Second of a projected trilogy, following Weapons of Choice (2004), wherein Birmingham tackles that hoary science-fiction trope, an alternate WWII history.
The big what-if concerns a multinational naval flotilla from 2021 that’s hurled back to 1942, into the middle of the Battle of Midway (for the hows and whys, see the previous volume; you won’t find many clues here). So far, so predictable. However, in 2021, the West is still battling Islamic terrorists, so their equipment is futuristic even by today’s standards; they are also totally focused and utterly ruthless. More intriguing is the sociological impact upon the highly conservative 1940s of a multinational force that includes blacks, women and homosexuals. As British blimps gasp in outrage at being given orders by black women, race riots rock the U.S., and reactionary forces fronted by J. Edgar Hoover gear up to fight the incursion in the only way they know how: dirty. Adding to the sheer density of the enterprise, there’s a cast of thousands, including unconvincing snapshots of most of WWII’s leading lights, heroic female reporters from the future and Germans good and bad.
A few fresh angles can’t compensate for the pedestrian action, mediocre characters and emphasis on gee-whiz weaponry, exploding bodies and knee-deep gore.