What if you went to sleep as usual in 2004 and woke up in 1934?

What if you had vital knowledge about the forthcoming Second World War, and could prove that you came from the future?

What could you do to affect British policy, strategy, tactics and equipment?

How might the course of the conflict be changed?

And what if there was another throwback from the future and he was working for the enemy?

The novel follows the story of these two 'throwbacks' as they pit their wits against each other. A very different Second World War rages across Europe, the Mediterranean, Russia, the North Atlantic and the Pacific, until its shocking conclusion.

 

This book may be purchased online, or in paperback from the publisher, amazon.co.uk or amazon.com


Read the first two chapters HERE

 

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Read Paul Adkins' spinoff story - Foresight America - HERE

 

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Introduction


Revised 1 January 2014

 

I started to write The Foresight War in order to put down on paper - and thereby exorcise - thoughts which had been buzzing around in my head for years concerning the Second World War. As my primary interest is in military technology, ideas about how this aspect of the war might have developed differently formed the core of the novel. However, in order to turn these concepts into fiction the book clearly had to contain more, so I spent a lot of time researching the tactics, strategies, geography, events and key personalities. The structure of the novel was determined by the principal historical areas and phases of the conflict, as I did not want to depart too much from these. Once the scene was set, the story to a great extent wrote itself, occasionally veering off in directions I hadn't expected. The main problem was the conclusion, which I didn't decide on until just before I started the final chapter.

 

I decided to self-publish the book after a brief attempt to find a publisher, mainly because I wanted it on sale for the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, and I had come to realise just how long the process of getting a book published can be (I probably wouldn't even have tried had I known then that only about one in a thousand novels submitted to publishers or agents succeeds in getting published). What I was not aware of at the time was that self-published books rarely sell in any numbers, lacking both the marketing clout of a publisher and availability in bookshops; they can only be ordered on-line. The book has now been on sale for ten years and has racked up over 2,700 sales (85% hard copy, the rest as ebooks) which makes it a huge seller in self-published terms: for instance, a big conventional publisher like Gollancz will normally only have an initial print run of 4,000 copies for an SF paperback.

 

I have naturally been fascinated to read what reviewers have to say about the book. What is most marked in the reviews below is the huge diversity of opinion, with ratings on the US and UK amazon websites ranging from one to five stars. The 36 reviewers gave the book two one-star ratings, four two-star, two three-star, eleven four-star and seventeen at five-star, giving an overall average rating of four stars.

 

The most substantial criticism is the lack of characterisation. This is fair comment, and reflects my motivation in writing the story.   The Foresight War is intensely plot-driven with the principal role of the characters being to carry the plot forward, rather than the plot being the framework for exploring the characters, as is the case with more conventional literature. In my opinion, too much characterisation could have distracted from the plot and slowed down the action. However, readers can judge that for themselves, and I take comfort from the fact that most reviewers clearly enjoyed the story - and that's primarily what I published it to achieve. I also take refuge in the observation by popular British SF writer Bob Shaw, who defended the relative lack of characterisation in most science fiction as being appropriate for the genre, that "The idea can assume the role of a character".

 

To sum up: if you are interested in the "what ifs" of World War 2, with particular emphasis on technology and tactics, you will probably enjoy this book. If you're more interested in how being thrown back into the past might affect the personalities involved, you probably won't.


Update: Over the past year or so I have been thinking about writing a revised version of the novel. I have two main motivations: in general, I would like to address some of the criticisms included here; in addition, there are various technical issues about which I have changed my mind or would like to expand upon. I have started by rewriting and expanding the appendices concerning equipment and its choices, which has already stimulated some long and vigorous debates on my forum. When I have completed this, I will post them on this site for comment. After that, I will turn to the story, which I then plan to make available on Kindle. Don't expect any radical changes in the plot (although I can never tell what might happen when I start writing!), but I hope the result will be more satisfying.

 

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Reviews

 

Updated 22 March 2015

 

Only brief extracts from the reviews are included here, due to copyright concerns. Follow the links to read the complete reviews. Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com review summaries follow the separate posts below.

 

WARNING: some of the content of the following reviews includes 'spoilers' which reveal plot detail these sections are shown in red!

 

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See Chimera Dave's blog HERE

 


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From William Garthright of the 'Classic Science Fiction' site HERE

 

I just this minute finished "The Foresight War" (2004) by Tony Williams, and I must say that I loved it. I had a hard time putting it down....

