Sunday, March 21, 2010

World War 2, Alternate Worlds and The Future

Red Inferno: 1945
Robert Conroy
Ballantine, Feb 23 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345506061

In 1945, the Allied forces prepare for victory over the Third Reich by jockeying for position in accordance with the Yalta agreement. However neither President Truman nor Prime Minister Stalin trust one another; while British head of state Churchill fears an Iron Curtain coming down across Europe if the west fails to act so he is pushing the new American leader to take action.

Truman is concerned that Churchill is right about Stalin. He sends two divisions across the Elbe River towards Berlin to counter the Soviet’s control of Eastern Europe though that violates Yalta and General Eisenhower’s advice. Stalin is outraged by the affront even as Truman claims it is for peace. Instead Stalin orders the Red Army to attack its former allies.

Red Inferno: 1945 is a super alternate historical thriller based on the premise that Truman crosses the Elbe extending the war in Europe. Ironically, though a WWII thriller, the super cast (military and civilian) on both sides of the continuing confrontation do their assigned jobs, but all especially the soldiers make it clear they prefer to give peace a chance; everyone wants to go home but not in a body bag. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Robert Conroy explores what if Truman sent units across the Elbe in 1945 as the war with Germany was all but over.
Harriet Klausner

Embrace The Night Eternal
Joss Ware
Avon, Feb 9 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061734021

Although the world is not what he remembers having undergone the change five decades ago when he and friends (Dr. Elliot, Quint, Wyatt, and Fence) were trapped in a cave near Sedona without aging, Simon Japp still feels guilty for what he did back then. Still he and his buddies struggle to adjust as they battle the evil Strangers and the deadly Ganga. Elliot having found Jade (see Beyond the Night) is doing the best in their new compound Envy once called Vegas.

Sage Corrigan was born after the "change," but like Simon has a nasty past that haunts her. To survive she and her cohorts at Envy need information on their enemy the Cult of Atlantis and the mysterious Remington Truth. What they know leads to Falling Creek, the last place Sage wants to return to; but she knows she is only one who can get inside along with her pretend husband Simon.

The setting in Awakening Heroes makes the tale as the futuristic world of Ware feels genuine with references back to the old world and the mysterious malevolent Strangers and the Ganga enhance that eerie feeling. Through the flawed lead couple, readers learn more about the post apocalyptic America. Simon and Sage are a wonderful pairing as their respective past psychologically intrudes on the mission and on a future together. Joss Ware is two for two with this terrific urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Dead Matter
Anton Strout
Ace, Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441018444

In an alternate world where supernatural species are known to exist, organizations formed like the Department of Extraordinary Affairs to keep the human population safe. One of the DEA Agents Simon Canderous is working without his partner and mentor Connor Christos who is on vacation; having accumulated five years worth. Simon’s gift is psychometry while his girlfriend Jane’s is technonomy (bending electricity and machines to her will). They are together when they see a creature who they fail to capture and these creatures have been seen all over New York.

Chased by spirits into a graveyard, Simon and Jane find Connor in a horrific state. He explains that each night he dreams about his brother Aiden who went missing two decades ago. The pair believes Connor is seeing his sibling at his window so they stake out the place. They find someone spying on Connor and follow him into the Gibbon-Case building where vampire lives in a castle surrounded by a forest within the edifice. There the two brothers reunite while the odd edifice subsumes Jane. Determined to get her back, Simon turns to the lead vampire Brandon for help. Attempts are made on the lives of Connor and Simon. Brandon believes Simon is the prophesied one to bring peace between humans and vampires, but traitors amongst his army want war as does a rabid anti-vampire DEA operative. Hell is about to break out in Manhattan.

Anton Stout provides an entertaining and hypnotic police procedural urban fantasy filled with action inside a somewhat thin plot but loaded with deep characterizations who drive the story line forward. The protagonist has come a long way since his Deader Still escapades as he has learned vampires like humans are good and bad. His job is to ferret out the evil one, but that proves seemingly impossible. Watching the brothers unite is heartwarming yet the audience wonders whether that will turn heart-wrenching as those involved pray the species become friends, but settle for not being enemies for now; that is if they survive their ordeal. Harriet Klausner

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