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Sunday, June 22, 2014


Author James McPhee is actually a pen name that was used by Laurence James. The British writer had a half dozen pen names that he utilized throughout his thirty year career. Dodging the old ex-wife I see. Fans of men's action adventure novels may know Laurence James as the creative force behind the popular "Deathlands" series that is published under house name James Axler. These damn pseudonyms! James wrote over thirty two of the series' entries including co-writing the very first novel. Gold badge.

With nearly six books a year being released under pen names Axler, McPhee or James, it is hard to imagine anyone working harder than William W. Johnstone ("Out of the Ashes", "Last Mountain Man") in the world of men's adventure. James may have been the most creative author in terms of total output in a two decade span. With his success in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre it is no surprise that he wrote other novels outside of the "Deathlands" mythos. 1991's "Survival 2000", released by Golden Eagle, was a popular alternative.

The three book series kicks off by unveiling an Earth that has been shattered by an asteroid in the year 2050. Why don't they call it "Survival 2050"? Civilization is left in ruins and we see the typical bandits, rovers and rogue Army sadists attempting to market their brand of Hell on Earth. If you call now we'll double the offer, operators are standing by! This paperback warrior is a former accountant named David Rand who is left backpacking the wasteland with his sixteen year old son Lee and pit-bull Melmoth. The two have a quest...a BLOOD QUEST...that they reach David's wife and two daughters in California.

Book one of the series, "Blood Quest", is simply the trek the two take to reach California only to find that most of the state is now swimming in the Pacific. With a few clues they find that their family may still be alive in a small town in Montana. As the two journey through a brutal nuclear winter they battle cannibals, animals and the elements. James is a rather technical author when it comes to firearms and all of these stories describe, in painful detail, every caliber bullet and make of weapon being used against assailants. I love firearms but I really just don't care anymore by page 100. Some of this is interesting but becomes rather long winded at times. 

Considering this is the first entry in the book it wasn't a huge surprise to find the action lacking the first half. The climax at the end was really effective and provided a rousing finish to a rather slow, albeit short, read. I was enthralled enough with the quest to buy the remaining two books of the series.