Everything I ever learned about writing, I learned from reading men's adventure books. Along with the SOBs, there was another great series. The Zone! The series, masterfully written by British author James Rouch, took place in an alternative near future where the Berlin Wall did not fall. Instead the cold war suffered a meltdown. A war across Europe imploded, concentrating itself in a great contaminated swathe of no-mans land slashed across the continent. Imagine if "Kelley's Heroes" was written and directed by Sam Rami and you'd have "The Zone." Given the original publishing date of the books, I think it's safe to say that Rouch's "near future" was now and the "alternative near future" is a more recent re-imagining. I've discovered, much to my delight, that along with there being a role-playing game based on the series, Rouch recently wrote a TENTH book in the series that is available on CD, so Santa, if you're listening, you know what to bring me for Christmas.