Saturday, June 02, 2012

Book of the Week

Given the popularity that the alternative history genre has had among American readers for at least two decades now, it was probably inevitable that we get a novel that attempted to tell an alternative history of the 9/11 attack. Indeed, I am a bit surprised that it took this long.

Author Matt Ruff, of course, doesn't just stop there. He also gives us readers a surprisingly convincing account of a world where the Muslims in the Middle East are an united people who dominate the globe and the Americans are a bunch of disunited political entities who are rebelling against foreign occupation -- an occupation which is being carried out, naturally, by the -- ahem -- Muslims.

Ruff's novel isn't quite science fiction -- towards the end, he brings in an element of obvious fantasy that most readers might wish to take with a grain of salt -- but it is interesting and entertaining. It even includes an alternative universe version of 24 protagonist Jack Bauer. Of course, Matt Ruff's version of Jack Bauer is still a fictional character in the eyes of the characters of this novel and rarely gets more than an occasional reference. But then I'm not sure that most cultural conservatives in the U.S. really would want to see an entire novel devoted to that version -- especially since he is a Muslim.

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