Axis of Time

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The Axis of Time trilogy is an alternative history series of novels written by Australian journalist and author John Birmingham, from Macmillan Publishing.


The novels deal with the radical alteration of the history of World War II and the socio-historical changes that result when a technologically advanced naval task force from the year 2021 is accidentally transported back through time to 1942.

The early chapters of the first book in the trilogy, Weapons of Choice, are set in the near future, when a radical Islamic movement has declared a global jihad against the West and established a Caliphate in Indonesia, initiating a wholesale slaughter of Chinese nationals there. In response, a US-led multinational task force of advanced warships and submarines sails to Indonesia to launch a counterattack against the Caliphate forces and retake the archipelago. With the fleet is a research vessel, the Nagoya, which is testing top-secret weapons and stealth systems that use the latest developments in quantum physics.

As the task force lies at anchor off the coast of East Timor preparing for deployment, the Nagoya conducts a full-scale test of its new systems but there is a catastrophic accident -- the experiment generates a massive rift in the time-space continuum, completely destroying the Nagoya and sending most of the fleet back in time to 1942.

Many of the 2021 ships materialize in the middle of the US fleet that is steaming to engage the Japanese at the Battle of Midway, including one vessel which materializes into the structure of a 1942 ship, with horrific results. When the mystery fleet suddenly appears, the Americans mistake them for the enemy (due to the presence of Japanese vessels in the 2021 fleet) and they begin firing on them. With the crews of the 2021 fleet rendered helpless by "transition sickness", the computerized battle systems on their ships automatically activate, inflicting heavy damage and thousands of casualties on the 1942 fleet until the two forces work out what has happened and halt the battle. As the nature of the event dawns on the two fleets, the two commanders strike an uneasy truce and the combined fleet heads back to Pearl Harbor. The Americans then launch an intensive study into the 2021 fleet's futuristic computer and weapons technology, as well as the wealth of historical information which describes their own future - although many items of technology from the future fleet are stolen by unscrupulous sailors from 1942 and sold to the criminal underworld.

Matters are further complicated by the fact that the chaotic nature of the Nagoya's "time bubble" has transported some 2021 ships to locations far from the main group, and these vessels variously fall into the hands of the Japanese, the Germans and the Soviets. After the Japanese capture an Indonesian ship from the 2021 fleet, they discover what they did not know in the conventional version of history - that the US fleet had not been crippled by the Pearl Harbor attack, as they thought, and that the Americans have broken their military codes and are fully aware of the Japanese battle plans. Acting on these revelations, Admiral Yamamoto immediately turns his fleet around, and the Battle of Midway never takes place.

Another vessel is captured by the Germans and as they learn more about the future outcome of the war they halt and abandon their ill-fated invasion of Russia and prepare for an all-out assault on the United Kingdom. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin become allies and purge their military forces of anyone they believe to be a traitor.

The series goes on to explore the far-reaching effects of the Transition, which radically alters not merely the balance of power between the Axis and the Allies, but the entire course of WWII and global history. The Soviet Union uses the treaty with Germany to assemble a powerful and massive military and launch a large scale invasion into Asia and Eastern Europe, conquering a vast amount of territory.

The plot is essentially appropriated from the 1980 movie The Final Countdown, about a modern USN aircraft carrier which travels back in time to just before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The plot also has similarities to that of the series Zipang, about a Japanese missile destroyer transported back in time right before the Battle of Midway.


Birmingham names several minor characters after contemporary nonfictional people:

Birmingham names at least one place (USSR Demidenko facility) after controversial Australian journalist and author Helen Darville, who won several major literary awards for her book The Hand that Signed the Paper, written under the pseudonym Helen Demidenko. Darville initially presented herself as being of Ukrainian ancestry but this was subsequently exposed as a hoax.

See also[edit]

The above "Axis victory..." page includes an extensive list of other Wikipedia articles regarding works of Nazi Germany/Axis/World War II alternate history.

External links[edit]