The Violent Century

In 1932, a German scientist accidentally unleashes a worldwide quantum event, the Change, which randomly bestows superhuman abilities and agelessness on a few thousand humans. An alternate 20th century is defined by these changed people, or Übermenschen, as the Nazis come to call them.

The Violent Century follows two Übermenschen, Oblivion and Fogg, agents in Britain's top secret Retirement Bureau. Their story winds through covert operations in World War II, Vietnam, Soviet-controlled Afghanistan and beyond, skipping among these past events and a present-era interrogation with their boss, the Old Man.

Fogg, who can create and control fog, and Oblivion, who can erase objects from existence, befriend each other at a boot camp for British people who've been changed. Together they face off against terrifying Nazi Übermenschen on the Eastern Front and in the ruins of postwar Berlin, where a secret drives them apart for the next 60 years. Oblivion continues his clandestine service while Fogg slinks off into obscurity, until the Old Man reunites them for a fateful debriefing.

Lavie Tidhar (Osama) blends the gritty superhero realism of Watchmen and the Cold War espionage of John le Carré with a dash of noir into something truly special in The Violent Century. His universe is stunningly constructed, at once realistic and fantastic in all the right ways. Tidhar's staccato prose is succinct and evocative, though it could possibly be jarring to some readers. Speculative fiction and fantasy fans of all tastes would do well not to miss this engrossing story. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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