Entries in The Survivalist (4)


The Thin Line between Science Fiction and Science Fact

             A point was brought up that THE SURVIVALIST series has become too “science fiction” over the years.  I don’t know.  I’ll leave that up to the readers to decide but I will state my case as to why we let it happen.

            In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell makes the world's first long-distance telephone call, over a distance of about 6 miles.  With the device we carry with us, we can project our words into outer space, take studio-quality photographs, grocery shop, and play games.  Henry Ford started his auto business in 1903.  Many people might say he also was the inventor of highway congestion.  The Wright brothers are credited with the invention of the first working airplane that same year thus causing mass disturbance to our once peaceful skies.

            My dad was born in 1898.  At a very early age, he helped to support his family by propelling a horse-driven wagon through the streets of New York, making deliveries.  Sort of an early version of what would become UPS or FedEx.  Here is this little kid controlling a huge animal, pulling a dray wagon past peddlers who are pushing wooden carts loaded with produce while keeping a watchful eye out for the horse-drawn trolley carrying its passengers about town. It must have been an exciting place to live and to watch the world change so quickly.

            Eager to see more of the world, he rode the rails wherever they took him until he eventually settled down.  He found work, bought himself a Ford and eventually dated and married my mom.  They rented part of a two-flat apartment where she washed clothes in a large tub, using a washboard and hung everything outside to dry. They eventually got a telephone with a two-party-line, a black desk set with a chunky cord, which they used until the late 1950s.

            By the time I started working in downtown Chicago during the late 60s, I too rode a trolley each morning, although this trolley was powered by a cable line above the street that fed electricity to the vehicle via a pole that could swivel enough to allow the trolley some flexibility to maneuver.  Occasionally, the driver made a move that allowed the pole to disengage from its power source and passengers were stranded until help arrived to reconnect.  Today we have cars and trucks that can travel driverless.  Bullet trains in China travel at speeds of up to 200 MPH and a Tesla Roadster can do 250 MPH.  Yes, it’s claimed that a Hennessey Venom F5 clocks at 301 MPH!  My first car was a 1960 Hillman Minx that maxed out at 65 MPH; any faster and it shook so badly you could barely hold onto the steering wheel.

            When Jerry and I first started planning out the continuation of The Survivalist story after the Rourke’s had slept for many hundreds of years, we realized a decision had to be made as to what sort of world they were returning to.  Would it be inhabited by animal-like humans, cult worshipers or would it be a dead, wasteland?  Our decision was to create a world just as diverse as the one before.  Some things might have taken a step back, some remained the same and some ideas took a giant leap forward.

            Many of the technological advances written about in Mid-Wake were real or at least on the drawing boards.  We consulted with experts in the diving and underwater fields as to what would be coming in the future and we incorporated these advances into the books giving our characters a glimpse of what the new world could be under the right circumstances. 

            Yes, The Survivalist has aliens and cloaking devices, and advanced medical procedures, as well as underwater cities, but it also has crooked politicians, kidnappers and rapists, just as well as people who are determined to make the world a better place.  Our real world has encountered the genius and vision of da Vinci as well as the evil madness of Hitler. The world of The Survivalist should be no different.  One world is real; the other is fiction, catalogued as science fiction or adventure.  Fiction is not real but can reflect both reality and what the author sees as our future.

            John Thomas Rourke is still fighting for the same values he did in the 1980s and he and his companions will continue to do so.  So don’t think that Rourke’s world has changed too much, same problems, maybe different solutions.  When it comes time, Rourke pulls one of his thin dark cigars from his shirt pocket and the battered Zippo from the watch pocket in his jeans and lights up.  He shrugs his shoulders to straighten his Alessi shoulder holster carrying his twin Detonics pistols and mounts his Harley, ready to take on another battle. 



