WINGMAN #16 THE TOMORROW WAR BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1999.

Hawk Hunter has successfully dropped the atomic bomb on Honshu Island. This bomb was so big it literally sunk the island. Fortunately that island in this universe was cleared of civilians and only the military were killed. Naturally this ends the war but the B-2000 has disappeared. So Agent Y mounts an expedition to find the fate of the plane. On a huge amphibious transport they fly to the Pacific. Along the way they hire some air mercs and steal an aircraft carrier from some pirates. The trail takes them to Vietnam where they help out some French mercs and find clues including an aircraft that the B-2000 was carrying. The trail takes them into Thailand where they find that Hunter and crew abandoned their bomber for a train. This train takes them to Afghanistan.

In this world Afghanistan was colonized by the British and retains a very distinct British culture. A civil war is being fought between the Reds and the Blues. The Blues or the blue blood aristocrats against the red blood commoners. They have the Red’s princess locked up in a tower in the capital city of Kabul Downs. Hunter has joined the Reds and battles against the Blue’s jet biplanes. Soon they have to face a massive mercenary army and it is up to Hunter to defeat everyone and rescue the princess who is none other than his love Dominique.

Now this was a very weird book in a very weird series. The first three-fourths doesn’t even have Hunter in it. It consists of Agent Y and his band having adventures in this goofy world. They find Hunter in a British Afghanistan with jet biplanes. Oh and Victor who is also in this world has amnesia but is a good guy. He somehow finds his way into the mercenary army and helps out Hunter. At the end Hunter, Victor and Dominique go back to the Falklands where in the secret research facility they have a portal to our world. It goes to the north Atlantic and the three parachute in but Hunter doesn’t go home.

I get the feeling in this book that Maloney knew it was being cancelled by Pinnacle and was just writing something to fill his contractual obligations. He had a definite plan for Hunter but was going to save it for a new series with Ace. Something that we will look at next.

WINGMAN #15 RETURN OF SKY GHOST BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1998.

America has won it’s 58 year war with Nazis Germany thanks in large part to Hawk Hunter. Yet in this alternate universe there is also a militaristic Japanese Empire. It decides now is the time to attack. So on December 7, 1998 it launches a massive sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Using giant submarines that are combination aircraft carries and troop transports they devastate Pearl Harbor and five of the six megacarriers. A gas attack and follow up invasion captures the Panama Canal. Soon after they land in South America and with the help of some of the continent’s governments soon control everything except Brazil.

Hunter must now organize another war. He secretly sets up an airbase in the mountains of Peru. Guarded by fierce native tribes this base launches attacks on the occupying forces. Soon America has built up it’s forces and with Brazil plan to launch an invasion. This is only a distraction to the real goal. One of the atomic bombs that Hunter recovered from Germany is being worked on. Made into a superbomb that Hunter must drop on Japan using a massive B-2000 bomber. Only the Japanese have discovered this plan thanks to some traitors in the OSS. An invasion force is headed to the Falklands where a secret research base is located. Hunter has to almost singlehandedly defeat this invasion to carry out his bombing run.

The second book in this goofy alternate universe. This time he now fights the Japanese. If you didn’t think this series could get more weirder than hold on. We got giant over a mile submarine/aircraft carriers. Weird science that Maloney just pulls out of his ass but I guess that’s OK. After all he makes up the rules to this universe. There are also ghosts in this reality and the besieged forces in the Falklands kill one of their own soldiers so his ghost can go and get help. I will say that he definitely succeeded in giving this series a total makeover. Still the same lovable Hawk Hunter and he meets some counterparts from his other world. Yet it is a completely different world. You have to admire his ability to keep his writing fresh when so many other post-apocalypse series from this time didn’t last.

WINGMAN #14 THE SKY GHOST BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1997.

The last time we saw Hawk Hunter he was taking the Zon space shuttle to destroy a comet headed to Earth. Now he finds himself still alive and floating in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of America. He gets rescued by an American destroyer before a Nazi cruiser comes along. Hunter soon finds out he is in an alternate world. A world were the Nazi never lost WWII. This war has actually been going on for over 58 years. The war heated up in 1987 and now America in on the verge of winning. The Nazis though picked up a person from the ocean too. One who has revitalized them and now after a sneak attack during a peace conference are on the verge of winning. Desperate for pilots Hunter is drafted into the war effort and sent to a base in Iceland.

Hunter finds himself the only one in a fighter squadron that has to escort bombers on useless missions over the occupied British Isles. Hunter assesses the situation and of course takes charge of the whole operation as only Hunter can do. He reorganized the squadrons and soon is launching devastating attacks on Germany. His fame eventually lands him on a mission to destroy a massive dam on the Rhine to stop an imminent invasion of America. He succeeds and finds atomic bombs that the Germans developed. He gets them out of the country and uses them to end the war.

