THE DEFENDER #2 THE KILLING WEDGE BY JERRY AHERN

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Copyright 1988.

Rufus Burroughs died stopping the nuclear power plant attack and now David Holden is the leader of the Patriots. First business is burying Rufus next to his wife. Then it is getting back to organizing the Patriots to take on the FLNA. The FLNA has meanwhile hired a British assassin named Warlock. He has two missions. To kill David Holden and the current director of the FBI. The hit on the FBI director is supposed to be made to look like the Patriots did it. David and his girlfriend Rosie get involved with a fight with the FLNA in their abandoned subway system of Metro. Then they have to stop Warlock from killing the FBI director.

The second book isn’t as good as the first. The part where they are in the subway system does drag a bit. I will say that this series is much more darker then the Survivalist. First we have the main character’s wife and children killed in the first book. Now in this one they rescue a young 12 year old girl from the FLNA who was kidnapped and raped after killing the girl’s parents. Then this girl dies in a shoot out with the police. This book is setting up that the police are out to get the Patriots as much as the FLNA. Also sets up that the FBI director is interested in working clandestinely with the Patriots. The book starts to establish the romance between Holden and Rosie. A flawed book in some ways but showing promise for the series as a whole.

THE DEFENDER #1 THE BATTLE BEGINS BY JERRY AHERN

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Copyright 1988.

David Holden is a history professor in the fictional southern city of Metro. He lives a quiet life with his wife and three children but that is soon to change. For a KGB agent named Dimitri Borsoi has come to start a terrorist movement to overthrow the government. Recruiting street gangs plus bringing in foreign terrorists they form the Front for the Liberation of North America the FLNA. One of their first attacks kills his wife and children. The governments heavy handed response eventually force Holden to join with The Patriots. A group of former military and police that are fighting the FLNA. He has to stop the FLNA from destroying a nuclear reactor. A success that sees the leader killed and Holden assuming control of the group.

The first thing I noticed about this book way back when was how similar to the Chuck Norris movie Invasion USA. I mean he practically lifted the plot from the movie. A KGB agent that starts a terrorist campaign with street gangs and foreign terrorists. This book was a fun read that seemed a little far fetched back when it came out. Nowadays the FLNA could be Antifa and many of our major cities do look like warzones. Politicians and the media downplaying the problem. Yeah Jerry may have been very prescient when it comes to predicting the future.

Holden is a very likable character that is just an ordinary guy caught up in events. Of course he is a former SEAL so it explains why he is such an expert. The idea of a terrorist organization using violence to get a government to crack down and in effect drive more people to the terrorists is a real theory. It was used by many groups including the Shining Path in Peru and Islamic groups in Egypt and Algeria in the nineties. None so far had the desired effect. Ahern wrote the popular The Survivalist series and this while not as good is an enjoyable action series from the eighties and nineties.

ENDWORLD #31 FREEDOM RUN BY DAVID ROBBINS

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Copyright 2021.

The Family has decided to investigate why they never hear from the Free State of California and sent the Alpha Triad. Blade, Hickok and Geronimo use the time travel device and end up in Northern California. They soon find that the state is under martial law and terrorized by unknown mutant creatures. Thousands are missing as the state becomes a dictatorship. Blade soon finds out the Lords of Kismet have managed to take over. Using the shapeshifting Gualon they have replaced Governor Melnick and key personnel in state government. Now the Alpha Triad has to expose to the people of California that their government is not under their control.

The next installment of the new Endworld series goes back to its roots. First it has restored the run in the title. It has the original warriors that this series started out with and visits a familiar place. Since the series was revived the Family has been all but alone in their fight against the Lords of Kismet. Now they are actively starting to reform the old Freedom Federation. They start with the most powerful of the members the Free State of California. Robbins really has a firm grasp on the characters for they feel just like when I read this series back in the eighties and nineties. This was one of the best of the post-apocalypse series back in the day and I am glad to see it continue to thrive and move in new and exciting directions.

MOSTLY HARMLESS BY DOUGLAS ADAMS

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Copyright 1992.

Arthur Dent has just lost his girlfriend Fenchurch to some random space/time abnormality that erased her from existence. He also is lost in an alternate reality and finds the Earth a very completely different and dismal place. While traveling his ship crashes and he becomes the sandwich maker for a primitive tribe. His life as sandwich maker is fulfilling when Trillian comes with her daughter Random. Random is also Arthur’s daughter because Arthur was selling his DNA and Trillian used it to conceive a daughter. Trillian has to go and leaves Random for Arthur to take care of.

Soon after a package comes from Ford that Random opens and finds is the new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A new owner of the publishing company has created this sinister new edition. Now Random takes it to another alternate Earth where that Trillian never left with Zaphod and is a reporter. This Trillian finds a race of aliens living on the tenth planet and they are suffering amnesia. Well through some convoluted process Arthur, Ford and both Trillians get together just as the Vogons are about to destroy all the alternate Earths.

The final entry in the Hitchhiker’s story. The title coming from the entry for Earth in the guide. Sadly this wasn’t very good. It had a dark tone to it . A convoluted storyline and lots of theoretical jibber-jabber that wasn’t very funny. Indeed there were many plot threads left hanging and the ending was a dismal one that saw all the Earth’s in every universe destroyed by the Vogons. Douglas Adams in an interview admitted he was not very happy with this book. That he was going though some bad personal problems that year.

This was the last book he would ever write before his untimely death in 2001. He wasn’t a very prolific writer but what he wrote was brilliant. His Hitchhiker books were something I loved and consider then to be the most funniest thing ever written. It is sad that he didn’t end with a high note. Still I am glad I finally got around to reading this. It brings some closure for me and the book did have some moments. I guess the lesson from this is don’t try to write humor when your going through some bad personal problems.

SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH BY DOUGLAS ADAMS

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Copyright 1984.

Arthur Dent after traveling the galaxy discovers that Earth still exists. He goes back to find the planet continuing on as if nothing happened. Everyone thinks the Vogon fleet was some CIA mind control experiment. There are two things though that changed. One is all the dolphins disappeared. The second is Arthur finds his house that was demolished is still standing. Along the way he meets a woman name Fenchurch. Fenchurch had a mental breakdown after the event and feels she knew something important. Their quest takes them to California and a man named Wonko the Sane who knows about the dolphins saving Earth. He decided that all of society is insane after reading the instructions posted on a toothpick box on how to use a toothpick. The two eventually meet up with Ford Prefect and hitch a ride on a passing spaceship to a planet that has God’s final message to the universe.

So the trilogy was so successful it would obviously get a fourth book. Back in the first it was established that the doIphins were the second most intelligent species on Earth. Apparently they managed to save the planet. There final message being the title. I think this is my favorite of the whole series. It takes place mostly on Earth and has some very funny observations on the planet. It also has a beautiful love story that Adams gave Dent. Well needless to say they do get off the planet and find God’s final message. Written in fiery letters on a planet that is a tourist trap. The message is pure Adams and was a very satisfying ending to the book.

LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING BY DOUGLAS ADAMS

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Copyright 1982.

Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are trapped in Earth’s past. Fortunately for them an anomaly in time/space opens a portal to the twentieth century. Only it is just three days before the Vogon constructor fleet blows up the planet. They find themselves at a cricket game in England just as a spaceship lands and takes the trophy. The two run into Slartibartfast that guy who loves designing fjords and did Norway for Earth. He takes the two off the Earth in time. Slartibartfash is on a mission. He tells how long ago a planet called Krikket was enshrouded in a dust cloud and never saw the rest of the universe. One day a spaceship crashed and this alerted the Krikketers that there must be something out there. When they build their own ship and saw the universe they decided it had to go. So they started a genocidal war against the universe. When they were defeated their planet was put in a stasis bubble where once the universe ended they would find themselves alone. Only a rogue ship of their killer robots managed to survive and are gathering the key components to release Krikket. Now the gang has to save the universe.

The final book in the trilogy that later became five books. (We’ll get to those later.) This was another wacky and funny story that was a real treat to read. There are just fun stuff like the party that goes on forever and raids a whole planet to get drinks and snacks. Or the being that is out to get Arthur Dent because Dent has killed his many reincarnations such as a fly or raw oyster. Then there is the omnipotent being who’s life goal is to insult everybody who ever lived alphabetically. A fun book that ending a trilogy at the time on a high note.

THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE BY DOUGLAS ADAMS

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Copyright 1980.

Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian and Marvin the manic depressive android have escaped from the planet Megraetha. We find out that Zaphod is working with someone to find the real ruler of the universe. Soon they are attacked by Vogons. The Vogons we find out were hired by the association of psychiatrists because they wanted Earth destroyed so the answer to the question of Life, The Universe and Everything could never be answered. Now they want to make sure the answer is never revealed by killing the last two Earthlings. Well through a whole bunch of improbable events they find themselves at Milliway’s the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. This restaurant is far in the future and caters to the rich and famous so they can watch the universe die while eating dinner.

After the show they steal a ship belonging to rock band Disaster Area. Only this ship is programed to crash into a sun as their act. They manage to get the escape transported working and Arthur and Ford wind up on a strange spaceship. It has thousands of people in cryogenic suspension. They find out that these people were the worthless people of Golgafrinchia. People like telephone sanitizers and ad executives. They are programed to crash into a planet which they do. Soon Arthur and Ford find themselves on Earth 2 million years in the past. Here they find out the most important question of Life, The Universe and Everything.

The second in the trilogy which later was expanded to five books is another brilliant work of satire. Arthur Dent and whole whacky crew have adventures. We get to find out the question to the answer 42 and it makes perfect sense. This is another story of the futility of trying to answer the question why we exist. The BBC series also adapted this book and it was a really cool series.

What’s Eating You? | The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy | BBC Studios – YouTube

THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY BY DOUGLAS ADAMS

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Copyright 1979.

