The Oppenheimer Alternative by Hugo and Nebula winner, Robert J. Sawyer, is a science fiction take on classic wry political thrillers. Like its titular character, Alternative is melancholy and driven in turns. It follows the historic scientific events of what we know as the Manhatten Project, but like World War II, they serve as a backdrop for exploring Oppie’s faceted and often discontent character. The modern reader in me would have loved to see more of the minds and lives left in Oppenheimer’s wake--Kitty and most notably Jean. I was struck by the care Sawyer took to be as accurate as possible, without relinquishing any of the moments’ excitement. The transition from the historic events to his speculation on alternative history was seamless.
Sawyer’s prose dissects each new character with an honest curiosity devoid, for the most part, of judgment. His exploration of both these personalities and the events they influenced--or in the case of the latter, speculative half of the book, could have precipitated--was almost tender. Sawyer’s dedication to accuracy and craft make The Oppenheimer Alternative a wonderful book, not only for fans of classic speculative fiction, but also any historic fiction reader.
Thoroughly recommended, 4 out of 5 stars! Read now!