What: Sam Boush discusses “All Systems Down” (first 10 attendees receive a free copy of the novel)

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Roundabout Books, 900 NW Mt. Washington Drive, Suite 110

Cost: free

Contact: roundaboutbookshop.com or 541-306-6564

When Sam Boush read the 2010 nonfiction best-seller “Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It,” it triggered an interest that would eventually change his career trajectory.

That book by former presidential adviser and counterterrorism expert Richard A. Clarke and international affairs expert Robert K. Knake, sounded an alarm about America’s vulnerability to technological attacks from hackers, criminals and foreign governments. Boush was shocked and intrigued by the issues Clark and Knake addressed and began researching the subject of cyberwarfare himself.

“To take that information and then read different news that all started happening soon after that. Iranian code in our dams. Chinese code in our power grid. The Russians took out (the nation of) Georgia’s banking system — it’s crazy, this world we live in,” Boush recounted.

Having worked as a journalist and then owned a marketing agency, Boush’s interest in digital security led him to become a member of several cyber-defense organizations. That sparked the idea for what would become his first novel, “All Systems Down.”

He will read from and discuss “All Systems Down” on Thursday at Roundabout Books in Bend. The first 10 people to arrive will receive a free copy of the book.

In the novel, an elite hacking unit of the North Korean military unleashes a series of computer viruses that cripple the power grid across the U.S. with catastrophic consequences. In the chaos that follows immediately afterward, nine strangers in the Portland area cross paths and must rely on each other to survive.

Although Boush started writing the novel around 2½ years ago, many of the threats and situations he outlines in the book could almost be ripped from recent news headlines, with North Korean threats and cyberattacks taking place around the world. These range from stealing $81 million in 2016 from a Bangladesh Central Bank account at the New York Federal Reserve, to an attempted ransomware attack in 2017 that brought down hundreds of thousands of computers across dozens of countries and briefly paralyzed Britain’s National Health Service.

“I think the secrecy of the North Korean state and the way they operate is fascinating,” said Boush.

“North Korea (was) bad but not seen as much of a threat when I started writing the book. Since then, all the missile threats, the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother, (its) malware attacks and so on, have made (it) more of an imminent threat,” he continued.

The fear of state-sponsored espionage and recent digital attacks from Iran, Russia, China and others has made the Feb. 8 release of “All Systems Down” particularly timely.

Boush says while his plot may sound far-fetched, it’s not science fiction. Most of the scenarios he imagines in the book are rooted in current technological capabilities and flaws, along with known weaknesses in the U.S. power grid and other key systems.

He believes the cyberattack at the core of “All Systems Down” could happen, although thankfully, probably not with such far-reaching destruction.

“This kind of coordinated attack would require a lot of different zero day exploits going off at once, which is feasible but not very practical,” Boush said.

Now 36, Boush was an English major in college who always loved reading and was a board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association.

Before writing “All Systems Down,” he wrote one novel at age 19 that he says “will never see the light of day.”

“I was always interested in writing, but it was only when life took me in a different direction, and I sold my business, that I was able to write this book,” he explained.

Boush secured a two-book contract with his publisher, Lakewater Press, and said “All Systems Down” is the first novel in a planned trilogy.