Michael's Reviews > The Iron Dream

The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad
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Mar 30, 09

bookshelves: science-fiction, pulp-fiction, fascism
Recommended to Michael by: Dragon Magazine
Recommended for: sci fi fans, World War Two buffs
Read in January, 1986, read count: Many

This is a book-within-a-book. Author Norman Spinrad asked an excellent counter-historical question: what if Adolf Hitler, rather than going into German politics after the First World War, had instead moved to the USA and become a science fiction writer? This book is the product of that fantasy: the most popular science fiction book written by Hitler in that alternate universe.

Spinrad demonstrates more knowledge of period pulp sci-fi than of German history, but since this is a fantasy of the deranged mind of a Nazi leader, there is no reason it should conform to historical fact. The book is a fantastic retelling of Hitler's accession of power, relocated to the post-nuclear-apocalyptic society of Heldon, the last bastion of true humanity in a cesspit Europe of sickening mutants. To the East lies the vast empire of Zind (the similarity to "Zion is obvious, but it is also the Soviet Union), wherein psychich mutants called Dominators use their mental powers to breed slave mutants to serve their physical needs. Our hero, with the appropriately Teutonic name Feric Jagger, is the seemingly humble individual whom Destiny has chosen to lead his people from bondage and eliminate foul mutants from the fact of the Earth!

Goebbels, Goering, Himmler and Roehm all appear in the story (unlikely, since Hitler hadn't met most of them by the time he ostensibly emigrated in Spinrad's alternate universe), but all characters are predictably two-dimensional. The focus is one violent action, and fantastic mass rallies and flashy uniforms. An afterward tells us that one of the most popular costumes at sci fi cons in this universe is the SS uniform. It also gleefully points out the many phallic references and speculates that Hitler was a latent homosexual.

In the end, this is not really "good" literature - it isn't meant to be. It is engrossing and manages to be both fun and disturbing at the same time.
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