Tom Rogers is in Hawaii for a government experiment. They are testing the effects of magnetic fields on the human body. While he is strapped in a chair being subjected to these fields a group of Hawaiian separatists attack the compound. It causes an explosion that makes the entire compound invisible and Rogers is also invisible. The separatists were hired by an agent of Iskander Bey who survived the laser assassination from a previous book. Iskander was worried that this experiment could lead to an alternate energy source and make his hold on Mideast oil worthless.
So Rogers as an invisible man makes it to the ship of the agent Moheb Nazrullah an Afghan trained by the KGB but now in the service of the Pan-Turanians. There is some hijinks between the two that sees Rogers captured and then feed to the sharks. But Rogers manages to escape and continue after Nazrullah. Meanwhile in Washington Maggie Connolly the chief of staff misinterprets the President and thinks she is supposed to have Rogers assassinated. She sends Rogers former lover to do the job. She lands in Hawaii and gets kidnapped by the separatist and gang raped. She eventually manages to escape and kill her captors. The other Guardians meanwhile are also searching for their friend. It all comes together on the big island of Hawaii.
So this is the final Guardians book and it goes out with a whimper instead of a bang. The whole book just doesn’t feel like a Guardians book. It really suffered when Victor Milan left the series. Tom Rogers is usually the strong quiet type but here he seems so out of character. He is a regular chatty Cathy. He also is constantly moping about the loss of his girlfriend. Now that has some potential to have him in a relationship but it was just handled so sloppy.
Then there is the whole invisible man thing. Just hokey beyond belief. The whole first part of the book with him and Nazrullah capturing each other is more of an Abbot and Costello movie then a Guardians book. Indeed the Hawaiian islands seem untouched by the nuclear war with tourists still coming in. The whole way Connolly gets the wrong idea to assassinate Rogers and sends his former flame just makes no logical sense. The other Guardians have a very limited role in the whole book.
Now in 1991 the Soviet Union collapses and so did most of these books with it. But if this was the way the series was going it would have most likely died, even if the Soviets were going strong, with such horrible writing. This was a sad ending to what I think was one of the greatest of the post-nuclear war series from the eighties. I think it deserved a better ending.
The Guardians have successfully stopped Maximov’s plan for world domination with the Cygnus laser in orbit. Now their shuttle is coming in for a crash landing in Alaska. Here they then have to fight a Soviet cavalry charge off. Meanwhile Dr. John Mallory also managed to escape and lands somewhere in Arkansas. Unfortunately for him he is taken prisoner by a bunch of LSD loving rednecks that plan to crucify him because you see they blame all scientists for the recent nuclear war.
So the Guardians manage to eventually get out of Alaska and their next mission is to find Dr. Mallory before Maximov can. Maximov has already dispatched his own squad of killers called the Serpent Squad. A former Spetsnaz squad that now works for the FSE. Mallory manages to escape with the help of a young teen who isn’t like the other drug induced morons he’s with and take him to the safety of a government run installation. This installation is monitoring for earthquakes and has planted explosive charges on the fault lines.
The rednecks then manage to take the compound and Mallory then manages to make a deal with the redneck leader. He can provide LSD and has a plan to use the earthquake research to blackmail the world into making him its ruler or he will cause massive earthquakes. Just then the Guardians and the Serpent Squad show up and all hell breaks loose.
So this is the beginning of the end for the Guardians. This is the first non-Victor Milan book. The new author seems ok. He knows the past books and demonstrates that he has a good grasp on the universe. I mean a lot happens in the book. They fight a sabre charge by Soviet cavalry. They parachute with their armored car Mobile One into a river and fight rednecks riding on jet skis and later a float plane.
Its a competent story but just doesn’t feel like a Guardians story. For one thing this author really overdoes the comic banter. Some is ok but just continuous is just too much. The elite squad to fight the Guardians has already been done before. Finally the whole Mallory attempt to take over the world by causing earthquakes is just plain goofy. Indeed he is a sort of a goof ball with his obsession on ruling the world and getting revenge on the Guardian’s leader McKay for leaving him for dead in outer space. Actually here is an excerpt of his plans:
Then he would force Chairman Maximov to return his daughter,after which he would persuade President MacGregor to send one William McKay for execution. Then he would insist both leaders give up their power and yield to a higher life form-him. Then he would rule the world the way is was meant to be ruled: with justice, intelligence, and ,most importantly, with compassion. But first he had to crucify Dr. Ralston.
