ENDWORLD #31 FREEDOM RUN BY DAVID ROBBINS

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Copyright 2021.

The Family has decided to investigate why they never hear from the Free State of California and sent the Alpha Triad. Blade, Hickok and Geronimo use the time travel device and end up in Northern California. They soon find that the state is under martial law and terrorized by unknown mutant creatures. Thousands are missing as the state becomes a dictatorship. Blade soon finds out the Lords of Kismet have managed to take over. Using the shapeshifting Gualon they have replaced Governor Melnick and key personnel in state government. Now the Alpha Triad has to expose to the people of California that their government is not under their control.

The next installment of the new Endworld series goes back to its roots. First it has restored the run in the title. It has the original warriors that this series started out with and visits a familiar place. Since the series was revived the Family has been all but alone in their fight against the Lords of Kismet. Now they are actively starting to reform the old Freedom Federation. They start with the most powerful of the members the Free State of California. Robbins really has a firm grasp on the characters for they feel just like when I read this series back in the eighties and nineties. This was one of the best of the post-apocalypse series back in the day and I am glad to see it continue to thrive and move in new and exciting directions.

TANKWAR IV: FIREBRAND BY LARRY STEELBAUGH

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Copyright 1991.

It is several days into WWIII and there is a tenuous truce. The First Guards Tank Corp has failed to successfully withdraw to a more tenable position thanks to Captain Max Tag and his supertank Xm-F4 No Slack Too. This didn’t come without a cost. Their driver Wheels Latta was killed. Fortunately they find a replacement in Tag’s girlfriend Lt. Giesla Ruther. Yet they still have their orders to continue to harass the trapped unit. So with his supertank, two advanced Bradleys and some Rangers he continues his attacks against the Soviets. They manage to destroy a recon battalion before the Soviets surrender.

So this book sees the war in Europe come to an end. The Soviets due to internal rebellion see the hardline government overthrown and a new democratic one take it’s place. You can tell that this series was already running out of steam. It has this supertank very overpowering and it is endless skirmishes with the Soviets. Naturally they achieve an overwhelming victory each time. Yet you get this sense reading this that it is pointless. The Soviets are clearly defeated so why bother? The book came out literally two months before the Soviet Union actually collapsed so it was already becoming highly improbable for this scenario to happen, I actually thought this was the last but I found out that there were two more books for this series future.

TANKWAR III: FIRESTORM BY LARRY STEELBAUGH

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Copyright 1991.

The Soviets have resorted to a tactical nuclear strike on NATO forces in southern Germany. NATO responds and devastates the Soviet divisions. A truce is called for units to withdraw from contaminated areas. General Kettle though wants to punish the First Guards Tank Army which was the unit that launched the strike. The army is trapped between lake Constance and contaminated fallout areas. So Captain Max Tag with his supertank XM-F4 No Slack Too is given the job of harassing them. Because of the truce he will be operating without any support. Although he gets two super enhanced Bradley APCs and a company of Rangers to help him out. So begins a series of hit and run attacks against the army. Yet the commander a Colonel Yeshev has his own formidable tanks in the new T-80B.

For the third book the author ups the stakes by going nuclear. This seems to have hurt the Soviets more than NATO. After this we have units deserting. We are also introduced to the Soviet perspective in this book. Colonel Yeshev gives up a look at how hardliners took over. He is someone who is a sympathetic character and not some cartoon caricature that sometimes populate these type of books. We get plenty of over the top action as the No Slack Too causes mayhem with the Soviets. Needless to say the T-80Bs do not live up the the hype that the book hints at. It ends with them successful in preventing the Tank army from withdrawing but they do lose the driver Wheels Latta.

TANKWAR II: FIREBALL BY LARRY STEELBAUGH

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Copyright 1990.

