Select one of the keywords
Countdown to Armageddon-A Stranger in Paradise: Wildside Double #2    by Edward M. Lerner order for
Countdown to Armageddon-A Stranger in Paradise
by Edward M. Lerner
Order:  USA  Can
Wildside, 2010 (2010)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Edward M. Lerner's Countdown to Armageddon/A Stranger in Paradise is the second Wildside Double (in the tradition of the classic Ace doubles which I remember well). Countdown to Armageddon is a time travel novella, in which a terrorist decides to change history, while the double includes five of Lerner's short stories: The Night of the RFIDs, Two Kinds of People, Better the Devil You Know, Small Business, and A Stranger in Paradise.

In Countdown to Armageddon, Lerner shows how the massacre of friends and family in Lebanon turns young science student Abdul Faisel into a religious extremist who joins Hezbollah. Fast forwarding to 2009, we meet American physicist Harry Bowen mouthing off about time travel at a Particle Accelerator Symposium. There he meets Interpol agent turned historian Terrence Ambling, who tells him that the vanished researcher from his story is actually Abdul Faisel, sought by Interpol for his knowledge of 'about twenty kilos of missing plutonium.'

Why would Faisel want to take an atomic bomb back in time? To change history, so that in 732 the army of Islam decisively wins the battle of Tours against the Franks and destroys the seeds of Western civilization. Of course, our heroes (Harry and Terrence) follow Faisel back to the Dark Ages. What ensues is a romp through time and history, in which the good guys are captured and escape, before fighting in the decisive battle and dealing with the bomb.

The Night of the RFIDs tells of a new American Revolution, this time against the Big Brother monitoring of RFIDs (Radio-frequency identification tags included in everyone's belongings and money, and continually shouting their presence). In Two Kinds of People, an author ingests his muse, so opening a door he should have left closed, and getting what he deserves.

Better the Devil You Know is about a hick (but very canny) inventor outsmarting a lawyer. Small Business is another tale of revolution, this time off-planet and exploiting microengineering. And in A Stranger in Paradise, members of the Reunification Corps encounter a planet in which colonists 'rewarded ecological stewardship above all else' - with unintended condequences.

If you enjoy science fiction, you'll find an intriguing selection of novella and short stories (all in the classic SF tradition with a twist at the end) in this Wildside Double by Edward M. Lerner, who also wrote Small Miracles and co-authored a series of Ringworld prequels with Larry Niven.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews