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In War Times Paperback – August 21, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This engaging alternate-universe tale posits a quintessential enigma of civilization: can technology be prevented from doing as much evil as good? Goonan (Light Music) traces the career of amateur saxophonist Sam Dance, a young soldier who receives plans for a strange electronic device from his physics instructor, Magyar Gypsy Dr. Eliani Hadntz, after she seduces him on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She intends her "time machine"—melding physics and biology—to harness the human mind and rescue Europe from Nazi evil. As Sam experiences successive horrors of WWII, the love of jazz he and his friend Wink share enables them to build increasingly perfected models of Hadntz's device. Sam eventually plants the machines across the globe, hoping the technology will somehow cause various time-shifting realities and save humanity from its herdlike propensity for violence. Paralleling the evolution of modern jazz with the creative ferment of science, Goonan delivers a bravura performance. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This alternate history with multiple threads blends bebop, physics, molecular biology, politics, and ethics into a compelling story of one family's journey through the 1940s, '50s, and '60s. Sam Dance is a soldier who, in early December 1941, has been sent by the army to study physics and other esoteric subjects in Washington, DC. One of his teachers, an Eastern European woman, seduces him and gives him a device–and the plans for it–that she says will change the course of world history. The next day, Pearl Harbor is attacked, and Sam spends the rest of the war trying to figure out what the object exactly does, and what his role is. This novel is full of thought-provoking ideas about people and conflict. Can people be changed at the molecular level to cause them to prevent war? Can societies thrive and prosper without war? What are the connections between music, especially jazz, and physics? Readers with some knowledge of World War II and of the postwar period will probably get the most out of this book, and they will enjoy seeing where events in the novel diverge from what really happened. But any reader who likes alternate histories; strong, appealing characters; and provocative ideas will find plenty to admire in Goonan's book.–Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765332434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765332431
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,461,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathleen Ann Goonan is a writer, critic, and, presently, a Visiting Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, where she teaches Creative Writing and Literature.

Her 2007 novel IN WAR TIMES won the prestigious Campbell Award for Best Novel of 2007. Her first novel, QUEEN CITY JAZZ, was a New York Times Notable Book and a British Science Fiction Award finalist, and her second, THE BONES OF TIME, was an Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist. CRESCENT CITY RHAPSODY and LIGHT MUSIC were Nebula Award finalists.

Well-known for her Nanotech Quartet, Goonan's speaking engagements include appearances at Utopiales in Nantes, Kosmopolis in Barcelona, and at many universities. She has published over forty short stories, some of which are collected in ANGELS AND YOU DOGS, which will be released from PS Publishing in the fall of 2011.

She has this to say about THIS SHARED DREAM:

THIS SHARED DREAM evolved, as do most of my novels, from a variety of currents and influences. Chief among these were Eric Kandel's IN SEARCH OF MEMORY. Kandel, a Nobel laureate, has done extensive research on the biological roots and pathways of memory--how it is created, how it is stored, and how it re-emerges in certain conditions. In his book, his memories of his family's flight from Vienna following Krystallnacht in 1938 are interspersed with his growing appreciation of the mysteries of memory.

But THIS SHARED DREAM is in the main a family saga about lost and unevenly distributed information, and about how differing memories among siblings create their present. It is also about retrieving lost memories, lost parts of the self, and re-integrating them into one's present being.

It is about the nature of time and consciousness, and identity. It is about music, communication, and the potential of children when they have a science-based educational environment that meshes with and enhances their natural developmental.

Mostly, though, it is about the tenacity of love, and the power of love to heal.

Kathleen Ann Goonan can be reached for interviews via kathleen@goonan.com, www.goonan.com, and www.goonan.com/blog.

