Tuesday, April 24, 2007

21. Roadblaster #1: Hell Ride by Paul Hofrichter

Roadblaster pictureI found this nugget of Reagan-era nuclear holocaust pulp literature at S.W. Welch's moving sale for a buck. It came out around the same time as the Outrider series and is clearly riffing off the Road Warrior. It's after the Nuclear War that everyone feared in the 80s and now the good and plucky must work together to fight against the savages that rise up in times of chaos.

I speak a bit disimissively of this book, as it is pretty junky in many ways. However, it also has some good stuff in it. The story follows an outdoor hobbyist, from New York, but on vacation camping and hunting in the Northern California mountains. It also jumps around to a B-52 crew who were on their way to nuke Siberia when they developed engine trouble, a gang of bikers and the citizens of the small town they decide to take over. All these characters converge in a fairly entertaining way.

Here's what's good: The opening scene, when the guy is at the top of a mountain looking out towards the coast and suddenly sees mushroom clouds blossoming all over the place is pretty cool. Following the air crew as well is quite cool. The author doees a decent job of describing how the civil infrastructure would respond to being nuked, but he keeps most of the action in the small towns, where that kind of thing is easier to handle as a writer. If you are a student of the genre, this book has some good stuff in it.

What's bad, however, is that it is saturated with pornographic descriptions of violence, explosions and rape. There are a couple scenes that minus their brutality could have come off the pages of Penthouse Forum (or at least what I would imagine those pages would read like ;) ) Every bullet wound, every knife stab is described in blow by blow detail with loving attention paid to the death rattle. It's the same with explosions. I guess that is what the audience of the time demanded, but it leaves a kind of sour taste in your mouth. The story is nasty enough without needing to go into that kind of detail. Though there is one pretty good over the top scene where the bikers have kidnapped the hero's proxy daughter and they are forcing her to perform oral sex on one of them. The hero sneaks up on them, armed and blows the guys dick off while it's in her mouth. With a rifle!

It doesn't have the same kind of crazy inventiveness as the Outrider books and lacks the fun, but there are some good grim details here that makes it rise above the Mack Bolan level of serialized fiction paperbacks. I'll keep my eye out for #2 and #3.

(note: the image above is an original scan because I couldn't find the cover anywhere on the net. Getting old school, boy!)

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