Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Releases 7/19/16

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

Hardcovers

Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove

The novels of Harry Turtledove show history balancing on single moments: One act of folly. One poor decision. One moment of rage. In this astounding new series, the unthinkable has come to pass. The Cold War turns hot—and the United States and the Soviet Union unleash their nuclear arsenals upon each other. Millions die. Millions more are displaced. Germans battle side by side with Americans, Polish freedom fighters next to Russian fascists. The genie is out of the bottle. And there’s no telling what fresh hell will come next.

At the heart of Fallout are Harry Truman and Josef Stalin. Even as Joe McCarthy rises in power, the U.S. president is focused elsewhere, planning to cut off the head of the Soviet threat by taking out Stalin. It’s a daring gambit, but the Soviets have one of their own. Meanwhile, Europe’s weak sisters, France and Italy, seem poised to choose the winning side, while China threatens to overrun Korea. With Great Britain ravaged and swaths of America in ruins, leaders are running out of options. When the United States drops another series of bombs to slow the Russian advance in Europe, Stalin strikes back—with horrifying results.

These staggering events unfold through the eyes of a sprawling cast of characters: a Holocaust survivor in a displaced persons camp in Washington; the wife of a bomber pilot and her five-year-old daughter starting a new existence; a savage Soviet fighter waging war by his own rules; a British pub owner falling in love with an American pilot. In the masterly hands of Harry Turtledove, this epic chronicle of war becomes a story of human struggle. As the armies of the world implode, the next chapter will be written by the survivors—those willing to rise up for an uncertain future.

Imprudence (The Custard Protocol) by Gail Carriger

From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes the delightful sequel to Prudence.

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England's scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue's best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue's beginning to suspect what they really are... is frightened.

The Monster's Daughter by Michelle Pretorius

Somewhere on the South African veld, 1901: At the height of the Boer War, a doctor at a British concentration camp conducts a series of grim experiments on Boer prisoners. His work ends in chaos, but two children survive: a boy named Benjamin, and a girl named Tessa …

One hundred years later, a disgraced young police constable is reassigned to the sleepy South African town of Unie, where she makes a terrifying discovery: the body of a woman, burned beyond recognition.

The crime soon leads her into her country's violent past—a past that includes her father, a high-ranking police official under the apartheid regime, and the children left behind in that long ago concentration camp.

Michelle Pretorius’s epic debut weaves present and past together into a hugely suspenseful, masterfully plotted thriller that calls to mind Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls and Tana French’s The Secret Place. With an explosive conclusion, it marks the emergence of a thrilling new writer.

To readers, 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.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Flag Friday: Alternate TX Flag by Rubberduck3y6

In case you guys don't follow the Flag Thread at AlternateHistory.com, one alternate vexillologist who has caught my eye is Rubberduck3y6. Although I have featured his maps before (here and here), this is the first time I am featuring any of his flags. He has a long running series called "Alternate US Flags" where he redesigns the flags of the American states and while I have featured almost all of them on social media, none have stuck out enough to make it on Flag Friday...until now.
This is what I am calling the "Alternate TX Flag" and as you can probably guess, it is a redesign of the flag of Texas. Let me just say that I love this flag. Its like someone took Captain America's shield and made a flag out of it. It screams America in a bold and bright way, which is probably why its the flag of Texas actually.

I could explain what it all means, but I think its best you hear it straight from Rubberduck3y6: The flag is dominated by the famous Lone Star of Texas which gives the state its nickname of the "Lone Star State", contained within a blue disc to symbolise the motto from the obverse of the state seal, "One and Indivisible". The six white stripes represent the six nations which have controlled all or part of Texas (France, Spain, Mexico, independent Texas, the Confederacy and the United States) and also suggest two outstretched hands recalling the state motto of "Friendship" and a possible meaning of the name Texas, which is believed to mean "friends" in the Caddo language. The red and white stripes also recall the flag of the United States.

