The Iron Dream

Norman Spinrad
The Iron Dream Cover

Tedious Story - Brilliant Afterword...


Think Atlas Shrugged but instead of objectivism, the subject is fascism. Also, the story is not written by Ayn Rand but rather, by Adolf Hitler. What?!? Read on for a few mild spoilers...

In this alternate-history tale, Hitler served in WWI and then briefly joined the National Socialist Party before quitting in disgust at their ineffectiveness. He then decides to emigrate to the United States where he becomes a celebrated science-fiction author. His most successful book being 'Lord of the Swastika', which won him a posthumous Hugo.

This is a great premise for a story so imagine my disappointment as I found myself reading another lengthy and heartfelt rant in the same vein as Atlas Shrugged; repetitious, bombastic, fetishistic, racist, and nearly unbearably tedious. From around the halfway point I skimmed to the end. I'm sure I missed nothing of importance because the outcome was never in question and none of the details really matter much to the fervent ideals splashed across each and every page.

By contrast, the afterword brilliantly deconstructs Hitler's strengths and failings as an author. Unflinchingly exposing and expanding on every single issue I had with the preceding meta-tale. Spinrad essentially rips the book - and its author - to shreds. Yet he does it in the most backhanded complimentary fashion imaginable. Spinrad has accomplished an interesting thing here; He writes as Hitler, expanding on many known aspects of his personality but translated from a powerful and influential national leader that united most of the world against him, to a frustrated author expounding those same ideas via his fictional writings. I have much admiration for how well Spinrad constructed and executed the idea of this novel. It's unfortunate that "Hitler's" fascist ramblings don't make for very compelling fiction.