This Shared Dream website is www.thisshareddream.com

Customer Reviews

Yet it introduces such theory through very early works on DNA, the brain and quantum mechanics.
Arthur W. Jordin
This is a book that works on many levels--as a science fiction thriller and a beautifully written, metaphysical literary novel.
Boccaccio
The main device that moved the plot was ridiculous in nature and the end of the book seemed tacked on too boot.
John Bradley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"In War Times" is a great novel of ideas and action, showing why contemporary science fiction may be the most important literary genre of our time, grappling with greater clarity of thought and literary skill, the very nature of human existence, than what one usually discerns from so-called literary mainstream fiction. Kathleen Ann Goonan's elegantly sparse prose captures vividly the vicissitudes of love, war, peace, and indeed, of reality itself. She weaves concepts as arcane and as dissimilar as the structure of DNA, the nature of time, and the atomic bomb, into one long elegant literary tribute to jazz, with each new unexpected development, as the tale progresses, emerging like some unexpected jazz riff played with ample conviction by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. Jazz is the perfect metaphor to describe what the reader observes in this brilliantly conceived, vividly imagined novel; the merging and splitting of alternate realities, of different future histories, as witnessed by compelling characters such as Sam Dance, Bette Elegante, Wink and others, especially enigmatic physicist Dr. Eliani Hadntz, who presents Sam Dance with the plans of a mysterious device destined to alter all of their futures. Goonan explores how time - past, present and future - can be altered by the least likely of events, sending her characters into different alternate realities that differ by the slightest changing of a few details, relatively trivial in nature, with important implications for the respective futures of these realities.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By GadgetGirl on June 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Goonan used to do more hard science fiction -- nano- and bio-tech. This is much more alternate history, and damn it, but it's good. Part of it is how well she's researched it (I read a review somewhere that said she used her own father's diary from the war), but a lot of it is how well she integrated what she's learned into the story. It's complex, and rich, and it rewards people who re-read books in a way I haven't seen since Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Boccaccio on September 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every once in a while I come across a novel with characters and images so vivid that they haunt me even when I'm not reading and linger even after I finish the last page.

"In War Times" is that kind of novel.

This is a book that works on many levels--as a science fiction thriller and a beautifully written, metaphysical literary novel. It is also a time travel story and a World War II novel (with wonderful details of the London Blitz, the development of radar, and the Occupation after the war). Sam's quest to complete a working Hadnz device and create a world in which his brother Keenan could still be alive is gripping; scope and urgency grow when he travels to Europe and experiences the horrors of war and genocide, which with the device might be prevented. Of course there's always a price for altering the time stream... this is my favorite kind of novel, the kind that moves me emotionally, but also makes me think.

A brilliant and powerful book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Eldred VINE VOICE on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sam Dance is an enlisted soldier in 1941 when news comes to him that his older brother, Keenan, was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Keenan was on the Arizona when it was hit; the loss hits Sam pretty hard. While he is going through his training, Sam shows an affinity for science and engineering, so the Army pulls him out of the normal training routine and places him in classes on code breaking, electronics, and physics. He isn't really sure about physics but it seems to come him easily, which surprises him. Seduced by an enigmatic female physicist after a particularly interesting/strange physics session, he is given her plans for a device that she says will end war. Not only that, but through DNA, it may change the human "gene" for war, ending it at a biological level.

Following his training, he is sent to Europe to resolve theoretical and practical problems for the Allies. One stop is England, where he helps to resolve targeting issues with air defense systems. As the Allies make headway in Europe, Sam and his company move forward with the Army. As the war in Europe winds down, he is sent to the Pacific, where he finds himself on the Enola Gay.

In his free time, he and the other members of his company play jazz. Sam and his best friend, Wink, prefer the more modern type, known as be-bop, but they will play any variety of jazz. It is in jazz that he and Wink make great strides with the design for the mysterious device. It takes more than a year, but they are able to build the device and start it. However, something happens, which hard to determine exactly what, and then the device melts into a solid block of metal.

Later, Sam is able to determine that the device did work.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By HOUSTON C HARRIS on March 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Its been months since I've read this, but just the other day this story popped back into my head. Its very interesting and different. From the mysterious machine, the physics of cyclotrons, and alternate dimensions... The part where the main character's best buddy is lost to another dimension, and then when they find the ability to see each other again is heartwarming. And Jazz... there are jazz references throughout this book, and the main character is a Jazz aficionado. The Jazz also plays a role in explaining the working of the mysterious machine that creates the alternate dimension, the dimension where war is past, and scientific advances abound, the alternate dimension that is not central to the plot of this book.
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