By the way, if you click on the link in the paragraph just below the flag, you can also see Rubberduck3y6's redesigns for Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Anime Review: Full Metal Panic!

Guest post by Sam McDonald.
When it comes to alternate history in anime there are a few name which immediately make it to the top of the list. Code Geass is probably the one that most people will think of, but the anime we're looking at today is defiantly a close second. What is this anime you ask? Today we are going to be looking at Full Metal Panic!

Full Metal Panic! takes place in a world where Mikhail Gorbachev was assassinated before he could implement his any of his political reforms. As a result the Soviet Union never collapsed and the Cold War continues to rage on into the 21st century. The other major change to history is that combat mecha known as Arm Slaves are now commonly used by militaries throughout the world. Tension remain high between East and West, but the international anti-terrorism organization Mithril is doing its best to keep the world peaceful and oppose the forces of tyranny.

The series follows the adventures of Sgt. Sōsuke Sagara. He may only be sixteen years old, but he's one of the best soldiers Mithril has on hand. Sōsuke has been on many dangerous missions in the past, but he's about to be deployed on his most challenging mission ever: high school! Technology such as the Arm Slaves is only possible because of a group of people, known as The Whispered, who have psychic powers that given them access to Black Technology. Mithril has identified a sixteen year old Japanese girl named Kaname Chidori who they believe to be a Whispered.

There are plenty of unsavory organization who would want access to the Black Technology, so Mithril has assigned Sōsuke to guard Kaname. There's plenty of laughs as Sōsuke tries, and fails, to fit into the life of an average high school student. There's also plenty of action and suspense as Kaname gets drawn into Sōsuke's life with Mithril. It's funny, charming, action-packed and at times even touching. Now let's go in more detail about all of that.

Like I said before, next to Code Geass, Full Metal Panic! is probably one of the best alternate history anime out there. History diverged closer the present day, so the worldbuilding is a bit less exotic compared to Code Geass. That having been said, there are plenty of alternate historical details. For example, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a success. China experienced a civil war during the 1990s and is divided into a democratic south and a communist north, with the Yangtze River servring as the border between the two. Hong Kong has been split between the two Chinas, a la Berlin. The Gulf War still happened, but a small scale nuclear missile was used against the American-led forces.

Okay, so now for the moment you've all been waiting for. Which series is better: Code Geass or Full Metal Panic? Speaking for myself, I found Full Metal Panic! to be the better of the two. The plot and character development of Full Metal Panic! are much more streamlined and consistent than Code Geass. It also does a much better job of balancing the comedy/slice of life aspects with the action/drama aspects; so neither side ever overwhelmed the other nor felt out of place. Don't get me wrong, Code Geass has a lot going for it, but the choppiness and disjointedness of its plot and pacing kept it from achieving its full potential in my eyes.

Now then, let's talk about Full Metal Panic's plot and character development. A lot of the comedy of the series comes from the fact that Sōsuke has pretty much no clue about civilian life, and all of the misunderstandings and misadventures that result from that. Well, that and all of the times Kaname losses her temper and slaps Sōsuke around. At the same time there's plenty of serious moments as well. A big part of Sōsuke's backstory is that he was an orphan child solider in Afghanistan until his was eight or eleven and was adopted by a Mithril general. Kaname herself is a bit of an outsider herself since she was raised in America for most of her childhood. There's also a throwaway line that indicates that she also lost her parents, which would explain why she appears to be living on her own. Sōsuke and Kaname start off as a bit of an odd couple, but they grow closer over the course of the series, and their relationship feels genuine.

In other characters we have Melissa Mao and Kurz Weber. Melissa is Sōsuke's commanding officer and Kurz is an ace sniper. They have a sort of surrogate older sibling relationship with Sōsuke. They constantly trying convince Sōsuke to loosen up and have fun, but they're also there to provide moral support and guidance when Sōsuke needs it.

