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Days of Cain
J.R. Dunn
Avon Books, 356 pages

Days of Cain
J.R. Dunn Related Links
A novelist, editor and military historian, J.R. Dunn's works include This Side of Judgment and the short story, Long Knives, for which he won the Writers of the Future award. J.R. Dunn is currently the assistant editor on The International Military Encyclopedia

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A review by Wayne MacLaurin

Days of Cain is one of those novels that just won't be put down. It demands to be read. Is this a good thing? Well, that depends...

While basically a new take on the paradox of time travel, J.R. Dunn has chosen to emphasize the moral dilemma inherent in having the power to change the past but the responsibility to preserve the future. In the case of Days of Cain, the dilemma is especially thorny because the past being threatened is the Holocaust.

Into this mess of morality and outrage: Dunn throws several main characters. The first is a monitor; an individual plucked out of time to maintain the integrity of a past he hardly knows and preserve a future he can barely understand. His opponent and target is a young woman who has gone renegade, sending herself back to Auschwitz to subvert a past she cannot live with. And living in the middle of the Holocaust itself is a young Jewish woman in the camp whose very survival is directly influenced by the appearance of the time travelers. And we are also given a German SS officer who, after witnessing the dark side of the Nazi vision of a glorious future, teeters on the edge of a fateful decision: to surrender to the violence, or rebel and defy the system murdering thousands all around him.

The mix of characters and viewpoints is compelling. But this is NOT a fun book to read. It demands the readers' attention. It subjects the reader to brutal truths about our history and drops you right into a very, very difficult dilemma. If you're after some light summertime reading, this isn't it. But if you want a novel that will challenge your concepts of right and wrong, a book that will force you to ask yourself the difficult questions, then Days of Cain is what you're looking for.

Copyright © 1997 by Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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