Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pg. 99: Kathleen Ann Goonan's "In War Times"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Kathleen Ann Goonan's In War Times.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sam Dance is a young enlisted soldier in 1941 when his older brother Keenan is killed at Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, Sam promises that he will do anything he can to stop the war.

During his training, Sam begins to show that he has a knack for science and engineering, and he is plucked from the daily grunt work of twenty-mile marches by his superiors to study subjects like code breaking, electronics, and physics in particular, a science that is growing more important to the war effort. While studying, Sam is seduced by a mysterious female physicist that is teaching one of his courses, and given her plans for a device that will end the war, perhaps even end the human predilection for war forever. But the device does something less, and more, than that.

After his training, Sam is sent throughout Europe to solve both theoretical and practical problems for the Allies. He spends his free time playing jazz, and trying to construct the strange device. It's only much later that he discovers that it worked, but in a way that he could have never imagined.
Among the praise for In War Times:
"In War Times is a novel of great historical reach -- from the Battle of the Bulge to the Kennedy assassination and beyond -- and profound ambition, expressed with an unmistakable ease of execution and a master's sureness of touch. Kathleen Goonan has come through to the kind of control that makes every startling fresh development, and this novel bristles with astonishing moments of development, seem inevitable. Not only does Goonan know that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie changed the world, she understands that every vision of the future conceals a deep yearning for one's own specific past. That's real wisdom."
--Peter Straub

"Thank you for sending me In War Times. I enjoyed it very much. The protean Hadntz device brought to mind Greg Benford's "Timescape" (still to my mind the best and only truly scientific time travel novel); but also Marge Piercy's "Woman On The Edge Of Time". Not to mention, for a highly contrasting view of the WWII experience, "Gravity's Rainbow", which fortuitously I'm also reading at the moment. Kathleen Ann Goonan goes against the grain of a lot of 21st century sf by using sci-fi tools to create serious novels of ideas, and she's done it again: this is a truly humanist, and feminist, take on what's important for our future."
--Gwyneth Jones

"Kathleen Ann Goonan has done it again -- infused her fiction with both a deep understanding of emerging technologies and the yearnings and perfidities of the human heart. In War Times is a labor of love, a fact made evident on every page by the immediacy of its characters. I feel like I know these people. It's a darn good story, too, that will keep you up well past bedtime."
--David Marusek

"A complex, low-key, thoughtful and often dazzling journey through worlds that might, and perhaps should, have been."
--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"She [Goonan] can take all the credit for a narrative that has hardly a single flaw of pacing, setting, or characterization, and will be intelligible, not to say fascinating, to readers far beyond the ranks of World War II buffs. An authentic classic."
--Booklist, starred review

"Paralleling the evolution of modern jazz with the creative ferment of science, Goonan delivers a bravura performance."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review
Read an excerpt from In War Times, and learn more about the author and her work at Kathleen Ann Goonan's website and her blog.

In War Times was named the Best Science Fiction Novel of 2007 by the American Library Association.

Kathleen Ann Goonan first novel, Queen City Jazz (the start of her Nanotech Quartet), was a New York Times Notable book. The Bones of Time, her acclaimed second novel, was a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2000. Crescent City Rhapsody (third in the Quartet) was a Nebula nominee, and Light Music, also a Nebula finalist, was described by Booklist as the "brilliant conclusion to a tetralogy as consequential in sf as Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy."

The Page 99 Test: In War Times.

--Marshal Zeringue