Weapons of Choice: Axis of Time, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
History is rewritten in an instant as the future smashes into the past, and high-tech hardware goes head to head with World War Two technology. In the chaos that ensues, thousands are killed, but the maelstrom has only just begun. The veterans of Pearl Harbor have never seen a helicopter, or a cruise missile - let alone nanotechnology, ceramic bullets, and F22 Raptor stealth jetfighters.
Allied and Axis forces are then caught in a desperate struggle to gain the upper hand - each hoping to tip the balance with a fist full of 21st-century firepower. What happens next is anybody's guess - and everybody's nightmare.
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|Listening Length||20 hours and 21 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 06, 2009|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #27,742 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#64 in Alternate History Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#350 in Alternate History Science Fiction (Books)
#481 in War & Military Fiction
Top reviews from the United States
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In this world, the US military is disproportionally staffed with minorities and women, to the point that any positive character exists at the intersection of an oppressed gender and race. The straight white male characters are almost exclusively the violently racist and misogynistic members of “the greatest generation,” who upon meeting their betters from the future, start a race riot and lynch a U.S. Navy Captain for being black and female.
The entire gist of this book is that everyone and everything is the past was awful, and the Allies were only shades of gray from being as evil as the Axis. Oh, and war crimes are ok, if they victims are rapists and the war crimes are committed by women in retribution.
The flagship is the “USS Hillary Clinton” ffs, and she is described as “America’s greatest wartime president” and a JFK-Style martyr. Her future military is unstoppable due to a combination of high tech, and most of the commanders being female. Diversity truly is our strength!
Bonus, the writer has zero idea how the military works on a functional level, and has an embedded war reporters being issued guns and kit a la carts like they’re ordering from Starbucks, then going on to fight alongside (although better, since she is female) than the Marines she is with.
The author wrote for Rolling Stone and did an article once on future weapons, so he’s clearly an expert.
I wish I could give it zero stars.
The transposed crew people are all bright capable politically correct wunderkind who are disgusted by the vert racism and sexism of the 1942 world. I actually found this aspect the most believable premise of the novel. Culture in 1942 was as different from today as 1942 was to 1859.
On the other side of the coin, with the capabilities projected for the international task force just the scientific knowledge from one computer search would allow the 1942 allies to deploy 1950 level nuclear weapons inside six months without all the mistakes made OTL that wasted a great deal of effort. Compared to 2020 the Mk 6 fat man bomb design is very primitive, but it would give the allies an unstoppable advantage and could be mass produced with 1942 technology and historical plans. That would end the war within 12 months of the future task force arrival even if nothing but that knowledge was transferred. With the ships and weapons available that timeline shrinks to a few weeks.
IOW this could have been a stand alone novel detailing how the future won the war in weeks followed by the story of how future people tried to integrate into 1942 culture. Instead everything is drawn out to create a multi volume series which will now be left unread by myself. The characters are just not that engaging, the PC lecturing is too over the top and the technological predictions too unrealistic to get me to purchase additional volumes of this series.
Myself being former military, I had lower expectations on the realism of the modern technology. When I saw "2021" on the plot summary; I was initially expecting to read about far-fetched future war technology that neither exists today, nor likely to exist in 2021 for that matter. The first few pages describe the 2021 ships with fictionalized class names like "Nemesis-Class Stealth Cruiser", and an aircraft named after Hillary Clinton... and so already I was fairly skeptical thinking "Alrighty, .I guess I'm really going to have to turn my brain off before this book even starts".
Well, I am very happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. -- What initially seemed like a book I was skeptical of keeping interest in and finishing; turned out to be an intelligently written book where the battles were epically described and entertaining, but also realistic and plausible. It answers the questions of "If the 1942 Midway Fleet got into a all out sea-battle with a present day Naval carrier battle group....how would that happen?"
Despite the fictional class names of the 2021 Fleet; the descriptions of the cruisers and destroyers themselves were not unlike the Ticonderoga and Arleigh-Burke class ships we currently have. The capabilities of the so called "Nemesis" array is described very similar to the Aegis Combat System. Anyone unfamiliar with how it works might think its far-fetched. The main difference is an "auto-pilot" like capability where the navigation and fire control can be computer controlled in the event the ship's crew is incapacitated or killed by a biological weapon. -- Which is how things go terribly wrong from the outset. -- The only far-fetched part is the research vessel that accidentally sends the 2021 fleet back. With the fleet itself being very close to a present day carrier battle group than a "futuristic" fleet of ships that doesn't exist yet.
Despite the rest of the book afterward....my favorite part that makes it what it is, was the initial battle. It alternates between the point of view of both the 2021 sailors and Marines of the various ships, as well as the WW2 sailors on the different ships in Spruance's Pacific Fleet, who think the former it the Japanese fleet due to the nearest ship being a Japanese Self-Defense Force cruiser. Their thoughts and reactions are very on point as some sailors remark how the ships appear mostly defenseless "with only one 5" gun" being visible, and for a short-time wonder why they aren't fighting back despite Spruance ordering his fleet to open fire. The descriptions of the triple turrets being fired with their flash-bulb effect immediately brings to mind the documentaries of the Battle of Midway. -- While the 2021 crews are either unconscious or very sick with from the effect of the time travel, and unable to perform their duties.
