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Assault on Sunrise    by Michael Shea order for
Assault on Sunrise
by Michael Shea
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael Shea's Assault on Sunrise (second in a trilogy, following The Extra), is another fast-paced SF thriller set in a California, where overpopulation has stratified society to extremes. In this future, producer Val Margolian has launched popular live-death films, in which huge casts of extras are cannon fodder. Though the odds for survival are very low, the rewards can be substantial. They were for the leads in The Extra, in particular for Curtis, Jool, Chops and Gillian, who found fame and a degree of fortune in Margolian's Alien Hunger.

As Assault on Sunrise opens, these good people have settled in the little mountain town of Sunrise, which has become home to many live-death veterans. Curtis and Jool have built an A-frame cabin and are expecting their first child, while Chops and Gillian share a vision quest in the Trinity Mountains. Happiness seems in their grasp. But Margolian is not done with them. He sends armed state cops in disguise against the touchy Rasmussens, so setting a trap that quickly snaps shut on Sunrise. Cops are killed. Now the entire town is held liable for these orchestrated deaths, and Margolian buys the contract for the town's sentencing.

The sentence? The townsfolk must agree to Margolian's shooting a live-death film in which his monsters assault Sunrise, and he's been planning this for some time. All is in place. But it doesn't all go his way, of course. The beleaguered townsfolk acquire their own set of rafts, mounted with machine guns. And, as psychotic genius Margolian plans to film Sunrise's annihilation, two ambitious young directors decide to film the legend's shoot - and steal a big cut of the profits. What develops has somewhat of a Magnificent Seven flavor, yet with the same whirlwind of violence, chases, narrow escapes, and tragic deaths as in The Extra.

Many die, but the survivors plan to take on the enemy on his own ground, in an attack on Fortress Hollywood - I can't wait for the conclusion to this totally edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline laced trilogy.

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