Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Showcase: Crimson Skies

Well dear readers, as Balkanized America month draws to a close, I feel I should send it off with my all time favorite of such scenarios. It’s a world of where the former United States’ corpse is hardly cold, her corpse divided among over a dozen divided and diverse nations who rose up from her bones. With its lands torn by war and division, trade and travel took to the skies, bands of air pirates taking to the sky to plunder them, and bands of dashing adventurers or patriotic air militias take to the air to defend them for glory and fame in the shattered nations. This, my dear readers, is the world of Crimson Skies.
A series of tabletop RPGs, books and video games that largely follow the adventures classily pulp-styled rogue Nathan Zachary, leader of a band of air pirates known as the Fortune Hunters, as he and his merry and loyal band of brigands look to make a name and fortune for themselves in the skies above what used to be the United States. All of the various media of the Crimson Skies universe is heavily influenced by the old adventure serials and pulp fiction of the era - the first game follows Nathan and the Fortune Hunters as they attempt to locate a lost treasure of Sir Francis Drake, with the narration done in the style of an old radio serial. The characters and stories may be over the top, but it adds to the vivid world of the universe.

Of course, more to our forte, is the world itself, which gives one of the most unique, if imaginative balkanization scenarios and break ups I’ve seen in the AH community. It all began with our POD in the aftermath of WWI, where a more serious outbreak of the Spanish Flu leads to a slow rise in isolationism and regionalism, and even form a short lived third party, aided by the failure to enact federal prohibition laws, leading to states to enact their own wet or dry lies, and some conflicts between the states over them. As power gradually seeps from Washington to the statehouses, conflicts start sparking between the states, with some looking like small scale wars. The 1929 collapse of the stock market sounds the final death knell of the United States, and in early 1930, Texas, New York, California, Utah and the Carolinas secede from the Union. Following several military defeats and defection and desertion from much of the remainder after the Army’s pay is delayed, what’s left of the Union shatters, leaving a patchwork of nations across North America, as further conflicts form along with the new borders.
One huge draw for many Crimson Sky fans in the AH community like myself is the world that resulted from that chaos. The USA is gone, and took Mexico and Canada with it in the fall. In their place are twenty-four nations still solidifying their control over their newly born nation, or setting out to expand their borders before the ink on the map is even dry. These nations include balkanized North America staples like Texas, Deseret, Pacifica, New York and a newborn Confederacy, but also more unique ones like the Pirate, smuggler and bootlegger haven of Free Colorado, a Christian Communist nation on the Great Plains, the heavily industrial and increasingly militarized Industrial States of America centered on the OTL Rust Belt, and even a Louisiana whose independence is wholly based on the presence of a battalion of the French Foreign Legion. While farfetched (some would say ASB) I feel it adds layers to the world, to say nothing of proving to aspiring AH writers there are more than the standard breakaways if you’re creative enough.

Of course, the wonders of the Crimson Skies Universe are not limited to the characters and world-building. The technology developed for the universe is very creative, and a number of the airplanes are based off of real life prototypes or undeveloped technologies, mainly to airplanes and the genre staple zeppelins, which include massive floating carrier fleets. The art style is a mix between Art Deco and noir - in fact, the mixture between the universe’s art and tech has become known as Diesel-punk, and may have inspired films like Sky Captain and the World of Tommrow.

In spite of being one of the first AH video games and a pioneer of Diesel-punk, to say nothing of a staple of the alternate history pantheon, the Crimson Skies Universe has for the most part been in limbo since the last game was released in mind last decade, which is a shame given the richness and potential of the universe. We have yet to see what the effect of the American collapse is on the rest of the world or World War II? Might the often hinted at Die Spinne group be this Universes answer to the Nazis? What form and shape will WWII look like in Crimson Skies North America - and whose side would the many nations be on? Might some jet-engine Julius Caesar reunite the many nations of North America in the future? Who can tell? Until then, if you want to know more about Crimson Skies, please visit the site.

Soldier, scholar, writer and web-voyeur, Sean CW Korsgaard has been active in the alternate history community since 2006, and was recently elected to succeed Mitro as President of the Alternate History Online Facebook group. In addition to his contributions at the Alternate History Weekly Update, he writes for several websites, including his own, which can be found here.

Breaking News: "The Company of the Dead" to be published March 13


I am going to be reviewing a new book that will be published on March 13.  It is called The Company of the Dead and it is written by David Kowalski.  This will be David's first work of fiction and lucky for me it is an alternate history tale.  Below is the press release I found at Horror Talk:

The magnificent alternate history The Company of the Dead is set against the backdrop of the greatest maritime disaster the world has ever known - the sinking of the Titanic.

In his debut novel, David Kowalski delivers a thrilling combination of action, adventure, and high-concept conspiracies linking events as disparate as the sinking of the Titanic and the assassination of J.F.K that play themselves out in dark and unforeseen ways.

The journey begins with a mysterious man aboard the Titanic on its doomed voyage. His mission? To save the ship. The result of his efforts is a world where the United States never entered World War I, thus launching the secret history of the 20th Century. Fast-forward to April 2012 and Joseph Kennedy, relation of John F. Kennedy, lives in an America occupied on the East Coast by Greater Germany and on the West Coast by Imperial Japan. He is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order - even though it may mean his own death.

