Last week, with mixed emotions, I finished reading Fear City, the last Repairman Jack novel. (*sigh*)
It has been a journey of thrills, kills, chills and ultimately, just plain fun! The Jack series is more than genre-bending, it is all-inclusive – incorporating elements of horror, thriller, crime, sci-fi, international conspiracies (Dan Brown is an amateur!) and mysticism. It is, by any standard, one of the most audacious, and entertaining, fiction series ever composed. For those of you who don’t know Jack,( or F. Paul Wilson) – SHAME ON YOU!
I first discovered Wilson when I read his classic horror novel, The Keep, in 1981. The book was later turned into a truly awful movie several years later – avoid! Then, in 1984, I read The Tomb, which introduced us to one of the coolest, baddest and most complex action heroes ever created, Repairman Jack. Jack is part Travis McGee, part Rambo, part Indiana Jones and pure entertainment. He is a mercenary who “lives off the grid” and “repairs” situations for people who hire him, often through violence, but just as often through clever scams. Some of Jack’s adventures have a mystical, supernatural element in them, but mostly, they are pure adventure. If you are looking for a great beach book look no further than The Tomb. And then you’ll have about 20 more Jack books to get you through the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, for the next fourteen years, Wilson did not write another Jack novel, even though he continued to write some of the best contemporary fiction of the 80s and 90s – medical thrillers, horror novels and science fiction. In the early 90s he published three connected novels titled Reborn, Reprisal and Nightworld. In those books, the evil entity called Rasalom, supposedly destroyed in The Keep, manages to have its essence stored as the soul of a cloned human, Jim Stevens. When Jim marries and has a child, Rasalom transfers its essence into the soul of Jim’s son, who is born preternaturally aware and feeds off human misery and fear. Rasalom has been reborn! The last book, Nightworld, is literally the end of the world, as Rasalom transforms earth into a world of a perpetual hellish night. Wilson himself has claimed that he will never write another novel that takes place after Nightworld, since in his fictional universe, nothing exists after that timeline.
|Original editions of The Adversary Cycle|
In 1998, Wilson finally published Legacies, a second full blown Repairman Jack novel. And he kept writing them, fifteen in all. He also managed to crank out three Repairman Jack Young Adult novels, letting us meet Jack as an adolescent, learning how and why Jack the kid developed into Jack the adult and finally Repairman Jack. And with each subsequent book, the story of Rasalom’s emergence in the world creeps into Jack’s world. Which led us to a new edition of Nightworld in 2012, completely rewritten to incorporate the entire Jack storyline. The conclusion of Jack’s story in Nightworld was mind-boggling, epic, bittersweet, and completely appropriate … not the end of the world, just the end of the world as we know it, with Jack and his partner Gia facing a new, devastated and transformed world.
But after Nightworld, Wilson (thankfully) decided he was not finished with Jack. He agreed to write three more novels, a series called Repairman Jack: The Early Years, which covers Jack’s first years in NYC, his initial adventures with the underworld, illegal cigarette smuggling and nasty Muslim terrorists. We also learn how Jack became “Repairman Jack.”
So, thank you Dr. Wilson for making the reading of Fear City such a bittersweet experience, and thank you for creating such an amazing story and character. LONG LIVE JACK!