- Used Books
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
- Let's Talk Books
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
This item may be
Check for Availability
Final Impact: A Novel of the Axis of Timeby John Birmingham
Synopses & Reviews
D-Day. 3 May 1944. 0300 hours.
The lead helicopter hammered across the English Channel at the edge of its performance envelope, close enough to the waves that Lieutenant Gil Amundson thought he could feel a fine mist of sea spray stirred up by their passage through the darkness.
The seven men in his chalk were quiet, each alone in his own cocoon of anticipation and fear. Amundson could hear Sergeant Nunez beside him, reciting rapid-fire Hail Marys, working through a set of rosary beads in what looked to the young cavalry officer like record time. Across the cabin Private Clarke was nervously tapping his heel on the steel plating of the floor, the tempo increasing until it sounded like one of those rock-and-roll drummers. Then he'd curse, punch himself on the leg, and go still for a moment before starting all over again.
On either side of him a couple of the boys were dozing fitfully. Or at least pretending to.
That's how it went the whole way across. Each man playing out what might be his last hour as he saw fit. Some checked their equipment, before checking their buddy's. Some leaned over to get a view of the invasion fleet as it headed for the coast. Corporal Gadsden craned his head skyward, the bulky lens of his Gen2 Starlite goggles tracking his gaze as he picked out Dakotas, gliders, Mustang night fighters, and, at one point, a squadron of Sabers miles overhead, all screaming toward France.
Amundson forced himself to go through the plan again. The rapid insertion, the assembly point for his platoon, the mental map of their objective.
He used what little space he had in the chopper to perform a set of isometric exercises, lest his butt fall asleep before they jumped into Hitler's front garden. He stretched his arms and legs and craned his neck from side to side, a full extension in each direction, which gave him a clear view of the rest of the cav squadron as it thundered toward the enemy in 132 Hueys, with another forty Cobra gunships riding shotgun.
It seemed that the demonic roar of so many engines, the great thudding of all those rotors, could surely be heard in Berlin itself. But as quickly as the thought came to him, it was gone.
A quick glance forward through the armored glass canopy revealed the firestorm that was engulfing the Pas de Calais. So much high explosive had been dropped on that small region of France, it would be a wonder if anything bigger than a flea still lived down there. There'd even been talk back in England that Ike might bust a nuke over the krauts, although Amundson doubted that. They hadn't been outfitted to fight in radioactive terrain.
That wouldn't stop the Nazis, though, he supposed. Axis Sally had been taunting the Allies for weeks now, claiming that the Reich was just waiting for them to set foot on the Continent, giving them an excuse to use the first of their many, many A-bombs. Amundson glanced down, then back at the lead elements of the great fleet headed for the beaches of Calais. At least his squadron was probably too small a target to justify the use of such a weapon.
No, they were probably just gonna get chewed to bits by German jet fighters.
Ah, screw it.
He figured the same doubts were gnawing through every man in the operation. Eisenhower himself was probably being tortured by the same sort of fears. Ever since the Transition, so much was known, but so much
In the climax of an alternate history trilogy that began with Weapons of Choice and Designated Targets, the Axis and Allied forces race to build an atom bomb, while a revitalized Soviet Union threatens to unleash a new wave of destruction, and Kolhammer and his team confront the consequences of messing with the historical timeline. Original. 25,000 first printing.
The action is nonstop, the characters very real and very different from each other and, to coin a phrase, it makes you think.
S. M. Stirling,
What Our Readers Are Saying