Tuesday, July 12, 2016

United States of Japan - by Peter Tieryas - A thoroughly enjoyable alternate history novel

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

United States of Japan is Peter Tieryas's third book, it began as "a story revolving around the tragic events on the Asian side of WWII." The book is inspired by Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, his time at Electronic Arts, and his experiences traveling in Asia.

For the most part, I've never been much of a fan of alternate history stories, but John Liberto's cover art caught my attention and I did enjoy the Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle, so I decided to take a chance.

As in The Man in the High Castle the Japanese have taken control of much of the West Coast following the Asia-Pacific War of WWII. The Germans exerting an influence in what was once the Eastern United States, but that's where the similarities end.

This story begins in one of the Japanese internment camps during the war. After their liberation by the Japanese Empire the action quickly moves to 1988.

The times are very different in the 1988 under the rule of the Japanese Empire. There is so much going on in this story. there are many little details woven into the tale. Marvels like "porticals", very addicting, iPhone like devices. There's a little used technique where "private messengers were making phones powered by the biochemistry of their body, electric pulses from the heart, additional radio connectors integrated into their intestines." And Mechas—robotic soldiers that were as tall as skyscrapers—vigilantly guarding the skies against enemies outside and within.

When a video game emerges that posits a world where the allies won, a game censor and an Imperial Government agent discover truths about the empire that make them question their loyalty.

There is a marked difference in culture between the America I grew up in and the United States of Japan as envisioned by Peter Tieryas. It's a story filled with wild ideas. The war may have ended forty year ago, but it's not exactly a peaceful time. There's a radical resistance group which calls themselves the George Washingtons who employ a particularly horrific torture involving genetically engineered ants with a taste for human flesh.

Available as an e-book, in paperback, and through audible from Angry Robot Books The United States of Japan was a compelling read, thoroughly entertaining, and the ultimate "what if?" story.

Peter Tieryas is an Asian-American writer. In addition to writing United States of Japan, he is the author of the collection Watering Heaven and the novel Bald New World. He attended the University of California Berkeley. Tieryas is a Lead Character Technical Director at Sony Pictures Imageworks and has worked at LucasArts as both a technical artist and technical writer.

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