THE ZONE #5 OVERKILL BY JAMES ROUCH

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Hamburg is in it’s second year of siege by the Soviets. Because of political pressure NATO decides to scrape together a force to resupply the city. Not enough to make a difference but just to placate the politicians.
Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are assigned the task to lead this force.

Revell must shepherd a convoy of supply ships up the Elbe River. Through deadly mines, scuttled ships and gun emplacements the force arrives at less then half what it started out. They find a city of desperate ill fed and armed defenders on the verge of collapse. The company now joins the defenders and fights in the ruins of a once great city. Communist saboteurs, air raids, artillery bombardments and armor attacks are fought out in the rubble.
It all leads to a climatic offensive by the defenders to break the siege.

The fifth book in the series is another fun read. The book does take a grim turn at the end. It is discovered that the Soviets are so short of food that they have been digging up the corpses for meals. Yep nothing lightens the mood of a story like cannibalism.

Revell and Andrea’s continues to go down a weird path. She seems to have decided to latch onto Revell to learn his leadership skills. The guy acts like a twelve year with a crush around her. He also hooks up with a Swedish photojournalist that later turns out the be a Soviet agent. The guy really is a disaster when it comes to relationships with women.

THE LAND OF HIDDEN MEN BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Gordon King is an American doctor that has come to Cambodia to study the local diseases. At the jungle’s edge the guide he hires refuses to go with him. He is scared of the ghosts that inhabit the jungle. Gordon is not deterred and enters alone. He then quickly gets lost and contracts malaria.

Wandering half dead he is rescued by a family. They are escaped slaves from the city of Lodidhapura. After recovering he rescues a young girl from a panther. The girl is Fou-tan a princess of the other city of Phom Dhek. She was escaping from being forced to marry an evil man. She was subsequently captured by Lodidhapura and made a dancing girl of the leper king.

The two are later captured by Lodidhapura and what follows is adventures of the two as they escape and are recaptured by the evil fiancée of Fou-tan. Eventually Gordon diagnoses the leper king’s condition as being from the mushrooms he eats. Convincing him to abstain from the mushrooms his leprosy goes away and in gratitude offers his army to rescue Fou-tan. Gordan defeats the evil Bharata Rhatan and wins the princess and the kingdom.

This story is like a Tarzan book without Tarzan. It has all the elements, a lost civilization with two warring factions. A beautiful princess that is the unwanted affections of despotic rulers. The young handsome hero defeats the despots and gets the girl. A simple formula but it works. One of Burroughs’s stand alone novels that I really enjoy.

THE LOST CONTINENT BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Jefferson Turck is a lieutenant in the Pan-American navy in the year 2137. He gets his first assignment the Coldwater a combination submarine helicopter. He takes it out on a routine patrol from the Azores to Iceland. A violent storm damages the engines and forces to ship to cross the forbidden 30th meridian.

In this future the nations of the western hemisphere have come together to form one nation. The great war that started in 1914 had generated such an isolationist outlook the Pan-American Federation forbid any travel over 30 meridian in the Atlantic and 175 in the Pacific. Now two centuries later the rest of the world is an unknown terra incognita.

Turck decides to lead an expedition to explore Britain. While on this expedition he is left behind by a treacherous subordinate. Abandoned he sets out to find civilization. Britain is a desolate island that is overrun by lions and tigers that probably escaped from zoos. He rescues a young woman named Victory who turns out to be the queen of England. She had been deposed as queen and the two head over to the mainland.

Going down the Rhine the two are taken prisoner by black soldiers. Europe is now being colonized by the Abyssinian empire. Abyssinia now rules all of Africa and in a role reversal colonizes and enslaves the primitive tribes of Europe. Turck is sold as a slave to an Abyssinian general and Victory is destined for the emperors harem.

Taken to New Gondar a city built on the ruins of Berlin he arrives just in time to see the city fall to the invading Chinese empire. Rescuing Victory the two find the Chinese an advanced and civilized empire that rules all of Asia. Taken back to the capital Turck finds that the Pan-American Federation has established relations with the Chinese and he is considered a hero for crossing the meridian.

This book was written in 1915 and shows the strong isolationist sentiment at the time. I suppose for observers at the time it did look like the great war would drag on forever. The book also has the role reversal between Africa and Europe. This was a real interesting futuristic book. One of Burroughs more obscure but most unique stories.

THE ZONE #4 SKY STRIKE BY JAMES ROUCH

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NATO has decided to launch an airborne assault on a major railroad junction inside East Germany. It’s supposed to be an easy in and out with minimum air defenses. Unfortunately the intelligence is completely inaccurate. The Soviets are waiting with crack air defense battalions. Soon the first wave of helicopters is shot out of the sky.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are in this first wave. They survive their Blackhawk being shot down and now find themselves hundreds of miles deep in enemy territory. With no hope of rescue they are on their own. They steal an APC and head out. The APC happens to be the personal vehicle for a Soviet general. Now they have the entire Warsaw Pact forces after them.

