June 11, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, October 12, 1972: "Catholic Sex Ed Needed"

Joseph Rosenberger writes a Letter to the Editor:
Catholic Sex Ed Needed

It was with a combination of pity and amusement that I read of the "Prayer Vigil," regarding chastity, to be held at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Wheeling, Oct. 13.

While believing that Roman Catholic authorities should be allowed to teach the Catholic faith to members of the Church (provided they don't demand public funds to do it), I should think that more progress could be made – both with young people and adults – if the Church would cease its ostrich-headed attitude and permit a program of modern sex education in its schools, instead of depending on pious platitudes formulated in the Middle Ages, during the days when certain Popes could "prove" the earth was "flat" . . . platitudes that were built around the premise that all sex, even between married couples, was – is – somehow frowned upon by the Creator of the universe!

Personally, I fail to see how two Franciscan Friars, who have never had to worry about paying bills, or children, or family or anything else in the every day world of making a living, can impart ANY advice regarding the sexual function. Nor do I feel that "prayer" will chain the normal and healthy sexual urges of a teenage boy or girl!

I trust these Friars, educated as they are in Church History, Catholic philosophy, homiletics, etc., will inform their listeners that modern sociological thought does not attach the exceptional value that a superficial, limited, and unscientific religious ethic sets upon it.

Most psychiatrists (and other professionals connected with the public welfare) consider absolute chastity a form of ignorance, their feeling (based on medical evidence) being that even partial chastity constitutes a blind denial of the legitimacy of the sexual acts and is nothing more than a vestige of the ancestral taboo that certain religions persist in teaching without producing any scientific or logical reason to justify it. As to those misinformed people who point to the Bible . , well, on that basis we should legalize polygamy, since many a prophet and king in the Old Testament had more than one wife. (Actually modern society does have a form of progressive polygamy, only we call it "divorce and remarriage!")

Of course, if people prefer to believe superstition and ignore modern science – that's their business. However, they should keep in mind that "prayer" has not helped any family that finds itself on the brink of bankruptcy because of too many mouths to feed. They should also realize that while the Church is a Santa Claus when it comes to giving advice, it's a miser that would put Scrooge to shame when it comes to shelling out hard cash to ANY needy family, or even permitting that family's children to attend parochial school without paying the necessary tuition.

Joseph R. Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove
Roselle Register, October 12, 1972
Six days later:
Sex Ed Letter Hit

Many people, I would suspect, are likely embarrassed for Mr. Joseph Rosenberger of Buffalo Grove, whose letter in the Fence Post (October 12) suggests that increasing sexual permissiveness is somehow the key to better mental health. Quite apart from the inanity of his thesis (and his patent ignorance of the positive emphasis Catholic education today places upon the sexual aspect of man's nature), Mr. Rosenberger's tirade against the religiously-based moral values of many of his neighbors is a deplorable exercise in bad taste.

It is a mark of the maturity of a community that its residents respect the religious convictions of one another, and in that regard Buffalo Grove is truly a fine place to live. Friendships easily and often cross religious lines, and inter-faith cooperation is frequently evidenced. Few people, fortunately, share Mr. Rosenberger's predilection for attacking the traditional moral teachings of any particular religious faith; and few also, I would hope, are so devoid of charitable sentiment that they would fail to sympathize with Mr. Rosenberger's own peculiar problem – whatever it may be.

Thomas F. Mahoney
Buffalo Grove
Roselle Register, October 18, 1972
This was not the end of the conversation ....

June 9, 2018

An Insider's View Of The Death Merchant

This "insider's view" of the Death Merchant—written by series author Joseph Rosenberger—appeared in the back of several Pinnacle paperbacks, including The Executioner #36 (August 1979) and The Penetrator #40 (January 1981). It covered six pages.

Rosenberger does not tell us how he came to create the Death Merchant series and although he includes a short bio of himself, much of what he claims may not be true. (I sent this to Joe Kenney and he posted it at Glorious Trash on October 16, 2017.)

***

An insider's view of the Death Merchant — A master of disguise, deception, and destruction . . . and his job is death.

DEATH MERCHANT
by Joseph Rosenberger

One of Pinnacle's best-selling action series is the Death Merchant, which tells the story of an unusual man who is a master of disguise and an expert in exotic and unusual firearms: Richard Camellion. Dedicated to eliminating injustice from the world, whether on a personal, national, or international level, possessed of a coldly logical mind, totally fearless, he has become over the years an unofficial, unrecognized, but absolutely essential arm of the CIA. He takes on the dirty jobs, the impossible missions, the operations that cannot be handled by the legal or extralegal forces of this or other sympathetic countries. He is a man without a face, without a single identifying characteristic. He is known as the master of the three Ds—Death, Destruction, and Disguise. He is, in fact and in theory, the Death Merchant.

The conception of the "Death Merchant" did not involve any instant parthenogenesis, but a parentage whose partnership is more ancient than recorded history. The father of Richard Camellion was Logic. The mother, Realism.

Logic involved the realization that people who read fiction want to be entertained and that real-life truth is often stranger and more fantastic than the most imaginative kind of fiction. Realism embraced the truth that any human being, having both emotional and physical weaknesses, is prone to mistakes and can accomplish only so much in any given situation.

We are born into a world in which we find ourselves surrounded by physical objects. There seems to be still another—a subjective—world within us, capable of receiving and retaining impressions from the outside world. Each one is a world of its own, with a relation to space different from that of the other. Collectively, these impressions and how they are perceived on the individual level make each human being a distinct person, an entity with his own views and opinions, his own likes and dislikes, his own personal strengths and weaknesses.

As applied to the real world, this means that the average human is actually a complex personality, a bundle of traits that very often are in conflict with each other, traits that are both good and bad. In fiction this means that the writer must show his chief character to be "human," i.e., to give the hero a multiplicity of traits, some good, some bad.

At the same time, Logic demands that in action-adventure the hero cannot be a literal superman and achieve the impossible. Our hero cannot jump into a crowd of fifty villains and flatten them with his bare hands—even if he is the best karate expert in the world! Sheer weight of numbers would bring him to his knees.

Accordingly, the marriage between Logic and Realism had to be, out of necessity, a practical union, one that would have to live in two worlds: the world of actuality and the world of fiction. This partnership would have to take the best from these two worlds to conceive a lead character who, while incredible in his deeds, could have a counterpart in the very real world of the living.

Conception was achieved. The Death Merchant was born in February of 1971, in the first book of the series, Death Merchant.

This genesis was not without the elements that would shape the future accomplishments of Richard J. Camellion. Just as a real human being is the product of his gene-ancestry and, to a certain extent, of his environment during his formative years, so the fictional Richard Camellion also has a history, although one will have to read the entire series to glean his background and training.

There are other continuities and constants within the general structure of the series. For example, it might seem that the Death Merchant tackles the absurd and the inconceivable. He doesn't. He succeeds in his missions because of his training and experience, with emphasis on the former—training in the arts and sciences, particularly in the various disciplines that deal not only with the physical violence and self-defense, but with the various tricks of how to stay alive—self-preservation!

There are many other cornerstones that form the foundation of the general story line:

* Richard Camellion abhors boredom, loves danger and adventure, and feels that he may as well derive a good income from these qualities. The fact that he often has to take a human life does not make him brutal and cruel.

* Richard Camellion works for money; he's a modern mercenary. Nevertheless, he is a man with moral convictions and deeply rooted loyalties. He will not take on any job if its success might harm the United States.

