Saturday, November 24, 2007

Death Is Rotting Your Guts

The Enforcer is Alex Jason, a journalist and novelist who suffers from terminal stomach cancer. With only six painful months of life remaining in his disease-ravaged body, Jason is approached, via hologram, by the mysterious Mortimer J. Flack, a highly placed representative of the John Anryn Institute (I believe the name is a take on Ayn Rand, whose Objectivist philosophy is somewhat echoed in the novel). Flack offers Jason two additional years of pain-free life by transferring his mind into a newly created clone body. In return, Jason must work for the Institute as an agent and sometimes assassin.

The catch is that each clone body lasts for only ninety days. At first, one side of the body goes numb, blind and lifeless, then the other side. Ultimately, the body melts down into a blob of ick, during which time the brain is still functioning and the subject is aware of its hideous breakdown. However, the mind can be easily transferred into a new clone body as long as the old one still lives (by the way, the body is not a clone of Jason; rather, he receives a different-looking and sized body each time). As THE ENFORCER, #1 in Andrew Sugar's series opens, the human mind can only handle eight transfers (hence, Jason's two-year reprieve); on the ninth, retardation and/or senility begins to occur.

At 222 pages, THE ENFORCER, published by Lancer Books in 1973, is longer than most of these paperbacks, but it does have to fill in Jason's origin before it can dive into its plot. Jason is given a Latin body for his first mission, which is to storm the beach of a Caribbean island and use a super-powerful laser rifle to shoot and destroy an oil rig anchored fifteen miles off-shore. The laser has unlimited range, but is limited to only fourteen shots; on the fifteenth, it self-destructs, and you don't want to be holding it when it does.

However, Jason is captured soon after arriving and is held captive by a gay Latin germophobe general named O'Brien (!), who spends a month torturing Jason, believing him to be an agent of the CIA. Eventually, Jason is rescued by the Institute, who tosses him into a new mission, which is to penetrate a nearby laboratory where evil scientists are turning children into plants!

THE ENFORCER is quite lively and doesn't go overboard with its crazy science fiction elements, providing just the right level of audaciousness. Perhaps there's a little too much story, though there's no doubt a kickass movie could be made from this material. It's one of the best men's adventure paperbacks I've tackled so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest. I own six of Sugar's seven Enforcer novels. The cover is awesome too, even though no bikini girls accompany the Enforcer on his mission.

1 comment:

David said...

Your synopsis and review so intrigued me I immediately went to www.paperbackswap.com and to www.alibris.com and ordered a couple of volumes in the series. Great sounding stuff, and I thank you for the "heads up."