World War III has started with a Warsaw Pact invasion of western Europe. Sgt. Max Tag has managed to get the experimental tank back to NATO lines. Now he finds out his new mission from General Ross Kettle the commander of NATO. First he gets promoted to captain. Then with the newer XM-F4 No Slack Too he is to go back behind enemy lines to gather intelligence and hit rear area command and supply. They are also to go after units that are bringing up tactical nukes. So Tag and his tank are reunited with the Jagd Commandos and American supply company. Operating from an old mine and working with the local resistance they manage to take out a rear area HQ and many of the units bringing up tactical nukes. Only they don’t succeed in getting them all and a nuclear attack is launched against the NATO armies in southern Germany at the end of the book.

So the second has Tag and his supertank going behind enemy lines. They reunite with the units that helped them including his girlfriend Giesla. It must be great to be in a combat unit and have your girlfriend along for the occasional sex during those rest periods. Somehow I don’t think the real world works that way but this series was not set in the real world. You also get a new character introduced in Sgt. N. Sain. A hashish smoking rock musician who was visiting during a USO tour and now commands a Bradley. He was in the reserve Army and has his two keepers Mad Dog and Rabies. He spouts all this goofy new age mumbo-jumbo. This came out in December of 1990 which by then it was obvious that the Warsaw Pact was a Humpty-Dumpty that wasn’t getting put back together again. Still it was an enjoyable action series that you just suspended belief to enjoy. Ends with a big cliffhanger of a nuclear strike to give the reader a sense of much more serious stuff to come.

DAMNATION ALLEY BY ROGER ZELAZNY

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Copyright 1969.

Hell Tanner is a convicted criminal in the Nation of California in this post-apocalypse future. A former Hell’s Angel he is offered a pardon. To earn it he must agree to deliver needed plague serum to Boston the only other pocket of civilization on the continent. In a high tech armored car armed with missiles, machine guns and flame throwers with two other cars he sets out to cross the desolate wasteland. A land filled with mutant giant snakes, gila monsters, bats, tornados and radioactive storms. He runs into various survivors. Some crazy and others biker gangs. Will he make it in time to save Boston.

I was familiar with this from the movie with George Peppard and Jan-Michael Vincent. It was based on this book and I have to say that it was loosely based but surprisingly similar in tone to the movie. Most of it was a leisurely travel log of a badass armored vehicle as it cruises across the post-nuke country. The main protagonist Hell Tanner was an anti-hero in the vein of Snake Plissken. Described in the beginning as a murder and rapist. Someone who gouged the eyes out of someone just for the fun of it. Yet in the book he is clearly anti-social but demonstrates noble attributes. When he finds his brother has joined this expedition for money so he can get married, he tells him of a hidden stash of money. Then proceeds to break his ribs so he can’t go on the expedition. In fact half way through the guy who wanted to take off at the first chance he got decides to finish this trip. He actually has to fight with his partner who wants to turn around. Then he runs into the biker gangs around New York and rescues a woman who he quickly falls in love with. She dies and it was a sad little moment.

Naturally he makes it in time just as the sky turns back to normal just like in the film. Only at the end in true anti-social behavior he vandalizes the statue erected in tribute to him, steals a car and heads out into the wastelands. The movie seemed like something that just sort of ran out of money half way through. The beginning had giant scorpions, tornados and hordes of cockroaches. Then the second half devolved into endless montages of the vehicle driving and George Peppard shaving. The book actually seemed to pick up the action at the end. Still for all it’s faults I like both the film and book.

So here is the trailer for the movie.

TO THE VANISHING POINT BY ALAN DEAN FOSTER

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Copyright 1988.

