Unidentified: A Science-Fiction Thriller

EXCERPT: In the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage,” a submarine carrying a team of scientists is shrunk to the size of a microbe and injected into a dying man. The crew’s mission is to save the man’s life by dissolving a blood clot deep inside his brain.

For decades, scientists and fiction writers alike have been fascinated by the possibility of tiny machines that can enter a patient, travel to otherwise inaccessible regions, and then diagnose or repair problems. In his famous speech from 1959, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” Richard Feynman, an American physicist, called this concept “swallow the surgeon.” More recently proponents of nanotechnology have imagined swarms of “nanobots”—tiny machines just billionths of a meter, or nanometers, across—that might fix mutations in a person’s DNA or kill off cancer cells before they have a chance to develop into a tumor.

Such nanobots still exist only in the realm of science fiction, of course, and it may take decades before they become practical. But there is progress in developing small medical robots for sensing, drug delivery, or surgery inside the human body.

Are Elfin Forest and other settings real? Is Elfin Forest haunted?

Elfin Forest is an actual location, and one I travel through fairly often. I do love the name, and find it to be just as beautiful and tranquil as the name implies.

This being said, quite a lore has developed about hauntings and other paranormal activity taking place there, although no one I know has ever experienced any of this. For example, my wife and I drove through Elfin Forest at night just a few weeks ago, and the only paranormal activity we experienced was a deer by the side of the road (a deer which may or may not have been possessed, as its eyes did appear red when reflected in our headlights).

Here is an excerpt from an article in Backpackerverse.com entitled, “The Terrifying Mysteries of the Elfin Forest.”

EXCERPT: The Elfin Forest. Questhaven. Harmony Grove. The names of these places sound like something out of a fantasy novel or a dream, but they’re real.

Just southwest of Escondido, in San Marcos, California, lies this apparently peaceful bastion of suburbia. Filled with beautiful hiking trails and unspoiled campgrounds, it’s easy to see how these places got their names. Never judge a book by its cover though, and never judge a place by its name. Behind that whimsical facade lies one of the most haunted regions in California. There are hundreds, even thousands, of stories, legends, and sightings of paranormal entities in Elfin Forest and the surrounding areas. Go deep enough into the forest, and you’ll find as much danger as beauty.

With respect to other settings, Murramarang National Park is real, and I believe it’s exactly as I’ve described it, although I’ve never been there in person, so I can’t be sure. Australia is the driest inhabited continent on Earth, as mentioned, although Antarctica is the driest uninhabited one.

Echidnas, also known as spiny anteaters, are also real, and have quickly become one of my favorite animals after I stumbled upon them during my research. They are nocturnal during the hot months, and are considered the oldest mammal on Earth (which is why they still lay eggs). In short, they are really bizarre, and really cute.

Finally, the descriptions of the Boeing factory, the Tesla Gigafactory, the Pentagon, and Facebook Data Centers are all accurate.

So this concludes the Unidentified author notes section. I hope that you found at least some of it interesting. Now, as promised, I will provide my author bio and list of books.


Douglas E. Richards is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of WIRED and numerous other novels (see list below). A former biotech executive, Richards earned a BS in microbiology from the Ohio State University, a master’s degree in genetic engineering from the University of Wisconsin (where he engineered mutant viruses now named after him), and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

In recognition of his work, Richards was selected to be a “special guest” at San Diego Comic-Con International, along with such icons as Stan Lee and Ray Bradbury. His essays have been featured in National Geographic, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Earth & Sky, Today’s Parent, and many others.

The author has two children and currently lives with his wife and dog in San Diego, California.

You can friend Richards on Facebook at Douglas E. Richards Author, visit his website at douglaserichards.com, and write to him at [email protected]

Douglas E. Richards's books