* The Death Merchant usually works for the CIA or some other U.S. government agency. The reason is very simple. Richard Camellion handles only the most dangerous projects and/or the biggest threats. In today's world the biggest battles involve the silent but very real war being waged between the various intelligence communities of the world. This war is basically between freedom and tyranny, between Democracy and Communism.

(The Death Merchant has worked for non-government agencies, but he has seldom worked for individuals because few can pay his opening fee: $100,000. Usually, those individuals who could and would pay his fee, such as members of organized crime, couldn't buy his special talents for ten times that, cash in advance.)

* The Death Merchant is a pragmatic realist. He is not a hypocrite and readily admits that he works mainly for money. In his words, "While money doesn't bring happiness, if you have a lot of the green stuff you can be unhappy in maximum comfort." Yet he has been known to give his entire fee—one hundred grand—to charity!

* Richard Camellion did not originate the title "Death Merchant." He hates the title, considering it both silly and incongruous. But he can't deny it. He does deal in death. The nickname came about because of his deadly proficiency with firearms and other devices of the quick-kill. (All men die, and Camellion knows that it is only a question of when. He has never feared death, "Which is maybe one reason why I have lived as long as I have.")

The weapons and equipment used in the series do exist. (Not only does the author strive for realism and authenticity, but technical advice is constantly being furnished by Lee E. Jurras, the noted ballistician and author.)

Another support of the general plot is that Camellion is a master of disguise and makeup, and a superb actor as well.

It can be said that Richard Camellion, the Death Merchant, is the heart of the series; but action—fast-paced, violent, often bloody—is the life's blood that keeps the heart pumping. This is not merely a conceptual device of the author; it is based on realistic considerations. The real world is violent. Evil does exist. The world of adventure and of espionage is especially violent.

The Death Merchant of 1971 is not necessarily the same Death Merchant of 1978. In organizing the series, we did use various concepts in constructing the background and the character of Richard Camellion.

Have any of these concepts changed?

The only way to answer the question is to say that while these concepts are still there and have not changed as such, many of them have not matured and are still in the limbo of "adolescence." For example:

We have not elaborated on several phases of his early background, or given any reasons why Camellion decided to follow a life of danger. He loves danger? An oversimplification. Who first called him the Death Merchant? What kind of training did he have? At times he will murmur, "Dominus Lucis vobiscum." What do the words "The Lord of Life be with you" mean to Camellion?

All the answers, and more, will be found in future books in the series.

Camellion's role is obvious. He's the "good guy" fighting on the side of justice. He's a man of action who is very sure of himself in anything he undertakes; a ruthless, cold-blooded cynic who doesn't care if he lives or dies; an expert killing machine whose mind runs in only one groove: getting the job done. One thing is certain: he is not a Knight on a White Horse! He has all the flaws and faults that any human being can have.

Camellion is a firm believer in law, order, and justice, but he doesn't think twice about bending any law and, if necessary, breaking it. He's an individualist, honest in his beliefs, a nonconformist.

He also seems to be a health nut. He doesn't smoke, indulges very lightly in alcohol, is forever munching on "natural" snacks (raisins, nuts, etc.), and uses Yoga methods of breathing and exercise.

Richard Camellion is not the average champion/hero. He never makes a move unless the odds are on his side. He may seem reckless, but he isn't.

Richard Camellion wouldn't turn down a relationship with a woman, but he doesn't go out of his way to find one. The great love of his life is weapons, particularly his precious Auto Mags.

As a whole, readers' reactions are very favorable to the series. It is they who keep Richard Camellion alive and healthy.

The real father and mother of Richard Camellion is Joseph Rosenberger. A professional writer since the age of 21, when he sold an article, he worked at various jobs before turning to fulltime writing in 1961. Rosenberger is the author of almost 2,000 published short stories and articles and 150 books, both fiction and nonfiction, writing in his own name and several pseudonyms. He originated the first kung fu fiction books, under the name of "Lee Chang." Among other things, he has been a circus pitchman, an instructor in "Korean karate," a private detective, and a free-lance journalist.

Unlike the Death Merchant, the author is not interested in firearms, and does not like to travel. He is the father of a 23-year-old daughter, lives and writes in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and is currently hard at work on the latest adventure of Richard Camellion, the Death Merchant.

***

Note: Rosenberger wrote: "All the answers, and more, will be found in future books in the series." Nothing about Camellion's "early background" or "training" was revealed in the subsequent books.

May 26, 2018

JRR Letter To The Editor, May 29, 1972: "A Fetus Just Isn't An Infant"

Joseph Rosenberger did not limit his writing to action-adventure and adult books. I have discovered close to dozen Letters to the Editor, mostly written around the mid-70s, when he was living in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Rosenberger often ranted against organized religion in the early Death Merchant books and that is a favourite topic in these missives. He also uses somewhat goofy turns of phrase and is extremely generous with exclamation marks (there are 11 in the letter below)!

Several writers who knew Rosenberger say he held reactionary opinions and his DM books are certainly filled with unchallenged right-wing rants. However, Rosenberger was also adamantly pro-choice, as five of the nine letters I have found are in strong defense of abortion. His opinions – snarky and pompous and delivered with the finality of a court decision – often provoked letters in response, which is a nice bonus.

The earliest letter I have found (so far) is from the Chicago Daily Herald of May 29, 1972:
'A Fetus Just Isn't An Infant'

Mrs. Phil R. Dowd's recent letter condemning legalized abortion was a masterpiece of emotionalism, distortion, and just plain ignorance. In a manner similar to that used by proponents of public aid for private schools, Mrs. Dowd puts forth an appeal that is majestic in its rhetoric, but ridiculous and pathetic in its logic.

The only thing wrong with Mrs. Dowd's logic is that – apparently – she doesn't know what a fetus actually is (from a medical standpoint)! I rather gather, from her letter, that Mrs. Dowd is under the impression that a fetus is practically a perfectly developed human being, with all the faculties of adult reasoning, a sort of super-duper midget who sets up temporary housekeeping within the mother's womb – or doesn't Mrs. Dowd know that there is a universe of difference between a Fetus and a fully developed infant about to be born and that there is a very definite time limit in which an abortion can be performed. It is much more complicated than . . . say . . . cutting off a corn . . .

If I wished to indulge in Mrs. Dowd's form of fallacious reasoning and employ her deceptive logic, I would conclude that no human being should ever be operated on for cancer! After all, any cancer is a growing organism within the parent (host) body; too, a cancer goes through developing stages, just as a fetus does. How dare any surgeon give "pain" to any precious cancer!

Still using Mrs. Dowd's "pain" premise, I could also put forth the proposition that even births should be prohibited, since men of science tell us that the birth process is an extremely traumatic experience, as well as painful and emotionally disturbing for the new-born child. Of course, none of us remember the birth experience, nor is it likely that a fetus could interpret the termination of its low-level conscious existence.

Mrs. Dowd makes reference to a Dr. James H. Ford, who is apparently as confused as she is, or he wouldn't equate the very real problem of world over-population with the unreal nonsense that, if need be, the entire world population could be stacked "within a plot 30 miles square."

Fortunately, we don't live in a make-believe world, but in one that is very real. Certainly, the world could hold untold trillions of people if we wished to stack them like cordwood. Indeed, the eventual result would be "standing room only!" We can only imagine the standard of living under such conditions!

Unfortunately, neither Mrs. Dowd nor Dr. Ford offer a solution for the day when every single square foot of earth would be crammed with a bursting humanity! Abortion? Hell no! That would be "murder!" Of course, people might possibly stand on each other. Or, people might learn to breath in water, in which case we could overpopulate the oceans!

