Saturday, 3 December 2011

Invasion–Eric L. Harry


If you approach this book with any understanding of geopolitics, logistics, military technology and simple common sense, you will hit a point very quickly where you will have to declaim – loudly – that it simply couldn't happen like that. Harry’s novel is almost unique as it postulates a near-future (it was written pre-9/11) invasion of the Continental United States by China – a super-China that has invaded Japan, India, Australia, much of the Middle East and finally expanded into Cuba. Along the way, it has developed a working ABM system that has crippled orbital reconnaissance, given a very nasty bloody nose to the European Union, used nuclear weapons to crush Israel and just kept going. Suffice it to say that the logistical problems in invading the United States are monstrous even without the presence of American submarines and even the Chinese do not have the manpower to fight such a conventional war, a problem made worse by the decision to launch an invasion of Northern Florida rather than advancing up from Mexico. It simply could not have happened like that.

Reading more carefully, it is clear that Harry stacked the odds in favour of the Chinese. The United States spent eight years under a Democratic President who resisted all calls for intervention against China. Indeed, the US may be more advanced than the Chinese, but the Chinese have a massive superiority in numbers. This hypothetical President allowed the Chinese to take the Middle East without objecting, something that would do immense harm to the American economy. His replacement, an ex-movie star who reassembles Reagan, has to play with a very weak hand. America has lost control of the seas and the Chinese are coming.

Putting that aside – if you can – Invasion isn’t actually that bad a read, although some of it is suspiciously contrived. The American President’s daughter is an infantrywoman who fights to slow down the Chinese advance. (There are some remarkable insights into woman in the field.) Her mother had a relationship with one of the Chinese diplomats and her aunt had a child with the Chinese diplomat, a child who fights on the side of the Chinese Army. The American President’s lover is a spy for a group of coup-plotters in America, who believe that the time to go nuclear is now. Untangling the network of relationships and betrayals is a complex and difficult task.

Overall, Invasion is light entertainment – little else. If you can get over the impossible situation displayed in the book, you’ll enjoy it. It isn't, however, a conclusive story. I have a feeling that the author intended to write a sequel and never got around to it.

Three out of five.

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