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Neutron Solstice is the third in James Axler's Deathlands series set in a world vastly different from our own! January 2001 was the day the world blew out and out of the destruction of America at the hands of nucleur armageddon, the Deathlands were born! Civilisation survived but in a form nothing like what life was like before....now what is left is like something out of a Mad Max movie!!
Ryan Cawdor and his band of mercenaries have discovered a series of matter-transporters hidden deep inside military and goverment redoubts all across the continent and now use them to travel the Deathlands. The only disadvantages are that the transports make you sick and that you have no choice in where you end up ~ the means of picking a destination lost in the war that destroyed the world as we once might have recognised it!
In this third adventure, Ryan and his pals arrive in what was once Louisiana but is now a near abandoned region where neutron bombs took out life but left buildings and establishments virtually intact. An evil-minded Baron holds sway over the Bayou and the swamps that surround his territory but a group of rebels, eager to see the people treated fairly, are slowly fighting back! Ryan and his buddies find themselves reluctantly being drawn into a battle not of their choosing but it is not a decision they take lightly and is not one that they will come to regret!
This is a great book not least because it gives the reader a first hint of the kind of man Ryan Cawdor is and supplies at last some answers about his past and how he first came to travel with The Trader; things that have only been hinted at before! It is very well written, in a b-movie kind of way, but is a good example of how such novels can be when the author actually cares about the plot and the characters and has some idea in his head where he wants to take them! This series could so easily become just another post-apocalyptic clone of concepts and ideas we have seen done a million times before but, instead, is slowly, with this latest entry, carving out its own niche fan-base and establishing its own independant universe. I cannot explain but this Deathlands series, so far, works on so many levels ~ managing to be simple yet effectively brilliant all at the same time!
One special treat featured here that could so easily slip under the radar comes when it quickly becomes apparent that Axler is obviously a fan of a certain other writer! Very early on, a voodoo witch woman lead to her own execution is mentioned as having recently cursed one Stevie King by making him grow thinner no matter how much he ate! A not-so-subtle reference I think you will agree to one Stephen King and his own novel, Thinner and this is not the last time that this kind of thing comes up either! In a later book we also get another more subtle reference to another King's novels and though it feels a little out of place, it is nice to see Axler paying tribute to a fellow writer he so obviously respects! This is just another good mark against this writer's name!
Overall, if you like your sci-fi a little different then this series is worth picking up! The books, this early on, are going from strength to strength with each being an improvement on the last and Ryan and his band of marauders are great characters that you really feel like you want to see more of!
The only bad thing about this series is that some of the books are now a little hard to obtain but this is one cult series that you reaslly need to check out if you are serious about your sci-fi and post-apocalypse fiction in paticular!