Rounding out the main cast is Captain Teletha Testarossa, but everyone calls her Tessa. She's a cute, clumsy sixteen year old girl who also happens to be the captain of Mithril's flagship submarine the Tuatha De Danaan. All of this is possible because she's one of the Whispered and in fact helped design the Danaan. I'll admit, I really wasn't sure about Tessa when she was first introduced. As time went on, however, she grew on me and proved to be a solid character.

Besides being alternate history Full Metal Panic! is also a example of the Real Robot genre even more so than Code Geass. The Arms Slaves are large, but not excessively so. Mithril and American Arm Slaves tend to be sleek and aerodynamic, while Soviet Arm Slaves tend to be bulkier and turtle-like. On the whole it's all fairly realistic and grounded, with the exception of Sōsuke's Arm Slave which is known as the Arbalest. It comes equip with a device known as the Lambda Driver that can convert emotions into energy shields and blasts. The Arbalest also has a limited AI operating system. The reason only Sōsuke has an Arbalest was that its creator died before it could be replicated, and apparently didn't leave any notes or blueprints. It's also acknowledged in-universe that Arm Slaves are only possible thanks to the Black Technology of the Whispered.

That all having been said, I'm not sure about the structure of Mithril. We get to see that their military forces are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the American and Soviet militaries; yet they appear to answer to nobody's authority but their own. America and NATO are close allies with Mithril, but it seems a bit odd that America wouldn't be concerned about an organization that could potentially match them militarily and can't be held accountable to any authority. Perhaps, Mithril has some connection to the United Nations? If so, the anime never provides any evidence of this.

Now let's talk about how Full Metal Panic! came to be. The most common basis for an anime is for it to be an adaption of a manga series. There are some series that are entirely original, such as Code Geass, but those tend to be somewhat rare. The second most common source for anime adaptions is light novels. Light novels are a bit tricky to describe since they don't really have a counterpart in the West. I can best describe them as a spiritual successor of sorts to the pulp novels and magazines. They're primary targeted at a young adult audience, though not exclusively. They get their name from their short length, use of simplified kanji compared to more literary novels and include illustrations interspersed throughout the text.

The Full Metal Panic! light novels are written by Shouji Gatou. There are twelve novels in total along with several short story collections. Only the first five novels have received an English translation, though that sort of works out since the anime gets its plot from those five. The plot is mostly the same between the light novels and the anime, but there are a few differences. The biggest being that in the light novels Sōsuke is from Afghanistan, but in the anime he's from the fictional nation of Helmajistan. This is due to the events of the War on Terror causing the production team to think it might be in bad taste to have an Afghan main character. I've said Afghanistan up until this point because Helmajistan is Afghanistan in all but name.

The anime is divided into three seasons. The first season is forty-seven episodes long and is simply entitled Full Metal Panic! The second season is twelve episodes long and is entitled Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. The third season is thirteen episodes long and is entitled Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. In 2015 it was announced that a fourth season of Full Metal Panic! is in production and should be coming out in the near future.

The first season does a perfect job of balancing comedy and drama, but as for Fumoffu? It...has issues. Fumoffu discards most of the action with Mithril to focus on the wacky antics at Sōsuke and Kaname's school. In and of itself this isn't a bad premise, but the problem lies with the execution. By the end of season one Sōsuke and Kaname go through some major character development. Sōsuke learns to loosen up and fit in better, Kamane realizes she's been unnecessarily mean to Sōsuke and they both grow closer together. Come Fumoffu, however, they both become almost caricatures of their pre-character development selves. Sōsuke was so oblivious I found it astounding that he could figure out how to put on his pants. Kaname was such in hot-head in Fumoffu that she came across a borderline sociopath at times.

The first six episodes are divided into two eleven minutes halves, and the quality suffers as a result. Look, I love a good screwball slice-of-life anime as much as the next guy, but in the context of Full Metal Panic! it just feels out of place. Also, little tip for all you aspiring writers, personalities are not punchlines. Having said that, about halfway through the quality of the episodes noticeably improves. They run a single plot for the whole episode and there's actually some legitimately funny and touching moments. Fumoffu certainly isn't the worst anime I've ever seen, but it is incredibly awkward at times.

Thankfully, Second Raid is a welcomed return to form. This is because it is a direct sequel to the first season, whereas Fumoffu was primarily a filler season. If you can't handle the wackiness of Fumoffu you can skip ahead to Second Raid without really missing anything. Second Raid picks up the plot a few months after the events of season one and follows Sōsuke as he finds himself increasingly torn between his duty to Mithril and his life with Kaname. I won't give away the ending, but I though it neatly wrapped things up while leaving open the possibility of future installments.

Now let's talk about the voice acting. I gave me spiel about why I only focus on the English dubs in my Code Geass review, but I'll summarize the main points. I'm a very audio oriented person, so if I can't understand the audio it significantly diminishes my enjoyment of a show. Anyway, let's get back on track. I thought that Chris Patton did an excellent job voicing Sōsuke. He was excessively formal with being completely stoic. Likewise, Luci Christian gave a pitch perfect sweet and spicy performance as Kaname. Really, the the whole cast gave great performances.

There have a couple manga adaptions of Full Metal Panic! though their plots are slightly different. Full Metal Panic! also managed to capture Hollywood's attention. In 2009 there were talks about a live action movie that would have starred Zac Efron as Sōsuke. Yes, the guy from Disney's High School Musical trilogy. That might actually have worked out considering that Zac Efron is a huge fan of Full Metal Panic! and of anime and manga in general. On the other hand, live-action adaptations of anime tend to not go that well. Perhaps it's for the best that the live-action movie never got off the ground.

Well there you have it. Full Metal Panic! is funny, action-packed, charming and even touching. It's got high school antics and military science fiction adventure. It's got a little something for everyone all wrapped up in an alternate history setting. It's one of my favorite anime and I'm sure you'll love it as well. And with that I'm off to find more great anime to review and share with you guys. See you next time.

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Sam McDonald is a college student from Shreveport, LA.  When not involved with his studies he can be found blogging on Amazing Stories, making and posting maps across the web and working on short stories that he hopes to have published in magazines such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and the Escape Artists Podcasts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What is Jesusland?

How well does the infamous Jesusland map hold up in 2016? Find out in today's video.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Releases 7/12/16

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

Hardcovers

Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine

Since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, he proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.

Now, one century later, a plantation in a flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby, a young woman who is perfectly content growing up in the untamed frontier. But days spent working on complex automata with her father or stalking her brother Michael with her Martian nanny is not the proper behavior of an English lady. That is something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.

However, when events transpire that threaten her home on Mars, Arabella decides that sometimes doing the right thing is far more important than behaving as expected. She disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company, where she meets a mysterious captain who is intrigued by her knack with clockwork creations. Now Arabella just has to weather the naval war currently raging between Britain and France, learn how to sail, and deal with a mutinous crew…if she hopes to save her family remaining on Mars.

Arabella of Mars, the debut novel by Hugo-winning author David D. Levine offers adventure, romance, political intrigue, and Napoleon in space!

Necessity: A Novel by Jo Walton

Necessity: the sequel to the acclaimed The Just City and The Philosopher Kings, Jo Walton's tales of gods, humans, and what they have to learn from one another.

More than sixty-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout human history, and committing it to building a society based on the principles of Plato's Republic. Among the City's children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form.

Sixty years ago, the Just City schismed into five cities, each devoted to a different version of the original vision.

Forty years ago, the five cities managed to bring their squabbles to a close. But in consequence of their struggle, their existence finally came to the attention of Zeus, who can't allow them to remain in deep antiquity, changing the course of human history. Convinced by Apollo to spare the Cities, Zeus instead moved everything on the island to the planet Plato, circling its own distant sun.

