Into the Storm (Destroyermen #1)

Into the Storm Book Cover Into the Storm
Destroyermen
Taylor Anderson
Sci-fi
Roc
June 3, 2008
Paperback
416

Pressed into service when World War II breaks out in the Pacific, the USS Walker---a Great-War vintage "four-stacker" destroyer---finds itself in full retreat from pursuit by Japanese battleships. Its captain, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Patrick Reddy, knows that he and his crew are in dire straits. In desperation, he heads Walker into a squall, hoping it will give them cover---and emerges somewhere else.

Familiar landmarks appear, but the water teems with monstrous, vicious fish. And there appear to be dinosaurs grazing on the plains of Bali. Gradually Matt and his crew must accept the fact that they are in an alternate world---and they are not alone. Humans have not evolved, but two other species have. And they are at war.

With its steam power and weaponry, the Walker's very existence could alter the balance of power. And for Matt and his crew, who have the means to turn a primitive war into a genocidal Armageddon, one thing becomes clear: They must decide whose side they're on. Because whoever they choose to side with is the winner.

 

Into the Storm features a group of WWII-era US Navy sailors suddenly stuck in a strange new world. This is a world where mass extinction never wiped out the dinosaurs, drastically changing Earth’s evolutionary history. The premise gives the story the feel of The Land That Time Forgot, which probably inspired Into the Storm somewhat. Only in this story, there is not a clear path back home for the characters. The story starts with a real basis in history and moves onto fantastical elements from there.

One of the great things about Into the Storm is its basis in real history. The USS Walker was a real ship that saw service during WWI. And the Second Battle of the Java Sea is a real battle from WWII. The ships that wind up in Anderson’s new world were not present at the actual battle. The historical USS Walker was decommissioned prior to the war, as was the USS Mahan. Their disappearance likely resulted in Earth’s history remaining unaltered, with a Japanese victory, in this book. The remaining Allied ships were sunk, and their surviving crew members captured.

So, the fictional Walker and Mahan are now in this strange new world. Both ships are outdated and damaged with limited supplies. But they are not alone. Now we get the good guys, the Lemurians, and the bad guys, the Grik. The Lemurians are peaceful lemur-people. The Grik are humanoid but have more in common with a Spielberg velociraptor than anything else in terms of temperament. These two do not get along. And now here comes the USS Walker with military technology far ahead of what either side possesses. The Walker’s crew is in a strange new world that will forever change due to their very presence.

As the first book in a series, Into the Storm does a lot. Characters are introduced, worldbuilding is established, and the plot starts pushing forward. Anderson does a fantastic job juggling all those aspects to make his story feel alive. Is this anything new? No, not really. But it is reminiscent of great works of literature and seems on track to be highly entertaining. Despite the sci-fi premise, it still feels like a Navy story. Maybe not full-blown Master and Commander, but still the Navy. By the end of Into the Storm things are just getting started and I am excited to see where they sail next.

April 5, 2020

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