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Which dog knows the way?
am 24. April 1998
Making History is one of those books that takes a fascinating idea--What Hitler had not been born?--and wanders around wondering just what to do with it. Certainly the inital premise is compling, graduate student Mark Young and his *Jewish* teacher Zuckerman send sterilization tablets back to the water in Hitlers hometown, thus preventing his parents from conceiving him. With this act, the world changes--yet not all that much. Fry upsets the Great Man Idea of history by giving Hitler an understudy--another despot, Rudi Glober, who not only becomes a more effective Fuhrer but also embraces the *Jewish science* of physics Hitler rejected. The resulting Reich now dominates all Europe with its nuclear warheads--yet how is it different from a world in which Hitler won? The concept has been done elsewhere--most notably Fatherland--with stronger results. Fry is considering removing the most provocative man of the 20th century, yet he only replaces a wolf with a tiger. The time-travel concept, first pills, then a dead rat, are shot backward a hundred years, is mentioned, then dropped. The homosexual angle is almost silly: In the alternate world Mark Young finally meets his One True Love,--Stephen, a fellow student. This idea is not new, in other hands Stephen would simply be Stephanie. While it is good to see homo-love mentioned without the mandatory agonizing, in this case it almost distracts from the initial idea of Hitler. True, gays died in the death camps, but Gay Guy Steve is no different from a Jewish girl in this setting. Mark, his lover, and Dr.Zuckerman shift from world to world with little real upheaval; the alternate world is grim, yet I have seen far worse ones, and far better. While Fry pens an enjoyable read, he plays with marvelous ideas he then abandons in favor of his own playful agenda. A dog sled goes faster if one dog is allowed to lead, not let each one get a sniff along the way.