|Designated Targets: A Novel of the Axis of Time
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It’s World War II and the A-bomb is here to stay.
The only question: Who’s going to drop it first?
The Battle of Midway takes on a whole new dimension with the sudden appearance of a U.S.-led naval task force from the twenty-first century, the result of a botched military experiment. State-of-the-art warships are scattered across the Pacific, armed to the teeth with the latest instruments of mass destruction.
Nuclear warheads, rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, computer-guided missiles–all bets are off as the major powers of 1942 scramble to be the first to wield the weapons of tomorrow against their enemies. The whole world now knows of the Allied victory in 1945, and the collapse of communism decades later. But that was the first time around.
With the benefit of their newly acquired knowledge, Stalin and Hitler rapidly change strategies. A Russian-German ceasefire leaves the F¨¹hrer free to bring the full weight of his vaunted Nazi war machine down on England, while in the Pacific, Japan launches an invasion of Australia, and Admiral Yamamoto schemes to seize an even greater prize . . . Hawaii.
Even in the United States the newcomers from the future are greeted with a combination of enthusiasm and fear. Suspicion leads to hatred and erupts into violence.
Suddenly it’s a whole new war, with high-tech, high-stakes international manipulations from Tokyo to D.C. to the Kremlin. As the world trembles on the brink of annihilation, Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt, Hitler, and Tojo confront extreme choices and a future rife with possibilities–all of them apocalyptic.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
- The Best in Alternate timelines in a long time
This story like its the first one in the series was well thought out and planned. I mean the time travelers developing the Ak-47 in three different locations, the Japanese invade Australia but its a trick to waste the future weapons then they hit the Allies with the Surprise and invade Hawii. While this happens The Nazis prepare to do a copy of D-day and hit England with a full invasion with only one future ship stopping them and the RAF of course along with the NAvy, army and some special help from old and new SAS. The characters are very well thought out and many are explained as if right out of the History book like Hoover being gay or Hitler showing how trully nuts and crazy he really was. This is a great book i trully recommended it and cannot wait for book three to find out how the allies and there timetraveler allies beat the axis and maybe the Soviets for good measure....more info
- The first 10 pages contain 25 f*** and sh***
One thing that struck me was the usage of bad words so frequently.
Churchill, Heinz Guderian, etc too wrote about World War and he not even once did they use a single bad word.
- Too short!
Curses! One of those books that could have kept right on going and turned into a door step. Presumably the author was constrained by the publisher because I have a feeling that he is having a great time with this series, and when I got to the end all I thought was "How long until the next one?".
My hope is that the last in the trilogy won't be the last book in this universe because there are so many threads to follow up there just can't be time in one novel.
Some of the things I particularly enjoyed:
If you are the effective leader of an enclave of people from eighty years in the future, to whom do you decide you owe responsibility and to what lengths do you go to carry out your duty to them? I would think I'd feel I owed the people of the "new" universe I had ended up in (and the people under my command) almost any effort to ensure the mistakes of the past I knew didn't get repeated. That is what I think I see Admiral Kolhammer doing at any rate, and I can't wait to see where it will take him.
The depiction of historic figures, and particularly the ones that came to tragic ends and/or had significant behavioural problems is also great fun. Can you take young Elvis and still make him The King, but also make him well adjusted enough to stop eating the fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches and killing himself with drugs? Can you make JFK careful and honest enough to really become the great man he looked to be? Unfortunately these are more like interesting digressions from the main story so I fear there may not be enough room to follow up on them.
There are so many references to things that have obviously changed from "our" history, and that make you wonder what the story is there. Hopefully this will turn into some kind of franchise (reading the author's blog he is not averse to the idea) where all sorts of such digressions may get a little more fleshed out....more info
- Not as good as #1 BUT . . . .
I'm only giving this three stars. The first book was a 5 star.
The reason is that it takes a while to really get into Book 2 and a lot of it seems . . fluffy and non related. About halfway throught the book the military aspect starts to pull things together and FINALLY the book takes off.
With that said - I can't wait untill I get book 3. ...more info
- ok alternative history series
although the slight liberal slant in this series is annoying i like this series...more info
- Still Going Strong
It's hard to get a sequel as good as the original- especially if it's the second in a trilogy. Birmingham pulls it off. He writes with such realism, spontaneity, and wit, that one feels like they are actually in the trenches, actually dealing with merging 21st and 20th century technology, actually in a room with Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. We feel the palpable tension of a world going to pot- and we feel this from a nearly infinite number of perspectives.
