A novel imagines a time jump that places World War II 100 years earlier.
It is 1942, and Jim Bridger Edwards—a former carnival performer and current captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—has been sent to Soviet-occupied Iran to shore up the Trans-Iranian Railway for military use. “I get my job done,” muses Jim (who harbors multiple personalities), “so the army doesn’t ask too many questions about how sane I am. And they let me play with high explosives.” His secretive Soviet hosts are trouble enough, but when the sun suddenly moves backward in the sky and people and vehicles—or parts of them—begin to disappear, Jim realizes he has much larger problems to deal with than an old railroad. An invisible, rubbery wall has descended across a whole section of the globe, plunging everything within its perimeter back to an earlier time period. Along with Mariya, a Russian woman of dubious loyalties, and Loki, a mysterious man with some knowledge of time travel, Jim must make his way through Europe to put a stop to the Nazi war machine. In this new reality, the United States is even more vulnerable than it was in the previous one. If Hitler’s armies reach North America, they won’t be met with the technology from 1942—but rather from 1842. Cozort (Wrath of Athena, 2016, etc.) writes in a breathless, accessible prose that gallops through the story with little pause. Although the sci-fi premise is rather complex, he unspools it with a directness and ease that rarely leaves the reader confused. The mix of time periods—with particular attention paid to the armaments of each—should please fans of military history, and the author’s imaginative blending of worlds will likely appeal to the broader speculative audience. Peripheral characters feel a bit flat, but Jim’s psychological state remains complex and compelling. The first book in a planned trilogy, it leaves off at a place that should assuredly hook readers for the next installment.
An inventive work of alternate history.