Reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

Reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

All reviews copyright 1984-2012 Evelyn C. Leeper.


ALTERNATE GENERALS edited by Harry Turtledove (Baen ISBN 0-671-87886-7, August 1998, 348pp, mass market paperback):

Mike Resnick has edited eight alternate history anthologies; this is Harry Turtledove's first. The first thing I noticed was that there was very little overlap between the authors in Resnick's anthologies and this one. In part that is probably due to the fact that the editors deal regularly with different people, but it also may be connected with the publishers and their emphasis. Baen Books is known for its military science fiction and in this obviously military collection regular Baen authors are featured. So I suppose it's a reasonable prediction that if you like their other works you'll like this.

Of course, I am not a big fan of military science fiction. I read this for its alternate history content, which turned out to be minimal, but, thank Ghod, not connected with the perfectly awful and completely inaccurate back cover blurb: "At Gaugemela the Macedonians had Alexander and the Persians had--Darius. Result: world conquest. But what if the Persians had--Erwin Rommel. Or what if George S. Patton had commanded Southern forces at Bull Run, and Lincoln had become a Confederate prisoner? The possibilities are endless. . . ."

Alexander, Rommel, Patton, and Lincoln do not appear in this book, nor do Gaugemela or Bull Run. Whatever possessed them to put this on the book?!

If one manages to get past the blurb and the rather garish metallic cover with bursting stars with authors' names, what does one find? Well, apparently all the authors' notes on the historical backgrounds that they used were omitted. Since not all the stories have backgrounds obvious to the non-historian, this will make the book somewhat inaccessible to a reader coming to alternate history for the first or second time. (After you read alternate history for a while, you pick this stuff up, even if you were not a history major.)

[Not all stories are commented on. Not every story had features I wanted to comment on.]

The first story, "The Test of Gold" by Lillian Stuart Carl, is a reasonable lead-off, though I had the feeling that if this story of Boudica and C. Marcus Valarius was the strongest in the anthology (as the lead story traditionally is), it would be a fairly weak collection.

"And to the Republic For Which It Stands" by Brad Linaweaver started out with an intriguing look at Julius Caesar's possible musings about the Roman Republic. Unfortunately, lines like "[h]er breasts are perfect, smooth hills rising and falling like legions marching over countless landscapes of countless campaigns" and expository lumps like "[t]his night of March the fourteenth there is much to think about."

"The Craft of War" by Lois Tilton was one of my favorites. She used a different style and an original approach, and managed to avoid making it just the description of battles and maneuvers that so many stories here were.

Joy Lynn Nye's "Queen of the Amazons" was an example of what is often called "alternate history," but to me doesn't quite qualify. Everything is described right up to the change, and then it stops. There is no extrapolation of what happens next, which is what I read alternate history for.

"The Phantom Tolbukhin" by Harry Turtledove is at least alternate history, and goes a bit beyond the "troop movement" stage, though not nearly enough.

"An Old Man's Summer" by Esther Friesner is another story that attempts a different style. Probably the most literary in the volume, it is not the sort of alternate history story one starts out expecting it to be, and it provides a refreshing change of pace to the book.

"Billy Mitchell's Overt Act" by William Sanders uses yet another stylistic technique--articles, interviews, and quotations--to tell the story of a different Pearl Harbor and a different result. And Sanders follows his changes through to a reasonable extrapolation of their future, rather than just leaving it hanging.

"A Hard Day for Mother" by William R. Fortschen is, not surprisingly to anyone who recognizes the title, about Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and though the execution is well done, I found the premise a bit weak and the conclusion unlikely.

Brian M. Thomsen's "Bloodstained Ground" does have Mark Twain, so I may be more favorably inclined toward it than otherwise. Frankly, the Twain aspect was more interesting than the Custer one (which I suspect was supposed to be the main part).

Overall, I found this less rewarding than some of the other alternate history anthologies around. For the person who is new to alternate history, I would recommend the new reprint anthology ROADS NOT TAKEN (edited by Gardner Dozois and Stanley Schmidt) as a better introduction. For the experienced alternate history fan, I would say that this is of more interest for those who are interested in the military aspects of how alternate histories happen than those who are interested in the sociological results.

