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Colonization: Aftershocks by Harry Turtledove
Published by Del Rey Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
In the previous volume, Colonization: Down to Earth, the death of Heinrich Himmler placed the leadership of the German Reich into the hands of the fanatic Kaltenbrunner, who led his country into a disastrous confrontation with the Lizards, the reptilian alien invaders whose arrival in 1942 provided the historical breakpoint in this alternate history. Now the survivors are picking up the pieces of their ruined world, and the US and USSR are examining how the loss of the third major human power is going to change the balance of power between humans and Lizards.
At the same time, many personal dramas work themselves out. Friendships are formed that cross seemingly unbridgeable gulfs of race and ethnicity, even species. Many major characters must wrestle with their consciences, trying to determine what is right and wrong in a world that grows ever more muddled.
This has been a very controversial book. One particular incident in it aroused a storm of controversy on the USEnet newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written over the morality of using innocent civilians as levers to punish wrongdoing heads of state. Yet another interpretation is possible -- that the US was following something similar to Liu Han's concept of the strong peasant who is beaten by the stronger peasant not trying to fight back, but instead spreading ill will about the aggresser. And what better way to spread ill will than to put the aggressor in the position of doing something that will arouse a lot of broad-based hatred and resentment, and maybe even questioning of the aggressor's policies among those of his followers who are coming to see the targets as people, rather than aliens.
A number of personal storylines achieve a form of resolution in this volume. However, the ending of it is not a true conclusion to this series, but only a stopping place. It is clear that there will be still more volumes in the story of the struggle between humanity and the Lizards.
Click here to order Colonization: Aftershocksin hardcover.
Review posted August 26, 2001
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