What if Pearl Harbour never happened? That’s the question that Peter Tieryas answers in United States of Japan, an alternate history that postulates that Japan and Germany won the Second World War. A fan of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Tieryas brings his Asian heritage to the table in a novel that is equal parts thriller and science fiction.
Beniko ‘Ben’ Ishimura is a computer game sensor well known amongst his colleagues for turning his own parents in as traitors to the Emperor. When a new illegal game called United States of America emerges he is partnered with Akiko Tsukino, a member of the secret police, to investigate the origins and stop the spread of this game. With a clash of personalities inevitable given Akiko’s unwavering loyalty to the Emperor, she and Ben dig deeper into the discontent and resistance that bubble away under the surface of the USJ.
Complex, deep, and multi-layered, United Stats of Japan is the kind of alternate history novel that really poses some tough questions. Extrapolating a believable world from the 1940’s onwards is a task that Tieryas meets without issue, building a society that is both familiar yet very different. While set in an alternate 1988, technology has already moved to a point similar to our 00’s, and even beyond that in some respects – it’s a fascinating look at what could have been.
While not without its issues (giving more detail on the wider world is its main fault), United Stats of Japan still delivers an exciting and tense plot that builds to a satisfying conclusion. If alternate history is your thing, then this is a novel that will hit your spot.