ALIEN NATION BY ALAN DEAN FOSTER

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Copyright 1988.

Los Angeles in the near future. An alien ship crashes in the Mojave desert. On it are 200,000 alien slaves now marooned on Earth. Eventually they are released into society. Now known as Newcomers they are assigned new names and most settle in L.A. Detective Matt Sykes is on routine patrol with his partner Tuggs when a Newcomer robbery of a local mini mart results in the death of his partner. Wanting to get revenge he partners with a new Newcomer detective George Francisco. He needs the Newcomer’s help in tracking down the killer. The two eventually stumble on a plot by a successful Newcomer businessman to introduce a new alien drug to the Newcomer populace. A drug that could threaten the existence of the Newcomers on Earth.

The eighties were the height of the buddy cop movies. There were all sorts of combinations at the time. There were dead cops, Soviet cops, Japanese cops, vampire cops, kid cops and dog cops. It was only a matter of time they had to have an alien cop. The movie Alien Nation had a simple premise. A group of aliens had become the newest additions to American society. Like many they moved into society and had various levels of success. I found the idea interesting enough to get the novelization of the movie. For the most part it was a standard cop buddy movie. Yet it would take Kenneth Johnson and his TV series to flesh out the mythology of the Newcomers. Alan Dean Foster the go to guy to novelize movies from the seventies to nineties did his usual excellent job. You get a good story with fleshed out characters. It also follows the movie pretty good. An enjoyable book.

DARK ANGEL AFTER THE DARK BY MAX ALLEN COLLINS

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Copyright 2003.

The transgenics of Terminal City have now been excepted by normal human society. They have set up a profitable arts and crafts business. Soon they will get representation on the city council. The only problem is Ames White the NSA agent. Now on the run from the government and his snake cult people. Captured in Canada by the snake cult Ames makes a deal. He will deliver Max to the cult. So he hires a Seattle gang to kidnap Logan Cale. Now Max and her fellow transgenics must track down White. The trail leads to a cult run mental institution and their plan to rule the world when a comet comes on Christmas 2021 that will release a plague on the world.

Well the final book in the trilogy. This one tied up a lot of loose ends from the series. It comes back to me as I read it. Kind of forgot how goofy the second season was with its snake breeding cult and the genetic virus that infected Max and Logan. This was because the producer thought the two were getting too close and wanted to preserve the sexual tension. The virus was gone because in the last book Kelpy took on the likeness of Logan and that somehow made the virus go away. We also find out the snake breeding cults plan. That two thousand years ago a comet left a virus that could wipe out humanity but they were breeding themselves to have immunity. Only the founder of Manticore was the father of Ames White and gave Max the cure in her DNA. So she could produce a cure for the world. Only the comet does come and nothing happens. A very anti-climatic ending. Oh and Max and Logan finally get together. Plus it set up that the next season would be the search for Max’s mother.

The trilogy was an interesting read. Not necessarily high quality but an enjoyable romp down nostalgia lane. It was interesting to get some closure on the series and what was planned for it. I suppose it would have worked for a TV series. If your a fan of the series I would recommend.

DARK ANGEL SKIN GAME BY MAX ALLEN COLLINS

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Copyright 2003.

The transgenics are now trapped inside Terminal City. A deserted part of Seattle that was abandoned after chemical spills. Only the transgenics can survive exposure to the chemicals. Now the police and National Guard surround Terminal City. The press thanks to NSA agent Ames White who has his own ulterior motives is fueling the hate and fear in the news. Max the X-5 who has become the leader for the transgenics tries to negotiate a peaceful solution. Unfortunately a transgenic is stalking the city and skinning people alive. The fear grows and soon the National Guard will storm Terminal City. Max and her friends go after the serial killer who turns out to be Kelpy. Kelpy is make from chameleon DNA and wants to build himself a human skin suit. Max and her friends also find out Kelpy is being manipulated by White. Now they must capture Kelpy and expose the plot by White.

So the second season was a departure from the first. It introduced a whole bunch of transgenics and sort of had a X-men type story of transgenics vs. normal people. It left off with them trapped in Terminal City and their decision to stand and fight. The books gives the first chapter over to the final part of the season final to refresh readers memories of that episode. While once again it reads like an average TV episode it does give us what was going to happen in the third season if this show was renewed. Through a contrived story they manage to expose White on national TV and make peace with regular society. It was nice to have some insight into where this series planned on going. A great book for fans of the show but otherwise would hold no interest to those that never watched the series.

Season two trailer.

DARK ANGEL BEFORE THE DAWN BY MAX ALLAN COLLINS

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Copyright 2002

It is 2009 in Gilette, Wyoming and a group of young transgenics escape from the Manticore facility. Max and her siblings were breed to be genetic super-soldiers for the government. Max manages to hook up with a kindly woman and adopted into her family. Eventually the abusive father forces her to flee and she makes her way to a street gang living in the abandoned Mann Chinese theater in Hollywood. The gang survives in this post-pulse America. A dystopian world where terrorists set off an electro-magnetic pulse that sends the country into third world status. One day she sees a pirate video from Eyes Only that shows one of her brother transgenics Seth that escaped with her. So she heads off to Seattle and along the way makes friends with Original Cindy. The two get jobs at a bike messenger service called Jam Pony. Yet the evil Colonel Lydecker from Manticore is hot on her trail. Along with a billionaire computer mogul involved in smuggling art, the Russian leader of a gang from L.A. that wiped out her former gang and Colonel Lydecker all meet up at the abandoned Space Needle for a big showdown.