This is plot-driven science fiction, and my usual preference is for character-driven SF. But I'm not a fanatic about it, and I must admit that this sort of alternate history is right up my alley. I'm fascinated by the whole idea. And although characterization is not the focus of this book, what characterization there is here is spot on. I've read other plot-driven alternate history, such as "1901" by Robert Conroy or "A Damned Fine War" by Bill Yenne, in which the characterization is so poor that it detracts from the story. That's not the case here. The characterization is excellent, it's just not the main focus of the book. As you can probably tell, I was very impressed....

 

I highly recommend "The Foresight War," at least if you're interested in World War II and/or alternate history.
 


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From Nathan Brazil at The SF Site HERE

 

 A piece of advice often given to first time authors is, write what you know. Anthony G. Williams has followed this to the letter. The Foresight War is his first novel, although he has previously published several factual works as a military technology historian. Using his vast knowledge of the events and weaponry used during WWII, he projects an alternate stream of events, where the flow of history is changed by two men. They are Don Erlang and Professor Konrad Herrman, who are both accidental time travellers from 2004, that wake up one morning to find themselves in 1934. Herrman in Germany and Erlang in England. Both men are military historians, who adapt quickly to their new circumstances, and independently set out to change history as they knew it.....

Famous names from WWII crop up as regular characters, including main players Churchill, Hitler, and Rommel. Others, such as Roosevelt and Stalin, are spoken about but not seen in person. The historical cast stay true to character, just as history has portrayed them....What follows is a fast paced, easy to read story, heavy with technical detail and light on dialogue. Event after event shows the result of the time travellers' influence on their leaders. The author has a precise, factually biased style of writing that explains what's necessary, but rarely goes more than a few steps beyond. The impression given, perhaps intentionally, is of a series of snapshots scattered between the larger, set piece encounters with alternate history....

The one serious flaw is a lack of characterisation, in particular with Erlang and Herrman, the time travellers. Neither of them ever question how they came to slip through time, if there might be a way back, or what has become of the future without them....

In summary, The Foresight War is a highly plausible alternate take on history, which reads more like an alternate historical record, than a story set in another timeline.

 

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From Oyaguy in LiVEJOURNAL Topfive reviews HERE

 

In total, a rather realistic, aside from the obvious, "what if" scenario of WWII, that clearly shows the author's bias towards the technical and political aspects of his story, as opposed to character. Probably an interesting read for the initiated but will definitely be a snore for the average history layman. Which equates to most of the population of the world.  7/10.

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Customer Reviews from Amazon.co.uk:

 

Average Customer Review (24 reviews):


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             Excellent Book, 5 July 2013

          Reviewer: Colm

I've had it for several years and re-read it a dozen times.

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           The best Alternative History story I have ever read, 5 August 2011

         Reviewer: Jon Hickey

I am totally exhausted having read this book in one sitting last night and into the early hours of this morning

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           I enjoyed it thoroughly, 28 Mar 2011

         Reviewer: Eugenio Mastroviti (London, UK)

I repeatedly postponed mundane tasks such as working, eating and sleeping to avoid having to stop reading - and later I was sorry for it because I finished it far too soon.

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          Brilliant alternative history novel, 10 Mar 2010

          Reviewer: Mr S Wilson (Halifax, Yorkshire)

Well done again on publishing this brilliant work and another well done for the excellent sales this book has already achieved especially for a self published novel.
 

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Very Thought Provoking, 13 Dec 2009

Reviewer: Mr Geoffrey W Fabron

Based on some of the reviews I was reluctant to purchase this book but picked it up second hand and, like another reviewer then found I could not put it down....

I recommend this to anyone with an interest in the Second World War and Alternate History

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A Technical Approach to Alt Hist, 19 Aug 2009

Reviewer: Philip H (Peterborough)

I have read many Alt History anthologies and this is a creditable addition.

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            good idea, more depth needed, 18 Dec 2008

            Reviewer: A. D. Taylor "Defender of the Empire" (St Helena Island)

Good idea, but characters are one dimensional, too much detail on weapons sizes/capability etc. not enough tension created.  

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            A Great Idea - that deserves more respect., 8 Jan 2008

            Reviewer: Mr. Richard I. Carling (Cambridge, UK)

All writing should be applauded for the effort, but with even more effort this idea could have been a great work of fiction.

