WHEN THE TRIPODS CAME BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1988.

Lawrence Cordray is a fourteen year old who is one of the first to see the Tripods. While camping out in Dartmoor he and his friend witness one of the invading alien machines. It destroys a farmhouse and scoops up the farmer for dissection. The army destroys it along with the other two that landed in Montana and Kazakhstan. Mankinds first encounter seems to end on a very anti-climactic event. Only later a new TV show called the Tripods becomes popular around the world. It has a hypnotic effect on many people. Called Trippies they run away and form their own groups. When the Tripods land their are millions of Trippie followers that manufacture caps that enslave even more people. Laurie and his family are forced to flee England after that country falls for Switzerland. There they find shelter with his Swiss stepmother in a country free of the Tripods. It doesn’t last as the capped armies of France and Germany invade. Switzerland falls and the people forced to wear caps. Laurie and his family flee to the mountains to start a resistance to fight the alien invaders.

Twenty years after his Tripod Trilogy Christopher decided to release a prequel. A story that shows how the Tripods managed to take over the Earth. Now like any prequel you know the ending. Just like Anakin becomes Vader. Still you read a prequel to see how something started. This prequel does a very good job of showing how the Tripods first came to Earth and took over. How the resistance in the White Mountains came about. A good supplement to the original trilogy and very enjoyable.

THE POOL OF FIRE BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1968.

Will Parker has found out the plans of the Tripods. Now the resistance has to stop them from terraforming the Earth in four years. So they step up their drive to recruit the young uncapped. Will and Fritz, who managed to also escape the Tripod city, are assigned to travel through Europe and the Middle East. They eventually get involved with capturing a Tripod alive. Through an accident with the food they discover that the Tripods are vulnerable to alcohol. So three groups are formed to infiltrate the three Tripod cities. There they smuggle in a still and the ingredients to ferment large quantities of alcohol to put in the water. Will is part of the group in the German city. They succeed and turn off the mind control signal freeing the humans in that part of the world. The Chinese group also succeeds but the city in Panama is a failure. Airplanes the resistance has are knocked out by EMP. So an attack by balloons is mounted. Will’s friend Henry sacrifices his life to destroy the third city. So with the Earth free there is great promise for the future. Will it be a united front or one marred by division.

The third book in the trilogy is probably the weakest. It seems to read like more of a narration of the events then giving you a feel of actually being there. The first part sort of drags. Also the whole part of them sneaking into the cities and getting the Tripods drunk is a bit goofy. Still it gives us a satisfying conclusion to the story. The Tripods are destroyed and the Earth is free. It also had a realistic ending with the various nations of man going their own way. The end has our three main protagonists pledging to work to unite the planet. Christopher I hear is known for some pessimistic ending but I thought this one had an optimistic one. Leaves the reader wondering if humanity will get it’s act together.

Christopher would twenty years later revisit this world with a prequel. Which I will do next week. So see you than.

THE CITY OF GOLD AND LEAD BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1967.

Will Parker and his friends have made it to the White Mountains and the resistance group that lives there. In this future Earth where the Tripods now dominate. Will with two others are chosen to compete in the annual games in Germany. Three winners are taken into the Tripod city. Will with his friend Beanpole and Fritz travel to compete. Will and Fritz are two of the winners and are taken into the city. There they are assigned as personal slaves to a Tripod. The aliens are reveled to be huge reptiles. The high gravity environment ensures that the human slaves will only last for two to four years. While Fritz gets a master that likes to torture him, Will gets a kind master. The Tripod treats him like his dog. As his slave he finds out the history of how the Tripods conquered Earth. He also finds out that they plan to terraform the Earth in four years. Soon humanity and all life will be extinct. So now Will and his companion Fritz must escape the city to warn the resistance.

