The Proteus Operation

Yes, it’s more Nazis.

It wasn’t planned that way. It’s just the way it happened.

A retro review from September 12, 2000 …

Review: The Proteus Operation, James P. Hogan, 1985.

Financed by a rich oligarchy losing their power and influence in a prosperous and peaceful 21st century, Project Overlord decides to create a world more to its liking. A world in the past, a world where Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party are more than just obscure players in German political history.The Proteus Operation

They succeed, and the novel opens in 1974 with an America grimly preparing to fight the final battle against the Nazi menace which spans the globe. The Proteus team — commandos, physicists, and politicians from that doomed world — travels back to 1939. There they will attempt to reshape history with political manipulation and atomic weapons.

Hogan not only does a nice job of building an alternate timeline which diverges from ours in 1930’s Germany, but he also details the history of Nazi aggression in our world and constructs, through the Proteus team’s efforts, a secret history of our timeline. Or is it? Hogan, establishing the mutability of history, keeps the reader guessing as to the outcome of what seems to be our past.

Along the way, he not only gives us the expected historical figures of Churchill and Roosevelt, but also physicists Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Edward Teller. And there’s an odd young writer named Isaac Asimov hanging about too.

I have one minor complaint with this novel. Hogan belabors the explanation of the quantum mechanics he uses to move the plot. However, his detailed explanation was probably necessary for those for whom this is their first exposure to the idea, presumably a fair number of the technothriller and alternate history crowd who should like this book as well as Hogan’s usual science fiction reader.

 

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