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Alternities Mass Market Paperback – 1 Oct 1988

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books (Oct. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441017746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441017744
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

A science fiction novel in which, after a nuclear crisis, the world has split into several different realities, each containing a different version of oneself. "Home" is a warlike alternity; "Blue" is peaceful and becomes a haven in the face of another attack. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
What would you do if you discovered a path to alternate worlds? This question is at the heart of Michael P. Kube-McDowell's novel, which begins with a businessman from a different America who stumbles across a gateway to a number of parallel Earths. His discovery is exploited by a U.S. government in a world where it is losing the Cold War. Initially using it as a means of gaining new technologies, the president is emboldened by its existence to take increasingly aggressive measures that risk annihilation by the superior Soviet forces, secure in the existence of an alternate world refuge should it occur. Yet as he pushes the world closer to nuclear war, a growing number of people in his world and another work to stop him before it is too late.

Kube-McDowell's novel is an impressively imaginative work, one that succeeds through quality writing. His genius is in respecting the reader's intelligence; whereas many alternate history authors convey the differences of their worlds through clumsy exposition, Kube-Mcdowell lets readers discover his worlds slowly through the story itself and 'documentation' that he intersperses between the chapters. Though I found this approach frustrating at first, it created a real sense of investment in the text that paid off as the novel went along. Though his explanation of the gateway phenomenon at the end of the novel was not to my taste, it is a minor quibble, and one that is presented in a way that detracts neither from the plot or the ability to enjoy the novel as a whole. In short, this is a quality novel, one worth the time of any fan of science fiction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9da6eee8) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c240b4) out of 5 stars A remarkable book 27 Jan. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a powerfully realised parallel universe novel, set in the 1970s. Its two main threads are:

- The experiences of everyman agent Rayne Wallace, whose marriage is disintegrating as he is drawn ever-deeper into his government's secret infiltration of a number of accidentally discovered parallel earths.

- The plot of the reckless US president Robinson to launch a sneak attack on the USSR.

The whole premise is fully thought through, and is realised brilliantly. The parallel worlds feel completely real, inhabited by real people. The story is full of astute observations about relationships and political machinations.

McDowell is a master of the thriller style. The writing, by and large, is excellent. I have just one criticism of the way the book is written - he has a tendency to over-describe emotional passages, and particular those involving physical intimacy. A tad more subtlety would have helped in these instances. This over-description notwithstanding, these scenes are intelligent and well-observed.

One striking facet of the novel is the way Alternity Blue's Norfolk nuclear incident is so evocative of the World Trade Centre attack. This book was written in the late 80s, and so obviously this was not intentional. But it's a mark of the writer's intelligence that it seems so apt in 2008.

All in all, this is an exceptionally good science fiction/political thriller novel. McDowell is clearly a writer of burning intelligence, and I look forward to reading more of his books.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9db9c7bc) out of 5 stars An excellent novel that respects the reader's intelligence 8 May 2009
By MarkK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What would you do if you discovered a path to alternate worlds? This question is at the heart of Michael P. Kube-McDowell's novel, which begins with a businessman from a different America who stumbles across a gateway to a number of parallel Earths. His discovery is exploited by a U.S. government in a world where it is losing the Cold War. Initially using it as a means of gaining new technologies, the president is emboldened by its existence to take increasingly aggressive measures that risk annihilation by the superior Soviet forces, secure in the existence of an alternate world refuge should it occur. Yet as he pushes the world closer to nuclear war, a growing number of people in his world and another work to stop him before it is too late.

Kube-McDowell's novel is an impressively imaginative work, one that succeeds through quality writing. His genius is in respecting the reader's intelligence; whereas many alternate history authors convey the differences of their worlds through clumsy exposition, Kube-Mcdowell lets readers discover his worlds slowly through the story itself and "documentation" that he intersperses between the chapters. Though I found this approach frustrating at first, it created a real sense of investment in the text that paid off as the novel went along. Though his explanation of the gateway phenomenon at the end of the novel was not to my taste, it is a minor quibble, and one that is presented in a way that detracts neither from the plot or the ability to enjoy the novel as a whole. In short, this is a quality novel, one worth the time of any fan of science fiction.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dbc93c0) out of 5 stars Great Read! 25 Jun. 2005
By Pro-Life - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This was the perfect combination of SF and political drama. It really outlined the dangers of too much power falling into the wrong hands. All of the characters' stories were compelling. It really pulled you right in from the start. Definitely worth the read!
HASH(0xa0c24048) out of 5 stars One of my favorite AH books 25 Feb. 2016
By wfm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Kube-McDowell offers a truly different alternate history story here, and a gripping one at that. One of my favorite AH books.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d0c300c) out of 5 stars A first-choice alternate worlds story 7 Jan. 2007
By R. Legro - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is not a perfect parallel worlds story, and is slightly unsatisfying to the extent it doesn't tie up all the plot developments. Overall, however, "Alternities" is a superior work of this genre; a satisfying, even thought-provoking read. The non-science components of the book turn heavily on modern politics and world history, and, hooray, they ring very true. Kube-McDowell obviously is a student of history, and understands the American political system down to the nuances of rank and custom.

The novel provides, as these things go, a relatively high sense of verisimilitude, especially in its media extracts (book reviews, news articles, encyclopedia entries and so forth, provided to give quick context to the events in the multiverse that we are invited to observe).

Even though the book was first published in the late '80s, it makes for a great cautionary tale about 21st Century politics in general and a certain US president in particular. The subplots and supporting characters are well developed -- in several cases to an extent that's electric and eye-opening, In other aspects the book is your standard, science-fictional, one-man-against-all tale, but everything is not as it seems and villains and heroes seem quite interchangeable, depending on your point of view and the passage of events.

Overall: A good, solid read, especially for lovers of contemporary politics and SF in general.
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