Finished February 10
Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson
This novel takes the reader from Buffalo, New York down to the Atacama desert in Chile. This is in our world, but different. A world where history diverted from ours in the early twentieth century.
As the book begins, it is November 2014, and the world is about to celebrate one its most widely celebrated holidays, Armistice Day. It is a hundred years since the Armistice was signed at the end of the Great War, and the world has been relatively peaceful ever since, with a gradual growth in prosperity.
But only a small number of its people know why. They know that the world has been interfered with, that the dawn of radio communication provided a way for another entity to subtly control communication between people around the world, changing the course of history the world would have seen without this interference. This entity is using human technology for its own purposes, controlling the course of research, ensuring anything that would threaten its existence is quashed, defunded, redirected to a purpose better suited to its ends.
In 2007, this entity felt threatened to such an extent that it took drastic action, killing those scientists actively trying to reveal the truth. Cassie's parents were both killed at this time and her uncle Ethan nearly so. Those who survived went into hiding, communicating only face to face and by post, avoiding anything that involved radio communication or similar means of sending information for fear it could be intercepted.
Cassie and her younger brother Thomas live with their aunt Nerissa, outsiders of a sort, never able to reveal what they know about the world, relaxing only when together with others in their small Society. And they have an emergency plan should a threat like that of 2007 ever return. And one night it does. And so the plan is set in motion.
This is a story of an alternative world history, one where mankind is manipulated by an outside force, where peace is imposed artificially. It seems like a better world in some ways, but is it really, and what would happen if the interference stopped. A book that gets you thinking, but also has green slime and giant insects. A great read.