Thursday, January 23, 2014


by Andrew Sugar
Lancer Books 1973

"The contract's out from the Mafia masters - get the Enforcer!  Before he gets us!"
"You're a Dead Man, Jason!
Death is rotting your guts, tearing you apart with pain.  It's all over; there's nothing left but the funeral, and they're measuring you for the coffin now.  But we can save you, Jason - we can give you a new body, a new face, a new name.  You don't have to die - not yet.  Maybe never.  All you have to do is say the word and we'll fix all the things that are going wrong with your body, with your life, with your world.  We want you, Jason.  We need you - and we're going to own you!  you belong to us, Jason - you're our ENFORCER"

Alexander Graham Bell Jason is an author and journalist dying of cancer, but he is given a chance at a new life by a mysterious representative of the John Anryn Institute.  John Anryn was a billionaire chemist who favored "constructive selfishness" over corruption and altruism.

The John Aynrand Institute opposes an international cartel of organized crime figures more vast and generic than the mafia.  These criminals unfairly influence and control the political process.  They fight these shadowy power brokers by operating in the shadows and assassinating people they don't like.

There are hints that the Institute, nicknamed Big John, may not be as benevolent as it barely pretends to be.  Either later books show them up to be less than above board, or the author has the same lack of self awareness as Big John.

Big John has a vast horde of advanced technology, which it uses to advance it's own purposes rather than, say, benefit society or even make a buck off of.  This introduces the half-assed science fiction element of the series.

The Enforcer randomly throws out half-baked inventions that not only are implausible, but have no impact on the course of the story.  There's a laser gun with infinite range that can't miss and can destroy large structures with a single shot, yet it's only used at point blank range as effectively as a pistol.  There's a perfect pain-killer that has no addictive properties, which for some reason isn't used to make a billion dollars while revolutionizing medicine and end the suffering of millions.

This is even true of the main gimmick.  Big John is able to transfer a person's consciousness to new clone bodies.  The clones last about 90 days, and the process only works for two years before..never mind, they fix that half way through the book.  I guess they wanted to avoid any dramatic tension later on.

I'm sure a secret agent of a shadowy organization could use this body hopping gimmick in all kinds of clever and exciting ways, and maybe AT&T Jason will do just that in a later volume, because he doesn't get much use out of his one body in this volume aside from turning Hispanic.

Jason is recruited to plan assassinations for Big John, using his skills as a writer, so of course his first assignment is to blow up an oil well with a laser gun.

Given that the laser gun has infinite range and can't miss, you'd think literally anybody could handle this mission from literally anywhere, but Jason is sent into the South American island of Punta de Flecha to meet up with rebel forces there.  A mission he immediately bullocks up and gets captured.

Jason is tortured for days and weeks by the gay Captain Julio O'Brien, which takes up a big chunk of the book until his exciting and daring escape.  And by that I mean until his useless ass is rescued.

We're 3/4ths of the way through the book and Verizon Jason has yet to accomplish jack.  His rescuers take him to a rebel camp where they learn about experiments being done on the natives which turn them half plant life.  Not in a cool way, with venus flytrap heads and spit, just a doctor saying "She's half plant".

A young girl has escaped from the fortified lab, but the experiments have turned her into a mindless half vegetable girl.  In a daring gambit, Jason takes the girl back to the lab, pretends to be in the same military, and talks his way inside.  There he finds an antidote and saves the girls life.

Sorry, I did it again.  He totally gets her killed, but not before making this observation:

"His eyes followed her finger to Lucilla's bare backside as it bobbed up and down while she kept pace with the marchers and he felt his insides tighten.  Staring at the thin buttocks, Jason realized that they would never fill in normally so that old man [sic] would want to pinch them and young boys would want to chase them.  The anger of the injustice grew inside him and Jason didn't attempt to extinguish it."

Yeah.  That's the real injustice.  That the bare ass of the child you're not bothering to clothe and about to get killed won't be suitable for leering.  Except by our hero, of course.

Did I mention there's a lot of sex?  There's a lot of sex.  More sex than action, but no more plausible.  Most of the sex is with a fellow Big John recruit, who was a virgin in two bodies.  Sure.  Lots of mature, nuanced eroticism, such as: "Damn it, I wish you had another c*** so I could suck it while you f***ed me!"

Anyway, Jason actually does something about twenty pages from the end and manages to sneak his team into the laboratory and gets the head scientist compliant by threatening him with a spider.  They escape the lab, only to be double crossed by the violent, insane, racist redneck on the Big John team.  With Jason's latent psychic powers, you'd think he'd see that coming.

Oh, did I forget he has some kind of psychic powers?  So did the author, aside from a couple of obvious hunches he shoe-horned in.

Jason is useless even in the big showdown, in which the redneck gets himself killed before Jason is rescued once again.

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