I found I was missing the chapter introductions of the first book, which told me what time and date it was. I also enjoyed the tighter storyline in the first book, without the constant jumping across continents just at the moment of most intense action. But this reduces Designated Targets to a 4.9 instead of a 5. It is still exquisitely written. It would seem that Birmingham has been in all the places he's described, and experienced everything that his characters have experienced. Nearly every character is round and evolving. It is hard to convincingly write Hoover's perspective as well as that of an enlightened 21st century woman fighting against racism.
Perhaps the saddest thing to realize is the effects the fight on terrorism is having on us all. Birmingham also convincingly writes the perspective of the 1940s and the 2020s. In the midst of the vileness towards blacks, women, and Jews that we see in those of the 1940s, we also see the cavalier attitude that those of the 2020s have towards violence and the deaths of others- innocents or the guilty. Fighting a long struggle has endued them with an incredible lack of compassion, and a thirst for vengence. It is convincing, because one sees the roots of such ideals in today's society, as we slowly become the children of tomorrow....more info
- Can He Get It Done In Three?
If it takes Birmingham another 20 books to finish this story, fine by me. I'm less of a techno-thriller fan than a story reader. This is a great story told against as fascinating a background as this genre has produced in some time. The only real question is how Birmingham plans to wrap this up with just one more book. Either there will be a change in plans or, a la Turtledove, a series of trilogies spinning off of the same event. One can only hope....more info
- Less Moving than the First Book
WEAPONS OF CHOICE revisited the FINAL COUNTDOWN idea of introducing a modern naval force into the mix of World War II. It was a good effort but left many questions hanging. Some of those are resolved in this second volume, many more are not. It does advance the story a little bit but it does not advance it very far. What it does seem to do is set us up for a big finish. Unfortunately, I am going to have to wait and see how it turns out.
Do not expect to have a naval task force from the year 2021 wipe out the Japanese, Nazis and other WWII fascists and communists. While such a group couold probably win the war single handed, this fleet has a few more problems to contend with. They are running out of modern munitions and the world of WWII does not have the capability to replace them. The fleet was also damaged very heavily in the time travel event. When these difficulties are added on top of the differing cultures, the guys and gals from the future are not going to have a walkover.
- An exciting volume in an imaginative trilogy
The author showed tremendous imagination in the first book in this trilogy. In that book, newcomers showed up from several decades into the future, in the middle of a war (near Midway, in 1942). In this book, which is somewhat shorter, we get to see the war play itself out towards its natural outcome, sort of. Well, of course, there are a couple of minor twists, such as the Japanese invasion of Hawaii. And the book does hold one's interest. But we don't have anything like the array of surprises we were treated to in that first book.
I liked this book, and I'm still waiting for the conclusion!...more info
- Great look at clash of culture--but was the military side too easy?
The World War II allies are working hard to integrate 21st Century technology into their armies, but Hitler and the Japanese are doing so as well. Although the bulk of the United Nations task force, and the huge majority of its fighting men and women, ended up together, in allied territory, the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets all have their own ships to investigate. Unlike the allies, whom history showed winning the war, the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets know the judgment one timeline's history made on their rule--and are committed to changing it.
The Japanese have pulled their armies out of the quagmire of China and have launched an offensive against Japan--but are quickly bogged down by futuristic weapons. The Germans have patched up a cease-fire with the Russians and are massing on the channel, and the Japanese are preparing for another go on Hawaii. If they are successful, they'll move America out of striking range--giving their own scientists breathing room to integrate future technology into their forces.
The allies aren't standing still. The UN forces have taken over the San Fernando Valley, creating a zone where their own laws apply. Working with Douglas, Boeing, and other engineers, they are building better planes, introducing technologies that didn't actually arrive until late in the war or even Korea. Still, with so many of their forces involved in training, and so many of their munitions depleted, their force effectiveness is highly degraded. J. Edgar Hoover and others in America, like Hitler and Stalin, see their doom in the future and are as intent as the axis leaders to eliminate the threat--no matter what the cost.