And here is the product description from Amazon:

A mysterious man appears aboard the Titanic on its doomed voyage. His mission? To save the ship.

The result? A world where the United States never entered World War I, thus launching the secret history of the 20th Century.

In April 2012, Joseph Kennedy--nephew of John F. Kennedy--lives in an America occupied in the East by Greater Germany and on the West Coast by Imperial Japan. He is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order -- even though it would mean his death, and the deaths of everyone he loves.

A magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the the greatest maritime disasters of the 20th century.

If you want more information you can check out the home page for the novel.  It is actually quite well-made and contains a timeline and atlas.  In the meantime, keep an eye out for a review.


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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top 5 Alternate Histories of Rome

Guest post by Jordan Harbour.

Things could have turned out very differently. Rome’s path didn’t have to end with its sack in the 5th century. It could have industrialized, become a locked down military state or burned its star far before the traditional date of its collapse. Here are some possible alternate histories of Rome:

Alternate History of Rome 1: Hannibal Marches on Rome

After the battle of Cannae in 216BC, the Romans are shattered. Hannibal marches on the city and sends a request back to Carthage for siege engines. His request is granted. Within a matter of months, Rome drops its gates and the city is sacked but not destroyed. Italy becomes a Carthaginian province and its legions signal the new crack mercenaries at the empire’s core.

Alternate History of Rome 2: Julius Caesar Lives

Julius Caesar is never murdered. With his power secured at home, Caesar turns his boundless energies on new designs. For a time, Syria becomes the centre of the world with the legions of Rome massing to its frontiers. Mesopotamia and Babylonia fall under the eagle. The Parthians march to battle and are defeated. Caesar mops up the disparate territories and completes his dream to follow in the footsteps of Alexander.

Alternate History of Rome 3: Commodus Dies

The infamous son of Marcus Aurelius dies in a wrestling match. The emperor passes the purple to his very able Praetorian Prefect, Patenus. This 6th Good Emperor continues the war with the German tribes and extends the border to the edge of modern Poland. The Germans integrate into the empire and play an integral role in resisting Huns in the fifth century.

Alternate History of Rome 4: Diocletian’s Legacy Continues

Inflation caused money to be useless and people had reverted to bargaining. Soldiers worked their whole lives and couldn’t buy the shirts on their backs. Diocletian locked everything down. Every major act in a Roman’s life was dictated by the state. His heirs continued and perfected Diocletian’s iron mandates drawing them into ruthless efficiency. By the time the Huns invaded, the empire they met was a machine.

Alternate History of Rome 5: Constantine is Defeated

The Milvian Bridge is a massacre… for Constantine. Maxentius continues to Rome and Christianity shutters. There never is a Christian emperor and their persecution continues. Peganism remains the dominant if not shaky religion of choice. Plato’s Academy thrives in Constantinople after the fall of the west and many of the works which would have been considered heretical stock the shelves in masterful reprints. The Renaissance comes early in Europe.

Jordan Harbour runs a podcast called the Twilight Histories. With a time travel theme, the show takes you on an adventure in the style of the Twilight Zone and Dan Carlin. Check out the latest podcast.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekly Update #43

Editor's Note


Wow, so much to talk about, not sure where to begin.

I am proud to announce that we just broke our monthly page view record for the 5th time in a row.  Thanks to all of our readers for helping us keep the streak alive, but more importantly we are just 80~ page views from surpassing 5000 page views in one month.  Please help us reach this goal by spreading the word through the Internet.  Share our posts on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, vote for us on Reddit and link to us on the forums you like to frequent.  We can't do it without you.

I have started reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King, so expect a review in the next week or two.  I also will be reviewing another novel that I will be posting about later this week.

Speaking of this week, I have two guest posts coming up for you.  One is written by Jordan Harbour, who runs the podcast Twilight Histories, and will discuss some alternate Roman Empire scenarios.  The other is done by Alt Hist Wiki admin Brian W. Daugherty and he will be writing a review of The Mirage by Matt Ruff.  If you would like to write a guest post or be a full-time contributor to Alternate History Weekly Update, just contact me at ahwupdate@gmail.com.  Also coming soon will be an interview with Joseph Franciosa Jr., co-author of Young Adolf  author and a post on self-publishing alternate history.

Now if I can take a moment for some shameless self-promotion, work on short story "The Enchanted Bean"  is progressing nicely.  I should have it ready to submit to Echelon Press very shortly.

Finally, we got our first reader from Jersey.  Welcome!

And now the news...


Harry Turtledove spoils his entire series for a sick fan


There are many reasons why Harry Turtledove deserves to be called the master of alternate history and here is one of them:


That was an amazing video and a testament to one author's good heart, the power of friendship and the wonders the Internet is capable of.

Update: The Mirage by Matt Ruff


If you can't wait for Brian's review of The Mirage, I have some things that can hold you over until then.

First you can check out What if Israel Were in Germany? An Alternate History at Religion Dispatches.  There you will find an interview between Haroon Moghul and The Mirage's author Matt Ruff.where they discuss the geopolitical changes in the novel, among other topics.  Meanwhile, Timothy Hodler at Details recommends the novel, calling it a well-handled alternate history and listing it with some of the best.  Check it out here.

