If you drew breath in the 20th century, you’ve encountered more than a few World War II stories in your time. It seemed like every Sunday afternoon Award Theater movie on TV when I was a kid was either a Western or a World War II flick. Here are two of my favorite science fiction and fantasy World War II stories of all time.
A while back, I heard an urban legend about World War II. The legend says that at the beginning of the War, all the magical adepts of England gathered together to conduct a ritual to stop the Nazis from invading England. The ritual cost all of the witches their lives, robbing the future of direct knowledge of the Old Ways. As a direct result of the ritual, though, England prevailed and the Nazis lost the war.
I think Ian Tregillis heard the same legend and thought, “Ah, but what if that happened for real? What if World War II was really a battle between British warlocks and Nazis with superhero-style abilities powered by lithium ion batteries?” If that sounds like the basis for a good trilogy, you are absolutely right. Tregillis’ Milkwood Tryptich is an epic retelling of World War II as just such a battle. Give this series a try (starting with the first book Bitter Seeds) if you like Lovecraft, Fullmetal Alchemist, World War II stories in general, or alternate history.
If you’d rather read a taught suspense story about time travel and World War II, drop everything you are doing and read Connie Willis’ amazing pair of novels Blackout and All Clear.
The novels follow several Oxford history students who have traveled back to the Blitz in order to study how the war unfolded. Before departure, they are outfitted with photographic recall of historical records covering the time that they are studying. Due to an accident, they all become trapped in England during the War. Each passing day puts the students closer to the moment when their foreknowledge runs out. Can they figure out how to get home without getting killed or accidentally changing history? Blackout and All Clear are both longer novels but they’re both fast, suspenseful reads.
I couldn’t possibly imagine a better pair of SFF World War II stories than these.
Happy reading, everyone!