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Weapons of Choice (The Axis of Time Trilogy, Book 1) Paperback – June 1, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 242 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Axis of Time Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Australian author Birmingham's stellar debut novel, a United Nations battle group, clustered around the U.S.S. Hillary Clinton (named after "the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States"), is tasked in the year 2021 with stopping ethnic cleansing by an Islamist regime in Indonesia. When an experiment goes horribly wrong on a special ship doing research on wormholes, most of the battle group is deposited in the middle of the U.S. fleet on its way to Midway in 1942. The WWII carriers and supporting vessels attack a Japanese Self-Defense Force ship, triggering devastating computer-operated defensive fire from the 21st-century fleet. While the action sequences are outstanding, this book really shines in depicting the cultural shock that both navies experience. The Clinton group reflects a multicultural society that finds the racist and sexist attitudes of 1942 America almost as repugnant as those of the Axis powers, while the mere thought of non-whites and women not just serving in uniform but holding command drives many Allied officers and civilian officials apoplectic. The author also subtly shows the ways in which 20-plus years of the War on Terrorism have changed our attitudes. Unlike many alternate histories, the novel avoids the wish-fulfillment aspect inherent in the genre. This is the first of what should be a hugely (and deservedly) successful series.
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Review

"This is an excellent combination of near future military SF and alternate history, and a riveting story to boot."–Eric Flint, author of 1632 and 1634: The Galileo Affair

"This book has everying: time travel, the British royalty, things that go boom, and unrelenting action. Read the opening at your own risk: you won't be doing anything else until you finish it."–Sean WILLIAMS, co-author of Heirs of Earth and Star Wars: Force Heretic: Reunion
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Product Details

  • Series: Axis of Time (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345457129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345457127
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Midwesterner in Jersey VINE VOICE on August 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
'Weapons of Choice' is a good book, but like all books that are intended to be series, one gets the feeling that while the Author could've wrapped up the whole thing, they left a lot of threads dangling just to lead you into the next book.

That's the case here - a 21st Century Naval Fleet winds up in WWII, and while they could've eviscerated the Japanese Navy "midway" through the book (heh, heh) they don't. Yeah, there are story reasons why they didn't but the main reason seems to be so that the Japanese navy will be around in books 2 and 3.

When all 3 books are published, the series itself will probably rate 4 or 5 stars. However, ya gotta rate the book as a standalone entity.

Good things in the book:

- Nice forward looking history. The fleet is from 2021 and an ongoing war against Terrorism and Militant Islam has shaped its men and women

- Nice treatment of the mismatch between 1940/2021 mindsets

- Great techno warfare stuff, especially how body armor/advanced ammo changes the land battle paradigm

- Recognition that the characters from 2021 would hold certain 1940s characters in awe - Spruance for one, others you'll have to find out about - and how the 1940s characters react to this

- Great overall update on the "Final Countdown" scenario

- Subtle nods throughout the book at other alt history characters and scenarios. You'll know 'em when you see 'em.

Things which hacked down the star rating

- The scene in which the fleets first meet is just ~too~ drawn out in some places and too short on description in others.
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Format: Paperback
I will not add yet another summary of this book, as there are plenty of reviews already posted that serve this purpose. (My only gripe: the first meeting of the Multinational fleet from the future and the '42 fleet was a bit drawn out.) I shared this book with my father, who served on the USS New Orleans from 1943 until 1946 (she was stuck on China Service clearing mines for a full year after the Nipponese surrender). Keeping in mind some of the comments posted here (that the 1942 contemporaries - or Temps - were a bit two-dimensional), and the fact that the New Orleans is sunk at the beginning of the book, I was curious what he thought. Well, he loved it from start to finish. He thought the concept was great, and the writing was sound. In fact, he was practically giddy reading it!

We discussed the whole aspect of the racism/ignorance of the Temps. He did not deny it was rampant, especially since many sailors did not know better. And what's more, he was certain they would not have been receptive to wartime "sensitivity training"; since fatalism was rampant. Why pay attention to it, when a sudden torpedo or kamikaze could end it all? Besides, there was a war to win. This "lack of sensitivity" carries over to Spruance and Halsey's discussion (in the book) as to whether a POW rescue is a wise use of resources.

My dad's only gripe, the name of the futuristic supercarrier, and the fact it wasn't sunk at the onset. But I think he is willing to forgive!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Let's face it - one of the great pleasures in life is reading a good book. No one else around, no children/spouse/co-workers/pets bothering you - just peace, quiet and a good book, something to take you away from life's everyday trials and tribulations. The "alt-history" genre in particular can be very interesting. You know, the kind of books that are about things like, "what would the U.S. be like today if the South had won the Civil War." Pages turned out by the hands of a superior writer can lead to some really creative ideas and interesting reads.

Then there are books like "Weapons of Choice", by John Birmingham, which are so dreadful that they bring the real world mercifully crashing back around us. What's worse, I will reveal to you at the end of this review that the main idea of the book isn't even original!

Our heroes are a multi-national naval force from the year 2021. Thrown together are mostly Americans, some Brits, some Japanese, some Indonesians, and some Australian ships, all (predictably) under a U.S. commander. Through a scientific experiment (predictably) gone terribly wrong, most of the fleet gets sent back in time to June 2, 1942, two days before the Japanese were about to attack Midway Island, a battle which in real life was a decisive U.S. victory and pretty much turned the tide of the War in the Pacific gainst the Japanese. Because we all know that time travel backwards makes one physically ill (unless one is a Terminator), all of the future force characters (predictably) find themselves in various states of incapacitation upon arrival in 1942 and, thus unable to man their respective stations or defend themselves.

This is important because the future force people materialize in the middle of U.S.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Weapons of Choice (Axis of Time-Book 1)
by John Birmingham

Time travel books rank very high in my list of favorite genres and this one combines the inherent time travel fascination with a strong military thriller gloss. Good stuff folks, very good. Birmingham provides a lot of plot-many different events- with an ensemble cast of players that he draws well, vividly and with a genuine sense of humanity. We like that, it makes the action mean something if we have characters that seem real to us-and characters who seem to be likeable or at least understandable.
In the not so distant future, a flotilla of allied warships assemble in the port of Dili on the island of Timor, prior to an assault upon the newly established Caliphate in Islamic majority Indonesia. Among them as a matter of happenstance rather than design we find a huge scientific vessel engaged in research at the very frontier of scientific possibility, research that goes terribly wrong.
The mixed nationality force suddenly finds itself transferred catastrophically into the past, into the midst of WWII and into the middle of an American navy fleet-in wartime. Many die before things can be sorted out.
The shooting and bleeding most will find very exciting (in good military fiction mode) but the social interaction between the mid-20th century folks and the mid 21st century folks holds the most interest. We have naval officers from several nations and even a few imbedded news writers. We meet such historical figures as FDR and Albert Einstein. Admiral Yamamoto has a prominent place to play and we even encounter Adolph Hitler. The smoothly portrayed interaction among these players and our characters give the book its main interest.
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