Mrs. Dowd also forgets another dark part of the problem that is seldom noticed – the crisis in morals. There is an ancient Chinese saying: "It is difficult to tell the difference between right and wrong when the stomach is empty."

People tormented by constant hunger, by joblessness, by fear and insecurity; people huddled together in overcrowded cities; people without education . . . helpless in the present, with no hope for the future – can such people be expected to develop a genuine respect for all the ethical niceties which admonish them not to steal, not to covet, not even to envy?

So we're having trouble in our cities now! What will it be like 25 years from now, if population continues to soar?

The facts are more than obvious: over-population reinforces poverty; poverty generates desperation, and desperation leads to immorality.

While legalized abortion is not the overall answer, it is a start, a partial solution, for unless population is stabilized, the children and adults of Tomorrow will find themselves in a world filled with undreamed of misery, a world of hunger and violence, a world of early death and complete immorality.

And all the well-meant, pious platitudes about "murder" and fetus "pain" by today's anti-abortionists, who would have their great-great-grandchildren inherit a hell on earth, won't change it.

Only hasten it!

Joseph R. Rosenberger
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

May 8, 2018

Super Death Merchant #1: Apocalypse

Deadly Forecast

A dark cloud hangs over the free world. Somewhere in the Aegean Sea, the Soviets are building the most powerful transmitter known to man. If successful, it will control the jet streams and turn the world's weather into the ultimate weapon of domination - a weapon capable of plunging the West into political and economic chaos!

In desperation, the CIA sends their top agent to locate the secret island fortress. But as Richard Camellion closes in on his target, a highly placed double agent prepares to betray him. For the Agency has decided that success must be bought at any price - even if it costs them the Death Merchant!

***

This is the final Death Merchant book in my reading project, but it was apparently published between #67 and #68. On two different front pages, Apocalypse is identified as "Death Merchant #68". But there was another book in the series that was #68.

Apocalypse has about twice as many pages (390) as the other books. However, the print is much larger and I have a feeling that the word count is probably similar to the late-series DM books which had 180-190 pages of very small print.

The plot of Apocalypse follows the pattern of every other Death Merchant book. It opens with an action/shootout scene. Then we get the background of the DM's particular mission. We switch to the bad guys' POV a few times for plenty of exposition. Camellion has a few altercations along the way, with maybe one or two dead ends that sometimes feel like they are included only to fill pages. And then, after many details about the planning of the final blowout, we get to the final blowout, with the requisite descriptions of the myriad wounds made by the flying projectiles and intricate descriptions of hand-to-hand combat.

The Russians want to control the world's weather patterns and they have kidnapped and forced a Greek scientist to assist them in finishing the work on a magnifying transmitter modeled on Nikola Tesla's notes. If successful, Russia would "rule the world" - and turn the United States into an uninhabitable desert. Camellion must find the island where the scientist is being held, and get him and his family out safely, while also destroying the transmitter.

The Death Merchant Has Sex—Twice!

Many 1970s action-adventure heroes — when they weren't gunning down bad guys — had wild sex with many beautiful, insatiable women. Not Richard Joseph Camellion. You could probably count on one hand the number of times Richard Camellion has been intimate with a woman in the entire series.

Which is odd, because in the late 1960s, Rosenberger slapped a Ph.D. on the end of his name and wrote numerous adult books filled with "case histories" of patients with various sexual kinks. He was more than adept at writing extremely explicit sex scenes. But perhaps he grew tired of that and when he moved into the action-adventure racket, he decided his main character would be asexual as possible (despite what is claimed about Camellion below).

The Death Merchant hits the sheets with two women in Apocalypse. The first is Melina Arnaoutis, who he meets in a bar (and who will later be revealed as a Russian spy):
It was how Ma Nature had put her together that intrigued the Death Merchant, who was far from being a stranger to feminine pulchritude. She had a slender waistline, a flat stomach, and, in the common vernacular, was well stacked, her well-shaped breasts apparently not imprisoned by a bra. When you see two faintly dark circles outlined beneath an off-white blouse, and pushing out against dots, you can bet ... the nipples are free and unconfined.

The Death Merchant had also shared enough beds with the opposite sex to know that there were three kinds of women. There were those who appeared as cold as a dead fish but became wildcats in bed. Other women looked and acted sexy but were as frigid as a 3,000-year-old statue. In the last category were those women who exuded sex and, later in bed, proved it by having orgasms almost as fast as slugs can spit from the muzzle of a MAC-Ingram submachine gun!
Rosenberger adds: "When a woman was built like Melina, only a fairy—and not the mythical kind that tapdances on the petunias!—could live in the same apartment with her and not want to play bedroom games."

However, Camellion is actually in no hurry to "play bedroom games". When Melina asks him if he wants "a quickie" after she showers, he turns her down, saying: "A wise man does not sample the food at a banquet. He slowly eats and savors each course." Also:
[Camellion] didn't want to be completely undressed until Melina had dried herself off and was in the bedroom. Melina was a gal who enjoyed sex in a shower. Camellion didn't. He couldn't enjoy a woman with water pouring down on his head. The only other thing that he didn't like about Melina was that she never shaved under her arms. Greek women never did.
The DM is an odd duck, to be sure. But he eventually gets down to business:
The Death Merchant sat down on her side of the bed, took her in his arms, and kissed her. Melina didn't resist. ... She moaned as he slipped a hand to her back to unbutton her halter, then removed the garment and for a time lavished kisses on her breasts before moving his hands to her shorts.

"You did that well," she said softly, watching him drop the shorts to the floor, "as though you've had a lot of experience."

"It's all a part of the trade," Camellion said with a straight face. "Manual 16-G-14F-K." ...

A few minutes later he was lying beside Melina on the bed, but not before he had surreptitiously looked around the bedroom to make sure no mirror was flush with the wall. ...

She began to make sounds of want, of urging, not words that could be understood but plainly expressions of rapidly mounting desire that was increasingly demanding satisfaction. ... [S]he began to gasp more loudly ... her emotions the result of primordial urges that had not changed in millions of years.

"Do it! Do it! Do it to me!" she pleaded, her long fingers clawing at him. ...

[Soon Camellion] felt his own universe explode and the floodgates open. ...

He remained with her, their rapture mingling, her low moans gradually subsiding, a reluctant admission that the Supreme Moment had come and gone.
The Death Merchant also has sex with a CIA agent named Karen Spreitler, who "had a sexiness about her that would stir any normal male":
Truly intelligent people, realizing that money is only a tool, do not make wealth the center of their lives. At the same time, they are quick to stoop and pick up a ten-dollar bill they might find on the sidewalk.

Richard Camellion was that way with sex. It wasn't that important in his life, but he wasn't going to ignore it when it was there in front of him. He was going to take advantage of it and enjoy himself. ...

It was Karen's hazel eyes that intrigued Camellion, intelligent, sensitive eyes quick to focus and in whose depths lurked strange enigmatic shadows. ...

Neither Camellion nor Karen had discussed sleeping arrangements. Looking at the large double bed, Karen said only, "It looks comfortable. We'll have a good night's sleep."

Whether she was telling him he could do more than merely sleep next to her in the same bed was a moot point. The Death Merchant's accomplishments did not include mind reading. He made his move a few minutes later, after he had removed his shirt and shoes and socks.
Does Camellion's Lifelong Dream Come True?

