on 23 November 2003
I 1st read this book as a teenager way back when in the 1970's. Following a disasterous house move - some thieving little stoat ripped me off for the cash I sent to have a box of books sent on (including The Lost Traveller), over the subsequent years it reached mythological status as I tried in vain to track it down.
But track it down I did (not like the thieving stoat of above). Having recently re-read it some 20 odd years on, does it match up to expectations?
Yes & no. The basic story is that in 1993 the USA is hit by a series of nuclear & chemical strikes. The only ones to keep their heads in the ensuing mayhem are the Hells Angels( who are used to mind expanding drugs & a hostile world), whom by happenstance rescue the President of America from drug crazed looters & as a reward are granted a fiefdom.
Well thats page one dealt with. The main story takes place some 200 years later, with the USA divided into different sectors, all battling for control. Our hero's, two initiates and an older Hells Angel are sent on a mission to collect a scientist who wishes to defect & in doing so, precipitate a full scale invasion by the forces of the East Coast - culminating in a full scale Hells Angels Vs the military set piece battle.
Epic is the term I would probably use to describe it's structure, somewhat akin to an oddessy type journey, with a mysterious stranger arriving at a remote hostel & telling the story. It is in parts over ambitous & a central segment of the book wanders off into a metaphysical journey of the soul (the title may originate from a John Milton poem).
Very violent in parts & bar the central character, the Hells Angels have no individual redeeming characteristics, they are mysoginistic, crude & brutal.
Worth looking at if you are into post apocalypse sci fi/biker gangs
on 11 September 2013
This is a curate's egg of a book, good in parts. I first read it when I was a teenager in the 1970s and remembered only fragments but the overall concept remained in my head, Hell's Angels in a post apocalyptic America.
The background scene setting is the US, 200 years after a nuclear war, the east cost is run by an expansionist militarised regime. In the west are two "Fiefs", The main one is run by "Literates" who maintain a technical society with a standing army, connected to this Fief is a community of.....dare I say it!.....Hell's Angels, who act as auxilliary shock troops, desendants of the original Hell's Angels Motorcycle gang.
The story concerns three young Angels, Long Range, Milt and Belial, who are recruited to travel east to find a scientist who can save the world. The first part of the book is essentially an adventure story as the three travel across America, battling their dealdy rivals, The Gypsies, meeting Indians and eventually the East! As adventures go this is quite exciting and the set pieces are described well. There is a lot of hippy drivel when the three meet a Tribe of Indians and get involved in initiation, sweat lodges and the like....but there is also lots of shootin' and chasin' as well.
The second half of the book veers away from this adventure format into a sort of military history in which the East battles the West. All this I found quite boring as there is limited character development. We also lose site of our heroes until near the end when there is a kind of final denouement.
Overall I found this book very readable even after 35 years. But it is a story of its time, not 200 years in the future but the counter culture of the late 1960s and early 70s.