To order Alternate Generals from amazon.com, click here.


ALTERNATE GENERALS II edited by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 11/22/2003]

I'm doing "catch-up" on alternate history. I'm currently most of the way through ALTERNATE GENERALS II (edited by Harry Turtledove). I'm not sure what the original requirements for a "large-print" book are, but this comes awfully close, with only five lines to the vertical inch. As far as content, most of the stories are (predictably enough) based on the idea that some famous person in our world ended up differently in another. The most extreme, "A Southern Strategy" by Michael F. Flynn, seems to have everyone famous in our world end up differently. As a result, what might have been one of the best stories ends up merely annoying.

To order Alternate Generals II from amazon.com, click here.


"Audubon in Atlantis" by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/16/2005]

"Audubon in Atlantis" by Harry Turtledove (ANALOG, December 2005) is competently written, but probably of more interest to birders than to the average SF fan. The premise is that Atlantis exists and in 1843 John James Audubon goes there to study (and draw) the unique bird species, many of which are dying out. I had some technical quibbles (quelle surprise!)--mostly that the existence of a large island continent between Europe/Africa and North America would have changed the history of the New World (and the Old) so as to make much of the setting given extremely implausible. However, someone pointed out that the illustration at the beginning shows a map which has Atlantis as the eastern part of North America, separated from the rest by a large body of water. Unfortunately, this is not made clear in the story, and I suspect that the map will not be included with any future publications of the story in anthologies or collections. On the plus side, April 6, 1843, was a Thursday, so at least Turtledove did that much research. (You'd be surprised how many people do not.) And Turtledove goes into great detail about the characteristics of the various species (birds and non-birds as well), but I cannot judge how accurate or likely they are. I'll leave that to the birders. (Yes, Kate, that's you!) The ecological part of the story was (a bit too) obviously taken from that of the Galapagos and Mauritius.


THE CASE OF THE TOXIC SPELL DUMP by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 01/07/1994]

THE CASE OF THE TOXIC SPELL DUMP by Harry Turtledove (ISBN 0-671- 72196-8) is, I suppose, an alternate history of sorts. Magic works, all the gods and goddesses and other supernatural beings are real, and so on. Yet except for a few minor name changes (the District of Columbia is the District of Saint Columba, for example, and Los Angeles is Angel City), everything else is pretty much the same. While this is extremely unlikely in a real alternate history (is that an oxymoron?), it hardly matters here however, since this story is not trying to be a classic alternate history story. I mention it only for those who have come to expect Turtledove to write alternate history stories.

There are two aspects to this book: plot and puns. The plot involves David Fisher, an inspector for the EPA (Environmental Perfection Agency) and his investigation of a possible leak at a toxic spell dump. This leak appears to be causing babies to be born without souls. The puns are layered on top of the plot-- often, in my opinion, obscuring it completely. It's too easy to get so wrapped up in spotting puns that you stop following the storyline. And Turtledove is shameless when it comes to puns. Not only does he refer to an overweight psychic and a Britisher who contacts spirits from the past as "the large medium and the English channeler," but he doesn't shirk from talking about the "devil with a blue dress on" or even including as narrative almost an entire verse of "Love Potion Number Nine." It may seem an odd criticism, but I think Turtledove's plot is interesting enough that the constant puns hurt, rather than help, the book. Conversely, the puns are good enough that you sometimes wish the plot didn't distract you from them. I like sushi and I like hot fudge, but they don't mix well either.

One aspect of the premise I found fascinating, if a bit paradoxical, was the idea that all religions were "right." With the constant proof of them in everyday life, people in Turtledove's universe are more religious--because they really believe that they will be punished if they're not. Aside from what ramifications this has for free will and faith versus proof, it leads me to wonder why the god(s) of one religion don't (or can't) punish the believers in a different religion. David Fisher is an observant Jew (actually another nice touch--one rarely finds the heroes of novels to be observant Jews, or even observant anything-elses), but why? He recognizes that all other religions are "true," so why does he remain Jewish? Is conversion not allowed? If so, what does that do to religions that require "informed consent" (i.e., you can become a full member only when you are old enough to make your own choice)? Do these religions never form in this universe? Does it have only religions one is born into? (Or baptized into at birth?) Maybe this whole subject interests me because I've been reading about why people change their religion and it seems to be more a social or emotional thing than that they decide they actually believe the formal tenets of one religion over another. (Lots of stuff here in case there's a sequel, I guess.) At any rate, Turtledove gives one a lot of food for thought here, and this may be somewhat of a surprise in a book that is basically a comedy-adventure.

