Sunday, September 29, 2019

Book Review: Afterwar, by Lilith Saintcrow

After finishing the novel Afterwar, I still can’t make up my mind whether the story occurs in an alternate history past or the near future.  While I’ll leave that up for you to decide, I will tell you the warning it delivers – when and wherever it is situated – is both timely and important.

 And that's why I’ve given it space on this blog.

Afterwar, as the name implies, occurs at the end of a conflict, in this case, as the Second American Civil War is winding down.  The Federal forces, after 10 years in exile on the west coast have driven out a brutal fascist government led by a dictatorial president, who possesses certain parallels to the incumbent of the Oval Office. We meet our protagonists, Swann’s Riders, a group of irregulars attached to the Federal armies as they liberate a concentration camp. We also met our primary antagonist, is the camp’s second-in-command, at the same time. It's not a spoiler to say both their paths will cross but not quite meet until the novel's conclusion.

Even though the war might’ve ended, there are still many pieces to pick up, and Saintcrow takes us through a well-crafted vision of a post-war America, which she conducts us through in brisk style, but at the same time sparing us no details or horrors. Both protagonists and antagonists have complete and satisfying arcs and Saintcrow demonstrates some very fine storytelling here.

The book seems timelier than ever before as America seems as politically and culturally divided as it was just before it lurched into the Civil War in 1861. Certainly some of the rhetoric is far from encouraging. 

For all of these reasons and much, more, this book is highly recommended.

(Note: I had planned on reading Afterwar and reviewing it in this space months ago.  I only published it some hours before I saw the Trump tweet. Sometimes I wish that fiction didn't imitate reality so well.)

What’s Next?


I’ll be reviewing the next novel in S.M. Stirling’s alternate World War One series, Theatre of Spies. After that, I’ll also be looking at The British Lion, a novel of Britain under Nazi occupation, by Tony Schumacher. 

In the meantime, you can help out a poor unemployed writer by purchasing Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  Thanks.

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