Early in the book, Camellion is in Athens, driving to the villa of a contact, when he has a sudden vision:
A quick flash of the future, as clear as a three-dimensional photograph, came to the Death Merchant as he was turning onto the asphalt drive. The 50-megaton hydrogen bomb would explode 1,200 feet over Athens. Instantly a million people would be vaporized by the heat that, for a nanosecond, would reach the temperature of the interior of the sun. Another million would be flash-burned; and as the mushroom cloud boiled upward into the blue Athenian sky, the 600-mph wind, spreading out from the epicenter, would kill hundreds of thousands more five to fifteen miles from the blast. The firestorm and radiation would follow.

It would be the same in Rome, Moscow, New York, London, Warsaw, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Leningrad, Chicago, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and in other major cities of the world.
The next paragraph begins: "As he was turning into the asphalt drive ...".

This seems to serve as foreshadowing, but (spoiler alert!) nothing even close to this scenario occurs in the book. However, the book ends with the strong hint that nuclear war might be about to be unleashed. Camellion, whose greatest desire in life is for the Soviet Union to become a vast wasteland of radioactive glass, "couldn't help but smile":
The only real enemies of the world were the enemies of beauty and reason. The Universe could not care less about billions of bipeds crawling around on a speck of "dust" that revolved around a quite ordinary star on the main sequence scale. The real ism involved Time and Cycles. Death had to feed on Life, and from Death always came Life. It was all relative. Like the man who won a dog named Hugh in a crap game and later lost the dog in a poker game.

You win a Hugh, and you lose a Hugh.. . .

A klaxon began to ring loudly throughout Hawkbill, and a voice called out over the intercom: "BATTLE STATIONS! BATTLE STATIONS! BATTLE STATIONS!"
A little bit earlier, we read about the horrific effects of the Russians' weather modification machine:
There are those times when Nature resents the interference of man—that puny and murderous two-legged obscenity who has the audacity to proclaim to the Universe that he—and he alone!—was made in the image of the Creator!

Nature becomes angry and rebels.

The very delicate balance of the thermosphere and the exosphere, formed above the planet over the billions of years, had been upset by the trillions of concentrated neutrons from the magnifying transmitter, the N-beam reversing the normal flow of the electrons in the ozone layer in the stratosphere, which begins six miles above the Earth.

A "hole" had been opened in the ozone layer, an aperture that was directly over north-central Turkey, four miles east of the tiny village of Artova. The instant the "hole" was created the effect was instantaneous and hideous. For only a second the "chimney," reaching from the damaged ozone layer to the surface of the planet, was only 2,710 feet in diameter. ...

If the men and women trapped outside had had only a few minutes, they would still have died horribly, but first they would have seen something that no human being had ever seen—something that hadn't occurred since the formation of the planet four billion years ago. All around them, extending from space to the surface of the planet, they would have seen an intense white illumination in which were scintillating flashes and swirls of color, intense reds, blues, greens, and violet, a Brobdingnagian aurora under even brighter lights in the sky, lights almost as brilliant as the sun now shining with full intensity through the hole in the ozone layer.

Human beings and animals had time only for short shrieks of agony as the hell-heat of UV burned them to death within seconds. ...

The people in houses, in barns, and in other kinds of buildings—especially those close to windows—were blinded. Screaming and dying more slowly from the intense heat, they were forced to endure the mental crucifixion of not knowing what was happening to them, or why. ...

The diameter of the hell chimney from space continued to expand at the rate of several hundred feet a minute. Within that large, round circle everything burned, everything died. ...

Pure panic and total awe was the result of the phenomenon, which people knew had to be pure destruction, pure hell, pure death. All normal activity, everything, stopped. Even communists dropped to their knees and started to pray, asking, begging, for forgiveness.

Within an hour, newswires all over the planet were aware of the Hideousness growing in Turkey. In Borne, the Pope prepared for the Final Conflagration. Scores of millions of people watched the sky, expecting to see Jesus Christ—in all His glory and surrounded by singing angels and stern-faced "saints"—coming down on a white horse.

Hundreds of people dropped dead from fright. Thousands rioted.

Hundreds committed suicide.
This is happening as the Death Merchant and his forces attack the Greek island. They receive a couple of updates during the battle. As they are told the ozone hole is 20 miles in diameter and "millions of people were dead", Colonel Burrell was "secretly wishing he could remember Nostradamus' prediction about the end of the world".

Once the hole's diameter expands to 300 miles, it begins shrinking. (When the rescued professor is asked why, he says, "I don't know.") In a matter of hours, the truth has come out and the Greek government admits the Russians had secretly used the island as a base of operations. President Reagan refers to the Soviet Union as a "bandit nation of sadists and paranoiacs".

The Pharmacy Ambush

A reader must suspend some (or a lot) of disbelief in reading these books — while countless slugs have come within a quarter-inch of Camellion's head and various parts of his body in this series, the only times he did catch a slug, he just happened to be wearing a top-of-the-line bulletproof vest — but one scene in this book was beyond ridiculous. Chapter 8 begins with Camellion doing some shopping:
He had only one stop to make before returning home, a health food store six blocks from Melina's apartment. Camellion had exhausted his supply of vitamin B6 capsules. Vitamin B6 was essential in removing homocysteine from the blood. Diets known to cause atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," were usually high in cholesterol and methionine. And methionine produced homocysteine. Vitamin B6 helped destroy homocysteine and prevent fatty deposits from building up in vessels and arteries. ...

The clerk, a young and dumpy woman with beautiful black hair, spoke very good English and was eager to help Camellion, who bought two bottles of 50-milligram B6 tables and a bottle of 250-milligram choline capsules, which helped destroy fat in the liver.

He left the store and started to walk west toward the FIAT Uno, sixty feet away. He was in front of the TV and radio store when he detected what appeared to be several inches of a sonics suppressor protruding from the bottom of the front window on the right side of a Nissan 200. ...
The average man might not have noticed the few inches of the rounded silencer, or if he had, he might have hesitated, taking time to wonder what the object was. The Death Merchant knew instantly that he was staring not only at the black muzzle of a silencer, but that someone was about to try to quietly put a bullet into him. Whoever it was almost did. The silencer went phyyyt phyyyt at the same instant that Camellion jerked himself to his right, directing his body to the space between the front of the Datsun and the rear of the Audi, which were parked in front of his car.

Ivan Berzin, a KGB Boyevaya Gruppa kill-expert, had pulled the trigger of the silenced Czech CZ75 pistol twice. The first 9-mm flat-point bullet tore into the space between the Death Merchant's left rib cage and his inner left arm. The second slug passed half an inch from the outside of his left biceps. ...

An unhappy Richard Camellion, crouched down in the three-foot space between the Datsun and the Audi, jerked up his left pant leg and pulled the .45 Detonics from the ankle holster. ...

Well, fudge! ... I'm fresh out of miracles. Now I'll have to do some hard thinking.
Okay. This KGB Boyevaya Gruppa kill-expert - one of the finest and most elite trained assassins on the planet, we are told, and one who is working with a team of at least three other assassins - sees his target coming out of a store in broad daylight, but he doesn't do his job.

Instead, he simply sits in the front seat of his car, holding his gun, and waits until Camellion gets close enough to notice the end of the pistol poking out of the car window. And even then he fires only after Camellion starts moving to his right and diving between two cars. ... Kill-expert, my ass. Berzin must be the most timid, indecisive assassin of all-time. (And what are the other two killers in the car doing? Reading magazines? Taking a nap?)

Who Is "Ralph Buntline"?
It had been agreed that the CIA would send one of its most experienced field agents into Greece. In this case, the operative would be Ralph Buntline, who would travel under the name of Richard Camellion. Grojean had not mentioned that "Richard Camellion" was a non-contract agent.

The how and the why had been next on the agenda. "Richard Camellion" would have to have a legitimate reason for going into Greece. ...

