Thursday, November 20, 2014

First Look at the Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell BBC Miniseries

I was so quick to talk about BBC's adaptation of SS-GB that I completely missed the news yesterday regarding another BBC alternate history project. Above is our first look at the titular characters of the the BBC adaptation of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Set in England during the Napoleonic Wars, the novel tells the story of two rivals magicians in an alternate history where magic is widely acknowledged, but rarely practiced. Eddie Marsan will play Mr. Norrell (right) and Bertie Carvel will play Jonathan Strange (left).

The Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell will be a seven-part series that will premier sometime next year. More importantly, this news has got me asking the question: are we living at the start of the golden age of alternate history? Has mainstream media finally realized that there is value to these stories and it is ready to share them with a wider audience? Or conversely, has the splintering of media meant that producers are scrambling for content and throwing anything against the wall to see what sticks?

Either way, alternate history may actually be poised to make a major break in the mainstream in 2015, what with this, SS-GB, Amazon's The Man in the High Castle and Hulu's 11/22/63 coming out soon. I am very excited by these developments, but what do you guys think? Let us know in the comments.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BBC Producing an Adaptation of Len Deighton's SS-GB

In case you thought Amazon had cornered the market on Axis Wins television, think again. It was announced today by The Hollywood Reporter that BBC has ordered a five episode mini-series of Len Deighton's SS-GB. For those who don't know, SS-GB is a spy story set in a Britain that surrendered to the Nazis in 1941. Perhaps that is why the BBC chose Robert Wade and Neal Purvis to write the mini-series. Both writers have penned the last few James Bond films and have been called "one of Britain's most successful screenwriting partnerships".

Well they certainly come highly recommended and they do have the right background, but do you think they can make a good adaptation of SS-GB? Stay tuned to The Update to find out as we keep you informed about all SS-GB adaptation news.

In the meantime, check out another alternate history work inspired by James Bond, A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin, and stay tuned for my review of The Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher, whose preview I just posted today.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Preview: The Darkest Hour by Tony Schumacher

Tony Schumacher is sending me a review copy of his new book The Darkest Hour. Check out the description from Amazon:

A crackling, highly imaginative thriller debut in the vein of W.E.B. Griffin and Philip Kerr, set in German-occupied London at the close of World War II, in which a hardened British detective jeopardizes his own life to save an innocent soul and achieve the impossible—redemption.

London, 1946. The Nazis have conquered the British, and now occupy Great Britain, using brutality and fear to control its citizens. John Henry Rossett, a decorated British war hero and former police sergeant, has been reassigned to the Office of Jewish Affairs. He now answers to the SS, one of the most powerful and terrifying organizations in the Third Reich.

Rossett is a man accustomed to obeying commands, but he’s now assigned a job he did not ask for—and cannot refuse: rounding up Jews for deportation, including men and women he’s known his whole life. But they are not the only victims, for the war took Rossett’s wife and son, and shattered his own humanity.

Then he finds Jacob, a young Jewish child, hiding in an abandoned building, who touches something in Rossett that he thought was long dead.

Determined to save the innocent boy, Rossett takes him on the run, with the Nazis in pursuit. But they are not the only hunters following his trail. The Royalist Resistance and the Communists want him, too. Each faction has its own agenda, and Rossett will soon learn that none of them can be trusted . . . and all of them are deadly.

So say tuned for the review to be posted either here or at Amazing Stories.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Releases 11/18/14

You can support The Update by clicking the banner to your right or the links below if you are purchasing through Amazon!

Hardcovers

Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle: A Girl Genius Novel by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio

In the third installment of the Girl Genius novels, Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle begins as Agatha Heterodyne returns to her ancestral home, the warped little town of Mechanicsburg. There she must claim her inheritance by convincing the artificial intelligence that animates her family’s castle that she is, in fact, the new Heterodyne. But this apparently simple task is made complicated in several ways: An imposter claiming to be the legitimate heir appears. The Empire is convinced that Agatha is the person responsible for the Long War (and to be fair, they are not entirely incorrect). And, worst of all, the Castle itself is insane.

From the Hugo Award–winning Girl Genius online comics comes this third book in the Agatha H. trilogy; and just like the first two, Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle will grab you from the first page and not let go!

