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Upsetting The Balance (1997)

Upsetting the Balance (1997)
Rating
3.75 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
0345420586 (ISBN13: 9780345420589)
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English
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ballantine books
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Upsetting The Balance (1997)
Upsetting The Balance (1997)

About book: When it comes to critiquing Harry Turtledove’s ability in crafting alternate history, I must echo the old SNL skit characters of “Wayne’s World” in saying, “I’m not worthy!” Those who follow my reviews know that I don’t care for the hopscotch nature of “epic” novels but that I am willing to slog through them (in doses) for the sake of George R. R. Martin’s gritty vision of medieval fantasy and the series from Turtledove in which WorldWar: Upsetting the Balance is the third volume. Even though I’m committed to completing the series, it takes me a while to get into each new volume because there is no one particular character with whom I’m emotionally engaged.That being said, I liked WorldWar: Upsetting the Balance for its differences with the second volume, WorldWar: Tilting the Balance. The latter was action-packed and as full of romance and comedic surprises as an Asian drama (a secret addiction of mine). This one is primarily about betrayal. The characters who are tempted toward betrayal are telegraphed, but the results were not what I had expected. One ended up exactly the opposite of what I expected and the other completely confirmed my fears for said character. The point is that Turtledove continues to fascinate me. I wasn’t expecting the war between the world’s coalition of forces and the alien invaders to escalate in quite the way, technologically and politically, it did. Nor was I exactly ready for the amazing events that took place in a portion of the alien camp. There is no doubt that I’ll be ready for WorldWar: Striking the Balance very soon.Meanwhile, there is plenty to like in this volume. I like the ethical dilemmas. At one point, Colonel Hans Jaegar [spelled with the umlaut instead of the “ae” in the book] objects to the manner in which human lives are being subjected to radiation in order to recover enough enriched uranium to build an atomic bomb. His superior responds: “If we do not recover the nuclear material, Colonel Jaegar, we are all the more likely to lose the war against the Lizards; at which point all ethical arguments become irrelevant.” (p. 93) Jaegar has to decide if he will obey the order and follow through, in spite of the human cost. Much later in the book, we read: “’Ja,’ Jaegar said in a hollow voice. What Skorzeny didn’t get and wouldn’t get if he lived to be a hundred—not likely, considering how the SS man lived—was that what we were supposed to do and what our superiors ordered us to do weren’t necessarily one and the same thing.” (p. 359)At times, I was simply intrigued by interesting takes on political and ethical debates. At one point, the Lizards reflect on the emotional and/or irrational aspects of human argument: “Molotov had made the same demand, although he’d couched it in terms of—what had he called it?—the ineluctable historical dialectic, a notion that gave analysts even more trouble than did the mysterious and quite possibly unreal thing called freedom. The Big Uglies had a gift for dreaming up concepts unsupported by evidence.” (p. 161) At another point, the Soviet pilot, Ludmila, “…supposed he thought initiative was a good thing. Like a lot of Soviet citizens, she mistrusted the concept. How could social equality survive if some people pushed themselves ahead of the rest?” (p. 432)I further enjoyed a discussion at one point that vividly illustrated the differences between “scientists” and “engineers.” In this exchange, Szilard tells Groves (the military officer and administrator of the Manhattan Project), “Adequate theory would allow the first attempt to be of proper quality.” To which Groves smiles and Turtledove editorializes: “That was just the difference between a scientist, who thought that adequate theory could adequately explain the world, and an engineer, who was sure you had to get in there and tinker with things before they would go the right way. “ (p. 125)Perhaps, the best writing was to be found in two places. In the first, a character was visiting another character who was immersed in grief. As he entered her rooming house, “The rooming house smelled of unwashed bodies, garbage, and stale piss. If you bottled the odor, you’d call it something like Essence of Despair.” (pp. 291-2) In another, a character reflects on the nature of war. “’You know what?’ he said, almost plaintively, to Muldoon. ‘You get stuck in a war, you don’t just set your body on the line. Everything you knew or thought you knew goes up into the front lines with you, and some of it ends up dead even if you don’t.” (p. 469) Wow! Those two lines alone were worth the time I invested in reading this book.

