on June 11, 2004
If you have made it all the way to this seventh book you are probably aware of Turtledove's writing style. It can become tedious with constant and useless repetitions about the Earth being too cold for the Lizards, ginger being a drug the lizards like, and Jews being mad at the Nazis. After the first couple of chapters you will become sick of it...but it has been like that since the first book.
Luckily this redundance is overshadowed by an intersting plot that develops the changing human (and Lizard) societies. Thus ginger smuggling becomes an important part of the book, but it becomes rather tedious toward the end.
Since the book is very redundant, lots of lines can be skipped, making the reading faster and enjoying the actual plot and not just fluffing. It is pleasant enough and has enough intrigue to keep one reading and if you have read all the other books of the series, you should definetly give Aftershocks a try. Bewarned though that Turtledove's writing has not changed and the story is starting to become old even if it remains intersting.
on January 1, 2004
For a 488 page book that seems to be the last of a seven novel series, there is little sense of closure here.
In the mid-1960s, the struggle between the alien Lizards and humans that started in 1942 still goes on in space and on Earth. Nazi Germany is weakened, but not extinguished, in a nuclear exchange with the Lizards. A nuclear armed Soviet Union covertly aids human insurgents in Lizard occuppied China, and America edges closer to all out nuclear war with the Lizards.
As humans begin to adopt alien technology for everything from weaponry to toys and try to establish a permanent, armed presence in space, the hidebound, traditionalist Lizards find themselves changed as well. The addiction to ginger continues to corrode Lizard mores. A pair of them even goes so far as to enter the perversion of marriage.
As human and Lizard warily watch each other and the aliens begin to adopt Earth-style balance of power politics, the ecosystems of each begin to clash, with flora and fauna of the Race's Homeworld outcompeting the native Earth species in desert regions.
The intermingling of two worlds is best symbolized by Kassquit, a human woman raised from birth by the Lizard, and Straha, a defector from the Lizards who finds that the ways of humans -- and especially "snout counting" Americans -- have rubbed off on him. (The identity of Straha's human minder turns out to be one of those delightful unnamed historical cameos Turtledove loves to put in his alternate histories.)
The trouble is Turtledove doesn't settle the central conflict of this series -- how, if possible, human and Lizards can co-exist. He just prolongs it. At novel's end, it is hinted that the Lizards might be able to adapt legal concepts of citizenship from the Roman Empire. However, the Lizards don't seem much closer to conquering Man. To be sure, humans have gotten strong enough that the Lizards are reluctant to start a war. But neither side has decisively won.
Turtledove does wrap up some of the subplots involving ginger smuggling -- and they were getting somewhat tedious at this point in the series. But even there, while the fate of some characters is finally resolved, that of others is left sort of hanging.
The middle of the book is an amalgam of domestic concerns of romance and marriage with Cold War style nuclear brinkmanship between man and alien. The end of the novel is a disappointing repeat of _Worldwar: Striking the Balance_ not only in its ultimate irresolution, but it even involves an incident with the very same nuclear weapon of that novel.
In short, this book seems to be a disappointing conclusion to a promising series.
on August 11, 2003
I just finished reading this book and I am assuming another installment is on the way. I hope there is, because I just can't wait to see who gets into the ginger smuggling business next time - the herb, not the girl on 'Gilligan's Island'. That seems to be the common thread through the last few books and its getting tiresome. Yes, it is interesting to see its effects on the Lizards but it seems that every other chapter deals with who is smuggling it, and how the Race is going to catch them before they all die in a frenzy of ginger induced mating. Oh, and there is a small matter of the nuclear war between the evil Third Reich and the Race, but the Nazi's asked for it you know, so don't feel sorry for them... Most of the war for the reader is spent on a Lizard ship with Jonathan Yeager as he introduces Kassquit to the joy of sex - like we didn't see that coming during his first visit. I would have liked to seen Molotov (my personal fav)do the wild thing with Kassquit, since neither one of them ever show emotion. And I like the Russie family but enough is enough, 'gevalt' as they would say. The Americans are out in the asteroid belt doing all sorts of secret things that are much more interesting than how many ingrown toenails Dr.Russie treats, but they are treated like a minor side story. Turtledove reaveals the true mission of the 'Lewis and Clark' on the last page and just leaves you hanging. If you have read the other books you have to read this one, especially if you like Penny and Rance, as they have assumed importance in this novel all out of proportion of when they were introduced, and most of it is tiring. Oh, yeah - Sam Yeager is a traitor, no matter what his mealy-mouth excuses were....