Steampunk Soldiers: Uniforms and Weapons from the Age of Steam by Philip Smith and Joseph McCullough

Steampunk Soldiers is a unique pictorial guide to the last great era of bright and colorful uniforms, as well as an important historical study of the variety of steam-powered weaponry and equipment that abounded in the days before the Great War of the Worlds.

Between 1887 and 1895, the British art student Miles Vandercroft travelled around the world, sketching and painting the soldiers of the countries through which he passed. In this age of dramatic technological advancement, Vandercroft was fascinated by how the rise of steam technology at the start of the American Civil War had transformed warfare and the role of the fighting man. This volume collects all of Vandercroft's surviving paintings, along with his associated commentary on the specific military units he encountered.

To fans, authors and publishers...

Is your story going to be published in time for the next New Releases? Contact us at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  We are looking for works of alternate history, counterfactual history, steampunk, historical fantasy, time travel or anything that warps history beyond our understanding.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Map Monday: Map of Venus by NuclearVacuum

AlternateHistory.com is certainly the center of the alternate history community, but it is not the only gathering of alternate historians on the Internet. As some of you may know, I was long-time contributor and administrator to the AltHistory Wiki and I am pleased to feature a map from that site now:
Above is the "Map of Venus" from NuclearVacuum's Venusian Haven timeline. I haven't read much of the timeline, but from what I can gather this is a timeline where Venus develops into a planet that can support life. This leads to an alternate space race where the Soviet Union becomes the first to colonize the planet, followed by the United States and other nations.

I have always appreciated NuclearVacuum's maps for their minimalist style and "Map of Venus" is no exception. This is just a bare bones political map, but it does the job well and its probably not far off from what Venus from Stirling's The Sky People would look like in that timeline's future.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Rvbomally's Doomed to Repetition, the alternate map of Africa where it is never colonized by Europeans that is making the rounds again and the many maps of SRegan that he has gathered on deviantart. If you want to submit a map for the next Map Monday, email me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com with your map attached and a brief description in the body of the email.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Weekly Update #168

Editor's Note

Work is picking up at my day job, so expect less posts coming down the pipeline. That's all I got really.

And now the news...

The Man in High Castle Part of Amazon's Pilot Slate

The big news last week was Amazon announcing their new slate of pilots for 2015. Included among the seven new shows was their adaptation of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Nothing much else to say other than that. We knew this was coming, but I am glad it is official now, although Sam Gutelle from Tubefilter pointed out the odds are against the show being a success. Let's hope he is wrong this time.

By the way, was Big Hero Six inspired by The Man in the High Castle?

Season 4 of Epic Rap Battles of History Begins

Season 4 of Epic Rap Battles of History has begun with their new episode below:
They changed things up this time by starting the season off without a Hitler/Vader battle. Admittedly I was iffy about the this battle when I first watched it, but it has grown on me. If you are interested in the behind the scenes, I got you covered:

Links to the Multiverse

Books and Short Fiction


Announcing the 2014 World Fantasy Winners! at Tor.
In Praise Of Pavane at Black Gate.
An Introduction to the Wonderful, Improbable World of Steampunk by Paul Roland at Tor.
Jane Austen's fashion history: 200 years of cover designs – in pictures at The Guardian.
Mining the Genre Asteroid: A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny at Skiffy and Fanty.
Novel ARABELLA OF MARS and two sequels sold to Tor by David D. Levine.
November 2014 Whispersync Roundup: Octavia Butler’s Dawn, Peter David’s Artful, Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, and more at The AudioBookaneers.
Outlander Teaches Us How to Disempower Our Heroine by Oren Ashkenazi at Mythcreants.
Review: Harry Harrison, Harry Harrison: A Memoir by Harry Harrison at SF Signal.
SciFi Month: Alternative History Series Recommendation (and a plug for Literrater) by Wesley Hoffmann at Library Educated.
Ten Essential Steampunk Novels by Paul Roland at Tor.
These Six-Word Stories Are Dispatches From A Strange Alternate Reality at io9.
Turkish military forces to ban Game of Thrones at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist.

