Review of Brad Linaweaver’s Novella: “Moon of Ice”

Cover art for the anthology, “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

Before it was a novel, Brad Linaweaver’s “Moon of Ice” was a novella that was a Nebula award finalist in 1983.

Almost four months ago, I wrote A Revelation on the Recent Passing of Brad Linaweaver. I had newly “discovered” Linaweaver’s works, thanks to the sometimes controversial File 770, and particularly in their article Brad Linaweaver (1952-2019). It’s a shame to find such a terrific author only after he’s passed.

I went through my local library system, but could only find his “Moon of Ice” novella in a collection called The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century.

Moon of Ice utilizes a very familiar science fiction trope: “What if Nazi Germany had built the bomb first and won World War Two?”

Actually, they only won Europe in the novella. America came up with the Bomb second and still conquered Japan.

The story is mainly set in the mid 1960s and told from the point of view of Joseph Goebbels (yeah, that Joseph Goebbels). It portrays a Nazi empire that has grown complacent, letting go of much of its fanaticism. The tale begins with Goebbels visiting an aged and dying Hitler, but with Hitler’s passing the empire’s future is somewhat in doubt.

Only one group has retained the mystical fanaticism of the party’s origins, and Goebbels’ own son within the SS ranks becomes the instrument of his father’s destruction, even when he fails to kill him.

The story starts slow, and I was afraid it would be more of an intellectual exercise than anything, but then picks up speed as Goebbels confronts his own radicalized daughter who tries to warn him of his impending doom while on the way to Heinrich Himmler’s SS controlled nation of Burgundy in an annexed part of France.

There, he meets what seems to be true Aryan supermen, manufactured by a Nazi scientist long thought to be dead, and escapes execution by burning on Hitler’s funeral pyre thanks to some highly unexpected allies.

After that, Goebbels is a broken man. The rest of the tale is told from his daughter Hilda’s perspective and, as many such speculative tales end up, has a very unlikely and overly optimistic ending.

One highly disturbing element in the story is, compounding the Holocaust, the Nazis used their nuclear weapon to erase all evidence of their labor and death camps, delaying the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel for decades. My wife and children are Jewish, so for me, Shoah is more than just history. It’s a living reminder that the world is only one or two steps away from that sort of fanatical hate, and it always will be unless people of good faith struggle against evil.

Linaweaver crafted a compelling tale that is worthy of becoming a true novel. Perhaps someday, I’ll be able to read it, and many other of his stories.

Rest well, storyteller.

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