TORG STRANGE TALES FROM THE NILE EMPIRE EDITED BY GREG FARSHTEY, GREG GORDON AND ED STARK

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Copyright 1992.

INTRODUCTION By Greg Farshtey

Dhalshim a young boy in Cairo is fascinated by the old pulps his grandfather has in the attic much to his mothers disapproval. One day a violent storm comes and the next day Dhalshim finds that the world is changed. Gangsters roam the streets and the city is now under the control of Wu Han the Overgovernor of Dr. Mobius. Wu Han comes around and arrests his mother. Thus is introduced the realm of the Nile Empire. A land where 1930’s pulp fiction is real.

CROCODILOPOLIS By Matt Forbeck

Angel is a bootlegger of illegal booze in the Nile Empire. Secretly he runs guns to the NATO-Isreali forces that are fighting Dr. Mobius. One day the Pharaoh’s soldiers come gunning for him a Rick’s Cafe. Thus starts an adventure that takes him with his friend Omar to a secret facility at the old Roman city of Crocodilopolis.

STORM SHIFT By Douglas Kaufman

A group of Storm Knights are on a mission into the Nile Empire. A reality storm has temporarily shifted the area to Core Earth. Lead by a psychic Janya they are investigating a threat. They instead find a group of Sufis who are pacifist and living in peace. They also find out that the psychic vision is a trap and they do not have that much time before the storm shifts back to pro-Nile. Janya is from the Cyberpapacy and not a storm knight so it could be fatal if she is caught in a new reality. Her only hope is to sincerely convert to Sufism and hide from the coming Nile Storm Knights.

THE CHEKHOV STRAIN By Christopher Kubasik

Wu Han is the Overgovernor of Cairo and a typical stereotype of a ’30s pulp fiction Chinese. He has a Fu Manchu mustache and silken blouse with a dragon image on it. He has long fingernails and cackles evilly. When not planning some diabolical plan he designs and builds death mazes for his enemies. One day he comes up with a truly insidious plan. He kidnaps an actor troupe from L.A. doing a Chekhov play. He plans on distilling the essence of the play using the realms weird science and making a virus. The virus will turn people into a Chekhov play living in quiet desperation unable to act. The virus works too well and infects Wu Han turning him into a three dimensional character.

THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF THE SPIRIT CATS By Douglas Kaufman

A meeting at the Explorer’s club in Khartoum has Lord Cunningham narrate one of his adventures. The Pharaoh’s forces are using a weird science device to transplant their soldiers brains into cats for spying on the resistance. They are also using it to transfer the essence of the Black Jaguar a sort of Tarzan in this realm. This gives their men powers of the jaguar. Luckily Cunningham is able to destroy the device.

THE FACE OF JUSTICE By Kevin Stein

Effie is a secretary for C. Michael Sloan a pulp writer who also happens to be the Wraith a superhero. One day armed men come looking for him and this propels Effie on an adventure that turns her into the superhero Justice.

BILL By Ray Winninger

Bill Burns is a struggling novelist who works doing interviews for an entertainment magazine. He goes to the Nile Empire to interview Dr. Mobius. The realm changes him into a pulp writer.

THE LAND BELOW By Steward Wieck

A troop of the Nile soldiers go to the Land Below a sort of Pellucidar type world that has formed. They find it full of eternity shards but are foiled by the primitive savage Kord.

SHAHRAZAD By Christopher Kubasik

A woman whose father is murdered by a gangster takes the name Shahrazad and sets out for revenge. She manages through an elaborate scheme to steal all of the gangster Muggsy’s loot and redistribute it a la Robin Hood to the poor masses of Cairo.

An anthology about the Nile Empire of Dr. Mobius. A pulp ’30s reality that has invaded Egypt and North Africa. It is filled with gangsters, and superheroes and villains. Weird science, melodramatic behavior and stereotypical characters. This realm is probably the most interesting of the realms in the Torg universe but the quality of the stories were mixed.

Crocododilopis was a standard action story. Nothing really special. Storm Shift was boring. It was a sand storm filled with talk about how a girl must sincerely convert to Sufism. And that was about it.

Now the Chekhov Strain was my favorite. Using Chekhov to create some sort of debilitating plague was a unique idea. Personally I would have used a Pinter play but the story was a fascinating look at the psychology of the human condition.

The Strange Affairs of the Spirit Cats was also a fun good old pulp action story. It had a twist ending that was just hilarious.

The next three were somewhat boring. Face of Justice was a good idea but not handled in an interesting way. Bill was mostly incomprehensible. The Land Below is another good idea not handled well. Most of it is the Pharaoh’s men discussing how they will descend to the Land Below then another agonizing slow descent. Reminds me of the rock climbing scene from the movie Lost Continent.

Finally Shaharzad was an OK attempt. They had the funny gangster slang used which was over the top but made it mildly amusing.

So a mixed bag for their first anthology. Luckily they would improve with subsequent books.

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TORG THE NIGHTMARE DREAM BY JONATHA ARIADNE CASPIAN

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Copyright 1990.

