Review: Patton’s Spaceship

Patton’s Spaceship (John Barnes; Open Road Integrated Media) is a new e-book release of an effort from 1996.

Parts of the early action, in which the protagonist loses his family to a vicious terrorist group of unknown (and very exotic) origins, seem sadly dated in light of the even greater viciousness that terrorist groups of thoroughly well-known origins have since exhibited.

Nevertheless, much of this novel is an entertaining alternate-history adventure, presenting (among other things) the most grubby and creepily plausible portrait of a U.S. under Nazi domination I have seen.

Alas, I must report that Barnes tends to get a bit too cute in name-checking historical figures. In the most extreme instance of this he makes the poet Allen Ginsburg into an action hero. That move is perhaps best read as unintentional comedy; for some intentional comedy, see if you can spot Robert Heinlein’s cameo appearance.

Barnes has written better, before and since. But this isn’t bad.

11 thoughts on “Review: Patton’s Spaceship

  1. Eric, while you’re reviewing these books, could you also note what formats they’re available for, and whether or not the publisher requires DRM?

  2. >Eric, while you’re reviewing these books, could you also note what formats they’re available for, and whether or not the publisher requires DRM?

    I’m not sure I should try, it might be misleading. The versions I get are what the trade calls ‘eARCs’, electronic advance reader copies. Sometimes they’re shipped in ePub, sometimes in Adobe format, and occasionally as PDFs, but that doesn’t necessarily predict what combination of print, ePub, mobi, Kindle, or other formats the production version will ship in.

    About the only hard and fast rule is that production books never ship as PDFs. Oh, and Baen books are always DRM-free ePub.

  3. @esr: “Sometimes they’re shipped in ePub, sometimes in Adobe format, and occasionally as PDFs,”

    I think you mean “sometimes in Amazon format,” above, since a PDF is Adobe format. Technically, what Amazon uses is the format devised by early French eBook publisher Mobipocket, who Amazon bought back in 2005. (And buying Mobi appears to have been a Plan B, with Amazon originally planning to use an Adobe electronic publishing system which Adobe withdrew from the market.) Mobi already had a Creator app for Windows (and a beta command line version for Linux, and viewer apps for just about everything save Macs, so there was an easy path to Kindle apps for other devices once the Kindle had served its purposes of priming the eBook pump.

    I don’t especially care about format. My primary viewer device is an Android tablet, but I use the open source FBReaderJ app for viewing. That handles ePub, Mobi and the Russian FB2 format among other things, and can view PDFs by calling an external app or using an experimental plugin.

    Needs be, Calibre does good format conversion, and could automagically strip DRM with the proper plugins installed, if I got anything that had DRM.

    “Oh, and Baen books are always DRM-free ePub.”

    Baen offers eBooks in other formats like Mobi, too, and has been DRM free since they started offering eBooks. .Macmillan announced a while back they were dropping DRM. Macmillan is Holtzbrink’s US umbrella for an assortment of imprints including Tor Books. The No DRM move was spurred by Tor, but the announcement DRM was going away was made by a Macmillan VP of Digital Services.

  4. You have been very bad for my productivity of late. I polished off 3 of your last recomendations in the last week – last night, up til 4AM finishing off “Desert of Stars”. And you seem to be reading, and recomending, faster than I can keep up.

  5. I liked “Patton’s Spaceship” and its sequels. They’ve made it through several culls so far…

    They’re good old-fashioned action-adventure SF, and quite a bit different from Barnes’ usual stuff, which wallows in “morbid” and “depressing.”

    There aren’t a whole lot of books like “Patton’s Spaceship”., either because few people write them, or the publishers don’t buy them. The closes thing I can think of offhand would be SM Stirling’s “In the Courts of the Martian Kings” and “The Sky People,” which aren’t the kind of books Stirling ususually writes, either. Except for maybe “Drakon.”

  6. I enjoyed _Patton’s Spaceship_ although there were a few bits which struck me as being a little too cute — like the last redoubt against the Nazi-Japanese domination of the world being in Southeast Asia, just so he could have Giap and Patton fighting on the same side.

    But the super-submarine Arizona was pretty awesome.

  7. >just so he could have Giap and Patton fighting on the same side

    The one time I met Barnes he copped to being a Marxist. Which I think explains this detail rather neatly.

  8. “The closes thing I can think of offhand would be SM Stirling’s ‘In the Courts of the Martian Kings'”

    I think you mean _In the Courts of the Crimson Kings_.

  9. Just finished it. Definitely an enjoyable read, though I couldn’t figure out who the poet Al was and missed Heinlein’s cameo.

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