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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Aftershocks and Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove

Colonization: Aftershocks and Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove. New York: Del Ray, 2001 and 2004. ISBNS: 0-345-43021-2, 0-345-45846-X.

These are the latest two installments in another of Harry Turtledove’s epic “what if?” series. This “what if?” is one of the more intriguing, albeit less likely ones. What if right during the middle of World War II, aliens had invaded earth? These aliens are upright lizards, a little shorter than humans, but a little more technologically advanced–they have space travel, after all.

They sent a survey ship several hundred years ago, at which time earth’s high technology was a bedraggled crusader knight with rusty armor and spear. So naturally, that’s what they expected to find when they showed up 600 years later. Because on THEIR world, things haven’t changed much in the past many thousands of years, and because their pace of advancement is incredibly patient and slow. Humans, it appears, develop technologically MUCH MUCH faster than the lizards.

Instead, they find modern armies fighting one another with tanks, airplanes and airplane carriers. Human kind just barely manages to fight the invaders to a standstill, partly by developing nuclear weapons in the nick of time. The lizards control most of the third world, including China and Africa, but the United States, Nazi Germany and Communist Soviet Union maintain their independence.

Here is a complete list of the series titles:

The Worldwar Saga
  • Worldwar: In the Balance (1994)
  • Worldwar: Tilting the Balance (1995)
  • Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance (1996)
  • Worldwar: Striking the Balance (1996)
Colonization
  • Colonization: Second Contact (1999)
  • Colonization: Down to Earth (2000)
  • Colonization: Aftershocks (2001)
And now: Homeward Bound (2004) in which humans travel to the lizards’ home planet, throwing their entire civilization into shock. By the end of the story, humans have faster than light travel, which the lizards never even believed was theoretically possible, let alone attempted.

An entertaining example of a long standard ploy in science fiction: humans are somehow better, more flexible, more adaptable than the aliens they encounter. Hurray for the human race! While probably not a particularly likely scenario, it nevertheless makes for many hours of enjoyable reading.

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