It may be just my personal taste for religious-based science fiction and fantasy, but I found THE CASE OF THE TOXIC SPELL DUMP enjoyable and surprisingly meaty. If you have an appreciation--or at least a high toleration--for endless puns, I strongly recommend it.

To order The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump from amazon.com, click here.


DAYS OF INFAMY by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 02/03/2006]

DAYS OF INFAMY by Harry Turtledove (ISBN 0-451-21307-9) is an alternate history set in a timeline where Japan does not just bomb Pearl Harbor--it invades and occupies Hawai'i. It is the first of a two-book series and seems at times padded out, sometimes unfortunately. For example, it is not entirely clear who the narrator is who muses about Hawai'i, "You admire the turquoise sky and the sapphire sea and the emerald land. Strange tropical birds call in the trees. You savor the perfect weather. . . . You want to be a beachcomber and spend the rest of your days there. If you find a slightly brown-skinned but beautiful and willing wahine to spend them there with you, so much the better." One assumes it is a white male of the era (no one today would say "slightly brown-skinned but beautiful"), but it is clear that the audience the narrator is writing for does not include women. I would not say that I am offended by this, but I do find it a bit off-putting.

To order Days of Infamy from amazon.com, click here.


THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 10/06/2006]

THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA by Harry Turtledove (ISBN 0-765-31485-1) is another in his "Crosstime Traffic" series. In this one, a teenager from our timeline is stranded in a timeline in which the Articles of Confederation were never replaced by the Constitution, and the country fell apart into many smaller countries. Aimed at a young adult audience, it has more expository lump and preaching than books aimed at an older audience, particularly on how slavery is bad, equality is good, war is bad, and a strong Constitution is better than weak Articles of Confederation. Unfortunately, the plot all this is wrapped around is pretty thin, and Turtledove makes the mistake (in my opinion) of having both his teenage characters be non- local and believe as he expects (or wants) his readers to believe. The result is that the conflict is basically the teenagers versus the adults, while in reality all the local teenagers would agree with the local adults on the basic issues. It would have been more interesting, in my opinion, to have a conflict between the boy from our universe and a girl from the Virginia part of the other universe.

To order The Disunited States of America from amazon.com, click here.


END OF THE BEGINNING by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 02/03/2006]

END OF THE BEGINNING by Harry Turtledove (ISBN 0-451-21668-7) is the conclusion of the story begun in DAYS IN INFAMY. (In Britain, this probably would have been one large volume, but here it is split in two, with the result that the entire story--if entire it is, costs the reader over $50. The story itself is interesting but Turtledove's writing is so predictable, at least across his various "alternate America wars" books that I find it impossible for me to read any more. And his turn of the wrong phrase seems consistent--on page four, he has a paragraph that says, "Genda had had his first birthday in 1905. Like any of his countrymen, though, he knew what the Russo-Japanese War meant. It was the first modern war in which people of color beat whites." From complete political incorrectness in the first book to an overdose in the second is quite a swing, yet Turtledove hits both extremes. (This is all too common in his works. In RULED BRITANNIA, he has refers to a "dentist" 150 years before that word was invented.)

After a while, all of Turtledove's series seem the same --pick a war the United States was involved in, create as many characters as needed to fill an x-volume series, write their stories with way more description than is needed, and shuffle them together. I sometimes feel he could take the characters from one series and shuffle them into another with no problem. (RULED BRITANNIA does not fit into this mold, by the way, though it has its flaws as well.) I still like his shorter works, but he seems to have become someone who writes something good/successful and then just keep writing it over and over, until everything original or interesting has been squeezed out of it.

To order End of the Beginning from amazon.com, click here.


