Underground Airlines

Underground Airlines

eBook - 2016
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"It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred. A gifted young Black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn't right--with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself. A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he's hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won't reveal the extraodinary stakes of Jackdaw's case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor's salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all--though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface. Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country's arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost. Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we'd like to believe"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Mulholland Books/Little, Brown and Company,, [2016]
ISBN: 9780316268622
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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ArapahoeAlice Apr 15, 2020

What if there had never been a Civil War? In this dystopian novel, four states still practice slavery. Black people in any state can be stopped and have their papers checked to make sure they aren't escaped slaves. Free blacks can also be kidnapped and sold into slavery. The author differentiates between 172 black skin tones referred to as Pigmentation Taxonomies to help identify blacks. Slaves are worked to exhaustion, forced to work even when they are sick, and all must sing a song about how happy they are to work for the corporation.
Unlike most alternative history novels, one can't leave this book and feel relieved that it's fiction because racism is still all too prevalent in the U.S.

Feb 15, 2020

Didn't get past chapter 4. I thought the roles were going to be reversed

Feb 04, 2020

Didn't get past chapter 4. I thought the roles were going to be reversed.

Apr 09, 2019

As we're introduced to Victor, we get the sense that he's some kind of detective or investigator on a mission. In his hotel room he receives a digital file containing information about his new case and a nightly phone call from his boss at precisely 9:50pm. Though we aren't yet privy to the nature of his work, the reader gradually gleans sufficient snippets and clues that make it clear that he's living in an alternate reality in which the Civil War was never fought, and in which slavery is still legal, though regulated, in four southern states.

Though the United States depicted in this dystopian novel is horrifying on the one hand, on the other it sadly didn't seem excessively far-fetched. In any case, it was absolutely a riveting page-turner for me, and would make for an interesting book club discussion.

IndyPL_SteveB Dec 26, 2018

A fascinating thriller about race in America, with an alternate history twist. The book is by an award-winning former Indianapolis resident and takes place mostly in Indianapolis.

The book is set in a version of modern America which did not have a Civil War. After 150 years, 4 states still have legal Negro slavery and it is the law all over the USA that runaway slaves are to be returned to their owners. The US Marshall’s office is in charge of tracking the runaways; but here is also a major secret movement to rescue slaves and get them to Canada. Since it is modern times, this movement is called the Underground Airlines.

Victor is one of the US Marshall’s top operatives. He is a combination of detective, actor, salesman – whatever is necessary to track the runaways. He is also a Negro former slave – with a microchip tracking device in his head. He was told he had to take this job or be sent back to slavery himself. The conflicts in his mind and soul are deep indeed.

Winters is a fine writer, using the small details of daily life and character to get you to accept this altered reality. He has used real historical facts from 1860 and thoughtful extrapolation to make this different direction of American history quite plausible. The book is very exciting but is even more thought-provoking as you see the results of legal slavery and become painfully aware that many of the same attitudes are only thinly hidden in our “real world.”

Sep 10, 2018

An imaginative and creative world, wherein slavery is still legal in 4 states. I thought the premise was really interesting, and lent itself to talk about bigger issues - but there were a few too many twists in the plot. Additionally, while the plot itself was compelling, the book is short on emotional and character development; and the ending felt rushed through. Would be a really cool 8 episode HBO series.

WestSlope_TheaH Aug 21, 2018

I find myself talking about this book a lot---in his disturbing and dramatic alternative history novel, Winters imagines a world in which the civil war never happened and slavery still exists in the modern-day United States. Intricately plotted, fast-paced, and thought-provoking. I couldn’t put this book down!

Jul 02, 2018

A very creative and thought-provoking premise, especially in today's environment of re-exposed racism.

May 02, 2018

Winters does a remarkable job with remaking history, overlapping real US history with all-too-plausible alterations, to create an America in which pragmatic compromises resulted in slavery being indefinitely retained in multiple states. It's an alternate history sci-fi novel, a disturbing commentary on race relations, and an excellent mystery full of surprises, all rolled into one.

Aug 31, 2017

Another wonderful selection by my bookclub. Managed to get 70 pages through this thoroughly boring and uninteresting pile of garbage before returning it to the library. Much like Joel Schumacher in the director commentary of Batman and Robin, the audiobook version of this should be the author repeatedly apologizing.

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Dec 11, 2016

akober_0 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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