Nominated for the John C Campbell Memorial Award. Sidewise Award for Alternate History. World Fantasy Award.
In this fine work of full-length fiction by award-winning author Ian R. MacLeod, a chilling alternate history unfolds.... An elderly English historian, swept along with the rest of his country by the march of history, sways between reminiscences of his life's true love and his efforts - in his own fumbling way - to change his nation's course.
In this tale, Britain has lost the First World War and turned to fascism. As a homosexual, the narrator suffers both the fear of repression and the loss of his lover to the fascist government, while the ordinary people of the rest of the country enjoy shiny modernity and, with it, briefly, the envy of other nations.
MacLeod's tale shows convincingly that no one individual or country is immune from totalitarianism, and the identity of his British dictator forms a twist that, both beguilingly and deceptively, never stops turning.
©2012 Ian R. MacLeod (P)2012 Audible Ltd
The caveat first: the protagonist of this magnificent alternate history--set in a world where England rather than Germany suffered humiliating defeat in The Great War and subsequently descends into fascism--is a homosexual. There is some description of sexual acts between two men in this book--and also of absent longing of one man for another. This is not the focus of the book--and the protagonists homosexuality really serves more than anything to emphasize his alienation in a fascist state, but threre it is. if you are very uncomfortable with/have no desire to read about/cannot accept the idea of 'the gays' you should read no further, but mark this review as helpful and move on to find a more suitable book.
That said, I am so glad that this was not enough to scare me off. Because it is without exaggeration that i say that this is possibly the most literary entry in to the genre of mid-century alternate history since Dick's 'Man in High Castle'. I love this genre and i have read all of them that i can find, and this is by far the best that I have read recently. Is it on par with orwell? probably not. But it is on par with 'Man in High Castle' and 'American Pastoral'. Blows out of the water anything that the pulp authors in the genre-turtledove and the rest--have ever written. (And i love and read those as well.)
What truly made this book a treat though was the narration. Steve Hodsons slow British accent was so perfectly suited to the story that it felt more like listening to the protagonist speak than like being read a book. The narration is so perfect, in fact, that i am almost hesitant to suggest the print book to anyone because i don't know how much my sense of the quality of the writing comes from the flawlessness of the narration.
Hope this helps.
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