Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weather Or Not

THE POLE STAR SECRET is one of men's adventure fiction's all-time lamest copouts.

It was the 21st Death Merchant novel for Pinnacle. Published in 1977, it overpromises and way underdelivers. If there was such a thing as a TV brick for paperback novels, I would have heaved it.

First off, there's the Death Merchant's main mission. Acting on intel from two captured Russians, Richard Camellion leads a mission to the North Pole to find a Russian scientific base that's working on weather control experiments. This weather device is a McGuffin and never impacts the story.

More egregious is author Joseph Rosenberger's promise of...aliens. Not just aliens, but giants! A sequel of sorts to HELL IN HINDU LAND, which I haven't read, POLE STAR takes Camellion and his squad of Navy, CIA, and State Department personnel to a hidden land concealed miles beneath the North Pole. It's warm there with an artificial blue sun that measures thousands of feet in diameter. The underground island also contains a strange dome where, presumably, the aliens' secrets are held.

As with any other Death Merchant novel, pages are filled with graphic violence, as Rosenberger fits his anti-hero into one bloody gun battle after another. Okay, that's fine, because it's all building to the Death Merchant's men reaching the dome and uncovering its secrets.

Except they don't. About 2/3 in, Camellion reaches the dome, discovers it's surrounded by a force field, and says to the men, in effect, "Oh, well, we can't get in. Let's split and kill more Russians." Rosenberger never produces any aliens nor do we ever learn the origin of the underground world. That old writing tip, that if you produce a gun in the first act, you better fire it in the third? Rosenberger lives by his own rules.

The rest of POLE STAR is a bit anti-climactic, to say the least, with Camellion and the surviving crew of an American nuclear sub invading the Russian base and blowing it to bits. If you like absurd action stories, the Death Merchant novels are right up your alley, but it's impossible to not be disappointed in this tease.

1 comment:

Mike Cleary said...

Yup, I remember that same feeling of disappointment when I read this one years ago. It was SO typical of the series.