Genre Science Fiction Publisher Random House Year Published 2005 Review Posted on 9/20/2005 Reviewer Rating
9 out of 10
Weapons of Choice written by John Birmingham
Reviewed by Steven Sawicki
If you've read this book, why not
Some surprising things about this book: First, Birmingham is an Australian so it's obvious that he's done a lot of research but it's also a somewhat unique perspective. Second, Birmingham focuses on a couple of areas that caught me off guard and which I'll discuss in a moment. Third, the book is plotted more in line with a typical fantasy trilogy than with a science fiction one.
The basic story is this: the present day has led to a near future which is simply one global conflict leading to another. The children of the future know one thing and one thing only and that is war bred by terrorism, which only goes to breed more terrorism, which creates more war and so on. While on maneuvers, a fleet of warships, along with one experimental science vessel, gets sucked into a wormhole created by that science vessel. The wormhole destroys some of the fleet including the aforementioned science ship and spreads the rest throughout the Pacific environs of 1942. Unfortunately the future fleet ends up smack dab in the middle of the convoy steaming to Midway and a battle ensues in the confusion with lots of destruction and death on both sides, or, should I say, the same sides. And this is where things get interesting. The allies of 1942 are not the same allies of the future. In fact, the military of 1942 is not the same as the military of the future. For one thing there are no women in the command structure. For another, there is no diversity. For a third, there is no ethnicity.
These are the things that Birmingham brings to the book that make it a bit different. Besides the typical technological differences there are these vast societal differences that each side must deal with. And Birmingham makes the situation as difficult as he can by making sure the future fleet is a multi-cultural one with ships from a bunch of different navies, including some from the Axis.
There are a couple of different plot directions that Birmingham plays with here. First, there's the fact that this future fleet has done a lot of damage to the Midway group and that group is a critical piece to the war effort. Second they've got technological difficulties. How much do they share if any at all. And these difficulties don't end there. What about resupply? Cruise missiles are great until you run out of them and then what do you do? Another fly in the ointment is that not every ship actually appeared in water. One got half buried in a mountain near Tibet and the Japanese have managed to get their hands on it.
I have to say that this is pretty exciting stuff. It certainly helps that I know a bit about the events that should have been taking place but Birmingham is a good writer and presents the material well and the plot moves rapidly along with lots of things happening and some pretty interesting characters. And there are a lot of characters in this book. Birmingham plays things out from both sides and throws in some enemy perspective as well which gives the book a fine balance. Overall, this is a fun read with plenty of action and enough excitement to keep everything interesting.
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