The last book left us with the feeling that it was the final in the series. Yet Maloney decided to take the series in a whole new direction. Hunter was mysteriously transported to an alternate world. A world the Nazis ended up conquering Europe. A world with giant forty engine bombers. Helicopters as big as jet airliners. Aircraft carriers over a mile long. Yet a world that never discovered atomic power. This whole story had a very surreal feel to it. I think it was a bold move to completely change the story. This was very weird but also very interesting. Yet it still retains the goofyness that made this series such a treat to begin with. Gives us a surprise ending on who was helping the Nazis. A great new direction for this series.

TWO HAWKS FROM EARTH BY PHILIP JOSE FARMER

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Copyright 1979.

Roger Two Hawks an Iroquois is a bomber pilot during WWII. During a raid on the oil fields in Romania his bomber is shot down. When he bails out he finds himself not in Romania but some strange foreign land. Yet it is a world that is also fighting a world war. He soon finds himself in an alternate Earth. One where the Americas never existed. The Asian tribes that migrated their instead turned westward and settled in Eastern Europe. So these tribes now have established nations for themselves. The Perkunishans are the Germans of this world and have launched a genocidal war against their neighbors. Blodland is the England of this world and the main opponent to them. Two Hawks soon finds that both factions are out to get him for his knowledge of technological advances from his world. He has many adventures that sees him fall into both factions hands.

This was a really interesting book. Farmer did a lot of research into the various peoples to give us a fascinating look at a world without the Americas. That Eastern Europe is populated by descendants of the tribes that migrated to America seems plausible. There are also no negroid peoples because India is an island and that race never developed. Instead Africa was settled by an Arabic people. There are no horses or camels because these originally developed in the Americas. Only they later became extinct in out world but thrived in Eurasia. There is no rubber so there are no rubber tires for vehicles. It is a world where slavery is still common and ruled by absolute monarchs.

This book was originally written back in 1966 and published under the title The Gate of Time. Farmer states in a foreword he never liked this title because the gateway never dealt with time. That an editor in his words “bowdlerize’ a scene by rewriting it. His original was restored and he wrote an extra 10,000 words for an ending. This ending has Two Hawks after the war finding a portal that brought him to a prehistoric America that had pre-Columbian natives and Two Hawks settling down with dreams of turning them into a modern society.

I loved how this book starts with him giving his story to a writer and you think it is our world. But it turns out to be this world at the end. Also another German also came through and at the end we find out Two Hawks is not from our Earth. When he asks who Hitler is we find out that in his world the Kaiser still rules Germany. Otherwise his world and ours have very similar histories. So if you want a unique alternate history book I would highly recommend this one.

CIVIL WAR II BY DON PENDLETON

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Copyright 1971.

The year is 1999. America has reverted to a rural and predominantly agricultural nation. The racial situation is not very good. Blacks are mostly confined to the cities that are left called Towns. There have been two paths of advancement for black. The federal bureaucracy and the military. In fact the military is totally made up of blacks from the generals to the enlisted men. Michael Winston is the commissioner for Urban Affairs sort of the federal agency that takes care of the Towns. He stumbles on a military coup that the blacks plan. When he tries to warn his superiors including the President he gets ignored. The corrupt President has he own plans to use this coup to solidify his power.

Anyway the coup starts and the United Negro Army seizes power and occupies the country. Their demands are that America has to come up with a more equitable arrangement for its twenty million blacks. They appoint a provisional government headed by Michael Winston. Winston has some success at first with reversing the more authoritarian policies of the past regime. Yet old hatreds still flare out and threaten to derail any peace. Blacks in the south have decided to take out payback on past injustices and soon go on a rampage. Winston is forced to detonate nuclear explosions over the south to stop the fighting. Soon their is a reconciliation of the races and America emerges as a positive force in the world.

Don Pendleton is best know for the Executioner series. Probably the most successful men’s adventure series ever. He is probably the grandfather of that genre. He also did some stand alone novels. This one is a very odd little take on the future. It has a future 1999 filled with flying cars. Commuter planes with their own private rooms equipped with showers and the optional sex with the stewardess. There are also Federal subsidized sex clubs. (Does something like that really need a subsidy to stay in business?) There are pay churches with tradition, non-denominational and new age services. It is definitely dated and feels weird with all the goofy stuff that was envisioned for the future from a seventies perspective.

Still this book is a fascinating read. The future it envisioned didn’t quite turn out. It did though have a very upbeat ending with the races reconciling. A good book to read if you want to see how they envisioned the future back than.

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.

