Days Of Cain
Copyright 1997 by
I first read this in June 2001.
Time travel is possible, both up the line into the futuree and down
into the past. History can be changed, the horrors of the past erased.
But changing the past cannot be allowed to happen. It is essential for the future of humanity that the original
history be maintained, so that in the long distant future, the great
intelligences, the "Moiety", remain to perform their incomprehensible
The Extension is the system by which the continuity of history is policed
and maintained. The staff are dedicated people snatched from all
periods of time. Their job is sometimes satisfying but sometimes a
horror too great to bear. Some quit, some break and some turn
renegade, seeking to move history onto a better, in their view, path.
Now there's a problem back in the mid-twentieth century. Some renegades
plan to erase the stain of the Holocaust from existence
The renegades, having failed to kill Hitler, have now turned their
attention to Auschwitz and it will there that they will try to change
history and all the future that results from it.
James Gaspar is from the distant future, not even from Earth. He's seen
his share of horrors but he's loyal to the cause - he understands,
intellectually, that the abominations are necessary although the
reasoning is beyond him.
The leader of the rebels is Alma Lewin, a woman of remarkable personality
that Gaspar himself trained and that he should perhaps have rejected
during training. Gaspar's called in to catch the renegades before
irrevocable havoc results and this he will do, at whatever cost to
himself and the world.
And meanwhile, back in 1967, Rebur, once of the German SS, tries to
live with his memory of the horror and guilt of his time at Auschwitz.
Further back still, in 1944, Rebeka is on her way to Aushwitz. She is a
young jewess, determined to be strong but full of fear.
Don't expect an easy read from this novel. It's powerful, horrifying and
heartbreaking. The characters exist in a quaqmire of evil, some barely
floating at the surface, others sinking. No one's actions are morally
pure, no one is innocent, although many are naive.
This is absolutely first class science-fiction.
I remembered enjoying "Full Tide Of Night" and while browsing
Amazon I thought to check
to see what else he'd written. "Days of Cain" sounded interesting
but was out of print. On an impulse, I ordered a used copy from
one of Amazon's partners, a process that worked swiftly and successfully.
"Days of Cain" is a sensational book and it's
incomprehensible that it is out of print. I can imagine that Longyear's
"Sea Of Glass" is probably out of print as well. What an astonishingly
sad state of affairs.
Loaded on the 10th June 2001.