Thursday, April 21, 2016

Apocalypse U.S.A.! - Death Merchant 54 by Joseph Rosenberger

Apocalypse U.S.A.!
Death Merchant 54
by Joseph Rosenberger

I hadn't had much luck with this series and hadn't seen what the fuss was all about.  Finally I turned up an installment that delivers.

Libyans, with the help of the Russians, are planning a chemical weapon attack on the east coast of the US.  We open up with a raid on an ice cream plant.  The Death Merchant, Richard Camellion, and crew hope they don't need to kill any cops, but they will, damn it, don't think they won't.  They do get to kill some innocent security guards, so there's some consolation.

The raid goes sour, so on to the next raid, at a salvage yard.  Then we've got a raid on a Libyan sleeper cell at a brickyard, but first - want to know how bricks are made?  Rosenberger will tell you.  Several times.  After the violent shootout they find the location of the nerve gas and the Soviet agents in charge of it - in a boat off the Pacific.  The President has ordered that the boat be taken intact and the nerve gas seized.

Carmellion, crew, and a team of SEALS head out to sea, but first a chapter about Israeli war atrocities, complete with footnotes.

I wouldn't have thought that several pages of helicopters strafing a boat would hold my attention, so well done, Rosenberger.  The crew sets down and clears the boat room by room by room by room.  Bullets, bombs, deadly karate moves with made-up names.  Wasn't counting but this one surely went up to triple digits in on-page deaths.  Well done.

I'm learning to skim over Rosenbeger's lengthy Platonic discourses.  He has characters which you think will represent different points of view, but they mainly just agree with each other and throw out random statistics and right-wing talking points.  If Rosenberger was alive today I get the feeling he'd be reposting memes on Facebook 24-7.

This is the first Death Merchant I've read that has brought in Rosenberger's pseudo-scientific spiritual side - he had written some cataclysmic non-fiction for Fate magazine.

"The tilt of the earth would come during World War III - a nuclear holocaust - and usher n a new age, one of peace, one that would last for a thousand years, from A.D. 2000 to A.D. 3000, after which there would be a new horror, a new evil.  Only this time man would not be fooled; he would be prepared, having developed a higher spiritual consciousness.  At the end of the year A.D. 7000 there would be a universal conflagration in which earth would be destroyed."

This is just thrown in the middle a scene, apropos of nothing.

Get the paperback from Amazon.


  1. Hands down, one of my favorite DMs. Congrats on getting the full monty on this one, so to speak...

  2. This is a good one for off-topic "discussions".

    Also, Rosenberger repeats himself:

    "[Camellion] could shoot the balls off a bee at a hundred feet." (page 16)
    "Camellion could have shot the butt off a bee at a hundred feet." (page 84)

    And we get insults that could only have come from the typewriter of JRR: "Go kiss a hair brush."