Saturday, November 12, 2016

SF/Fantasy Novels Set in World War I and World War II

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

Yesterday was Remembrance Day in Canada. My father was born in July 1940 in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. One of his earliest memories is of tanks rolling in to liberate them from the Nazis—a soldier gave him a grape lollipop. Perhaps because of this personal connection, I have long been fascinated with World War II (and to a lesser degree with World War I.) There are many, many historical novels dealing with this time period. Here are a few with a SF or fantasy twist.

1/ Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal. 
My review:
Great premise--during WWI Great Britain used mediums to get intelligence information from the dead. The heroine, Ginger, is hit with a huge complication around the one-quarter mark and has to use her skills to find a traitor and solve a murder. Interesting magic and the plot moves well. I was also happy to see POC included in the story.

2/ Blackout and sequel All Clear by Connie Willis. 
My review:
WW II: the London Blitz, Dunkirk, the child evacuees and VE-Day. Women ambulance drivers, Ultra, and the efforts to convince Germany the Normandy invasion would occur at a different location with the use of inflatable tanks. Three history students from Oxford time travel to observe WW II England--only, of course, things go wrong. Fascinating historical detail and strong tension throughout.
Note: These novels won the Hugo Award in 2011. I came late to reading them because I waited in vain for them to come out in mass market paperbacks, before finally caving in and buying trade paperbacks.

3/ Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James. 
This one doesn’t quite fit, as it takes place in 1921. However, the heroine, Jo, is a widow, still grieving for her husband who didn’t come home from the war. My review:
Creepy ghost story, set three years after WWI in Britain, in the home of a very unhappy family. Jo's character and circumstances drew my sympathy strongly from the first. To be honest, around the middle of the story I was starting to think the book was a little under par, but it really kicked into gear at the two-thirds mark. So. Much. Tension. And, and, spoiler-stuff I can't mention but so good!
Note: The blurb contains a spoiler.

Here are two more which are on my To-read list, both young adult:

4/ Front Lines by Michael Grant. 
Premise: A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service in the U.S. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.

5/ The Comic Book War by Jacqueline Guest. 
Premise: In 1943, 15-year-old Robert is home in Calgary, but his three brothers are all fighting the Nazis. Robert is convinced that a magical link exists between the comics he reads and the safety of his brothers.
This one details the incredible sacrifices and effort made by those on the Home Front. 

Have you read any SF/fantasy books set in WWI or WWII? Share them in the comments!


  1. It's kind of literary but with definite spec fic bones: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

  2. Thanks for this precious information i really appropriate it.

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  3. The rebirth premise does sound interesting. Thanks for the rec!

  4. I thought of another one: Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney, a YA with magic and time travel to WWII


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