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The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar
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The Violent Century (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Lavie Tidhar

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224992,071 (3.88)11
"They never meant to be heroes. For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart. But there must always be an account...and the past has a habit of catching up to the present. Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism, - a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields - to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?"--… (more)
Member:psutto
Title:The Violent Century
Authors:Lavie Tidhar
Info:Hodder & Stoughton (2013), Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:2013 challenge

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The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar (2013)

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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This book came highly recommended and I was looking forward to reading it. The basic premise of what-if there had been superheroes during WW2 is hardly original but I was expecting a fresh take on it. That story may be in here, but I couldn’t find it. This was mainly due to the staccato prose style that seemed to be a mix of unfinished movie plot synopsis and half thought out authors-notes strained through one of Alan Moore’s infamously voluminous comics scripts. The result was for me an unreadable mess that left me unable to finish. The one thought that kept running through my head was if the author wanted to employ a script type approach then they should have gone that route and developed this as the graphic novel it seems it is struggling to be. ( )
  gothamajp | Feb 13, 2021 |
An alternate history in Wild Cards territory as if it was written by John Le Carré. In the mid 1930s a quantum device built by a German scientist is triggered. The resulting wave changes some people into Übermenschen - basically superheroes, We follow a group of British superheroes through WWII up until the new century.

An oddity of a novel - the action skips up and down the timeline, and it's effectively a cold war novel. The British superheroes work for an espionage operation, and the hero is spotted by Arnold Deutsch (well known in spy circles) when he was up at Cambridge. I found the non-linear story a bit hard to follow, but it meant that it was relatively easy to pick up and put down the book.

OK but I doubt I will read it again.
  Maddz | Mar 17, 2020 |
Though I've probably made this comment before my initial encounters with Tidhar's fiction left me only mildly interested, but then I read "Unholy Land" and was really impressed. That brings us to this novel, which also left me impressed, where Tidhar performs his own autopsy of the superhero genre while using the events of the 20th century as his scalpel. One is reluctant to say too much but the book really does live up to the blurb that the loyalties of the characters are tried by the meaning of "one perfect summer's day" and leave it at that. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jan 23, 2020 |
This book is up for a slew of awards this year and so you can read lots of online reviews that are more elaborate than this one. I think it's X-Men written in the style of the 2009 Watchmen. Awfully heavy. And I must provide an anachronism alert: the Samlo pub in Vientiane was opened in the 1990s by a Brit who also ran a car repair garage.

I received a review copy of "The Violent Century" by Lavie Tidhar directly from Tachyon Publications through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Aug 9, 2019 |
The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar is one of those out-of-my-genre reads that I indulge in regularly. Tidhar imagines an alternate reality in which humans with special powers--superheroes--are conscripted for use by the Axis and Allies during WWII.

I was not a superhero comic book reader as a girl, was mildly interested in the Superman movie and television shows, saw some X-Men and Spiderman movies when my son was growing up. Early, I wasn't really in the flow with the novel. But there came a point in the book when the tide shifted, and instead of reading because I had committed to reading it, I was reading because I was truly intrigued and driven to read.

Tidhar imagines the creation of a machine that transforms humans, giving them superpowers, preventing them from aging but not from being killed. In Britain, The Old Man brought these misfits to a special school. Friendship circles formed. There is Oblivion who can evaporate objects and Fogg who produces a visual shield, and Tank, Mr. Blur, Mrs. Tinkle.

I'm here to take you to a special school. For special people. People like you. Where you will be happy, the Old Man says. from The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar

During WWII, these Übermenschen were tracked down by spotters working for the Germans and Russians to be used in the war effort. Oblivion and Fogg are sent to 'observe' what is going on in Berlin.

They encounter others with superpowers, The Green Gunman, Frogman, Girl Surfer, The Electric Twins, Whirlwind, and Tigerman dressed in a bright costume, the Russians Red Sickle and the wolf man, and others who wreak havoc on behalf of the Nazis, including Schneestrum.

Fogg meets Sommertag--Klara--the daughter of Vomacht who created the transformer device; he realizes her power is unaltered pureness and innocence. Fogg falls under her spell. The novel centers around Fogg being called to account for a series of events after the end of WWII involving Summertag.

The history and atrocities of Nazi Germany and actual events inform the novel. Fogg's and Oblivion's school friend Tank is captured and used in Mengele's experiments at Auschwitz. Nazi scientists are repatriated to the United States, and war criminals tried and justice meted out.

The story leaps back and forth in time, revealing the back story of the men's boyhood in 1926 and school days in 1936, the war years, and later 20th c wars and events. Then, it leaps into the future, to the Berlin Wall, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and 9-11.

The superhero myth appeals in times of crisis; the first superhero comics came onto the scene in 1938. Hitler banned American comic books; he thought the heroes were Jewish. Superman's creators were Jewish. Superhero movies took off after 9-11, a time when America again needed heroes.

And throughout the book, the questions are raised. What makes a man? What makes a hero?

We expect a hero to rescue us. In real life, sometimes no one comes.

The publisher gave me access to a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. ( )
1 vote nancyadair | Jul 10, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Though The Violent Century is never particularly emotionally engaging—Tidhar’s typically choppy style and rapid scene shifts preclude an emotional immersion—it is a brilliant novel of ideas.
 
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"They never meant to be heroes. For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart. But there must always be an account...and the past has a habit of catching up to the present. Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism, - a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields - to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero?"--

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