Convention Watch: Steamcon IV


Those going to Steamcon IV on October 26-28 in Bellevue, WA can meet Kim Newman.  Newman is the author of the Anno Dracula series and the co-author Back in the USSA.  Let me ask you something: does he look like a vampire in this picture?

Links to the Multiverse

Articles

The 1934 Plan To Fill In The Hudson River, Connecting NYC To NJ by Jen Carlson at Gothamist.

Oscars: If Geeks Ran the Academy at Television Without Pity.

Interviews

Aliette de Bodard at Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Seamus Heffernan (author of Freedom) interview by Newsarama.

Books

Review of Then Everything Changed, Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics by Jeff Greenfield done by Daniel Darling (scroll down).

Chapter 3 of 1636: The Kremlin Games by Eric Flint.

Online Alternate History

The Imperial History of Earth-Regency by Mike at Campaign Mastery.


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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Showcase: The Tales of Alvin Maker

Few authors have managed to master science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history effectively and as skillfully as Orson Scott Card. Given his ability to cross genres without sacrificing the quality of his work, it makes perfect sense that he is one of the few people to pen a work that manages to be of all three genres at once, and fitting in with this months theme, is one of the more fascinating balkanized America scenarios I’ve come across. This my dear readers, is my look at Orson Scott Card’s series of Tales of Alvin Maker.

The story revolves around Alvin Miller, the seventh son of a seventh son, which among the divided and superstitious folk of the Americas, whose various inhabitants have knacks and powers of varying powers and types, makes him a child of particular importance. Specifically, thanks to his birth, Alvin has a knack which allows him to change both living and nonliving matter simply by force of will, else wise known as a Maker, the last of whom died on Calvary - though some insist Ben Franklin was a Maker himself. As he grows older, and his knack stronger, Alvin feels a burden to use his power to protect those near him and for the good of all - and to face an ominous universal force of destruction known as the Unmaker.

The series itself follows Alvin as he realizes the bounds of his powers, and interacts with a diverse and fascinating group of characters, some fictional, and some historical (albeit most are different), boasting a cast that includes the traveler Taleswapper, the brother chieftains Ta-Kumsaw and Tenskwa-Tawa, Quebecois generals Napoleon Bonaparte and Marquis De La Fayette, river man and rogue Mike Fink, and even King Arthur Stuart of the Crown Colonies. Real, fictional or altered, all are fascinating to follow and watch grow before your eyes, and make the story of Alvin all the better.

Of course, the way Card shaped his magical and divided America is worth reading the series for in its own right. The world diverged from our own starting with the English Civil War, with Cromwell and the Commonwealth remaining in control of the British Isles until the present, as well as retaining control over a still Puritan New England currently governed by an aging John Adams. Having never returned to the throne in London, the Stuarts set up a Kingdom-in-Exile in the Southern Crown Colonies, with their seat of power in Camelot. Not wanting to see his native Pennsylvania caught in the crossfire of a colonial civil war, Ben Franklin declares the independence of the United States under the American Compact whose seven initial states includes Pennsylvania, New Sweden, New Netherland and even the Irrakwa, and during the course of the series, integrates Appalachee, a nation forged by Thomas Jefferson and other Republican-leaning citizens of the Crown Colonies who fled to live among the Cherriky. The French still control Quebec and Canada, the Spaniards have Florida and a region surrounding Nueva Barcelona, and the entire continent stands on the brink of a war that will likely shift the balance of power entirely. The maps are worth pouring over for hours, for the obvious and subtle details changed, and the reasons why gradually given over the story make for fascinating world building, as does the way they divide the magic between races and cultures, the Europeans knacks pulled from folklore, the Native Americans typing theirs to nature or blood rites, and the African slaves channeling their skills into objects of power. Altogether, it makes for a world unlike nearly any other I've seen in alternate history, fantasy or any genre.

Needless to say, the series is a must for fans of card, AH, fantasy or just great world building and characterization. The series is among one of my all-time personal favorites, and was one of the works that got me into alternate history, and is a great example of how to do it right and very creatively, to say nothing of providing a gem of a Balkanized America scenario. The series is currently six books long and awaiting its seventh, and final book, due out in the next couple years. Needless to say, I recommend you pick this series up before then, and when the final book comes out, you'll be the first to here about it here. Until then, may your knacks stay sharp and your hexes honed, and may the Maker be with you until we meet again.

Soldier, scholar, writer and web-voyeur, Sean CW Korsgaard has been active in the alternate history community since 2006, and was recently elected to succeed Mitro as President of the Alternate History Online Facebook group. In addition to his contributions at the Alternate History Weekly Update, he writes for several websites, including his own, which can be found here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: "The End of Texas" by Juan Batista

Grade: F
The End of Texas by Juan Batista is 175-page e-book that is more counterfactual essay than alternate history.  Originally it cost $9.99, but complaints on Alternate History Online caused Batista to decrease the price to $4.99.  The cost is still too high considering that this novel embodies many of the flaws inherent in self-published works of alternate history.