on May 12, 2003
Having enjoyed the "WorldWar" and "Colonization" books on the whole, I would say this installment - maybe the last, maybe not? - is a fairly worthy continuation. The reptilian Race with whom Mankind is sharing the Earth in an alternate 1960s continue to be fascinating characters in their own right, especially with their new ginger-induced discovery of continuous sexuality now maturing into a more human outlook; sexual and emotional awakening are, obviously, among the oldest themes in literature, but Turtledove pulls it off in an engaging fashion.
One other human trait which seems to have rubbed off on the Race, unfortunately, is gross environmental misconduct: originally, THEY cared more than US about the condition of the Earth, being reluctant to simply nuke humanity into submission for fear of rendering Earth useless for colonization. In the latter half of this series, however, they seemed to throw nuclear devices around with abandon - admittedly, after some provocation in kind from the Greater German Reich and the USA. One wonders just how much megatonnage must have been used to defeat Germany in "Down to Earth" (a war treated far too briefly, certainly compared to the alternate World War II!) As much as all the nuclear tests of the real 1960s combined? And there were the German nuclear attacks on the Race. Surely, there would subsequently be enough fallout in the atmosphere to cause thousands of deaths in its own right, especially in Russia? The author might have been better to concentrate on this particular "aftershock" than on drug-smuggling in the newly-liberated France.
The human characters continue to be interesting, for the most part: Sam Yeager, hardly ever seeing direct action, is now at the center of what could determine the fate of the world. The American astronauts in the asteroid belt embody a truly fascinating question of what humans might have achieved in space decades ago, given a big enough incentive (like the arrival of aliens as a rival power here on Earth). And in the belated but determined Chinese revolution, Liu Han - once a meek and sweet-natured peasant - shockingly evolves into a brutual Maoist inquisitor!
Some individuals, however, have clearly outlived their entertainment value. For example, Rance and Penny have become pretty dull, not achieving much beyond backstreet intrigue and routine sex; Pierre and Monique Dutourd seem intended only to represent "Frenchness" for its own sake; and (though I hope this doesn't offend anyone) the Russie family are no more than a mouthpiece for Jewish post-holocaust moralising. If what Mr. Turtledove wants to write is primarily entertainment, perhaps the constant reminders of Nazi war atrocities could be left to real history books. In this fictional timeline, I think the German Reich has been punished more than enough. Aren't millions of nuclear deaths - to say nothing of the undoubtedly countless burned, blinded and crippled Germans - a rather larger holocaust than the concentration camps? If there is another book in the series, please, Mr. Turtledove, give the Jewish issue a rest!
It would be fun to see if Mankind do eventually surpass the Race and come to dominate them on Earth; maybe the ultimate in vengefully satisfying conclusions would be a fleet of Earth starships arriving at Tau Ceti, to return the favour of invasion. At least, one more book in this timeline would be appropriate, perhaps set around 2000 AD - it could tie up the Chinese independence issue, the ecological impact of plants and animals from Home, and the recovery or submission of Germany. Perhaps the most significant outcome of alien colonization could be a self-sustaining human civilization in space. But if such a book is written, it should be without all the dead wood.
on March 5, 2002
I am glad to finally finish reading the colonization series. It took me several months, because, while not as lousy or boring as some people said, it was still a bit dragging at times.
In spite of poor reviews, I still am glad I read the series. In my opinion, it is good but not wonderful. I must mention that I did get the books from a library and would recommend that potential readers do so as well. What's good and bad about the series? I hope this does not spoil it for any would-be readers, but I will try not to let on too much.