Back at the turn of the century James Cameron fresh off his success with Titanic developed a new series. It was a cyberpunk series set in the future of 2019 after a terrorist attack crashes the U.S. economy. I found it an enjoyable series but it was a victim of poor timing. The cyberpunk genre was at its end. Also the 9/11 attacks soured people on a dystopian future when the present was looking pretty dark. Kind of fun to read about the future of 2019 when you are actually living in 2019. Reading it you see that the 2019 envisioned is really transporting the nineties to 2019. Which is what most future based stories are. Just transposing the present to the future.

A trilogy was released after the series was cancelled. This one was a prequel to the pilot and gives some backstory to what Max did in the years between her escape and ending up in Seattle. An OK story if reading somewhat like an average TV show. Still brings back a lot of nostalgic memories for this forgotten TV series.

PACIFIC NIGHTMARE BY SIMON WINCHESTER

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Copyright 1992.

It is Thanksgiving 1999 and an American B-2 stealth bomber takes off from Whitman Air Force base. Its destination is to drop an atomic bomb over Tokyo bay. So how did this come about. The story then goes back to 1996 and the events around the handing over of Hong Kong to the mainland Chinese. The Beijing government decides to appoint a hardline Maoism northerner to the post of governor. This causes riots during the handover. The Triad gangs are the main resistance to the Communist government. When they assassinate a policeman in the neighboring city of Canton it results in innocent men being executed for the crime. Soon a demonstration sees elements of the army and government side with the protesters. Soon the southern Chinese provinces are in rebellion and a civil war rages. The Japanese with a new right-wing government flexes their military by sending troops into China to protect Japanese property and citizens. The Chinese plan to retaliate with their nuclear weapons so the U.S. drops a nuke over Tokyo bay to get the Japanese to back down and prevent a wider nuclear tragedy.

So this book is a pseudo-history of what at the time was the future handover of Hong Kong. Obviously the author got it all wrong. The transition was very smooth and up until now they have abided by their agreement to not change the way Hong Kong was governed for fifty years. They actually waited for twenty so that’s actually longer than I thought they would. The book is a very dry read and somewhat dull. This the author’s only fiction novel. He is known mostly for non-fiction. With the current protests in Hong Kong I thought I would revisit this book. When I first read it I was somewhat disappointed. As I said it is a dull dry read.

Yet I found it interesting to read now as what someone thought would happen but years after the fact you know what really happened. Back in the early nineties after the Tiananmen Square massacre there was belief the country was heading toward a civil war. Instead the government just made money and a combination of carrot and stick kept the people complacent. Now they are having troubles and who knows what the future holds for China.

Another early nineties thing was to resurrect the old Axis enemies. In this case Japan which was seen as splitting with the U.S. and pursuing an expansionist policy. Obviously that didn’t happen either. I found it a bit goofy that they had to resort to dropping a low yield nuke over Tokyo bay and killed hundreds of people to get the Japanese to back off on their troop deployments. I mean you’d think just showing them the Chinese preparations to launch their missiles at Japan would be enough for them to get the message.

So anyway this isn’t probably for everyone.

FREEDOM’S RANGERS 6 SNOW KILL BY KEITH WILLIAM ANDREWS

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Copyright 1991.

Travis Hunter and his rangers are stationed at base 990. The base is located 990 A.D. in the wilds of America. The purpose is for them to not be caught in any change to history that the VBU would make. This proves to be a good idea as the Soviets have once again changed history. When they can’t contact their base in 2008 a jump to 1991 shows that America is now under the control of the Soviets. Studying a history book they find out the change occurred during the Battle of the Bulge. The German offensive was successful and they were able to get in range and use nuclear bombs to destroy London and the channel ports. The allied armies collapsed and the Soviets were able to roll over all of Europe. The Americans were later able to nuke Japan and win that war but the experience in Europe turned America to an isolationist path. The Soviets manages to take control of the world and in 1956 a brief war further reduced America to poverty. So by the 1970’s a Communist revolution occurred and the Soviets were invited in as peacekeepers.

So now Hunter and his Rangers must go to the Ardennes in December 1944. Disguised as American troops they must stop the Soviets from helping the Germans. All the while they have to survive the Malmedy Massacre and not screw up history so it comes out as it should.

The final book in the series once again has our heroes saving time from the insidious Soviets. The plan to change the outcome with altering the Battle of the Bulge is a sound one. The history is plausible and is written with much attention to historical detail. You learn a lot about the battle from this story just as you do with the other books in the series. A consistently well written and researched series. It kept the rules for time travel that was established consistent and plausible.

Now by 1991 it was obvious that the Soviets weren’t going to conquer the world. On the author’s web page it tells that the final book they wanted to write would have had them travel back to the eighties and save an unknown Soviet apparatchik named Gorbachev from assassination. Thus ensuring that America won the Cold War. That would have fit the current world reality and gave the series a sense of closure. Unfortunately the publisher pulled the plug on the series and book was never written. So we will just have to content ourselves with knowing they succeeded in changing time for the better.