BACK TO THE STONE AGE BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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In the last book one member of the expedition from the O-220 was never accounted for. This is the story of Erich Von Horst.

Erich or as the locals call him Von got separated and captured by the Torodon (pterodactyls). There he meets Dangar a fellow prisoner from Sari. The two escape and form a friendship. While on the way to Sari they meet Skruf and are tricked into accompanying him back to his village with promises of friendship. Instead they are betrayed and forced into slavery.

While there Von meets La-ja a fellow prisoner. Von organizes a slave revolt and the three escape. They then have adventures in trying to return La-ja back to her tribe. They encounter the Gorbuse, an underground race of cannibalistic albinos. Then they have to survive the Mammoth men.

Von and La-ja make it back to her tribe. There Von kills the evil Gaz, wins the love of La-ja and the chieftainship of the tribe. At the end an expedition lead by David arrives looking for him. Von decides that he would prefer to remain in Pellucidar.

The next book in the Pellucicar series is a good solid adventure story. Nice to see that he didn’t forget about poor old Von Horst.

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EAGLEHEART 2 BROADSIDES AND BRASS BY C.T. WESTCOTT

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The second book in the fictional autobiography of Colonel William T. Bucko Federal Air Command.

The book opens with Bucko assigned to Boca Grande in Florida. He has it pretty good. Sun, women and a little side money from salvage operations. Bucko gets word that his friend and mentor Black Pugh has been wrongly accused and sentenced to death. He then goes AWOL to bust him out.

At the prison he finds out that none other than his old nemesis from the academy Kyle Befeeter is the provost marshal. Bucko is able to capture Beefeater but fails to save Pugh. Although he does get to drop the loathsome Befeeter into the Atlantic ocean from his Harrier.

Now on the run as a fugitive he manages to make a deal with the government. A pardon if he can successfully infiltrate the notorious Shrimpers. A pirate gang that is terrorizing the Gulf of Mexico. Bucko is able to survive the pirate initiation and an emergency root canal by their quack dentist. He quickly rises in the crew of Neon Joe and eventually reaches the inner circle of the Shrimpers leader Carlos Membranous.

He is found out but rescued by his old friend Pugh who didn’t die in the rescue attempt. He foils Membranous plan to steal the nuclear weapons stored at Boca Grande and wins his second Medal of Honor. Unfortunately for him the Befeeter family has serious political clout and the pardon falls through. Bucko and Pugh must flee to Mexico.

The second book continues the quest of Bucko for glory, loose women and a quick buck.(And who isn’t looking for that.) Once again it’s filled with humor and adventure. One of the humorous footnotes the Criminal Revenue Fund. Assets seized from suspected felons and used for the victims of teenage acne. All thanks to the extremely powerful dermatologist lobby.

TARZAN AT THE EARTH’S CORE BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Jason Gridley has mounted an expedition to rescue David Innes from the Korsar dungeon. While in Africa to obtain a light metal for the dirigible that he will use he encounters Tarzan. He convinces him the join the expedition with his Waziri warriors.

The dirigible named the O-220 takes off from Germany and enters Pellucidar through the North Pole opening. Here Tarzan decides to do some exploring but gets lost in the unfamiliar environment. Jason leads an expedition to find him and is attacked by a pride of Saber-tooth tigers. Jason gets lost from the rest of the expedition and finds Jana fleeing capture from a hostile tribe.

What follows is the adventures of Tarzan intercut with that of Jason and Jana. Eventually they reunite and are able to free David.

This book has a lot of sentimental value for me. I was thirteen and had just moved to Elko Nevada. I had no friends and this was before the internet and video games. My mom took me down to the library that summer to find a book. I decided on this one. It had a cool name with a cover of a mammoth fighting off saber-tooth tigers. I had loved to old movies and comics of Tarzan so I thought I would give it a try.

That day I fell in love with reading. The adventure of an exotic world filled with cavemen, dinosaurs, saber-tooth tigers, pirates and snakemen captivated me that day. I spend the rest of the summer reading every book from ERB from the library. I eventually branched out to other authors. I guess fate choose that time and place with this one book. It inspired me to want to be a writer. Something that I am seriously finally pursuing in life.

EAGLEHEART 1 SILVER WINGS AND LEATHER JACKETS BY C.T. WESTCOTT

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The first book in the trilogy of the fictional autobiography of Colonel William T. Bucko Federal Air Command.

Bucko is a young seventeen year old living at the Twenty-nine Palms airbase in southern California. In this world a mad Russian sub commander launched an attack on the west coast. The resulting radiation gave birth to the RIHMs(Radioactive Induced Human Mutations). Bucko’s father dies when his plane is shot down over Pasadena.

The orphaned Bucko sets off with his girlfriend Melodie Lane to find out his inheritance. He meets up with Black Pugh an old buddy of his father. Pugh has his fathers old TAV-8B Harrier. Bucko will get it if he graduates from the FAC academy in Quantico. On the way back to base Bucko and Melodie are ambushed by the Comancheros an outlaw gang. Bucko gets captured and the evil Donny Smiles(aka the Hook) tortures him and takes his fathers flight jacket.

