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July 13th, 2008

Oldie Book Review: "Liege-Killer" by Christopher Hinz [Jul. 13th, 2008|12:38 pm]
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Know then that it is the year 2307 and a billion humans live in 217 metal cylinder colonies in Earth orbit. The Earth itself is still dangerously toxic from the nuclear holocaust of 2099. The chaotic 30 years leading to that Apocalypse saw the rise of the Paratwa, genetically engineered pairs of humans who telepathically share one consciousness. Because of superior genetics and training from an early age with the Cohe Wand (a whip-like version of a lightsaber), the Paratwa become the most deadly killers ever in human history. A mere 7,000 of them account for more than 150 million human deaths. With their personal shields, Cohe Wands and other weapons, a single pair can face hundreds of heavily armed human troops in open battle and often emerge victorious.

But they were all thought to have been killed in the nuclear Apocalypse. The Irrayan orbital colonies have had 200 years of peace and prosperity, due in large part to E-Tech, the organization that safeguards dangerous technology so that humanity won't go off the rails again. This peace is disturbed by a series of killings carried by a pair of deadly assassins. A Paratawa has re-awoken.

E-Tech head Rome Franco and his organization investigate and this activity leads them to revive two men from stasis. They are Nick, a four-foot genius computer "hawk" and overall manipulator and Gillian, whose parents and wife were killed by Paratwa back in the 21st century. These two were specialized in hunting down and killing Paratwa before the Apocalypse. As the current Paratwa killings increase in number and severity, Rome Franco authorizes Nick and Gillian to put together a new team to hunt down the binary assassin.

Over the course of the rest of this book and the two sequels ("Ash Ock" and "The Paratwa") Gillian will uncover his true past and re-claim a part of him that was taken away before the Apocalypse and humanity will face enslavement from The Paratwa and their Ash Ock leaders who have been plotting their triumphant return for more than 250 years.

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I first read this trilogy because of the recommendation of an old email buddy. She raved about it and the 9 issue "Gemini Blood" comic series that Hinz wrote which chronicled some adventures of Nick and Gillian in the 21st century. I was a big-time comic collector in the mid-90s, so I bought "Gemini Blood" and loved it and then tracked down and bought the books. Now I re-read them every 4 or 5 years.

This is some of the best science fiction I've ever read. Hinz does a great job with world building and has a flair for writing action set pieces. He also does a great job of getting inside Gillian and several other view-point character's heads. And his great story telling ability becomes more obvious as you read the books and the deeper and deeper layers of the onion-like true history of the Paratwa is revealed. Hinz hasn't written much besides this series and that's a shame. These books are well worth tracking down and reading
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Oldie Movie Review: Sharky's Machine [Jul. 13th, 2008|01:25 pm]
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Know then that it is the year 1980 and Atlanta narcotics cop Sharky (played by Burt Reynolds) has been busted down to the vice squad because a citizen got shot in a drug bust gone bad. Sharky whips his complacent new colleagues into a new "machine" and he catches the scent of a high-priced call girl with a very high profile client. From a nearby skyscraper, Sharky watches and listens to her in her luxury apartment for weeks and begins to fall in love. When her pimp's drug crazed brother shows up at her door with a sawed-off shotgun, things get even more interesting.

Burt Reynolds was on top of the world in the late seventies and early eighties. This film is good evidence of how he got and remained there. This is his best film as a director and one of his best performances as an actor. He shines as the obsessed Sharky, but this movie soars because of the outstanding supporting cast. Charles Durning and Brian Keith coax some well earned laughs as crusty old cops and Bernie Casey steals a couple of scenes with his take on zen philosophy and the art of not being seen. Rachel Ward is perfect as the love interest and Henry Silva makes a convincing stone-cold killer.

Reynolds' stated purpose in making this movie was to do a southern version of Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry." He based it on a seriously flawed novel by William Diehl but somewhere along the line got the brilliant idea to work in some elements from the film noir classic "Laura." This could have been a Frankenstein's monster of a movie, but it turned out to be an action packed, yet funny and romantic gem with a funky little jazz/r&b soundtrack.

This movie is on track to be re-made with Mark Wahlberg in the title role. No telling yet how that will turn out, but at least it may inspire a new generation of fans to discover this forgotten classic.
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