|After the Downfall|
|Cover artist||David Palumbo|
|Publisher||Night Shade Books|
In April 1945, Soviet forces are storming Berlin. Captain Hasso Pemsel and the survivors of his company are under siege in Berlin's Old Museum with orders to fight to the last man. Pemsel notices a large stone artifact that had not been removed to a safer location and is curious about it. In a lull in fighting, he crawls over and reads that it is the Omphalos from Zeus' temple in Delphi, a keystone and bridge between worlds. On a fatalistic whim he sits on it and is immediately transported to another world where magic works and wizards ride unicorns.
This strange fantasy world has, however, aspects which are all too familiar to an arrival from Nazi Germany. He finds himself in the midst of a fierce war, waged by a blond-haired, blue-eyed people called the Lenelli, who look like the Nazi "Aryan" dream incarnated (far more so, in fact, than most of the actual Germans). The Lenelli also adhere to a thoroughly racist religion which proclaims them far superior to the small, swarthy people called Grenye, whom they consider as fully justified to conquer and subjugate (indeed, it is a holy duty).
In effect, the decision which Pemsel must take is whether to continue where he left off in 1945 Berlin and cast in his lot with this world's blond, racist conquerors - or to switch over and support what might be considered as the avatars of Earth's Slavs and Jews. And his decision would be highly crucial for this world's future: like Hank Morgan of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Martin Padway of L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall, Pemsel is in possession of technological information centuries ahead of anyone in this world, which can sharply swing the military balance towards those with whom Pemsel would share his knowledge.
The theme of taking a soldier from the losing side in a historical war, and placing him in a fantasy world where he has a chance to "get it right" in a similar conflict, may be a nod to Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter, an archetype referenced in other Turtledove stories.
See also[edit | edit source]
- The Videssos Cycle, wherein a cadre of soldiers from a historical Earth war (the Roman-Gaulish wars of the 1st century BC) are transported to a parallel world where magic works, and promptly must enlist in a war with magic involved.
- Darkness, a fantasy series whose central conflict is an allegory of WWII with magical involvement, but more subtle and without self-referential elements.