Author John Birmingham continues his Axis of Time series with the second novel. In DESIGNATED TARGETS, the axis powers hold the initiative, by virtue of reacting more quickly to the future technologies than did the allies. Yet, even where they hold advanced technology, their efforts to use it are sabotaged by the future warriors who came with them.
As with WEAPONS OF CHOICE, the first book in the series, this book is strongest where it shows the clash of civilizations between the Americans of the future and those of the 1940s. Hardened by decades of 'war against terror,' the future warriors are indifferent to death, torture, summary executions, and the use of weapons banned by the Geneva accords. As a few of them recognize, their war has made them become more like the enemy they once faced, and more like the enemy they currently face, than the Americans, Brits, and Australians of the 1940s. On the flipside of this clash of cultures, 1940s America remains a segregated and sexist nation, with a perverse pride in the way it oppresses its minorities and a horror of the future the future warriors display.
With powerful social forces at work, and plenty of cute cameo appearances by historical figures (John F. Kennedy on his PT Boat, Marilyn Monroe, etc.), there's a lot to like about DESIGNATED TARGETS. I thought the actual battles were a bit of anticlimax. The Japanese and German attacks were sabotaged and betrayed a bit too completely; Prince William showed up a bit too often to save the day; and the US domestic issues were dismissed too quickly. While a military conflict between past and future generation weaponry would be one-sided, surely the Germans could have done better. ...more info
Wow, what a ride! I haven't enjoyed a series this much since Bill Forstchen's "Lost Regiment". Can't wait for book 3. John Birmingham really brings the characters to life. The story is fascinating and thought provoking at every turn. As a WWII history buff I am continually amazed at Birmingham's ability to explore ramifications of "The Transition" that I never would have thought of. And so far these ramifications seem very plausible (as well as very scary). The author has obviously spent an enormous amount of time and energy researching and developing his ideas.
My only nit-pick is I am somewhat doubtful military technology will be as advanced as depicted by the year 2021. But then again maybe it will be, if terrorist acts grow in frequency and violence. War is an extremely strong driver of technological advancement, as was seen in WWII!
Way to go John Birmingham. This gets my highest rating! 5 stars all the way!
- Military SF that's heavy on the SF
I'm generally don't read Military SF, not for reasons of political or personal taste, but because I find most Military SF heavy on the Military and light on the SF. I picked up Birmingham's first book, Weapon of Choice, on a whim, and I'm glad I did. Like the other military SF authors on my short list (Eric Flint, for example) Birmingham gets deeper into the thought-provoking ideas that come out of a speculative situation.
There's some combat and some fun with high-tech weaponry, but there's also real SF, looking at the culture clash between 2020 and 1940, the effects that prolonged ideological wars might have on our current culture, and the impact of a glimpse of the future on course of the war. He also looks at more military topics like the impact that modern military theories of operations and training might have on WW II, as the high-tech ammo starts to run out....more info
- Designated Targets (The Axis of Time Trilogoy, Book 2)
As a follow on from Weapons of Choice, this was a rollicking good yarn. John birmingham has a natural flair for telling a good tale, combined with the use of past and present notable people in our society. He not only makes the scenario believable, but presents it with a twist that has you imagining this could have happened. As he has presented a story based on true history complete with the characters involved, it brings the story truly to life. I am looking forward to the third book in the trilogy, only wish it was out already....more info
- Great Read
Book was great. If you love alternate history novels and World War Two, buy this book. Its got the makings of a great book well done and its story goes great and flows well. :)...more info
- Trilogy Still Going Strong
Designated Targets is the second novel in John Birmingham's alternate
history trilogy 'World War 2.0.' In the first novel 'Weapons of Choice' a
MNF (Multi-National Taskforce) from the year 2021 was thrown back in time to
June 1942. Much of this force, centered on the carrier USS Hilary Clinton,
arrived in the middle of the Battle of Midway. In the ensuing chaos, heavy
damage was struck and the seeds of mistrust sown on all sides. When this novel begins four months later, things seem to be only getting worse.
Although the United States retains the lion's share of the information and
technology brought back from the future, scattered MNF vessels have fallen into
the hands of the other great powers. They are dangerous enough, providing Hitler and Stalin with future weapons and toys (Himmler's anger about Microsoft alone is worth reading the book for) to play with.