The second book in the trilogy gives us a look at the Tripods. Who they are and why they conquered Earth. They also give us a brief history of how they conquered the Earth. Seems they used TV signals to brainwash enough people to help them take over. Kind of an amusing idea. I always found this such a creepy book in how they have so successfully gained control of the minds of humans. The slaves are totally devoted to their masters and will actually go to The Place of Happy Release when they feel they can no longer serve their masters. The Place of Happy Release is where they kill and dispose of the slaves. I found it an interesting and unique idea to have the aliens conquer and control us my using mind control. The second in the trilogy is the best of the books. It was enjoyable, exciting and established the approaching threat to Earth.

THE WHITE MOUNTAINS BY JOHN CHRISTOPHER

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Copyright 1967.

Will Parker is a thirteen year old living in the English village of Wherton. Only he is living in a future where the Tripods now rule the Earth. When a person turns fourteen they are Capped by the Tripods. This makes people docile and obedient to the Tripods. Will has doubts about the benevolence of these aliens. Especially after the change that takes place in his best friend. One day a vagrant those that the Capping damages wanders to the village. Only the man who calls himself Ozymandias is actually an uncapped man. He travels looking for young recruits to join a resistance based in the White Mountains in Switzerland. Will decides to leave his village and join them after hearing the truth. He is joined by his cousin Henry. In France they also join up with a young boy who they name Beanpole. The three boys journey through the country and see the marvels of the ruined city of Paris. They have some adventures and manage to destroy a Tripod before reaching the White Mountains and the resistance.

Some thirty plus years ago I was looking for something to watch on a Saturday afternoon. At the local Ma and Pa video rental place I found the first season of the BBC adaptation on one VHS tape. I found it an interesting and enjoyable story so decided to get the original trilogy it was based on. This is actually an early YA series before they were known as YA. Teenagers in a future dystopia. A fascinating idea about aliens conquering Earth and implanting caps on them so they are obedient. John Christopher is the pen name of Sam Youd, an English writer with many post-apocalypse books to his credit. It is said that he has ending the world in every combination possible. I will have to check them out in the future.

The BBC series is available on YouTube for free.

DARK IS THE SUN BY PHILIP JOSE FARMER

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Copyright 1979.

It is fifteen billion years in the future. The sun is a black dwarf and the sky is filled with the debris of dying galaxies. Young Deyv of the Turtle tribe has no knowledge of his world’s fate or history. He has been ordered to leave in search of a new mate. So with his dog Jum and cat Aejip he sets out into unknown lands. Along the way a Yawtl steals his soul egg. He finds a woman from another tribe named Vana and a plant centaur named Sloosh that also were victims of the Yawtl. So they begin a quest that takes them across the world. Through strange lands with even stranger creatures and peoples. Through the ruins of the ancients. They first go to Feersh the blind witch that ordered the thefts. The quest takes them to an ancient alien known as the Shemibob in the jeweled wastelands. They soon find themselves looking for a portal that will take them to new world and escape a dying planet.

As a kid I loved the book The Stone God Awakens. Seeing this book I though it sounded similar. I was not disappointed in reading it. This is a fantasy passing itself off as science fiction. Farmer creates this incredible world with all sorts of strange creatures. It amuses me to think of humans surviving fifteen billion years later. Seems they managed to move the Earth so it wasn’t destroyed when the sun went nova and created a new sun using the moon. Of course humanity has gone through many ups and downs and now are back in a primitive state.

Anyway this was an epic story in scope and very enjoyable. I highly recommend it. I will have to check out more of the author’s work.

EARTHBLOOD 3 AURORA QUEST BY JAMES AXLER

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Copyright 1994.

The survivors of the USSV Aquila continue north on their quest for the mysterious Aurora. Their General Zelig leads a government group that could rebuild the Earth after the devastation of the Earthblood blight. The various groups have their run ins with the dangers of this lawless world. They eventually link together and continue on. Only the Hunters of the Sun lead by the sadistic Margaret Trabor are still hot on their trail. She mounds an expedition after them as Zelig mounts one to intercept them. A traitor in the group exposes their location and it ends with a big battle in Oregon.