1. Good for Turtledove's efforts to develop and follow so many interesting and varied characters. It is too bad that he does not always succeed very well. Of course my view will be biased, but I really did like David Goldfarb, Mordecai Anielewicz, and the Yeagers (in spite of comments to the contrary by others). But I don't really like any of the other humans. Who cares about Auerbach and Dutourd and friends and all of Europe - it's as if the author just included them so that Europe would not feel left out. Molotov talks a lot - big deal. China is a little more exciting, but it's a bit boring, though I didn't mind Liu Han's charcter. But I still read the story to see how my favorite characters came out.
2. Good for his development of an interesting batch of aliens - fearsome looking but quite moralistic and wishy-washy (I don't mind - I find it amusing). Personally, I think Straha steals the show. And I like the way aliens like Ristin and Ulhass adapt to American culture.
3. Good for the happy endings that Turtledove gave almost all the main characters (I like positive endings). He rushed a little with Drucker, and I'm sure Ttolmass and Kassquit would disagree with me about happy endings.
4. Too bad for the minor obsession with ginger and ginger-dealing as well as sex. Too much.
5. Also, enough with the lizards ending every sentence regarding humans with "...and of course we could have beaten them..." No matter how advanced humans get in the story, they never seem able to match the lizards power. Maybe the lizards say this just to convince themselves as well, but was the balance of power that skewed? I suppose humans will nearly catch them in a future series where they visit Home.
6. Lastly, Turtledove had better have another trilogy coming. Though he did try to tie up many loose ends, he completely left the story open to a future series (you would believe that after you read the last page). I really hope he does write a series set maybe in around 1990 where humans visit Home or something like that even if we have to suffer Jonathan Yeager again. And if he does, please include better maps, too.
Don't get me wrong - I still liked the series, but I hope the next one is better and more succint.
PS - Kassquit is Chinese.
on August 9, 2001
I absolutely loved Second Contact and Down to Earth. But in comparision Aftershocks was just disappointing. Turtledove should have spent more time mapping out his storylines. Some of them are so convoluted even he can't keep track of them--for instance, one character is arrested, then released, and then a few chapters later seems to be back in jail again for no apparent reason. What's up with that? But despite the shoddy editing, Aftershocks does have its moments. Straha's return to the Race...the premature invention of the Furby...the spats between Kassquit and Ttomalss...the resolution of the whole "who attacked the colonization fleet?" plot...the surprising revelation at the very end of the book. But these things are grossly outweighed by the fact that at the end of this book a lot of the plot lines remain unresolved. What happens to Gorpett, Rance Auerback, Straha, Kassquit, Johannes Drucker, Ttomalss, and Monique Dotourd? Their stories are just left hanging without any actual conclusions. In my opinion, the last book in a series should at least make an effort to tie things up.
on April 21, 2001
Colonization: Aftershocks continues the story started with Turtledove's World War alternative history series. A race of aliens has invaded Earth and are trying to bring the belligerent human beings under the thumb of their Empire. Humanity does not take too kindly to the alien race's presumption of superiority or that their view of the Universe is the only one that matters. Each of the many plot lines that Turtledove explores deals with some aspect of how Humanity and the Race have come to deal with each other.
The stories within <u>Aftershocks</u> take place 20 years after the original alien invasion during World War 2. The fighting between alien and human has stopped in most places, but there are still any number of hot spots where humans under the rule of aliens erupt in rebellion against their conquerors. Some of the larger countries of man have successfully maintained their freedom and also make problems for the Race in whatever fashion becomes available.
Each plot line deals with one particular human or alien. The social gamut runs from the Fleetlord of the alien race to a professor of Roman history in Marseilles. This provides for an excellent picture of just how the interaction between alien and human affects both races' lives and cultures. Nobody knows what the interaction will bring, and in a number of cases, the results disturb one or both sides.
Despite the large number of stories being told, Turtledove does a wonderful job of weaving them together into a coherent plot. At any one point, the reader knows what is going on at any particular point. In addition, the drive of these stories compel the reader to turn the page so that they might find out what is going on with a character that had just been left in some difficult situation.