What's worse is the effect of the painful clarity not just on Nazi Germany and Japan, but also Stalin's Russia that they are going to fail. This causes them to act with a desperation verging on madness. The Japanese abandon China, and invades northern Australia. The Germans and Soviets maintain a shaky cease-fire. Each police state bleeds itself dry in waves of hindsight inspired purges. Stalin will not let the statues of him still be toppled. Instead he wants a massive one to stand over the glowing ruins of Berlin.
In the US MNF leader Admiral Kolhammer faces his opposition from those who
fear, or will suffer from the change he is directing. There are heated arguments over which new weapons to use, and riots as many thousands converge on the Californian Special Administrative Zone, where the laws of 2021 apply, to start building them. For much of the novel Kolhammer's worst enemy isn't Adolf Hitler, it's FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
In both novels Birmingham has so far avoided many of the pratfalls common to
'Island in the Sea of Time' alternate history stories. The people thrown back in time were from a future just distant enough from us that we could recognize them without only seeing ourselves. They are weak enough to have to work with the locals, who are just advanced enough for them to try and exploit the future knowledge to their advantage.
The desperation of the Axis powers borders on religious fundamentalism, but this is justified when you realise they are fighting their fate been forced upon them by visitors from an unknown future. Then there are acts of terrorism the 1942 allied leaders are at a loss to understand. One scene of Axis soldiers swarming around 2021 armored vehicles is disturbingly similar to Fedayeen attacking the US 3rd Infantry Division on it's drive into Baghdad. Although all this images are disturbingly similar to the War on Terror, in the context of the novel they provide a telling metaphor without loosing any of their visceral impact.
What makes this novel stand out is how it provides this searing metaphor for our contemporary conflict between the information addicted few of postindustrial society and the rest of the world. It is a credit to Birmingham as a writer that he has weaved this into a highly entertaining story full of action and things that go bang. You leave the novel wanting to know what happens next now, not when the third volume in published sometime late in 2006.
- Loved it!
Extremely satisfying! A rewarding, thought provoking, deeper exploration of the situations and people we met in "Weapons of Choice"!
Mr Birmingham has not just done more of the same. In Designated Targets we become more deeply involved in the minds of the "21st" people and the contemporaries ("temps") of World War II. Some who may have seemed little more than competent, efficient soldiers have real hopes and dreams and fears as we get to know them better. But they have a ruthlessness in warfare, too, that we didn't see before and is shocking to the "temps".
The story arc is quite different from the first volume. In contrast to the adrenalin-filled, explosive opening of that novel, Targets gives the reader snapshots of our familiar characters in their military, political, business, and social affairs around the world. Each short chapter is an interesting exploration of the mix of future and past people, technologies, and information. Action builds slowly until the reader suddenly is in the midst of momentous things happening quickly. The fight is more global in Targets, and the challenges faced are greater. The Axis powers have learned from their 'previous' history and modified their strategies. They also benefit as we learn that still more of the future weapons have appeared in the past and fallen into their hands.
If you enjoyed WoC, you won't be disappointed! The only hard thing will be the wait for the final volume.
- Lots of references that make you smile
I will not expound on the virtues of the story -- other reviewers already did it adequately, -- but will describe what I liked the most. References.
First, references to other alternate-history books. One of the characters actually mentions S.M. Stirling's Draka books she had read, two OS agents are named Stirling and Flint (hah!), Admiral Yamamoto muses about hypothetical turns of events lifted out of Draka and Turtledove's "WarWorld" series, FDR yells at an advisor named Turtletaub "Next you'll tell me space lizards had landed!" (that one made me groan out loud), etc.
As for other references, here are two examples that stood out for me -- and I am sure I missed many others. In the middle of the book one French character mentions "Paris intifadah". That made me check the publication date on Amazon. Either John Birmingham is unusually prescient, or this book went to publication VERY quickly. The other reference is even neater. One of Amazon reviews of the FIRST book called a character -- a NYT reporter, -- "all surface, even at the core." In the second book someone at NYT calls her exactly that. She punches him out.
All in all, a very enjoyable book. I give it 4 stars because toward the end "carnography" got tedious. I can read only so many times about various ways human bodies get reduced to component parts....more info