The Stuff of Heroesis book one of the Semblance of Order Trilogy. The books are firmly in the alternative history mode, set in the post-war years after a disastrous and short WWII, in which Britain never re-armed and lost the struggle early on. The Nazi regime is dominant in Europe and there is a real sense of a German Empire. Britain was occupied in 1940 as they had no effective weapon to fight the Luftwaffe; the Spitfire had been considered but rejected firmly, leaving the airways free for the Messerschmitts to swoop where they would. Skip forward 25 years and a whole generation of Britons has grown up to subservience, knowing their place. It is almost feudal in outlook.
Except there is a resistance. And the resistance has a remarkable feature. The Beat Kids are Rock and Rollers; young people, male and female, influenced by the incredible music coming out of America. The main stronghold is the Chislehurst Caves, an intricate series of underground caverns offering fantastic hideaways just outside London.
Incidentally, I got the idea for the Beat Kids after reading a book about Germany in the 1930s. Several of the young characters were members of the Swing Kids for their love of illicit jazz from America. I transferred the concept to occupied Britain and moved the idea on a generation, much closer to my own time and reflecting my love of rock and roll!
Mark Smith is in his early thirties, too old to be a Beat Kid. In fact, all he wants is a quiet life in academia but trouble comes looking for him. It caught him once, resulting in a long prison sentence. It threatens him again, particularly when he becomes entangled with Georgia Nullgeben, the sector commander’s arrogant seventeen-year-old daughter. It offers him a chance for freedom, yet circumstances drag him into the resistance when Georgia is kidnapped on the basis of information he has supplied.
The Stuff of Heroesis effectively a demolishing of arrogance and order, replacing them with kindness and chaos in roughly equal measure, but recognising that arrogance can combine with kindness, just as one can have chaos within order. Further, efficiency is exposed to be a manic distortion of the order it seeks. Mark and Georgia both have long journeys to make, much to realise and much prejudice to hold them back.
But, The Stuff of Heroesis so much more. There is a tender love story amidst all the fast-paced action. There are also sub-stories so that a dozen or more characters come together to give a picture of what it must have been like to live under the fearsome yoke of oppression and to attempt to rise up against it.
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or ebook at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stuff-Heroes-Semblance-Order-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B07JF9594X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+stuff+of+heroes&qid=1584781895&sr=8-1
Book 2 of the trilogy, The Agent Within, follows the themes of order against chaos, empire against nations, obedience against individuality, with an equal amount of action, tenderness and humour. It will be released later this year. Book 3, tentatively called The Beat Kids, should follow in 2021.
Finally, an interesting note; I wrote The Stuff of Heroes, first version, over twenty-years ago while running my business. I lost the manuscript in one of our many house moves and set about re-writing it in 2018. One day I might find version one again and it will make for a fascinating comparison.