Literature / La Brèche
("the breach") is a French science-fiction novel written by Christophe Lambert (not this one
but a totally unrelated writer) and published in 2005.
Its plot is set in 2060, where the American army knows how to use time travel. Time travel is especially used by an American television channel for a show named You Were There
, filming famous events from the past. Then, the channel decide to realize an episode focussed on the landing on Omaha Beach during the Second World War, sending there a war reporter (Gary Hendershot) and an historian (Mitch Kotlowitz). And then, things go very wrong...
This story provides examples of:
- Chekhov's Gunman: Before being sent to the past, Mitch mentionned he once have read an essay written by a Cloud Cuckoo Lander claiming that a battle against flying saucers happened above the small town near Omaha Beach. The writer of the book makes a blink-or-you-miss appearance near the end of the book, as a German defenser of the area.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass / Badass Bookworm: Mitch. Gary has a poor opinion of him in the beginning of the events (as the public: according to polls, more than an half of the audience believes than Mitch would die during the show), but changes opinion when his knowledge of the place and the historical events saves them all.
- Cultured Warrior: Mitch is very surprised to discover that the army general responsible of the time-travelling project hung abstract paintings in his home (instead of historical / battle paintings).
- Death Seeker: Gary, since the death of his wife a few month before the events of the story. It is what makes him so eager to be part of the show.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Not only Gary and Mitch are still alive at the end of the book, but the military rewarded Gary by using the time travel to prevent the death of his wife.
- Godwin's Law of Time Travel: Cf. Time Paradox below.
- Historical-Domain Character: There are cameo appearances of Erwin Rommel, Norman Cota, Robert Capa, and George A. Taylor.
- Historical In-Joke: The disappearance of most of the Omaha Beach photographs of Robert Capa has been orchestrated by the American army a few time before the show, which travel in time to steal them during their development. Why? Because Mitch appears on some of them.
- Mini-Mecha: Small models are used by the German. Not a real spoiler, as they are featured on the cover.
- New Media Are Evil: Sort of. The novel is a satire of television. See also the Reality TV example below.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: See Temporal Paradox below. The example is litteral: Gary and Mitch are sarcastically congratulated by a German mission control for the failure of the Omaha Beach landing.
- Point of View: Third-Person narration alternating between several characters. Mitch and Gary point of view are featured in the majority of chapters, but there are also a few parts told from the point of view of members of the staff of the TV-show, or from German soldiers (one of them, Klaus Bidermann, is slightly more present in the text).
- Reality TV: You Were There is a Reality TV show which uses time travel to shoot real life events. Before Omaha Beach, the episodes mentioned in the book are about the death of Marilyn Monroe (a description of this episode is the opening of the novel), the fatal accident of James Dean, and the shooting of John F. Kennedy; there is a chapter with a description of a brainstorming for the show, where were trown ideas like Lady Diana's death, the 9/11 attack, the Berlin Wall Fall, or the Titanic sunking. The book closes with a meeting of staff of the channel, looking for other ideas after the cancelling of You Were There; the last line of the book is a character suggesting to create a Reality TV show reenacting Auschwitz.
- Shown Their Work: Some part read like a detailed nonfiction book about the D-Day landing (especially the chapter when they cross the Channel in the 5th-6th of June's night). The book indeed ends with a bibliography of nonfiction books which the author read before writing the novel.
- Show Within a Show: The story is about a Reality TV Show, mostly focusing on its action itself (with some scens about its being made).
- Shout-Out: To Terminator during the description of German androids escaping a destroyed and burning bunker.
- Spider Tank: Used by modern armies of 2060. The first appearance of Gary features him seeing one when covering the war between India and Pakistan.
- Stable Time Loop: The story ends like this, with Mitch witnessing an elite soldier and a pilot being send to the past - after the end of the show - to provide help. Cota is replaced by a kind of synthetic man sent from the future.
- Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: Gary witnesses a Pakistanese Child Soldier destroying an Indian Spider Tank with a Molotov Cocktail while escaping unharmed. He does the same to a German one near the end of the book.
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: It would have been a surprise if the cover of the book didn't featured Mecha painted like German tanks watching the sea next to officers and concrete blockhouse... Actually played with. The Mecha, androids, and robotic tanks sent to Omaha Beach aren't produced by German factories of the 1940s but are sent from 2060 by the German who still rule Europe since the Allies defeated caused by the disaster of Omaha Beach. There are a few pages early in the book which show that this kind of technology isn't unknow in the main timeline of 2060.
- Time Travel
- Temporal Paradox: Sending two 21th centuries guys to shoot the landing on Omaha Beach the morning of the 6th of July, 1944? What Could Possibly Go Wrong? When Mitch is stuck by fear on the beach, he meets the American General Norman Cota, who is shot when trying to reassure him. In the normal history, Cota survived the whole war, on Omaha Beach he managed to galvanize the American troops, leading them to eventually storm the German defenses on the beach. In the novel, his death triggers a defeat on the beach, then the Allies failed to joined their forces which already reached Normandy; it ended by the defeat of the Allies in Europe... Or, not really. Until the closing of the portal that would be use by the heroes for their return in their present - schedulded for 2 p.m. the 6th of June - both timeline coexist. When the portal closes, only one will remain: if the American regain the advantage, the original timeline will stay, if the German are still the strongest, it will grant them victory in World War Two. That's why both futuristic sides sent drones, androids, and mecha to help the battle.
- War Is Glorious: It is what Mitch and the TV-show animators seems to think at the beginning.
- War Reenactors: Mitch is a very enthousiastic one and is even specialized in World Ward Two reenactements. It goes without saying that he is more than interested to be a part of the time travel to Omaha Beach...
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Mitch is a mild example. Most of the action of the book uses his knowledge of the landing on Omaha Beach, but he is first introduced in the story with his participation in a reenactment of a Chindits operation (from a totally different theater of the war).