Devastated by a killer virus, the world you once knew is a wilderness.
Author: Ian Livingstone
Illustrator: Kevin Bulmer
Cover Illustration By: Jim Burns
Map Inset: No
"Life is lawless and dangerous. Survivors like you either live in scattered,
fortified towns or roam outside as bandits. YOUR mission is to cross the
wilderness to the far-distant oil-refinery at San Anglo and bring vital
supplies back to the peaceful town of New Hope. Even in the armed Dodge
Interceptor you are given, the journey will be wild and perilous. Will
FF number 13, called Freeway Fighter, was written by Ian Livingstone way back in 1985. This book isn't set in any of the fantasy worlds we've seen before; medieval or a Sc-Fi future, but on Earth; in the near future.
The year is 2022. Life is proceeding as it has for years, then, without warning, a devastating, killer virus sweeps around the globe killing tens of millions of people. All that is left in it's wake is a desolate wasteland. People now divide into two sorts; the lawful and the lawless.... You are the usual hard-as-nails tough-guy, strong, merciless to your enemies but with a heart of gold (yawn). You live with the good people of a small fortified town called 'New Hope'.
One day you are given a mission to take supplies of seeds from New Hope, out, across the badlands, to another fortified town of good guys called 'San Anglo'. Now, in return for the seeds (so they can grow crops or something), they agree to give New Hope a bloody big tanker filled with 10,000, yes that's right, 10,000 litres of petrol from their oil-refinery, which they rather cunningly built their town on (petrol to run machines is like gold dust in these times! People (frequently) kill for it!!)
So, of you go on your hazardous journey to San Anglo, armed to the teeth.To ensure you get to your destination alive, you have a special car; a Dodge Interceptor. This car is fast, armoured with steel and bullet-proof glass (mmm, that'll stop a rocket...) and armed with all sorts of James Bond-style goodies like: Oil 'squirters', machine-guns, metal spikes and rocket launchers (with rockets of course!!!)
Along the way you have to avoid miles of burnt-out cars, road-hogs that shoot at you with bloody great machine-guns, people setting traps to pinch your car/fuel or both, lots of rival 'road gangs' (especially the 'Doom Dogs') that do all of the above AND try to kill you. Added to this, you have to constantly find enough fuel, so you don't run out of petrol and get stranded somewhere!!
When/If you get to San Anglo, it's time to jump in the tanker cab and run the whole gauntlet again, on your way back to New Hope (which feels curiously shorter than getting there!? Maybe Ian got bored at this point!??) Ok, This book may be an unashamed carbon copy of the Mad Max II film, but it wasn't that bad.
The book is quite different to any of the the previous ff books. A lot of 'FF purists' I've talked to, insist that this wasn't written in the true spirit of the old sword/sorcery ff books. Initially I agreed, but, over time, I think that each book should be valued on it's own merits; Freeway Fighter being different but likable.
There are interesting aspects of this book; the atmosphere of driving through a desolate wasteland, the constant search for petrol (including a fun 'Blitz Race' with a road gang, to win a canister) and the satisfaction of blasting some poor sap to pieces with a well-aimed rocket.
A couple of things I didn't especially like: Kevin Bulmer's mediocre artwork (send him back to art school), the rather dubious 380 references in the book instead of the usual 400 (the text was reduced by 5% but the price wasn't.....). All over I'd say that this book isn't that complex, isn't entirely original, is balanced OK, in terms of opponent strength and has it's fair share of interesting encounters.
Likable but average.
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