The Kirov Series launches into its third Saga, or “Season” as the publisher now calls it, with the imminent publication of Doppelganger, right on
schedule come March 15, of 2015. The events portrayed in Paradox Hour were so complex and involved, that it took yet another novel to allow them to reach fruition. Readers will be pleased to know that Doppelganger begins right where Paradox Hour left off, and answers many, many questions concerning the fate of the ship and crew we have all been sailing with these last few years.
If fact, the fateful hour, July 28, 1941, actually transpires here in this novel, and the author provides a detailed and engaging explanation of just exactly what transpires.
Ever since Fedorov first wondered what might happen to the ship on that day if they remain in the past, way back in the opening novel of the second saga, Altered States,
many characters have mused and pondered over the puzzling prospect of paradox. The author has taken us into the minds and souls of the main characters to contemplate this looming event, largely
through the musings of Anton Fedorov, and his intriguing discussions on the nature of reality and time with Volsky and Director Kamenski.
Fedorov has been trying to sort through the many possible outcomes, and as the hour approaches, he and Volsky are shocked by an increasing number of anomalies and oddities
that Fedorov fears are related to the paradox they now face. The deep unheard sound that Troyak and Orlov experienced in Siberia is now heard again by the two men on the ship with particularly
sensitive ears, Tasarov and Chief Dobrynin. And with it comes a sense of dread that overshadows that entire story. Scenes from Paradox Hour involving Lenkov, Fedorov’s decision on what to do with the Devil’s Teardrop, and finally the “empty chairs” that start cropping up when key officers and crewmen begin simply vanishing, are particularly riveting, and all these effects seem to be getting progressively worse. For that matter, the ship itself has vanished, right in the middle of the major sea engagement with the German fleet, leaving Admiral Tovey alone to face down Lütjens in a do or die clash of titans on the sea.
The first salvos of that battle were fired as the cliffhanger at the end of Paradox Hour, and now, Doppelganger opens right in the thick of that action, with Part I appropriately titled “Fire & Steel.” Six of the first nine chapters are devoted to this roiling sea battle, and the other three take us to Kirov,
adrift on a strangely calm sea beneath an oppressive grey fog. After one last attempt to figure out what may happen to the ship, Volsky and Fedorov decide to take action rather than wallow in
the doldrums, with some particularly touching moments in “The Final Shift.”
At this point, the author continues his skillful blending of the two time travel universes he has created, beginning with Lieutenant Commander Wellings, rescued from the
sinking battleship Rodney, and with much to say and do here. For Wellings is, in reality, a Professor Paul Dorland, the man behind the Meridian Time Travel Project and the developer of the
time theory that underlies that series. I’m a great lover of time travel and alternate histories, from H.G. Wells on through 12 Monkeys, but firmly believe that this story has the
most sophisticated and intricate theory of time travel ever developed in fiction. Through the character of Paul Dorland, we now get explanations of just exactly what has been happening to the
ship and crew, and learn why these things occur. A detailed glossary of terminology used by Dorland is also included at the end of this novel as an easy reference.
Where Fedorov and Kamenski could only speculate, with the Director always seeming to hold back a card or two in his hand, or a key in his pocket, Dorland lays it all on
the table for us in Doppelganger through a series of scenes taking place at the Meridian “Arch” complex at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. There the team of researchers are attempting to find out how and why this renegade Russian battlecruiser has shifted to the past, and take the measure of all the damage it has done. Their discussions reveal much, and answer many thorny questions concerning the mystery of time travel in the story. At the same time, they begin to discover other factors in play, all having to do with these natural time rifts that have been uncovered, and the strange keys that secure them. Grave and dangerous events are now under way, and in this novel we finally get an explanation of just what that “Grand Finality” Elena Fairchild has been fearing really is.
The resolution of the paradox Kirov and crew face, and just what is actually happening in the time theory, are masterfully handled here, and particularly satisfying. This novel ties off many loose ends, threads of the story the author created in past volumes, that were dropped as intriguing seeds of mystery, but now are used to explain what happens to the ship and crew. Even the small “Ice Watch” sent to Iceland with an Oko radar set is not forgotten when the fateful hour comes, and something happens with those radios the Russians sent to Tovey and Argos Fire, which helps explain the fate of another major character. It makes you realize that virtually every little seed and side plot in the series is there for a very specific reason, and it’s amazing to see how they all come together—Tovey’s haunting memories, Alan Turing’s watch, the appearance of those file boxes at Bletchley Park to name but a few.
In that regard, this novel does not overlook the fate of Vladimir Karpov. Like Fedorov, he too has been trying to analyze what his fate would be come July 28, and
contemplating his options. With two easy escape hatches, one on the back stairway of Ilanskiy, and the other aboard Tunguska in a storm, Karpov decides what to do here, and the outcome launches this saga into waters that are both familiar but new, and promises some chilling and engaging scenes to come in future novels.
Doppelganger answers far more questions than it raises, but the mystery of the Keyholders is still out there to be unraveled, particularly when Dorland reveals the location of a potential time rift associated with the key he once held, now lost as Rodney sinks into the depths of the sea. But not so fast… With all time at his disposal, and the means to get virtually anywhere on the continuum, Dorland hatches a plot to recover that key, and wait until you see where it leads! As I have said before, nothing is in these stories for mere fill. Every little twist and turn of the plot is deliberate, and all part of the growing resolution of this incredible tale.
One last thing to mention here are the historical meetings and musings of Hitler, Rommel, Volkov, Sergie Kirov and others, that lay out just what has been happening on the
Russian front. Shocked by Brigadier Kinlan’s new heavy tanks, the Germans are launching crash programs to develop missiles, jet engines and new tank designs. This season the “Big
Cats” begin to prowl, much earlier than they did historically, as we follow their tracks into 1942. The next novel in the series, Nemesis, promises to take us to the Russian front with
some of the author’s excellent “living history” scenes, with a twist, as the alternate history of WWII continues to play out.
So read part twelve of Paradox Hour one more time, and get ready to rumble, because Doppelganger delivers yet another amazing installment of this story, and now I just can’t wait for the next one. There is simply nothing comparable to this never ending saga, which always delights and entertains with the engaging prose style and storytelling prowess of the author.
Get your copy soon on Amazon, on or before March 15!