Sunday, June 19, 2011

AHWU #1

Editor’s NoteWelcome to the first issue of the Alternate History Weekly Update, a weekly digest of alternate history news. This blog came out of my obsession with keeping track of anything new in the world of alternate history. Now I will selflessly share what I find out with you and hopefully improve my horrible writing as I do.

Every week I will produce news articles, editorials, links to new websites, information on new releases and lists of important events in alternate history. I am not sure what the future will hold, I may change the format and I may produce more than one post a week in case there is "Breaking News" or just some rant I wish to share with you. I will promise you one thing: if you comment I will do everything in my power to respond.

I am also not averse to collaborating with others. If you would like to contribute your own articles, reviews or whatever, please contact me. As long as you are willing to produce on a regular basis, you are in. Meanwhile, since I am not omnipotent, please feel free to share any information you discover that may be relevant to this blog. I may just write about it. Contact me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.

Well that is my introduction to AHWU. Enjoy the rest.

News

A Gay Girl In Alternate History
If you have been paying attention to events happening in the Middle East and North Africa, you might just have heard about Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omari, or just Amina. She is a Syrian-American blogger, identifying herself as a lesbian on her blog "A Gay Girl In Damascus" and blogging in support of increased civil and political freedom for Syrians. A posting on the blog purportedly by her cousin claimed that Amina was abducted on June 6th. This sparked a strong backlash from the LGBT community and was covered widely in mainstream media.

Turns out it was all a hoax and once again reminded us not to trust anything that comes from the Internet. In reality Amina was just the creation of American peace activist and graduate student Tom MacMaster.

There was the inevitable uproar, but the real story (at least for me) was the alternate history connection. As it turns out, Amina has been around for some time. MacMaster’s secret identity was active on the Yahoo alternate history group as late as 2006. She claimed to have read Flint’s 1632 series and also disliked Stirling’s Draka series. “Amina” even listed alternate history as an interest on her infamous blog (an interest that The Washington Post described as esoteric).

MacMaster, of course tried to defend himself. He stated he created the Amina character to discuss topics involving the Middle East without people questioning his relationship with the United States and things just got out of hand when he began commenting on the ongoing Arab Spring. Nevertheless, his actions seem more in line with the worst kind of Internet sockpuppet. In fact, it turns out he (or someone claiming to be him) is vandalizing Wikipedia, alleging that information on the article is defamatory.

Regardless of his good intentions, pretending to be someone you are not rarely end wells. Still I am impressed by how long MacMaster managed to keep his double life a secret. Maybe his interest in alternate history was important in helping him craft his secret identity. The ability to create a plausible alternate history is probably very useful when it comes to creating a plausible hoax. I recommend, however, that all of you only use your powers for good, not evil.

Coming SoonThis Tuesday, June 21st, Wild Cards: Fort Freak by George R.R. Martin will be released. A mosaic novel, the book will contain original stories by Cherie Priest, Paul Cornell, David Anthony Durham and many other authors. I never read any of the Wild Cards books, but from what my research tells me, it is a superhero/alternate history shared universe governed by Martin that began in 1987. The premise is that an alien virus hits New York City in 1946, killing the majority, but rewriting the DNA of a small few turning them into super-powered “Aces”. If you pick it, please share your review of the novel with me, I would leave to hear it.

Important Events in Alternate HistoryJune 19, 1971: Amman falls to PLO and Syrian forces. End of the Hashemite monarchy.

June 20, 2003: US President Gale Norton survives an assassination attempt.

June 21, 1948: The Republican National Convention selects Senator Joseph R. McCarthy as their presidential candidate.

June 22, 1941: Operation Marx, the Soviet invasion of the German Empire, commences.

June 23, 2010: East and West Texas agree to reunification.

June 24, 2010: US President John McCain and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev meet in Washington to begin trade talks.

June 25, 1892: The first slaves from the Slave Canal Worker Program arrive in Nicaragua to continue construction on the Nicaragua Canal.

Links to the MultiverseFan Fiction written within SM Stirling's Universes – a site of Stirling fan fiction
Anahuatlacanco: The Land Between the Waters, Land of the Nahuatlaca - an alternate history timeline written by Luis Felipe Salcedo.
Beneath Gray Skies by Hugh Ashton - now on Kindle.

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