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            A rather poor "alternative history" novel, 27 Jul 2007

            Reviewer: George (Thessaloniki, - Greece)

     
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            Such a Brilliance for a first Book, 6 Jul 2007

            Reviewer: P Walker "Caveboy 101" (South Cave ,England)

BUY THIS BOOK. Its worth it cause I've read it once and am starting again and this will not be the last time, it is simply that good.

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            Started rereading immediately!, 26 Jun 2007

            Reviewer: Richard D. Coates (UK)

As a wargamer and a fan of alternative history fiction I loved this book....In my opinion, this story cries out for a film - or a TV series

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            Fantastic rollercoaster of a British victory, 2 April 2007

            Reviewer: Mrs. C. N. Morton "Claire Morton" (Northumberland, England)
Wonderful, savage imagery with which, I presume, the author meant to draw direct parallels with our time.

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            What a great story!!!!!! , 31 Jan 2007

               Reviewer: SJ SMART "Smartie" (York, England)

If you have ever asked yourself what would World War two had been like if Britain was better prepared and had listen to various pre war experts. If it had concentrated on building a good tank, aircraft carriers to escort convoys and project power and fighters before the war, and then be able to face Hitler's blitzkreig on equal terms, then this is the book for you!
Buy this book, tell your friends, its great!!

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         unputdownable, 5 Jan 2007

            Reviewer: Kentishman (Kent, UK)

I'm a fan of alternate history books and with the exception of a couple of flaws at the beginning and end, this was a very good read.
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            A jolly romp through WWII, 2 Nov 2006

               Reviewer: Mr. C. Bennett

I liked this book, it was very readable and the action starts early on. It contains lots of interesting ideas about how things could have turned out differently....

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            Literally could not put this book down..., 4 Aug 2006
            Reviewer: Geoff Bennett (Nottingham, England)  

I know it's a cliche, but it's true. I have missed two deadlines for a work project because of this book!
Absolutely fascinating. Well researched and fairly well written....
If you read and loved Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising", then you absolutely must read this book.

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        A Very British War..., 12 Jun 2006
        Reviewer: D.P.Evans (London)

...and no bad thing! I enjoyed this, its a densely-packed fast-paced novel that charts on the progress of an alternate WWII where both Britain and Germany get the chance to correct some of their 'mistakes' in advance.....
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       Believable and engaging! 13 May 2006

         Reviewer: Oleg Volk (Nashville, TN USA)

Anthony Williams writes an excellent what-if....

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          A good idea, poorly executed. 18 April 2006

          Reviewer: A. Bailey (London UK)

The premise is excellent....

However there are major problems with the story.
1. The German side is handicapped by their advisor's moral scruples...
2. Many alternative scenarios are explored only as far as they get rejected by the governments in question...

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           Well-written, clever and compelling, 11 April 2006

            Reviewer: steven (Twickenham, Middlesex UK)

It's not over-dramatic but it has a great deal of action and suspense. The battle scenes are very well written - not at a detailed blood-and-guts level - but as military historical narrative....

Highly recommended.

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           Disappointingly contrived, 18 March 2006

         Reviewer: Mark Klobas (Tempe, AZ)

The book itself is constructed on a series of contrivances. The first and most central one is the transportation of two historians living in the year 2004 back seventy years into the past an event that serves as little more than a device for achieving Williams's main goal, which is to re-fight the Second World War using updated weapons and tactics. This is where Williams shines, using his knowledge as a military historian to envision a war re-waged based on the lessons it provided. His ideas in this respect are both intriguing and plausible, posing some interesting answers and setting the stage for some exciting clashes.

The other elements of the novel, however, are sadly lacking. Williams's characters are as contrived as the premise, lacking any real depth or distinct personalities.....

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        Very well written, 17 Mar 2006

         Reviewer: "cohagan10"

I loved this book...

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        Buy this book, January 16, 2006

         Reviewer: Barry Curran from Edinburgh

This book is a real page turner....

The great thing about this book is that is one which places Britain at the centre of events and, therefore, is must read for British readers who enjoy reading alternative histories....

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        Foresight War, August 30, 2005

         Reviewer: Andrew Reid-Jones from Cardiff, South Glamorgan United Kingdom

Picked it up once, put it down only once till I finished it.

 

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Customer Reviews From Amazon.com:

 

 Average Customer Review (12 reviews):


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                It's entertaining, January 24, 2015

          Reviewer: James

His changes are straightforward but considerably less superficial than what you usually see in time travel/ alternate history books.

