In 2013, Amazon launched Kindle Worlds, which enabled a commercial avenue for what has been disdainfully called fan-fiction.
Critics attacked the idea.
Readers attacked the idea, saying “it’s a stupid move,” and “it will never last.”
Even such stalwarts of science fiction as io9 attacked the idea, saying, “Kurt Vonnegut? F*CK AND NO. The man is one of America’s literary icons. To allow fan fiction based on his work is a disgrace.”
Is there the possibility for fan-fiction to be a poor imitation of the original? Yes. But to assume that Kindle Worlds will “tarnish… America’s greatest authors,” is short-sighted. Rather than tarnishing Slaughterhouse Five, Hugh Howey has produced a story that is undoubtedly one of the greatest science fiction sequels ever penned.
There are a handful of stories that are iconic: Old Man and the Sea, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Animal Farm, Slaughterhouse Five. It is with solemn respect that I suggest Peace in Amber joins those ranks as one of the few stories that captures the psyche of a nation.
In the same way in which Slaughterhouse Five captured the horrors of World War II and the bombing of Dresden, in centuries to come, people will read Peace in Amber to understand the impact of 9/11 on the heart and soul of America.
Peace in Amber is masterfully written, carefully echoing the style of Vonnegut while bringing a fresh, original perspective to the concept of the Tralfamadorians, a fictitious alien race that is unbound by time, seeing all of life in one sweeping vista.
Peace in Amber is written from two vantage points, that of Howey himself as a ship captain at dock below the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, and Montana Wildhack, a character from Vonnegut’s original story. Montana was the mate selected by the Tralfamadorians for Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist of Slaughterhouse Five.
The prose is chilling. The alternating storyline blends with the chaos of the moment, and you are transported seamlessly from that fateful September morning across the universe and back again.
I’m on the wharf, looking up. There’s a plane howling across the clear blue sky, banking hard, coming in too fast. One building is burning, and another can’t get out of the way. A pattern is forming, but in my head I only have a silent scream to a pilot who is already dead. Pull up. Pull up. — Peace in Amber
Even the title, Peace in Amber, has been adapted from Slaughterhouse Five.
All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber. — Slaughterhouse Five
Hugh Howey has written an American classic.
Without Kindle Worlds, Peace in Amber would have never been written and we would be the poorer for that loss.
September 11, 2001 stands as a pivotal moment in history in much the same way as December 7th, 1941 marked the end of America’s innocence. To capture the raw poignant emotion of this event in such a moving story is the essence of great literature.
For generations to come, this book will be a rallying point for those that seek to understand what we collectively felt on that day.
Rather than diminishing Vonnegut’s masterpiece, Hugh Howey has refreshed it for a new generation.
Kurt Vonnegut would love Peace in Amber.
Thank you, Hugh.
*Disclosure – I am a science fiction author who met Hugh Howey once. You’ll have to decide if that constitutes a bias. You can find Peace in Amber on Amazon Kindle Worlds