Following a long introduction where Batista presents a revisionist history of Texas, Batista discusses a scenario where Governor Rick Perry's  infamous 2009 pro-secession speech is slightly modified.  The alternate speech inspires the Texas independence movement, largely made up of violent militia types, to push through a vote for secession on the next ballot.  In response, a counter-secession movement grows among the liberal and Mexican regions of Texas that take advantage of a loop hole in the Joint Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States to form new states from Texas.  Perry, thinking he has nothing to fear, allows them to hold their conventions and watches in horror as the new liberal states emerge and change the outcome of the health care debate.


Adelsverein was a planned, but failed, state.in the novel.
Batista's message is clear: conservatives are ruining Texas and it is in liberal Texans best interest to get out.  The problem, however, is that the message is spelled out early on in the overly-long introduction instead of allowing the plot to make that message clear.  The rest of the novel tries to have a Greenfield-esque format, with dialogue shuffled with news clippings and speeches, but at times degenerates into a liberal rant full of info dumps.  Batista overuses words like "racist" and "bigot" to describe the new states' opponents and historical Texans, but does not use the terms fairly.  For example, at one point he brushes off criticism of Chicano nationalist groups being racist in their ideology by saying that being Mexican is not a race, yet uses the term "racist" to describe those who direct hate speech at Mexicans.

Batista makes a lot of generalized statements about Texan and American culture, without always backing them up with sources.  As an attorney, I also noticed that he misunderstood American law, including the constitutional right of travel and the supremacy of federal drug laws.  Probably the worst offense, however, is what happens after the new states come into being.  The new state governments each pass a liberal agenda and evolve into better places than the one they left.  This seems to much like utopianism to be a plausible alternate history.  In many ways The End of Texas is the liberal version of Ball's New Frontier.  In this case it is the liberal who have the right of way and the conservatives who are ruining America.  In reality both novels are wrong, history rarely offers a simple solution to our problems.

If I can say one thing good about The End of Texas it is that Batista points out a major misconception that authors wanting to write a balkanized North America should take notice of.  An individual American state is rarely homogeneous and if you do write a timeline where America breaks into different pieces, remember to do your research on the cultures that reside within your new nation.  That fact, however, is not enough for me to recommend this novel.


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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview: Carole Scott

I now present to you dear readers my interview with Carole Scot, author of Clopton's Short History of the Confederate States of America.  Enjoy:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am an academic economist and journalist with long experience in both. Economic and business history--particularly of the South--is one of my professional interests.

What got you interested in alternate history?

I have been interested in science fiction and history since long ago when I was a child. I have read extensively in both fields. I published a story in Analog Science Fiction in 1966. I was detoured from further pursuing this kind of career by deciding to become an academic economist engaged in journalism on the side. I am a big fan of Harry Turtledove and Asimov.

What was your story in Analog about?

A terminally ill man decides to commit suicide. Just before he pulls the trigger of a shotgun, he finds out that he is a character in a play who didn't know he was not living in the real world. (This was decades before a movie based on people living in a non-real world was made. I forget its name.)

What is your novel Clopton’s Short History of the Confederate States of America about?

It presents a hypothesized point of view of Confederate historians who lived from 1861 to 1925 in an alternative world radically different from the real world. Both the historians' point of view and the events in the story that didn't really happen are based on my many decades of reading about real people and real events from colonial days to beyond 1925. Neither the views nor imaginary events are, I think, unreasonable. The inclusion of sketches of real people in an appendix--most of who are not mentioned in the story--is to provide evidence of the reasonableness of the imaginary historians’ views and the nature of the alternative world they live in after 1860. (These sketches are largely limited to aspects of these people's lives and views that support the events and actions I made up.) There are no fictional characters in the story.

My story is different from all the counter-factual stories I have read because all the variances from reality are not the result of one, initial change. I did this because it enabled me to follow the ramifications of several initial changes. I do not consider this unreasonable, as no one thing is more likely to have not happened than any other. (The cigars wrapped in Confederate orders are no more likely not to have been found than Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston was not to have been killed early in the war. If an aide had insisted that something be done to stop the bleeding from his wound, he would have survived. ) I anticipated that my story would most appeal to people interested in and knowledgeable about the War and its causes. The story has some of what I guess can be best called “inside jokes”. I let the chips fall where they logically should. Some aspects of the story would be very unpopular with unreconstructed Rebels. Others would infuriate those indoctrinated in Yankee doctrine. This, I thought, would make it difficult to find a publisher, but I wanted to write what I wanted to.

Is it because you have more than one historian “contributing” to this imaginary history that there are different writing styles throughout the book?

If you will compare the foreword to the rest of the book—the first foreword; not the two phony ones to the original and revised copy of the counterfactual textbook—you will see that the style is different. I am pretty familiar with how people wrote in the past, and I wrote the counter factual story in a style similar to what people in the past would have used. The most obvious example of this is a statement like “at the North”. That’s the way they used to write. Obviously, styles changed over the period from 1861 to 1925. Since the imaginary author Clopton was born before 1861, and the pseudo me worked on the textbook before 1930, in the early chapters I included some characteristics of an 1860s style.

What inspired you to write the novel?

It originated from off and on discussions I had with two history majors very interested in and knowledgeable about the War Between the States and the events that led to it. We disagreed about the likelihood that the South could have won and how this could have happened. I wrote a short story in which the South won and gave a copy to each of them. I also put a subsequent, later version on the Web that I changed a little over the years.

What sources did you use when researching for the novel?

