28 March 2010

Into the Inferno

While on assignment deep in the heart of Hoosier country, I managed to read Robert Conroy's Red Inferno:1945. Conroy is an alternate history writer, with the books 1901, 1862, 1942, and 1945 under his belt.

Red Inferno:1945 explores what might have happened had Stalin decided to keep pushing into Western Europe after largely winning the Battle of Berlin in 1945, taking on the Western Allies. Actually, on our side, General Patton had suggested continuing to push eastward and rolling the Soviets back to Moscow, so I'd guess some bright fellow in the Soviet High Command had drawn up some manuever to do exactly what is described in this book.

Red Inferno reads a lot like Cornelius Ryan's epic work on the Battle of Berlin, The Last Battle, mixed with Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising.

How is the book? OK to good, at least for a time-killer. I found the political aspects of the book fairly well thought out. The military part-fair to middlin'. The two armies slug at each other over most of Germany over the summer of 1945. As the Western Allies still had massive militaries at the time, it isn't quite the 'Soviet forces overrun the NATO tripwire' scenario so popular in Cold War-era novels.

The characters aren't what I'd call terribly fleshed out-actually closer to stereotypical to possibly cardboard. A fairly typical lot: an intelligence officer who reminds me of a WWII version of Clancy's Jack Ryan, the American soldiers straight out of Band of Brothers, a Soviet officer who risks his life to warn the Allies, and is treated...accordingly, and a couple of unremarkable but not unlikeable female love interests for our protagonists.

Finally, unlike Harry Turtledove, Robert Conroy appears to be able to tell a story in one book without pages and pages of needless repitition. Might want to get back to that, Harry...

I'd say if you have time to kill, pick up Red Inferno: 1945. Our own John Birmingham gave Conroy's 1942 a thumbs-up, so maybe I'll check it out next. Hmm. A story about Hawaii overrun by the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. When I was in Hawaii, it WAS overrun by the Japanese. I don't get what the big deal is.

Anyway, try checking out Conroy's books if you're into the whole alt-hist genre. Not bad.

yankeedog out.