The CIA had a proprietary firm in New York that was perfect: Triangle Importing and Exporting Company, Inc.

Why couldn't Richard Camellion fly to Greece as a representative of Triangle? By so doing, he would be able to make contact with Joseph Pappas, who also had an importing and exporting business.
Rosenberger does not bring up this bit of information again. However: In The Soul Search Project (DM #62), someone asks: "Which of you is Richard Camellion?" The Death Merchant states: "That's the name on my baptismal record." (The narrator informs us that this is a lie.)

Camellion certainly goes to Greece as a Triangle representative and meets with Pappas. Is the Death Merchant's true name Ralph Buntline? Only the Cosmic Lord of Death knows for sure.

Etc.:

There is a character named "Julius George Hagberg". Rosenberger had a step-brother named "Julius George Fritz".

Cahill had "a face that looked as if it belonged to a man who did pushups without hands".

We learn (for the first time) that Camellion rarely drinks because "his uncle had died an alcoholic" and his father had been "a hopeless drunkard" for 30 years. Camellion was "afraid he might acquire the habit ... [He] knew the same weakness was in his own genes."

The slug "bored through the zygomatic (or cheek) bone, zipped through her nasopharynx, and went out the back of her head".

The Death Merchant was "exceptionally facile at shifting from one cognitive process to another ... Some men were like that."

The Death Merchant heard Pappas say something "in the pessimistic tone of a man who has been told in the morning that he has won a $5 million lottery, but learns in the afternoon he has incurable cancer and will have a grass cover and a granite pillow in six months".

"It is not likely that when Sir William Bond created Old Bond Street from a muddy country lane in 1686, he envisioned the city that would be London 301 years later." (That is true, it's not likely.)

"Per ratio of population [Athens had] six percent more taxis than ... New York"

An example of Rosenberger's bizarre habit of stating something and then immediately undercutting it by stating the opposite:
The KGB was not so paranoid that it attempted to bug the room of every tourist who might come to Riga. Just the same, the hotel was Intourist, the Soviet travel bureau. It was possible that every room in the place was bugged. In the Soviet Union the KGB used this system not only in Intourist hotels but also in such hotels as the Metropole and others favored by foreign visitors.
"Yeah, let's earn our daily CIA bread. It does beat writing bumper stickers for a living ..."

"He might as well have asked me to take a bath on top of a flag pole!"

"I think it's illogical to inhale smoke from a weed wrapped in paper, and pay money to do it."

"That's as ridiculous as saying that Joan of Arc's last request was for a match!"

"At that moment, he would have agreed that an ant could stack a ton of hay in half a minute."

"Sifting through the carefully indexed files of his mind ..."

Camellion is pissed and wants to tell his CIA boss, Courtland Grojean, to go fuck himself:
"I'm thinking of corals, hydras, jellyfish, and other Cnidaria, sometimes called coelenterata," Camellion said, sucking in his lower lip.

"I'm listening." Grojean forced himself to be patient. He had always considered the Death Merchant to be the Patron Saint of the Perpetually Strange and was never too surprised at anything he might say.

"Corals, hydras, jellyfish, and other coelenterata are asexual. No sex organs! No fun! In contrast, hermaphrodite or bisexual animals, such a worms, bryozoans, snails, slugs, and what-have-you, have sex organs of both sexes."

"So!" Grojean uncomfortably shifted his weight in the chair.

Camellion smiled. "If you were a worm, I could tell you to go have sexual intercourse with yourself. That should give you some idea of the odds against my going to Miskos without being paid to do so."
"Do you realize that the human race is made up of only passionate vegetables? Do you realize that if you placed a dozen tomatoes or a dozen cucumbers in a sack and shook them, they would have as much passion as we have—DO YOU? ANSWER ME!"

"Poor pig farmer. You overrate yourself. You think you're an idiot!"

"Colonel Clint Ambule flexed his tonsils."

"Racing in a crooked run, on a course that would make a pretzel look like a straight line ..."

"There were times when [Camellion] felt he was the only resident adult in a house full of psychotic monkeys. 'All of us are prisoners, more or less, of our early conditioning and religious training.'"

"Life is many things."

April 14, 2018

The Rosenberger Library: Action-Adventure

Joseph Rosenberger wrote and published more than 90 action-adventure books between 1971-1989.

The Death Merchant
.1. The Death Merchant (February 1971)
 2. Operation Overkill (February 1972)
 3. The Psychotron Plot (August 1972)
 4. Chinese Conspiracy (January 1973)
 5. Satan Strike (April 1973)
 6. The Albanian Connection (July 1973)
 7. The Castro File (January 1974)
 8. The Billionaire Mission (May 1974)
 9. The Laser War (August 1974)
10. The Mainline Plot (November 1974)
11. Manhattan Wipeout (March 1975)
12. The KGB Frame (July 1975)
13. The Mato Grosso Horror (September 1975)
14. Vengeance Of The Golden Hawk (January 1976)
15. The Iron Swastika Plot (March 1976)
16. Invasion Of The Clones (May 1976)
17. The Zemlya Expedition (July 1976)
18. Nightmare In Algeria (September 1976)
19. Armageddon, USA! (November 1976)
20. Hell In Hindu Land (January 1977)
21. The Pole Star Secret (March 1977)
22. The Kondrashev Chase (May 1977)
23. The Budapest Action (July 1977)
24. The Kronos Plot (September 1977)
25. The Enigma Project (November 1977)
26. The Mexican Hit (January 1978)
27. The Surinam Affair (March 1978)
28. Nipponese Nightmare (May 1978)
29. Fatal Formula (July 1978)
30. The Shambhala Strike (October 1978)
31. Operation Thunderbolt (December 1978)
32. Deadly Manhunt (February 1979)
33. Alaska Conspiracy (April 1979)
34. Operation Mind-Murder (June 1979)
35. Massacre In Rome (August 1979)
36. The Cosmic Reality Kill (November 1979)
37. The Bermuda Triangle Action (February 1980)
38. The Burning Blue Death (April 1980)
39. The Fourth Reich (June 1980)
40. Blueprint Invisibility (August 1980)
41. Shamrock Smash (October 1980)
42. High Command Murder (December 1980)
43. The Devil's Trashcan (February 1981)
44. Island Of The Damned (April 1981)
45. The Rim Of Fire Conspiracy (June 1981)
46. Blood Bath (September 1981)
47. Operation Skyhook (December 1981)
48. Psionics War (January 1982)
49. Night Of The Peacock (March 1982)
50. The Hellbomb Theft (June 1982)
51. The Inca File (August 1982)
52. The Flight Of The Phoenix (November 1982)
53. The Judas Scrolls (December 1982)
54. Apocalypse, USA! (March 1983)
55. Slaughter In El Salvador (June 1983)
56. Afghanistan Crashout (August 1983)
57. The Romanian Operation (November 1983)
58. The Silicon Valley Connection (March 1984)
59. The Burma Probe (June 1984)
60. The Methuselah Factor (September 1984)
61. The Bulgarian Termination (December 1984)
62. The Soul Search Project (March 1985)
63. The Pakistan Mission (June 1985)
64. The Atlantean Horror (September 1985)
65. Mission Deadly Snow (April 1986)
66. The Cobra Chase (August 1986)
67. Escape From Gulag Taria (December 1986)
Super Death Merchant #1 - Apocalypse (April 1987)
68. The Hindu Trinity Caper (July 1987)
69. The Miracle Mission (October 1987)
70. The Greenland Mission (February 1988)

Murder Master
1. Death Trap (November 1973)
2. Caribbean Caper (March 1974)
3. Operation Hooker (1974)

