varjohaltia: (Fitengli)
Birmingham brings us an alternate world / time travel saga, where a multinational naval force from a few decades into our future is whisked into Midway of World War II. The premise is not exactly novel, and indeed the work starts in the best traditions of Tom Clancy. Multiple view points, short episodes, shamelessly boyish joy and speculation with high-tech weapons and technology. It reminds me a fair bit of Red Storm Rising.

As such, the book is actually quite good and expertly crafted. But much as in Clancy's work, I can't really bring myself to care about the characters, and their motivations do seem rather simple. With that in mind, then, it would be something well in vein of the older Clancy. However, towards the end of the book, the cultural implications begin to be explored in some more detail. It really is quite impressive how far the world has moved in the past sixty years, as far as race and gender relations, as well as our social norms.

I can't help feeling that Birmingham is aware of the incredible wealth of issues that can and perhaps need to be addressed in his setting, but can't quite get there and settles for the expert exploration of teenage boys "what-if" dreams. The book is also only the first in a trilogy, and ends with very little wrapped up. Despite this, I doubt I will pick up the next two books -- though I would have done so in a heart beat ten years ago.

Three and a half out of five stars.


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October 2015

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