THE GUARDIANS PLAGUE YEARS BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1988.

The Guardians are in Texas resting after their harrowing adventure south of the border when they get an unexpected visit. None other than their number one foe Ivan Vesensky gives himself up. He is there to arrange a truce on behalf of the Federated States of Europe. There is a mutual threat to the world. William Morrigan a former mercenary under Maximov has a deadly virus. He threatens to unleash it if not acknowledged as supreme ruler. He has already unleashed it in Cleveland and 25,000 are dead. A quick visit to Oklahoma City and their other nemesis Reverend Forrie Smith they meet none other then Chairman Maximov himself. So with a teleconference with the President and the two sides agree to work together to stop Morrigan.

Thus the Guardians with Vesensky and a FSE scientist Dr. Suzette Ngyuen arrive in Cleveland. They are nearly killed by the Ohio National Guard because Morrigan has threatened to unleash more of the plague if the Guardians aren’t destroyed. They are rescued in the nick of time by forces of the Motor City Madman. The Madman is a former professional wrestler who now controls a little empire based in Detroit. He has been threatened by Morrigan and has to give up his woman Merith Tobias the sexiest actress in this fictional ’90s world.

The Guardians and Vesensky are presumed dead so they go in disguise as guards to bring the tribute Merith so they can infiltrate the madman’s stronghold in the ruins of Chicago and stop his plans for world domination.

Well this was a fascinating book. We get a meeting between the Guardians and their greatest enemies. Most notably Chairman Maximov in an Empire Strikes Back type meeting. They also get to work with Ivan Vesensky and have a grudging respect for him. The Motor City Madman was a great larger than life personality. He is a very educated man with a degree in history but found out that it wouldn’t get a job in the real world so he took up the lucrative art of professional wrestling.

Finally we get to meet the famous Merith Tobias. She has been mentioned throughout this series as a sort of Marilyn Monroe of the nineties. The enemy they have to fight is a total crackpot with delusions of grandeur. Fortunately he is discovered to be a fraud. He has no virus but is using nerve gas. Still he has the gas hidden around the country and has no qualms about releasing it. A fun addition to this series.

THE GUARDIANS VALLEY OF THE GODS BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1988.

The Guardians with their Texican allies have defeated the Cristeros invasion of Texas and secured the desalinization plant. The Cristero threat has not gone away. Chairman Maximov is still pulling the strings on this movement. After the popular Mexican president has been assassinated a power vacuum has opened in the country. The Cristeros are threatening the weak government and forcing them to install the young seventeen year old leader in a new coalition government. This will give Maximov control over the nation to the south.

So the Guardians are ordered to stop this transition of power by any means necessary. With a bunch of Texicans, an old Texas Ranger and a diplomat of dubious loyalty they head out to Mexico City. Along the way they have to battle treacherous army units, Cristero hordes, Federal Security Directorate agents and dangerous Mexican drivers on their way. They eventually ally themselves with a corrupt head of police in kidnapping the young girl and exposing the FSE plot.

So this book takes the Guardians to Mexico. The country after the war is still going pretty much as it was before the war. The oilfields weren’t a Soviet priority so they are still pumping but there is a glut what with a few 100 million customers worldwide now dead. They did have to fight off a Cuban-Nicaraguan invasion after the war. There are hordes of fanatical Cristeros rampaging in the north massacring whole villages of those perceived as heretics. Otherwise the corrupt system still chunks along. This was an interesting book in how it showed the various factions in the government and Mexican society in general. It seems well researched so I think the author has some knowledge about the country. Another one of the better stories.

THE GUARDIANS FREEDOM FIGHT BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1988.

The Guardians next assignment is to find a desalinization plant around Houston. Well the first thing they find out when they arrive is that Texas has split in two. The southern and western part are part of the Republic of Texas. The northeastern part is under governor Randall Hedison the governor of Texas before the war. McKay the leader doesn’t like the idea of succession but the Republic is an open society and old friends that helped them out including his old girlfriend Marla Ecklund and Dreadlock Callahan are officers in the Republican army. Governor Hedison runs a very efficient police state in the Federal part with his Texas Rangers. Maggie Connolly the chief of staff is a great friend of Hedison. Since she was put in charge of the Guardians they have been reduced to errand boys for the governor instead of securing the Blueprint facility.

