My Elves Are Different

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Company of the Dead

Here's another book recommendation: Company of the Dead.

Basically, it's about a clash of timelines with the point of divergence being the sinking of the Titanic.

After one man goes back to prevent the wreck, a world is created where the German and Japanese Empires are in a Cold War.

It's a ripping alternate history/time travel thriller. In fact, it starts out brilliantly, and only falters at times because of the seemingly interminable amount of time it takes any of the characters to get things done. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but I think if I reread it, I would be confirmed in thinking that it could benefit from losing one quarter to one third of the pages.

Nevertheless, I recommend giving it a read. It makes deft use of the familiar elements of the alternate history genre, without succumbing to the clomping foot of nerdism (a la Turtledove).

In fact, like The Man in the High Castle, the characters in the alternate history seem to recognise that their world is but a shadow of the way things were meant to be. I think all alternate histories should be written that way: it makes up for any weaknesses in worldbuilding. Haha.

Not that Company of the Dead is lacking in imaginative worldbuilding. It's one of the better scenarios that I've read. I mean, everyone writes about alternate outcomes of world war two, or the United States' civil war, but who rewrites world war one?

One of my favourite elements was the stratolites: colossal lighter-than-aircraft in place of satellite technology. Obviously, technology in this world is somewhat retarded - the most advanced computer being an ENIAC-12 model.

It has a nice website, too, and is an Australian novel, though don't be alarmed, there are no major non-American elements.

I expect you'll be seeing it in TROTW soon.

1 comment:

Lostcheerio said...

Why do alternate history novels so often involve WWII? Is that just the most popular fancy of our collective game of "What if?" Or is it lingering fear? Or guilt? Or what?

I say this from the commanding position of having read absolutely no alternate history novels, but having read reviews of many.