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Birmingham, John

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1964-    ) UK-born playwright, journalist and author, in Australia from 1970, where he became active from around 1980, and where he is best-known for the non-fantastic roman à clef, He Died With a Felafel in His Hand (1994); he began to write sf with his Alternate History version of World War Two, the Axis of Time sequence comprising Weapons of Choice (2004), Designated Targets: World War 2.2 (2005; vt Designated Targets: A Novel of the Axis of Time 2005) and Final Impact: World War 2.3 (2006; vt Final Impact: A Novel of the Axis of Time 2007), in which twenty-first-century soldiers with twenty-first-century Weaponry find themselves implicated in the war. The consequences are bloody after the fashion of much Military SF, and, at times, enthralling (see Hitler Wins), though Birmingham's multi-protagonist panorama of multi-continent conflicts, which is reminiscent of Harry Turtledove's work, lacks some of that author's raw energy. A second phase of the overall sequence, the variously released Stalin's Hammer series assembled as Stalin's Hammer: The Complete Sequence: A Novel of the Axis of Time (omni 2017), begins in the 1950s after the Axis has fallen, with Stalin's USSR now attempting to fix future history on totalitarian lines.

The James Kipper sequence, comprising Without Warning (2008), After America: Who and What Will Fill the Void (2010) and Angels of Vengeance (2011), more engagedly depicts an America reduced to a tiny enclave in Seattle after a vast mysterious Disaster has eliminated the rest of the country – though by the third volume the action, conveyed in Technothriller style, has become worldwide. The Dave Hooper sequence beginning with Dave vs the Monsters: Emergence (2015) introduces an element of spoof as the eponymous hero battles Monsters in a more or less contemporary America.

The Cruel Stars sequence beginning with The Cruel Stars (2019), is a Space Opera series set in a galaxy whose human populations had long previously survived an attempt by a fundamentalist horde to purify Homo sapiens, extirpating most of the species on grounds of genetic or Cybernetics-based impurity (see Evolution; Genetic Engineering; Posthuman). As the tale begins, the horde reappears, devastatingly. A small cadre is left to save the galaxy again, a task commenced in The Shattered Skies (2022) [JC]

John Birmingham

born Liverpool, England: 7 August 1964



Axis of Time/World War 2

Axis of Time/Stalin's Hammer

James Kipper

Dave Hooper

Cruel Stars

individual titles

collections and stories

  • Here Be Monsters (no place given: John Birmingham, 2016) [story: ebook: first appeared in Dreaming Again (anth 2008) edited by Jack Dann as "­Heere Be Monsters": na/]


previous versions of this entry

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