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
Read Paul Adkins' spinoff story - Foresight America - HERE
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.
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.
Updated 22 March 2015
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!
See Chimera Dave's blog HERE
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.
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.
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.
Customer Reviews from Amazon.co.uk:
Average Customer Review (24 reviews):
------------------------Excellent Book, 5 July 2013
I've had it for several years and re-read it a dozen times.
best Alternative History story I have ever read,
Reviewer: Jon Hickey
I am totally exhausted having read this book in one sitting last night and into the early hours of this morning
enjoyed it thoroughly,
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.
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.
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
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.
idea, more depth needed,
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.
A Great Idea - that
deserves more respect.,
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.
A rather poor "alternative history" novel, 27 Jul 2007
Reviewer: George (Thessaloniki, - Greece)
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.
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
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.
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!!
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.
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....
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.
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.....
Believable and engaging! 13 May 2006
Reviewer: Oleg Volk (Nashville, TN USA)
Anthony Williams writes an excellent what-if....
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...
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....
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.....
Very well written, 17 Mar 2006
I loved this book...
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....