GUNPOWDER EMPIRE by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/12/2003]

Harry Turtledove's GUNPOWDER EMPIRE is the first in a new series, "Crosstime Traffic". It's clearly intended as young adult reading. (The cataloguing information includes "Teenage boys-- fiction" as a category, but not "Teenage girls--fiction," even though the female protagonist gets just as much time.) Amanda and Jeremy are the teenage children of a couple who are involved in crosstime trading. While the children are on vacation from school, they live in "Agrippan Rome"--a world where Agrippa outlived Augustus and Rome never fell, etc. Something happens, Mom and Dad go back to our world, and then something else happens and all communication between the two timelines is cut off. And then the Lietuvan army decides to attack the city. This story takes place a hundred years in the future, yet Turtledove makes all sorts of references to PowerBooks, Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Home Depot. The teenagers attend Canoga Park High School, a building 150 years old. The technology in both timelines seems uneven, with Agrippan Rome having cannons and even pistols, but missing a whole lot of stuff that came along before those in our world. And our timeline is basically one with today's technology and social structure, which considering the rapid rate of change we are living with is highly unlikely. Turtledove also indulges in punning, and in such in-jokes as having Jeremy playing a computer game of aliens invading the earth which he later refers to as a World War II game--a clear reference to Turtledove's "World War" series. All things considered, though, it's not a bad book for the target age group.

To order Gunpowder Empire from amazon.com, click here.


IN HIGH PLACES by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 06/23/2006]

IN HIGH PLACES by Harry Turtledove (ISBN 0-765-30696-4) is the third book in the "Crosstime Traffic" series. This is apparently intended as a young adult series. Not only is one of the cataloging categories is "Teenage girls--fiction", but the content seems very toned down. Annette Klein is a seventeen- year-old girl captured by slavers in an alternate world to which her family has traveled as agents of Crosstime Traffic, yet although she is described as pretty, none of the slavers attempt any sexual contact with her, nor does her new master, nor do the overseers in her master's house. (Other girls are called to the master's house, but no details are given, and nothing like this happens to our heroine.) The resolution is definitely a deus ex machina, and the actual alternate history content is about as much (or as little) as one might find in a short story. Another cataloging category given for IN HIGH PLACES is "Women slaves--fiction", leaving me curious why there is that category and why it is not just "Slaves--fiction". In any case, this ties in with a story Mark noted this week about a subculture based on John Norman’s “Gor” novels; it can be found at .

To order In High Places from amazon.com, click here.


IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/19/2003]

The main book I read this week was Harry Turtledove's IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES, an alternate history expanded from the short story of the same name, set in a 2003 in which Germany has won World War II. The plot revolves around a group of Jews who have survived as "secret Jews" (in much the same way as the Marranos survived in Spain in the 16th century). The premise was laid out in the short story, and the book takes it and then adds a couple of situations where the Jews might be caught, as well as a major change in government. Unfortunately, the latter seems to be copied for history a little too closely. For that matter, so is Fuhrer "Kurt Haldweim", who is almost always referred to by his full name to keep reminding you who he's supposed to be, while other people are often referred to by last name only. (I'll note that a Google search indicates that "Haldweim" is completely made up--no such name appears to exist for anyone.) This tendency towards word play has lured Turtledove into having one character refer to another character's statement about having "a yen for sushi" as a pun--when both are talking in German. I also thought that the level of technology was not sufficiently explained--much of it paralleled ours, but ours was developed as part of the Cold War.

I guess my main problem with this book, though, was the obvious re-tooling of recent political events. I know history repeats itself, but this I thought was over-doing it a bit. It's the sort of book that if you have an interest in alternate history or Jewish science fiction (or both), you will want to read it, but it's not clear it would have the wider appeal of, say, Robert Harris's FATHERLAND or Stephen Fry's MAKING HISTORY.

To order In the Presence of Mine Enemies from amazon.com, click here.


OPENING ATLANTIS by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 02/29/2008]

OPENING ATLANTIS by Harry Turtledove (ISBN-13 978-0-451-46174-2, ISBN-10 0-451-46174-6) is yet another alternate history from Turtledove and is the start of yet another series ("the first of a brand-new trilogy"). And there has already been another story in this setting published elsewhere. But at least this series seems to be a group of relatively independent stories with a common setting, rather than one very long story published in multiple volumes. In fact, OPENING ATLANTIS is not one story, but really three novellas set about a hundred years apart. The first, "New Hastings", is the most interesting, postulating the discovery and colonization of a land (large island/small continent) between Europe and North America. Or perhaps more accurately, it detaches the eastern part of North America and moves it a thousand miles or so east. Because this land (named Atlantis by its discoverers) is much closer to Europe, it is colonized fifty years earlier than in our world, and pretty much simultaneously by the English, French, and Spanish. (The stories, however, are all told from the English point of view.)

