Friday, September 28, 2007

The Ultimate Solution -- Eric Norden

I don't know much about Eric Norden except that he conducted a lot of the Playboy interviews 30-35 years ago. And he wrote at least one novel, The Ultimate Solution, published in 1974, the year of the novel's setting.

The book is an alternate history police procedural, narrated by an NYC cop named Bill. In his world, Germany won WW11, and all the Jews in the world have been exterminated. Except that one has suddenly appeared in NYC. Bill and a member of the Gestapo are assigned to find him.
You think cops in regular police procedurals wander through a dark and terrible world? You should read about Bill's.

To Bill, there's nothing unusual in what he sees. He just tells us about it without comment or surprise. The reader, however, is likely to be surprised. Not to mention horrified and disgusted. What we might consider depraved is just more of the usual to Bill. Even 30 years after its publication, this novel has the ability to shock. Just one example: crucifixion as entertainment in cheap nightclubs.


I read
The Ultimate Solution when it was first published, and I've remembered it ever since. Last night I pulled it off th shelf and read it again just to see if it was as powerful as I remembered. It is. Only 140 pages, but it packs a heck of a punch.

I'd suggest that you check it out, but I looked on the 'Net and saw only a couple of copies for sale, the cheaper of the two being $100. It's good, but it's not that good.

13 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Norden's kind of a cult figure, for his involvement with at least one anti-classic, the softcore LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS rip-off film PLEASE DON'T EAT MY MOTHER, aka GLUMP, aka HUNGRY PETS, aka....

He also wrote at least one atrocious (and at least two) stories for F&SF in the 1970s. The one I remember clearly was the first really bad story I'd read in F&SF, but it was sooned joined by other candidates (the first King "Gunslinger," wasn't long after, for example). I suspect the film, moreso than any other factor (even the content and its apparent high quality), has driven the prices of the book up so.

Bill Crider said...

I didn't know about the film. That probably explains a lot.

Jody said...

Don't forget, if you really want to check this book out, you might be able to do so with interlibrary loan.

Bill Crider said...

It's a paperback original, so that might not work.

Todd Mason said...

Depends on how cooperative and well-connected your library is...as Warner Books original, unless Warner pulped it bigtime, it probably good decent distribution and might've been added to the permanent collection at least somewhere.

http://worldcat.org/oclc/1281098&referer=brief_results
for example, shows that both Texas A&M and the Austin Public Library, at least, claim to have copies.

TM said...

And UT Austin...and BYU. I suspect BYU doesn't maintain a copy of HUNGRY PETS in its video library, but could be wrong.

Bill Crider said...

No doubt Hal Hall is responsible for the copy at A&M.

Jody said...

Bill,
I did get the book from interlibrary loan. Quite interesting & much as you described it. I'm glad this is an alternate universe.

Bill Crider said...

Glad you were able to locate a copy. Interlibrary loan strikes again!

Anonymous said...

The book is available in PDF from Google docs for a free download.

No doubt that if the book were written today, we could include Sarah Palin and Tea Party supporters in the pro-Nazi regime running the USA.

dee said...

Watch out ... this book grips you from the very first page and will not let go until you have lived through this parallel universe of horrors. What would life be like in America 30 years after the global Nazi victory? This is one of the most brilliant uses of the 'alternative history' genre to communicate a powerful message about contemporary American culture and how we develop a collective national consciousness. I loved the characters and twisted way in which Nazi Germany is glorified in a way that would most likely be accepted by our witless society today.

Anonymous said...

is eric norden still writing

Bill Crider said...

I have no idea.