Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Index

STRIKING THE BALANCE

A novel by Harry Turtledove (1997, Del Rey Books)
Book 4 in the Worldwar saga.

Realizing that winning the war will be costly for both sides, lizards and human nations with atomic bombs begin to talk about a truce.

 

 

4 stars

Read January 20th to 31st, 2000  
    It is nice to have a purpose in life.  This book had a purpose, and it met its goals.  Unlike the last two books, which were solid buildup but not enough payoff, this book had both.

By the end of the last book, the US and Germany had nuclear weapons, and the Soviet Union was working on it.  They had even asked the Americans for help.  The lizard lines were still advancing, but they paid dearly for every pace forward they made.

Throughout the entire tetrology, the characters have been completely consistent.  Jager has always been my favourite.  He has gone from a respectable tank commander to pairing with a Soviet pilot.  When he learned about the Jewish massacres, he was appalled.  Now he starts to take an active role in helping the Jews.  Through the entire novel, he helps the Jews, and they help him back.  I wondered how long he could keep passing information back to them, but it was resolved very realistically.  The final chase to the nuclear bomb really had me wondering if Germany would start the war all over again, and get itself plastered in the process.

For about halfway through, the lizards begin serious negotiations with the US, Germany, and the Soviets (after they succeed in creating an atomic bomb).  The goal is to have the lizards withdraw from those countries, which represent a significant portion of the northern world (the US has included Canada, and since the lizards canít stand the cold, they are only too happy to grant that one).

Ussmak turns from desperately unhappy to tragic.  Based on what he hears about prisoners of war over the radio, he is only too happy to turn his mutinied base over to the Soviets.  He couldnít do much else without surrendering to his own people, but that was a big mistake!  Questioned in a dank cell until he helps kill his questioner, he and his fellow prisoners are sent to a Siberian gulag.  Even when peace is about to prevail, he knows he has no hope of leaving.  I was really upset at the Russians, and really torn by Ussmakís demise.

The Americans had a lot to do in the defence of Denver in the first half, but nothing much once the cease-fire began.  The defences set out near the Colorado border were very interesting, and the rescue of the human prisoners made for a nice war story.  Otherwise, there wasnít much new for them to do.  The events that made me laugh were two between Rance Auerbach and Penny Summers in the hospital tent.  The way she encouraged him to walk, left me giggling when she was overheard, and the way his orgasm seemed to ignite a nuclear bomb was well written, also.

Before the end, Atvar has realized that he must make concessions to the nations with atomic bombs, in order for the rest of the world to be ready for the colonization fleet.  This will be something new for the Race.  But, he feels, enough of their culture will leak into the world that eventually, in centuries maybe, Earth will be conquered.

The humans know this, too, and are prepared to stand against them.  But humans are not the patient types.  But life seems to be quickly returning to normal, for some people, at least. 

People are pairing up again, and others are being relocated.  The landscape of major cities has changed because of the bombs, and will continue to change as people move to where they can find food.  The next twenty years, until the colonization fleet arrives, will be difficult.

In the next series, Colonization, I think weíll see the next generation fighting a new war, maybe a new type of war.  Iím glad the author decided to give a chapter to life after the war.  That is so often missing once wars are over.  It keeps me in anticipation of the next series, and reminds me that these people will continue to live in a troubled world.  For the east and west still donít like each other.  Now that they have peace with the lizards, will they continue their old wars?  The rest of the world is still battling the lizards.  Will the three nations give some technology to the poorer ones, fighting secretly behind the lines?  China is still fighting hard, but I donít know if it is a losing fight.

And I still think Germany deserves to be pasted, for what they tried to pull at the end.  Maybe it wonít exist in the next series!

 
   

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