A very large number of books and articles I read over several decades before and while I was writing this story, which I worked on periodically for over 20 years, and extensive recent research on the Internet.

How did you come up with the title?

In going over the family tree I found the name Clopton. A member of this family was in the Confederate Congress. I thought it an odd-sounding and, therefore, attention getting name. I’d decided to have the imaginary textbook authored by an imaginary professor that I had to give some name to. If he was famous, his name might be in the title. I included 1861 to 1825 in the title so people would know it was what’s called a counter factual or alternative history.

Who designed the cover?

I designed the cover with a little advice from an Amazon employee. I am entirely responsible for the imaginary Confederate flag. (The flag had to be changed because I added to the states that left the Union.)

What would the history of your Confederacy be from 1925 to the present?

CSA would have fought in World War II. The different situation I created in regard to World War I would have prevented war from having broken out in Europe, as I think the way World War I ended made another war in Europe inevitable. It there had been war in Europe, the CSA might have sat it out like Switzerland, Sweden, and Ireland. If, as would not be unreasonable, the US locked horns earlier with Great Britain by trying to or actually taking over some or part of Canada, neither might have gotten involved in a war in Europe. However, the US was likely to have fought with Japan over control of the Pacific.

How long do you think slavery would have lasted in your CSA?

When the story ended in 1925 it was being phased out. There's no way it would have persisted in the continental CSA into the 1930s. I think it would have persisted for a good while in Cuba, where there likely would have been a slave rebellion. (Remember that in my story the CSA took over Cuba.)

Rarely do you see alternate Civil War stories presented from an economic perspective, even in more scholarly counterfactual essays. Why do you think the economic side of that history is ignored?

Very few people know much about economics, and it is rare for those who do not to find economics interesting; so very few people realize that it was the root of the conflict between the North and the South. I don't know what is being taught today in school and college history courses, but the role of economics was barely mentioned in the history courses I took at the undergraduate level, including a course entitled Civil War and Reconstruction taught by a history professor, who otherwise was quite good. After deciding to major in economics and make economic history one of my Ph.D. fields my eyes were opened to this root cause based on my own thinking and increasingly other economic historians'. Incidentally, despite the almost complete absence of economic analysis in my classes and the books I read when I was very young, I recognized that economics was important. So, my interest in history led to my interest in economics and me becoming an economist. One reason most of the historical articles I have written have appeared in history journals and magazines is that I'm trying to make historians aware of the importance of economics in understanding history. Historians in recent decades have become much more concerned with the role of economics. My interest in history extends beyond economics, and I have written articles in which economics plays no role.

Do you have any other projects you are working on?

I've just completed a real history article--who knows if I'll get it published--and am considering another real history article. The first is just about the Civil War. The war will play a minor role in the possible article. In the past I have published in academic journals and non-academic magazines in history--both Civil War and non-Civil-War subjects--and published a short history of the radio and TV industry in one of a series of books on the history of all major American industries. I have published a textbook in personal finance. Clopton's is the only thing I have ever self published. I was doubtful of getting it accepted for publication and was unwilling to go through what I was sure would be a long and difficult time to possibly getting it accepted. I treated myself by assuring I’d see it in print. Furthermore, I liked completely controlling the book. (I had a lot of bad experiences as a result of not having complete control when I published a textbook.)

Do you have any alternate history ideas in the works?

I would like to do another alternative history, but every alternative that interests me has already been done—some more than once. Of course, the one I’ve done, has been done before—the South gains its independence—but mine is distinctively different from any of the others that I am aware of. I have yet to come up with a distinctly different way to address an alternative that others have already been dealt with. By relying on time travel, Turtledove came up with a new way for the South to win the war via being able to manufacture and use AK-47s—a comparatively simple to make modern gun.

What are you reading now?

Mainly non-fiction concerning economics and political philosophies--the only recent fiction is a Michael Crichton novel I'd missed.

Any advice for would be authors?

Don't start unless you are sure you can deal with rejection, some of which will be unreasonable. Spend as much time writing as you can while most likely having to all your life spending enough time doing other things to support yourself.

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For those interested in learning more about Carole Scott's work, check out my review of Clopton's Short History of the Confederate States of America.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Airship Update #9

Some technical problems stopped me from posting yesterday, but that will not stop the airships from soaring (or maybe not).  Now more wonderful news from those whales of the skies...

A new generation of British-built airships may be bought by the Royal Navy to resupply ships, follwoing their use by the US Army on the front line in Afghanistan.  The Ministry of Defense, however, denies having any plans for purchasing military airships.

Solar Ship proposes a new solar hybrid airship that could be the key to green travel in the Great White North.
The newest arrival in the National Air and Space Museum’s inventory of historic aircraft is the C-49 airship control car...

Links in the Air

Comedy inspired by 'flying Titanic' at This is Nottingham.

Issue 174 of the Airship Journal is now available

M1400 Airship Hardware-In-The-Loop Simulator (HILSim) at MAV6.

The U.S.S. Macon's fateful flight by Andy Stiny at The Californian.\

World Surveillance Group Chairman and CEO Outline Strategic 2012 Goals Following Recent $5.5 Million Investment at Market Watch.

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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekly Update #42

Editor's Note

Got our first reader from Bolivia.  Welcome!

