bullets broads blackmail and bombstraveler first you fight reviewThis week we deal with the wonderful world of the post-apocalypse, where books depict the future as a lawless wasteland, where only the strong survive. Hell, if Oprah can tackle the subject, why can’t we? Thanks to Matt Baker for contributing one of this week’s covered titles; donations are always welcome here.

TRAVELER #1: FIRST, YOU FIGHT by D.B. Drumm – I only can imagine the pitch meeting for this series, which began in 1984: “I know, we’ll have world destroyed in a horrific nuclear war and set the books 15 years after the fact, with our hero being a guy we know only as ‘Traveler.’ He’s some sort of special ops soldier who’s infected with a mysterious chemical combination which makes him feel all the pain around him. Then we’ll throw in enough stuff from the MAD MAX movies to keep the kids entertained.”

For what it is, this book was better than expected, but – and there is a but – the plot is about 90 percent of a movie most people have seen: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (or YOJIMBO for the arthouse crowd). Yep, Traveler enters a town with two dueling bosses both hellbent on being the top dog, with Traveler playing them off one another throughout, with a big score being a mysterious, victory-guaranteeing shipment of guns making its way through the wastelands. Words can’t quite do it justice.

Now, there is some discussion about who actually wrote this book. The series was written by two writers: Ed Naha and John Shirley. Shirley wrote the bulk of the early adventures, so one would assume he wrote this one, too. But on the copyright page its credited to Naha, so it’s anyone’s guess. I’m leaning a bit toward Naha since there were no long passages about Traveler’s male member. Still, this book was about a subtle as a Ken Russell film.

day triffids reviewTHE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS by John Wyndham – Years ago in my teens, I watched a cool miniseries on PBS based on this 1951 novel. Now I’m finally reading it – a total sci-fi classic not of the post-apocalyptic kind, but it does feature some of end-of-society motifs. For anyone who has seen 28 DAYS LATER, some portions of this title will seem very familiar, as that film took a few nods from this book.

It starts out with our narrator Bill Massen waking up in a hospital to complete silence. He’s been patiently waiting for the bandages to come off his eyes, but there is no one around to help. When he removes them himself, he views a whole new world  –  one where everybody has gone blind, due to a comet shower the night before.

But if only blindness were the only problem. There’s also these strange plants called Triffids. First looked upon as a freak of nature, the plants are able to walk and whip out a stinger tinged with a deadly poison. Bill rescues a girl named Josella from an abusive blind man who has captured her. She wrote a book that haunts her reputation throughout the story, including with a paramilitary group with its own idea of survival.

The great thing about this DAY is how it’s not dated. Who knows? It might happen one day. I could go on about Bill going from one group of people to another until he reunites with his love, all while the Triffid problem gains a foothold on the world. But it would really take away from the enjoyment of the read. TRIFFIDS stands as a science fiction novel that could go up against some of that high-falutin’ literature out there. I know there was a sequel written by a different author years later, so make sure you first read Wyndham’s original first.

survival 2000 reviewSURVIVAL 2000: BLOOD QUEST by James McPhee – This 1991 novel is the story of a man and his son on a road trying to get home. It’s not the Pulitzer-winning THE ROAD, but boy, I would call it a low-rent version of it, if only it hadn’t come out 15 years earlier.

It’s two years after the huge asteroid hit earth, sending the population into a panic. David Rand and his son Lee are camping out in New Mexico for survival. Throughout the book, this twosome is approached by killers, cannibals and just plain psychos. With no idea of what to really do with their lives, they are armed to the teeth with guns that would give NRA members hard-ons, as they travel back to home in California, trying to avoid all confrontations if possible.

Their morals and beliefs have been changed severely, because if it comes down to killing a intruder or being killed, David is leaning toward the first option, with no remorse whatsoever. Once they arrive home, they find out that the rest of the family is still alive, having run off to Montana to sit out the hit. This trip to Montana is the second part of the novel.

Now for a bit of criticism: When I started this book, I had no idea it was a trilogy, and not every question is answered. You’ll have to look for the other two books for any real closure. But they’re not so easy to find, so if anyone actually has those two books, please contact me. The story reads super-quick and is packed with gun porn and violence, with a little sex thrown into the mixture.

Next time: Oh, the places you’ll go! –Bruce Grossman

Buy it at Amazon.

THE OTHER END by John Shirley

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2007-07-24 06:48:13

[…] Drumm – Without a shadow of a doubt, John Shirley is the man behind this 1984 tale. First of all, the first book never gave a specific date of when this story takes place, so the real first laugh-out-loud moment […]

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2007-10-23 07:01:11

[…] • THE OTHER END by John Shirley • THE SPECIALIST #1: A TALENT FOR REVENGE by John Shirley • TRAVELER #1: FIRST, YOU FIGHT by John Shirley • TRAVELER #2: KINGDOM COME by D.B. […]

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