The Gaunt Man has been defeated. The Storm Knights managed to cut him open and throw in an eternity shard. Now the Gaunt Man is constantly exploding and having to put himself together. In effect he is out of the picture. His darkness device is still stealing possibility energy from the Earth. Thratchen the Gaunt Man’s lieutenant has decided to take over the Gaunt Man’s realm. As a thank you for setting it up so he can take over Thratchen helps the Storm Knights on their way out of his realm. Tolwyn the leader has a final reckoning with Uthorion the high lord of Aysle. Meanwhile Andrew Decker in California is free of the Gaunt Man’s control. With his friends they work to stop Baruk Kaah’s invasion of California. Then they also head to the realm of Aysle. All for a final confrontation that will determine the fate of Earth and many other realms.

The final book in the Possibility Wars Trilogy comes to an end. It was a good solid story. We get to see more of Orrorsh. We had a small adventure in the Nile Empire. We actually visit two of the worlds that are invading ours Tekta Ker the realm that Baruk Kaah comes from and Aysle. Needless to say our heroes manage to stop the Gaunt Man’s plans. So it basically sets up the world that the role playing game universe has set up. I found the trilogy to be an exciting read. It had a colorful cast of characters and some fantastic settings. A good start to the book series.

TORG THE DARK REALM BY DOUGLAS KAUFMAN

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Copyright 1990.

Our band of Storm Knights have managed to defeat the dragon that was sent by the Gaunt Man but at a cost. NYPD Rick Adler has been killed and Congressman Decker has been implanted with mystical rods. These rods are allowing the Gaunt Man to sort all the possibilities that he could be defeated and thus eliminate any possibility of defeat. The Gaunt Man also has his darkness device planted which is slowly making the Earth stop spinning. All in some sinister plan to steal the Earth’s possibilities and make him the Torg. Tolwyn leads the survivors on a mission to Orrorsh. First they stop in Australia and pick up an Aboriginal shaman named Djil. Then its off to Indonesia which has been transformed to the horror realm of Orrorsh. There they confront the Gaunt Man in this castle. Meanwhile Baruk Kaan gets help from the realm of Aylse in the form of the Wild Hunt in his campaign in California.

The second book in the Possibility Wars Trilogy is actually better than the first. The writing is tighter and it uses flashbacks to tell the story. The other realms of the theocratic realm of Pope Malreaux lands in France and the corporate espionage realm of Kanawa lands in Japan. The secret organization that was formed by the US government the Delphi Council is conspiring to seize even more power. Its interesting that at the end they manage to defeat the Gaunt Man. Such a villain I would have thought they would wait for the very end of the trilogy. So it does set up curiosity on what the third book will be about.

TORG STORM KNIGHTS BY BILL SLAVICSEK AND C.J. TRAMONTANA

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Copyright 1990.

Later today, early tomorrow, sometime next week, the world began to end…

So begins the invasion. It begins at Shea stadium at the opening game. A bridge comes crashing down from another dimension. This dimension is one of lizard-men, dinosaurs and spiritual magic. This reality starts to take over and people revert to the primitive. Electricity and cars won’t run. Guns won’t fire. All except for a handful of people. These unique individuals can retain their reality in this storm. The Living Land continues to take over vast swaths of the the East Coast. Soon another bridge drops in the Yukon and a third around Sacramento. In Indonesia a horror realm invades that island. The British Isles are invaded by a sword & sorcery realm with magic, elves, dwarfs and other half-folk. Egypt invaded by a pulp fiction realm. Only the Soviet Union with the help of a blind psychic teenage girl repeals the invasion of a techno-horror realm.

The Earth is invaded by the High Lords. Men who control darkness devices and have come to steal the Earth’s possibilities. Lead by the Gaunt Man the High Lord of Orrorsh, the Victorian type horror realm that takes over Indonesia, he plans to steal all the Earths possibilities and make himself Torg, a godlike being with infinite power. Now a motley crew of Storm Knights are opposing him. A priest, two teenage gang members, a NYPD cop, a U.S. Congressman, a renegade lizard-man, a rogue werewolf and servant of the Gaunt Man. All lead by a warrior from Aysle the magical realm who now occupies the body of a woman that died. Together they journey to the Grand Canyon to find an eternity shard and battle with a dragon.

The first book in the Possibility Wars trilogy. Torg is based on a role-playing game. It stands for The Other Role-playing Game. The basic premises is that other realms have invaded Earth and impose their reality on the land that they conquer. In the process it transforms the area and its people to this new reality. So in the Living Land of Baruk Khan it is primitive realm filled with dinosaurs and lizard-men. So guns won’t work or any modern technology. In the Nile Empire a realm based on 1930’s pulp fiction only the technology on a level of 1930’s will work. Although it has weird science and superpowered heroes and villains. Aysle a magical realm in Britain and Scandinavia. Orrosh a horror realm with technology and society based on Victorian England. Japan has Nippon Tech a corporate espionage realm and France has the Cyberpapacy.

