Top positive review
Terrific finish (or is it?)
on February 6, 2001
I must say Harry Turtledove has brought his Worldwar/Colonization to an exciting and stirring conclusion. His tale of a Second World War interupted by an invasion of reptiles has played out superbly over the course of seven books, and while not every moment has been a gem, the whole experience has been extremely entertaining.
Following the events of Down to Earth, Germany finds itself crippled, and France and Finland have regained independence after two decades of Nazi rule. The USA and the USSR now must deal with the shift in the balance of power. Plus, the mystery of who launched the missiles at the fleet in Second Contact, the mission of the Lewis and Clark, and who Straha's driver is are all resolved. Naturally, not everything is tied up completely, prompting further books.
What is most interesting about this series is how much change has been affected not only on the world, but on the various characters who populate this world. David Goldfarb makes his fortune using Race technology for variour commerical products (caller id being a noteworthy one). Liu Han, originally a peasant, is now firmly entrenched in the Chinese Communist Party. Sam Yeager, the USA's leading authority on the Race finds his life drastically, almost tragically, altered because of a little bit of knowledge he obtains. Wounded veteran Rance Auerbach finds himself embroiled in the ginger trade.
There are some glitches, of course. Certain characters appear more because for variety rather than the stories they tell. V.N. Molotov has nothing really important to do but show the USSR's plot and schemes, but ultimately tells no interesting tales. Monique Dutourd, while an interesting character, really doesn't have anything to do either but be a token French character, though that changes at the end. David Goldfarb too loses some momentum as the novel progresses. While I understand, and applaud, Turtledove's desire to show a wide spectrum of view points and characters, some of these characters could easily have been retired as their individual stories achieved closure.
Now, while Turtledove has stated he has no plans immediately write a sequel to Colonization, certainly he leaves the ending open. Personally, I would enjoy a return to this alternate history at some point, preferally in the form of self-contained novels. But for now, this is enough, and I would rather Turtledove concentrate on his other, very numerous, projects.
In the meantime, I recommend Aftershocks (after reading the previous books). It is a first rate series in its characterization, its plots and themes, and its ability to take a very stale idea (alien invasion) and set it on its head, while taking it to its most logical conclusion.