Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Freedom's Rangers 5 - Sink the Armada

Sink the Armada
Freedom's Rangers 5
by Keith W Andrews
1990 Berkley
Freedoms Rangers Sink the Armada

Freedom's Rangers is the Men's Adventure series with the coolest concept and most disappointing execution.  The year is 2008, and a failure of nerve (damn liberals!) has allowed Soviet Russia to conquer half of America.  Free Americans use time travel technology to travel to the past to alter history, while trying to prevent the Russians from doing the same.

Our story starts in 1588 Cuba with our heroes barely escaping their time travel base being destroyed by a nuclear blast.  They hitch a ride sailing to England to stop the Soviet plot - they seek to use modern weaponry to aid the Spanish Armada's attack on England in order to prevent England's ascendancy, which in turn will weaken the formation of America.

Andrews has clearly done his homework - if it's not historically accurate, he's faking it well enough for a casual read.  But the action doesn't take advantage of the setting or premise.

The big naval battle we're expecting doesn't happen, and the Spanish ditch the Russians and history goes on as normal.  Meanwhile, the Rangers are stranded centuries from home, with the only available time machine in an enemy nuclear submarine submerged in an unknown location miles from the coast.  How will our heroes ever manage to get home?

By just swimming up to it and walking inside, it turns out. Easy enough.  There's at least a decent firefight once inside, the highlight of the book.

Team books often suffer from lack of characterization, and this one is worse than most.  The only piece of personality comes from a passing mention that maybe a Navy guy won't fit in with the Rangers, but he does.  Also, there's a woman.

It could have used a better recap of how time travel worked in this series to close up some plot holes.  I'm assuming the process is expensive and inaccurate, but there's no reason they couldn't have buried caches of weapons at strategic points after the fact.  I don't expect Marvel Comics level of complexity, but you're in trouble when Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure beats you out.

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