Right, the chaos is over and I’m back on the job!
The current issue of Fortean Times has my review of The Nazi Occult by Kenneth Hite in it. I’m not going to cover the whole book again, because I already did, but I’d like to talk about it in the specific context of my love of imaginary settings and fake history.
So, The Nazi Occult is part of Dark Osprey, which itself appears to be a subset of Osprey Adventures, Osprey’s line that encompasses fantasy, mythology, horror, alternative history and so on. (think I may add this one to the ol’ wish list.) In many ways, however, it’s like a normal Osprey book, with the usual colour plates, maps, photographs, historical documents and so on. It’s basically an Osprey from an alternate universe where secret Nazi occult research in WWII was real.
The Nazi Occult does two things that are very important in writing fake history (or non-narrative fiction, or whatever you want to call it). First, it does the voice of an Osprey very well. This is no surprise: I once sold Ken an Osprey volume on the Reconquista at a flea market on the basis that it was an Osprey book he hadn’t read. Nailing the sound of historical writing is vital to this kind of project, and it’s exactly why World War Z fails in this task.
The second thing is that the fantasy in The Nazi Occult is seamlessly blended with a) actual history about the connection of various esoteric groups to Nazism and b) actual lunacy about the Nazis’ secret occult weapons. So you’ve got crazy things that are actually true and crazy things that many people believe all treated with a similarly straight face. You can only do this when you’ve spent a long time learning the crazy.
The one thing I wish that this book had is a different cover. It’s not that the cover is bad or anything, but if it looked more like this:
… it would be better still. You would have a fake text of Ambridge proportions then.
Anyway, I liked it, and not just because I got it free. I don’t know what use I’m going to get out of it, but then what use am I going to get out of my copy of Heroes of the Soviet Union 1941-45? But it will be my first stop whenever I need to shoehorn some kind of Nazi occult conspiracy into something — which happens more often than you might think.