When I was invited to review Black Sun Reich I was most intrigued. Occultist Nazis scouting pre-Columbian ruins for ancient treasures sounded like fun in best Indiana Jones style. Especially since it was unapologetic Pulp/Dieselpunk.
The first thing that struck me was the Newsreel Intro, nicely done. The world Black Sun Reich is set in is a bit different from our version of Earth. Our US is split into the Union States, the CSA and the Texas Freehold.
After a few pages, it is quite clear where the true good guys, the fighters for freedom, the proud and the just reside. Hey, they are even so open minded, they let the bad guys do business (in this case: racist bars and shops):
There’s also no law against being a jackass. It ain’t right but it’s the owners right.
This is part of a conversation between a citizen of the Texas Freehold and the token “good” German. I come back to this “good” German later. Coming back to the Texas Freehold: This fictional state is described in such bright and wonderful terms, it mad me suspicious, so I researched the author, and my suspicion was confirmed:
Mr. Garrison is a citizen of Dallas/Texas. The Texas Freehold is a blatant example of a Mary Suetopia. The author took his home state, and turned it into what is a more heroic, better, more perfect version of reality. It would not be so bad if the deficiencies of all the other states would not be shown in such stark contrast. Texas shines, the rest of the world is just as grimy or worse than in reality.
The first citizen of Texas we meet, Rucker, is such an annoying character, constantly making fun of Deitel, the “good” German, and he comes across like a super-suave, self-assured maverick, 110% sure the sun does not rise before he gets up. And of course, he is a patriot and loves his Texas Freehold. Which brings me to the “good” German Kurt (and other first names according to Rucker) von Deitel. Although technically not a Nazi, he is not a good patriot, he is a nationalist, and a bad one. He is the kind of nationalist every patriot hates. He believes in “Deutschland über alles” and is proud to be Prussian. Nothing wrong with that, but:
Somehow, Garrison manages it to make the same words that make Rucker a patriot when talking about Texas make Deitel a bad nationalist when talking about Germany. The message here is: If the character is German, he is a Nazi, no matter what, it can’t be helped.
Enough with the rant. The story has its highlights, the events in Europe are interesting, the blighted areas and what is going on there most intriguing.
I did not finish reading the novel, however. The one-sided characterisation of who is good and who is bad coupled with the annoying preferred treatment of everything Texan and the old tropes regarding Europe in general and Germany in particular where too annoying. The true Nazis that show up are also no fun, ambulatory Lugers with no other attributes, uninspired copies of Indiana Jones and Iron Sky villains. I put the book aside after about two thirds.