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

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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"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

Spectrum by Alan Jacobson
FBI profiler Karen Vail's current case takes readers back to the beginning, with flashbacks to her rookie days as an NYPD patrol officer. "Spectrum" is a great way for new readers of the series to jump into the action. Learn more

Product Details

  • Series: Axis of Time
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (June 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345457129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345457127
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hey there. It's me. JB. Right now I'm probably kicking back on my hovercraft somewhere in the Antilles, or the Maldives, enjoying a dissolute, essentially meaningless life funded by your generous book purchases. Please, don't make me go back to selling my bodily fluids to science. Buy my books now and I promise to keep indulging myself in grotesque pleasures and luxury that I haven't really earned.

Customer Reviews

There are also too many point of view characters.
This new novel by Birmingham is definitely among the better books of this type of alternate history/time travel.
Willy S. Liao
The plot was interesting, and the book was very well written.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

175 of 204 people found the following review helpful By A Central Illinoisian in Chicago 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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44 of 54 people found the following review helpful By C. Saxe on July 24, 2005
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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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful By David Marcoe on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Weapons of Choice" uses the same basic idea as Eric Flint's "1632" series and S. M. Stirling's "Island in the Sea of Time," but John Birmingham has given it a Tom Clancy-esque twist, having a naval task force from 2021 wind up in the middle of Admiral Spruance's fleet headed for Midway in June, 1942.

The technological projection of 15 years in to the future is plausible and avoids dating itself too badly (the technical lingo--"data slate," "flexipad," etc.--sound like words some one would use). And the actual story is told well, even if it is a little unoriginal. The visual description of settings, battles, and characters is vivid and displays a strong grasp of the subject matter--whether it be geography or military history--and no small amount research.

Which makes the books problems all the more pronounced. Mr. Birmingham displays his political biases a bit openly and falls too easily in to stereotypes, often allowing his characters to become two-dimensional. The characters from of 2021 are all enlightened, tolerant, professional, polished, and displaying a unrealistic lack of character flaws; whether brawling in a bar in Hawaii with troops from '42 (where a small group of 2021 marines--via martial arts training--is able to clean the floor with a crowd '42 marines and navy men) or having a conversation with '42 charaters, they come out on top. The characters of 1942 (with the exception of peraps two non-major historical characters)--civilian and military--are uncouth, undisciplined, bigoted/racist (sometimes to the extreme), rough, and sloppy.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Mike on March 18, 2009
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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