Going to be writing less than usual on Weekly Update in the coming weeks.  You will find out why below.

And now the news...

Coming Soon: Once Upon a Clockwork Tale

Echelon Press has announced the authors participating in the upcoming Steampunk anthology, Once Upon a Clockwork Tale.  The 2013 anthology will feature four authors/stories that effectively retell a specific traditional fairy tale set into a solid Steampunk theme. This anthology will be published in both print and electronic formats.  The authors and stories (with their fairy tale in parentheses) are as follows:
  • Ella Grey: Wings (The Wild Swans)
  • Kat French: Bitter Cold (The Snow Queen)
  • Matthew N. Mitrovich: The Enchanted Bean (Jack and the Beanstalk)
  • Robin Wyatt Dunn: John and Pearl (Hansel and Gretel)
You read that right.  I will be one of the authors showcased in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale.  I promise to keep you updated on the progress of the anthology and I hope you all get a chance to read it.

Want to Write Alternate History?

Want to be a published author?  Well you should read the 10 Worst Mistakes That Authors of Alternate History Make (plus one) over at io9.  Turtledove, Stirling, Priest and others give advice about the common mistakes alternate historians make when writing fiction (including some of their own mistakes).  A must read for anyone who wants to be a published author.

After reading that, why not try submitting your short story to Lightspeed Magazine.  They have a new submission form in place and are waiting to hear from you.  Or you could try being an editor.  Ideomancer, a speculative fiction and poetry magazine, is looking for two new junior editors.

As always, good luck.

Links to the Multiverse

Articles

Did Philip K Dick Dream of Electric Sheep? at Fabulous Realms.

Genre Identified #1: The Subgenre of Alternate History by Joyce Alton at Yesternight's Voyage.

Interviews

The Big Idea: Matt Ruff at John Scalzi's Whatever.

Books

An Alternate history of Frank Reade by Claude Lalumiere at The Montreal Gazette.

King's Book - 11/22/63 and the problem with conspiracy theories by Blaine Pardoe at Notes From the Bunker.

Love Among the Stars by Rebecca Buchanan at Sequential Tart.

Reviews... by Bobby Hardenbrook at Shattered World.

Online Alternate History

Alternate History on Google+, administered by Tyler Bugg.

History Alternate Discussion Board: A place for Historical WI discussion

Video Games

In an alternate reality, video games changed world history by Samir Torres at Bit Mob.

RPGs

The Emberverse – an RPG Background by zadokofpavis at Alternaties Corporation. 

Comics

#56 Alternate History and Monkeying with Memory: Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son by Craphixia.

Review: Moriarty Vol. 1 by  Daniel Corey and Anthony Diecidue done by Sarah Boslaugh.

Shadowlaw: Action and Alternate History Melded Seamlessly by Corrina Lawson at Geek Dad.

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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Review - Young Adolf. An Alternate History

Review - Young Adolf. An Alternate History

Grade: B-

"Young Adolf as you have never seen him before…
Experience Adolf Hitler's childhood in striking detail. Witness his ordeals, from the rigors of his schooling to beatings by his father. Factual accounts are interspersed with fictional inventions, such as his relationship with a hypothetical girl named Helga. Can young Adolf conquer the personal barriers his difficult childhood presented and become close with her emotionally? How will that change him?
Learn more about Adolf the boy. Experience the molding of his dreams, his predjudices, and his desires in visceral detail. Come to understand the inner-workings of History's most infamous megalomaniac through the perspective of a child's eyes. Follow Adolf from birth to his late teenage years. Know the boy before he was the world's most feared man. Decide for yourself if Helga's influence might have altered the course of History."

This is how Frank P. Daversa and Joseph V. Franciosa, Jr. describe their collaborative effort, an alternate history biography of the youth and teenage years of Adolf Hitler. With roughly 120,000 words on 410 pages the authors describe in rich detail the family life and upbringing of the man who would later become the most infamous dictator of history. I'm no expert on Hitler and therefore can only with reservation judge which parts are fictional and which are factual, but to the best of my knowledge the book clings comparably close to the actual Hitler. Daversa and Franciosa dip into the hypothetical where blank spots remain to find reasonable explanations for attitudes and behaviors the real man would later show in his life, drawing a very real picture of how a teenage Hitler may have been: shy, yet forceful, passionate yet reserved, loving and caring yet full of loathing, physically weak yet able of staggering violence when pushed.

The point where the authors really divert from the historical Hitler is the invention of a love interest called Helga. First interested in her sister, their romance takes time to evolve, and is actually really well done in the book. Here, Hitler the dreamer, the soft-hearted, wins the upperhand over his inner demons, if ever so slightly. Still, in the end their love is doomed, but having fully experienced it leaves the young Hitler a different man.

"Young Adolf" leaves me with conflicted feelings. On the one hand, as the first part of my review should have suggested, it's a genuinely well-written and researched novel that offers the reader a window into Hitler's evolving mind and into the society and family that formed him. And for what it's worth, you get exactly what the book promises. And yet, after it put it aside I felt a somewhat uncouth question rise to foreground of my mind: so what?

It takes the book close to half its length to get to its POD. After that, it spends its time on courtship, on Adolf's family and friends, on his own desires and problems - but aside from the courtship angle, those others don't really seem be significantly affected. When all is said and done, his personality emerges (at least superficially, since we only get a sparse outlook after the climax) more reflective of his own shortcomings and vices.

