It is hundreds of years after the comet Sagan crashed into the Earth. It has caused geological instability of much of the Earth. In the central plains of the former United States human civilization consists of independent city-states. There are also motorcycle gangs that base their culture on the gangs of the old twentieth century. One gang the Hardriders are wiped out by the forces of the city-state of Homeland. The sole survivor is the eleven year old son of Wyatt Hardrider the leader. Tristan is taken to the city and raised in the foster care system. Eventually he is adopted by a kind couple and eventually joins the local military. He becomes a Striker which is the elite special forces with the call sign Outlaw One.
Only a military coup by the Purists forces him to flee the city to wage a one-man war again this new regime. He gets captured during the winter by a small motorcycle gang called the Jokers. They plan to sell Tristan at the local yearly rendezvous that the gangs have in Taos. Only they are attacked by the rival gang of Catheads. The Catheads are the rivals of Tristan’s old gang and he manages to lead the Jokers to victory against overwhelming odds. A vision he has of a burning skull has Tristan take the name Burningskull.
The first in a post-apocalypse series by Victor Milan. Robert Baron was a house name created for this series. Milan who has probably written under more pseudonyms than his real name wrote my favorite series from the eighties The Guardians. So when I found that he wrote this trilogy I had to check it out. First it advertises itself as a post-nuke series. The cause of the apocalypse was a comet strike not a nuclear war. So this is a bit of false advertising. Milan crafts a world that has both coasts of the continent in constant geological turmoil with volcanos and earthquakes caused by Comet Sagan. The middle part of the continent seems to be geologically stable.
The story focuses on young Tristan who was part of this biker gang that liked to ride around tornados for fun. Hence the name Stormriders. The first part of the book has him growing up in this stifling society where an elite group of administrators rule over what they derisively call clients which are everyone else. The clients have to go each week to these Mao like self criticism sessions. He manages to make friends with a blind librarian who shows him the history of the world. After a brief period of freedom when the government collapses from a military defeat, he is forced to flee when that repressive system comes back with a vengeance. Then the last part of the book is him rediscovering his biker heritage. A fun and enjoyable start to a cool trilogy.
It is the year 3013 and Prince Samuel’s World has been discovered by the Second Empire of Man. Samuel’s world was bombed back to medieval times hundreds of year ago during the secession wars. They have managed to bring themselves to an early twentieth century level when the newly resurgent empire finds them. The nation of Haven uses the empire to subdue the other states to bring them under the unified rule of King David. Only they also find out their planned future under the empire. They will be nothing but a colony to be exploited by the empire. To gain control over their planet they must be a space capable civilization. They hear of a temple on the primitive planet of Makassar that holds the knowledge to build a spaceship.
They hire Nathan MacKinnie a former military colonel from the defeated nation of Orleans. He will lead an expedition to this planet under the cover of being a trade mission. There in the city of Batav he finds his goal besieged by a horde of barbarians. He must form an army and train them in new techniques if he is to save the information that will ensure his planet has some sort of autonomy under the empire.
This is a Pournelle book that somehow escaped my attention. I had heard of it but only until last year did I see it in a used bookstore and decide to get it. After reading it I think this is Pournelle’s finest book. It takes place in his future universe of a Empire of Man ruling after Earth destroys itself in a nuclear war. I loved the complex intrigue and politics that was going on in the story. Pournelle also has a great grasp of military history and you get these elaborate battles from ancient times. Also the exciting ending that uses an old technique theorized back in 1899 to launch a ship into space. A great touch to a story that I wasn’t expecting to love so much. I really recommend this book.
It is ten years after Hovik’s attack on Camp 351 released the government’s virus. Now the world has been reduced to small isolated communities eking out a living. Ross MacKenzie is a former Marine aviator and astronaut. After some roving gang kills his wife he decides to wander the countryside. He gets captured by the troops of General James M. Decker. Decker a former major in the Arizona National Guard has now given himself a promotion and formed the Army of America. In a huge train he travels to the Sierra Nevada mountains for a government secret complex. There he will find arms, ammunition and nuclear weapons to equip his army for the conquest of the country. MacKenzie escapes with the help of a young Indian woman and the two make it to Hovik’s settlement. There they have to find a way to stop the mad general and his train or else Decker’s mad dream of conquest will become a reality.
So the second and final book in the series by Will Sundown is basically a more standard end of the world type book. Civilization has collapsed and the main threat is this deranged general. Decker is your typical right-wing stereotype caricature. He fancies himself a George Patton type and loves all the great military figures like Alexander and MacArthur. He thinks everyone not with him is a commie and laments the moral decline of America. He even thinks that slavery was a good thing only America should have never used the genetically inferior blacks. Instead they should have bought Poles from the Russians.
While not as good as his first book it still is an enjoyable read. Hovik has really grown as a character. He is now a father and leader of the community. A man who now has responsibility and no longer the aimless criminal looking out for only himself. He actually wants to stop Decker as a sort of payback for being responsible for releasing the virus that destroyed civilization. Naturally with a train as the main enemy it ends on a spectacular crash over a cliff. Something very obvious to the reader but still quite satisfying.
