o this isn’t the sixties you know, not your Summer of Love, no.
In this version of reality, the Nazis and the Japanese (and sorta the Italians) won the Second World War. In this world, the western states are owned by Japan, the eastern by the Germans, with the central states as a sort of powerless buffer zone. The Russian steppes are a sort of Slavic reservation and Africa has been churned into lifeless ruin by the Reich.
The story follows a number of characters – a Japanese business leader in San Francisco, and antiquities dealer, a guy trying to start up a jewelry business, his ex-wife (now living in the free states), a Swedish salesman of dubious intentions and an Italian truck driver with a dark past. And interestingly these characters form a weave of interaction. Characters meet others, fall in love, screw over, pass information, save and endanger. For a while, there doesn’t seem to be a goal – it’s just low tension and human foibles as the story moves along. And the end, though strange, is satisfying.
Interestingly, our world still seems present, seen in art-inspired dreams, in the works of a science fiction writer, and even in I Ching, the Chinese fortune-telling methodology. All of them hint of the world that was supposed to be and not this harsh place were fascism and militarism rule.
I’d read this one back in my college days and don’t recall what I made of it then. Now, I was quite satisfied with the tale and recommend it to those wishing a good yard. And yes, I’ve heard that HBO has turned it into a miniseries. Come on. The book’s always better!