After Buck and the NEO capture Hauberk it looks like Earth has won its freedom. Only RAM was playing for time with their peace offer. They attack with their full might. The goal is nothing less than genocide of the peoples of Earth. Then they will rebuild Earth to RAM’s needs. For the NEO to win they need allies. Wilma goes to Luna for a pledge of nonintervention in the conflict. Because RAM tries to have her assassinated the Lunarians go further and declare war on RAM. Buck has an easier time with convincing the largest Venusian state of Ishtar to join in. Buck also has Black Barney and the Pirate’s Guild on their side. Mercury joins with their ally RAM and it sets the stage for a final battle.
The second in the Martian Wars trilogy ratchets up the action. RAM attacks with brutality in bombing every major archology on the planet. Things look grim but there is hope. This book expands the action to new places such as Luna (our moon), Venus and Mercury. A side plot with Masterlink/Kharkov still trying to kill Rogers but also helping Earth since they view the Earth as belonging to them adds another layer to the story. Buck as always takes charge and manages to capture the RAM board as hostages. A fun book filled with exciting space battles, political intrigue and high drama.
It is the year 2456 and RAM (Russo-American Mercantile) corporation rules Earth with an iron fist. The NEO (New Earth Organization) is the resistance group trying to overthrow them. They have had little success until they found Buck Rogers. A hero from the twentieth century recently revived from suspended animation, he starts to take charge. First is to steal advanced Krait fighters from RAM. With these fighters NEO is able to take on Hauberk, the orbiting base that ensures RAM control of Earth.
The first of the Martian Wars Trilogy by Murdock start off this trilogy on solid footing. We get introduced to the world of the 25th century at least on Earth. The Martian RAM rules a broken world through terror and economic control. Based on the TSR role-playing game it has a new take on the Buck Roger’s story. In addition to RAM and it’s evil CEO a Simund Holzerhein.dos, a computer personality of Holzerhein downloaded after his death. There are other players like Ardala Valmar a scheming information broker. Killer Kane an Earthman that betrayed NEO and now works from RAM as a mercenary. There is a rogue computer program called Masterlink which merged with the crazy Russian general Kharkov that Buck defeated back in 1995. This program wants to kill Buck and also take over the Earth. A fun story that sees NEO take over the Earth but you know that the war isn’t over.
In the year 1995 the Soviet Union has launched a new weapons system. Called Masterlink it has been hijacked by a hard-line general named Kharkov. The only hope is to launch a new fighter the F-38 Wraith fighter into orbit. The best pilot a Captain Anthony “Buck” Rogers is chosen for what is essentially a suicide mission. He runs a gauntlet of ground and space-based weapons to destroy the station. Only he gets jettisoned in an experimental cryogenic pod after ramming the station and drifting off into the asteroid belt.
THE HOMECOMING By Robert Sheckley
Kemal Gavilan is at the John Carter Military Academy on Mars when he gets a message from his uncle the Sun King of Mercury. He returns and finds that his uncle needs him to sign away the rights of the Dancers, the miners on Mercury. Naturally Kemal refuses and has adventures to escape Mercury.
TRIPLE CROSS By Abigail Irvine
Ardala Valmar runs the most efficient information network in the solar system. She gets word of a great archeological find. The remains of Buck Rogers could be used by both RAM and NEO. She comes up with a plan to use both Killer Kane and Wilma Deering to get this artifact for her.
TRYST OF FATE By M.S. Murdock
Killer Kane and Wilma Deering are both members of the NEO. They are also lovers. Both are captured and Kane joins RAM to save Wilma. Wilma gets rescued by the pirate Black Barney and becomes a pirate to pay off her debt.
TWO BARNEYS By Ulrike O’Reilly
Black Barney is enjoying a meal when he is approached by another Barney. The Barneys were genetic creations that rebelled against the corporation that created them. Black Barney is the toughest. Quinto comes with a proposition. He wants Barney to intercept an expedition to get the remains of Buck Rogers.
THE RELIC By Flinte Dille
A Martian archeologist mounts an expedition to retrieve the remains of Buck Rogers. He finds that both Killer Kane and Wilma Deering have competing expeditions to take those remains. Black Barney also comes, and they find that Buck Rogers is still alive.
THE ADVERSARY By Jerry Oltion
Simund Holzerhein.dos is the downloaded computer personality of the director of RAM (Russo-American Mercantile) and arguably the most powerful man in the solar system. He is bored with his life and wants a challenge. He finds it in the recovered program of Masterlink/Kharkov. The Soviet system and the general merged and were in an old weather satellite. When Masterlink/Kharkov finds out that their old enemy Buck Rogers is alive they insist on killing him. They rebel and cause trouble as Rogers leads an effective resistance. Simund finally has opponents to challenge him.
