Blackstone Publishing, 2017, 328 pages
At the height of the air war in Europe, Captain Joe Farley and the baseball-loving, wisecracking crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress Fata Morgana are in the middle of a harrowing bombing mission over East Germany when everything goes sideways. The bombs are still falling, and flak is still exploding all around the 20-ton bomber as it is knocked like a bathtub duck into another world.
Suddenly stranded with the final outcasts of a desolated world, Captain Farley navigates a maze of treachery and wonder - and finds a love seemingly decreed by fate - as his bomber becomes a pawn in a centuries-old conflict between remnants of advanced but decaying civilizations. Caught among these bitter enemies, a vast power that has brought them here for its own purposes, and a terrifying living weapon bent on their destruction, the crew must use every bit of their formidable inventiveness and courage to survive.
Fata Morgana - the epic novel of love and duty at war across the reach of time.
The B-17 "Flying Fortress" really wasn't much of a fortress - it was an aluminum tube with some guns mounted on it, a bomb delivery system with the bare minimum equipment to keep its crew alive in order to reach its target and (hopefully) make it back.
The hundreds of air raids on Germany were the stuff of nightmares, both for the crews and for the civilian populations below.
Fata Morgana is one of those time-travel novels where a World War II crew somehow finds itself in an alternate reality. It will seem familiar to fans of Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series. In this book, however, it's not a destroyer but a B-17 Flying Fortress that slips through a vortex in space-time and finds itself somewhere else.
Without going into spoilers, the crew discovers that their plane, the Fata Morgana, is a powerful weapon that could change the balance of power between rival forces in their new home. Unlike the endless Destroyermen series, however, this is a self-contained novel, complete with an ending, and an epilogue, many years later.
This book is the best of its type I've ever read. Classic science fiction, full of adventure, romance, clever space/time twists, heroes and villains, people from different eras all acting intelligently according to their own viewpoint, and of course, lots of air combat, with immaculate technical details that do not go overboard and interfere with the storytelling. The whole book is a paean to the B-17 and the crews that flew them — while the author was not born until long after WWII ended, he clearly did his research and his personal attachment shows.
I highly recommend Fata Morgana for anyone who likes World War II stories, time travel stories, and old school pulp adventure. The novel is not written in a "pulpy" style, but the characters act like heroes and heroines of the Greatest Generation. There was nothing here not to like.
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