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Marilee J. Layman

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11:53 pm: Ha'penny by Jo Walton
I reviewed her first book in the Small Change alternate world series, Farthing, here.

Ha'penny occurs just a couple weeks after Farthing, once again alternating chapters between our female protagonist and Officer Carmichael. This time, the female protagonist is one of six sisters with very different ideas and beliefs. One of her sisters is the wife of Himmler and one is a communist. Viola, however, is an actress which her family considers worse than the others.

The story starts with a bomb explosion that kills one of the other actresses in Hamlet where Viola has agreed to play Hamlet (crosscasting was popular). Viola gets gradually pulled into the plot to kill Hitler, Himmler, PM Normanby, and her sister, while Carmichael gradually figures out what happened and why there was a bomb. Carmichael is not only under the thumb of the government because they know he's gay, they want him to head a new department. The Watch will be like the Gestapo and since they would kill him if he refused, he hopes he'll at least be in the position to look the other way sometimes.

It's a great mystery plot, but this book is clearly using the Nazis and the British acceptance in the alternate world to model Bush's response to terrorists. It's a compelling read and everybody should read the series.

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From:firecat
Date:November 2nd, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)
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I really enjoyed Ha'penny.

I think it's too simplistic to say the book is modeling "Bush's response to terrorists."
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From:mjlayman
Date:November 2nd, 2008 04:49 am (UTC)
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How would you describe that element of it?
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From:firecat
Date:November 2nd, 2008 04:56 am (UTC)
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I think of it more as a general exploration of how people make choices, and how people with reasonable ethical systems can still end up making choices that lead to political oppression.
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From:mjlayman
Date:November 2nd, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
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I don't consider treating Jews, communists, gays, etc., as a lower caste and always suspect in crimes, as a reasonable ethical system.
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