Praise for Joe Buff from NY Times Bestselling Authors:

"Superbly researched and well-written, Joe Buff's novels are the creme de la creme of submarine thrillers."
--Stephen Coonts

"Joe Buff takes the reader through a labyrinth of action and high adventure. A rare thriller, highly entertaining."
--Clive Cussler

"If you want a hair-raising trip to the bottom of the ocean, Joe Buff's the guy to take you there."
--Patrick Robinson

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2007 SUBSIM ALMANAC FOREWORD
by Joseph J. Buff, [IMAGE]2006

Photo Courtesy: Walter P. Noonan
[IMAGE] In every generation since the historic transition from sail to steam and from wooden hulls to steel, no type of ship or sailor has played a more vital, versatile role in peace and war than the naval submarine and her crew. From harbor defense to fleet escort, from marauder of enemy seaborne logistics to reliable sinker of surface combatants dozens of times their own size, subs and submariners have been there, done that to the max. As platforms for relentless strategic deterrence, for amazing intelligence-gathering and undersea salvage capabilities, for countless covert insertions/extractions of SEALs and other commando teams whose stories must go forever untold, subs have a proven track record for delivering the goods, and their present-day and future utility remain indispensible.

Whether their vessels were (or are) powered by human muscle, or gasoline engines or diesel and batteries, or by nuclear reactors, or by several different kinds of air-independent technologies, submariners have always been a breed apart. For raw courage and grit, for long separations from family, for extremely rough living conditions in crowded and claustrophobic spaces deep under the waves, no other branch of military service compares. Weeks of repetitive, uneventful watchstanding can change without warning, in a moment, into a frenzy of well-coordinated thought and action where the lives of every soul aboard, and sometimes the fate of humanity, are instantly at stake. For instance, if an emergency action message comes through to a boomer, if a fast-attack suddenly detects a hostile contact approaching, if Tomahawk launch mission orders arrive unexpectedly on a guided-missile subóa submarine must be ever-vigilant for conflict. Even in peacetime any one of a myriad potentially deadly mechanical casualties may occur. A sub is always at war with its natural elements: the sea. But the career of a submariner is not without its unique rewards. The degree of bonding and camaraderie that results from so many perpetual challenges is hard for laymen to comprehend. The heavy burdens of command can be especially elusive.

Human nature being what it is, many people do want to understand and participate vicariously in the exciting adventures that can only be experienced by those who go down into the sea in ships designed to dive instead of sink. The best way of learning and sharing, of course, is to clamber through the hatch and go for a ride. As a civilian author and commentator on undersea warfare and national defense, I was very privileged to twice be invited by the U.S. Navy to travel in nuclear subs Ė- one trip was an unforgettable four-day tiger cruise aboard USS MIAMI, and the other was an impressive media underway on the littoral-combat reconfigured USS OHIO. But with America at war against terror on a global scale, and this nationís Submarine Force stretched thin by an extremely demanding operational tempo, such first-hand opportunities are scarce. Whatís a submarine enthusiast to do?

Visiting a museum ship, such as USS CAVALLA in Galveston, U-505 in Chicago, or USS NAUTILUS in Groton, is certainly a good way to start. And chatting with Submarine Veterans is always informative and fun; these great guys will have sea stories that leave you chuckling uncontrollably or literally make your hair stand on end. For decades, memoirs, novels, and movies have been excellent methods -- part education, part entertainment -- for savoring the submarine experience. Yet as realistic and scary as these depictions can be, their plots are predetermined. Given the form of the medium used, whether an old war movie you might have watched on black-and-white TV as a kid, or an e-book you plan to read at the beach with a PDA on your next vacation, your involvement is limited to being somewhat passive, once removed. Alas, with such pre-scripted content, no matter how well it might keep you on the edge of your seat with heart pounding, you just arenít completely there. Itís not you making those impossible tradeoffs, those split-second decisions against wily, ruthless enemy sub and destroyer captains or antisubmarine aircrews all hell-bent on your demise. Itís not you peering up through the periscope. Itís not you ferociously giving the order to fire.

Then along came personal computers and installable (not arcade) videogames. The two grew up together, symbiotically, more capable PCs and laptops allowing more complex and textured first-person and multiplayer games. Actual real-time submarine simulations became first an achievable dream, next an affordable passtime, and eventually a entire industry as games about various sorts of subs and missions of different eras competed and multiplied. Aided by the worldwide connectivity of the Internet, players wanting to meet or chat with other players, trade tactical tips and technical help, exchange product reviews, even plan group get-togethers on one continent or another, were able to conveniently do so. Most of all, at long last, whatever particular game you were playing, you were there.

And so was Neal Stevensís Subsim.com, now celebrating a wonderful benchmark, its tenth anniversary on the Web. By a funny coinkydink, my full-time career as a submarine writer began back in í97, with my very first sale, a non-fiction article published in a professional submarine journal. In what to me and Neal now seems like fated synchronicity regarding our eventual crossing of paths, to try to improve my tactics I began to drill on Janeís ď688(I)Ē. Let me tell you, I discovered fast that submariners genuinely mean what they say, how while they and their buddies are immersed in a combat scenario the whole thing really feels as if itís happening for keeps. Iíll never forget the sensation of stark terror when I had a Soviet torpedo screaming along its merry way and pinging faster and faster as it closed on my ship -- and my crew. With practice, I found that countermeasures and well-executed evasive maneuvers could save my backside and avoid creating a hundred-plus widows and orphans who wouldíve all been my fault, my personal responsibility as imaginary CO. And man, did I ever sweat; the spot on the couch where I sat while I trained for hours on end would be soaked. As I write this, a Dell Inspiron 6400 with 2GB of RAM is on order. Sonalystís ďDangerous WatersĒ already sits here on my desk. I look forward with relish to playing the one on the other.

Yes, the games have gotten better and better during this memorable past decade. (The experiences available are just starting to rival those possible in the computer-controlled team attack simulators at the New London Naval Submarine Base.) The users of Subsimís many resources have grown vastly more numerous and interconnected, too. Itís accurate to say that Subsim holds pride of place as the center of the online universe for submarine and other naval simulation computer games and the international community of diverse folks who love participating in them. Iím extremely honored that Neal invited me to write this Foreword for the 2007 SUBSIM ALMANAC. Youíre in for a delicious treat with a compendium youíll turn to again and again and be proud to display on your bookshelf. Hereís wishing Neal Stevens, Subsim, and all the websiteís devoted fans and contributors a prosperous, safe, and enjoyable second decade of even greater gaming to come!

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