The Madagaskar Plan

Written by Guy Saville

Review written by LJ Hurst

Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung


The Madagaskar Plan
Hodder & Stoughton
RRP: £19.99
Released: July 16, 2015
Hbk

I think it is part of the philosophy of alchemy to seek the big in the small, and the small in the big. The author of an alternate history has to do the same, and Guy Saville requires a world in which to do it. There was one chap in Africa once who thought that 'the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world', but Rick Blaine is nothing like Saville's Burton Coles, crazy as their two worlds may be and Coles travels around the world while searching for the one person who matters to him.

It is 1952 and Germany has conquered Europe, kept the US in isolation, reduced the British to an uneasy peace and has driven not only its own Jewish prisoners to the island of Madagascar, but is leeching them from the rest of the world for its own evil purpose with no opposition. Germany has acquired Madagascar from the Vichy French but the rest of the African continent has collapsed into war, as the European forces which cannot fight at home, fight against the Nazis by proxy on the dark continent. Simultaneously, the Nazis are intent on exterminating the native Africans, though their manpower is suffering from its multiple demands.

Infamously, much of the Nazi leadership kept their subordinates in line by a process of divide and rule: one Gauleiter here, another boss there, but with overlapping responsibilities, cravings for power, recognition and addictions to be satiated. If they have some wound, hurt or humiliation to be redeemed, probably in the most cruel way they can think of, then all the more likely to thrive are such men. Unfortunately, some of the opposition, have motives just as horrid, particularly if Burton Coles was a cause of that humiliation. For a man who has been through a lot (The Madagaskar Plan is the five hundred page sequel to The Afrika Reich, and needs at least one more sequel to wrap up the loose ends) Burton Coles does not realise how many people he has upset, though you might have thought the wounds he has suffered, including losing a hand, would give him some idea.

What all this means is that, first on the African continent, and then on Madagaskar, Saville has at least three Nazis who hate Coles, Jews, Britons, blacks and Belgians (in that order); all of those Nazis who hate and fear each other; Coles and his band of hired desperadoes, who scarcely trust each other; a British SOE squadron of dubious motives; Jewish rebels; Jewish councillors; and a mother with some of the maternal spirit of a T. Rex protecting its nest. And then, like a father doing the football pools back in Essex, Saville permutates them in bloody battles and hand-to-hand combat. As readers of The Afrika Reichhave already noticed these confrontations are ridiculously over the top, characters survive wounds and situations that would have crippled and killed them. They emerge, though, divided and split; almost no team stays together. They are lucky if they reform, but mostly this allows Saville's characters to move on to more confrontations with others they have not met before. Plot is not just double-cross but criss-cross as well on the island.

While many of the characters survive on alcohol, analgesics and amphetamines, there is another “A” which is never named – the most basic cause of this story, as with Homer's Iliad, is adultery. Guy Saville intends to write it in epic and bloody style.

 

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