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                Backsight on Foresight, June 15, 2013

          Reviewer: Thomas E. Johhnson

A very interesting work, showing how even small changes can have large effects.

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                a good read, November 19, 2012

          Reviewer: kenthoffmaster

The only thing I thought maybe the author could have done is have a historian from the future in Japan. I think that would have made it more interesting.

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             Interesting idea, November 12, 2012

          Reviewer: A, Gray (New Haven, CT)

Worth reading if you are a fan of alternate history and/or world war two, mainly for the detail about the war and some serious thought into how the war could be changed given lessons from the future and the political realities of the time.

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alternative history, September 11, 2009

Reviewer: Lawrence H Feldman (Owings Mills, Maryland)

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          Great read; very tech-heavy alternative history, December 21, 2008

           Reviewer: Alt Man (Gainesville, Florida)

 What I liked about this was it didn't get too focused on personalities, love interests, or that sort of thing. Also, it was almost non-stop action. If you like Tom Clancy's novels - the ones where the Russians invade the West, for example - you'd love this. It's really "techy."

 

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Down to Earth and believable, March 3, 2008

Reviewer: Anandasubramanian C. Pranat

  Detailed, yet completely plausible outcomes.

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            An interesting concept, but poorly developed, December 13, 2007

            Reviewer: Mark Klobas (Tempe, AZ)

 Readers who are primarily interested in the idea of a Second World War fought with more advanced weaponry will enjoy this book and the ideas Williams presents. But for anyone seeking a good novel of alternative history would do well to pass on this book

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  Brilliantly thought out, solidly researched, October 17, 2007

            Reviewer: A. L. Jones (Billings, MT United States)

  Anyone curious about World War II would enjoy the book, the more you know the more impressive and intriguing the book is.

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        Just plain cool, April 25, 2005

        Reviewer: Tark Mwain "(tm)" (Mo town)


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        A good read, February 9, 2005

        Reviewer: Nicholas Sumner (Canada)

I am a little bit wary of time travel scenarios but I found The Foresight War to be a satisfying read and a large and complicated plot is deftly handled, the narrative is well paced, there are surprising plot turns and the book is sufficiently gripping to be read at one sitting, there is also a great deal of detail and some laugh out loud humour....

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        Close, but no Cigar, January 5, 2005

        Reviewer: James K. Brooks "jkbrooks85" (Blacksburg, Virginia United States)

Some howlers ... the author has Barbarossa starting in May and repeats
the urban legend about how the Balkan campaign was the reason for the
delay, not the spring rains as we all know to be the case.

It seems as if he has also ignored the materiel and logistics
constraints of the pre-war German economy...

He also has them producing hundreds of U-Boats without the Brits
noticing ...


And, for example, he has a British AEW warned USAAC decimate the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in P-40's....

And Chamberlain resigns in favour of Churchill on the say so of the
uptimer, but no hint that he resigned as much because he was dying of
stomach cancer....

 

[Authors comment: a few points here!

 1. Barbarossa: the criticism is invalid, the attack in the novel starts on 1st of June, the original target date of May 15th having been "delayed by a fortnight by the consequences of a late spring thaw after a severe winter, exacerbated by exceptionally wet weather, which had combined to cause swollen rivers and flooded plains. Even now some of OKH had argued for a further delay to ensure that conditions were suitable for the Panzers, but Hitler would wait no longer." And (a comment by Erlang about what happened in his time): "Hitler originally intended to attack in May, but was deflected until late June by the Balkans campaign, which in my time went on for much longer."

 2. German resources: as with the British developments, the main changes to the German rearmament come from different choices; however, there was capacity for more war production as was clearly demonstrated by the fact that production rose late in the war even under heavy Allied bombing. The 20 Panzer Divisions (with 4,000 tanks) in the novel were only available in time for the start of Barbarossa, at which time Germany historically attacked with 3,600 tanks.

 3. U-boat production: the British become aware of the German submarine developments in early 1938 (see end of Chapter 1)

 4. Pearl Harbor: the degree to which the US defences might have disrupted the Japanese attack, given enough warning to get their fighters armed and in the air, has been the subject of much debate on discussion forums, with no consensus being reached. In the novel, they partly disrupt the attack, which seems a reasonable compromise, so I don't accept this criticism is valid.

 5. Chamberlain's illness: it isn't particularly relevant why he resigned historically; he was given enough reason to do so by Erlang!]

 

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