History is a funny thing.
Sometimes momentous changes pivot around the simplest of events. What if Alexander the Great hadn’t contracted a fever in 323 B.C.? Or for that matter, if Adolf Hitler had died from the wounds he received as a lowly corporal in World War One. How would the world have changed? For the better? Or worse? Would Alexander have consolidated his empire, had children and continued his dynasty? Would Hitler’s early death have saved the world from a second World War, or pave the way for an even more horrifying figure?
Over the years, alternate History fiction writers have attempted to explore such questions and posit how things might be different if history had gone down the path not taken. They generally showcase their ideas within the framework of a world very much like ours, but with subtle differences that eventually change things dramatically in a process much like the butterfly effect.
“Into the Storm” is the first of the new “Destroyermen” series by Taylor Anderson, chronicling the exploits of a group of U.S. servicemen aboard the fictional U.S.S. Walker, a World War One era destroyer caught up in the opening moments of the war in the Pacific. Hounded by the Japanese Navy, Walker and her sistership, Mahan, are seconds from total destruction when they sail into an eerie squall line in an attempt to shake off their pursuers. Once inside, they suffer from an “effect”, much akin to the plot-line of the movie “The Final Countdown.” When they finally come out of the storm, the Ocean is quiet, and their pursuers are not to be found.
The captain and crew of Walker cannot account for their miraculous deliverance, and within minutes realize that they’re no longer where they were. The Ocean’s are filled with fish akin to Piranha, and in short order they discover a group of Japanese sailors harried by what appears to be a Pliosaur! Slowly they realize that much like Dorothy, they’re not in Kansas anymore, and this new world is a wondrous yet dangerous place.
Soon they must not only contend with their surroundings, but an age old war fought between the dominant species of this brave new world…neither of which is human…
“Into the Storm” is a well paced and intellectually satisfying tale of exploration and war which never leaves the reader bored. To read an interview with Taylor Anderson by Peter Hodges, you can always look here, and here. And of course, there are two sequels, “Crusade“, and “Maelstrom”, both out in hardcover.