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Colonization: Aftershocks
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey Books, 488 pages

Viktor Koen
Colonization: Aftershocks
Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1949. In 1977, he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history from UCLA. In 1979, he published his first two novels, Wereblood and Werenight, under the pseudonym Eric G. Iverson which he continued to use until 1985. In 1991, he left the Los Angeles County Office of Education, where he worked as a technical writer, to become a full-time author. He won the Hugo Award for Novella in 1994 for "Down in the Bottomlands" and "Must and Shall" was nominated for both the 1996 Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the 1996 Nebula Award for Best Novelette.

Harry Turtledove Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Walk in Hell
SF Site Review: Darkness Descending
SF Site Review: American Front
SF Site Review: Household Gods with Judith Tarr
SF Site Review: Colonization: Second Contact
SF Site Review: Into the Darkness
SF Site Review: How Few Remain
SF Site Review: How Few Remain
SF Site Review: Between the Rivers

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

Until now, the only book I'd ever read by Harry Turtledove was Guns of the South, which I started but never finished. It was a combination of things, there was a little too much Robert E. Lee worship for my taste, and I couldn't ever buy into the suggestion that 19th century racism was somehow less demeaning and more benign than 20th century racism. Mostly though, the problem was that I had picked up the novel after reading a review that praised the book for its subtle use of alternate history, and it didn't seem to me that providing the Confederate Army with automatic weapons was a subtle change. It just goes to show that you should never base your expectations of a book solely on what you read in a review.

Colonization: Aftershocks is the latest novel in a series that began with Worldwar: In the Balance, and portrays an Earth in which an alien invasion interrupted World War II. By the time of Colonization, it is the 60s, much of the planet is occupied by the aliens, known to themselves as The Race, to humans as the Lizards. (They refer to us as the Big Uglies). Turtledove does a masterful job of meshing his world's history with our own, and it's a lot of fun spotting the differences in people's lives (keep an eye open for the appearance of Charles Colson).

The cast of characters is the requisite size for an epic, as we follow the lives of Lizards and Big Uglies around the globe, and in space. The writing is straight-forward, and if Colonization: Aftershocks is any indication, it's possible to read each book as a stand-alone volume, with just enough recounting of previous events to keep you from getting lost.

The one problem I had is with one of the basic assumptions behind the story. The Race is slow to change and develop new technology, so slow that when their fleet arrived here about a thousand years after a scouting mission, they were amazed to find the humans had completely changed their technology and social structure. This is such an old ploy in science fiction that it borders on the cliché. The advantage for the writer is that it lets those clever humans win in the end, but when you've run across the idea a few times as a reader you can see the end coming.

Turtledove, however, manages to avoid the cliché in Colonization: Aftershocks by showing us that life on Earth is changing the Race. Simply being forced to come to agreements with other species is a new experience for them as a group. And as individuals, they are being changed by dealing with humans, and especially with the addictive powers of ginger, the effects of which may actually be changing the Race's reproductive habits. It's a problem for them but also shows that when the humans come up with a clever new idea, the Race may be a little quicker to adapt than they were before.

All in all, an entertaining book , and I'm sure I'll be reading other volumes in this series too. There should be plenty, a plot twist at the end hints that the setting may open up into interstellar space. If that happens, the story of the Colonization series could become as endless as history itself.

Copyright © 2001 Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L. Johnson lives and likes to contemplate the alternate twists history may have taken in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His reviews also appear in The New York Review of Science Fiction.

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