Friday, August 31, 2007

34-38. books 2-6 of the Amtrak Wars

Amtrak Series picture
Oooh, sneak attack! You weren't expecting that Carrot (though this didn't give me the lead I was hoping for, I am in the race still).

The mountain man of Mount Benson found the rest of the Amtrak War Series which I received as a very welcome surprise in the mail a couple months ago. I've been working my way through them (not much work really). I had devoured the first one and was really looking forward to continuing the series. In many ways, the set-up in the Amtrak Wars is my ideal post-apocalyptic setting. It's far in the future (1,000 years) but still has connections to the past. There is tons of unknown and mystery set up at the beginning that really hooks the fan of exploration of the unkown in me.

The themes underlying the series is also very 80s. It's the fascistic near-1984 society versus the primitive plainspeople, who are kind of rock and roll (with names named after rock bands and midwestern cities). Plus an entire post-apocalyptic feudal Japanese society that shuns electricity. It has a frank tone and pulls no punches, with the violence and sex. Sometimes this makes it feel a tad cheap, but more often it's entertaining and reminds you how precious and careful we have become with our genre writing.

Ultimately, the series moves more towards the conflict between the three major powers in this wasteland North America. The protaganists are heroes who have special powers and are clearly marked for world-changing destinies and their narrative path guides the political conflicts. I got into this, but after the third book, most of the mysteries of the world are revealed. They are pretty cool, but the series moves away from exploration, which I missed a bit.

Also, and this is pretty major, it never fully concludes. It ends very open-ended, either because the author deliberately wanted it that way (as a reader you have enough info to speculate on your own) or because he grew tired. I've heard he is a bit of a recluse now and doesn't want to talk about The Amtrak Wars. It's too bad, because I would definitely be buying the next books if he were to do them.

Overall, a fantastic find and full of tons of ideas that I'll be stealing for future gaming. This would have blown my mind if I'd read it in my adolesecent years. I'm amazed it never popped up until now.


dsgran said...

i knew you wasn't going down without a fight! ;)

Anonymous said...

According to Patrick Tilley he is still on for writing the last 3 books in the series. Hopefully within the next 1-2 years we will see a revival of the series.

Further an australian company has optioned the books with the view to developing both movies and computer games from the materials. More to look out for. Even though it seems they are using the originally intended title "The Talisman Prophecy"

Its a shame the series is not in print anymore, as it would make a great revival during the current 80's revival.