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Nazi science seems to hold a fascination. Perhaps this derives from a continuing sense of surprise that such a technologically advanced nation as Hitler's Germany could be so comprehensively defeated in a war it started out by winning (and that despite the deployment of apparently game-changing new weapons). Whatever, this book exploits that sense of unease to speculate on what might have been developed: in the first few pages (and it is short story, so that's about half its length!) we're given a dizzying tour of these - jet bombers, atomic weapons, long range rockets, flying saucers and, finally, the space-warping technology which is the focus of Günter Ehrlichmann, committed Nazi and the book's hero (or rather, I suppose, anti-hero: he's faithful to Hitler to the last).

Building on the extensive literature that speculates about potential German advances in weird technology, Sales tells a neat story involving space and time travel, cause and effect and paradox. I rather enjoyed it, though it is very short - almost more of a plot outline for a longer book, perhaps, than a story in itself. I'd like to read that longer book. (Sales goes on to look at some of the same themes in his Apollo Quartet - indeed, Adrift on the Sea of Rains is conceptually quite similar, including the presence of The Bell).

For a more sober take on Nazi science - showing up its considerable deficiencies - I'd recommend Hitler's Scientists: Science, War and the Devil's Pact.
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on 17 January 2013
Wunderwaffe is another alternate history tale from Ian Sales.

It has a similar feel and style to the first two pieces of his still-in-progress Apollo Quartet, but it is not part of that composite but disparate work. Rather it looks to a very different history, diverging well before the stories in Adrift On The Sea Of Rains or The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself.

In this universe, Germany is winning an extended WWII, helped to stay just ahead of the Allies technologically via the aid of Ultima Thule, a previously hidden island of Aryan technological advances.

Our protagonist, Ehrlichmann, is sent by Hitler to examine and report on a secret project in eastern Europe. He follows a female slave through an extra-dimensional portal and finds what might well be an existential threat to his own reality. What does he do next? That's the gist of the story, without spoilers.

But Wunderwaffe is more than this. It's not just the story of a different WWII or the various Aryan fantasies / conspiracies. It's not a checklist of Nazi theories or belief systems. It's the story of one man and what he believes in. And in some ways it reminds me of every other WWII alternate history I've ever read - be it PK Dick, or CJ Sansom or John Birmingham or Robert Harris and, as Keith Roberts reminded us in Weihnachtabend, despair is a profound motivator. Recommended.
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on 22 February 2013
A great story idea, Germany has help from 'outside' and develops wonder weapons.

Ok that idea has been done before, but this time it's different. I can't say I liked the central character, I didn't particularly like the main protagonist either. But they're not in the story to be liked.

The story is about revenge and salvation really, with a huge what-if element thrown in. The whole thing twists in your head and leaves you stunned when it's over. So quickly?

The writing is, as usual from Ian Sales, very precise and exact. He treats words in his story as though he has to buy them somewhere. He saves them for best effect, the words are used only when they work well. This another well crafted story from Ian Sales, but as with so many of his stories, it's too short!

Is that really my worst comment? It's too short.

Heck, I'll stop now before this review gets to be longer than the story then. Final words - read & enjoy! I did.
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on 1 February 2014
The premise of the story is very intriguing; our protagonist is deployed to a Research facility by Hitler in order to report on a secret project; "die glocke" (The Bell) ; a top secret Nazi technological device, aka The Nazi time machine. Using popular subjects of speculation in fiction has always been a fascinating concept, but not necessarily a promise of an exciting read; it all depends on the execution.

Not only is Wunderwaffe well-executed, it also is a very captivating story and a highly creative take on a few historical "myths", and I very much enjoyed it. However, though the ending was satisfying, it felt rushed. The story had the potential to be way longer and more interesting.

This is my introduction to Ian Sales, I now look forward to sinking my teeth into his other works.
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on 3 January 2013
Interesting little story that plays on the many Nazi secret research projects, all competing for the Fuhrer's attention, and all trying to secure the end of the war. An administrator is sent to find out about one of these projects, from which nothing has been heard for some time. Obviously things get complicated thereafter, but they get resolved satisfactorily. I liked the swift setup where the competing projects were introduced, using quick descriptions to expand on what we mmight already know of such things. A few tweaks to history and the stage was well set for the main story. A quick, entertaining read.
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