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The Book of the Howlings of Ming, Seeker After Arcane and Esoteric Truths
The Zone - Continuity 
27th-Jan-2012 06:07 pm
Fire select
Another seriously geeky post, attempting to reconcile the continuity for a series of novels...


The Zone is a serious of novels by James Rouch set against the backdrop of a general NATO-Warsaw Pact war in Central Germany, first published in the 80s, the war zone being the eponymous Zone. Needless to say, I was immediately drawn to them but only read the first 5 due to being incarcerated in boarding school. After a conversation late last year at a Norfolkes musket cleaning session, I discovered they'd been republished in PDF format and there were 10 volumes!

Surprise, surprise, I bought them all. As I read through them, I started to realise there were continuity issues e.g. Clarence, the sniper, after reaching his target of kills for vengeance for his dead wife and child, commits suicide by pulling the pin on a White Phosphorous grenade and shooting himself in the head. Boris the Russian deserter is captured and tortured to death by Spetsnaz troops. Libby deserts into The Zone. All reappear in later volumes!

So, I tracked a number of characters who come and go (and come again...) to see if there's anyway the titles can be re-arranged to make chronological sense. The answer appears to be no:

Volume 9, where Boris reappears, could possibly be moved to anywhere before or after 5 or 6 (ie before Boris is tortured to death) but 9 makes no mention of Clarence who appears in 5 and 6 (but committed suicide in 8). There's also the minor matter of the entire unit deserting to fight their own private war in The Zone at the end of 9 (which is not mentioned in 10, incidentally - they're back under normal command in that).

Volume 10 just doesn't fit at all. The problem is Libby and Thorne are in this one but Libby deserted before Thorne is introduced, never mind that Libby is supposed to have deserted and Thorne died from chemical or biological contamination!

I think the problem is that 10 was written some time after the previous 9, in 2007, and the author brought back his favourite characters, never mind they were supposed to have died or deserted.

VolTitleCohenLibbyClarenceBorisKurtThorneRipperScullyVoke(s)
1Hard TargetYYYIntro
2Blind FireDies - KIAYYDies - KIAIntro
3Hunter-KillerRef deadYYIntroY
4Sky StrikeDesertsYYY
5OverkillRef desertedYYIntroY
6Plague BombYYYY
7Killing GroundRef deadYDies - tortured to deathYYYIntro (Voke)
8Civilian SlaughterRef desertedDies - suicideDies - contaminationYYY (Vokes)
9Body CountYYY
10Death MarchYYYYY

Still, The Zone is a good set of entertaining warporn stories. If you liked Twilight: 2000 (as in the WWIII RPG, not the sparkly vampires!), it's fun but, clearly, not to be taken too seriously ;-)
Comments 
27th-Jan-2012 07:23 pm (UTC)
They sound like fun, don't suppose they exist in a non-adobe format?

Did you ever encounter the Survivalist series?
27th-Jan-2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Not legitimately. There are .mobi conversions floating around which, rather embarrassingly, are more readable than the PDFs. In fact, having bought them, I also downloaded the .mobis because they were easier to read on a Kindle!

Here's a link to the first one, Hard Target

Not read any of The Survivalist series but have heard a lot about them. Might have to start checking it out at some point.

I should mention a few more little subtleties about these Zone books. Looks like even the official ones were OCRed so Major Revell is sometimes Major Reve1l etc. Also likely to offend if you have a high opinion of Russians and/or Communists!
28th-Jan-2012 11:59 am (UTC)
I can barely read PDFs at all on my ebook reader too. It's that lack the format has of being able to redraw to fit on the page, so you wind up having to awkwardly scroll around.

Plus PDF files are an absolute bugger to convert to other formats. I use that Calibre piece of software, which has a good crack at converting them, but PDF conversions always have all sorts of left over artefacts and page numbers and junk in them.

... so much hate for the PDF format. I wish it would vanish from ebooks already.
28th-Jan-2012 12:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, after my initial "If you don't stop this, you could go blind" reaction, despite having bought the PDFs, I downloaded the Mobis anyway just because the conversion resized the text to readable levels!
29th-Jan-2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
I have so many ebooks in PDF format, and they're all essentially useless. I do wish people would abandon the format already.
28th-Jan-2012 10:10 am (UTC)
This is why I always keep a reference file on all the characters I write, so I remember how and where I off them.
28th-Jan-2012 12:02 pm (UTC)
Much appreciated ;-)
15th-Apr-2012 06:22 am (UTC) - Back from the dead....
Yeah I just started reading theses again.... (Read the first 6-7 of them 20 years ago when they were being published....)

Got to #9 and was thinking.... Boris?!? He's dead!!

Found this page doing a google search. Glad to see I had not made a mistake. Also a little disapointed to see that 4 characters are "Back from the dead" in Book 10.

Thanks for the table. ;)
15th-Apr-2012 10:01 pm (UTC) - Re: Back from the dead....
A Google search, really? Wow...

Anyway, glad you found my minor piece of geeky scholarship of use. The more I think about it, the more it looks like the author couldn't resist bringing his favourite characters back for one last hurrah, especially as it essentially had to be set before volume 9, given the way that one finished off.
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