Frank Sonderberg is a successful businessman with a growing chain of sporting goods stores. This summer he decided that for the family vacation to Las Vegas they should rent a motorhome instead of fly. Now with his wife Alicia, sixteen year old daughter Wendy and ten year old son Steven they are cruising through the Mojave. They come on a young woman hitchhiking out in the desert and stop to give her a lift. The strange woman who calls herself Mouse is a singer from another dimension. She is traveling to the Vanishing Point to sing to the cosmic spinner. She needs to sing to him otherwise the fabric of reality will descend into chaos. Soon the Sonderbergs find themselves at Hades Junction the gateway to Hell. Captured by fire-breathing cops they manage to escape with the help of a Navajo named Burnfingers Begay. They continue on and find themselves in an alien Las Vegas, a reality where everyone tells the truth and a nuked out Salt Lake City filled with mutants. Their Winnebago is now a mystical ride as they cruise down the Cosmic Road which happens to be Interstate 40. It takes them to the Vanishing Point and a final confrontation with the Anarchis. The fate of reality hangs in the balance.

I have been getting some new books lately and this was something that looked interesting. I really loved this book. It was an exciting read with an original concept. The characters all seemed to be fleshed out with their own personalities. The various realities were enjoyable with some humorous and sometimes quite disturbing. An enjoyable book that kept me interested from beginning to end. This would make a cool movie and I will have to check out more by Foster. In addition to many movie novelizations he has an extensive body of original work. I will have to check out more in the future.

C.A.D.S. #12 TECH ASSASSINS BY JOHN SIEVERT

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Copyright 1991.

The C.A.D.S. under Colonel Dean Sturgis have successfully rescued President Williamson from The Lenin. What they didn’t know is he has already been brainwashed while a prisoner. Programmed to find the nuclear reactor at Hardbase Alpha and then wait for the miniature nuclear bomb implanted in him to go off. So Sturgis and his men must fight other guards at the base who were ordered by the President to stop them. After a whole bunch of fights that take up the first third of the book they manage to stop the President. They get the bomb taken out of him and have him deprogrammed. This incident has given the President the idea that a new Continental Congress should be convened to declare a second Declaration of Independence.

Needless to say evil Supreme Marshal Veloshnikov goes nuts over this idea. Aboard his new super sub The Leonid Breshnev he begins an all out attack on the free communities scattered across a devastated post-nuke America. Such units as Supreme Soviet Death Division, Black Raskolnikov Brigade and my favorite- Sergeivitch Ivanovsky Bolkenskvo Spetnaz Brigade for the Utter Destruction of American Freedom and National Sovereignty. Yow what a mouthful. So the C.A.D.S. have to come to the rescue. They meet the Soviets in a big endless battle that takes up the second half of the book. After endless fighting the C.A.D.S. come out victorious. At the end the congress meets and broadcasts via a giant holographic image up in the sky. Veloshnikov sits in front of the TV glowering and thinking up his next brilliant plan to destroy America.

We never do find out his brilliant plan for this was the last in the series. It’s a bit ironic that the books ends with him saying “Death to America. Long live the Soviet Union.” This book came out December of 1991 the year that the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. So that event pretty much sounded the death knell for books like this. In this case it was probably a mercy that the series was finally put out of it’s misery. Although it may have been heading there anyway. I gave up on this series with the last book. Only recently did I find this book at Half Price to complete my collection. I didn’t miss anything all those years.

This was a really bad book. I mean it is filled with a constant stream of such cringe worthy dialogue as “Attack these putrid Yankee scum suckers, brave comrades,” or “Your doltish American taunts fall on deaf ears, craven imperialist lackeys.” Now this series started out pretty good. A solid if absurd little post-nuke action adventure. Now like most of these series they tend to go off in some very weird tangents. Which it was doing under it’s original creator Ryder Syvertson. It took the replacement with David Alexander to bring the series to a whole new level of crap. Still his crappy writing was good for a few laughs. Although it was probably good that the series ended before my brain turned to complete mush from reading too much of this.

C.A.D.S. #11 DEATH ZONE ATTACK BY JOHN SIEVERT

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Copyright 1991.