Some Good Reads

I just finished reading “Big Chicken” by Maryn McKenna which I would consider required reading for everyone regardless of whether or not you enjoy eating the flesh of said creature.  This well-researched book outlines the progression of the scrawny bird, from the back yard egg layer -- who made it to the table only after its productive days were over -- to the mammoth industry of today.  The book takes you back to the beginnings of “the big chicken” and shows you how good intentions and some clever thinkers world-wide turned this fowl into a one size fits all commodity, carrying illness to the unsuspecting consumer and to those working within the industry

McKenna outlines how the chicken industry skyrocketed due to the life-saving discovery of penicillin in the 1940s and the early research being done regarding antibiotics.  In the last seventy years, through the use of antibiotics, a chicken’s weight has doubled and has achieved that weight in half the time. Sounds like a good thing, right?  Well, sorta.  Doctor Frankenstein considered himself to be a humanitarian, initially – until his experiment got away from him. 

Interwoven within the historical background are interviews with commercial farmers, chefs, and activists who are today, working hard to make things right.  This is an international story and many countries faced with disease issues took steps early on to make chicken and all meat products safer.  Other countries saw the problem but the industry was tied too tightly to politics and money.  “Big Chicken” is straightforward in explaining how political inaction and greed helped to make us sick.

Before you push that chicken nugget off your plate I want to assure you that things are getting better for the chickens and those of us who eat them.  Many restaurants, including fast food eateries, insist on obtaining chickens that have not been raised on antibiotics, which in turn, trickles down to the growers and down to the hatcheries and then down to the breeders.  Some of these folks went willingly, some not.  I found my copy of “Big Chicken” at my local library; you might want to check out a copy at yours.


While on the subject of chickens, we are close to closing out “Survive Live Well and Wisely” number 5 and one of the articles regards the validity of raising your own chickens. Some of the other topics we cover include land navigation, self-defense techniques, and a look at some of the pros and cons of marijuana use.  If you’ve missed the first four books, you can find them on Kindle for only $2.95 each.  I’ll let you know when number 5 is available.

Survivalist 36 – “Operation Phoenix” will be available July 2.  A lot of despair, deception, and death.  A whole lot of down and dirty mayhem!  When the Rourkes get angry you had better watch out!   Here’s a look at the first draft of the cover.


Camp Zero #2 – “Icefall” is in the works and looks to be a pretty chilling adventure.  Look for the return of the Starlings and their new agent who seeks revenge for his former kidnapping caper gone bad.  This time his desire is to capture the Rourke kids and do evil things to them.  Did I tell you about the mutant walrus creatures and the Aryan Grail???





For those of you who don’t see the Facebook SURVIVALIST page, Sharon and I celebrated our 500th month anniversary on June 19th.  Sharon and I met the day after Labor Day 1961, were friends who had a first date the day after Thanksgiving in 1964, were engaged on Memorial Day of 1965 and married on October 19th, 1968.  I got the idea of counting months decades ago and have kept it up.  Sharon’s the most wonderful and prettiest girl in the world or anywhere else and I’m hoping and praying for at least another five hundred and, after that – well, who knows?  So long as we’re together.

By way of celebrating this anniversary, Sharon and I went to the movies.  And, we had fun.  No, we didn’t get to sit in the very back row of a balcony, but we did enjoy the movie.  We saw THE A-TEAM and we loved it!  Funny, exciting, great special effects, respectful of the original series, it was terrifically entertaining and the new guys, led by Liam Neeson as “John Hannibal Smith,” didn’t try to re-invent nor did they try to impersonate the original characters – which is why they came off so faithful to the originals.  If you see it in the movies or wait until you can rent or buy the DVD, be sure to watch all the way through the end titles – the score’s rousing anyway – and you’ll be in for a surprise.  Unlike the TV show, bad guys do get killed, so be prepared.  And, the film lends itself very nicely to the possibility of a sequel or sequels.  Sharon and I’d stand in line for tickets.  If you have a sense of humor, like action and great special effects, you’ll like THE A-TEAM.

We have close friends who went on vacation this week.  Rather than going to Florida beaches, they elected to go to South Carolina, instead, just in case.  It’s a shame.  Not that they are having a well-deserved vacation, but that so many people will likely avoid even the parts of Florida and the rest of the Gulf Coast so far unaffected by the oil situation.  As much as I find the guy living in the White House to be a waste of time, I cannot, in conscience, blame him for the oil situation.  The people comprising the decision-making leadership of British Petroleum, on the other hand, do deserve a lot of blame, if for nothing else than their cavalier attitude toward the destruction of miles of beaches, countless thousands of sea creatures and birds and economic disaster for entire populations.  What I do hold the guy in the White House accountable for is the slow response, the lack of action and interaction concerning BP and general incompetence.  What I can actually commend the guy in the White House for is the potentially expandable twenty billion dollar escrow reserve for claims payment.  It’ll likely go higher. 

