Monday, January 26, 2009

Colonization: Aftershocks

Colonization: Aftershocks
Harry Turtledove 2001
488 pages

And so after a lengthy break, I return to Harry Turtledove's Colonization series. The series is a sequel series to Worldwar, in which an invasion by reptilian aliens interrupted World War II. The aliens -- who term themselves the Race, and who are called by humanity "Lizards" came anticipating a medieval world, finding instead -- to their immense displeasure -- an industrial one with economies centered around war. Despite their technological prowess, the Lizards lacked the resources to fully annex Earth -- and humanity lacked the technological resources to completely thwart their plans. The result was a divided Earth. The Colonization series, set in the 1960s, concerns the way human cultures and Lizard culture have and are shaping the other. Political strife between human countries and between those countries and the race is growing. In the last book, relations between Nazi Germany and the Race fell completely apart, leading to a short-lived nuclear war that left Germany and parts of the Greater German Reich devestated by fallout.

Aftershocks picks up at that point. Nazi Germany has been humanity's strongest defender against the Lizards, for various reasons: the Reich's economy was strong and war-centered, and its militarisitic state lend it to playing a large role in humanity's defense, in both series. The ideology of the Nazis, however, leads it to making rash choices and squandering its opportunities, leading to its ruin. What happens to Earth after the downfall of the Nazis? In this book, Turtledove continues several themes: cross-cultural effects, exosociological efforts by Sam Yeager and Tstomalas, the ecological impact of the flora and fauna that the Race have introduced to Earth, and so on. We also see the results of a thread that was woven throughout the first two books, Sam Yeager's discovery that the United States is being naughty.

There's a lot to this book: it's very cohesive. Storylines and characters begin coming together. An example of that is the Warren Commission, a comission the Lizards set up to investigate the motives of President Warren in a particular matter that I can't reveal. (The title of that comission is one of Turtledove's hat-tips to real life.) This is a big story, but it works well. My interest never lapsed, which is more than I can say for the Worldwar series. That is to be expected, though: I like social history and sociology, not military history. This series has been quite enjoyable, and I look forward to Aftershocks.

An aside: whenever I read about the Race, I have one of three images in my mind: either this, this, or this.

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