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In War Times (Dance Family #1)

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  236 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Sam Dance is a young enlisted soldier in 1941 when his older brother Keenan is killed at Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, Sam promises that he will do anything he can to stop the war.

During his training, Sam begins to show that he has a knack for science and engineering, and he is plucked from the daily grunt work of twenty-mile marches by his superiors to study subjects like cod
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Tor Books
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Oh dear!

You cannot drive from Wiltshire to Kent in half an hour.

Nobody would have driven a Mini around London in 1944 because it wasn't invented until 1959.

Luftwaffe strafing raids on southern England in 1944? I don't think so.

Goonan seems to have generally confused the scale of the 1944 Germany bombing offensive with that of 1940/41.

The idea of a lone German bomber inflicting significant damage to a Flight of Spitfires in 1944 over southern England is stretching credulity.

I don't think Wiltshir
I wish I could get back the week of my life I spent trying to read this horrible book. I'd give it negative stars if I could.

I love science fiction, but this is one of the most poorly-written books I've ever read. Perhaps I wouldn't be so harsh if I hadn't read such glowing reviews before picking it up. Errors in history, errors in music theory, errors in her German--and just think of the technical errors that I don't know enough to pick up on.

It seems to me she's come up with a great idea, and
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review by John posted at Layers of Thought.

An excellent read – a mashup of alternative realities, particle physics, experimental jazz music, the Second World War and science fiction. How could you not like that combination?

About: It’s 1941 and Sam Dance is a an intelligent but uncoordinated jazz lover who has poor eyesight. He struggles to be accepted by the US army, but finally manages to wangle his way in, and then finds himself plucked from regular training and sent on a series of es
-Alegato ingenuo sobre muchas cosas.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Sam Dance es un recluta del ejército estadounidense seleccionado para un curso intensivo que incluye criptografía, cálculo avanzado y física teórica, entre otras materias. Tiene una noche de pasión con una de sus instructoras, la doctora Hadntz, que le confiesa que, aparte de considerar atractivo a Sam, buscaba una situación como esta para darle un archivo muy secreto sin que las personas que se encargan de su vigila
Kathleen Ann Goonan is one of the science fiction writers I have been meaning to read for some time. I started with In War Times, probably because of the World War 2 setting. The book involves the development of a never fully explained technology that allows its users to manipulate time. It is designed as a means of dealing with Hitler, is developed in a race against Hitler and eventually comes to have an impact on the Cold War.

With its focus on the impact of technology on history, the book read
Elenora Rose Sabin
In War Times is absolutely brilliant. It weaves together jazz, quantum physics, and DNA in a novel that immerses the reader first in the ambience of an American army camp in England during World War II, later in the Cold War, the Kennedy assassination, and what life might be like in alternate timelines. During the first part of the book I felt I was right there with protagonist Sam Dance and his buddy Wink as they experienced the camaraderie that develops in an army unit and all the horrors and ...more
The book broke my heart, but also rang with hope. Goonan's interview in Locus actually touched on a lot of what I got out of this tale, about hope and consciousness and humanity and the arts and sciences. The characters were real in a way that didn't need big, flashy action to reveal who they were. And the events of the story truly painted a strikingly vivid picture of the world as it used to be. And more frightening, it paints a vivid message about what the world is now.[return][return]It's a s ...more
I first looked at this book because I had read in some forums that people think it could win this year's Hugo Award. The description on Amazon was intriguing and I was excited to read the book. But it was definitely a let down. This is a story about a machine that modifies human DNA to affect how we perceive and move through time and to make us more empathetic and less likely to fight. Unfortunately, in the first half of this book the machine does nothing. The first half of the book is set in WW ...more
So this was my first foray into the "speculative fiction" side of sci fi. You know, what if the Japanese had won the war, how would the world have been different if blah blah blah hadn't been assassinated, etc. I found this author via the Nebula showcase book for 2009.

And I'm just not sure.

The book was a whole lot of nothing happens except what actually happened in the war, a little bit of "well what does this do?" and a lot of "huh?" at the end, before wrapping things up in two pages of expos
Peter Goodman

“In War Times,” by Kathleen Ann Goonan (Tor, 2007). Very interesting exploration of a possible alternate history. The young American soldier Sam Dance meets a mysterious female physicist. His brother Keenan dies on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor. The physicist actually wants him to begin building a very strange device. She believes that DNA can be controlled by consciousness, that time can be controlled by the mind, that the terrible world can be made less terrible if this device can be constructed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Owen
This is a fascinating book, full of wonderful writing, with an unsettling undercurrent of lost opportunities and hopes. Recounting the life of one Sam Dance, a bright, well-educated kid who joins up at the start of WW2, and is allocated to technical work because of his education. During his training he encounters a mysterious older woman, who seduces him, then leaves him with a set of plans for a mysterious device that he spends the next forty years alternately building and running away from. Fo ...more
Samuel Lubell
This is a fascinating book that mixes jazz with parallel timeline physics. Sam Dance, a jazz-loving soldier in WWII meets professor Handtz who gives him plans for a device she says will end war. He meets her a couple of times in their shared history, getting more advanced versions of the device and slowly realizes that it is affecting time. He is on a timeline where Kennedy was assassinated causing the deepening of the cold war. But Handtz and Dance's friend and fellow jazz player Wink are on a ...more
Interesting idea but I had to force myself to finish the book as it was too long. I just was bored with the idea by the end.
Mixes jazz, physics, world war II, espionage into a wonderful stew of alternate history. If the names Jimmie Lunceford, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie (oh come on you have to have heard of Dizzy!), and Thelonious Monk don't mean anything to you, read this book. And if you aren't then seized with a desire to go listen to some jazz, well then, there's not much hope for you. Check out this Spotify playlist of Jazz mentioned in the book:

Goonan always does Hawaii well, also (r
Frank Reiter
I had the feeling this book might turn out to be brilliant, but it wasn't enough fun to read for me to hang in there and find out. Particularly boring was the amount that of no doubt carefully researched jazz music trivia. A jazz enthusiast might quit enjoy it, but I groaned every time a character entered a club and there was another page a out which musician was playing what song on what instrument.

Give it a go if you know enough about jazz to appreciate such details, else give it a pass.
Roger Bailey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caroline Herbert
This is a combination WWII memoir and sci fi thriller focused on an experimental device that can manipulate time and change the past and future. The story begins on Dec 6, 1941, when a mysterious European scientist gives soldier/engineer Sam Dance plans for the device, hoping that he can create it and steer humankind's future away from war. After that opening straight from a spy thriller, the first half of the book mostly deals with Sam's experiences during WWII, in England and in occupied Germa ...more
A Splendid Novel of Ideas and Action Set in an Alternate Recent Past

“In War Times” is a great novel of ideas and action, showing why contemporary science fiction may be the most important literary genre of our time, grappling with greater clarity of thought and literary skill, the very nature of human existence, than what one usually discerns from so-called literary mainstream fiction. Kathleen Ann Goonan’s elegantly sparse prose captures vividly the vicissitudes of love, war, peace, and indeed
John Strohm
This book was absurd. The attempted scientific explanation for the "device" was more gobbledygook than you see in a bad episode of Star Trek. (All that was missing was reversing some polarities). One of the big problems with parallel universes from a quantum perspective is that there are an infinity of them, yet the story seems to only deal with two.

Jazz was tacked onto the story because the author likes it, but it didn't really fit with the theme or help the characters solve any problems.
Christopher McKitterick
Disclaimer: I had difficutly with all the emphasis on jazz early in the novel. I nearly put the book down, because I'm not much of a jazz fan. But the promise of the rest of the book kept me going through the epic story that was to come, and all that jazz plays a part in forming the over-arching metaphor of the story.

The real payoffs of the novel are two-fold: First, witnessing the unfolding of events set up early in the book over several decades; and second, the family story. Thus, much of the
This is a really good book. Unfortunately, I read the sequel ("This Shared Dream") first without realizing it.

I really, really liked "This Shared Dream", and it summarized most of the salient plot points of "In War Times". So when I read this, I enjoyed the writing but sort of ran down a checklist the whole time without many surprises. Good checklist, though.

I recommend reading these books in their proper order. :0)
Mark Cheathem
Goonan's writing is usually good. There are times when her descriptions put you in a scene viscerally. There are times, though, when I would have like a bit more detail to flesh out certain parts of the plot. The music descriptions drag on a bit and become repetitive. The climactic confrontation at the end of the book is a bit naive regarding the historical figure who is saved--this individual was hardly the idealist that Goonan portrays.

One more note: If you know a little bit of something about
Themes made me think of some of Sheri Tepper's books as well as Iain Banks' Transition. Strong point was the period covering WWII. Later developments felt less convincing and engrossing.
Dianne O'Connell
Thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Goonan's science fiction/historical novel -- especially since I read most of it while attending a conference in Washington D.C. (where the last part of the story takes place).

Goonan provides a glimpse of what our country could be, or could have been, in a alternate-reality, a reality made possible with just a few molecular biological and historical adjustments between World War II and the Kennedy Assassination Attempt.

The jazz analogies keep the story hopping -- and the
Ray Duncan
Not my favorite Goonan by far. Too many tiresome passages about jazz, too much implausible technology and magical thinking, a protagonist that is somehow a world class musician, chemist, and electrical engineer when he's not fixing radars, guns, and fire suppression systems or sneaking around Europe with a mysterious gypsy scientist. It's really a fantasy rather than science fiction. Very slow reading.
Made it maybe 25% of the way in and the book never really grabbed me in any meaningful way. Can't win 'em all.
Aug 02, 2008 Jeremy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like sci-fi, history, and jazz
this book begins with a great jazz theme mixed in with a very vivid World War II setting. As it leaves WWII the story lags a bit, but really picks up at the end and you realize why all of the slow part was necessary. All in all a great ride. You get a whirlwind tour of mid 20th century history, and get to see first hand many of the major events of the period. Definitely recommended to jazz lovers, sci-fi nerds, and history buffs -- if you're all 3 like I am, you'll love this book.
I wanted to like this book. I really enjoyed the detailed WW2 background, the way that she conjured up a feeling of being there listening to jazz and the panic of the Cuban crisis. I got bored though and switched to speed reading mode in order to skip 100 or so pages when it just felt repetitive and slow. I had a similar reaction to Queen City Jazz. Great in parts but ultimately disappointing as I just got bored with the protagonists.
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