Yep he definitely sounds like a compassionate man.
Iskander Bey is enjoying himself on the beach when suddenly a death ray shoot from the sky and incinerates his camp. Chairman Maximov now has control of the Cygnus space station and its laser. With this he can destroy any target on Earth. His next threat is directed against the United States. If the country doesn’t capitulate to his rule he will start destroying targets. He has already destroyed the Lincoln Memorial to demonstrate his power.
So the Guardians are called on. They start out on a plane going to Vandenberg AFB which has the last shuttle. A bomb smuggled on board brings the plane down in New Mexico and they have to fight road gypsies and renegade state troopers. When they get to Vandenberg they then have to deal with a general who refuses to help. Maggie Connolly the President’s chief of staff is leading a rebellion that advocates capitulation. Maximov then destroys the shuttle with his laser. Now it all comes down to the Guardians finding a private shuttle called the StarVan and launching into orbit to destroy the station.
So we are back to the good old serious threats that the Guardians have to fight. It takes them to outer space and that’s pretty cool. I do have a minor problem with them being able to fire guns in outer space. I really don’t think that is possible. I suppose NASA should try that some day. Unless they already have but aren’t sharing that with us.
This is the last book that Victor Milan wrote for the series. So in many ways this is the last Guardian book. The final two that come after never really felt like a Guardians book. Milan was the one responsible for the quality and it took a nosedive when he left. So this is his swan song and a very enjoyable book to the series.
The Guardians have defeated Morrigan and his plans to unleash nerve gas on the country. Now all they have to do is mop up his followers. So with the friends they made groups are taking out the sites where the nerve gas was stored. This done the Guardians get their new assignment. Someone is targeting ethnic leaders in the western states. The prime suspect is one Ruben McKendree the leader of White Power! This seems more of a local law enforcement issue than what the Guardians mission is but the President orders them to help local law enforcement. He sees this as an opportunity to show the reassertion of Federal authority.
So the Guardians head to JFK City the new capital of Wyoming. There they report to Dr. Nicolas Brant who is the governor’s chief of staff. Together with the Special Investigation Division (SID) of the Wyoming State Police they go all over attacking groups that are alleged to be with McKendree. Something is odd though about the whole deal. The SID are very trigger happy and don’t take any prisoners. When the Guardians get some prisoners they find that they have been used. The administration is run by Brant who has an odd mixture of environmentalism that sees unassimilable immigrants as a threat to the environment. The SID has been acting as a death squad and now they set a trap for the Guardians.
Well this book was Ok but not real special. Instead of the serious larger than life threats to the nation they become pawns to a wacky tree-hugging progressive racist intent on cleansing the country. I don’t really see that happening in all places like Wyoming but every writer has his vision. This book does have the greatest excuse for forced labor I ever heard. The following is from the book:
“If that’s all voluntary,” Sloan asked, “What are the guards with the guns doing?”
“Certain antisocial elements resent being called on to fulfill their voluntary labor obligation. They’re inclined to make trouble.”
“Like, why do you call it ‘voluntary’?” Casey asked.
“The people collectively desire to do this work. Therefore it’s voluntary. To allow the individual to selfishly override the desires of the majority is undemocratic.”
So there you got it. We all have a desire to work for the collective.
The Guardians are in Texas resting after their harrowing adventure south of the border when they get an unexpected visit. None other than their number one foe Ivan Vesensky gives himself up. He is there to arrange a truce on behalf of the Federated States of Europe. There is a mutual threat to the world. William Morrigan a former mercenary under Maximov has a deadly virus. He threatens to unleash it if not acknowledged as supreme ruler. He has already unleashed it in Cleveland and 25,000 are dead. A quick visit to Oklahoma City and their other nemesis Reverend Forrie Smith they meet none other then Chairman Maximov himself. So with a teleconference with the President and the two sides agree to work together to stop Morrigan.
Thus the Guardians with Vesensky and a FSE scientist Dr. Suzette Ngyuen arrive in Cleveland. They are nearly killed by the Ohio National Guard because Morrigan has threatened to unleash more of the plague if the Guardians aren’t destroyed. They are rescued in the nick of time by forces of the Motor City Madman. The Madman is a former professional wrestler who now controls a little empire based in Detroit. He has been threatened by Morrigan and has to give up his woman Merith Tobias the sexiest actress in this fictional ’90s world.