Now, more than a generation has passed. The Cities are flourishing on Plato, and even trading with multiple alien species. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there's suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato--a ship from Earth.

Time Siege by Wesley Chu

Time Siege, a fast-paced time-travel adventure from award-winning author Wesley Chu

Having been haunted by the past and enslaved by the present, James Griffin-Mars is taking control of the future.

Earth is a toxic, sparsely inhabited wasteland--the perfect hiding place for a fugitive ex-chronman to hide from the authorities.

James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries: Elise Kim, who believes she can renew Earth, given time; Grace Priestly, the venerated inventor of time travel herself; Levin, James's mentor and former pursuer, now disgraced; and the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world.

James also has enemies. They include the full military might of benighted solar system ruled by corporate greed and a desperate fear of what James will do next. At the forefront of their efforts to stop him is Kuo, the ruthless security head, who wants James's head on a pike and will stop at nothing to obtain it.

Paperbacks

A Natural History of Hell: Stories by Jeffrey Ford

Emily Dickinson takes a carriage ride with Death. A couple are invited over to a neighbor's daughter's exorcism. A country witch with a sea-captain's head in a glass globe intercedes on behalf of abused and abandoned children. In July of 1915, in Hardin County, Ohio, a boy sees ghosts. Explore contemporary natural history in a baker's dozen of exhilarating visions.

Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane

Sherlock Holmes faces his greatest challenge yet when he meets the Cenobites, the infamous servants of hell.

Late 1895, and Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Dr John Watson are called upon to investigate a missing persons case. On the face of it, this seems like a mystery that Holmes might relish – as the person in question vanished from a locked room – and something to occupy him other than testing the limits of his mind and body.

But this is just the start of an investigation that will draw the pair into contact with a shadowy organisation talked about in whispers and known only as ‘The Order of the Gash’. As more and more people go missing in a similar fashion, the clues point to a sinister asylum in France and to the underworld of London. However, it is an altogether different underworld that Holmes will soon discover – as he finds himself face to face not only with those followers who do the Order’s bidding on Earth, but those who serve it in Hell: the Cenobites...

To readers, 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, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Map Monday: Greater Lebanon by Simon Regan

Since I missed Map Monday last week, I'm going to feature two maps this Monday. Luckily they are both from the same universe so it makes it easier to talk about them. Let's begin, shall we:
This is "Greater Lebanon" by Simon Regan. In this timeline the Ottoman Empire is carved up differently in a way that favors the Arabs. A "Federation of the Levant", however, was created as a counterweight and a home for the minorities living along the Mediterranean coast. We can also see a Jewish state in southern Palestine, an independent Kurdistan (or "Curdistan") and a Kingdom of Iraq in the Shia majority areas.

First up, I love maps focusing on a different division to the Middle East. Second, this map is well done. Soft colors, realistic borders and lots of details; pretty much everything I look for in a map. Regan gets a lot of praise in the community as an alternate cartographer and this map confirms his position as one of the best. Hold on, there is still another map to look at:
This is an ethnicity map of the Federation of the Levant, also done by Regan. As you can see the Levant is a multicultural place, hence why they probably need to be a federation. Trying to get all of these ethnic and religious groups to work together must be like trying to herd jet pack wearing cats, but somehow they make it work. Anywho, this is another nice map for all of the same reasons mentioned above. I really do need to feature more of Regan's work.

Honorable mentions this week goes out to "A Totally Random Map" by Martin23230, "Dixie-2" by Rvbomally, "Rome Eternal 1.0" by Bruce Munro, "If Hokkaido was an independent country" by Pavelzuk, "Iksander-1" by Rebecca Stirling, "Alexander's World​" by Zek Sora and "Balkanized North America Tribute" by 22iron thunder.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Weekly Update #239: Thoughts on Ben Winters' Underground Airlines and the Dallas Shootings

Editor's Note

Well it was another rough week for my country and I do plan to talk more about it when we get to our main story, but I just wanted to say be good to each other. Our lives can be so short, we shouldn't waste it on hate, anger or fear.

