Nazis in Space! No, this isn’t a bad SyFi Channel movie.
Before I can start this review, I have to say the obvious legal statements. I am not xenophobic/racist, I appreciate and respect every culture/people on the planet. Though I will have to give fair warning that this book is about Nazis in space, so there will be some Nazi jokes. So, if you have any concerns with this, please go to Google and search for more people friendly content like cat pictures.
A lot of people have seen Mel Brook’s movie, History of the World Part One, which is a satirical look on the events of human history (also an incredibly funny movie that should be watched by everyone. Just not kids). Well, at the end of this movie, there was a faux trailer made for the sequel that was never going to made unfortunately (A relatively new idea before Quentin Tarantino made it a regular occurrence) where one of the gags was a parody of Star Wars called Jews in Space! where several Hasidic Jewish men were flying spaceships designed to appear like Stars of David, while singing a very catchy song.
Anyway, the book being reviewed today is what would happen if the complete opposite took place. That’s right, Nazis in Space! Sorry, there is no catchy song here.
Released in September 2015, Gestapo Mars, written by Victor Gischler, has been met with praise from critics and mixed reviews from readers. One of the best reviews for the book would be from the back cover, written by James Rollins, who states:
Part Christopher Moore, Part Quentin Tarantino, Victor Gischler is a Raving, BadAss Genius
But the underlying question is, does it live up to the hype of badassery that is advertised from both critics and the cover? Let’s take a look.
The premise of this book would be that it is an alternative universe set over 200 years in the future where mankind has developed augmentations, space travel, bio-engineering and more. However, there is a human controlled empire that is centered around the Nazis. That’s right, the universe is controlled by the Nazi party. Come to think of it, the Nazis would have had an interesting history. They went from Hitler controlling most of Europe, to chasing the Blues Brothers through Chicago to gaining Star Wars Empire control. I wonder which politician managed to kick-start that little change.
The main character is Carter Sloan, a Reich assassin who is unfrozen after a two hundred year hiatus for a mission to assassinate the daughter of a splinter group of the Reich known as ‘The Daughter of the Brass Dragon’ only because he is one of the few Reich operatives who is not augmented. I have to say, it would have been almost too easy for the author to make this into a ‘Man out of Time’ story where the main character has to adapt to his new time, but Victor Gischler does a good job eluding that common trope. Though one thing that I’m disappointed with would be that the Carter Sloan’s mission is to stop an offshoot of the Reich rather than a group of Anti-Nazi sentimentalists. It would have been a good opportunity for a clashing commentary of why someone would want the Reich to control the universe, but I can guess that he did this to avoid creating something that would be a Nazi-Esque Star Wars (Avoiding the obvious Disney Joke here).
On his mission, he runs into various individuals who each have their own stake in the conflict between the Reich and the ‘rebels’, including love interest and heiress to a company specializing in bowel fragrances Meredith Capulet, who becomes more physically involved in the conflict as time goes on.
Carter Sloan, the protagonist, can be described as hardened and ruthless at times but will show compassion towards other people depending on the situation. While this has been seen numerous times in novels before it, the reader believes from the beginning that he is going to be the Nazi assassin that he was trained to be and complete the assignment, but as he is exposed to the different factions and perspectives of the conflict, he learns to make his own decisions.
The other characters such as the romantic interests like Meredith and Cindy do have their roles in the story and they are fleshed out well in the story. They actually serve more than just a couple page booty call for the character, but actually help him in his mission. Hell, Meredith who was a spoiled heiress even saves Carter at one point of the story (I won’t tell you where though).
The one problem that I would have with the characters would be the depiction of the ‘antagonists’ of the story. At first half of the story, it would seem that the Brass Dragon was the antagonists of the story, but by the end, it switched over to the alien blobs known as the ‘Coriandons’ with very little after thought. In the story, the readers read about the Reich culture and how they operated in the universe, establishing them in the story. But by making the Coriandons the main enemy at the last minute almost throws away all of that buildup that was given. If there was more mention of the Coriandons in the story like their status in the universe, it would be more understandable, but we know very little about them.
The Writing Style
I can say that this book is well constructed and written, giving the reader something compelling and unlike other books on the market. The premise alone that the main character is a member of the Space Reich is enough to put alongside other books that would give political correctness the finger such as Maddox’s The Alphabet of Manliness and Ross Patterson’s At Night She Cries, While He Rides His Steed. The sex is graphic and present, the violence, although not reaching Tarantino levels, is still plentiful and the humor is honestly hit or miss at some points. The joke that had me laughing the most would be the reasoning of why Carter was being sent after the daughter of the Brass Dragon. In the book, the reason why she is so important is due to something called ‘The Kardashian Effect’ where a person will become famous and important for almost no explainable reason whatsoever. This makes me ask, why is this not an actual thing? Why isn’t there a social interaction theory about people who become famous for no reason whatsoever?
One thing I have to point out would be that Victor Gischler had actually missed one or two opportunities to write about some of the transhumanism that is addressed in the book and how Carter views it, but it is a minor problem.
Gestapo Mars is a science fiction book that easily stands out among the other books available on the market. A satire of most space operas, it will keep you entertained throughout the entire 296 pages. Though it is easily not something that is for everyone, it does go to some places that can be offensive to some people. But on the whole, I would recommend it to anyone who wants a new take on science fiction.