Will is rescued in the nick of time and the second part of the book deals with his academy days. He earns the enmity of two sadistic upperclassmen named Kyle Beefeater and Jerry Roast. His adventures at the academy eventually result in his expulsion.

With nowhere else to go he goes back to Black Pugh who teaches him the art of Ywon-itsu the code of the American samurai. Translated it means you win when it suits you. Another good translation is to slack off as much as you can get away with.

Learning all he can and how to fly the Harrier, Bucko takes off to recover his father’s jacket from the Hook. He tracks him to Flagstaff and gets tangled up with an undercover operation by his old girlfriend Melodie. He eventually gets his revenge and wins his first Medal of Honor.

The book is a fun and irrelevant read. It is clearly meant to poke fun at the post-apocalyptic genre and succeeds brilliantly. It has these footnotes throughout with little humorous facts. The M-34 hand grenade. Designed to look like a baseball but lacks seems and weights three pounds. Only fanatical Arabs and RIHMs use it. Or the Test Tube Baby Act that was designed to repopulate the devastated areas. It was quickly rescinded when early results began producing offspring with the IQ of wall paste and the disposition of African killer bees.

If you want a good laugh mixed in with your post-apocalyptic adventure then this series is for you.

TANAR OF PELLUCIDAR BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Jason Gridley is experimenting with a new radio wave when he gets a message. His invention has made contact with Pellucidar and Abner Perry. Perry recounts the story of Tanar.

The Empire of Pellucidar has grown and prospered since the overthrow of the Mahars. A new enemy comes to the shores of the empire. Korsars, descended from eleventh century Spanish pirates attack. They are repulsed but at great cost. Tanar the son of Ghak the king of Sari has been captured. The Korsars want to get the secret of the empires superior gunpower and bring Tanar to their capital.

Along the way a storm shipwrecks Tanar with Stellara the daughter of the Korsar leader. Through a series of adventures the two fall in love are recaptured and taken to the Korsar city. There they are united with David Innes who was also captured. Tanar and Stellar escape after finding the north polar opening to the surface world. Emperor Innes is still a prisoner in the dungeons of the Korsars. The book ends with Jason deciding to mount a rescue mission.

This is probably one of my favorite stories that Burroughs wrote. Tanar and Stellara are a classic romantic tales. It also sets up the only crossover that Burroughs did Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.

THE WAR IN 2020 BY RALPH PETERS

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In this alternate timeline the US sends in troops to defend Zaire from South Africans in 2005. A young lieutenant George Taylor pilots an Apache helicopter. On patrol his unit is attacked by South Africans using new advanced Japanese weapons. Taylor is shot down and must make journey through hostile territory. He arrives and finds out that the US has suffered a humiliating defeat. Later he contracts a new disease that horribly scars his face.

Jump forward to 2020. A decaying Soviet Union is on the brink of collapse. Islamic rebels aided by Japanese armed Iranians and Arabs are poised to take everything east of the Urals. Enter Colonel George Taylor commander of the US seventh cavalry. His regiment is clandestinely brought into the country to prevent the Soviet Collapse. In their arsenal is a new weapon system.

Initially the seventh cavalry scores stunning success against the Japanese equipped Islamic armies. The Japanese retaliate with a devastating weapon on a Soviet city. Now Taylor must make a desperate raid on Japanese headquarters in Baku to avoid defeat.

Now this is obviously a bit dated. When the paperback came out it was one month since the Soviet Union officially dissolved so it was already obsolete then. The evil Japanese were also a fixture in books and movies of the late eighties and early nineties. Their growing economic might make them great villains during this period. I work for a Japanese company and they never struck me as villainous. Anyway the recession they had and China’s rise has demoted them as the evil villains.

What isn’t obsolete is the concept of the US blundering into something without the proper forces and suffering a defeat. I feel that we are heading toward this scenario sometime in our not too distant future.

Ralph Peters is a former Army intelligence officer specializing in Soviet and East Europe. He has a real understanding for this part of the world and his characters are fully fleshed out. His descriptions are realistic and the scenario was highly plausible at the time he wrote this. I highly recommend this for the interesting world that thankfully did not materialize.

PELLUCIDAR BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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The second book in the Pellucidar series continues from where the first one ended. David Innes has found some help in getting the Iron Mole ready for a return trip. He stocks it with books and other equipment to help the primitive inhabitants break free of the Mahars.

David returns and finds that things aren’t going good for his empire. Old Hooja the Sly One has done a good job of stirring up dissent among the tribes. He has managed to gather the various malcontents into an army which he hopes to make himself emperor. To make matters worse Hooja has kidnapped David’s mate Dian. Now David must rescue his mate, reunite his followers and defeat Hooja and the Mahars.

Another solid entry in the Pellucidar series. The threads left hanging in the first book are resolved and a very satisfying happy ending. The next books in this series are probably some of the finest examples in Burrough’s writing.