And now the news...

Thoughts on Ben Winters' Underground Airlines and the Dallas Shootings

Last week, Ben Winters' new novel, Underground Airlines, was published. For those who don't know, its set in a world where the American Civil War never happened and slavery is still legal in several states. Alexandra Alter profiled the novel for The New York Times calling the controversial work daring, especially considering Winters is white and he is writing about slavery.

Responses to the article have not all been good. Besides what you saw on social media, J. Holtham of Slate criticized the The New York Times piece for lavishing too much praise on Winters and not mentioning black science fiction writers, like Octavia Butler, who discuss slavery and racism in their works. To Winters' credit, he did respond to Holtham and you can see his response on the link I previously provided to the Slate article. Still the question remains, should Winters have written Underground Airlines despite not being black?

A common piece of advice I have heard from authors is to "write what you know". Other writers, however, say that is bad advice and you should write about whatever you want, even if you are not an expert about it. For one thing it teaches you something you may be ignorant about and for another it provides a fresh perspective on a topic from an outsiders point of view. Admittedly Holtam made it clear in his article that Winters' race should not prevent him from writing about slavery...but America's history regarding race is complicated to say the least.

Just last week two men (Alton Sterling and Philando Castile), who were legally allowed to openly carry firearms, were shot by police. Now I'm not denying the fact that police officers often are faced with dangerous situations that require quick thinking to protect their lives and the lives of others, but many have suspected that race was a factor in those shooting and speculated that if a white person was in a similar position, the officer's response would have been less violent. Perhaps that counterfactual may be true, especially when you consider that the National Rifle Association (NRA), the most powerful organization in America that champions the right of open carry, did not even comment on those shootings until after the shootings in Dallas.

And now we need to talk about Dallas. It was there that a peaceful protest, organized as a result of the earlier mentioned police shootings, where a sniper fired upon police, killing five. Although the investigation is still ongoing, Micah Xavier Johnson appears to be a perplexing person. He was a veteran who fought in Afghanistan, had no criminal record and helped children with mental disabilities. He, however, was also accused of sexual harassment once and apparently showed interest in black nationalist groups before the shooting. A part of me thinks it would have been easier for us a country if he was a simple criminal, had serious mental illness or was radicalized by his religion...but now we are in an old and uncomfortable place. We are forced once again to address racism in our society.

To our credit as a people, I have seen a lot of positive responses in the aftermath of the Dallas shooting. White and black, police and Black Lives Matter supporters have all come together to condemn the violence and mourn the victims...but there have been others who have done the exact opposite. They instead suggest only more violence is the answer. It sickens me to think that such playground logic is being used, as if all of life's problems can be solved by just pushing the kid who pushed you back and keep escalating until an adult intervenes and separates you. Sadly the real world doesn't work that way. No one will break up such a fight if it were to actually break out in this country.

So what is the solution? Well former Speaker of the House and alternate historian, Newt Gingrich, said "If you are a normal, white American...you don’t understand being black in America." Thus the only solution is education. We need to learn more about each other. Reading Underground Airlines and the authors mentioned in Holtham's article are a start, but there is only so much science fiction can teach us. More importantly, we need to engage in peaceful debate and actually listed to the criticism we receive, rather than reject it because we don't agree with it. We need to get out of our comfort zone and see things that may disturb us, because in the end, it can only make us better people.

I feel like I have been talking a lot more about this timeline, but you can only go so long visiting other worlds before you need to focus on the one you inhabit. Still if you agree with some of the things I said, please let me know by sharing your own book recommendations, whether alternate history or not, to help all of us gain a better understanding of the world we live in.

Thanks ahead of time and hopefully we can unite over these tragic events rather than letting it divide us.

You should also check out...
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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.