1970 the Mekong delta region. In a small province Capt. Jake Gulliver a Green Beret is assigned to an Embassy House to be an adviser for the local Phoenix program. This program is the clandestine CIA program to eliminate VC operatives and sympathizers usually through assassination and torture. Code name Sandman because he was an expert assassin who killed his targets while they slept. Gulliver hates his assignment and especially the CIA boss Steadman code name Razor. Razor is out to get Gulliver for messing up one of his operations that derailed his career. Gulliver finds refugee from this life in opium, his affair with Nhu a local celebrity in the theater troupe. He also has a strong friendship with his Vietnamese counterpart Dang.
So in this life one day an overzealous new American officer arrests and tortures the wrong man. An act that inflames the local populace and threatens to destabilize the whole province. Now he has to choose between his conscience and duty for the retribution that his superiors have chosen to resolve the crisis.
So I have always as a tradition read a Vietnam War book over my Christmas vacation. This year was this enjoyable novel. It was actually one my father bought and gave to me after he finished reading it because he thought I would enjoy it. He was right. This book was an engrossing read. The author served as a reporter for Newsweek during the war so he has experience being there. This comes out in the book for you do feel that you are in Vietnam. It states in the notes that the methods of interrogation are based on fact. This books gives a were realistic portrayal of the torture and other methods used by the Phoenix program.
He combines it with fleshed out characters that you feel are real. Each one has a believable backstory. It captures the pettiness of bureaucrats doing anything to save their asses. Combined with intrigue of counterspies and local corrupt politics make this an engrossing read.
Patrick Brogan and Jack Haldane have been invited to the GOKS by Captain Podly. GOKS is the Gathering of Kindred Souls and is a club for police officers. Brogan and Haldane are the first humans to be honored with such an invitation. This club is exclusively for men only which triggers officer Jane Castle. So as the guys head off to Dreek Island for the annual weekend retreat, Jane and her partner Officer Took go to expose this male chauvinist organization. She also takes along an old flame that has returned to help. This flame may have exterior motives himself. It all ends with a plot by an officer Cradla who is planing to assassinate Podly and turn the other officers into mindless zombies to eventually take over the police force and eventually the world.
So Jane Castle in this book becomes a radical feminist who sprouts endless speeches about the oppression of male patriarchy and gender equality. Wow this stuff was woke before woke was a thing. There is even a character who thinks he can’t “argue with the values and logic of political correctness.” Well isn’t that special. Well for all Jane Castle’s rhetoric she still gets all weak kneed when the handsome former boyfriend returns. Luckily this boyfriend is so sensitive that he agrees to help her. Of course the boyfriend is later revealed to be a robot that houses a small little alien. An alien that belongs to some secret galactic organization that promotes peace through extra-judicial assassinations of troublemakers. I had to admit that I didn’t see that coming in the book. Oh well the pitfalls of falling for the hunky sensitive guys.
So anyway the threatening male behavior consists of the guys dressing as women. Having Catch stew which is dumping various insects, snakes and rodents on the floor and beating them with a mallet and throwing them in a pot of boiling water for dinner. Yum. Then they belch out songs and later go hunting dangerous alien game. These aliens are just some wild and crazy guys.
So this was the last of the books of Space Precinct that Bishoff wrote or for that matter anyone else. Kind of interesting such an obscure series managed to get three books. The guy was definitely someone who could write interesting off the wall stuff. He apparently wrote many books, screenplays for TV series. He also wrote the greatest series in the history of human civilization Mutants Amok. Sadly he died this year. I am sure that I will run across more of his work. So God bless him for his wonderful works.
So this is my yearly holiday Christmas greeting. This morning I got a light dusting of snow. Just enough to make it look Christmasy outside after days of gloomy rain. Looking toward another year of more reviews. So here is a video that just really fills me with Christmas spirit. Didn’t know Santa had such badasses as Sprinkles and Larry the Reindeer.
Officers Jack Haldane and Jane Castle are invited by officer Took to attend a Tarn concert. This is a great honor for humans to be invited to this event. At the concert an alien creature tries to take a Tarn baby but Castle and Haldane manage to stop it. Haldane and Castle are then assigned to watch over the baby to protect him from further attacks by this alien entity. Brogan gets a new partner a beautiful woman from Earth. Meanwhile Sally Brogan infiltrates an Earth politicians organization to expose his plans to eventually dominate the galaxy. It all comes together with the alien creature being exposed as being used by the politician and the alien cult he was working with.
So the second book in the series starts out OK. Some mysterious alien creature stalking Demeter City. Brogan getting a new partner that is hot. Haldane and Castle constantly bickering. The problem is how it all ends. It was like the author realized he had to tie this up now and just threw everything together at the end. So we get the Tarn baby developing the power of speech and reason. Seems the telepathic Tarn babies have the capacity in times of danger to call on the racial memory and become smart. There is some alien cult being investigated that turns out to be in league with the human supremacist politician and controlling the dangerous alien creature. Which was somehow split in two. Brogan’s new partner being in the employ of the politician and trying to kill Brogan. They somehow all get magically transported together. The politician kills the traitorous police officer than falls off a building. Everything is great. The end.
So there was some really weird stuff that just seemed to come together that gives you the feeling of what the fuck just happened. I think this book needed a little better pacing. Otherwise it had the potential to be very good. Bischoff is one of those writers who does delivery some far out and unexpected stuff in his writing. Anyway for all its faults it is not boring.
So here is an interesting video on the TV series.
Patrick Brogan is a twenty year vet of the New York Police. In the year 2040 he accepts a transfer to Altor. The main city of Demeter City has a serious crime problem and needs the expertise of cops from Earth. So he finds himself on an alien world inhabited by many alien species. Brogan and his partner Jack Haldane another human are investigating the shady dealings of Mrax Computers. The company was recently bought by an Earth corp called Cost & Gnostra. It seems the Mafia are attempting to establish themselves on Altor. Brogan finds out it is run by his old college buddy who he thought that he killed back on Earth. Only he survived using his new nanotechnology. Now Brogan and his colleagues Haldane and Jane Castle are prisoners in his version of virtual reality twentieth century New York. Meanwhile Brogan’s family is held hostage by the nanotech computer that has come to live. Now Brogan and his colleagues must save themselves and Brogan’s family and stop the Deity-Father’s insane plan to rule the universe.
Remember back in 1994-95 the hit TV series Space Precinct? The Gerry Anderson show that had humans and aliens fight crime on this alien world. The aliens would basically act like humans and usually talk with a British accent. Sounds like a comedy but has played straight which made it even more funny. No. Well you are probably like 99.99999% of the population at that time. The show at least in America was put on at around midnight on a Sunday so hardly anyone knew it existed. Only young shiftless night owls like me that didn’t have a job and stayed up late to watch. This was a bizarre but fascinating show. Surprisingly it also spawned three tie-in novels. Each written by David Bischoff who is responsible for the greatest book series in human civilization Mutants Amok.
The first book is a very bizarre yet fun read. You have the Mafia who come in with their pasta and pizza in their commissary. Computers that come alive with tongues and walk and talk. Nanotechnology was a new field back in the nineties so this was a new thing. Bischoff gives us some introductory background on Demeter City and its origins which we never did get in the TV series. He also was aware of the goofy accents used like the Creon police captain Podly who spoke in thick Irish accent. As the character Brogan mentions he thought the Irish were the most Irish in the universe until he moved to Altor and found out otherwise. This brings back good old memories. I have the entire series on DVD and you can find episodes on Youtube. Give it a try.