Our friend Robert F. Dorr has written more than 70 books on a range of military subjects, as well as countless articles for aviation and military magazines, many for us. Few of Dorr’s fans, however, may know that in his early days as a writer, he wrote articles for what are now termed “men’s adventure magazines,” defunct titles such as Argosy, Real, True, and Saga, where hard-bitten heroes saved beautiful women from giant predators, renegade Nazis, dastardly communists, evil aliens, and anachronistic dinosaurs, among other perils.
Now Dorr has drawn from these two writing lives for his first novel, Hitler’s Time Machine. Part thriller, part alternate history, part adventure story, the plot concerns two teams of scientists, one Allied, one Nazi, trying to perfect a time machine that will win World War II.
If you’re the type of reader this reviewer is, Dorr had you at “Hitler’s Time Machine.”
In fact I eagerly volunteered to read an early draft of this novel. Without giving away too much, I can tell you it is a funhouse thrill-ride that combines historical figures with appealing fictional characters. While the usual suspects make their appearances, from FDR, Hitler, and Himmler, to the notorious and mysterious SS General Hans Kammler, Count von Stauffenberg, Hitler’s pilot Hans Baur, and Gen. James M. “Jumping Jim” Gavin, the fictional characters are crafted well enough to seem as real as the people who actually existed.
And Dorr gets the details right, from Hitler’s peculiar mannerisms and uniform details to the differing gauges of railroad trackage in the occupied territories, interweaving his fictional figures and events into the real history of World War II. The result is a an intriguing alternate history of World War II that also allows Dorr free reign to make wry observations about our own time.
Along with the details of real things and events are subjects that were part and parcel of defunct men’s magazines and now reside only in science fiction and the nooks and crannies of the internet: the legendary and perhaps mythical “bell” – Die Glocke – and other real and imagined German secret weapons; evil SS generals; Nazi occult obsessions; the USS Eldridge and the Philadelphia Experiment; beautiful but evil Nazi ice queens; spies; turncoats; commando raids; Operation Husky as you’ve never known it; and much, much more.
I would like the book to have been longer (although there are a couple of loopholes that might allow a sequel), and there are a few errors in the text, although that is true of seemingly all books these days, most publishing houses having gotten rid of real editors in favor of acquisitions editors decades ago.
As I wrote before, I would have bought this book for the title alone. I have no trouble recommending it to anyone who loves World War II historical fiction or alternate history novels. For half the price of a movie ticket, the Kindle edition of Hitler’s Time Machine will provide hours of enjoyable reading. A paperback edition is also available via Amazon.