The other two stories ("Avalon" and "Nouveau Redon") are less interesting. The second seems to be a fairly mundane pirate story, not substantially different from what one might find in our world, and the last a conflict among the three nations who have settled Atlantis. The stand-alone, "Audubon in Atlantis", was probably the best of the series so far.

As is often the case, one complaint I have is that European history does not seem to diverge enough as times progresses. The Hanovers still follow the Stuarts who presumably followed the Tudors who followed the Yorks, but with English colonies in the New World a hundred and fifty years sooner, one suspects that European politics would be fairly different (e.g., less threat from Spain).

To order Opening Atlantis from amazon.com, click here.


RULED BRITANNIA by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/06/2002]

I recently read RULED BRITANNIA by Harry Turtledove, and have a few comments on that. RULED BRITANNIA is set in an alternate "Elizabethan" England, where the Spanish Armada won, and features such well-known characters as Shakespeare and Marlowe.

But first, a quote from a Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel article:

'And, [Robert Schmunk] said, sometimes writers in the genre have a flawed sense of history. [Harry] Turtledove cited an example of this in an alternate Civil War novel in which the South had won the war and Jefferson Davis was campaigning for re-election as its president. "As soon as I saw that," Turtledove said, "I didn't want to read it. The Confederate constitution called for one six-year term and he was not eligible for re-election. If the author didn't know that, he doesn't know what he's talking about. So why read it?"'

This from a man who just wrote a book set in 1597 in which a character refers to a "dentist."

The word did not come into use in the English language until 1759.

Okay, I'm being picky.

But for that matter, the concept of sexual orientation (as in Marlowe's protestations that God made him that way so it wasn't his doing that he liked boys) is also much more modern.

"Football," however, does pre-date the era. So far as I can tell, "maricon" and "cojones" also were indeed terms used in the Castillian of the era. (One must be careful these days, as the Spanish heard in this country is much more Mexican or other Latin American Spanish. For example, the use of the verb "chingar" in Phillipian England would be completely wrong.)

The plays, while they all map to real plays by Shakespeare (except for KING PHILIP and BOUDICCA, of course), seem to have been written at completely different times. For example, ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL was written sometime after 1600, not before 1597 as here, while LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST was written in 1593 and not in progress in 1597. (However, there is evidence that Shakespeare did write a play entitled LOVE'S LABOUR'S WON sometime before 1598, so maybe it was actually under its real title in RULED BRITANNIA.) HAMLET also came much later, and while the date is about right for THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, it's unlikely that play (and the Falstaff character in it) would even exist, as it was specifically written because Queen Elizabeth liked Falstaff in the Henriad and requested more of him. But in RULED BRITANNIA, there was no Henriad.

(Yeah, I know SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE abused history as well. Turtledove is no Stoppard.)

There also seems to be some rule of Conservation of Eye-Stabbing in Deptford, since in our world that was how and where Marlowe died, while in RULED BRITANNIA, it was someone else. (Though Marlowe also dies in pretty much the same way after all.)

I found the use in conversation of all the lines from Shakespeare annoying after a while, but not surprising given the sorts of jokes Turtledove goes in for.

I hate Dogberry in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and Strawberry is no improvement. (I wish one could get a Dogberry-free MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING the way one can get a Jar-Jar-Binks-free STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE.)

I'm not convinced a play about rising up against invaders and failing would be all that rousing to the populace.