This is an anthology of a TSR role playing game from the late eighties’ early nineties. The anthology does a good job of introducing the main characters of this new universe. It is a bit dated with the Soviet Union still around in 1995. Also, they refer to computer programs as .dos. Anyone remember that old system? Basically the inner planets have been colonized and to some extent terraformed. RAM the ruthless corporation controls Earth. The NEO (New Earth Organization) is the resistance. In comes a man from the twentieth century that shakes things up. An interesting take on the classic character. All the stories are interesting although the Two Barney one did get a bit boring with the pigsmear game. A strong start to their book series.
It has been thirteen years since Rick Galloway and his CIA mercenaries were rescued from Angola by a UFO. There to be sent to the planet Tran a medieval level planet. Armed with modern weapons they were supposed to carve out a kingdom and grow madweed for an alien race called the Shalnuksis. A planet populated by descendants of humans kidnapped throughout time. A hodgepodge of cultures from Byzantium, Celts, Mongols and Venetians occupies this planet. Rick has managed to get his kingdom, yet life is a constant struggle. Various factions are constantly waging war. Now there are new players. A new group of starmen in the form of Gurkhas have arrived. Also arrived are three mysterious strangers from Earth with three shipping containers filled with knowledge. Knowledge that could help propel Tran into a modern interstellar civilization. First though Galloway has to fight a coalition out to get these containers.
The final book in the Janissaries series. I loved these three books written way back in the seventies and eighties. Then nothing but Pournelle was working on another book. Sadly, he died in 2019 and it looked like we would never get this. Fortunately, most of it was written and he left extensive notes on the conclusion. His son and author David Weber managed to complete it and here it is. I think this the best of the series. At 800 plus pages it is a bit of a doorstop. Yet I was captivated from beginning to end. All the political intrigue both on Tran and this mysterious alien confederation that uses human slaves to administer it. The combat is another thing that he excelled at. It was realistic and fast paced. Weber and his son did a great job of completing the story. It all felt like Pournelle wrote it. Ended very similar to the Falkenberg series with Galloway being proclaimed imperator and basically warlord of Tran.
Mamelukes are the rulers of Egypt that like the Janissaries of the Ottomans were slave soldiers and administrators. Only they ended up taking over the empire. Possibly a hint at the human Janissaries of the alien confederation someday doing the same. The book did leave open the possibility of more and maybe someone will continue the story. Sadly, this reminds me of the loss of a brilliant writer and yet thankful for this closure.
Reports are coming of strange things going on. The dead are returning, and people are committing mass suicides. There are also reports that the Russians have rebuilt themselves and are prowling around with nuclear submarines. Traveler gets a visit from an old friend that he has to go back to the pueblo. So, he burns his home and the Meat Wagon and heads to the southwest. Along the way he stops at New Washington and finds out that a fundamentalist Christian who is defense secretary wants to start a nuclear war with Russia so the rapture will occur. Traveler finds that baby Alexander who he saved in Mexico has now grown into a teen. Alexander has great wisdom and is putting people through some quantum portal to escape the coming nuclear war. Traveler isn’t interested in starting life over in an alternate dimension so opts to go back in time. He will kill President Frayling and stop the first nuclear war. Only he ends up in the Veteran’s hospital just before Christmas Eve 1989. He has to get to Washington but naturally everyone thinks he is nuts and drug and put him in a strait jacket. A psychologist finally believes him, but it is too late. WWIII starts and Traveler finds himself back at the beginning.
The final book in the series was a fairly big nothing. Not much happens. People see visions and kill themselves. A fanatic takes over the government and starts WWIV. Endless conversations on quantum physics. Must have recently read Stephen Hawkings. Traveler travels back and ends up at the place he started from in the first book. The book ends with literally the first chapter of the first book. It ends with ” Traveler had a problem with time. He would always have a problem with time”
I read a review that stated this was both a daring move and stupid at the same time. Possibly but I liked this ending. It has Traveler stuck in some never-ending time loop. Doomed to forever go through the events of the series. Somehow that appealed to me when I first read it and still does. Ed Naha wrote a very pessimistic book. I suppose for a radical leftist the eighties were a very pessimistic time.