The fourth book in the series is a great improvement from the last book. I would say it’s actually my favorite. This one had plenty of action from beginning to end. There was no new characters introduced but we had two new losses.
Cline the brownnoser bombardier from last book had his leg blown off by a mine at the end.

We also lost Libby. He was one of the original cast from the first book. I liked this character. His desire to be in the Zone to find his fiancée Helga gave this series a very sympathetic character to root for. The horrors of the Zone were finally getting to him. He knew that they would commit him to a psychiatric ward and take him out of the Zone. He couldn’t bear to give up his search so deserts at the end to continue his futile search in the Zone.

BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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A young American volunteer in the RAF is shot down in 1939. Instead of dying he finds himself mysteriously teleported to the planet Poloda. Poloda is millions of light years from Earth. He finds himself in the country of Unis and is adopted by its people.

Unis is one of two countries left on the planet. They have been at war with Kapar which is a Nazi type country bent on world conquest. Unis is the only country that has successfully resisted them and has been waging a war for centuries. From underground cities, tens of thousands of airplanes sortie on bombing missions.

Tangor as the young American is named becomes a pilot for Unis. One day a traitor attempts to recruit him as an agent of Kapar. Tangor agrees to pretend to defect to Kapdor. Kapdor is close to developing an interstellar spacecraft and Unis wants it to escape the planet and the endless war with the Kapars.

Once in the capital city he finds himself in an oppressive society. Under constant surveillance by the Zabo, the secret police, he doesn’t know who to trust. Eventually he gains the trust of Kapar’s ruler and is allowed to work on the spacecraft project. With the help of a highly placed Unis spy he escapes with the plans. It ends with Tangor testing the prototype craft on a mission to another planet.

This is story that was most likely to be an ongoing series in the tradition of Mars and Pellucidar. Unfortunately Burrough’s time as a war correspondent then poor health resulted in the one book only. It is a shame since I think this whole new world of Pangor had infinite possibilities. It was written at the height of the Battle of Britain so it probably looked like an endless future of aerial warfare was a possibility. The Kapars are clearly Nazis with their Gestapo like Zabo and beliefs in racial purity. Unlike the Zani’s in Carson of Venus these fascists are a lot more sinister then the buffoons written about in Carson’s world. It shows how attitudes had changed about the Nazis from before WWII to the current one during the war.

OUT OF TIME’S ABYSS BY EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS

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Bradley an Englishman from the captured U-boat was leading an expedition to explore Caspak. While standing guard one night he is captured by strange men with bat wings. He is taken to an island in the inland sea. There in the city of skulls he finds himself prisoner of the Weiroo in the land of Oo-oh.

The Weiroo are the most advanced race in Caspak but somewhat of a dead end in the evolutionary scheme of things. The Weiroo are all male and must capture human females from the mainland to mate. The offspring are always male so they are always trying to find the secret to producing a female Weiroo.

Bradley meets Co-tan a female captive from the mainland. Together they escape the city and are able to capture two Weiroo. They force them to fly them to the mainland. There Bradley reunites with Bowen, Tom Billings and the crews of the U-boat and rescue expedition. All the survivors leave Caspak with the heroes marrying their respective loves.

The final book in the Caspak trilogy. It was probably the most interesting book. I thought that Caspak was a unique and exciting creation of Burroughs. The story was tied up neatly at the end. I was familiar with the stories from the Doug McClure movies and was not disappointed with the books.

THE ZONE #3 HUNTER KILLER BY JAMES ROUCH

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Winter is coming and thanks to all the nuclear weapons used in the Zone it is predicted to be a cold one. The Soviets need to get its fleet out of the Baltic before the ports freeze over. They have strong armed Sweden into allowing passage of the Soviet fleet through their territorial waters. Then the fleet could cause untold damage to the North Sea oilrigs and NATO resupply convoys.

NATO comes up with a bold plan. Drop a team on an uninhabited island off the coast of neutral Sweden. There they will launch missiles at the fleet and Swedish military installations. This will hopefully start a shooting war that eventually brings Sweden in on the side of NATO.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are assigned this task. They are dropped in temperatures of thirty below on the island. Immediately things start to go wrong. The drop kills over half the men and destroys much of their equipment. The brutal cold threatens to finish the survivors off. If this wasn’t bad enough the Swedes have given permission for the Soviets to establish a listening post on one of their islands. Guess which one they chose.

The third book in the series is probably the weakest in the whole series. For two thirds there is little action and it deals with them landing on the island and establishing their plan of attack. It is an interesting read but compared to the other books it lacks action.

This story also gives Revell’s command a name, the Special Combat Company. They have some gains and losses.
Losses:
Lt. Hogg- dies from frostbite.
York- decapitated by a naval artillery bombardment at the end.
Gains:
Bombardier Cline- senior surviving member of the British artillery specialists. Is a real kiss ass and very ambitious for promotion.
Fraser- a medic.

Boris- Soviet deserter.