Will Sundown is a pen name for William Sanders. He has written a number of Science Fiction mostly alternate history books. One he won an award for I remember thinking about getting long ago so I might check out more of his stuff in the future. This series never when on after his two books which is fine. I don’t really see this world as having the potential for a long term series and these two book are good stand alone reads.
It is the future and America is an authoritarian police state. Hovik is a former Marine who got caught selling guns to the resistance and is now at a prison camp in Nevada. Hovik isn’t himself a very political man but he is caught up in the bureaucracy so now is assigned to this camp for political prisoners. One day there is an escape and the commandant decides to send all those that were in the work detail that didn’t escape to Camp 351. The prisoners sent to this camp are rumored to be part of medical experiments and no one ever returns. So while being transported, Hovik escapes. With him is a young timid computer hacker. The two evade the security forces and make it to San Francisco. He hooks up with the local resistance and agrees to lead an assault on Camp 351. So with a bunch of “amateurs, losers and psychos” he must assault a guarded camp and shove the government’s germ warfare project down their throats.
What strikes me the most about this book is how not dated it seems even though its thirty years old. There are endless wars in the Middle East. Everyone uses credit cards because cash is discouraged so the government has more control over the people. The whole government is not really an Orwellian one but a half-assed authoritarian one. Described as a car that just slowly falls apart over time. Something that comes about over time because of neglect and apathy. One where the real power is faceless bureaucrats that operate behind the scenes. In one scene one of these bureaucrats shows a political prisoner one of his books. He states that they aren’t illegal to own although not on the approved list for schools or libraries. That with over half the population functionally illiterate and only one in ten even being able to understand what the book is about. So they don’t even care if they exist.
Hovik the hero is an anti-hero in the vein of Snake Plissken. A tough old guy who got kicked out of the Marines and spend most of his life in petty criminal ventures. The resistance is as much an enemy as the government. They knew about the camp but want it intact for propaganda purposes. They seem more interested in their own power and conducting purges. The author clearly has a distrust of those on the left and right as being the same power hungry individuals. So Hovik and this group find out that the camp was developing a virus to cleanse the world of undesirables. Something that they inadvertently release causing a global pandemic.
The author has a dedication at the beginning that acknowledges all those in DC and elsewhere that are working tirelessly to make books like this believable. Sadly that seems more true then thirty years ago.
Scully tells his story to Wynn. It starts out at a frozen city where a young Scully grows up with his family. The father is very abusive and one day is injured. Now the young Scully is responsible for scavenging for food. His first day out he comes on some men in a machine. These men had brutally killed some people so Scully manages to take out the men. He rescues their captive a guy named Fingers. Finger’s drops him off at this family’s place but he soon finds that wasters have killed them. So he follows Finger’s across the wastes where some cannibals have ambushed and killed him. A women on a snowmobile rescues him and takes him to the Boss. The Boss is an old crippled man who is building a giant snow CAT to take him to Mechanicsburg. A place were men are working to rebuild civilization.
Scully learns how to be a mechanic and helps with rebuilding the CAT. Scully with the Boss and a woman named Cilla live off the remains of an old Sam’s Club. On a trip to scavenge materials Cilla is left behind. Eventually they get the CAT running and make the trip to Mechanicsburg.
Back in the ’80s the now defunct Eclipse Comics put out a three issue series by Dixon of a futuristic ice age. This was an awesome series and it wasn’t until twenty years later that IDW revived it. This was just a really well done series. Dixon is a well known writer of comics but can also write prose books as well. This book tells the origin of Scully. His early life and how he learned his mechanical skills. Even gives us how he got his name Scully. Dixon portrays this brutal and grim ice age. A world filled with cold and humanity reduced to small bands scavenging for food and warmth. A very enjoyable book that I hope he continues future installments of this series in both book form and comics.
Lt. Scott Gaines and his Tunnel Rats destroy a tunnel complex. VC captain Quang loses his only son and vows vengeance on Gaines. He puts a bounty on his head and soon he is attacked with his date while at a restaurant in Saigon. Gaines has to find Quang who is also planning a major attack on the base at Lai Khe. It also becomes obvious there are highly placed VC agents in the ARVN troops at the base. When Gaine’s nurse girlfriend is captured by bandits the Tunnel Rats must find her and stop Quang from attacking the base.
So the new year begins where the old one ended with a Tunnel Rat book. This second and final entry in the series was another excellent book. Now that the characters are established we jump right in to a new adventure. Gaines now has an Army nurse girlfriend. Captain Quang is a truly nutty villain who is obsessed with his revenge. This series was too late for the Vietnam war crazy of the eighties. If it was five years earlier it probably would have had more success. Stephen Mertz gives us a solid series with exciting plots and well rounded believable characters.