The final book in the trilogy comes to an end. After the Soviet Union collapses there was a scramble to come up with new ways the world could end. Lawrence James crafted a unique and enjoyable scenario. As I said before the books aren’t dated at all and you can still believe this world of 2040 thirty years later. It had a diverse range of characters that were believable. A great villain that gets her comeuppance at the end. Some people die and some live but it ends on a hopeful note.

EARTHBLOOD 2 DEEP TREK BY JAMES AXLER

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Copyright 1994.

Some of the surviving crew members of the USSV Aquila have made it to Calico on November 15. A Chinook helicopter arrives and tells the group they are going to go to the secret base Aurora. Before they can land though the helicopter is shot down by men with a symbol of a silver arrow through the sun. The helicopter only told them that the base was located north. Speculating the base is located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest the group splits up into three and heads off to search for it. Along the way they find out the mysterious group that shot down the helicopter are called The Hunters of the Sun. A secret cabal of powerful individuals that formed the group to take over the world. Lead by Margaret Tabor a psychopath that enjoys killing they hunt the members of the Aquila. Henderson McGill a member who found his extended family safe in Connecticut has have to fight off the various raiders. They decide to also head out to California. Soon all groups have various adventures with the various inhabitants and Hunters of the Sun.

The second book establishes what the survivors goals are in this new world. Namely their old general is in charge of a secret government project to rebuild the world. They also have the main opposition. The Hunters of the Sun lead by a completely evil villain. A woman who in collage killed some of the men who made fun of her middle name Dildow. This is what brought her to the attention of the head man. She eventually became his lover than killed him with poison to take over the organization. Some other main characters that stand out are Nanci Simms the sixty year old CIA agent that joined up with the crew. Jim Hilton the commander with his surviving twin daughter. Henderson McGill who finds his family and takes them on the journey. It has a diverse cast of characters that seem believable with their own strengths and weaknesses. Also can’t believe how this book still doesn’t feel dated after all these years. Could have been written yesterday.

EARTHBLOOD BY JAMES AXLER

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Copyright 1993.

The year is 2040 and the USSV Aquila is returning from a two year mission in deep space. The crew of twelve is in suspended animation. As they approach Earth the computer revives them. Only their is no response from the Earth. One of the crew has died in suspended animation and they wonder why mission control didn’t do anything. The Earth also has a red color to it. So they are forced to land by themselves at the base in Nevada.

The ship crashes and kills half the crew. The survivors find the base in ruins. Soon they discover that while out in space a plant cancer used as a weapon in the Middle East has devastated all plant life on Earth. Known as Earthblood it kills all plant life and turns it a reddish color. With the collapse of the food chain civilization has totally collapsed. They find a cryptic message from their commander General John Kennedy Zelig that they should rendezvous at the small California town of Calico on November 15. The crew decides to split up into groups and find out what happened to their families. So the crew have various adventures in this post-apocalyptic world. They find some of their family. Some die. The survivors gather at the town of Calico to await what happens next.

This was a trilogy by Lawrence James who wrote in many genres. He is best well known for the Deathlands series that he developed and wrote the first thirty some books. Using the same house name James Axler he crafts an enjoyable and believable new apocalyptic world. There is probably nothing more scary than starvation. He has a very scary world in this series. Also one that isn’t dated. Considering its still twenty years in the future it has no stuff that would date it as written in the nineties. Making it a story still believable and relevant after almost thirty years. The first book sets up this world and the characters are established. A good start to this trilogy.

CIVIL WAR II BY DON PENDLETON

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Copyright 1971.

The year is 1999. America has reverted to a rural and predominantly agricultural nation. The racial situation is not very good. Blacks are mostly confined to the cities that are left called Towns. There have been two paths of advancement for black. The federal bureaucracy and the military. In fact the military is totally made up of blacks from the generals to the enlisted men. Michael Winston is the commissioner for Urban Affairs sort of the federal agency that takes care of the Towns. He stumbles on a military coup that the blacks plan. When he tries to warn his superiors including the President he gets ignored. The corrupt President has he own plans to use this coup to solidify his power.

