1

“Exit 29,” the computer said in a breathy female voice as the car veered to the right. Jack Marschenko took the wheel, deactivating the autopilot. He swept through the intersection onto Seventy-Third Street, where the abrupt change in the road’s conditions tested the vehicle’s suspension, evidence of the District’s half-assed efforts to maintain the infrastructure in the poorer neighborhoods. Marschenko, having grown up here, knew the area well. At Eighty-third, he swerved to avoid a large pothole without slowing.

Chapter 2

Jeremiah Jones stared at the sentinel camera until he heard the slight click of the door unlocking itself. Then he opened the door and stepped into Elias Leach’s office, where multicolored lights imparted a sunset glow to the room.

Eli stood up from behind his desk, turned to his elderly cleaning lady, Mrs. Harris, and said, “That will be all, Manyara.”

Mrs. Harris muttered something about nonsense and secrets as she shuffled over to her cart. “Leave you two bigshots to ruin the world,” she said as she wheeled the cart out the door, shaking her head.

The door opened and a young woman entered wearing a black silk dress that exposed only a hint of cleavage and ended just below the knee. She walked confidently: a brunette of mixed heritage, wide eyes, full lips, high cheekbones. Her thick hair swept down well past her shoulders and partially covered the computer interface she wore at her left temple. Such interfaces were not uncommon now, but they were still rare enough to draw attention. Not that this woman needed to draw more attention to herself. She was nearly six feet tall, her lean build accentuating her height. Except for her interface, she reminded Jeremiah of his late wife Catherine—something similar in the way she carried herself, as if unconcerned with how the world saw her. Jeremiah’s breath caught in his throat. This woman was taller than Catherine and thinner. Perhaps a little more athletic. Like Julianna but softer. Hell, everyone was softer than Julianna. Jeremiah was softer than Julianna.

“Fans of classic Heinlein-esque science fiction will enjoy The Devereaux Dilemma by Steve McEllistrem. The Devereaux Dilemma is full of complex plot twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. McEllistrem writes gripping, action-packed scenes with eye-popping tech and well-imagined future combat.”

-Lyda Morehouse, Philip K. Dick Award-winning author of Archangel Protocol and Resurrection Code

“With so many science fiction visions of tomorrow out there, it’s hard to come across new stories that are fresh and vital. The Devereaux Dilemma captures and delivers a well-conceived world of complex human characters and believable technologies – all set against a backdrop of thrilling political intrigue. Steve McEllistrem has created a searingly vivid portrayal of a very possible future."

-Jeffrey Morris, FutureDude and author of Venus: Daedalus One

  • Finalist – 2014 International Book Awards

The Devereaux Disaster

Retired secret agent Jeremiah Jones travels to the Moon with his former enemy, Elite Ops trooper Jack Marschenko, to find his abducted son Joshua. But Jeremiah’s mission goes haywire almost immediately. Elias Leach, the head of CINTEP and Jeremiah’s former boss, is behind the abduction and has constructed obstacles to prevent Jeremiah from recovering his son. Elias needs Joshua and his fellow cadets to attack specific targets on Earth. He believes that only an attack from an outside force like the cadets can unite the world’s warring factions. However, unbeknownst to Elias, the cadets he programmed have begun to devolve and they have no intention of following his directives. Further, after Jeremiah is gravely injured, he is infected with the Susquehanna Virus in a desperate attempt to save his life. Can Jeremiah stop his son and the rest of the cadets from attacking Earth? Can Walt Devereaux and the genetically enhanced Escala help? Or is Earth doomed?

Chapter 1

The LTV’s retro rockets activated, causing a sensation like being caught by a bungee cord after a long drop. Several passengers screamed in delight. The touchdown at Lunar Base 1 came with only a slight bump. As the LTV taxied to the hangar, the intercom warned them of the potential for injury due to the lower gravitational pull of the Moon. After the LTV’s hatch sealed against the hangar and the “all clear” sounded, Marschenko, nodding reassuringly, gestured for Jeremiah to go first. Jeremiah followed a pair of research scientists in the row ahead of him off the ship. He grabbed the railing on the wheeled staircase and descended toward the surface of the Moon.

The hangar, about the size of a football field and thirty feet tall, constructed almost entirely of graphene-aluminum, smelled of chlorophyll: clean, unpolluted air. Genetically modified ivy climbed the walls all the way to the plas-glass ceiling, beyond which Earth shone brightly. Hundreds of other plants grew, scattered throughout the hangar, pumping out oxygen—mostly shrubs and bushes, with a few dwarf fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Amongst the greenery, walking paths wound; while off to his right, he saw a red Marriott sign and a café decorating the space in front of the hotel. A handful of people sat at tables sipping coffee or tea and watching the new arrivals with interest. The sheer normalcy of the scene made Jeremiah want to cry. Just fatigue, he decided, and the realization that he was close to Joshua now.

Chapter 2

Jeremiah awoke to a stunning sunrise of red, orange, and pink: a golden orb off to his left slowly rising toward the ceiling—an artificial dawn playing out on his hotel room walls. He vaguely recalled the clerk mentioning it when he checked in. He found the remote and turned the sunrise off, leaving the room bathed in soft light.

A quiet feminine voice informed him that breakfast was being served in the lobby adjacent to the hangar. After almost three days with only nutri-water, he felt ravenous. He dressed in dark slacks and a shirt made of shimmer cloth that changed color with the light, giving it a rainbow hue and made his way to the lobby, where he ate a tasty soy omelet laced with vegetarian cheese and sausage, lunar hash browns from Moon-grown potatoes, and three blueberry muffins. Then he made his way to the monorail leading to Lunar Base 2, stepped into a car, and took the three-minute journey. When he reached the end of the line, he exited into a smooth tunnel, decorated by genetically modified grapevines. Glow globes drifted near the ceiling. A door marked Escala Reception stood ajar. He entered, finding a small room that had a faintly musky aroma. Three Escala teenagers looked up at him from where they sat around a table playing a holographic game Jeremiah didn’t recognize.

“I’m looking for Quark,” he said.

They stood and moved to surround him, hands clenching into fists. They moved slowly in the lower gravity, gliding across the floor. The smallest one stood just over six feet tall, weighing a little more than two-hundred pounds Earth-weight—about Jeremiah’s size. All three looked muscular.

“He’s busy,” the largest boy said, taking a step forward. An aura of menace radiated from him and made Jeremiah’s hair stand on end. He tensed, knowing he projected the same aura—a wild animal about to attack.

There’s plenty of adventure and plenty of interesting characters throughout the course of this well written book. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t seem to put it down. I was drawn into the way Jeremiah fought and continued to fight as his son was at risk. This wasn’t just your typical ‘saving the world’ story…

– Reviewed by Samantha Rivera

  • Finalist, 2015 International Book Award for Science Fiction

The Devereaux Decision

The gripping third volume in the Susquehanna Virus series:
A group of fanatics has created a virus that could wipe out humanity. Retired secret agent Jeremiah Jones and the reformed cadets Curtik and Zora, who almost destroyed the world while under a compulsion, somehow have to stop the terrorists before the virus reaches a tipping point. The problem is, none of them know where to find Susquehanna Sally. Complicating matters, the genius Walt Devereaux has been stricken by the virus and a decision must be made—should they let him die or do whatever is necessary to save his mind? From Indonesia to London to Washington D.C., the race is on to save the world.

Meanwhile, a Chinese spaceship approaching Mars and the Escala colony refuses to acknowledge all efforts to communicate with it. Who is on that ship? And are their intentions hostile? Aspen is determined to discover the truth.

Chapter 1

Sally23 longed to stay in the warm pub, but she’d already received one message from Sally2 ordering her to return to base. Seated at her table, Reg and Murph, her fellow graduate students, continued their good-natured argument over what the limits of science ought to be. As if it mattered anymore. As if their lives would not end soon. She didn’t tell them that, however. They had to remain ignorant.

