Friday, August 19, 2005

Book Number 32 & 33


The Guardians #1 (1984) by Richard Austin
The Guardians #2: Trial By Fire (1985) by Richard Austin

The Guardians are a series of 16 military adventure books set in a post-apocalyptic near future. They were written by an author named Victor Milán (aka Richard Austin) a prolific writer of what he calls "intelligent action adventure".

In the first of the series, a classic nuclear scenario transpires with the Communists. The bombs pummel the world and in Washington the President heads for his mountain retreat. He unfortunately flies right into a bomb blast and leaves the wimpy VP behind in the Capitol. A crack team who has been assembled for just this very situation moves into action to drive him across the country to a huge bunker named Heartland. This team is The Guardians! They are 4 elite soldiers (one from each branch of the Armed Forces) who are highly trained and have but one mission: protect the Prez.

The next part of the book was fairly cool. The team has to scout around DC tring to find a clear evacuation route because all the highways are clogged with refugees. They end up driving right up through Rock Creek Park past my apartment. I'm set.

The second book has the Guardians driving around the country trying to collect a group of elite scientists have knowledge of the "Blueprint For Renewal". We also find out about Maximov, a shady emigre based in Bern who has consolidated a power base in Europe and via the now-subverted CIA, hopes to achieve world domination!

Overall, the writing is fast paced but not very inspiring. He is a spare writer but not in that impacting way like Richard Stark or Raymond Chandler. It's like eating a bland bread roll with a few tasty bits inside. More often than not you'll find the book straying into gear and weapons porn territory:

Some of the auxies had drifted forward to inspect Mobile One, listening with interest as Casey held forth about the monstrosity with the enthusiasm of a teenager with a new hot rod. He knew every bolt, circuit and chip of the V-450, from the huge honeycomb-construction flatproof, up through the heavy suspension, the husky V-8 diesel engine and state-of-the-art electronics packed into the amphibious and NBC-resistant foamed-alloy hull. With the belt-fed 40 mm M-19 automatic grenade launcher and Browning M-2HB .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the low, sharp-faced turret, and an assortment of weapons within that could fire through ports beneath the Goodyear no-spall vision blocks of tough glass-plastic laminate, the Caddilac-Gage V-450 was a fine-tuned, highly mobile high-tech weapon of destruction.

Or (this-stuff-just-cracks-me-up-with-all-its-hyphens):

Most of the armed forces were converting to the M-249 Minimi, a Belgian-designed machine gun that fired the same NATO standard 5.56-mm round as the U.S.'s M-16 and the new European generation of disposible plastic battle rifles. The Minimi was a fine weapon, light and flexible.


Olman Feelyus said...

Nice find and nice review. It's too bad that they sound ultimately a bit boring. Kind of like porn. If you like all the hardware talk, it's worth it to get through the rest. Despite the dryness, would you say that he comes close to his goal of writing "Intelligent Action Adventure"? I like the tagline. Easy to say, much harder to execute.

Lantzvillager said...

I wouldn't really say that he succeeds in that task. He lacks the flow that is found in, for example, a Desmond Bagley novel which I would say is an archetype.

There is an overtly pro-military flavor that is reflected in the exhaustive weapons descriptions.

I have a few more of this series so I may try another one sometime.

Olman Feelyus said...

I know what you mean by pro-military flavor. I'd say it's military of the decidedly uneducated north american flavor. In England at least you have the tradition of the classicly educated officer class who are quite civilized and well-read, but still tough. Here, military lit of the adventure kind tends towards the gung-ho dump machismo and super gearheadness which is extremely boring.