The eighth book to feature in James Axler's Deathlands series, set on an Earth where the world blew out in early 2001, is an important chapter in the Deathlands chronology. Arriving in a new military redoubt by means of the matter transporters they use to travel across what was once America, Ryan and his compatriots discover something new! A whole section of this installation dedicated to the science of Cryonics and Cryogenics with test-subjects quite literally frozen in time!
Unfreezing some of the subjects has mixed results; many of the compartments have malfunctioned and of the other subjects still alive, all of them were terminally ill upon freezing and several of them mentally unstable due to brain tumors or from being lobotomised!
Only one test-subject wakes up in apparent good condition and his mind has been scrambled after long years of being left under ice. His past is something of a mystery and his personnel file is locked under high security-clearance, but it appears he was something to do with the construction of the Gateways Ryan and his friends are using to travel. If their new companion can recover his mind, there is every chance he might be able to help them control the transporters instead of leaving their destinations to chance!
Eventually, the group end up leaving the redoubt as they always do and, this time, find themselves in what was once California but now is the Oil capital of Deathlands. Local citizens are able to refine the Oil they are mining to the point that many of them have Wags (vehicles not footballer's wives!) that they use to travel about in and their Ville is becoming an important one for trade and barter. But a religious couple with an obsession with snakes are on the brink of seizing control and Ryan and his friends soon find themselves in the midst of a simmering conflict that can only have one outcome; death for all those involved!
Add a near-by colony of Stickies to the mix (Muties with a very nasty affliction who are keen to kill anyone or anything in their path!) and what we are left with is a Deathlands novel that is certainly back on form! This more than makes up for the previous two slightly more average novels and there is even another Stephen King reference when the group discover a poster in the redoubt they arrive in depicting a clown with the message "Hi from Pennywise" scribed underneath!
It is good to see Deathlands back to the standard readers and fans have come to expect and there are some crucial and very important moments here that may potentially have ramifications for later books in the series! Certainly this is among the better of the Deathlands novels and shows this is much more than just another pulp sci-fi series even if it ismarketed as such!
It is only a shame that it is tricky to get hold of some of these volumes over here and that even second-hand, sometimes the prices for these books can get a little exorbiant! One thing is for certain, this is a series that still has plenty of mileage and continues to go from strength to strength!