I know that the novel took this line as its premise:
"Decide for yourself if Helga's influence might have altered the course of History."
As such, I can't really fault the authors for any lack of enthusiasm on my part. Nonetheless, as a reviewer I'm obliged to present my honest opinion of a book. In this case that would be as follows:

Young Adolf. An Alternate History is a well crafted and informative novel, but I suppose it just was not my cup of tea. I believe that as an alternate history novel it may have worked better for me if the authors had condensed the first 120 pages and offered a more definitive view on the changed Adolf's immediate future, maybe up till right after the Great War. All in all, I can still recommend Young Adolf. An Alternate History. It does offer insight into Hitler's personality and his formative years, and the Kindle edition is available for less than $5 at the moment. Give it a shot when you have the time.

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War Blogger is the Internet handle of Sebastian P. Breit, author of the alternate history novel Wolf Hunt. You can find news, reviews, and commentary on all matters regarding WW2 on his blog, The War Blog, and follow his writing progress on his personal website.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: "Clopton's Short History of the Confederate States of America 1861-1925" by Carole Scott

Grade: B-

My favorite history professor once said that every historian's bias is apparent in their writing.  This bias is usually shaped by the culture they grew up in, among other factors.  Thus an American from one of the northern states might write a history of the American Civil War and end up demonizing the Confederacy, even if he had no intent whatsoever to do so when he started writing.  Bias is often written into works unintentionally and even a good author has difficulty finding and removing it.  What if that historian, however, came from the Confederate States of America?

Clopton's History of the Confederate States of America, 1861 - 1925 by Carole Elizabeth Scott is a textbook alternate history written by a fictional Confederate historian and an alternate version of Scott in a world where the Confederacy won the American Civil War (or Second Revolutionary War as it is called in this ATL).  Major changes included the early death of president-elect Lincoln and Howell Cobb becoming President of the CSA.

This book provided an excellent example of how history professors have biases that can shape how the history is presented. The story successfully demonstrates the likely difference between how a victorious Confederate historian would have viewed events and the Confederate practice of slavery. At times I found myself wanting to go on the Internet and attack the fictional Clopton's theories on slavery.  If slavery was preferable to wage labor in the North, why did the South need a Fugitive Slave Act?  I had to stop myself, however, and remember the point of the novel.  Clopton is biased and to truly grasp the history of this alternate Confederacy you have to read between the lines.

I wish I could have given this novel a better review, but there were some major flaws that prevented me.  First, there were the usual grammar-errors found in self-published works, including a weird habit of using periods when commas were appropriate (and vice-versa).  Then there is the fact that you can only get Clopton's Short History in paperback form.  That might not be so bad, unless you consider the actual amount of allohistorical content available.  Close to half of the book is made up of short OTL bios of the many historical persons mentioned throughout the novel.  In an age where I have access to vast amount of historical data from my cell phone, having such a large appendix of OTL information is unnecessary.

Clopton's Short History is a well research and written novel of the Confederacy that has a unique take on the genre.  I still recommend the novel, despite some of its flaws, though I hope to see it in e-book form soon.

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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Showcase: America the Fallen

Happy Balkanized America month my dear readers!

Given my levels of patriotism that, on occasion, reaches near religious levels of devotion, my love of Balkanized America scenarios may seem a bit odd. While it may seem a tad hypocritical, getting to enjoy colorful and creative worlds and histories without actually having to live in them is one of the great boons of AH - why not enjoy it?

Of course, given the popularity of the trope, the large number of works featuring the shattering of the Union is hardly surprising, nor is the AHWU’s decision to dedicate a month toward examining such tropes. The variety of tales and timelines are nearly as diverse as the ways the Balkanization is achieved, and I will showcase a number of my personal favorites this month, beginning with IchBinDieKaiser’s timeline, America the Fallen.

Like a number of Balkanized America stories, it chooses to smash the United States to pieces at it’s fragile foundation. This ‘strangled-in-the-cradle’ approach typically involves the redcoats trouncing the rebels in the American revolution or avenging their defeat in 1812, but America the Fallen takes a different, and more plausible approach.

The fall of the Union begins with the attendees of the Constitutional Convention altered just slightly. George Washington chooses not to not attend as he is content to stay out of the public eye, Ben Franklin doesn’t attend due to ill health, and on the flip side, Patrick Henry does attend. The results of two of the cooler headed founding fathers absent from the convention, and the presence of one of the biggest Anti-Federalist firebrands comes with predictable results. The delegates fail to pass even a watered down version of the Constitution, allowing for the USA to remain in limbo under the Articles of Confederation.

This state of affairs would not persist long. Despite the best efforts of George Washington to preserve the union, it would not long outlive him upon his death from disease in 1789. Tensions between the states reach the breaking point, with the powder keg set alight by Virginia declaring it’s independence, and winning it on the battlefield. The peace treaty would serve as the nation’s death certificate, with the states south of the Mason-Dixon line all declaring their independence, and after a number of border conflicts, New York and Pennsylvania secede, leaving the Union reduced to what we know as New England.