So basically you get a world that has every type of scenario all combined in one. You can combine sword and sorcery with 1930’s pulp fiction. Or primitive dinosaurs with vampires and werewolves. It is a pretty brilliant idea. The first book based on this role-playing game was fun to read. It did combine a lot of subplots and characters going on around the world but still managed to keep it focused for an enjoyable story. I find that role-playing game universes make for some fascinating stories and this trilogy has started out strong.

THE X-FILES ORIGINS DEVIL’S ADVOCATE BY JONATHAN MABERRY

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Copyright 2017.

It is 1979 and a fifteen year old Dana Scully has moved to the small town of Craiger, Maryland. Moving to a new place is always hard but this time it is complicated by visions that Scully is having. She sees visions of murdered teens and a very public incident has now branded her a freak. She does have support from her more popular sister Melissa. She also makes a boyfriend. This boyfriend has an uncle who is a detective and investigating the mysterious deaths of teenagers. All of them seem to die in car accidents that are drug related. Still the statistics for so many in such a small community are highly suspicious. With the files that her boyfriend has access to she puts together that the teens are being killed as Jesus and his apostles died. Then they are being covered up in cleverly disguised car crashes.

Now how to get this information out. On top of this the town is a secret experiment for the evil syndicate and the murderer is part of their plans. Throw in the visions and a kooky psychic named Sunlight and his new age shop and you have a mystery filled with danger and excitement.

The second YA X-files book and now its Dana Scully’s turn. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. Dana was the more boring of the characters on the series but Jonathan Maberry turned in a real page turner. This is the first time that I have actually read his writing and am definitely impressed. The story had some unexpected turns and stayed true to the character. Like Mulder’s story this shaped her future. In this instance her desire to go into medicine and her health skepticism. It complements the first book in the origins series perfectly.

THE X-FILES ORIGINS AGENT OF CHAOS BY KAMI GARCIA

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Copyright 2017.

It is 1979 and Fox Mulder is seventeen and about to graduate from high school. He is relocated with his father to Washington D.C. who has work to do for the State Department. His father wants him to enroll in Georgetown and continue on with a career in politics. Mulder doesn’t know what he wants but doesn’t want that. He hears about a young girl that was recently abducted. It sounds just like what happened to his sister Samantha. He later witnessed the crime scene of a young boy whose body is found in a crypt that was also similarly abducted. He becomes obsessed with finding the killer in the hopes of finding out what happened to his sister. Together with his friend Gimble and his girlfriend Phoebe he embarks on his own investigation. It takes him to an isolated cabin in the woods of Maryland and a confrontation with the kidnapper.

So I start to read some good books after the crapfest that was the Marauders. It was a great change of pace. This book is a Y.A. X-files novel and very interesting to boot. Kami Garcia wrote a short story with Mulder as a teen for one of the anthologies and it was an interesting take. Here we get to see a teenage Mulder trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life just like we all had to do at that age. He still has an obsession with finding his sister which was a constant in the series. His friends are a colorful supporting cast. Gimble has a father that was a former Air Force major who witnessed the governments dealings with extraterrestrials. Because of that he was discharged and now is a paranoid nutcase. His girlfriend Phoebe is one of those women who are both hot and a geek into science fiction. Now who doesn’t want a girl like that. Plus the Cigarette Smoking Man and Agent X are secretly observing him. At the end Mulder takes his first steps toward a career with the FBI as a profiler. A very satisfying read.

THE MARAUDERS FORTRESS OF DEATH BY MICHAEL MCGANN

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Copyright 1991.

Chairman Maximov has managed to salvage two nuclear cruise missiles from a Soviet submarine sunk in the Baltic Sea. With these missiles he plans to destroy his main opponent King Shatterhand by nuking London. But he has to first get them in working order. So as a distraction he sends his agents to attempt to assassinate King Shatterhand and distract the Marauders from his true intentions. Luckily a mysterious radio transmission alerts the Marauders so its off to Germany.

There they find out that their mysterious informants are two Spetsnaz that survived WWIII and are now actively working against Maximov and his FSE goons. They also have access to a secret NATO facility with all these experimental weapons. They will need these weapons if they are to successfully assault Maximov’s fortress at Schloss Adler. A castle atop an impregnable mountain.

This is the final book in the series and the best. It was obviously written by someone different. It was more lucid than the previous books and didn’t have the left-wing rants. Now the bar was not set too high so the story was not all that special. Sort of a by the numbers action and in all honestly was mediocre. Mediocre is still a big improvement over the past books so this was probably the only book that wasn’t a complete pile of shit.

I am over 90% certain that the previous books were written by Ed Naha. The style and certain elements appeared in the Traveler series. Now I loved the Traveler series and Naha wrote some of the best so I scratch my head why he didn’t at least try to write something better. It was like he just churned something out in a half hour. In fact this whole series was just an excuse to cash in on the more superior Guardians series. While the idea was sound it was horribly executed. Now I did buy them since back in those days anything that dealt with a nuclear holocaust I would buy. So in that sense it was a success because there were probably others like me. It lasted as long as the Guardians so it probably would have continued if the Soviet Union hadn’t collapsed. At least there were signs that the publishers were trying to improve the series.

Still in the overall scheme of things this series gets a big thumbs down.