When the computerized systems first take defensive action, its told from the point of view of Spruance and the 1942 crews. The book does a great job of painting an unforgettable picture, but to them... the previously unresponsive and 'defenseless looking' mystery ships suddenly send several pillars of white fire that light up the night sky, then blackness, then 20 seconds laters the carriers Yorktown and Hornet, cruisers Portland, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and most of the destroyers are obliterated almost simultaneously with all hands lost. Also seen are impossibly accurate tracer fire that quickly eliminates all of the F4-F Wildcats and Dauntless bombers sent up. -- To the characters, they are unable to process the massacre or the unnamed weapons are seeing; whereas, we the reader have a pretty good idea that the white pillars of fire are anti-ship cruise missiles and the impossibly accurate anti-air are the CIWS. Again, it'd be interesting if someone could make a film of it. -- The only thing is that isn't clear why Spruance's carrier, the Enterprise isn't targeted. The USS Astoria only survives because one of the 21st century cruisers halfway materializes into it.
Despite the fact that Navy carrier battle group is sent back to World War 2, to include troop transport ships with a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Abrams tanks, Cobra gunships, Harrier jets; they won't be able to win the war as quickly as one might think. Despite being able to wipe out most of the 1942 fleet, due to it being within visual range of the ships; none of the satellites made the trip back severely diminishing the long-range capabilities; and that before the computerized defenses came online, the 1942 fleet did quite a bit of damage, namely a Dauntless bomber destroying most of the F22s and F35s on the flight deck and the carrier's catapults before the CIWS took over. And last but not least....not all of the 21st century ships ended up in the same place, which is where things really start to get interesting.
The only part of the book I'm not sure what to make of, is the whole political one. While I do know that racism, homophobia and sexism were very common in the 1942, I'm not sure whether the author may be overly exaggerating it... or telling it like it really was. The N-word appears over 30 times, which...to each their own, but its why I have my doubts on this series becoming a movie anytime soon. -- That being said, the Commanding Officer of the 2021 Marine Expeditionary Unit is a 6'4 African-American Colonel and the way he handles it and puts a few in their place is rather satisfying: ( "You don't know me yet, so I'll let your disrespect pass...but I know ya know THESE dont ya boy! *pointing to his silver eagles* And you'll respect the uniform of the U.S. Marine Corps or I'll beat that respect into ya!" )
There are a few over the top characters like Prince Harry being an British SAS leader or the female NY Times reporter that more of a elite solider than an embedded reporter; but these are fairly minor bits that don't really take away from what I liked about it. I've re-read Chapters 2-8 so many times and it never gets old.
Top reviews from other countries
That’s because I bought this first one and enjoyed it so much I immediately got the next two books in the series.
Now, in essence this is a goofy idea. It was explored in the thoroughly ridiculous 1980 movie The Final Countdown .
But this takes that basic idea and goes a whole lot deeper. The examination of culture clashes between the 21st-Century military and their 1940s counterparts are at least as important as the kickass action sequences.
And, let me tell you, the kickass action sequences are most definitely worth the price of admission.
Birmingham is a great writer. His characters are flawed, but likeable, three-dimensional entities. Maybe a bit more durable than real-life people but that’s adventure stories for you.
Couple of minor quibbles:
The ‘future tech’ the writer imagined for 2021 in 2004 is, for the most part, still not yet realised but maybe in 2031 it will be.
The 2nd book is definitely the weakest of the series. But it’s worth getting because it sets up the amazing third entry in the trilogy.
But, that said, even the second book has some seriously fun moments.
This is the best blending of sci-fi and WW2 action since Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. And I absolutely do not make that comparison lightly.
This is a lot of fun. Check it out.
Beyond that however, this is a very well written book, and in terms of the ideas explored in across it's pages, fascinating. It does show it's age somewhat (like most books set 20 minutes into the future tbh), but even so it gives us a somewhat chilling vision of a world of 2021 as if the War on Terror had actually extended into an all up war that had rumbled on for decades (along with the consequences of such warfare on the world's militaries and the continuance of social trends of today), then goes ahead and juxtaposes that brutally with the martial and popular culture of the 1940s. Could have gone so wrong, so easily, yet it works brilliantly.
Which leads me onto the other thing about this book (and it's sequels for that matter): it gives us a very close look at the social attitudes of the 1940s and the heroes of WW2. All too often, literature (and just about every form of media) tends to look back on that time as a golden age, where for the Allies, all was noble and grand, and where the figures were genuine all-round heroes of legend, whilst for the Axis, all was oppressive and evil, and all of their soldiers and scientists and leaders were utterly inhuman monsters. This book doesn't. It shows us it all, the heroism and the racism and the sexism, the heroes, the lunatics, the geniuses, and the... well, bastards. Even more refreshingly, it does that for both the Allied and Axis powers, and doesn't pull any punches for either of them.
And yet along with all of that, it still manages to retain a sense of humour (such as that wonderful moment involving FDR, Eisenhower and a comment about how since he wasn't president yet, Eisenhower still had to work for a living), and despite the introspection, the action sequences are some of the best I've ever read.
So, all told, this book it very much recommended.