Sunday, November 27, 2016

Time Raider #01 - Wartide


Another barrel-chested action hero emerges with John Barnes 'Time Raider' series. "Wartide" is the first of this series and was published in 1992 by Gold Eagle. Barnes is an American writer that has written a lot of science fiction tales in his career, notably the 'Thousand Cultures' line of books. The 'Time Raider' series was short lived with only three books instead of a long line of time traveling entries that could have made up for a lengthy writing endeavor if Barnes chose to pursue it. 

The book introduces us to a Vietnam War vet named Dan Samson. At the start we get a brief backstory on Samson - decorated veteran who is financially strapped selling cars for a dishonest dealer. To obtain some extra cabbage Samson agrees to a lab experiment that has something to do with cables attached to his head for some sort of hidden memory nonsense. Samson agrees to do it for a measly $200 bucks. The lab tech gives specific instructions that Samson cannot move during the two hour procedure. During the experiment, Barnes throws us a curve ball with some really jumbled writing that seems to suggest an AK-47 toting bad guy breaks into the facility and starts stacking up bodies. Samson moves his body and thus becomes Time Raider.

Trapped in his own time Dr. Sam Becket leaps from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, hoping that his next leap will be the leap home. - wait that's 'Quantum Leap' and this is something very similar. The time traveling hero awakens to find himself in Nazi occupied Italy during WWII. The author treats the whole thing casually as Samson just simply keeps on living in this world as if it's no big deal. I mean we all do this right, leaping around through time fighting wars from the history books. It turns out Samson is in the body of Private Houston, a pimping US Army hustler that has done some really bad things through the course of the war. Like he's a really bad guy. With very little concern or questions Samson kills off an Army rapist and then annihilates a squad of German goons. To prove he is a changed man he teams up with an Italian rebel to break into a German military base and kill off a few Nazis. The two then go back to camp and decide to break into another facility. They get caught, tortured and inevitably break out. The whole purpose of Samson's trip through time is to defeat the Nazi regime's use of Sarin gas on North America. Or was it to make snow angels? 

The book is really written without a whole lot of explanation or reasoning. Nevertheless Barnes gives us a whole lot of action including a much needed shootout in a wine cellar. Kudos to the author for delivering the goods with a fairly decent pace. Why Samson is a ping-pong ball in the time stream really isn't unveiled here. Instead, a bunch of Asian prophecy crap is laid on us with the Winds of Time fortune cookie. At the end, Samson learns that he can't return home and will be time traveling in lieu of collecting Medicare and playing church bingo in his old age. 

While this is a really interesting concept, it surprisingly isn't that original. A series called 'Casca' is essentially the same thing, debuting in 1979 and running through the 80s. 'Janissaries', 'Lost Regiment' and 'Freedom's Rangers' are all similar released prior to this series. The next entry in 'Time Raider' promises the Mexican-American war. I'll be searching the book caves for the remaining two installments.