Weapons of Choice

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Weapons of Choice
Author John Birmingham
Country Australia
Language English
Series Axis of Time
Genre Alternate history
Publisher Macmillan
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 544 pp
ISBN 0-7329-1199-0
OCLC 62539678
Followed by Designated Targets

Weapons of Choice is the first novel of the Axis of Time alternative history trilogy, written by Australian author John Birmingham.

Plot summary[edit]


The book starts in 2021 off East Timor, as a US-led Multinational Taskforce, commanded by Admiral Phillip Kolhammer, prepares to liberate the Indonesian islands from an Islamic government calling itself the Caliphate, which is slaughtering Chinese citizens. In the book's backstory, the Chinese government was planning to send a task force but was warned by the American government not to do so. The flagship of the taskforce is the aircraft carrier USS Hillary Clinton, named after "the most uncompromising wartime president in the history of the United States". The task force is made up mainly of American and British units alongside French, Australian, Japanese and Free Indonesians, along with a few other units like Spetsnaz from Russia and Kommando Spezialkräfte from Germany. Alongside the navy taskforce is the JRV Nagoya, a scientific ship which is experimenting with wormholes; the navy ship protecting it is ordered to join the taskforce. A new ship from the Royal New Zealand Navy is sent as escort, but prior to its arrival, the Nagoya's project director, Manning Pope, decides to make a trial run. The taskforce is constantly watched by a Caliphate spy on the mainland.


Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance and Lt. Commander Daniel Black are on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, on their way to face the Japanese sent to invade Midway. A growing commotion outside the bridge prompts them to investigate, only to find a large group of what are, to them, unknown and strangely designed ships. They spot a ship with the Japanese ensign and assume it is the Japanese fleet sent against Midway and they order their own ships to open fire. The multinational taskforce Combat Intelligence, referred to as CI, takes defensive action; the 21st century fleet nearly wipes out the American fleet, including the USS Hornet and USS Yorktown. During the battle, Kolhammer and the rest of the Multinational Taskforce commanders learn that not all ships of the taskforce came through and those that did, did not all end up in the same place.

The HJIMS Ryūjō encounters the Free Indonesian ship KRI Sutanto and boards it. The Indonesians are taken captive, the Japanese learn of the force sent against them at Midway and the rest of the Japanese navy is warned and ordered back home.

After the battle between the 1942 American naval force and the 21st century Multinational Taskforce, an unsteady peace starts after they both reach Pearl Harbor. However, murders, rapes and riots happen as the 21st century people try to mix with the locals. Kolhammer is flown to California to meet President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Albert Einstein. As time goes by with no sight of the JRV Nagoya, more and more 21st century personnel start to realise they are stuck in 1942.

Captain Karen Halabi and the HMS Trident, a Trident-class trimaran stealth destroyer, is ordered back to the Home Island for evaluation and possible transfer of the Trident. However, prior to her and the ship's departure, they take part in a POW rescue in Singapore and Luzon. The rescue is carried out by both 21st century and 1942 personnel.

Through the Japanese, Hitler learns about the results of the invasion of the Soviet Union and sends Ribbentrop to negotiate peace with the Soviet Union.

Historical characters featured[edit]



Ships of the MNF[edit]

This list reflects the knowledge of the MNF as of the end of Weapons of Choice. A number of ships of the MNF did not go through the Transition with the rest of the fleet; as of the end of the book, it is unclear which of these ships remained in the 21st century, which were destroyed by the Transition or immediately after, and which fell into enemy hands. More information about the fate of the missing ships is revealed in the sequel, Designated Targets.

  • HMS TridentTrident-class stealth destroyer (trimaran)
  • HMS VanguardTrident-class stealth destroyer (missing after Transition)
  • HMS FearlessAden-class helicopter assault ship (destroyed in Transition)
  • HMAS HavocWoomera-class attack submarine (erroneously called Savage class in certain editions' dramatis personae, non-nuclear)
  • HMAS Moreton BayJervis Bay-class troop-carrying catamaran
  • HMAS IpswichNewcastle-class light littoral assault ship
  • DessaixFrench Sartre-class stealth destroyer (missing after Transition)

(For the 1942 ships, see Midway order of battle.)

Critical response[edit]

Weapons of Choice has been both hailed[citation needed] and criticized[citation needed] by members of the alternative history community. Some believe it to over-emphasize the racism and sexism of the 1942 Allies, to the point of their being barely morally superior to the Axis. However, this sentiment continues to hold sway amongst significant portions of the historical community.

Walk-on roles of real people[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]