The C.A.D.S. under Colonel Dean Sturgis are on the offensive. They attack Fortress Kerensky which lies on the ruins of St. Louis. After defeating the invaders by creating an artificial tornado they take the fortress intact. Seems the Soviets are not doing well. So Marshal Veloshnikov the evil leader decides to hold a bogus peace conference. President Williamson goes to meet the puppet Soviet premier at Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg has been converted to the first Communist theme park called Stalinland. Sounds like something the Antifa crowd would enjoy. Anyway it turns out to be a set up. The puppet premier had a small nuclear bomb implanted in him. The President escapes but is captured and taken to the giant saucer sub Lenin. Also the Soviets launch a two prong attack from Siberia into Alaska and Mexico into the Southwest. C.A.D.S. manage to stop both. Then they go to the Lenin and rescue the President.

OK so this book was just nuts. It had the typical endless scenes of fighting with high tech helicopters, jet fighters and hovertanks with lasers and missiles against the super C.A.D.S. Also a special appearance by the Greysuits who are clearly inferior. There is very little wasted on plot and character development. The President’s capture is casually devoted one whole sentence. Don’t want to get too wordy about stuff not involving high tech fights. He does have a moment where Veloshnikov stops on an island in Nova Scotia with the President to have a talk. Its whole purpose seemed to show how truly evil Veloshnikov is. He takes the time to bash a baby seal to death with a rock. Then takes an assault rifle and slaughters all the others just for fun. Yes this guy kills baby seals for the fun of it. How evil can you get? Also the giant sub Lenin has all of a sudden lost it’s traditional sub shape and become a giant saucer. The C.A.D.S. easily manage to destroy it and free the President. Of course evil Veloshnikov escapes in his mach 20 escape craft and plots how to destroy the evil Amerikanski.

Now surprisingly the editor must have woken up for the glaring grammatical errors weren’t present in this book like the past two. In fact this had some of the most glorious passages to date. For instance the description of the deaths from the artificial tornado.

First their eyeballs squirted from the sockets of their skulls. Then their teeth flew out of their gaping mouths. Finally all the blood in their veins emptied out through their noses, eyes, dicks and assholes.

Wow what a visual. There’s more.

Clapping his hands on full servo power, Sturgis send a miniature sonic boom thundering in their direction. The supersonic clap shattered the Russians’ eardrums and made blood squeezed from their rupturing brains spurt from their nostrils with such fantastic pressure that it blew their noses clean off their faces in a shower of sticky red glop.

But wait. There’s still more.

A second supersonic clap and the eyeballs of the hapless Russians squirted from their socket, hanging uselessly down their faces on twisted white nerve threads. A third and final thunderclap from Sturgis and their hearts exploded in their chests, causing their bodies to explode.

Well nothing like being thorough. The book had writing like this throughout. It was glorious to read such incredible descriptive writing. Oh and one final little quote I enjoyed. A Greysuit has one final curse before he buys it.

The colonel muttered a Ukrainian peasants oath that damned the American to a thousand lifetimes in hell picking dirt from between the devil’s toes and sucking the eternally shitting assholes of the damned.

Now there is a curse that is creative. Go ahead and use it instead the more pedestrian “Go to Hell” or “Fuck you”.

C.A.D.S. #10 RECON BY FIRE BY JOHN SIEVERT

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Copyright 1990.

Colonel Dean Sturgis after his wife was killed has been living in the desert as a hermit. One day he goes into Crasburn, Texas which on the Mexican border. Suddenly the town is attacked by the forces of New Aztlan. Sturgis comes out of his self pity and inspires the residents to fight back against the invaders. It also reawakens his patriotism so he goes back to Hardbase Alpha. Well naturally they reinstate him back in command of the C.A.D.S. unit. He also convinces the President of the new threat. So he gets to take his unit down to Guatemala and recon the situation.

First they decide to help out a patron who runs a plantation against some giant mutant preying mantis. While Sturgis and some of this men battle the creatures the patron decides to betray those left behind and capture them while they are out of their suits. Fortunately Sturgis manages to defeat the mutant mantis with atomic hand grenades. Then come back and rescue his men. They continue on to the Golden Citadel of the Great and Powerful Moctezuma.(He’s never just the plain Moctezuma.) After a big fight against his high tech hordes of Aztec warriors they manage to destroy his citadel. Only the Great and Powerful Moctezuma manages to escape in his private jet pod.

