Maurice G. Dantec
Del Rey, May 2008, $15.00
The war to end all wars seems an accurate description as sometime in the near future, the hostilities devastated the planet leaving one and half billion survivors to scurry for sustenance on a planet none recognize. Cities are dead and continents radically altered as rising oceans pushed the coastline inland. Multiple nations vanished and there is one world-wide ruling government through a humongous computer network that tracks the movement of everyone.
The Russian-American Mafia assigns Red Star Order assassin Sergei Diego Plotkin to travel from Russia to Grand Junction, but to do so he must cross security checkpoints where his memories would betray his mission to kill the town mayor Orville Blackburn. Thus much of his recall is erased as the mob needs to make an example of the mayor for breaking his pledge to them. He arrives in Grand Junction, site of one of the last operating cosmodromes where one can purchase a Golden Track (ticket) on a space ship to the Orbital Rim, Mars or Luna colonies. Plotkin and his AI Melatron plan the scheme including who will take the fall for the assassination. Then he meets dying Vivian McNellis; he revises his mission to get her to the rim though his employers will come after him.
This post apocalypse tale plays two themes. First there is the paid hitman who will remind readers of the Schwarzenegger character in the movie Total Recall; Vivian makes him a better person, but she also is much more and much less than she seems. Besides the lead characters with a support cast that showcases the pair and their environment, there is also an overarching somewhat in the background theme of a dying earth. Readers will relish this deep look at a grim future yet there remains a glimmer of hope that a Divine Plan is at work.