Monday, 19 July 2010

Days of Infamy (Harry Turtledove)

Days of Infamy
Harry Turtledove

I’ve read thousands of books in my life. I’ve even read The Satanic Verses. So why did I have such trouble with Days of Infamy? I like Turtledove, damnit!

Days of Infamy is set in 1941-42, after a Japanese invasion fleet has invaded pearl Harbour. I won’t go into details as to the MAJOR logistical problems that the Japanese would have faced in trying that in real life – others have done that – but I note that for the record. It's an interesting concept, but Turtledove is uncharacteristically dull in the exploration. This book was an active chore to get through.

The only change is in the beginning of the book is that Japanese Commander Genda persuades Admiral Yamamoto to convince the Army generals that an invasion force should accompany the task force. From there, about ¼ of the book covers the invasion; the rest covers the occupation from the POVs of many characters. Turtledove is good at that; in the course of the plot, he gives us a pilot who was shot down in the initial attack and is now a prisoner of war, a soldier who is also a POW, his estranged wife who has to live in an occupied city on Oahu, a surfer bum, and a Japanese family who have been living on the island for many years, as well as introducing two characters further on in the book who give us the viewpoint of Americans who will be involved – one assumes - in the eventual re-taking of the islands.

Turtledove is uncompromisingly brutal in its portrayal of the Japanese themselves – even if they seem a little repetitive. Rape is not shown, but its effects are; the Japanese are as unpleasant as they were in OTL. Me thinks that the occupation of Japan in ATL will be harsher and more brutal – a sequel in the making, perhaps?

It’s hard to say why I don’t like this book. It’s tedious – it could have been reduced to one volume and just had the liberation at the end of the book. While the characters are interesting they go through the same motions, all the time. Compared to Ruled Britannia, its drek.
Three out of five…

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