Monthly Archive: March 2016

The Pillars of Hercules (Timeline 10/27/62)

The Pillars of Hercules (Timeline 10/27/62 Book 3) is the next in the main alternate history, Cuban Missile Crisis turned hot series by James Philip. It’s a bargain at $3.99, at least once you’re hooked on the series as I was by the time I finished the second one. I did notice a large number of instances where editing was needed. It rolled off me, but some, and usually I, may find it jarring.

Even as I read this, I found myself wondering what to say, besides praise how good the story is. I would reiterate the author’s skill at building connections between often disparate characters. It doesn’t seem unrealistic so much as literary usage of the proverbial “six degrees.” Kevin Bacon would surely approve.

Despite being Brit-centric, there is no shortage of action in the United States, along with some key points of view. I missed some details on my first read, including the vehement outlook of Curtis LeMay, and the implications of the glimpse we get at the thoughts of the heroine’s brother.

The events of this book have added meaning for me, given that I have read the volumes of the parallel USA timeline that have been published to date. If I were ambitious, I would eventually come up with a recommended reading order that would intertwine the two series logically. A bit like the periodic discussions in Robert Jordan fandom about at what point in reading the main Wheel of Time series you should interject reading the New Spring prequel.

At any rate, things have been unexpectedly grim, but at least now the powers that be have an inkling of what might be going on, and who is not an enemy. Onward!

Love is Strange (Timeline 10/27/62)

Love is Strange (Timeline 10/27/62) by James Philip is the second in an excellent series of alternate history books based on the scenario of what if the Cuban Missile Crisis had turned hot. This is part of my reread project, to review books I read before this site existed. Well worth rereading, I might add, though I don’t remember noticing the large number of spots that needed editing when I first read it.

The author skillfully weaves a web of interconnections between characters who might have been disparate, while also making them live and breathe in a way that gets you emotionally engaged. That comes into its own in the second volume, where the first contained more informational narrative to set the scenario. Ultimately, the entire series centers around a pair of fictional characters. However, you get into the heads of historical figures, as well as a wide cast of secondary characters. Secondary is not to be confused with unimportant. Some of the insight described in this paragraph comes from my having read the entire series to date, and then entire USA timeline series that intertwines with it.

To reiterate from my review of the first volume, this series is Brit-centric. The Americans don’t come off looking too good after destroying large swaths of the world with too little provocation, forgetting their allies in the process, and behaving in ways perceived badly afterward. The world becomes an extremely dangerous place.

If you can get through the first volume without being annoyed that the USA doesn’t come of the hero, it moves along wonderfully from there. I know from having read it already, it just gets better from here.

It is funny the things you forget. I had forgotten how early a pair of mysterious characters joined the story. I had forgotten the introduction of some lesser characters. I had forgotten how obvious it was that a character you hear of more than see is a bad guy.

Highly recommended.