Friday, 17 October 2014
The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad
Adolf Hitler was born in Austria on April 20, 1889.
I think there is a hook here, as the premise of the novel is introduced early. As this falls under the alternate history genre, it caters to a very particular reader. But Hitler roaming around the US is bound to amuse most people. The next paragraph does so much to pull a reader in.
As a young man he migrated to Germany and served in the German army during the Great War. After the war, he dabbled briefly in radical politics in Munich before finally emigrating to New York in 1919. While learning English, he eked out a precarious existence as a sidewalk artist and occasional translator in New York's bohemian haven, Greenwich Village. After several years of this freewheeling life, he began to pick up odd jobs as a magazine and comic illustrator. He did his first interior illustration for the science-fiction magazine Amazing in 1930. By 1932, he was a regular illustrator for the science-fiction magazines, and, by 1935, he had enough confidence in his English to make his debut as a science-fiction writer. He devoted the rest of his life to the science-fiction genre as a writer, illustrator, and fanzine editor. Although best known to present-day SF fans for his novels and stories. Hitler was a popular illustrator during the Golden Age of the thirties, edited several anthologies, wrote lively reviews, and published a popular fanzine. Storm, for nearly ten years.
He won a posthumous Hugo at the 1955 World Science-Fiction Convention for Lord of the Swastika, which was completed just before his death in 1953. For many years, he had been a popular figure at SF conventions, widely known in science-fiction fandom as a wit and nonstop raconteur. Ever since the book's publication, the colorful costumes he created in Lord of the Swastika have been favorite themes at convention masquerades. Hitler died in 1953, but the stories and novels he left behind remain as a legacy to all science-fiction enthusiasts.
This should be treated as a preface or prologue as it is obviously part of the fiction of the novel. It reveals the promise and hook of sorts right off the bat. It's slightly creative to think of Hitler as a writer and biker who immigrated to America.
With a great groaning of tired metal and a hiss of escaping steam, the roadsteamer from Gormond came to a halt in the grimy yard of the Pormi depot, a mere three hours late; quite a respectable performance by Borgravian standards.
This line means that the plot is arriving in a vehicle.
Assorted, roughly humanoid, creatures shambled from the steamer displaying the usual Borgravian variety of skin hues, body parts, and gaits. Bits of food from the more or less continuous picnic that these mutants had held throughout the twelve-hour trip clung to their rude and, for the most part, threadbare clothing. A sour stale odor clung to this gaggle of motley specimens as they scuttled across the muddy courtyard toward the unadorned concrete shed that served as a terminal.
Usually descriptive writing slows the pace, and if it's early in the novel, can unhook a reader fairly quickly, but I like the writing here and the description is filled with conflict.
First thing said:
"Day pass, citizen, or citizen candidate?"