Now here's a blast from the past. When I was a teenager I loved The Amtrak Wars series by Patrick Tilley. Six books long, this series was a seriously enjoyable mix of a Western, a high-tech SF post-apocalyptic scenario and Shogun. Set in the 30th Century, nine centuries after the world was devastated in a nuclear exchange, it saw the North American continent become the battleground for three very different factions: the primitive, Native American-like Plainfolk, the high-tech underground Amtrak Federation (based in and under Texas) and the nation of Ne-Issan (a Shogunate-era Japanese-derived culture dominating the Eastern Seaboard). Whilst not exactly great literature, it was a tremendously fun series with interesting worldbuilding, intricate political maneuvering and an action-driven pace. Its setting was vivid and compared to some other works of SF or epic fantasy (the series is heavily derived from both) it had some originality going for it. It was also quite brutal and ruthless, killing off major characters at a rate that would even put GRRM to shame.
Unfortunately, after the publication of the sixth volume in 1990, the author apparently abandoned the series. He published one more novel, a middling SF comedy called Star Waltz, in 1995 and nothing since then. Tilley later revealed that the series was supposed to be a twelve-book series divided into two natural stages: the setting-up of the Talisman Prophecy and its later fulfilment. Apparently he had started writing Book 7, Ghost Rider, and had been hoping to publish it before the end of the century but he lost faith in the project after being turned off writing violent stories by real-life events (specifically the Balkan wars).
Last year, The Amtrak Wars was optioned by an Australian development company to be turned into a series of feature films, although at Tilley's request the series was renamed The Talisman Prophecy. It's unclear if, as with some reprints of the original series, the Amtrak Federation will be renamed. The scriptwriter set up a Facebook group to reveal progress on the project. Apparently emboldened by this development, Tilley claims to have restarted work on the latter books, but has shortened them to a trilogy. Since he just turned 80 years old, he decided to hedge his bets and finish the series as succintly as possible.
Whilst these developments are encouraging, they may come to nothing in the end, but if this interesting and 'different' SF/fantasy crossbreed series can be brought to a more definitive conclusion it would certainly be worth taking a look. I remember reccing this series to friends with the tag-line, "Lord of the Rings with flamethrowers and samurai," and even my more cynical, older self has to admit that's still pretty cool.
The original series seems to be out of print, but I've rarely found a second-hand bookshop that didn't have at least a few of the volumes in stock (it was a huge seller back in the 1980s) and Amazon seems to have second-hand copies readily available. Intrigued by this news, I'll be re-reading the series in the near future and hoping it lives up to my fond memories of it.
The Amtrak Wars by Patrick Tilley
1: Cloud Warrior (1983)
2: First Family (1985)
3: Iron Master (1987)
4: Blood River (1988)
5: Death-Bringer (1989)
6: Earth-Thunder (1990)
Dark Visions: An Illustrated Guide to the Amtrak Wars (1988)