A Review of Patton’s Spaceship

Patton's Spaceship (Timeline Wars #1)Patton’s Spaceship by John Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like most John Barnes novels. Patton’s Spaceship is no exception. It’s got an interesting premise that has endless possibilities and I can definitely see the potential for sequels, of which there is at least one that I know of. I know because I have it and have read it.

In this book, Pittsburgh art historian Mark Strang’s mainly happy life ends on a holiday weekend when a terrorist group called Blade of the Most Merciful attacks his family. His father is an academic expert on terrorism. They kill his pregnant wife, his brother, and permanently maim his sister. He and his father escape with minor injuries. Strang’s life is changed forever.

Strange discovers a new passion: a combination of revenge and protection of innocents. He founds a bodyguard company, hires some good muscle, apparently is well trained for an art historian, and carries a big 1911 .45.

One of the first times we run into him in this book is when he and his crew are trying to protect a young girl (maybe 10, 12) named Porter, and her mother, from her psycho father. Why her father is so psycho is not totally clear to me. But it gets pretty hairy there for a bit. He helps her escape though. Porter, we are told, is to play a major role in the future. At times, I felt like I was reading/watching The Terminator. But I never quite discovered what was so important about her. Odd.

After some time, he meets another professor in his office named Harry Skena. Skena is a front man for a group representing the ATN, a group fighting to keep “The Closers,” “aliens” from controlling different universe timelines. The Blade terrorist group was a front for the Closers, who want to conquer our timeline. Eager to strike back at those responsible for the Blade’s terrorism, Mark agrees to help the ATN after thinking through how surreal everything seems, yet how it’s all making sense after thinking it through.

Before he knows it, he and Skena are in another timeline, or rather he is, because Skena’s dead, and he’s trapped there with no way back! In this timeline, he quickly learned that it’s the 1960s and that Hitler and the Axis won World War II and dominate the globe, and he better learn how to act in a world gone mad quickly or he’ll wind up dead.

There is a free zone though, in southeast Asia, of all places. Barnes does a good job of describing a conquered America and the last defenders of the Allies when Strang arrives in the US. In the free zone, he later enjoys having Strange meet his heroes such as General Patton and help them make an effort to fight the Axis. And what Strang brings to his new colleagues is knowledge. Future knowledge of future technology. Like flight. Rockets. Perhaps bombs? Many things. He doesn’t view himself as overly technical or knowledgeable, but just getting ideas across to the Allied scientists does a world of good, so he’s a huge help.

Some of the chapters have quite a bit of action and there’s plenty of excitement to be had. Of course, there’s a big, climactic ending. I won’t go into what or how things happen or end, but you can use your imagination. It’s fairly satisfying. I’d say, very satisfying, actually. After reading this book, I looked forward to the sequel. While I don’t view this as a five star book, I view this as a solid four-star book, certainly worth reading by anyone who enjoys alternative histories and time travel. Recommended.

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