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Long Running Book Series of action-adventure novels set in an After the End North America, now called Deathlands. A detailed prologue in the first novel explains how a hardline communist faction tried to decapitate the entire US political and military command structure by detonating three briefcase nukes during the Presidential inauguration, as a preliminary to a surprise nuclear attack. Things Go Horribly Wrong and the resulting nuclear, chemical and biological conflagration turns Earth into the equivalent of a Death World. A total of 126 books were published by Gold Eagle Publishing between 1988 and their closure in 2015, and as of April 2024 another 29 audiobooks have been released by Graphic Audio.

In the year 2104 life in Deathlands is nasty, brutish and short (not to mention frequently mutated) but the Hired Guns of the Trader have things better than most. Travelling from one feudal barony and fortified town to another in their heavily-armed wagon train, they've become adept at locating the hidden stockpiles of weapons and equipment left by the now-defunct US government.

After an attack on their convoy the Trader's war captain, Ryan Cawdor, saves (and is saved by) a stunningly beautiful female captive called Krysty Wroth. She is convinced that a gateway to a better world lies in the Darks (formerly the Glacier National Park in Montana). This is an old Urban Legend and Ryan is naturally skeptical, but events force him and several companions (most notably 'Doc' Tanner, a traumatised former captive who appears to have unusual knowledge of pre-war America) to seek it out. It turns out the gateway is actually a Redoubt; a hidden underground complex containing teleportation technology called MAT-TRANS. The series follows their adventures as the group use the MAT-TRANS Portal Network to travel at random from one part of Deathlands to another. In doing so they battle an endless array of power-hungry warlords, kill-crazy marauders, mutant monsters, Mad Scientists and various other villains. Expect loads of Gorn and Gun Porn, over-the-top characters, cool events and some crazy landscape. To date the series has reached 100 books with multiple authors, making for some interesting adventures for the characters.

There is also Outlanders,[1] a spin-off series set a hundred years on from the events of Deathlands. Lost Technology has been used to bring the chaotic Deathlands under the despotic rule of a centralised government backed by mysterious forces; the series depicts the efforts of a group of renegades operating from the Darks to oppose them. Employing conspiracy theories and myths from all cultures as underpinnings, Outlanders quickly distanced itself from the gun-fixated survivalist tone of Deathlands and struck out in new directions, providing explanations for many of the unresolved science-fiction elements in the earlier series.

There is also a prequel audiobook series called The Trader.

