The Company of the Dead – a Novel of Titanic Scale
- Monday, April 02, 2012
Author: David J. Kowalski
Title: The Company of the Dead
Publisher: Titan Books
A man stands against the starboard railing of the Titanic on April 14, 1912. Two hours earlier he had located one of the men stationed as lookouts and handed him a pair of binoculars, stating that they were a gift to the watchmen from Mr. Andrews, the ship's builder. The binoculars were compact and light compared to the standard issue, and the lookout marveled as he put them up to his eyes for the first time. Wells, the name of the man with the gift from the future simply explained, "They're German; the latest design."
Wells now stands on the deck in anticipation that the direction of the ship, and its tragedy, will be changed. As the ship's bells ring after the report from the watchful lookout, Wells feels the mighty vessel adjust course. He has successfully done it; he has traveled back in time and averted a travesty of human loss at sea. We watches in amazement as the iceberg comes into view and then disappears without threat behind them.
One hundred years later to the day, Captain John Lightholler is at the helm of another gigantic ship named the Titanic - after the ship that went down in the north Atlantic - into the New York Harbor. Fireworks lit the skies and fire ships arched their streams of water into the air to celebrate the arrival of a ship that was a century late. But the Titanic is arriving into a much different New York City - there are great airships like German Zeppelins, Chinese Skyjunks and Confederate dirigibles to great the new Titanic at the end of its first journey.
Well's plan to save the original Titanic had been short lived. Though it had steered away from one iceberg it had soon hit another on her port side. The ship had still gone down to the bottom of the sea but now the survivor list was different - much different - enough to change the course of history.
In this new world the United States doesn't enter the First World War and Germany becomes the victor. The United States ruptures from a second civil war and the northern states are eventually taken over by Japan. Germany and Japan, the two superpowers, are at odds with each other and are flexing their muscles in several places around the globe. War seems inevitable.
It is in this setting that Confederate spy Joseph Kennedy begins recruiting a team to restore history to its rightful place. He has come into possession of Well's journal, that had been sealed in the Titanic's safe before her sinking, and believes that the future of humanity depends upon stopping Well's intrusion into the past, even if it means Kennedy has to risk the same.
The Company of the Dead is David Kowalski's first novel. It has won numerous awards in his native Australia and is now making it to the shores of the United States for its first publishing. The nearly 800 page book has four sections - a fascinating introduction; a rough re-education section where the reader must try to comprehend a present day, alternate reality; the journey of Kennedy and his team to Roswell, Nevada where the time machine is supposedly located while in the middle of a growing war; and the time travel back to the Titanic at the end of the book. Though Kowalski started this project with the thought of writing a short story it grew into epic proportions allowing great character development and subplots that make the whole novel a more fulfilling and adventurous read.
If you enjoy science fiction, war stories or mystery novels, be sure to pick up The Company of the Dead. If you thought it might be a good idea to go back and change time if you had the opportunity, you might end up thinking differently and leave playing God to God himself.
*This Review First Published 4/2/2012
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