The aspect of real world conflict and the perceptions of an era can sometimes be caught in art but it is always the texture of perception that determines through what lens the emotion and drama is captured. in “6 Days: The Incredible Story Of D-Day’s Lost Chapter” [Robert Vendetti/Vertigo/148pgs]”, the author examines a small piece of Operation Overlord (which was used for a different effect in the movie of the same name). In this story, when many regiments are dropped over France, they miss their target but converge on the small town on Graignes. The story is of them trying to hold off the German assault until they can be relieved from the American forces coming from the coast. While some of the imagery, especially during the firefights is quite good with out being gory, it is the intersection of the small moments that connect, whether it be some of the young woman listening outside a church to the men inside who take initiative themselves to the simple happiness inside a mess hall just to get some warm food. There is an essence to the humanity. One part that works very well though it tends to play a little melodramatic is the aspect of the families back in America praying in a church in sadness while the soldiers and the local villagers in Graignes convene in the church in hope. The hope doesn’t last long and the texture of war and just surviving takes hold. In all actuality, the actual overrunning of the troops is more alluded to rather than shown as an overall stampede of German troops. But what the battle does offer is the perspective of war but also the psychological toll at points on a textured level. “6 Days” shows a direct and plain view of the lost memories of war before everything was laser guided. World War II was a war unlike any other and even a brief glimpse into the minutiae of the day allows for a window into the time.
By Tim Wassberg
“Blackout” [Connie Willis/Subterranean/495pgs] uses certain representations of time travel to represent a larger truth. As a percolation on the possibilities of historians to get the true facts on an assigned point in history, the idea that people we know are in fact travelers from other times is indeed a interesting ploy. The divergent time shown in this book revolves around the Blitz on London during World War II shown from three different perspectives in differing tonal and pacing ranges. The briskness of the book works in the reflection of these three different storylines which take place in different areas during the battle of Britain. One involves a man posing as a reporter watching the fall of Dendrick. Another involves a woman posing as a maid/nanny helping watch after children being sent outside London. Still another woman is placed directly within the bombing center inside London to observe the reaction of the locals within the crisis situation. The story is buoyed by the details of the women tending to the sick or searching for a job. However in good form, the story never feels bogged down because there is always a sense of modern and fantastic at play. The centralizing prospect of the story is finding the door back to their time which is 120 years ahead in the future. Even though the technology is not fully explained, the belief is based in the fact that a portal cannot open if someone from the time being visited can see it or be aware of it. Furthermore, as explained by the administrators who send these historians back, history can ultimately not be changed in full force except in a divergence point. What becomes very clear about 150 pages in is that something is wrong. Usually if a person cannot escape, a retrieval team is sent with expedience. This is not the case here pointing to a break in time. The author continues to flush this out eventually bringing the conveying storylines together moving towards a climax. As indicated in the foreword, the book which was supposed to be one novel became two showing the enomormity of the story which still plays very intimate. While the cliffhanger peruses the reader to want more, the reality is if the pay off will indeed make the journey worthwhile. Some of the images are vivid but not overwhelming. The drama is steady but not life changing. The book is fun but not overly compelling. Out of 5, I give “Blackout” a 2 1/2.