Meanwhile a movement in Mexico has grown around the visions of a seventeen year old girl. The followers are called cristeros and are a fanatical religious group that is killing anyone that won’t convert to their fundamentalist views. The Guardians old enemy Ivan Vesensky has survived Casey’s sniper bullet and is now back causing trouble. He has managed to co-opt this religious movement to get them to invade Texas so he can gain control of the desalinization plant. The Guardians abandon their assignment and head out to defend the plant with a group of Texicans.

This book has the team going to Texas and finding that the country is starting to come apart. A bit of a dilemma for the Guardians is that the secessionists are the only ones willing to fight the cristeros while Hedison seems to be more interested in crushing all opposition to his rule. At the end the President orders him to help the Guardians and he refuses which causes the National Guard to revolt and he goes into exile in Oklahoma. Maggie Connolly also gets relieved of being in charge of the Guardians and Project Blueprint. Instead Dr. Morgenstern is put in charge which suits the Guardians fine since he had become their de facto leader anyway.

Another interesting part of this book was the cristeros or translated the christers. They were based on a real movement in the 1920’s & 30’s. They will be a big part in the next book since Vesensky and the FSE are involved with the movement. This book was probably the high point of the series.

THE GUARDIANS VENGEANCE DAY BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1987.

The Guardians have just helped throw out the Effsees from California when they get their next assignment. Somewhere in Montana is a factory that is crucial to the Blueprint for Renewal. The Guardians though have some unexpected opposition from the Federated States in the form of the Liberators. The Liberators are the FSE answer to the Guardians an elite group of deadly mercenaries. Cowboy a former Special Forces soldier now FSE mercenary is the worst. The Liberators are going around in their own V-450 armored car and committing atrocities against the Guardians friends and allies. They then leave behind evidence that points to the Guardians.

The Guardians find that life in Montana continues on. The dead zones from the hits on missile fields are no longer dead. The radiation has faded and people have moved back. Now there is a conflict between two groups the Ground Hogs or the original residents that owned the land before the war and the squatters, those people fleeing the destroyed cities and now trying to make a living from the land. The Guardians get involved with mediating this dispute but the Liberators once again stage an atrocity that’s pinned on the Guardians. They also have managed to infiltrate their communication with a well placed traitor and ambush a plane sent from Washington. The President disavows them and now with every hand against them they go all out to take down the Liberators and restore their good name.

This was a good idea in introducing a team that was the Guardian’s equals. Maximov has figured out that his communications were compromised by the V-450 the Guardians appropriated when they destroyed Heartland. They always wondered about who the V-450 was for. It was for the team that was to take out the Guardians. This book also established the contentious relationship that the Guardians would have with Maggie Connolly the White House chief of staff. Once again another fun book with a new location in the post-nuclear U.S.

THE GUARDIANS DESOLATION ROAD BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1987.

The Federated States of Europe have been invaded. A Turkish general has united the Muslims and launched a jihad against Europe. Naming himself Iskander Bey which is Arabic for Alexander the Great his hordes are pouring in from the Balkans to Spain. This development has presented a golden opportunity to drive the FSE from California. Over ten thousand troops have an iron grip on the state. So the Guardians are sent to California to organize resistance. The plan is to make it so difficult to the Effsees that Chairman Maximov will withdraw them to fight the invaders.

The Guardians then start organizing a guerrilla campaign using the various factions. Some of them were former enemies when they fought former Lt. Governor Van Damm. Eventually the campaign succeeds as the Effsees pull out and start to withdraw. Now some of their former allies turn on them. The eco-terrorists Sons of Hayduke betray the location of where Blueprint personal are hidden including Dr. Morgenstern. Now the Guardians must mount a rescue mission. First they have to fight through FSE supported pirates in a makeshift flotilla. Then ambush an well armed column as it makes its way to San Diego.