“I don’t think you appreciate just how significant this development is,” Murph said, “what this can do for the sick and dying.”

“I understand perfectly, you gormless sod,” Reg replied, a smile mitigating the insult as he gestured to the tablet between them on the table. “You’re talkin’ about playin’ God. These people are messin’ with things they shouldn’t be messin’ with.”

Sally23 glanced down at the tablet, next to the basket that had held their deep-fried mushrooms and chips. She slid Reg’s pint a few inches farther away from the tablet in case the argument heated up, as such arguments won’t do. The tablet displayed a story about the upcoming transfer of a rat’s mind from an animal on Earth to one on Mars. Playing God: that’s what people did. She turned to look out the window at the smoke-laden sky. Here we are, a year after the Las-cannon attacks by the lunar terrorists, and the air still holds particles of toxic ash. That used to royally piss me off. Ah well, we won’t have to worry about it much longer.

She wondered what death would be like. Part of her wanted to end it all right now. She knew she wasn’t worthy of life. But then, nobody was. Worthless lives made her think of her father. Was he still alive? She glanced around the crowded pub, took in her fellow diners, all stretching their lunch breaks out a few more minutes, their self-indulgent conversations creating a din of blather.

There was a small part of her that still feared death. It lurked at the base of her consciousness, tamped down by a kind of indifference that came with sick understanding.

Chapter 2

Aspen wiped the environmental sensors and flicked the dust cloth, releasing fine red particles that drifted down Dunadan’s knoll toward the airlock to Tunnel Two. Moving on to the communications array, she glanced back at the sealed-off tunnel entrance to the New Dawn Martian settlement, then over to the pods where the idiots from the MineStar colony resided: a few kilometers away. A rotating crew of around fifty worked on Mars at any given time. Their current number was forty-eight. And their health was fragile.

Aspen still didn’t understand why the Escala had elected to settle nearby; she would have chosen the other side of the planet. The miners annoyed her. Supposedly self-sufficient—a ship came to offload ore and deliver a new crew every twenty-six months—they constantly intruded on the Escala for assistance: food, medicine, equipment, and companionship. She wondered if it would bother her as much if the miners hadn’t created a trash dump a kilometer away, always in sight when she was outdoors.

Beneath her feet, the vibration of the miners’ big tunneling machines suddenly stopped. They’d agreed to cease digging during the experiment, so it must be starting soon. Aspen gazed up at the three inactive volcanoes that made up the Tharsis Montes. Then she stared out into space, across the darkness that separated her from Zora, toward the small white light of Earth.


Aspen remembered almost nothing about her early childhood. She recalled her parents only vaguely. But one clear memory stood out: the dock out in front of their home, and the vast lake that stretched for kilometers. The image of clear blue water and sky, interrupted only by the green pines on the far shore, left her feeling hollow as she surveyed the endless reddish sand beneath her feet.

  • Finalist, 2016 Minnesota Book Award

  • Finalist, 2016 Midwest Book Award

  • Finalist, 2016 International Book Award

The Devereaux Deity

The terrorists who created the Susquehanna Virus have been stopped and the planet is safe once again, or is it? The effects of the virus linger, creating questions about whether all of humanity will be infected. Complicating matters even further, an entity claiming to be God has hacked into multiple computers and performed miracles that have no reasonable explanation other than that a deity has come to Earth. Walt Devereaux and Jeremiah Jones, along with Curtik and Zora, must try to get to the bottom of things and save the world once again.


Curtik stood in the light rain across the street from the Natural Hybrids Incorporated building wearing the face of a woman who died several years ago. A good disguise, he had to admit, even if the idea hadn’t been his. He made no effort to hide from the surveillance cameras. They would register him as Julianna Wentworth, a deceased CINTEP agent who had been his father’s partner many years ago. But by the time that data got passed to someone who might question it, Curtik would be gone. He flexed his mechanical right hand, a little annoyed at the residual pain lingering where the nerves in his wrist connected to the prosthetic. Yet the hand felt powerful and alive.

