Monday, June 25, 2012

Alternate Wars - "Destroyermen" and the "Axis of Time"

The 1980 film The Final Countdown asked an interesting science fictional question: what would happen if a modern U.S. aircraft carrier was somehow transported through time to arrive just before the attack on Pearl Harbor? Could they resist the temptation to change history?

John Birmingham's Axis of Time Trilogy takes the question even further. What would happen to the world if a multinational naval taskforce from 2021 was transported into the midst of World War II? What would happen not just to the world of that time, but to the world as we know it today?

In the trilogy Birmingham takes the time to consider not only the military effect of advanced weaponry, but also the sociological effects of advance notice of future events and discoveries. Because progress is not just technological but also cultural -- the future fleet brings with them different cultural expectations (female combat officers!), startling insights (databases of information equivalent to the Library of Congress), and even popular songs decades before their time. (A fascinating thread running through the series: what happens to patents and copyright when the people who developed the properties haven't even been born yet?)

The Axis of Time trilogy lays out the culture shock collision between a world slightly ahead of our own and a world that fewer of us remember each day, America in the 1940s.

The Axis of Time trilogy:

1. Weapons of Choice (2004)
2. Designated Targets (2005)
3. Final Impact (2007)

John Birmingham also writes the Without Warning series, about a world struggling in the wake of a devastating cataclysm that wipes out much of North America.

The Without Warning series:

1. Without Warning (2009)
2. After America (2010)
3. Angels of Vengeance (2012)

Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series goes beyond alternate history into alternate-Earth action:

"Pressed into service when World War II breaks out in the Pacific, the USS Walker - a Great-War vintage 'four-stacker' destroyer - finds itself in full retreat from pursuit by Japanese battleships. Its captain, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Patrick Reddy, knows that he and his crew are in dire straits. In desperation, he heads Walker into a squall, hoping it will give them cover - and emerges somewhere else.

Familiar landmarks appear, but the water teems with monstrous, vicious fish. And there appear to be dinosaurs grazing on the plains of Bali. Gradually Matt and his crew must accept the fact that they are in an alternate world - and they are not alone. Humans have not evolved, but two other species have. And they are at war.

With its steam power and weaponry, the Walker's very existence could alter the balance of power. And for Matt and his crew, who have the means to turn a primitive war into a genocidal Armageddon, one thing becomes clear. They must decide whose side they're on. Because whoever they choose to side with is the winner." - from the book jacket, Book 1

Full of classic gung-ho naval characters, believably realized alien species, and lots of detailed nautical adventure, the popular Destroyermen series offers readers a fascinating blend of World War II action and science fictional possibilities.

The Destroyermen series:

1. Into the Storm (2008)
2. Crusade (2008)
3. Maelstrom (2009)
4. Distant Thunders (2010)
5. Rising Tides (2011)
6. Firestorm (2011)
7. Iron Gray Sea (2012)

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