Kung Fu Featuring Mace (writing as Lee Chang)
1. Year Of The Tiger (September 1973) 
2. Year Of The Snake (February 1974) 
3. Year Of The Rat (June 1974) 
4. Year Of The Dragon (September 1974) 
5. Year Of The Horse (December? 1974)

C.O.B.R.A.
1. The Heroin Connection (December 1986) 
2. Paris Kill-Ground (April 1987) 
3. The Red Dragon Operation (September 1987) 
4. Nightmare In Panama (December 1987) 
5. Project Andromeda (September 1988) 
6. Belgrade Battleground (January 1989)

Shadow Warrior
1. The Hong Kong Massacre (May 1988) 
2. Caribbean Blood Moon (July 1988) 
3. Ninja Nightmare (September 1988) 
4. Hell Wind In Burma (November 1988)


Others

Assassination: Theory And Practice
(Writing as Richard Camellion, the fictional Death Merchant; non-fiction; August 1977)

Behavior Modification: The Art Of Mind Murdering
(Writing as Richard Camellion, the fictional Death Merchant; non-fiction; June 1978)

Nick Carter #125: Thunderstrike In Syria
(March 1979)

Geneva Force
(January 1989)

December 18, 2017

Death Merchant #70: The Greenland Mystery

Arctic Ambush

At a top-secret weather station, American scientists have made a shocking discovery - a mysterious city of extraterrestrial origins buried deep beneath the polar ice cap. Already the Soviet supersub Lenin is bound for Greenland with a strike force of elite commandos. Fortunately the CIA has dispatched their own deadly emissary to protect the defenseless post.

Richard Camellion has prepared a surprise reception for the unwelcome visitors. Now, in the Arctic wilderness, the Death Merchant and a cutthroat band of mercenaries are poised for an explosive showdown that will convince the advancing commies that Hell itself has frozen over!

***

In The Greenland Mystery, the final numbered book in the Death Merchant series, author Joseph Rosenberger goes for the high weirdness angle, imagining the American government has discovered an ancient alien city buried beneath the Arctic ice cap. However, the US fears that a Soviet force of Spetsnaz will attack Camp Victory and take control of the frozen city.

The book opens with Richard Camellion and Wayne Baylesson driving to the Connecticut home of Dr. Ernst Schwengel, the leader of a group of scientists set to travel to Greenland. Camellion gets directions over the phone from Evelyn Schwengel and senses something is wrong (the Death Merchant is adept at noticing even the slightest change in a person's voice). As soon as the front door of the house is opened, Camellion and Baylesson race in with their pistols booming.
The next five shots came one right after the other, each one so close it almost bumped into the one preceding it. To the left of Wayne Baylesson, Josef Sofinov triggered his BRNO CZ semiautomatic pistol and sent a 9mm FMJ projectile at the CIA man a tenth of a second ahead of Wayne's firing at him and the Death Merchant's sending a 10mm bullet at Davyatkin and another big TC-HXC at Yevgenni Ogoidikova. ... Josef Sofinov let out a strangled cry of pain, dropped his BRNO pistol and went down from the impact of Baylesson's 9mm projectile. Baylesson was also using TC-HXC's, and the hole in the Russian's chest was so large that one could have shoved a penlight into it.
After the Russians have been killed, Baylesson calls the police. (Why??) Camellion explains to the cops that he and Baylesson were simply making a social call on their friends and ended up shooting it out with the six invaders. Camellion says one of the bad guys got away through the back door. When a cop asks if they pursued him, the DM replies, "In the darkness? Don't be ridiculous. That would have been as silly as an octopus trying to make love to bagpipes."

We then jump ahead 16 days, with everyone settled in at Camp Victory, where the unrelenting wind is blowing snow and ice chips around the various buildings. Camellion, Mad Mike Quinlan, and a few others descend down a shaft to the alien city:
"I see it, but I don't believe it," Mike Quinlan said to the Death Merchant, who was also experiencing a creeping eeriness from the biofeedback of his senses, from the impulses his eyes were conveying to his brain. Even unreality had to contain elements of reality, no matter how jumbled.

The elevator had taken them down to a tremendous cavern, or what could be described as a massive bubble within the ice sheet (which, at this location in Greenland, was estimated to be 1,230 feet thick). ...

But it was what the ice contained at the north end, in the east side and under the "floor," that was truly mind-boggling. It was difficult for the men to see clearly through the ice; yet they could recognize the weird Cyclopean structures whose architecture was beyond human imagination, a city that could not possibly have been built by human concepts and human engineering. There appeared to be enormous aggregations of gargantuan blocks cut at angles defying all known principles of geometric laws. There were slablike constructions reminiscent of piles of nightmarish rectangular wedges. Between some of these impossibilities were multitudinous towers, some round, some square, and some topped with truncated cones. Others were crowned with what resembled pyramids turned upside down, so that they rested on points. ... Networks of oddly angled pinnacles stretched between many of the solid objects, ending at times in titanic globes from which projected, in all directions, hundreds of shaftlike rods, forcing one to think of gigantic pufferfish or colossal porcupines with hundred-foot-long quills. All the febrile structures were knitted together by twisting bridges that crossed and recrossed each other without any discernible pattern being in evidence. ...

There was something else. Every man could feel it: a subtle hint that something was very wrong, that what they were seeing was a monstrous perversion of truth, a mockery of reality. The Death Merchant was suddenly weighed down by the impression that here, waiting, was pure Evil—But it's only evil because we don't understand the technology that built the city, if it is a "city"!
The scientists determine that the metal used to construct the buildings is more than one million years old. There were also five rounded pedestals, upon which informational discs had been placed.

Rosenberger has returned to the theme of pole-shifting, which he has used a few earlier books. He happily goes on for pages explaining the process of shifting poles—and the subsequent destruction of life on Earth—tens of thousands of years ago and the myths that the few survivors passed on to future generations. He has Schwengel explain the information found on the discs:
"In a nutshell, they give clear evidence that the Earth had turned over numerous times on its physical axis—a roll-over, a flip-flop of the planet. In other words, the north and the south poles had changed their locations."

"I'm not speaking of the magnetic pole," continued Schwengel, his voice breaking the astonished silence of the others. "We all know that the north geomagnetic pole is located here in Greenland, in the northern part of Hayes Peninsula. I do mean the physical poles. The last roll-over was 11,500 years ago, in 9550 B.C."

This time, not even Lawrence Bok snickered. As an archaeologist, he was very familiar with ancient history and with the numerous world legends of a great catastrophe that had happened in the distant past, one in which there had been fire and flood followed by incredible cold. Doctors Ashcroft, Steiner, and Steinfeld were also aware of the legends. For that matter, so was Ernst Schwengel, as well as Richard Camellion and Michael Quinlan, both of whom were highly educated.

"I recall reading an article in Scientific American about astronomers from Potsdam University who deciphered writings found in the ruins of Tiahuanaco," Isadore Steinfeld said thoughtfully. "Unless those astronomers are wrong, the sixty-mile thick shell of the earth shifted once more seven thousand years after the previous roll-over."

"The disks gave the story," confirmed Schwengel. "It was eleven thousand five hundred years ago that the South Pole moved around and the North Pole shifted south. Then, it was the Sudan Basin in Africa that became the new North Pole."

Doctor Steinfeld interjected, "The Talmud states that this was the time when the Pleiades set below the horizon and when the Holy Land was moved into a region of terrible cold."

"Yes, and the Holy Land remained there for five thousand years," said Schwengel, "until the earth rolled over again, six thousand five hundred years ago. It was then that the biblical Deluge occurred. During this shift, the equatorial pivot points were off the coast of mid-Chile and in mid-China, near the Yangtze, north of Vietnam."

