novel that's almost sci-fi
-ish. The story is about a young History PhD
candidate at Oxford
's youth who meets up with a wacky physicist who has devised a way to see into the past. Naturally, the protagonist sees this as a great way to enhance his research. The physicist is a holocaust survivor
, and in a fit of despair after breaking up with his girlfriend, the historian agrees to help the physicist with his plan to prevent Hitler from ever being born.
I know, it sounds like an incredibly contrived plot for something that purports to be regular (ie, non science fiction) novel. But Fry is an entertaining writer, and pulls this all off elegantly. Suspension of disbelief is no problem, even when they succeed at erasing Hitler by chemically sterilizing his father and completely change history.
The result is that the protagonist wakes up in an entirely different world where the absence of Hitler in Nazi Germany tipped the balance of power towards the Axis powers instead of away from it.
I found this less entertaining than Fry's other books, the Hippopotamus and the Liar, but still a great read.