by by Robert Jackson Bennett
Book list *Starred Review* Bennett does the seemingly impossible here. He's written an alternate-history novel that measures up in every respect to Philip K. Dick's masterful The Man in the High Castle. In Bennett's work, the path towards the future diverges in the 1870s, and by 1919, when the story really opens, 50 years of mind-boggling technological innovations flowing from quiet Lawrence Kulahee have changed the face of the world. After a chance meeting with Kulahee, ruthless entrepreneur William McNaughton realizes the economic potential of the unassuming genius. In short order, the skies are full of airships, the roads with automobiles, and the U.S. becomes the most powerful nation on Earth. But all is not well. Disparities in wealth have produced a society that seems headed towards social collapse. Unrest has spurred the formation of a labor-union movement, many of whose members and organizers are dropping like flies, killed in inexplicable circumstances. The body count is becoming a corporate embarrassment. Enter quasi-policeman Hayes to sort things out. He's a highly troubled man but also seems to have psychic gifts rivaling in scale the intellectual gifts of Kulahee. Bennett weaves mystery into this strange but still recognizable world, and the result is one first-class book. Don't miss it.--Swanson, Elliot. Copyright 2010 Booklist
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