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Pendragon - The Never War

Style: Poor

Attitude: Take Care

Cover of Pendragon - The Never War

Author: D.J. McHale

Series: Pendragon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published in: 2004

Age Range: Young Teens

Period: Contemporary

Setting: Earth

Genres:  Fantasy


Characters:

  • Bobby Pendragon: 15-year-old Traveller, one of an elite body who protect all the Territories, one for each Territory. They have no special powers, barring a certain ability to make friends and persuade people. Bobby is Traveller for 2nd Earth, but has some special significance, as yet unrevealed.
  • Vo Spader: Traveller for Cloral,a waterworld. He is driven by his hatred for Saint Dane, which sometimes leads him to be rash.
  • Saint Dane: a Traveller who has gone to the bad. He has the ability to appear as anyone else, a skill he uses to advance his plan of sending all Territories into chaos.
  • Gunny is the Traveller for 1st Earth, our world of the 1930s. He works as bell-captain in a smart New York hotel, and has a certain innate wisdom.
  • Max Rose is a gangster, supplying information to the Nazis.
  • Jinx Olsen is the coastguard's only female pilot, frustrated because she spends more time doing publicity events on the ground than flying.

Synopsis:

Bobby finds Saint Dane manipulating things in 1937 New York, and must work out what link there is between a New York gangster, the Nazi Party, the Hindenburg Airship disaster and Saint Dane's plan for total chaos. To find out more about events to come, he and Gunny travel to 3rd Earth, 3000 years in the future, where a powerful computer can simulate what would have happened if ...

Notes:

General: See notes on the other books in the Pendragon series. No significant change in style for this book.

Moral choices: An important part of this story turns on the fact that Bobby and Gunny have seen a future simulation of what will happen if the Hindenburg doesn't crash, viz Nazi atom bombs destroying New York in 1944 and turning it in 5010 from a paradise into a hell-hole. This complicates the decision they already face: should they prevent a gangster from using a rocket to blow up the Hindenburg, or should they — by taking no action — allow him to go ahead? This is one of those moral Choices which beset the sci-fi and fantasy genre, often tied up with time-travel or fortune-telling. The reasoning goes something like: I know what's going to happen; do I have the right (or indeed the duty) to alter the past? The trouble with the reasoning involved in taking this decision is that you don't know what's going to happen: the logic takes no account of the fact that men and women are free to choose and to change their choices at any time. Let us say that Max Rose, the gangster, did indeed sell the secrets of the atom bomb to the Nazis. It's not a foregone conclusion that they would develop and deploy such horrific power. Even if they did (and this is a slightly different question now) who's to say that it wouldn't be the best thing for humanity in some way? No-one can know the consequences of all actions, not even the hypothetical hypercomputers of the 51st century; human beings are not simply organic computers with deterministic state graphs in place of free will.

Population: Patrick , the Traveller for 51st-century Earth, says: “Combine (populated space stations) with the fact that people have finally started getting smart about family planning, and we finally achieved zero population growth”, the result of which is vast areas of land left unused after people had built underground.

Modesty & Decency: Bobby dwells somewhat on a pink bikini owned by his girlfriend Courtney, and which she later wears when they meet in their home town of Stonybrook.

There it was. The moment I had feared for months. Spader's hated for Saint Dane had come roaring back. He was going to avenge the death of his father, non matter what the cost. Spader had promised me he could control his emotions, but he was wrong. Or he lied. It didn't matter which. The fact was, he didn't believe me about what we had found on Third Earth. Maybe I hadn't explained it well enough. Or maybe it was too much for him to understand. Whatever. All he saw was that Saint Dane was about to cause a horrific crash and people would die. He was so blinded by hatred he couldn't believe he was doing exactly what our enemy wanted him to do.

I realised all this as I stood on the road, alone, with no way to follow him or stop him. I glanced at my watch. It was 7:00. In twenty-five minutes the first domino would fall in Saint Dane's plan to destroy Halla.

It would be the end of the Earth territories, now and forever.

Sunday 4th April 2004