Gestapo Mars | Author: Victor Gischler | Publisher: Titan Books | Release Date: September 22, 2015
Carter Sloan is a man out of time, place, and century. A bioengineered superspy, with a libido to match his expertise in close combat and the art of assassination, Sloan is awakened from a near 260-year slumber to find his particular set of skills are needed. But by whom?
The world has changed. After nuclear devastation, Earth’s government has relocated to Mars. It is a government Sloan is familiar with: In his world, the Nazis won World War II, and have now taken their particular brand of empire-building to the stars and beyond. So far, so very The Man in the High Castle. But there is a rebellion on the cards. Carter’s rousers need him to locate the daughter of The Brass Dragon, a near legendary Nazi general. Why, he’s never told. He’s programmed to follow orders and to execute those orders to the best of his abilities.
It’s also been nearly three centuries since he had sex – a sad statistic he isn’t long consigning to history, care of an all too realistic sex robot. It’s all about the pheromones, a plot device that comes in handy later in the story.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Here is a book where the hero is quite willingly working for one of the most heinous regimes in human history. Is it correct and right that we the reader should be in his corner? Well, over the course of this fast-paced novel, that question comes close to answering itself. In follow-ups (and I’m sure there will be at least one; the ending suggests this), I would think Sloan will question more deeply the consequence of his actions and inactions.
Putting all these concern aside, there is a ton of fun to be had in Gestapo Mars. Victor Gischler ingests his main character with all the savvy and jadedness of a Raymond Chandler creation, one with, as I mentioned before, a penchant for threesomes and other such sexual shenanigans. It’s frequently coarse, constantly violent, incredibly inventive, and if scenes such as our hero being rescued by Nazis on Tyrannosaurus Rex (truly) are your thing, then Gestapo Mars will light your fire in ways other space operas won’t. It wears its inspirations well: Buck Rogers (obviously), Barbarella, and the climax is straight out of Star Wars: A New Hope, complete with gelatinous aliens, the Coriandons – the spanner in the Nazi works.
If you can put your sensibilities aside while you read this book, then I believe you will be back for more. Carter Sloan won’t stay asleep that long, trust me.
Plot: There’s a lot going on in Gestapo Mars. Between all the political intrigue, and the uncertainty of whom to trust, the pressure of dealing with an alien invasion takes a back seat until the last third. A bit rushed, perhaps, but I suspect there’s more to come. Carter Sloan and his “Sloan”-girl, Meredith, make a reliably entertaining team, and I look forward to more match-ups.
Characters: Apart from the main duo, the rest of the supporting characters are swiped and indeed parodied from other sources. There’s Dr Paige Turner, various redshirts, and one character gets to utter the immortal line, “Many Bohemians died in order to get this information to us,” while staring off into the distance. Fun, anyway.
Setting: I couldn’t have asked for a more intriguing premise. I love a good shoot-em-up in space.