"I must admit, there is evidence all over the world for such destruction on a global scale," offered Ashcroft, a worried look on his face. "For example, the sudden end of the Laurentian Basin ice cap in Canada, about 11,500 years ago, and the sudden end of all work in the prehistoric city of Tiahuanaco, Peru, 9,550 years before Christ, or—I'm sorry to say—11,500 years ago. To that damning evidence we can add the computable age of the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. Both are around 6,500 years old."

Lawrence Bok gave a long, shuddering sigh. "Let's not forget the legends from primitive man in Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America. This legend tells of the day when the sun set in the wrong direction."

Or the Piri Reis map, showing the North Pole in the Sudan Basin! thought the Death Merchant. Even if modern science continues to ignore it . . .

"There is also quite a bit of evidence in Australia," offered Dr. Bok. "There's the Pejark Marsh which shows a very quick extinction of civilization eleven thousand five hundred years ago. There is also the geological datings in the Murrumbidgee River Basin system in Australia, revealing the end of an ice cap there about eleven thousand five hundred years ago."

Mad Mike Quinlan, having taken another drink of brandy, capped the bottle and said, "I think the evidence in Alaska and in Arctic Siberia should be more than enough. There is ample proof in these regions that civilization was completely wiped out in less than a day. Why the Bereovka mammoth was frozen solid so quickly in mud that he didn't even have time to swallow the buttercups in his mouth!"

Dr. Ed Steiger stepped closer to Ernst Schwengel, who was shifting from one foot to the other. "Ernst, the cause of the shifts! Did the disks reveal any information about the 'trigger' that affects the shifting of the earth's physical axis?"

Cut in Ashcroft with a nervous little laugh, "Well, it's been 6,500 years since the last shift, and since it was only 5,000 years between roll-overs, it seems to me we're overdue for the next one."

Ernst Schwengel hesitated, after which he said, "The disks gave the date for the next flip-over—during October of the year 2000."

"My God! That's only twelve years from now!" exclaimed Steinfeld. [The Greenland Mystery was published in early 1988.]

"As to the cause of the shift," said Schwengel, "it has to do with the two molten layers inside the planet, the most important of which is the thin molten one about sixty miles thick and between sixty and 120 miles below the surface. The thick, deep molten layer, starting at 1,800 miles down at the bottom of the mantle and extending 1,300 miles deeper, is the inner layer. Both are liquid; however, the inner electromagnetism of the earth makes these layers act as if they were near solid, or plastic. As long as the electro-magnetism does not 'flux,' order is kept and the earth rotates on its axis in a normal manner.

"The growing ice caps—Antarctica and Greenland—are not centered on the earth's axis; and, because they rotate around the poles, are trying to swing to the equator. The only way they could do it would be to pull the whole sixty-mile shell around with them. They can't, but only as long as the shallow molten layer stays plastic. But after so many thousand years the electromagnetic orderliness is disrupted, and the molten layer is free to act like pure liquid, which it was all the time anyway. It then serves as a lubricant for the ice caps to pull the shell of the earth around the inside.

"The shift takes place, triggered by neutral matter escaping from the 860-mile-radius center into the 1,300-mile thick inner layer and on up to the sixty-mile thick outer molten layer. The electromagnetism is disrupted between the two layers, and finally the ice caps are permitted to pull the shell of the earth around the liquid interior. It takes only one-fourth to one-half a day for the poles to move toward the equator.

"The planet rolls over, literally. On the surface of the planet unbelievable destruction takes place. There are giant earthquakes. Entire mountain chains rise and fall. New volcanos are born instantly and the oceans leave their beds. The atmosphere and the oceans don't shift with the shell; they keep rotating west to east, and at the equator that speed becomes 1,000 miles per hour. So, while the shell shifts with the poles going toward the equator, the winds and the water go eastward, blowing across the face of the planet with supersonic speeds, inundating entire continents with water more than three miles deep."

Even the Death Merchant didn't like to think about it. Five days after the roll-over in the year 2000, the Arctic Ocean Era will be ended, and the new Stone Age will have begun. The Bay of Bengal basin, just east of India, is now the "new" North Pole. The Pacific Ocean, just west of Peru, is now the "new" South Pole. Greenland and Antarctica are now rotating in the Torrid Zone, their ice caps dissolving madly in the tropical heat. Massive walls of water and ice will surge toward the oceans, taking everything—from mountains to plains—in gushing, heaving paths. In less than thirty years, the ice caps will be gone and the oceans will have risen 200 feet. For generations the Torrid Zone will be shrouded in a thick fog from the enormous amounts of moisture poured into the atmosphere by the melting ice caps.

New ice caps will form in the new polar areas while Greenland and Antarctica will begin to bloom with tropical foliage. Ha! Australia will be the "new unexplored" continent . . . with only a handful of survivors.

After this tumble, we will join Noah, Adam and Eve . . . Atlantis, Mu, and Olympus—and Christ will join Osiris, Zeus, and Vishnu. Thousands of years later there will be new myths and new legends about "the Motherland" that sank beneath the sea. There will be a "new" Adam and Eve story and more superstition about the Creator of the universe.
Oddly, none of the discs contain any information on the identity of the builders or how or when the city was constructed. Eventually, the men discuss religion.
Edward Steiger fingered his Adolf Hitler mustache with a gloved finger. "I have always been of the opinion that the holy books of the world's religions are altered accounts of historical events, that their 'religious truths' are based on myths that originated from genuine facts twisted and dimmed by time."

Right on, Doctor! Osiris, the ancient Egyptian "god," was a man who lived during one of the earth's roll-overs. "Adam and Eve" are only the most recent myths of how man was "created"! Eve was actually a generation after Adam—and was his daughter . . .

"That's logical," agreed Schwengel. "A hundred years after the next axis-change, man will have degenerated into an ignorant savage, and the true story of the cataclysm, handed down verbally from generation to generation, will be cloaked in myth and religious superstition. Once more, man will have been 'punished by God' for his sins and there will be new myths of how man was created." ...

"I think both of you are overestimating the power of religion," intoned Norman Ashcroft.

"And I think you are overestimating the intelligence of the human race," Quinlan replied. "Look at modern America or Europe. Millions believe in reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, witches, UFOs, magic and so-called PSI powers—all of it in the face of hard proof that such things do not exist."

"I tend to agree with you, Quinlan, and you, Ernst," said Bok. "We carry in us a cargo of instincts and drives which will never yield completely to rationality. Human beings at heart are superstitious tribal savages living in a world of scientific magic. Proof is all around us. It's like an incredible mass schizophrenia, a dual reality in which ordinary people can read of space probes, medical break-throughs and other scientific 'miracles,' and yet press a button on television and hear fundamentalist crackpots rave about heaven and hell. The pity is that millions believe such nonsense."

The Death Merchant said, "Gentlemen, it isn't that man is so stupid. The reason is that he is so afraid and unable to face his own mortality. He needs God to exist. He needs the supernatural. He needs Satan. He has to believe that death is not the end. He must believe in immortality. That there is some kind of eternal existence after death is the bedrock psychological need of the human species, and no proof will penetrate or demolish this belief. Death must not be the end, at all costs."
When Rosenberger switches to the Russians' POV, I was surprised to read:
Colonel Alexander Zorkvinov landed at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, he quickly saw that the Canadians lived as well as the Americans, even though their "dollar" was less in purchasing power than the American dollar. ... Zorkvinov took a cab from the airport and checked in at the Valhalla Inn on Highway 427, Exit Burnhamthorpe. Later in the dark afternoon, he went to Hertz, rented a car—a Turbo-ZX Datsun—and drove to Don Mills, a suburb northeast of the heart of Toronto.
The Burnhamthorpe exit on the 427 is only a few kilometers from where I live! I often shop at a grocery store there. (If there was a Valhalla Inn, it no longer exists. But Vahalla Inn Road is right off the highway.)