Il ciclo dell'invasione di Harry Turtledove, lo scrittore statunitense nato a Los Angeles nel 1949 che è comunemente considerato un autore di allostorie, è una saga fantascientifica che è stata scritta tra il 1994 e il 1996 e ambientata nel corso della seconda guerra mondiale, mescolando elementi storici e ucronici al tema dell'invasione aliena. Il ciclo è composto da quattro romanzi: "Invasione anno zero", "Invasione atto secondo", "Invasione atto terzo" e "Invasione atto finale". Dopo il ciclo dell'invasione la storia prosegue, con un salto narrativo di 25 anni, con il "Ciclo della colonizzazione". La mia recensione, abbraccerà l'intera saga.Siamo nei primi anni della seconda guerra mondiale. Una notte però appare sul cielo sopra il ghetto di Varsavia una luce. Tale luce rappresenta l'arrivo di una razza aliena giunta sulla Terra per conquistarla. Gli alieni sono una razza di rettili alti 150-160 cm, apparentemente evolutasi da piccoli carnosauri come i velociraptor anche. Basando i piani di invasione sulla propria storia, gli alieni hanno inviato sonde-spia sulla terra (a circa 12 anni luce di distanza) ricevendone immagini del nostro pianeta fra l'anno 1000 e il 1200... La flotta di invasione (dotata di armi paragonabili a quelle del ventunesimo secolo terrestre: bombe atomiche, carri armati con motori a idrogeno e cannoni iperveloci, sofisticati caccia a reazione) era stata calcolata per sopprimere in pochi giorni una resistenza fatta da cavalieri in armatura dotati di picche e spade.I rettili invasori sono quindi letteralmente sconvolti quando ci trovano impegnati in un grande conflitto globale che vede l'uso di tecnologie marginalmente inferiori alle loro, sviluppate nei pochi secoli impiegati dalle loro navi per raggiungere la Terra. Inoltre, gli scienziati terrestri riescono a studiare e copiare alcuni esemplari di armi aliene catturate, causando improvvisi balzi in avanti della tecnologia terrestre. La storia si sviluppa attraverso un numero notevole di personaggi, dai soldati terrestri appartenenti a tutte le forze in campo, agli alieni fino ad arrivare alle persone comuni. Le loro storie si intrecciano in un susseguirsi di rivelazioni, segreti, colpi di scena e grandi battaglie. Turtledove, nell'inserire l'elemento dell'invasione esterna, stravolgerà completamente lo sviluppo della storia come noi la conosciamo.L'ucronìa è un tema della fantascienza che mi ha sempre entusiasmato e qui Turtledove, che è un maestro di tale pratica letteraria, dà il meglio di sè; molto ben congegnato, di un'originalità assoluta, per un'amante della storia alternativa questa serie è un must da leggereper la sua genialità.Poi, sicuramente nella lettura ci si imbatte in delle carenze letterarie, come qualche lettore ha giustamente sottolineato, ma si sta parlando sostanzialmente in dei verociraptor alieni che invadono la Terra, non di un libro di Proust. Quello che vuole il lettore è, secondo me, essere trasportato in un'altra realtà parallela, che lo faccia divertire e questa saga ci riesce in pieno. Un capolavoro di storia alternativa.
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Reviews
Bryan Alexander
This is another installment in an alternate history series, which I'm reading because my 15-year-old son ordered me to. Worldwar offers the intriguing idea of an alien invasion which occurs smack in the middle of WWII.Upsetting the Balance is the third and weakest volume. In terms of plot, it traces the war through another year as multiple human nations struggle against the invaders, the Race or, as we call 'em, the Lizards. Most of the world has fallen to the aliens, but the leading WWII powers are still fighting hard: the US, the UK, the Nazis, the USSR, Japan, and China. Honestly, this becomes very repetitive and stale through the course of Upsetting, as multiple scenes rehash the same points for each side. We don't see much development until the end, whereupon (view spoiler)[humans and Lizards suddenly launch atomic strikes against each other. Munich, Chicago, Miami, Breslau, Seattle, Honolulu, and Rome all go up in nuclear fire. The Lizards nuke Tokyo earlier in the book, but it doesn't seem to mean much. The Lizard invasion of Britain is disappointing - Atvar's decision isn't explained (and everyone hates it), and it fails pretty quickly (hide spoiler)]
Andrew Leon
It's a good book, but the series has begun to get a bit tedious. Turtledove doesn't trust his readers to remember anything about the characters, and there are a lot of characters, so he introduces us to each one all over again every time he switch's perspective. Personally, I don't need to re-hash every motivation that has brought each character to where it is every time we switch POV. With one exception, these are all the same characters in the first book, so I think I've had time to get to know them and don't need all of that information every time.
Dan
I really like the idea behind this series and the overall plot. I am only giving it 3 stars because the details are too repetitive. A lot of the characters say and think the same or very similar things over and over. The details of the fighting, such as dropping to the ground when there are incoming missiles or gun fire, are extremely repetitive. If it wasn't for the repetitiveness, I would give it 4 stars.The first part of the series is four books. It could probably be condensed into two or maybe three books by removing some of the repetitive details. It would be a much better read then. Still, I am going to finish this part of the series, and at least start the next part.
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