Wednesday, April 02, 2014

V-S Day - Allen Steele


V-S Day
A Novel of Alternate History
Allen Steele
Ace

 
Alternate History/SciFi

In 1941, the Americans learned that the Nazis were attempting to build a rocket.  Not just any rocket, but a manned rocket, carrying a payload of missiles.  With a weapon like that, the Nazis would be able to strike at any spot on the globe.  There would be no possible defense against such an attack.  Suddenly, Dr. Robert H. Goddard and his theories seem much more plausible.  He’s put in charge of assembling a team for an unprecedented project.  Simply finding the right combination of men with the right backgrounds is a huge task.

At the same time, in Germany, Dr. Wernher von Braun is working on his own project.  Both he and Goddard had dreams of exploring other planets, not destroying this one.  But von Braun is careful to conceal his distaste in order to preserve his life and his craft.  The two scientists know each other a bit, and, as the two foremost experts in a very new field, corresponded in the past.  Now they each work on a craft, watching lifelong dreams become twisted into something else by the necessity of war.

This story, a stand-alone novel, is clearly a labor of love for the author.  He wrote it first as a short story in 1988, and continued to play with and expand the concept until it became the novel.  The way he writes Goddard and other members of the team, it’s clear he’s spent a long time with them, crafting them into the three-dimensional characters that they are.  He even manages to make von Braun a real and empathetic character.
 
The way he tells the story suits the material perfectly.  It begins in 1943, with the launch of an experimental craft.  Seconds before liftoff, the narrative moves to the present day, to a writer who wants to tell the whole story now that it’s no longer classified.  From there, we spiral back to 1941, to tell the story on both sides of the Atlantic.  This is the perfect book for those who love alternate history, scifi, rocket history, or just enjoy a great adventure story. The best alternate history makes you wonder what's real and what's 'alternate.'  This one made me forget to wonder and just enjoy the ride. 
 
Rating: 9
February 2014
ISBN# 978-0-425-25974-0 (hardcover)

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