Camellion and Quinlan discuss how the "vodka-drinking lice" (aka the Russians) might gain control of the camp. They will likely not use missiles because they do not want to destroy the base or the alien city. Quinlan vows that if the Spetsnaz attack, "we'll paint the ice red with their blood".

Mad Mike is also a recurring character in the series, as are his top four Omegas. Each of them is a different nationality and I really wonder if Rosenberger's portrayals are meant as satire because each one is such a broad stereotype. Alexander Pratt, the Englishman, begins every third sentence with "I say ..." and refers to those around him as "chaps". Karl Wilheim "Willy" Bruckner's German-accented dialogue is presented like this: "Ja, he has der answer to der problem!" and "Vel, Camellion, ve are ready to kill der arschfickeren." There is also a Frenchman and a former member of the Spanish Air Force. Also, the group's "details man" is Marcello Salamo, who is only 42 inches tall, "as ugly as a gargoyle and as mentally sharp as a Japanese businessman".

Before the attack on the ice, however, we need a diversion (to fill some pages), so Camellion and Baylesson go to Halifax planning to kidnap and question a GRU sleeper agent about the possible Soviet attack. On the night they sneak up on the warehouse, there happens to be a big meeting of enemy agents (what a coincidence!). So we get another shootout—but the chance to nab the GRU agent is missed.

Camellion believes the Spetsnaz will come over the ice to attack, so they burn some "hide-in holes" in the shape of a V in the ice with Thermite. When the 90 Russians unknowingly march into the "killzone", the slaughter begins and "gallons of pig farmer blood" seeps into the ice. The Death Merchant captures two Russian colonels and forces them them to contact the Lenin, a nearby nuclear submarine, and report a victory over the Americans and let them know when "they" (actually Camellion and his men) will be returning. The Death Merchant plans to get aboard the sub and dismantle it so it sinks. He knows that fighting the sub's crew of 155 men would be "an exercise in stupidity".

And that's what happens. Camellion, Mad Mike, and the Omegas go about their wet work perfunctorily and Rosenberger does not include as many gun battles (and thus has less descriptions of the ensuing gore) as he usually does, so the finale of The Greenland Mystery is somewhat dull. Also as usual, Rosenberger does not bother returning to the various loose threads he spun out earlier in the book, so it's as if the apocalyptic pole-shift discussed earlier in the book was never actually mentioned.

Etc.:

In a footnote on page 152, Rosenberger refers to Super Death Merchant #1, Apocalypse, which I will be reading next.

"Jerking and jumping like a kitten spanking sunbeams, the corpse began to sag."

"He had never liked anyone with crooked teeth—why didn't the Zhusekik go to a dentist?"

"Everything had worked as slick as goose grease on a puppy's nuts."

"He had such strange sky-blue eyes, as though they had a life of their own, removed from the rest of his body that carried them."

"Even if the .50 caliber bullets had not been Geco-BAT, they were so large that a single round could take off an arm or a leg as easily as a cleaver chops a head of lettuce in two."

"Looking as frustrated as a pickpocket trying to steal a bowling ball ..."

"During the short time [Baylesson] had known the man with the strange blue eyes, he had come to realize that Camellion had the instincts and the intelligence of a born hunter. ... Baylesson had also sensed that Richard Camellion had little need for people. He wasn't selfish or overly introspective, only coldly logical: people were either obstacles to be removed or were a means toward some end. Baylesson often compared him to a Pope—condemned to a solitary pilgrimage. No, not condemned. He was a man who had chosen to make such a lonely journey."

"Bolar had never mentioned it to anyone, but Richard Camellion always made him feel slightly uneasy, as though he might be riding on a lunatic express with a laughing idiot at the throttle."

"All time is really one, Camellion had remarked to Quinlan. We are dying every second and being reborn every second, renewed bioelectrically in order to remain in this continuum. That's why 'death' is really so very easy. All that happens at death—at a specific micro-moment—is that certain features of the individual will not be reborn, or renewed. There will be no next moment. There will be no millisecond anticipation of the 'future,' nor a concern for the past. One is locked in the eternal Present—for a 'time' . . . depending . . ."

* * *

Pole Shift: Predictions and Prophecies of the Ultimate Disaster—a book that treats pole-shifting as if it was real—was published in 1980. Author John White actually cites two of Rosenberger's articles, a 1972 article for Search and a 1973 article for Fate, as though they were scientific papers! In 2013, White wrote:
In the early 1970s, when I was working in California as Director of Education for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, there was a widespread rumor that the West Coast was going to experience a terrible earthquake and a large portion of it would "fall into the ocean." This rumor owed much to the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce, "the sleeping prophet." In the 1930s, Cayce had predicted vast changes in the geography of our planet. He called them "earth changes." There would be terrible earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and the rise and fall of land masses, he said. They would begin in the second half of this century and increase in intensity, culminating at the end of the century in what Cayce described as "the shifting of the poles."

Over the years these predictions had permeated the psychic community and set up the expectation of terrible global destruction. ... I listened with interest to their warnings because part of the Institute's mission was to apply psychic functioning to planetary problems. ...

[I]n 1973, I began to investigate the subject. During six years of research, I gathered a large amount of data supporting the two principal questions I had asked myself: Have there been previous pole shifts? Might there be one in the near future? The evidence came from three sources: ancient prophecies, contemporary psychics, and scientifically-oriented researchers.

It pointed toward this conclusion: Yes, Earth had experienced pole shifts before and would again in the near future—at the end of the century. ...

The year 2000 came and went without the predicted disasters. Today, more than a decade later, it is more than obvious the predictions and prophecies were just plain wrong.

Does that mean there was no value to what I reported? Not at all.
Well ... okay. Way back when I started reading this book, I found this article in the New York Post:
Scientists believe a massive object that could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice.

The huge and mysterious "anomaly" is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. The area is 151 miles across and has a minimum depth of about 2,700 feet.

Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs. ...

However, the wilder minds of the internet have come up with their own theories, with some conspiracy theorists claiming it could be a massive UFO base or a portal to a mysterious underworld called the Hollow Earth.
A video made by "Secure Team 10" can be viewed here. (I wonder if some members of that group have read any of Rosenberger's work.)

October 16, 2017

Welcome

Thanks to Joe Kenney for his plug at Glorious Trash.

It was through Joe's highly-entertaining and informative reviews that I first discovered Joseph Rosenberger and the Death Merchant series, back in the early part of 2014. Shortly thereafter, I found a small pile of Death Merchant paperbacks in a used book store in Toronto - and I dove in.

I was immediately intrigued and entertained by Rosenberger's unique writing style, with its bizarre turns of phrase, extended digressions on various social and political topics (sometimes conducted in the middle of vicious gun battles), and its over-the-top and intricate descriptions of violence. All that - and the constant presence of the "Cosmic Lord of Death".

I wanted to know more about this writer, but there was next-to-nothing about him online (although Joe has posted some stuff in the last few years). I have done some research, as well, and will be posting some stuff (such as several letters to the editor from the 1970s) next year. For now, I am in the process of reading Rosenberger's action-adventure books. I know it's been a while since the last DM review, but a post about #70 is coming soon.