The Guardians and Vesensky are presumed dead so they go in disguise as guards to bring the tribute Merith so they can infiltrate the madman’s stronghold in the ruins of Chicago and stop his plans for world domination.
Well this was a fascinating book. We get a meeting between the Guardians and their greatest enemies. Most notably Chairman Maximov in an Empire Strikes Back type meeting. They also get to work with Ivan Vesensky and have a grudging respect for him. The Motor City Madman was a great larger than life personality. He is a very educated man with a degree in history but found out that it wouldn’t get a job in the real world so he took up the lucrative art of professional wrestling.
Finally we get to meet the famous Merith Tobias. She has been mentioned throughout this series as a sort of Marilyn Monroe of the nineties. The enemy they have to fight is a total crackpot with delusions of grandeur. Fortunately he is discovered to be a fraud. He has no virus but is using nerve gas. Still he has the gas hidden around the country and has no qualms about releasing it. A fun addition to this series.
The Guardians with their Texican allies have defeated the Cristeros invasion of Texas and secured the desalinization plant. The Cristero threat has not gone away. Chairman Maximov is still pulling the strings on this movement. After the popular Mexican president has been assassinated a power vacuum has opened in the country. The Cristeros are threatening the weak government and forcing them to install the young seventeen year old leader in a new coalition government. This will give Maximov control over the nation to the south.
So the Guardians are ordered to stop this transition of power by any means necessary. With a bunch of Texicans, an old Texas Ranger and a diplomat of dubious loyalty they head out to Mexico City. Along the way they have to battle treacherous army units, Cristero hordes, Federal Security Directorate agents and dangerous Mexican drivers on their way. They eventually ally themselves with a corrupt head of police in kidnapping the young girl and exposing the FSE plot.
So this book takes the Guardians to Mexico. The country after the war is still going pretty much as it was before the war. The oilfields weren’t a Soviet priority so they are still pumping but there is a glut what with a few 100 million customers worldwide now dead. They did have to fight off a Cuban-Nicaraguan invasion after the war. There are hordes of fanatical Cristeros rampaging in the north massacring whole villages of those perceived as heretics. Otherwise the corrupt system still chunks along. This was an interesting book in how it showed the various factions in the government and Mexican society in general. It seems well researched so I think the author has some knowledge about the country. Another one of the better stories.
The Guardians next assignment is to find a desalinization plant around Houston. Well the first thing they find out when they arrive is that Texas has split in two. The southern and western part are part of the Republic of Texas. The northeastern part is under governor Randall Hedison the governor of Texas before the war. McKay the leader doesn’t like the idea of succession but the Republic is an open society and old friends that helped them out including his old girlfriend Marla Ecklund and Dreadlock Callahan are officers in the Republican army. Governor Hedison runs a very efficient police state in the Federal part with his Texas Rangers. Maggie Connolly the chief of staff is a great friend of Hedison. Since she was put in charge of the Guardians they have been reduced to errand boys for the governor instead of securing the Blueprint facility.
Meanwhile a movement in Mexico has grown around the visions of a seventeen year old girl. The followers are called cristeros and are a fanatical religious group that is killing anyone that won’t convert to their fundamentalist views. The Guardians old enemy Ivan Vesensky has survived Casey’s sniper bullet and is now back causing trouble. He has managed to co-opt this religious movement to get them to invade Texas so he can gain control of the desalinization plant. The Guardians abandon their assignment and head out to defend the plant with a group of Texicans.
This book has the team going to Texas and finding that the country is starting to come apart. A bit of a dilemma for the Guardians is that the secessionists are the only ones willing to fight the cristeros while Hedison seems to be more interested in crushing all opposition to his rule. At the end the President orders him to help the Guardians and he refuses which causes the National Guard to revolt and he goes into exile in Oklahoma. Maggie Connolly also gets relieved of being in charge of the Guardians and Project Blueprint. Instead Dr. Morgenstern is put in charge which suits the Guardians fine since he had become their de facto leader anyway.