My final thoughts on this series. I loved it. This has to be the best of the road warrior type books to come out. It was pure pulpy cheezy fun. Of the two writers I would have to say that John Shirley was the better. He wrote the first half and delivered a coherent storyline with a beginning, middle and end. Ed Naha is a good writer but uneven. He started out strong with the first book. After he took over, some were brilliant, and some weren’t. He tried new stuff which was hit or miss. Part of his problem is taking the series into something else it wasn’t meant to be. He also has a tendency to go into left wing rants. Still, I have fond memories of this series and reread it a number of times. After all these years it still remains a fun read.
Traveler gets news that he has a brain tumor and little time to live. He gets a call from his old pal Orwell who now heads up the rebuilt CIA that he has a job for Traveler. Going to New Washington which is just outside Las Vegas, he gets recruited for a mission. Young couples are being kidnapped from an oil rig turned into a gambling casino out in the Gulf of Mexico. Going under cover with a female agent and posing as a couple they head down. They do get kidnapped, and Traveler finds himself part of some mad scientist’s experiment. He has genetically created an ultimate predator that he will take over the world with. He puts Traveler in an island wilderness to survive for 24 hours to save his wife and his life. Thus begins a deadly game of cat and mouse with a fearsome creature.
This entry in the series is somewhat of a dud. Obviously, it is an adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game which I always considered a mediocre story. This was a fairly mediocre story also. The kooky scientist is the son of the guy who developed the neurotoxin that Traveler was dosed with before the war. He finds out that he doesn’t have a brain tumor but is evolving to a higher stage of evolution.
The story is competently written and keeps your interest. What I didn’t care for was that it just gets rid of the post-nuclear world. Everything is now back to normal. This could have been a story in a Mack Bolan or Destroyer book. Set in contemporary times or any point in the past or future. The cool post-nuke world filled with roadrats and mutants is gone. When you take that away you basically take the reason for this series to exist. Which with the next book we will see brings an end to Traveler’s travels.
The country is starting to get back on its feet. Traveler finds out that people now want nothing to do with mercenaries. After being run out of a town he decides to head over to the California coast and spend some time at the beach. In the small community of Bay City, Traveler gets involved with some teen kids that discovered the police chief is up to something. Traveler manages to infiltrate the corrupt police chief’s organization and save the mayor. Along the way he has to deal with some bratty kids, a shrew of a mother and a ruthless mercenary. He finds out that the evil President Frayling is behind the takeover of Bay City. He has gathered an army with neurotoxin and nuclear bombs to take out the fledgling new government and install himself as ruler. Thanks to the kids with Traveler, they are able to destroy his base and Traveler contemplates going after Frayling who said he was going to China.
This book was the beginning of the end for this series. Kind of like a Mad Max meets the Goonies. While technically not a bad book. It was interesting and well written, it just seemed to be losing its road warrior vibe. The country is getting back to normal. There is electricity, telephones and canned beer. Teen kids now have time to solve mysteries like the Scooby gang. There is a lot of left-wing rants about how bad America is. It was hinted that Traveler might start traveling to China. Sort of take this series to other parts of the world and explore that. I cool idea but nothing came of it.
Traveler is living at an Indian Pueblo as the storyteller. He tells stories to the mutant outcast children. He had a bit of a nervous breakdown after seeing a roadrat massacre and tried to kill himself. Only the village shaman saved him and took him back to the pueblo. One day his old friend Link is found wandering in the desert. He tells of being a prisoner in literally a hell of Earth. Before disintegrating he tells Traveler that his old girlfriend Jan is also a prisoner. Traveler quits being storyteller and goes back to being Traveler to rescue his girl.
He meets up with an old man in a trailer who claims to be the Archangel Michael. He tells Traveler that Satan is building his Hell on Earth. Traveler thinks the guy is some government scientist gone nuts and his archenemy Frayling is behind this Hell. He joins forces with St. Michael, and they do find a Hell being built on Earth. It is patterned after Dante’s Inferno with all the various levels. All being reached by escalators. They make their way to the final level and confront the evil that is responsible for this Hell on Earth.
Naha decided to take the classic story of Dante’s and make it into a Traveler story. I loved this book. It is probably my favorite of the series. A real modern updating of this story with the first level for the virtuous pagans being some sort of fifties version of Leave it to Beaver. Throughout this story the reader is left to wonder if this is really Hell or just some demented creation of the evil Frayling. I know that Niven/Pournelle did a modern update and that is the only one of their books I so far never got around to reading. I did buy it last year and hope to rectify this oversight.
I won’t give away the ending, but it was a very satisfying conclusion. Sadly, this was the pinnacle for this series. After this book it started to go downhill.