America needs leadership that won’t be afraid of shallow water drilling on the Continental Shelf and elsewhere and not allow deep water drilling until a plausible, realistic step-by-step provable methodology is shown for dealing with such disasters.  That done, go for it.  And, we need leadership that is more concerned with the welfare of the American people than the advancement of a social agenda.

Neither Sharon nor I want the guy who lives in the White House and his leftist stooges to bring about fundamental change in America.  If he and his minions in Congress and the bureaucracy want to live in a Communist or Socialist society, fine.  Let them move.  I’ll contribute a few bucks to help get them on their way.  Venezuela is probably lovely this time of year.

The BP gusher is a problem we will be dealing with for years and longer.  The group of wannabe socialists in the government and the idiots who elected them could be a problem that will be our undoing unless we act in the 2010 elections, the 2012 elections and rid ourselves of the last of the leftists in the 2014 elections.  I don’t know about you, but I hope I do.  And Sharon and I don’t want our grandchildren coming of age in an America that is no longer free, one that is run by leftists who hold political success more important than country.




If you are or were into the adventures of “John Rourke” and his family as told in our series THE SURVIVALIST, then you might want to visit www.survivalweekly.com/?p=292 and read an interview I did in which I reveal a number of details most people don’t know about John Rourke.  For example, I talk quite candidly about why a script could not be written that would enable one of Hollywood’s most revered producers to exercise his option and make “THE SURVIVALIST – THE MOTION PICTURE,” or whatever it would have been called.  There’s also a contest to win a copy ofTOTAL WAR, the first book in the series, autographed by Sharon and me.  We’ll try to write neatly.  You’ll find lots of good information on the site, as well…

If you are into Facebook, and you like THE SURVIVALIST, you’ll find that there is now a Facebook Group page devoted to the series.  Thanks to James Baird for this, and introducing me to Facebook, which our daughter and our son kindly explained to me and I still don’t fully understand.  If you are a member or whatever you call it, go into Facebook and then into “Groups” and there are pictures, U.K. book covers, photographs, etc.  Sharon and I hope you check it out…    

If you are interested in the latest facts and opinions on law enforcement/military equipment, you may want to check out still another website, the web version of the popular slick magazine TACTICAL GEAR.  The website is www.tacticalgearmag.com and I’m sure sometimes you’ll be seeing something with my byline there, since I write quite frequently for the print version.  It’s a “sister” publication to GUN DIGEST THE MAGAZINE…

If you like westerns that are really westerns, two of TV’s best are once again airing regularly.  And, you can see them – or record them – if you’ve got a package that includes the Encore channels.  Encore’s western channel runs lots of great films and series – they are running “Gunsmoke,” for example.  But, two of Sharon’s and my favorites from the late 1950s and early 1960s were/are “Cheyenne” and “Have Gun – Will Travel.”  I’ve had the pleasure of talking extensively by telephone with “Cheyenne’s” Clint Walker and, as soon as Sharon and I get the tape transcribed, pieces of an interview I did with Clint Walker will be appearing in some of my columns and probably here, as well.  Clint Walker in real life is just as much the kind of guy you can like and respect as “Cheyenne Bodie” was/is on screen.  I never got to talk with the late Richard Boone, but his iconic black clad gunfighter, “Paladin,” should certainly be award posthumously the title for projecting the most believable menace of any good guy character ever created.  Both westerns hold up perfectly and are not something you’ll wish you hadn’t watched again.  They are as fresh and well done as anything made today, and quite a bit better than most of today’s fare.  Get your kids to watch these early “adult westerns” and help them to develop an appreciation for the values of the old west, not to mention meticulously written scripts, terrific direction and peerless acting…

Sharon and I are busily trying to get one book finished, as far as writing is concerned, and two books photographed.