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Alternate History, Speculative Futures

March 11, 2010 12:03:22.748

I just finished reading two books - Robert Conroy's Red Inferno: 1945:, and Carl Berryman's 2013: World War III. Of the two, the alternate reality book - Conroy's positing of a few small changes that led to an immediate war with the USSR in 1945, before the one with Germany was really done, was way, way more plausible - not to mention better written.

The Berryman book suffered on two counts - first, if it was edited at all, I'd fire the editor. Second, the premise of a massive Chinese "lebensraum" style war is something I just don't buy, based on the historical behavior of the "Middle Kingdom". Had the text not suffered from such bad editing - spelling issues, poor grammar, you name it - it might have been an enjoyable yarn. As it is, it reads more like an early draft that's in need of major work. I just can't recommend it.

Conroy's book, on the other hand, was a great read, and I found the premise entirely plausible - Truman sends a small force towards Berlin to ensure that the western allies get their promised share of Berlin, Stalin goes paranoid, and boom - Zhukov keeps going west. It's a fast read, and I think Conroy's writing is getting better. I've read some of his earlier stuff, and I can say that I look forward to whatever he does next.

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posted by James Robertson

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