It’s 1941, and Wernher von Braun is ordered by his Fuehrer to abandon the V2 rocket and turn German resources in a daring new direction: construction of a manned orbital spacecraft capable of attacking the U.S. Work on the rocket—called Silbervogel—begins at Peenemunde. Though it is top secret, British intelligence discovers the plan, and brings word to Franklin Roosevelt. The American President determines that there is only one logical response: the U.S. must build a spacecraft capable of intercepting Silbervogel and destroying it. Robert Goddard, inventor of the liquid-fuel rocket, agrees to head the classified project.
So begins a race against time—between two secret military programs and two brilliant scientists whose high-stakes competition will spiral into a deadly game of political intrigue and unforeseen catastrophes played to the death in the brutal skies above America.
“Would make Robert A. Heinlein proud.”—Entertainment Weekly
“One of the field’s very finest writers.” —Robert J. Sawyer, Nebula Award–winning author
“Allen Steele is among the best.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Allen Steele is always good.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author
“The closest thing the science fiction world now has to Robert A. Heinlein.”—SFRevu
And Praise for VS Day
“Filled with fascinating minutiae of the early days of modern rocketry and exceptional characterization.”—Booklist
“Awesome, meticulous attention to scientific details, engineering protocols, bureaucratic procedures, and international politics.”—Locus
“A searing blast of ‘what if.’”—SFFWorld.com
“Thoughtful and fascinating, as entertaining and well-executed an alternate history as you’re going to find. It’s subtle and ultimately successful, demonstrating once again that you can take a tiny moment, alter a simple decision, and end up with something new and interesting. This, like anything, shows why Steele’s a multiple Hugo winner, and why he remains relevant.”—Tor.com
V-S Day is novel over twenty-five years in the making. I first got the idea for it in the mid-80’s, when I was writing my first published novel, Orbital Decay, while working as a reporter for a weekly paper in Worcester, Massachusetts. Worcester is Dr. Robert H. Goddard’s hometown, and it was during this time that I learned about the research he’d done at Clark University and the rocket experiments he’d conducted at his aunt’s farm in nearby Auburn. At the same time, I also learned about Dr. Eugen Sanger’s proposed Silvervogel spacecraft, which might have changed the outcome of World War II if the Nazis had actually built it.
The two interests came together as a neat idea for what I originally thought would be the next novel I’d write after Orbital Decay. As things turned out, though, it became a short story instead, in two versions: “Operation Blue Horizon”, which I wrote for the local Worcester Monthly magazine, and a little while later an expanded version, “Goddard’s People”, which was published in an anthology edited by Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg and also Asimov’s Science Fiction.
A few years later, the story was optioned for a movie by an independent producer-director. I worked on the project, writing several drafts of a screenplay which expanded the story even more. But the movie went unproduced and so the screenplay went into my file cabinet, where it stayed for the next twelve years until I stumbled upon it while searching for something else.
Out of curiosity, I re-read the script and came to the realization that it really should have been a novel all along. So, once again, I returned to the story of the secret race between America and Nazi Germany to put men in space during World War II, this time expanding the story even further. The result is the novel you’re about to read.