Well this was a bit different from the past books. David Alexander decided to take a break from fighting the evil Soviet invaders for the evil Aztec invaders. Those damn Aztecs. Always causing trouble with their human sacrificing and hording gold. So apparently the dictator of Guatemala decided after the war to be the reincarnation of the Great and Powerful Moctezuma. With his stockpile of gold from drug dealing he manages to acquire vast reserves of high tech weapons. His ultimate goal of course is world conquest. We get a nod to Syvertson in the obligatory scene of the C.A.D.S. letting down their guard with a supposed friend and getting captured out of their suits. Otherwise the book was just one big exercise in constant fights with high tech gadgets. We get all sorts of helicopters and missiles and rocket bullets for AK-47s. Oh and the C.A.D.S. now have nuclear hand grenades. Wow what I great idea. Wonder why nobody ever thought of that brilliant idea before. Surprisingly they manage to work well for the C.A.D.S. So once again the world is safe from the evil Aztecs although the glaring grammatical errors still continue.

C.A.D.S. #9 SUICIDE ATTACK BY JOHN SIEVERT

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Copyright 1990.

After the destruction of Ft. Collins the C.A.D.S. under Colonel Dean Sturgis go on the offensive. They split into three groups to attack major Soviet bases in the west. One under Sturgis attacks Ft. Kharkov in Colorado. Another hits a base in Utah that are harvesting Americans for their organs to give to the Soviet elite. The third to hit a base in California. Only this group somehow gets lost after hijacking a Soviet APC and ends up in Salt Lake City. The city is controlled by mutant bikers and they have some important prisoners they were selling to the Soviets. It turns out the guys were from a secret U.S./CIA base called Hardbase Alpha. This base was a weapons research base in a huge cavern under the Nevada desert. So now America has a new base as HQ in their fight against the Russians.

Anyway after they destroy the bases they find out the evil plan of Supreme Marshall Veloshnikov. He plans to saturate the southwest with massive neutron bombs that will destroy the C.A.D.S. So they go their and destroy the base. Oh yeah and there was subplot where Robin, Sturgis’s wife was captured by the evil KGB major Denisov. He wires her with explosives and detonates them in front of Sturgis. He was hoping to drive Sturgis insane which he did but unfortunately it drove him so insane he defeated Denisov’s troops. Then Sturgis cuts off Denisov’s ears for a necklace. At the end Sturgis is so depressed he starts drinking. After FIVE bottles of White Lightning and still being conscious( I guess all that sex must fortify the metabolism)he has a tizzy fit when he hears his men talk about his problem. So after his drunken fit he goes out in the desert to live in a cave.

So big changes in the series. For one Ryder Syvertsen was replaced by David Alexander as the writer. Now Alexander of Phoenix fame (a book series that will definitely be covered later) makes Syvertsen look like Hemmingway. This guys is just incredibly a bad writer. Its also obvious he could care less. With all the grammatical errors at this stage neither did the editor. They must have needed a new writer for this series and Alexander could just crank one out.

He did keep the major characters but made some changes. First was he changed the color of the suits from black to silver. Now they were called Silversuits. Never mind they never had any time to upgrade their suits from the last book. Also he decided to get rid of Robin. Now that actually made sense. The character was very boring. Plus the fact that Sturgis was always banging other women made her being his one true love not very sincere. He did introduce a new female doctor for the unit. Vicky Novack was described a women with the body of a showgirl. Yet nothing ever came of a future romance.

In fact under Alexander there was no more sex for Sturgis. His writing style is one of just unending action sequences. Filled with fights against helicopters, fighters and hover tanks all armed with a variety of lasers and missiles. There are acronym filled weapons systems aplenty. All this action can’t find any room for that useless stuff like plot or character development. This is definitely where the series went downhill.