Friday, March 27, 2015

Death Merchant #40: Blueprint Invisibility

In October 1943, the United States Navy allegedly made a battleship disappear and reappear hundreds of miles away.

In Blueprint Invisibility, Joseph Rosenberger treats that story - known now as The Philadelphia Experiment - as fact, and has a U.S. agent, mind-controlled by the Red Chinese, steal the top secret file that includes the formula to duplicate the experiment, which "opened the portal to another dimension, another time-continuum or another universe".

In this book, Camellion hangs around the CIA's main headquarters in New York City, which is located on the 12th floor of the Payson Arms, on Payson Avenue in upper Manhattan - a short walk from where I lived for 15 years! (As far as I know, there never was a hotel on that small street.)

The CIA believes that ONI agent Mason Shiptonn, who lifted the file, was somehow seduced by one of the call girls working at Soraya Duncan's escort service; Duncan, who has ties to a couple of New York mobsters, also may be working for the Red Chinese. Camellion, in disguise as a southern gentleman named Jefferson Davis Hafferton, arranges a date with Duncan - and actually ends up in bed with her! Rosenberger, who so far has had no sexual content in the Death Merchant books whatsoever (outside of the DM having a lewd thought every 6-8 books or so), spends four pages on Camellion getting laid!

After surviving a shootout with the mobsters while trying to break into, and grab some files from, Duncan's office, Camellion decides to invade the a 26-room Manhattan brownstone that the Chinese are using as their embassy. They kidnap a few people for possible interrogation and escape in a helicopter, evading the New York police.

After drugging the embassy employees and questioning them for hours, they learn that Chinese scientists are close to finishing a working model of the invisibility device on Chelsworth Island, off the coast of Maine. An all-out assault is planned, with Camellion knowing it's vital that he and his fighting force of SEALs capture Dr. Chou Wen-yaun - a specialist in mind-murder - alive, so they can learn his mind-programming secrets.

During the final battle, we get narration which reads more like Rosenberger's outline than the actual story:
The firing of pistols and submachine guns! Coughing! Then metal clanging against metal! Shouts! Grunts! Groans! Now it was man to man, with neither side having time to reload, even though some of the Chinese and the three American gangsters tried.
Rosenberger also includes about seven pages of intense martial arts fighting - with every twist and turn described to within an inch of its life (including footnotes!):
[Camellion] used a left-elbow Empi stab to wreck the celiac (solar) plexus of Yeh Bo L'ang trying to come in behind him, a high Fumikomi front stamp kick that landed solidly on the sternal angle23 of Wang Wen-hung, one of the top men of the Red Chinese 3rd Bureau in the lab. The pain didn't do anything to Wang Wen-hung. The sudden shock did. It killed him. He was still falling when Camellion used a Mawashi Geri rear roundhouse kick that barely reached Nanki Hiso, who jumped back ... At the same time, as Camellion's left hand shot out to grab the wrist of Liu Ki Cho'i'pi, who was coming at him with a knife, he used his right hand in a very fast Seiken, the blade of the Deadringer slicing through the jugular notch of the man's neck. Blood spurted. Cho'i'pi gurgled, wished he had stayed home in China and started to fall into the final blackness.

23. The sternal angle is the point where the manubrium (the upper part of the breastbone) and the body of the sternum come together, about 2 inches below where the collar bones meet at the base of the throat. This is a weak spot in the sternum, and if attacked with a powerful blow to the "sternal shield" over the heart ... bronchus, lungs and thoracic nerves can be broken, producing intense pain and shock to the circulatory and respiratory systems.

Nanki Hiso, although an expert in Hsing-i and Shaolin - Chinese boxing - was no match for Bill Fieldhouse, who was not only a past master in Pentjak-silat (the national defense form of Indonesia), but an expert in Kun-Tao (Chinese: "fist-way") and in Okinawa Karate-jutsu. ...

[Fieldhouse] let Hiso have a right-legged Patagonian purr-kick, the piston of his foot caving in Hiso's left side and forcing broken ribs to stab into the man's left lung. Fieldhouse began using his legs and feet the way a boxer uses his fists. A blink of an eye! He powed Hiso with a left-legged Ko-ja dynamite kick that landed on the side of the man's head and broke his neck - spun with the speed of a top and kicked another Chinese full in the face, the rubber sole of the coral shoe breaking the goof's jaw, nasal bones and the orbital bones around both eyes. ...

Gene Thompson went to work on the other goon, landing a left-handed Haito ridge-hand chop to the man's right cheek. A right Seiken forefist to the man's stomach. And when Kung Ji Kang doubled over in agony, Thompson finished him off with an expert Tsumi-Saki tip-of-toes strike kick that landed squarely in the middle of Kang's solar plexus. The dog eater would be with his honorable ancestors within a few minutes.
In 1973-74, Rosenberger penned five books of a series called Kung Fu: Featuring Mace, which are apparently extremely light on plot and feature one fight scene after the next after the next after the ... I look forward to reading those later on.

Oops. Rosenberger uses the same phrase within a span of 13 pages:
"... sneered Oscar Yehling, a creep who would have wasted his own mother if the contract price were right." (86)

"He'd kill his own mother if the contract price was right, then lay bets on which way she'd fall." (99)
There is also some good stuff about Camellion, a superman who "could easily get by on as little as four hours sleep" and was "used to thinking in fourteen different languages". ... His breakfast: "black coffee, a small glass of honey, and two vitamin pills." ... Throughout the series, while explaining his seemingly-suicidal attack plans, Camellion often eats dried fruit: in two instances here, he is "eating kumquats and drinking cocoa" and later enjoying "candied apple slices".
"He was something else! There was an unreal unnatural quality about him, a kind of perternaturalism that made one sense he had done this type of covert work many, many times. What made Swain [Camellion's alias] so eerie was that he seemed to understand Death as well as Life."

"[T]here was that strange 'something' about the man named Swain ... a certain chill, a certain type of warning ... something alien there, something that didn't belong."
The Death Merchant is a 5th-degree black belt with "a very personal arrangement with the Cosmic Lord of Death". It is strongly implied that Camellion actually knows the time when he will die. "The Cosmic Lord of Death is active, but He'll stick to his agreement."
"The rap sheets ... were longer than the weekly grocery list for Boys' Town."

"He was an ugly as a ten-car pile-up ..."

One goon gets shot and falls across a desk. "He reminded the Death Merchant of a taco!"
"Gindow's body shuddered from the impact of the big bullet and he slumped dead, a large bloody hole in his lower right chest. He had eaten of bread baked in blackness and had paid the price."
(Joe Kenney of Glorious Trash reviewed Blueprint Invisibility here.)

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