WORLDWAR: BOOK 4At the bloody height of World War II, the deadliest enemies in all of human history were forced to put aside their hatreds and unite against an even fiercer foe: a seemingly invincible power bent on world domination. With awesome technology, the aggressors swept across the planet, sowing destruction as Tokyo, Berlin, and Washington, D.C., were A-bombed into submission. Russia, Nazi Germany, Japan and the U.S. were not easily cowed, however. With cunning and incredible daring, they pressed every advantage against the invader's superior strength, and, led by Stalin, began to detonate their own atom bombs in retaliation.City after city explodes in radioactive firestorms, and fears grow as the worldwide resources disappear; will there be any world left for the invaders to conquer, or for the uneasy allies to defend
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December 31, 1996
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Excerpt from Striking the Balance (Worldwar, Book Four) by Harry Turtledove
In free fall, Atvar the fleetlord glided over to the hologram projector. He poked the stud at the base of the machine. The image that sprang into being above the projector was one the Race's probe had sent back from Tosev 3 eight hundred local years earlier.
A Big Ugly warrior sat mounted on a beast. He wore leather boots, rusty chainmail, and a dented iron helmet; a thin coat woven from plant fibers and dyed blue with plant juices shielded his armor from the heat of the star the Race called Tosev. To Atvar, to any male of the Race, Tosev 3 was on the chilly side, but not to the natives.
A long, iron-pointed spear stood up from a boss on the contraption the warrior used to stay atop his animal. He carried a shield painted with a cross. On his belt hung a long, straight sword and a couple of knives.
All you could see of the Tosevite himself were his face and one hand. They were plenty to show he was almost as fuzzy as the beast he rode. Thick, wiry yellow fur covered his jaws and the area around his mouth; he had another stripe above each of his flat, immobile eyes. A thinner layer of hair grew on the back of the visible hand.
Atvar touched his own smooth, scaly skin. Just looking at all that fur made him wonder why the Big Uglies didn't itch all the time. Leaving one eye turret aimed at the Tosevite warrior, he swung the other in the direction of Kirel, shiplord of the 127th Emperor Hetto. "This is the foe we thought we were opposing," he said bitterly.
"Truth, Exalted Fleetlord," Kirel said. His body paint was almost as colorful and complex as Atvar's. Since he commanded the bannership of the conquest fleet, only the fleetlord out-ranked him.
Atvar stabbed at the projector control with his left index claw. The Big Ugly warrior vanished. In his place appeared a perfect three-dimensional image of the nuclear explosion that had destroyed the Tosevite city of Rome: Atvar recognized the background terrain. But it could as easily have been the bomb that vaporized Chicago or Breslau or Miami or the spearhead of the Race's assault force south of Moscow.
"As opposed to the foe we thought we faced, this is what we are actually dealing with," Atvar said.
"Truth," Kirel repeated, and, as mournful commentary, added an emphatic cough.
Atvar let out a long, hissing sigh. Stability and predictability were two of the pillars on which the Race and its Empire had flourished for a hundred thousand years and expanded to cover three solar systems. On Tosev 3, nothing seemed predictable, nothing seemed stable. No wonder the Race was having such troubles here. The Big Uglies did not play by any of the rules its savants thought they knew.