Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review: Harry Turtledove’s Fallout

Okay, since there’s been a lot happening back here at the ranch, I’m going to try to squeeze in my review just under the end of the month wire.  

This month, as promised, I’m looking at the middle book in Harry Turtledove’s three-book The Hot War series, Fallout, with the third and concluding book, Armistice, already out in hardcover. Since however, I am still of somewhat limited financial means, this review will concentrate on the paperback edition of Fallout.

First, a little backstory: in the first book of the series, Bombs Away, World War Three breaks out in 1951 when the United Nations Forces are pressed to the wall by advancing Chinese and North Korean forces and General Douglas MacArthur is granted his request by Harry Truman for nuclear weapons to be used. Truman’s use of the bombs is shown to be an epic miscalculation, triggering a war no-one wanted, and one that his character wears like a cloak of guilt throughout the last novel and into this one, as well as the war, drags on and the casualties, both civilian and military continue to mount.

Once again, Turtledove is up to his usual job in plotting and characterization and, but it can be challenging for the reader to sometimes keep the players straight and might have to go back to re-read a section.  His depiction of a society slowly unraveling while the militaries of both sides struggle to sustain their respective war efforts is spot on. 

The only other criticism I have is a bit broader – and perhaps it’s a question of the author’s bias- but he tends to ignore the contributions made by other countries made during the Korean war – yes, Canada (that's my bias)– and factors such as geography.  

In both Bombs Away and Fallout, Soviet nuclear strikes take out major ports along the U.S. west coast, as well as the Panama Canal, crippling the U.S. war effort in the Pacific.  However, just north of Seattle – which did get bombed -  across the Canadian border, is the perfectly usable port of Vancouver, British Columbia, which would seem to be a logical point through which to re-route badly needed supplies. That is, of course, if Vancouver wasn’t nuked. But the point is, we don’t know, either way. That's simply because anything north of the 49th parallel, at least in this book, tends to be a great white blank.

And that’s too bad, because that was the one logical flaw I found in another superlative work. Is Fallout worth reading despite my most nittiest of nit-picking? Of course. Fallout, like its predecessor, is well worth your time and effort. Definitely recommended. I will be eagerly awaiting the final novel of the trilogy.

Up Next:

We’ll raid my bookshelves for a look at more of my favorite alternate history fiction. In the meantime, please take care.

Meanwhile, 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.