Operation Chaos by Poul Anderson

OperationChaos2Published: 1971

Genre: science fiction/ speculative fiction

Length: 232 pages

Setting: an alternate Earth that uses magic for technology after WWII

Interest: I put it on my list because it’s one of the classics of science fiction.

Summary: The story is a series of flashbacks sent out to the multiverse to warn other universes about the tricks of the Adversary who was trying to take over their world. In this world, they’ve figured out how to reverse the nullifying effects of iron on magic, and are using magic for their technology. We start in WWII, where Steven, a werewolf, has to sneak Virginia, a witch, into an enemy camp to banish a djinn. Steven and Virginia get together after the war and go back to college to learn more about their respective arts (especially since Virginia’s powers are currently based on her virginity). While at the university, they fight a rogue salamander. They finally marry, and are accosted by a succubus on their honeymoon. Each battle leaves Steven near death, where he gets a vision of the Adversary trying to arrange his death. In the final confrontation, his daughter is snatched into Hell by a Johannine priest. Steven infiltrates the nearest Johnnie church, and then uses the information there to mount a trip into the Hell dimension to rescue his daughter, with the help of his wife and a group of friends.

Final thoughts: It was a fun book with a unique premise. It’s a rare combination of magic and science fiction, and I really enjoyed all the magical substitutions for our technologies. My favorite was probably the animated clothing parade instead of a dryer. Nothing too deep, but some fun action and characters. Turns out there’s a sequel – Operation Luna – that might be fun to read as well.

Title comes from: Their trip into Hell to rescue their daughter was actually into the Chaos dimension, which created many difficulties in maneuvering through it.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 24/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and an O in A-Z Reading Challenge (which takes me to 15/26).


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