“You look ridiculous in that dress,” Zora spoke softly in his head. He knew she was watching him from a window on the fourth floor. She’d managed to disarm the security system on a basement entrance to gain access.

You don’t like my ensemble? Curtik replied via his implant.

“Julianna never wore dresses.”

How do you know?

“I read her file.”

It makes me look less threatening.

“You look like a loony. I can see your pants under your dress. Anything yet?”

Still waiting.

Always waiting. Either for Lendra or Jeremiah or somebody else. He wished he could just spring into action. The Center for International Economic Policy had officially been created by Elias Leach to fight terrorism and engage in espionage, but in actuality, it served as a tool for whatever the President of the United States wanted. And usually, the President wanted to keep a stranglehold on power and maintain the status quo so that the large contributors who made election victories possible would stay loyal.

Now, Lendra Riley ran CINTEP, taking orders from President Angelica Hope, doing the necessary things to keep the President in power and America near the top of the economic world. However, the good old days had vanished. Lendra, on orders from President Hope, had shut down the Operations section, prohibiting Eli’s policies of assassination and sabotage. Only a few field agents remained. Everyone else in CINTEP worked in Analytical.

At least, Lendra had allowed Curtik to train as a CINTEP ghost—a secret agent like Jeremiah used to be—but whether he’d ever get to go on assignments like Jeremiah was an open question. This particular mission was unsanctioned and outside CINTEP’s jurisdiction.

“Just help him,” Lendra had said when she lent Curtik and Zora to Jeremiah. “I don’t want details. This is below the radar.”

At least that part was easy. Curtik couldn’t give her details when he still wasn’t sure what the mission was.

So was Lendra helping Jeremiah? Was Jeremiah helping Lendra? Were they in cahoots or just cooperating occasionally? Their relationship, no longer physical, was too complicated to grasp. And Jeremiah had almost completely vanished from sight, contacting them only by audio messages, dispersing minimal amounts of information, like now.

  • Finalist – 2017 Midwest Book Award

  • Finalist - 2017 International Book Award

The Man Who Found His Moniker

The unnamed man walks city streets, haunted by visions he doesn’t understand, tortured by a tragic past, seeking redemption despite questioning whether he deserves it. His visions imply that violence is coming, a horror that he must prevent from occurring. Yet, try as he might, he can’t quite grasp what that event might be. Eventually, he comes to understand the visions, enabling him to save lives as a result. But can he save himself?

This little gem of a novel explores the ruminations of a man who more than anything wants to return to a past that cannot be, a man who must come to terms with the reality that is, a man who must find his way back to humanity.

Emerging Man

Steve’s newest novel is a coming-of-age story that blends humor, pathos, and philosophy.

Ryan Connelly, nearing forty, has returned to Crescent Township, the small Minnesota town where he grew up, hoping to reconnect with his father. But their relationship was strained even before the death of his mother many years earlier. So he goes about his work, feeling as if he’s standing still while the world passes him by. Then he connects with an old sculptor named John Doe, who begins to carve out a giant boulder that takes the shape of a man emerging from the soil. As the statue progresses, and as Ryan assists the old man in his project, he finds himself opening to the possibilities around him, overcoming his past and rediscovering his passion for living.

Hound of God

Joey Winston, a woman of science, working as a researcher doing DNA testing and preparing for grad school, suddenly becomes a werewolf. At first, she doesn’t believe it. These must just be dreams of being a wolf. However, she soon realizes that the dreams are real and that she has become the victim of some ancient mystical curse. People are dying. But is the wolf evil, or is it an agent of God? Only when the wolf begins killing people she knows does she realize the full extent of the horror that possesses her. As she struggles to rid herself of the demon, the wolf grows in power, threatening her family. Can she stop the wolf before it kills everyone she loves, or is its power too great for modern technology to control?

Boundaries Without

Steve is one of the editors of—and a contributor to—Boundaries Without: The Calumet Editions 2017 Anthology of Speculative Fiction.