The only downfall to this book and the previous members in the series is just that; they exist in series. If the combined novels are not read in order, from start to finish, it is quite easy to lose track of who's who in Turtledove's world. Many times, it is impossible to tell a story within one or two books. Still, some effort should be given to tie up story lines, introduce new characters, and remove older characters.
Overall, Turtledove's writing delivers a wonderful punch and brings the reader back for more. It would be nice to see some new faces within the story lines and, perhaps, some dramatic conclusions to the stories of other characters. Read this series of books if you have access to them, but if the entire set cannot be found try for something else.
on March 23, 2001
I've been a fan of Harry Turtledove since the Worldwar cycle of books began and have read that cycle and the subsequent Colonization cycle including the latest, Aftershocks. In general, I like Turtledove's presentation. His characters seem human to me (yes, even the aliens) and the situations, while taking place in an alternate history, are at least believable.
I was appalled, however, when I read Aftershocks. I won't give the whole plot away, but Turtledove has one of the entire cycle's main characters giving certain information to the Race which ultimately costs tens to hundreds of thousands of humans their lives when the Race retaliates. Supposedly, the character commits the act because the Race too are intelligent beings; however, this begs the question. The Race, however lovable and understandable they may be, are alien invaders. In earlier episodes, they completely exterminated the people of Australia as well as erasing major cities in other countries in their attempted conquest of Earth.
I may be old-fashioned, but I think Turtledove has done a real disservice here. For a major (and hitherto respected and respectable) character to do what occurs in Aftershocks with the author's symbolic arm around him as if he were some kind of hero is to carry tolerance way past the crazy point. After the Race's invasion of Earth, and the immense death and destruction they have caused, they deserve anything they get and as far as I'm concerned, any human passing them information, whatever their intention may be, is not only a traitor to their country, but to the entire human race.
I hope that Turtledove does something in the next book to redeem my previously good opinion of him.
on March 6, 2001
To me, the main problem with not only this series but also his "Great War" series, is that we hardly ever see a real historical character - but for advertising purposes, they won't hesitate to try to sucker us in by putting them on the book jacket! Where IS JFK ? Are we supposed to believe that old Joe Kennedy wasn't still trying to get one of his boys elected President? And, especially if because of the Lizards' invasion in '42, young Joe might not have died in '44 ... you see, to me THAT"S REAL "Alternate History" - not just "what if we got invaded during WWII" Where is Nixon? McCarthy? LBJ? Also - I'm REAL tired of this "Stockholm Syndrome" stuff with guys like Sam Yeager being so friendly with the Lizards - it was not his place or duty as an officer in the U.S.Army to discover or divulge the information regarding the attack on the Colonization fleet! He should have been shot as a traitor - hello, these creatures are INVADING our world, Harry - why would we have any interest in getting along with them? I do admit that usig the Lizards as a "savior" of sorts for the Jews and as a buffer with the Nazis works well - it makes sense. But so many of the characters are bland and uninteresting - for many pages on end! It's all like a very dull soap opera - no real punch or lick to it. I agree with the reviewer who suggested that he turn the series over to other writers - maybe they can get it right!
on February 21, 2001
in this book the main thing that annoyed me was Mr. Turtledove's spelling and grammer problems and incomplete which have been pointed out in other book but up till now i have not realized. Despite this Mr. Turtledove put together a very interesting book and unlike some of the other people who read this book i enjoyed the ginger smuggling incident. I also like how Roundbush got what he deserved at the end. My favorite part about the book though was probaly all the tension surroundign Germany just after the war and how Drukner was ordered to save as many weapons as he can, it was also very clever when he met Goppert used Drukner's asociating with Anielwicz to threaten him to give him info about the third reich's turning in all their weapons. Mr. Turtledoce could have put more info though what happened to Brittian, why didnt they join the german attack against the race, and are they sill on a course to facism. I think Mr. Turtledove needs to add at least one more book in this series to get a clearer view of what happens, mabe he could make it 30 years in the futre how earth finally atacks the racs home world or something like that. Overall this was a good book it its ending was rushed and average so i believe Mr. Turtledove needs to make at leat one more book it this series