Together, the works are called the "Axlerverse", after the pen name of the author of the first 34 novels.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Axlerverse franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • After the End: Civilization as we know it is gone.
  • AKA-47: Plenty of weapons get this treatment, as in the HK G-12 (a fictional variant of the Heckler & Koch G11 caseless rifle) wielded by Ryan in the early novels.
  • All That Glitters: The group find some sealed crates and J.D. starts going into excessive detail over what exotic weapons might be in them. Everyone (except J.D.) bursts out laughing when the crates turn out to be full of thousands of plastic zippers.
  • Alternate History: Premier Gorbachev dies in a plane crash in 1993, and a bloody civil war in the USSR presages the elevation of a hardline Soviet government, though it is another faction within this group that starts the war, alarmed over the decline of the Soviet Union and other events such as a civil war in South Africa, the assassination of Fidel Castro, and an active Strategic Defense Initiative.
  • Angst? What Angst? (In-Universe): When Action Girl Hunaker gets killed, Ryan says it's "like losing my blaster", telling Krysty he can't afford to feel anything more.
  • Annoying Arrows: Very handily averted (though not in the Film of the Book, where Krysty Wroth yanks a crossbow bolt out of her shoulder).
  • Antimatter: Implosion bombs use Anti-Matter in some fashion.They are used to kill the Cerebus fog defense.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Apocalypse How: Between a Type 1 and Type 2. While modern civilization is pretty much obliterated as we know it, there are enough remnants such as vehicles, weapons, ammo, books and other items that they have not completely lost it all. There is even widespread organization and recovery on a scale sufficient enough to fuel small cities and large towns.
  • Base on Wheels: The Trader uses a converted military command vehicle as base and living area while on the move.
  • BFG: M-60s, .50 caliber machine guns and auto-cannons, to name a few.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Doc Tanner's sometime girlfriend, Lori, runs off and has an affair with a local bad boy. She then returns to the group, complaining that his big dick came with a small brain. Ryan dryly remarks that he "hears that's often the way".
  • Boom! Headshot!: Done with often gory details about eyeballs, teeth, and fragments of bullets and bone doing nasty things.
  • Car Fu: The drivers of the Trader's caravan use this to great effect.
  • Cold Sniper: The snipers that do show up are usually this.
  • Cool Gate / Portal Network: The MAT-TRANS.
  • Cool Gun: Doc carries a LeMat Revolver. The weapon is famous for having a large central bore loaded with a single shot large bore shotgun shell. Some of the characters comment on the weapon's size referring to it as a Hand Cannon.
  • Crapsack World: Among the weather, landscape, mutants and other humans, the world is not a nice place to live.
  • Cult: There are plenty of various and sundry cults through out the death lands.
  • Deadly Gas: The Soviets use chemical weapons along with their biological and nuclear weapons in the event that turned America into the Death Lands. When the Trader finds a stache of nerve gas, he buries it and destroys the evidence that lead him there in the hope no-one will ever use such weapons again. Unfortunately it doesn't work; half his convoy gets gassed with nerve agents
  • Depopulation Bomb: Large numbers of the worlds population are killed off in the war.
  • Double Tap: Sometimes you really need to make sure something is dead. This applies especially to mutants because their internal anatomy is not always the same as humans.
  • Emergency Weapon: People who work for the Trader have enough hidden odds and ends to make a door breaching charge. They conceal plastic explosives, wires, detonators and a signal detonator in their clothing shoes, seams, and gear.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Modern civilization is gone; see Apocalypse How entry above.
  • Eye Scream: One of the nicer things that can possibly happen to your eyes is getting them put out.
  • Film of the Book: Syfy did a fairly decent adaptation of Homeward Bound, where Ryan Cawdor returns to the barony from which he was outlawed. Be prepared however for Narmish acting, too much red tint, no Doc Tanner or Lori Quint, ex-porn star Traci Lords as a Lady Macbeth-style baroness, and a complete absence of giant mutant monsters.
  • Forbidden Zone: USA, also known as The Death Lands.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Finnigan is killed by one in Crater Lake, and the effects are depicted in Squick-inducing detail.
  • Future Imperfect: The leader of a Russian war party declares his intention to invade the former United States, having read in the old books about how it's a land of wealth and beautiful women instead of the Crapsack World it is in reality.
  • Future Slang: Muties, cannies, sec men, war wag, blasters, chilled, and fireblast.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The first novel was written in 1986 and states that WW 3 began in 2001, so the series has now become 'honorary' Alternate History.
  • Grenade Launcher: They are present but not widely used.
  • Gun Porn: Oh so many weapons.
  • Gun Stripping: Characters will frequently clean and maintain their weapons.
  • Handguns: Everyone seems to carry them for one reason or another.
  • Human Sacrifice: A popular practice with various cults.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kelber (Strasser's chief torturer) dies in this manner when he accidentally swallows a carnivorous insect he'd been planning to forcefeed to his prisoners. Not to mention Baron Zeal, who previously burned one of Trader's men alive with his special torture chamber of doom, eventually tries escaping imminent explosion and being the victim of a violent and goretastic explosion, jumps in same torture pit; however, the torture pit eventually winds up in a crater, burning alive as the door was wedged shut, giving Zeal the irony treatment of burning alive for weeks. Not to mention he also kept the heads of his torture victims in his pricate study.
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: Seen in the first novel, and used as a continuing theme in book covers and the Riding Into the Sunset ending for the Syfy adaptation.
  • Hostile Weather: Acid rain will literally strip you to the bone and vicious fog kills you with a tornado/vortex.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: After the survivors of the nuclear winter came back out, apparently the bad got worse. It is noted that those that try to live peacefully and morally are wiped out by those who choose not to live so.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: This wonderful line on the history of Jordan Teague, Baron of Mocsin.

"He took up with a band of mutie marauders who had a rather more liberal attitude to norms than most -- that is, they accepted him, instead of slow-roasting him over a slow fire and eating him..."

  1. Not to be confused with the manga of the same name.