ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jeff Dobson heads a firm specializing in communication systems for collaboration during emergencies. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and travels extensively worldwide.
He previously headed an international computer firm and has served on the faculties of the Ohio State University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Alaska. Jeff served several terms as an alderman in the town of Farragut, Tennessee. He holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Georgia.
He has conducted fieldwork in the Arctic regions of Europe and North America as well as deserts in the southwestern U.S. His business travels often take him to the Middle East. He served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy.
Jerry Dobson is an innovator and popular writer in the fields of geography and geographic information science. He is a professor of geography at the University of Kansas and president of the American Geographical Society, America’s oldest geographic association. He previously worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the U.S. Department of State.
He has published more than 200 professional articles, editorials, and reports on geographic information systems (GIS), continental drift, coastal change analysis, and human evolution.
Jerry led the development of the current world standard for estimating populations-at-risk in disasters of all kinds and the current world standard for cartographic representation of land mines and minefields. He holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Tennessee. He has conducted fieldwork throughout North America, especially Alaska, Mexico, and the Adirondack Mountains of New York, plus many faraway places: South America, Liberia, East Africa, the Middle East, Central and East Asia, and Australia.
Jerry and Jeff have collaborated on research about ancient sea levels since 1993. The Waters of Chaos is an outgrowth of their real world research into the physical and cultural evidence of global sea level rise that occurred at the end of the Ice Ages. Like Jared and Rick Caisson, Jerry and Jeff are twin brothers who lived in the Knoxville, Tennessee area during the writing of The Waters of Chaos.
From 2004 through 2010, my KU colleagues and I conducted research in support of United Nations’ land mine removal programs. We helped develop new geographic technology for mapping minefields without walking on them and designed the current world standard for cartographic representation of land mines, minefields, and mine actions.
Coastal Change Analysis
For nearly two decades part of my research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I led the development of remote sensing technologies for measuring land cover change in coastal wetlands and uplands on all U. S. coasts.
For five years we studied the Hubbard Glacier in Southeast Alaska. Once we spent a full week on the North Slope with more helicopter time than we could use. Watching herds of caribou and flocks of eider on the tundra from above was a life-changing experience.
We always managed to fish for salmon and halibut during off time in Juneau, and I caught two ivory kings on my first trip. There was no time to fish when we were working in the field, so we often bought salmon from the cannery and cooked it on the beach.
Jerry Dobson and Steve Egbert visit Ecuador-Peru border
Jerry Dobson catching two Ivory King salmon in Alaska
Here, Steve Egbert and I visit Ecuador’s most remote border with Peru, where minefields remain from the Cenepa War of 1995. Departing Quito, we flew east across the Andes to Macas. From that small city we drove 100 miles south over roads so rough that our necks ached for several days afterward. We bounced along in 4-wheel drive trucks for four hours, stopping only once to change a flat tire. We arrived after dark in Rio Santiago, a tiny town next to a remote army base. We heard the Rio Santiago, a tributary of the Amazon 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from its mouth, gurgling all night.
When I woke next morning and peered out in the dawn, I was stunned to see such a vast stream in the valley below. Later that morning, we hiked down the bluff and boarded boats. Our crew cast off from the bank before starting the engine. Sure enough, it refused to crank, and we drifted out of control until those same resourceful soldiers coaxed it to start. We landed 9 miles downstream, and then hiked through muck 5 miles to the border. Finally, we reached the minefield deep in the tropical rainforest.
While attending a conference in Dubai, I saw two sides of the Middle East that color The Waters of Chaos.
One is the high rolling lifestyle of urban Dubai, the only place I’ve ever seen a Farrari for sale in the duty free shop. It’s also home to the “River of Women” in a nightclub that features the most beautiful and cosmopolitan prostitutes I’ve ever encountered (just looking, mind you).
The other is the desolation of true desert where we went dunebashing on massive sand dunes, speeding at 60 miles per hour on dune crests and down their precipitous faces.
Dubai, 2002 - Character of the Land
Many scenes in The Waters of Chaos came directly from that week-long circuit during which I traveled more than 2,000 miles, half of which were under armed guard.
In my work, I’ve traveled extensively in the Middle East. On several occasions I was able to escape from business routines long enough to explore the surrounding region. Three trips stand out as sources for material used for The Waters of Chaos:
Egypt 1994 - History and Mystery
The character of Rick’s driver in the book was drawn from Abdulla Salemy, my remarkable driver during the Luxor loop to the Red Sea coast. His reasoned view of his life as a Muslim and as an Egyptian greatly informed me as a Westerner and as a writer. My most vivid memory from the trip is Abdulla driving at breakneck speeds in his old Pugeot with its bald tires. On one occasion I looked back and saw that the roadway we had just traversed at over 60 mph was a tenuous six-foot asphalt overhang, recently undercut by the great desert flood depicted in Quest.
In Cairo I visited the pyramids (where for the remarkable sum of only 30 Egyptian pounds I was offered a private tour of a tomb only previously opened for “President Mubarrak, President Cleenton” and me.)
I then flew to Luxor - where I stayed at the unairconditioned Arabesque Hotel as depicted in The Waters of Chaos - and visited its ancient temples.
In Luxor I hired a driver for a 400-mile excursion up the Nile, eastward to the Red Sea Coast, southward toward the Sudanese border (seeking Foul Bay), northward along the Red Sea coast to Hurgheda, westward to the central Nile valley, then back to Luxor.
At my southernmost point of advance toward the Sudanese border, I was in fact confronted by a flip flop shod, machine gun toting, exercise-suit wearing guard exactly as depicted in Quest. After an overnight stay in the Kulibatera (Cleopatra) Hotel in Aswan, I returned to Cairo via train.
Jeff Dobson travels through Egypt under armed guard
The battered old Pugeot in which Jeff spent many a hair-raising trip
A highlight of the return leg was a visit to the enigmatic Osireon, model for the Hydraulicon in Saga. This remarkable underground building initially was found intact but later was desecrated by archaeologists, thus obscuring its original purpose. This has led to numerous alternative explanations for its use in ancient times, which Jerry and I exploited in The Waters of Chaos.
The mysterious Osireion
Jeff Dobson bashing dunes in Dubai
Jordan, 2004 - Character of the People
After four days at a business conference in a luxury hotel beside the Dead Sea, during which I achieved my lifelong dream of floating in the briny seawater while reading a newspaper and smoking a cigar, I took off to the ancient city of Petra.
Petra guides gave me free reign on the normally tethered horses and camels. They did so because of my hat which caused them to conclude that I was a cowboy—never mind that it was a Chi Chi Rodriguez golf hat.
From Petra I hired a driver and made the trip to Aqaba and back up the Kings Highway to Amman. Along the way I met Natufians, encountered traditional Bedouin culture, took a dip in the Red Sea, and experienced the desolation of the true desert at Wadi Rhum.
Jeff Dobson floating in the Dead Sea
Jeff Dobson horseriding in Petra
Dobson Brothers Gallery
Both Jeff and Jerry Dobson have travelled extensively throughout their lives. From Egypt to Alaska they have visited sites of geographical, historical and archaeological interest. On their travels they have seen first hand the effects of climate change and sea level change, both of which feature heavily in The Waters of Chaos books. They've also had a lot of fun along the way.
Here is a gallery of photographs which document their many trips across the world: