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Weapons of Choice (Axis of Time, #1)
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Weapons of Choice (Axis of Time #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  3,642 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
On the eve of America’s greatest victory in the Pacific,
a catastrophic event disrupts the course of World War II, forever changing the rules of combat. . . .

The impossible has spawned the unthinkable. A military experiment in the year 2021 has thrust an American-led multinational armada back to 1942, right into the middle of the U.S. naval task force speeding toward Mi
Paperback, 512 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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5.0 stars (this one may make it on to the 6 star book list). I did not have big expectations about this book when I first started reading it. Being a history buff and a SF reader, I was just hoping for a fun read. What I got was something superbly plotted, very well written and unique. Not unique in so far as the concept of people from the future going back in time (specifically World War II), which has been done many, many times before. Rather, what was unique, and made this book so intriguing, ...more
Leon Aldrich
This was my first novel by Birmingham, as he came highly recommended by (a reviewer everyone should be following). This author had some big shoes to fill as I've been a voracious reader for thirty years.

This novel is equal to Rally Cry, A Hymn Before Battle, and Island in the Sea of Time.

I looked over the weaker starred ratings as always. A noticeable sign again among those reviewers: they have read few if any "military" fiction, let alone "alternate his
May 18, 2013 Grant rated it it was amazing
Weapons of Choice, and the Axis of Time series in general, is one of those things I can't but help evangelize to any sci-fi or historic fiction fans I know. It's really the only alt-history series I've been able to get into, for good reason.

John Birmingham writes like Tom Clancy minus the pompousness, skewed worldview, overly long plot buildups, and inability to write female characters. He grabs a UN peacekeeping naval force, crewed by Millennials battle-hardened by two decades of the War on Ter
Jordan Steinhoff
May 17, 2013 Jordan Steinhoff rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
This is not a bad book.

Just not great and not deserving of 3 full stars.

I'll always give the alt-Earth story a shot and this started off great with a quick precis on the book's modern day world and then quickly jumping into the WW2 PTO.

The initial drama and consequences of that jump were superb.

After that, though, it became a bit of a grind. The author tried to keep too many characters relevant, I think, while at the same time not really being successful with the general story of how 21st centu
Practical Mike
Oct 12, 2014 Practical Mike rated it it was ok
Meh... I was digging the book at first, but then all of the action got in the way and started to bore me. Not a good sign when too much action is boring. What do I mean? I do not think I'm spoiling anything here when I say quite a few ships go back in time.

(view spoiler)
Lis Carey
Jan 12, 2011 Lis Carey rated it liked it
Shelves: f-sf
It’s January 2021, and an international task force headed up by the USS Hillary Clinton (a George Bush class supercarrier), is off Indonesia, responding to a political crisis caused by the overthrow of the legitimate government and its replacement by the extremist Caliphate. Because of the haste with which the task force was thrown together, they’ve got with them a research ship that had to come along with its protective escort—no time and no spare forces available to send it off to a safer dist ...more
Feb 02, 2012 Konstantinos rated it it was ok
In the book a modern battle fleet travels back in time to WWII and starts to change history. This a definitely interesting read and the author raises some interesting problems that would arise not just because of the technological but also the cultural differences between the time travelers and the people of 1940s. He is also quite competent in giving the different viewpoints (axis/allies, future/past).

So why is it just ok for me (two stars)? First of all although he could just as easily have us
Mar 15, 2011 Shelley rated it liked it
An American led Multi-National armada from year 2021 is transported to WW2, right in the middle of the US Task Force heading to Midway for a major battle with the Japanese. The disruption by the time travelers, the resulting destruction of the 1942 Task Force ships changed history. The Japaneses capturing one ship from the future sort of balance the status-quo. The Americans and Allied cannot have all the fun. Embedded in technological structures of the ships, are historical archives of the past ...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
Like a movie, the book opens with a countdown concentrating on the bevy of characters that will make up the core of the story. Suddenly, chaos and confusion - too much confusion - we need a clearer picture of what is happening but those few seconds are dragged out... so much is happening...
Boom! mayhem... chaos. Two fleets from opposite ends of time clash! Slowly, out of the noise and light and murder and confusion of battle things calm down as men and officers begin to take control.
I'm 200 page
Jul 07, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
This book nicely illustrates my own interests, as well as John Birmingham's. Birmingham is clearly into military history and wants to see future US Navy vs. WWII US Navy, so he sets the stage. Of course 80 years of development should give unbeatable advantages to the future navy -- radar, drones, and cruise missiles should let them sink the WWII ships before they can even engage. So Birmingham "evens the odds" by fiddling with proximity, formation, arrival timing, nausea, etc. It feels like mili ...more
Daniel Shellenbarger
Weapons of Choice begins with the sudden disappearance of a near-future NATO fleet off Indonesia (thanks to a singularity experiment gone mostly right and slightly but INCREDIBLY wrong) and its subsequent reappearance off of Midway Island in 1942 mere hours before the fateful battle for control of the Pacific ought to have occurred. Their arrival sets off a series of dramatic shifts in the conduct of the war as both sides are suddenly presented with advanced military technology (to their delight ...more
Nov 28, 2012 Oni rated it liked it
This is my first John Birmingham book. I accidentally stumbled upon it, and once I read the first page, I cannot put it down.

Why? Is it that good? No. But because the background of the story is about my country Indonesia. The year is 2021, not so far from our current time. An American led (yeah, ho hum) multinational force is positioned near East Timor, just outside Indonesia's territory. They are preparing to overthrown the Jihad rebellion who just won the civil war, by retaking Jakarta. Yes, I
Eric Oppen
Jan 19, 2016 Eric Oppen rated it really liked it
The premise of the trilogy (a near-future naval group is thrown back in time to 1942, ending up scattered all over and everywhere, although mainly staying together) is interesting, but what I want to know is: "What's the point?"

Was the Axis not defeated thoroughly enough in our timeline for Mr. Birmingham's taste?

The culture clashes between the near-future types and the 1942 "natives" are interesting, but get rather repetitive after a bit.
Jan 27, 2016 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I should add a star: I certainly would add a half star. The writing is solid, the plot interesting and appropriately intricate. Lots of characters going in a multitude of directions. And obviously in direct comparison with the "World War" series of Harry Turtledove. Turtledove's is better to my mind, but this work is nothing to scoff at. Making that comparison that I spoke of, I'd say that Turtledove is far superior in addressing the specifics of both WWII tactics and weaponry than Birmi ...more
John Mosman
Sep 10, 2016 John Mosman rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I recently re-watched the film, `The Final Countdown' in which a modern day air craft carrier (modern day in 1980) goes back in time right before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. I search for a book with the same them and found it with Weapons of Choice.

The story is much more that the move scenario. An entire naval task force from the year 2021 is sent back and lands in the midst of the US task force steaming to the Battle of Midway in 1942. Not knowing who the unknown ships (on both sides) an
Chris Amies
Dec 30, 2015 Chris Amies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I sort of wonder much like watching a climber negotiate some impossible overhang how he is going to get himself out of this one. You could describe this novel as McLaughlin's "Hawk among the Sparrows" in the navy, or Turtledove's "The Guns of the South" in WWII. Although chronologically it's closer to the latter author's "Worldwar" and here I call the possibility of sloppy editing: there are several joky references to 'alien lizards' and a character called "Turtletaub" (Turtledove's own alternat ...more
Tom Lynch
Jun 27, 2014 Tom Lynch rated it really liked it
What happens when an science experiment on board a cutting-edge research vessel goes horribly wrong and sucks the UN naval taskforce escorting it back through time to 1942 where they encounter the US Navy en-route to the Battle of Midway? (In this respect, it is reminiscent of the Final Countdown) The answer is that chaos ensues. For the locals not only have to come to terms with the futuristic American, British and Australian ships, but the fact their crews are multi-racial, contain a large num ...more
Joey Halverson
Mar 16, 2016 Joey Halverson rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent read for those who enjoy alternate history books, or for anyone who likes fast paced military thrillers. This is the first book in the Axis of Time trilogy, in which a modern day carrier battle group is transported back in time to World War II after an experiment on a research vessel goes horribly wrong. The diverse militaristic and global impact from 21st century technology going back to the 1940's is profound. On the cultural side, the 21st century international fleet has ...more
Michael Duff
Jul 12, 2016 Michael Duff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the book you wanted to read when you were 16. This is the book you wanted when you saw those movies about aircraft carriers being transported back to World War II.

Many people scoff at "military fiction" like this - fantastic popcorn airport books with high concepts and spare prose. But for pure enjoyment, for getting in touch with your inner 16-year-old and totally geeking out over alternate history and high technology, it just doesn't get better than this.

Deep down, every boy wants to k
S.A.A. Calvert
Mar 21, 2014 S.A.A. Calvert rated it it was amazing
I first read this book, which is the start of a series, shortly after yet another showing of "The Final Countdown", a film that typically avoids the tricky paradox possibilities by running away from them.

Birmingham confronts the nature of 1940s society head-on, as a typical 21st century crew including gay men, women, and, er, people of colour who aren't kitchen hands comes up against the homophobic, racist and sexist society of the period. Lots of cameos from well-known people, some sly jokes (i
Kay Smillie
May 30, 2015 Kay Smillie rated it it was amazing
Having read and quite enjoyed the Without Warning trilogy, I went into this novel thinking that I would quite enjoy this too. I didn't quite enjoy it. I loved it!

Been compared to Harry Turtledove, but this is far superior in my opinion.

You will know the basic premise where a multi national fleet of naval ships in the future are sent back in time (and space) into the middle of the US fleet heading to Midway. Not going to post any spoilers but I was drawn straight into the action and how members
Jul 23, 2016 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Dry at the beginning, entertaining enough by the end. More alternate history than time travel, though there was that. I still think using a fictional future supernavy instead of contemporary real forces was a mistake. The contrast with the WWII-era ships would have been nearly as stark but deeper in impact.

Story-wise, big plot events surround cardboard characters. Morally it's as flawed as war. Much is made of 20th and 21st century progress in racism and sexism, but possibly only to play with th
Tony Calder
Mar 14, 2014 Tony Calder rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is an excellent read for those who enjoy alternate history books, or for anyone who likes a fast paced military thriller. This is the first in Birmingham's World War trilogy, in which a modern day carrier battle group is transported back in time to World War II. This is definitely a book that can keep you up all night, wanting to read "just one more chapter" :) This is certainly not a new theme - it has been covered many times in books (there are a few in jokes for Turtledove fans) and movi ...more
James Leitess
May 06, 2014 James Leitess rated it really liked it
Enjoyable book. Liked the author's choice to focus on the social challenges arising from a 70 year cultural gap within the "same" culture in addition to the other plot mechanics arising from the time travel and techno-gap.

The choices made by the protagonists felt legit w/a certain degree of US Military fan service for folks who'd like to go back and "fix" the wrongs of the Great War.

Once the visitor's impact on the past started to really escalate the author supplied an ending that was satisfyin
Nate Morse
Feb 24, 2015 Nate Morse rated it liked it
A science experiment goes wrong next to a military fleet in the year 2020 something sending them back in time to the year 1942. Normally I would be all over this kind of book as I enjoy alternative history. However, I think this book is missing several things such as a middle and and end.

Seriously, this book doesn't have much of a plot other then "Hey look here is this famous historical figure" and repeatedly telling me that every person in the military 70 years ago was sexist and racist. I und
It was okay. Better than two stars but not as good as three stars. There were parts I thought the author did a great job with and other parts that just fell flat. Some of the story flowed rather fast; other parts just dragged on and on. The ending was rather abrupt; it seemed like a bunch of different ideas were thrown together to end it when the author could maybe have expounded a bit further on them. Also, the book was broken up into five parts/sections; the flow between sections was choppy at ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Skyring rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise is totally off the planet - a naval task force from the near future is sent back in time to the Second World War - but what I really enjoyed was the way that the two different societies found themselves in conflict - and coöperation. The various scenarios are explored and enjoyed. A particular focus of the narrative is the way that women and minorities are presented. In the WW2 navy, having a black woman command a warship is unthinkable, in the displaced fleet, it's unremarkable. Tha ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Shaft rated it really liked it
What happens when a near future naval armada is sent back to the beginning of World War II. This is the question posed by Weapons of Choice. This book is an alternate history of sorts and covers a wide range of characters and setting including the visitors from the future, the contemporary American society and military as well as the Japanese Military and their ongoing efforts.

This is a book that swallows you whole after the first few pages making you feel that you are right there alongside the
I've read a number of time-travel books, even several where a sizable group of people (usually Americans) are thrown back in time and end up using their military superiority to defeat someone. But I think Birmingham's book is the most nuanced in terms of character reaction to the events. And it's certainly the book which created the most complex and conflicted emotional response from me.

I've been trying to figure out why the interactions between the characters from the two time periods seemed so
David Sarkies
Jul 09, 2015 David Sarkies rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to David by: Some guy from America
Shelves: sci-fi
A rather dull alternate history sci-fi story
20 October 2012

I picked this book up because I had quite enjoyed Birmingham's non-fiction works, if you can consider He Died with a Falafel in his Hand to be a work of non-fiction (I suspect that it falls into that grey area, much like Chopper's books, where there is truth in the story but much of it has been fuzzed out to protect the guilty) that I thought I might try this book. Anyway, it looked quite interesting, being about a US carrier group bein
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 9780141029115 - Weapons of Choice: World War 2.1 2 16 Apr 06, 2012 11:25AM  
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John Birmingham grew up in Ipswich, Queensland and was educated at St Edmunds Christian Brother's College in Ipswich and the University of Queensland in Brisbane. His only stint of full time employment was as a researcher at the Defence Department. After this he returned to Queensland to study law but he did not complete his legal studies, choosing instead to pursue a career as a writer. He curren ...more
More about John Birmingham...

Other Books in the Series

Axis of Time (6 books)
  • Designated Targets (Axis of Time, #2)
  • Final Impact (Axis of Time, #3)
  • Stalin's Hammer: Rome (Axis of Time, #4)
  • Stalin's Hammer: Cairo (Axis of Time, #5)
  • Stalin's Hammer: Paris (Axis of Time, #6)

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