Anyway the coup starts and the United Negro Army seizes power and occupies the country. Their demands are that America has to come up with a more equitable arrangement for its twenty million blacks. They appoint a provisional government headed by Michael Winston. Winston has some success at first with reversing the more authoritarian policies of the past regime. Yet old hatreds still flare out and threaten to derail any peace. Blacks in the south have decided to take out payback on past injustices and soon go on a rampage. Winston is forced to detonate nuclear explosions over the south to stop the fighting. Soon their is a reconciliation of the races and America emerges as a positive force in the world.

Don Pendleton is best know for the Executioner series. Probably the most successful men’s adventure series ever. He is probably the grandfather of that genre. He also did some stand alone novels. This one is a very odd little take on the future. It has a future 1999 filled with flying cars. Commuter planes with their own private rooms equipped with showers and the optional sex with the stewardess. There are also Federal subsidized sex clubs. (Does something like that really need a subsidy to stay in business?) There are pay churches with tradition, non-denominational and new age services. It is definitely dated and feels weird with all the goofy stuff that was envisioned for the future from a seventies perspective.

Still this book is a fascinating read. The future it envisioned didn’t quite turn out. It did though have a very upbeat ending with the races reconciling. A good book to read if you want to see how they envisioned the future back than.

C.A.D.S. #12 TECH ASSASSINS BY JOHN SIEVERT

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Copyright 1991.

The C.A.D.S. under Colonel Dean Sturgis have successfully rescued President Williamson from The Lenin. What they didn’t know is he has already been brainwashed while a prisoner. Programmed to find the nuclear reactor at Hardbase Alpha and then wait for the miniature nuclear bomb implanted in him to go off. So Sturgis and his men must fight other guards at the base who were ordered by the President to stop them. After a whole bunch of fights that take up the first third of the book they manage to stop the President. They get the bomb taken out of him and have him deprogrammed. This incident has given the President the idea that a new Continental Congress should be convened to declare a second Declaration of Independence.

Needless to say evil Supreme Marshal Veloshnikov goes nuts over this idea. Aboard his new super sub The Leonid Breshnev he begins an all out attack on the free communities scattered across a devastated post-nuke America. Such units as Supreme Soviet Death Division, Black Raskolnikov Brigade and my favorite- Sergeivitch Ivanovsky Bolkenskvo Spetnaz Brigade for the Utter Destruction of American Freedom and National Sovereignty. Yow what a mouthful. So the C.A.D.S. have to come to the rescue. They meet the Soviets in a big endless battle that takes up the second half of the book. After endless fighting the C.A.D.S. come out victorious. At the end the congress meets and broadcasts via a giant holographic image up in the sky. Veloshnikov sits in front of the TV glowering and thinking up his next brilliant plan to destroy America.

We never do find out his brilliant plan for this was the last in the series. It’s a bit ironic that the books ends with him saying “Death to America. Long live the Soviet Union.” This book came out December of 1991 the year that the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. So that event pretty much sounded the death knell for books like this. In this case it was probably a mercy that the series was finally put out of it’s misery. Although it may have been heading there anyway. I gave up on this series with the last book. Only recently did I find this book at Half Price to complete my collection. I didn’t miss anything all those years.

This was a really bad book. I mean it is filled with a constant stream of such cringe worthy dialogue as “Attack these putrid Yankee scum suckers, brave comrades,” or “Your doltish American taunts fall on deaf ears, craven imperialist lackeys.” Now this series started out pretty good. A solid if absurd little post-nuke action adventure. Now like most of these series they tend to go off in some very weird tangents. Which it was doing under it’s original creator Ryder Syvertson. It took the replacement with David Alexander to bring the series to a whole new level of crap. Still his crappy writing was good for a few laughs. Although it was probably good that the series ended before my brain turned to complete mush from reading too much of this.