Deathlands Wiki

Welcome to the Deathlands, where hope has perished, but the will to live fights on.[]

Ryan & Krysty

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Deathlands is a book series written by a variety of authors under the pen name of James Axler. It takes place roughly one hundred years after a nuclear apocalypse decimated the world on January 20th, 2001. The books revolve around the travels of Ryan Cawdor and his companions as they discover the secrets of century old government experiments and experience the joys and more frequent horrors that roam the wastes of the former United States of America. Welcome to Deathlands, where death lurks behind every corner.


On the morning of January 20, 2001 the climax of the Cold War set the post-apocalyptic stage for the series. The end game began with a pre-emptive strike on Washington. Underground nuclear bombs were detonated from within the basement of the Soviet embassy, by an elite group of Spetsnaz operatives, destroying the central command structure and political system of the United States. For an indefinite period of time a nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union devastated both countries and subsequently the entire planet (but little details are known outside both countries). All manner of genetic contagions were released infecting the survivors of the firestorm with horrible illnesses. The remaining survivors lived harshly during a time of prolonged nuclear winter known as Sky Dark. The geography, climate, and ecosystems of the world had changed dramatically. What was left of the United States came to be known as the Deathlands.

100 years later civilization begins again: brutal, short lived, morally confused and crazed from mutation. Between the many hot spots are small plague pits ruled by power hungry individuals who have no limits in order to establish their rule and expand their influence. These individuals are known as the Barons. Their rabble pits are known as Villes and Baronies. Civilization unknowingly resembles the Dark Ages. Trading resumes between the villes: Jack (a regional currency), Jolt (a hallucinogenic mixture of Mescaline and Heroin) and slaves are the primary forms of currency. Life is a strange mixture of ancient history and limited technology that is scrapped from the 20th century. Military technology is the most prized possession of all; success is often measured by the number of bullets he or she possesses. A man named Ryan Cawdor leads a group of companions across the deathlands. Ryan has extremely secret knowledge of the 20th century. The understanding of hidden underground complexes, known as redoubts, that contains Teleportation technology. He and this companions guard this knowledge with their lives. The technology is called MAT-TRANS.

Each novel usually begins with the companions arriving at a frequently unknown redoubt by MAT-TRANS. If the situation is impossible or hostile the companions can use the last destination feature of the transporter to return to the sending location. If the redoubt is unknown then the companions usually explore, looking for weapons and supplies which they rarely find. Sometimes they are lucky and find a working shower or stored food which they always utilize or take. The story picks up speed once the characters leave the redoubt and explore the surrounding countryside. Frequently the companions are captured or forced into a confrontation with the local barons. Each novel reveals a little of the characters' history, motivations and the regional location where they arrived.

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