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Without Warning Hardcover – February 3, 2009
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Birmingham’s acclaimed Axis of Time trilogy, an alternate history of World War II, now seems a mere warm-up for this blockbuster set on the eve of the second Gulf War. On March 14, 2003, as coalition forces ready their assault on Iraq, a massive energy wave envelops the continental U.S. and portions of Canada and Mexico. Quickly dubbed the Disappearance by baffled onlookers, the wave mysteriously obliterates all life forms, human and animal, within its shimmering borders. As politicians and scientists try to make sense of the anomaly, some foreign observers, including Iraqis, start celebrating, while others descend into chaos. Birmingham follows the volatile developments through the eyes of an American general in Guantánamo Bay, near the wave’s perimeter; a city engineer in Seattle, the only major U.S. city left unscathed; and an American secret operative fending off assassins on the streets of Paris. While Birmingham’s shocking premise may unnerve some American readers, a story line replete with full-throttle action should appeal to Anglophones everywhere. --Carl Hays
Advance praise for Without Warning
“John Birmingham’s ability to seamlessly merge the gritty realism of Tom Clancy with the raw speculation of Michael Crichton is like no other author I’ve ever read. Brilliant, nail-biting, thoughtful, and excruciatingly pertinent to our times, his latest novel, Without Warning, is simply a tour de force, a true classic in the making. It should be required reading for the entire world.”
–James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Oracle
“What would happen if America vanished? Some would like to find out, but John Birmingham’s Without Warning suggests that the Pax Americana would soon be sorely missed. It’s a gripping story, for Americans and non-Americans alike.”
–Glenn Reynolds, InstaPundit
“Delivers all the action and techno-detail that any Clancy fan could wish for.”
–Robert Buettner, author of Orphanage
“A modern, even postmodern alternate history where the people who wish the United States would go away get what they wished for, and the consequences are meticulously, horrifically worked out in compelling detail through the eyes of a medley of interesting, well-developed characters and tightly plotted action.”
–S. M. Stirling, author of Island in the Sea of Time
Praise for John Birmingham’s Weapons of Choice
“Weapons-grade military techno-thriller . . . [Birmingham] describes military hardware with an exuberance and virtuosity that’s positively Clancyesque.”
“Birmingham’s enthralling battleground mixes provocative historical fiction and socially conscious futurism.”
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Told from the perspectives,of several survivors as they all try to reach some where normal or to complete their last mission.
The action sequences,are well done.
I plan on buying the second book to see how things develope.
The worst and best of human nature is shown, from greed and cruelty to compassion and heroism.
This is sometimes a depressing read but the book finishes with a glimmer of hope for the human race. If the right people can lead the masses of people who want to return to an organised and civilised society then the darker side of humanity can be controlled. Survival at all costs becomes a rebuild of democracy and dignity.
A great twist on the "End of the World" theme! Label it under Thriller, Action, Suspense, Alternative History (Takes place right as we are about to enter the Gulf war) and a little science fiction.
Makes me want to read Birminghams other series involving alternative history.
The technique used is one much used by Harry Turtledove:
(a) Invoke a premise that stands the world as we know it on its head; and
(b) Tell stories - lots of different (and completely unrelated) ones from different people in different places - about its consequences.
In this case, an energy wave of unknown origin and bordered by a vast curtain stopping just short of Seattle on the one hand and Guantanamo Bay on the other, wipes out all of life in those parts of the USA, Canada and Mexico that are behind it. (In some ways it reminded me of the change in physical laws in S.J. Stirling's "Dies the fire"). This happens just prior to the planned invasion of Iraq, which, as can be imagined, spoils somewhat the preparations for that particular affair. And, as can also be imagined, the sudden removal from the scene of the world's major heavyweight causes all sorts of other nasty things to crawl out of the woodwork to exploit the vacuum.
The idea is no more preposterous than that of the transport of a 21st century battle fleet to the WW2 Pacific theatre, but somehow I found the story-telling more pedestrian and the characters and events less engaging than those of "Axis of Time". Indeed, I found myself reading it at least partially out of determination to try to get something more approaching my money's worth. As a result, I'll buy the other two books only if offered at a price I can't refuse.
Half way through, I plunked down the money for the second and third books, have started the second, and not been disappointed.
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