Counterfactuals, History and News

Alternate Histories: "Great Man" vs. "Currents and Forces" by Alex Petersonn at Elinor Diamond.
Alternate History: What If Lady Jane Grey Was Not Deposed? by AlexandriaIngham at Wizzley.
Behind the Campaign To Purge Textbooks of "Pro-Muslim Bias" in Texas by Mark Strauss at io9.
Catalan president facing prosecution after independence vote by Ashifa Kassam at The Guardian.
Cosmonauts Used to Carry Insane Machete Guns In Space by Mark Strauss at io9.
Counterfactual History: A Course Update by Timothy Burke at Easily Distracted.
Russia plans 'alternative Wikipedia' at BBC.
What if Archduke Franz Ferdinand had lived in 1914? by Bethany Bell at BBC.
What if Gandhi hadn’t been thrown off the train? by Shovon Chowdhury at Swarajya.

Film and Television

ELEVATOR PITCH – Time Keeper at Geek Syndicate.
Gallery: Rare Concept Art Courtesy of a New Harry Potter Book - The Creative Vault at Nerdist.
Meet the rejected characters and deleted scenes of 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' by Emily Gera at Yahoo.
Review: Doctor Who, Series 8 at Ramblings of the Easily Distracted.

Games

Crusader Kings II – Charlemagne Diary: The History of What Ifs by Andrei Dumitrescu at Softpedia.
Everything You Need to Know About World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor by Matt Peckha at Time.
PS4 Getting 1920s-Themed Brawler, Speakeasy by Eddie Makuch at Gamespot.

Graphic Novels and Comics

Millar Maps Out His & Murphy's Time Travel Itinerary in "Chrononauts" at Comic Book Resources.

Interviews

Alison Morton at thewriterromantics.
Ian Sales at Confessions of a Book Geek.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What If World War I Ended With Germany's Unconditional Surrender?

This week the world marked the anniversary of the First Armistice at Compi├Ęgne that ended hostilities on the Western Front in World War I on November 11, 1918. Many countries around the world mark this day as a holiday to honor their veterans in that war and all the others that have followed, but not everyone thinks the Armistice was a great idea. UKIP leader Nigel Farage went on record saying that the Allies should not have signed the Armistice and instead should have continued the war until Germany gave them their unconditional surrender. He argues that although it may have cost 100,000 lives, it would have prevented Hitler, World War II, the Holocaust, etc.

Before I continue, let me just say I don't subscribe to the UKIP's politics or ideas. With that out of the way, his idea is not exactly far-fetched. There was a lot of anger in Germany over the eventual peace settlement that put most of the blame of the war on that country. Hitler rode this anger to become the leader of Germany and without it he may have been less successful. Certainly this idea has appeared in alternate history before (see my article on alternate Allied victory timelines).

An optimistic scenario could involve either the Allies rejecting the peace offers (or the German Revolution failing thus the peace offer is never made) and taking the war all the way to Berlin (with the young Poland perhaps taking more bites out of Eastern Germany). Germany surrenders and the war weary Allies, influenced by the idealistic Woodrow Wilson, end the war with Germany with a fairer peace treaty and install a strong and stable democratic government. Feeling they were beat fair and square, the German people are not angry enough to vote for far-right parties like the Nazis who never rise out of fringe politics. Western investment helps rebuild the defeated Central Powers (and inadvertently prevent the Great Depression) and soon the former combatants mend relations (especially when the Soviet juggernaut begins to flex their muscles).

Not exactly the best case scenario, but it would avoid the worst horrors of the 20th century. Of course, a pessimistic scenario could be plausible as well. In his commentary on Farage's counterfactual, Gavriel D. Rosenfeld of The Counterfactual History Review argues that there is no guarantee the Allies wouldn't impose a harsh peace on Germany after 100,000 more dead soldiers return home. He even speculated that if the Allies were to occupy all of Germany we could see a larger insurgency fight them then what we saw after World War II.

Thus in his scenario we could see the war lasting longer as the Allies became involved in a drawn out occupation of Germany as they fought a general uprising of German citizens. The Allies may even split Germany into smaller states to prevent them from being a future threat, with some perhaps choosing right-wing, Hitler-esque leaders. With Germany divided and the Allies exhausted from war, an expansionist Soviet Union or Imperial Japan may think the time is right to strike, thus kicking off another global confrontation.

Which scenario do you think is more likely? Do you have one of your own? Let us know in the comments.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.