Friday, January 22, 2016


I started this post in 2010. It is now 2016 and I am finally making progress on this book. In the meantime, the book has traveled across the world (and even endured a trip from China with a non-functional entertainment system), yet I failed to get more than a hundred pages into it. Finally as I've used it as a dedicated "commute-book", I am making some progress.

Why the slow progress? (And why do I continue with it?)

It has a great premise. A small town in West Virginia is suddenly zapped into the middle of 1632 Germany. They gradually learn their fate, mingle with the "natives" and use their superior technology to their advantage. They also play a role in some of the historical events of the day (including long chapters on legacy of Gustav II Adolf.)

I picture the author as a bearded old war buff. Turns out from wikipedia that he is a beardless PhD candidate who worked as a union organizer. (That does explain why his new society out of nowhere 'inevitably' forms labor union.)

The story gets interesting in bits and spurts. The writing, however, has much to be desired. At times it can be just plain bad. At times there is way too much detail on individual characters' personal lives. Then, out of nowhere, the society suddenly resolves political and social conflicts to live peaceably together.

There are a lot of characters and it can be difficult to keep them straight. The 17th century characters quickly become "Americanized" and fall in love with Americans. (Hygiene, culinary and other differences just don't seem to be an issue.) The American enclave seems to be able to quickly get all of modern technology working well. They acknowledge that they may eventually lack some things, but seem to get by just fine. (Luckily the stores seemed to have pre-ordered all those hard to find electronics parts well enough in advance.)

The premise of the book is good. The writing has its good points, but those get overwhelmed by the numerous flaws.

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