Reviews: Reds Under The Bed

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Paranoia — James Wallis, Grant Howe, Paul Dean

Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, and Eric Goldberg’s dark-comedy roleplaying game Paranoia was first published in 1984. The most recent edition, by James Wallis, Grant Howe, and Paul Dean, was released in March 2017, just in time for the Reds Under the Bed review series. How providential!

Life in Alpha Complex is pretty sweet. Most citizens (the NPCs) have all the mood-numbing drugs and meaningless drudgery they want, as well as enough carefully vetted entertainment to fill any empty hours. Their every need is fulfilled by the all-wise, all-seeing Computer. Indeed, it is against the rules for them to notice anything that might disturb them.

Player characters are not as lucky.

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There’s a Stranger in My Soul

Trotsky’s Run — Richard Hoyt
James Burbage, book 1

1982’s Trotsky’s Run is the first of Richard Hoyt’s James Burbage thrillers.

Twenty years after fleeing to Moscow, Kim Philby wants to escape his dreary life in the Soviet Union. Returning to the United Kingdom is not in the cards. But what Philby knows (or can prove) may suffice to buy his way into the United States.

He claims that a Soviet mole is slated to become President of the United States.

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I’ve Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway

Not This August — C. M. Kornbluth

C. M. Kornbluth’s 1955 Not This August is a standalone novel of what was then the near future.

April 17, 1965: the bitter war between the United States and its allies—essentially just Canada by this stage of the war—and the combined forces of People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union ends with a glorious victory! But not for the US. America has been invaded, its armies crushed, its government given no choice but to surrender.

In the aftermath of unconditional surrender, the United States of America is swept away, replaced by the North American People’s Democratic Republic. What this means for former Americans is not clear.

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There’s a Danger A-Coming and It Plans to Enslave

The Takeover — G. C. Edmondson & C. M. Kotlan

C. G. Edmondson and C. M. Kotlan’s 1984 novel The Takeover is a near-future thriller, written in those long-forgotten days when Americans were terrified that the Russians might somehow subvert America’s most basic institutions. Of course, these days we can look back and laugh at such ludicrous fears.

The Russian military adventure codenamed Cassandra was intended to exploit a moment of American vulnerability and win concessions for the Soviet Union. Even Cassandra’s architect, Undersecretary of Agriculture and Commerce Pikusky, didn’t expect his little project to succeed to the extent it did. The Soviets wanted trade concessions. They got total conquest!

Or so it seemed.

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