Saturday, October 06, 2007

More TNT

A couple of months ago, I wrote about Doug Masters' novel TNT, which I described as "perhaps the craziest book I've ever read." I'm not surprised to note that its sequels are also in the running for that title. Also from 1985 is the second TNT book, THE BEAST, which establishes Masters' routine of placing his hero into highly imaginative and frequently sick deathtraps. I'd be curious to know who "Masters" really is (I presume it's the pseudonym of an author whose "day job" was something more respectable), as he is blessed/cursed with a gloriously sick mind. I imagine he used these TNT books as a fun way to let his imagination run wild, as they seem to have been written very quickly, and his editor at Charter Books must have given him a free hand--I can't imagine an idea too far out for a TNT book.

In THE BEAST, Anthony Nicholas Twin (whose middle name was Nelson in the first book) is once again waylaid by wealthy scumbag Arnold Benedict, this time by drugging Twin and placing him into a twin-engine Blackbird on auto-pilot (flying at 200,000 feet!) and sending it into Soviet air space, which is where TNT is when he awakens and is given his reluctant mission. He is to infiltrate an awful Soviet gulag and rescue a prisoner who wishes to defect to the U.S.--a prisoner who has invented some sort of incredible weapon that nobody knows about, not even what form the weapon takes. Twin, who was imbued with superhuman senses after exposure to a nuclear explosion (including advanced sight and hearing and the ability to pleasure women for hours!), attempts to skip out on Benedict's folly, but his Soviet contacts have their own reasons for wanting Twin inside the prison, and their influence is stronger than Twin himself.

The deathtrap is a large dome inside the prison where the weapon, called The Beast, is hidden. At the top of the dome is a graveyard of sorts where thousands of tortured, flayed bodies are hung from the ceiling by wires with flesh and blood dripping off. It's also the setting for TNT's sex scene with a 20-year-old virgin guerrilla, and where he escapes in The Beast, which turns out to be an airplane-hangar-sized flying vehicle painted bright pink that weighs 700 tons and is impervious to all weaponry, including a nuclear bomb. That's the way Doug Masters rolls, folks.

In SPIRAL OF DEATH, the third of four TNT novels Charter released in 1985, Twin is sent to Bolivia to find out what criminal mastermind is destroying the world's Cuban cigars. It's a bad dude named Torquemada, who is using his Black Army to find a legendary mountain of gold located somewhere in South America. TNT infiltrates the Black Army and encounters another deathtrap, this one a giant building shaped like a spiral, in which he has only one hour to reach the top. Obstacles include gas, buzzsaws and razor blades. Since Twin's incursion into the Spiral of Death occurs in the middle of the book, I couldn't wait to discover how the hell Masters would top it in the second half. And talk about a twist! Twin and a sexy teenage temptress named Epifania (Masters has a knack for absurd character monikers) discover an underground society of pacifists who do nothing but make love to each other. The valley lies beneath a lake bed with a crystal bottom, allowing the sun's rays to provide heat and light. The huge valley includes trees, lakes, waterfalls...and, yes, more gold than any hundred men could ever spend.

Nothing in these books is to be taken seriously, since nothing and no one within them behaves with any real-world logic. I've got one more TNT book on the shelf that I can't wait to get to. Believe me when I say that Masters' novels are much stranger than I have indicated.

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