FREEDOM’S RANGERS 5 SINK THE ARMADA! BY KEITH WILLIAM ANDREWS

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Copyright 1990.

Travis Hunter and his team are in 1848 Paris investigating the presence of the VBU. They find their headquarters but its a trap and they are captured. They find themselves transported to the VBU base at Guantanamo Cuba in 1588. The Soviets have a plan to destroy the English fleet and thus prevent the English from ever colonizing America. Thus there would be no United States to oppose them. Now this affects a great deal of European history so they have set up a base in 1588 so they can monitor and make changes to history to ensure Soviet world domination.

Hunter and his men manage to escape and call their base for help. They take over the Soviet base and then go out after their agents. Only the Soviets detonate a nuke at Guantanamo and destroy their captured base. Hunter and his men are picked up by a passing English privateer. They get back to England and find out the Soviets have brought back an Oscar class submarine and four Osa class patrol boats. More than enough to take out the English fleet. So they must figure out a way to destroy them or else their history is doomed.

The third book takes us very far back in history. So far that changing it could seriously effect the outcome of the Soviet Union in the twentieth century. Trying to monitor and shape history over centuries just seems crazy but the authors do portray the VBU as fanatics. Anyway they fail in this and this is the first book that didn’t have an alternate reality to explore in the future. Some interesting touches like that Guantanamo harbor was formed by their exploding a nuclear bomb back in 1588. The authors also give a very convincing portrait of the time in history so you do feel like you’re actually there. Another exciting book filled with action and historical flavor.

FREEDOM’S RANGERS 4 TREASON IN TIME BY KEITH WILLIAM ANDREWS

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Copyright 1990.

It is 2007 and just before the Battle of Denver. The battle was a disaster for Free American forces and Travis Hunter and his rangers are sent back to alter the outcome. They go back to a crucial pass to alert the garrison there but find the place deserted. The captain of the garrison Hendricks is involved in shaking down the locals for protection money. So Hunter and his men manage to delay the Soviets and alert the high command so the defeat is a resounding victory. Only Hunter and his men are killed.

So several months later Hunter and his men are still alive because the victory means they never have to go back and get killed. Also Captain Hendricks is the one who takes credit for the victory and is now a hero and assigned to Project Chronos. The Americans are going ahead with a plan to go back to 1918 Russia and help Admiral Kolchak consolidate his power over the White faction and defeat the Reds.

So they go back and manage to take over a Soviet time machine located on a train. Hendricks manages to ingratiate himself with Kolchak but this corrupt captain is out for himself. He wants to use the time machine to enrich himself and his corrupt men. A plan to assassinate a popular general of the Czech legion motivates the Czechs to fight for the Whites and defeat the Reds. Only this changes history for the worse. The Nazis are still in power with an allied Russian empire. America never enters the war and the continuing depression results in the American Nazi party taking power in the fifties. Now the whole world is fascist and Hunter and his rangers must stop the corrupt Hendricks and the Soviets to set history right.

Now this book had a new development. The Soviet VBU are more of background players and aren’t the main threat. The main one is a traitorous American who is where he is because of a more recent event that was altered by Project Chronos. This time the future is their doing and it is just as bad if not worse than what the Soviets managed to create. Another enjoyable book with plenty of accurate historical feel. We learn a lot about the Czech legion that group of Czech POWs that were recruited to fight WWI and find themselves now stuck in a hostile Russian civil war. The series maintains a consistent treatment of the rules it’s established for time travel and the outcomes seem plausible. A very well written series.

FREEDOM’S RANGERS 3 SEARCH AND DESTROY BY KEITH WILLIAM ANDREWS

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Copyright 1990.

Travis Hunter and his Freedom’s Rangers with their British allies have managed to save George Washington’s life back in 1777. Only they find that the alternate world of British North America still exists back in 2007. Whats worse is the Soviets of that time have launched an all out invasion. Hunter and his allies fight off an assault on the time facilities. Only time is running out and soon reinforcements will arrive. They research the new history and find that the Soviets must have had two teams back in 1777. The other one used modern mortars at the Battle of Saratoga to ensure a British victory. Saratoga was the first victory for the American rebellion that lead to French recognition and later direct aid. So Hunter and a mixed group of his rangers and British SAS escape back to 1777. Now they must defeat a well armed VBU presence that includes two helicopters the Soviet brought back with them.

So the authors decided to give us another story set back in 1777. Must have spent a lot of time researching the era and were really going to use it. Once again the story is fast paced and interesting. The historical setting feels very real and you learn a lot of history about the time and events that took place. Naturally they manage to defeat the Soviets and set back their own timeline. They also get a new member in Dark Walker a Sioux that can exist in the current time even though his history has been rewritten.