So the author was a bit ahead of his time in foreseeing the rise of the Caliphate. The stories set in California are some of the best in the series. The state just seems perfect with its mix of rightwing/leftwing groups along with the other nutjobs. They have to organize the “indiges” indigenous forces into a coherent fighting force. Green Beret Tom Rogers is an expert at this in the various shadow wars fought in the third world. Now its Americans as the indiges and it seems America has been reduced to the third world. There was a lot of action in this book which makes it great.

RIFFTRAX LIVE SUMMER SHORTS BEACH PARTY

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So another Rifftrax Live and this one was a series of shorts. In addition to Mike, Kevin and Bill the old gang from MST3K was also there.

The first done by Mike, Kevin and Bill was one of those old safety films from the seventies. Ricky the Raccoon a guy in a raccoon suit who magically appears as their parents are buying a new house. Nobody seems concerned in the least that a creepy guy in a raccoon suit appears out of thin air. Of course the real estate agent won’t make a big deal about it since he’s interested in making a sale. Anyway the raccoon proceeds to teach the real dumb kid basic safety tips that his parents were apparently too busy to teach themselves. The dumb kid annoys Ricky to no end by insisting he’s a bear. You have to love those wacky anthropomorphic animals that appear the teach the stupid basic things. Here is a funny take from two rednecks.

So we move on to Office Etiquette which was done in the fifties. A woman gets a lowly clerical job all on the recommendation of some old bat that teaches typing. She tows the line and makes it to personal manager. Wow it is depressing to work in an office back then just as much as it is now. Some things don’t really change. It had some good riffs here and there. A little too much social justice commentary.

Then we get the 300th shorts riff the guys have done. This one is Rhythmic Ball Skills. Basically they make young kids do goofy things with a rubber ball. Supposed to be exercise but looks goofy as hell.

Then Mary Jo and Bridget do the Griper. Basically some complainer who does nothing but grip and ruins everything for everyone. Some reason the message seems that those that grip will just ruin it for everyone.

Move on to Sentinels of Safety. A short that shows all the bad things that can happen to you in the 1940’s if your not careful. So we watch people step on nails, fall down the stairs, slip on the floor and blow themselves up by washing their clothes in gasoline. Amazing our grandparents survived.

A Touch of Magic was some General Motors promotional to sell their new 1961 line. A husband and wife host their invisible friends who have the new cars. Very strange.

Finally it brings us to The Baggs. Santa Claus spends his summers driving around L.A. in an old pickup picking up junk. He steals some old burlap bags that come to life and chases them all over. Definitely they saved the weirdest for last.

Well it was a fun night. The jokes were funny and the shorts were really offbeat. So next up in August The Five Doctors.

THE GUARDIANS BRUTE FORCE BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1987.

The Guardians have now set up the President safely in Washington. They can now focus on recovering the Blueprint. After a brief adventure in transporting the Blueprint personal from Iowa and fighting off a horde of road gypsies they get word of a major discovery. The Federated States of Europe has found the location of a secret installation in Louisiana. Code named Project Starshine it is the prototype of a fusion reactor. Cheap unlimited power and Chairman Maximov wants it. So the Guardians head out for the swamps of southern Louisiana.

The Effsees are also there landing a battalion of turncoat American troops. Now the Guardians have to organize the various swamp rats and Cajuns in the area to resist this invasion. In addition there are a group of KKK that call themselves the Regulators that are terrifying the local population. A renegade Cuban cruiser is also in the area with a captain who has delusions of grandeur in carving out his own empire. If that’s not enough there is an actual UFO that is flying around and attacking with its laser. It all comes to a head with a large hurricane.

This book was a real fun one. There was plenty of action in this story. I loved how the various plot thread were handled neatly and came together. Project Starshine is a very important piece to the Blueprint puzzle. An interesting fact after the apocalypse. Pre-1965 dimes and quarters are valuable because they were made out of silver. They actually will cut them in two and give back a half in change. So stock those coins for the apocalypse.