Arthur Dent is having a very bad day. He wakes up one morning to find that his house is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new bypass. His friend Ford Prefect though brings even worst news. A Vogon constructor fleet is about to destroy the Earth to make way for an interstellar bypass. Ford is actually an alien from Betelgeuse and has been stuck on Earth for fifteen years. He rescues Arthur by hitching a ride on the Vogon ship before it destroys the Earth. Arthur soon finds himself on a wild journey.

After being thrown off the Vogon ship, the two are picked up by Ford’s cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox who is the president of the galaxy. He has just stolen the new ship Heart of Gold with it’s new improbability drive. With his companions Trilliam an astrophysicist he picked up at a party on Earth and Marvin the manic depressive android they head for the legendary planet Magrathea a plant that would custom make planets for the rich. They find it isn’t deserted but the inhabitants were in suspended animation until the galaxy’s economy could afford their services. They have though awakened for a special client.

Arthur finds out that the Earth was created by a group of extradimensional beings that build it as a giant computer to give an answer to explain the answer of Life, The Universe and Everything. An advanced computer Deep Though came up with the answer 42 which didn’t satisfy anyone. So the Earth was supposed to explain the answer. Only it was destroyed at the minute the answer was about to be figured out. These beings were disguised as white mice and now they want to dissect Arthur’s brain to find the answer.

I was first introduced to this series by the excellent BBC series from the early eighties I caught on the local PBS station. This series adapted the first two books and I decided to check out the books. I thought they were the funniest books I ever read. Adams has this humor that just points out the absurdity of the universe. A true classic that I highly recommend.

The BBC did an excellent series in the eighties. There was also a big budget movie which I didn’t really care for.

Improbability Drive – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – BBC – YouTube

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) Trailer # 1 – Martin Freeman HD – YouTube

A WAR OF SHADOWS BY JACK L. CHALKER

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Copyright 1979.

A small town of Cornwell, Nebraska has its population go catatonic. Soon Boland, California has it’s residents become blind. Berwick, Maine the population becomes severely mentally retarded. McKay, Maryland the population comes up with a case of complete memory loss. It soon becomes apparent that the United States is under attack. Some unknown terrorist organization is launching biological attacks against small town America. Panic ensues and the President declares martial law. A director of the FBI recruits a former radical to infiltrate the terrorist group. He uncovers a plot that involves the highest levels of the government to seize complete power.

I decided to get this book because it had an intriguing cover and an interesting plot. So a conspiracy of rich elites have infiltrated all levels of government. They use some useful idiot leftists to cause a crisis. Then panic ensues and they are given absolute power to implement their agenda. Yeah that couldn’t happen in real life. I was amazed that a book written forty years ago is more relevant then when it first came out. It is all about how people will give up their freedom in times of crisis for security. Naturally they get neither freedom or security. We seen this with 9/11 and more recently with the pandemic. There was some truly creepy stuff in that this conspiracy would keep those they though they might use later on prisoner in a mental institution. They would regress then to be 4 years old so they could be easily controlled.

I found this book one of the best I have read in a long time. It kept my interest from beginning to end. It also had a happy ending. Basically the laws and bureaucracy this conspiracy created was used against them. It was a very poetic justice that happened. If you want to read a really fascinating thriller I would recommend this book.

TANKWAR VI: DESERT PREY BY LARRY STEELBAUGH

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Copyright 1993

Max Tag and his supertank XM-F4 No Slack Too is assigned to Saudi Arabia to stop a terrorist named al-Burka. Burka was a terrorist that was behind the Iranian-Yemen invasion of Oman that Tag managed to stop before WWIII. After that Burka flew into the Saudi desert where he found a gold mine. He lived as a hermit mining the gold. With enough he used the new Palestinian Mandate which was granted to the Palestinians and consists of the useless desert territory of Jordan and Iraq. He uses the gold to buy a few hundred APCs and tanks. Then he has them smuggled into Saudi Arabia. He also has kidnapped a revered Muslim cleric named al-Kabah. Kabah wants peace but is being used by Burka to deliver a message of Jihad. Burka also plans to attack Mecca and destroy the Kaaba which will inflame the Muslim world. Max must hunt down this terrorist to stop him.

A year later they released the final book in the series. I thought the series was over but apparently the author had a contract to write one more. So he crapped this waste of paper out. As the cover says this is the conclusion to the Tankwar series and I couldn’t agree more. This was just a mess of a book. Nothing exciting happens. They just wander around the desert and talk a bunch. Once in a while there is a fight but it was extremely dull. At a mere 167 pages it was the shortest book but sadly not short enough.

So the series ends and not on a high note. It was a decent attempt to cash in on the big success techno-thriller war books being done by Larry Bond, Harold Coyle and Tom Clancy. Unfortunately events were moving too fast and it became obsolete very quickly. If you think about it the whole concept didn’t really have a long shelf live. After the war in Europe was over then what? As this book shows making it into some type of elite international force going around the world wasn’t going to work. Which is why the big announcement of its conclusion on the cover. A fairly entertaining series that just went one book too long.