Another interesting part of this book was the cristeros or translated the christers. They were based on a real movement in the 1920’s & 30’s. They will be a big part in the next book since Vesensky and the FSE are involved with the movement. This book was probably the high point of the series.
The Guardians have just helped throw out the Effsees from California when they get their next assignment. Somewhere in Montana is a factory that is crucial to the Blueprint for Renewal. The Guardians though have some unexpected opposition from the Federated States in the form of the Liberators. The Liberators are the FSE answer to the Guardians an elite group of deadly mercenaries. Cowboy a former Special Forces soldier now FSE mercenary is the worst. The Liberators are going around in their own V-450 armored car and committing atrocities against the Guardians friends and allies. They then leave behind evidence that points to the Guardians.
The Guardians find that life in Montana continues on. The dead zones from the hits on missile fields are no longer dead. The radiation has faded and people have moved back. Now there is a conflict between two groups the Ground Hogs or the original residents that owned the land before the war and the squatters, those people fleeing the destroyed cities and now trying to make a living from the land. The Guardians get involved with mediating this dispute but the Liberators once again stage an atrocity that’s pinned on the Guardians. They also have managed to infiltrate their communication with a well placed traitor and ambush a plane sent from Washington. The President disavows them and now with every hand against them they go all out to take down the Liberators and restore their good name.
This was a good idea in introducing a team that was the Guardian’s equals. Maximov has figured out that his communications were compromised by the V-450 the Guardians appropriated when they destroyed Heartland. They always wondered about who the V-450 was for. It was for the team that was to take out the Guardians. This book also established the contentious relationship that the Guardians would have with Maggie Connolly the White House chief of staff. Once again another fun book with a new location in the post-nuclear U.S.
The Federated States of Europe have been invaded. A Turkish general has united the Muslims and launched a jihad against Europe. Naming himself Iskander Bey which is Arabic for Alexander the Great his hordes are pouring in from the Balkans to Spain. This development has presented a golden opportunity to drive the FSE from California. Over ten thousand troops have an iron grip on the state. So the Guardians are sent to California to organize resistance. The plan is to make it so difficult to the Effsees that Chairman Maximov will withdraw them to fight the invaders.
The Guardians then start organizing a guerrilla campaign using the various factions. Some of them were former enemies when they fought former Lt. Governor Van Damm. Eventually the campaign succeeds as the Effsees pull out and start to withdraw. Now some of their former allies turn on them. The eco-terrorists Sons of Hayduke betray the location of where Blueprint personal are hidden including Dr. Morgenstern. Now the Guardians must mount a rescue mission. First they have to fight through FSE supported pirates in a makeshift flotilla. Then ambush an well armed column as it makes its way to San Diego.
So the author was a bit ahead of his time in foreseeing the rise of the Caliphate. The stories set in California are some of the best in the series. The state just seems perfect with its mix of rightwing/leftwing groups along with the other nutjobs. They have to organize the “indiges” indigenous forces into a coherent fighting force. Green Beret Tom Rogers is an expert at this in the various shadow wars fought in the third world. Now its Americans as the indiges and it seems America has been reduced to the third world. There was a lot of action in this book which makes it great.
The Guardians have now set up the President safely in Washington. They can now focus on recovering the Blueprint. After a brief adventure in transporting the Blueprint personal from Iowa and fighting off a horde of road gypsies they get word of a major discovery. The Federated States of Europe has found the location of a secret installation in Louisiana. Code named Project Starshine it is the prototype of a fusion reactor. Cheap unlimited power and Chairman Maximov wants it. So the Guardians head out for the swamps of southern Louisiana.
The Effsees are also there landing a battalion of turncoat American troops. Now the Guardians have to organize the various swamp rats and Cajuns in the area to resist this invasion. In addition there are a group of KKK that call themselves the Regulators that are terrifying the local population. A renegade Cuban cruiser is also in the area with a captain who has delusions of grandeur in carving out his own empire. If that’s not enough there is an actual UFO that is flying around and attacking with its laser. It all comes to a head with a large hurricane.
This book was a real fun one. There was plenty of action in this story. I loved how the various plot thread were handled neatly and came together. Project Starshine is a very important piece to the Blueprint puzzle. An interesting fact after the apocalypse. Pre-1965 dimes and quarters are valuable because they were made out of silver. They actually will cut them in two and give back a half in change. So stock those coins for the apocalypse.