When I wrote about the recent passing of SF author Brad Linaweaver, and then reviewed his original novella Moon of Ice, a few of the people who knew Brad contacted me and shared a little of their experiences with him.
I was also gifted with a copy of the full length novel which I finished recently.
In a way, I’m not sure it was an advantage to have read the novella first. I was able to pick out seeming inconsistencies in the older material. A large part of this had to do with the novella being told from the point of view of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, while the novel had several primary voices, but most of all Hilda, Goebbels’ daughter.
In the novel, Goebbels’ long suppressed journals are on the verge of being released to the public by Hilda thirty years after the end of the second world war, and not long after her father’s death. In this alternate universe, the Nazis developed the atomic bomb and subdued Europe and England, but were prevented from conquering the U.S.
It seems that in the 1960s and into the 1970s, much of the Nazi party had become complacent, while the SS, having been granted their own country, were brewing an odd mix of ancient superstition and super science to build true, Aryan supermen (and presumably a few superwomen). An already dead Adolf Hitler was elevated beyond the Führer, to become a true mythic hero, complete with his own funeral pyre.
Goebbels, caught in this macabre web and accused by the SS, including his own son, of being a traitor, barely escaped their assassination plot, with the unlikely help of his anarchist daughter and a group of Jewish commandos.
Even though he survives, Goebbels is a broken man, mentally as well as physically. This alternate history makes the world on both sides of the Atlantic a grim and depressing life, but what would Goebbels revelation of what was ultimately planned for the world do to an already shaken humanity?
Like many other reviewers, although I thought the novel a very worthwhile read, I also found it to be uneven, as I mentioned above. I don’t know if Linaweaver very successfully wove the various parts into a homogeneous whole.
It did highlight the author’s knowledge of Nazi history, which was necessary in order to manufacture a faux future for the party.
Hitler’s ideal of the Aryan, a philosophical image based on racism had to compete with a technologically manufactured counterpart. As the novel states at its end:
The New Man will ascend from the test tube. Nothing can stop his coming. I pray that he will be wiser than his parents.
The novella was nominated for the 1983 Nebula Award, and that seemed to be the prompt for the novel’s creation. That book was hailed by such notables as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein, so there is that.
As a literal note, the handwritten letter I received along with the paperback pointed me to Mondo Cult Online, apparently administered by Jessie Lilley and Buddy Barnett, along with the late Linaweaver. That’s what I’m looking into next.
4 thoughts on “Review of Brad Linaweaver’s Novel “Moon of Ice””
Thank you very much for this level-headed and fair review of my late friend’s book. I know, in my heart, that he would have loved to talk with you and have a rollicking discussion about his book with you.
I appreciate that, Bill. Thanks. Sorry I only became aware of him and his work after he’d passed.
You described the author’s depiction of the world on both sides of the Atlantic as pretty bleak. Did you have the impression that he was suggesting that Nazism would have deteriorated and collapsed on its own, or that he considered this future somehow worthwhile? In other words, was he a closet apologist for Nazism or was he viewing it as doomed from its inception? I suppose one might project yet another 30 years into the future he envisioned, to the era when in our own timeline the Soviet Union collapsed, to imagine a similar fate for Nazism. But what might the author’s vision imply for the White Supremacists and skinheads of our own world? Is it one that would encourage or discourage them and their ideology? What might the author have been trying to say to his readers? Sometimes an ideological analysis is an appropriate lens through which to evaluate a story or an author, particularly in light of the probable consequences of projecting his ideas into reality.
No, Brad wasn’t a closet Nazi apologist, and he definitely suggested that A) Nazism was collapsing on its own, and B that SS fanaticism was attempting to revitalize Nazism in the most sadistic, brutal, and racist manner possible. Goebbels’ daughter Hilda was considered a radical by her father, but in fact, she was more an underground revolutionary in her earlier years. Once in America, she felt free to be able to publish her father’s suppressed (in Nazi Europe) journal, but even in the U.S., there were Nazi agents that could at least potentially, try to stop her. While, in this story, Nazi Germany was technologically more advanced, their moral degradation and America’s human freedoms basis, plus greater natural resources, would make Nazi downfall in inevitable.