I also don't think Turtledove understands the issue over Henry VIII's divorce. Henry didn't claim he could have the divorce because he wanted it (though that was the fact), but he at least put forth an argument to justify it on Church grounds--namely, that her previous marriage to his brother made a marriage between the two of them forbidden (Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21). (Of course, this conflicts with Deuteronomy 25:5, which is why there were so many opinions.) And in fact, he was not asking for a divorce per se, but an annulment. The Anglican Church did not then (and does not now) countenance divorce; Henry VIII was a one-time deal. So Shakespeare could not ask for a "bill of divorcement" just on the grounds that he "repented the marriage" and "Romish doctrines were now overthrown." (Well, he could ask, but his chances of getting it were nil.) It's only now that the Anglican Church is considering allowing anulments the way the Catholic Church does, so if anything they are more strict.

And as part of a bizarre synchronicty affecting only me, not only had I just finished reading Lisa Goldstein's THE ALCHEMIST'S DOOR in which John Dee and Edward Kelley are major characters when I picked up RULED BRITANNIA and who should be being led to his death in the first scene but Edward Kelley? But wait, it gets better. I then went to the library and picked up a flyer for the 17th Biennial Shakespeare Colloquium. I opened it to discover the theme was "The Alchemy of the Spirit of the Spirit" and one of the lectures was "Prospero, John Dee, and the Magic of the Book"!! My reading of Frances Sherwood's THE BOOK OF SPLENDOR was intentional, so doesn't count toward this synchronicity. What does count is one more detail, courtesy of the Venerable Bede, whose ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY I just read shortly after. The argument that Bede cites the church as applying is that because in marriage man and woman become "one flesh", when your brother marries a woman she becomes your sister, and hence is forbidden to you. (I'm not saying I agree, mind you. Sounds a bit forced to me.)

To order Ruled Britannia from amazon.com, click here.


THE VALLEY-WESTSIDE WAR by Harry Turtledove:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 09/26/2008]

In THE VALLEY-WESTSIDE WAR by Harry Turtledove (ISBN-13 978-0-765-31487-1, ISBN-10 0-765-31487-8), Turtledove is definitely falling into bad habits. A family with a teenage daughter is sent to a parallel world which seems safe at first. Then war breaks out and they are threatened. But their return to their home world in the middle is too easy and the return to the now-dangerous Valley- Westside world with the daughter makes no sense. But even more annoying: how many times does Turtledove need to say that they add brandy to the water to avoid the runs, or that they have to kill and prepare their own chickens? I swear he does each at least three times. This seems left over from those multi-volume books, where he repeated all the background in each book, but here it's one short book. And there is no real resolution at the end. I don't think he's going to write a sequel, but it sure looks like it's set up to allow it.

To order The Valley-Westside War from amazon.com, click here.


WORLDWAR: STRIKING THE BALANCE by Harry Turtledove (Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-40550-1, December 1996, 465pp, hardback):

This volume concludes the "Worldwar" tetralogy, though it certainly leaves room for more books to follow. However, since Turtledove has contracted for a six(!)-volume series set in an alternate World War I, we will be spared any sequels for a while. (Some may say that in this case the cure is worse than the disease.)

Do I sound negative? Well, there can be too much of a good thing, and this is an example. In fact, I would say there's about a thousand pages too much. At approximately 1,800 pages total, this series is longer than Les Miserables, and shorter by only a third than Shakespeare's total output. I enjoyed the first book, but frankly by the end I was thinking of all the books I could have read instead of this, and this is not a good sign.

Another side effect of this length is that characterizations that the reader can accept in a single average-length novel become less believable at this length. For example, the inability of the Lizards to "expect the unexpected" or even to understand that what they learned about humans was not accurate any more becomes harder and harder to accept.

And even after all this, Turtledove does not completely wrap up his story. I actually have mixed feelings about this: after all, stories are not neatly wrapped up in real life. The actual end of World War II did not solve all the problems; we still had the Cold War, the refugee problem (which certainly had implications which still affect the situation in the Middle East today), and a whole new set of problems in social and technological areas. But fiction is supposed to be neater than real life (most would say), and it looks too much like the reason for the open-endedness is to leave room for more sequels.

I really enjoyed the first book, but I have to say that my enjoyment decreased with each succeeding volume. By the last book, people seem to be traveling almost at random criss-crossing North America and Europe, and this left me with the feeling of trying to get a little bit of everything in before the end. If you've read the first three you will almost definitely want to read this, but I can't really recommend it. And the series is just too long for me to recommend it as a whole.

To order Worldwar: Striking the Balance from amazon.com, click here.


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