WINGMAN #13 DEATH ORBIT BY MACK MALONEY

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Copyright 1997.

Hawk Hunter has taken off in the Zon space shuttle to capture the archterrorist Victor II and bring him back to justice. On Earth a lot of strange things are happening. Planes and people are disappearing and turning up other places. There are sighting of ghosts. The Kennedy Space Center becomes the target of the alliance of the Asian Mercenary Cult and the Fourth Reich. They have a base in Cuba that has thousands of nuclear weapons. Their plan to use the space center to launch them into orbit and threaten the entire Earth. Hunter and his crew eventually come on Victor holding up in a giant Swastika in space. Only a visit by the ghost of his girlfriend Dominique warns of an impending catastrophe. A giant 350 mile comet is headed to Earth. All life is about to be destroyed. So the Nazis and America call a temporary truce to deal with this threat. Their nuclear weapons are launched into space where Hunter and his friend Elvis Q will go on a suicide mission to destroy the comet. They also decide to take Victor with them.

This was a strange book. It basically had three story lines going on. One was Hunter in the Zon tracking down Victor II. (This is how Victor Robotov was referred to in this book.) Another was the battle for the Kennedy Space Center. We have various Nazis fighters and Cult Mercenary battleships attack. We even get the appearance of the Vikings for one chapter. The third takes place at Hunter’s farm in Cape Cod. Dominique gets visitors during a large hurricane including Hunter’s other girlfriend Chloe. Lots of mystical mumbo-jumbo goes on that eventually leads to the death of Dominique. This of course alerts Hunter to the comet and the alliance with Victor. At the end when he goes to see Hunter off and gloat, his friend decides to take him with them on the suicide mission. Now I dropped out of reading this series with the last book. So this is the first time for me in reading this. If I did read it new I would have assumed that this was the final book. It had a clear feel of ending with Hunter sacrificing himself to save the Earth. Of course I know this isn’t the last one. I will say that Maloney does take this series in a whole new different direction. More on that in the next review.

STORMRIDER 3 LORD OF THE PLAINS BY ROBERT BARON

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Copyright 1993.

Tristan Burningskull is now the leader of the High Free Folk of the plains. He is the Lord of the Plains. Now he has to deal with a threat to his people. The city-state of Homeland has joined forces with the Nation of Dallas to take over the plains and destroy the various biker clans. He has to lead his forces and destroy two armies all the while dealing with assassination attempts from the defeated Catheads and their Fusion cult allies. He also has dissidents within his own followers that want him dead. So he manages to first defeat the Dallas army. Then he gets his revenge on the Purity forces of Homeland.

The final book in the Stormrider trilogy comes to an exciting conclusion. Tristan manages to defeat his enemies and capture his old adopted home of Homeland. Along the way he deals with various intrigues against his rule. The cover tells that this would be the last in the series and everything ties up nicely. Like most series in the early nineties it only lasted a few books. The market was changing and publishers were throwing out all sorts of stuff that just didn’t last. I suppose this series might have had more traction back in the eighties at the height of the adventure series.

The series had a very strong structure for its three book run. The first introduced the character from his childhood to early adulthood. The second dealt with his rise to power among the biker clans. The final is his conquest of Homeland. The world Victor Milan created was interesting and had future possibilities. The Catheads and Fusion cult were still active. There was still the Nation of Dallas and mention of an expansionist Quebec that could have played into future storylines. The ending was a bit weird in that it had Tristan hook up with his old fiancee at the end. She didn’t seem to have any real relevance to the character. He seemed to have a stronger relationship to Jovanna or his old childhood friend Jaime. It just didn’t really resonate at the end and felt awkward. Otherwise this was a fun and enjoyable post-apocalypse action series.

STORMRIDER 2 RIVER OF FIRE BY ROBERT BARON

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Copyright 1993.

Tristan Burningskull has now established himself among the High Free Folk of the plains. He has plans of uniting them. The Cathead nation has allied themselves with the Fusion cult from the east. The stated goal of this alliance is to crush the independence of the High Free Folk. So the various motorcycle gangs unite under the leadership of John Hammerhand a respected Stormrider. Only problem is Hammerhand is as dumb as a tree stump. His leadership sees a crushing defeat of the biker alliance. Now Tristan has to travel to the shaking lands to get his grandfather’s legendary motorcycle WildFyre. There in the underground kingdom of the Kobolds he must fight a T-Rex to get the bike. With it and help from the Kobolds he manages to defeat the Cathead/Fusion army and become Lord of the Plains.

So the second book in the trilogy deals with Tristan’s rise to leadership among the biker gangs that roam the plains of this post-Starfall world. We get a good solid glimpse into this biker culture that sprang up descended from twentieth century biker gangs. Hints of the outside world with the various city-states that exist. I did think that the T-Rex encounter was a bit silly. Apparently some old scientists were able to successfully resurrect DNA of a T-Rex. The book doesn’t really go into any detail how this happened and this was the only really goofy thing in an otherwise straight action thriller. An enjoyable story filled with action, biker culture and a bit of goofy fun.

STORMRIDER BY ROBERT BARON

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Copyright 1992.

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.