As the dust settled, new nations formed from the bones of the old United States. Chief among them is the Commonwealth of Virginia, the most powerful and populous of these nations. Spanning from the Chesapeake Bay to the Mississippi River, with ambitions over the OTL Northwest Territory and Maryland/Delaware, it’s system of checks and balances and a three branched government would be familiar to most Americans, with the current leader Chief Executive Patrick Henry. To its south, you have the Carolina Confederation, which also includes OTL Tennessee, a plantation-based nation under the strong guiding hands of President Charles Pinckney, and to its south, a very British-influenced Georgia under Prime Minister William Few. In the North, you have a very centralized Maryland under President John Eager Howard that has just conquered Delaware and is contemplating Union with Virginia. A parliamentary republic has formed in Pennsylvania, with Chancellor William Bingham and President Thomas Mifflin overseeing Pennsylvania settling OTL Ohio and, along with New Jersey, find it’s place as the middleman between these nations. To the Northeast, after a number of wars, the region looks like it will either unify under the nationalist New York under Governor George Clinton or the remnant United States under John Adams.
Outside the former USA, changes happen as well. In France, Louis-Charles has succeeded Napoleon as King Louis XVII, having bold plans for his nation even after it’s defeat in his predecessors wars. During the Napoleonic Wars, Louisiana gained it’s independence as a Constitutional Monarchy, with Louis XVII choosing his uncle Charles Philippe to rule it, and he was crowned Emperor Charles I of Louisiana. Similarly, Spain’s new world colonies would be split between Charles IV of Spain’s youngest son Francisco de Paula, Emperor of the Mexican Empire, and Charles’ oldest son Ferdinand ruler of the Kingdom of Antilles (Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola). As you can tell, the world is shaping up quite richly, and IchBinDieKaiser hints that the future will see a host of other nations rise and fall in North America and elsewhere, as well as interesting events including Karl Marx playing revolutionary in a heavily German Texas, civil wars regularly shifting the borders of the southwest and Mexico between various peoples and factions, and a Native American nation rising in the north under a leader hinted to be Tecumseh.

The one downside to this vivid and magnificent TL is it updates rarely, mainly due to IchBinDieKaiser developing some of his other timelines. Nonetheless, he has crafted a creative host of nations that is fully enrapturing, resulting in a unique and fascinating Balkanized America scenario I hope he comes back to soon. Until then, I urge you to get acquainted with both versions of America the Fallen, both the original and the reboot. Until then, Sic Semper Tyrannis!

Soldier, scholar, writer and web-voyeur, Sean CW Korsgaard has been active in the alternate history community since 2006, and was recently elected to succeed Mitro as President of the Alternate History Online Facebook group. In addition to his contributions at the Alternate History Weekly Update, he writes for several websites, including his own, which can be found here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DD Date 1984.02.14

February 14, 1984

Back in October we were worried about "nuclear winter" freezing us to death, but the mild winter so far has caused problems we did not foresee! The cold of the winter here in the upstate of South Carolina usually keeps down pests -- like insects and mice. But with practically NO cold weather the pests are over-running our house! It does not help having a wooded area with standing water just a stone's throw from the back porch.

Long story short, the bugs carry "bugs" -- we all got sick! I'd say if we did not have connections with the hospital we may not have survived. Debbie's job provided the support we needed to get clean water and food. I guess I could say we just got careless. Even with running water, we didn't always wash properly. The food get from the distribution center has to be eaten as soon as the cans and boxes are opened because we have no refrigeration.

Little Rebecca got sick first, and since I was with her more those first days (it was in the middle of the week when Debbie was working her twelve-hour shifts), I had to clean up after her puke and diarrhea! It spread to the boys, and even to Debbie. About that time, to make matters worse, I lost my job as I feared might happen. Debbie tried to pick up a few more hours but then she was out sick as well. Finally, on February 2nd, we moved as a family into adjoining rooms at the hospital!

The support we had from the church and from Debbie's work was great. But there were times when I had fevers so high that I was seeing things. Drugs have already become scarce so the most they could do for us was keep us comfortable and have us drink plenty of water to replace what we were losing.

Friends from church moved our stuff to the new house, but I had someone drive me over to see Nanny after we were released from the hospital. Thankfully, Nanny was healthy. She shared with us some herbal remedies a friend of hers recommended. Even the doctors at the hospital are beginning to use natural medicines whenever they can. Most of them are realistic about the current situation and know that out of state suppliers are out of the question for quite some time.

Oh yeah, I just noticed that today is Valentine's Day. Funny, but I don't think many folk were celebrating today. Those that were gave hand-made cards and flowers from the back yard -- yeah, in February? Mostly weeds! Candy was homemade as well -- mostly cookies made from cornmeal and honey since the sugar supplies are gone. I guess the Christmas treats used up most of the sugar on hand.

Well, I'm still weak, and some of those herbs I'm taking are making me drowsy! Well, it's getting dark anyway. I'm going to bed early.

Previous Entry: DD Date 1984.01.25

Multiverse Profile: New England

New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States and a common actor in many balkanized North America timelines.  It usually consists of the six states known in OTL as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.  The area is known for being the home of the Pilgrims, a religious community from England who formed the Plymouth Colony in 1620 to avoid religious persecution.  They were followed  ten years later by the Puritans settled north of Plymouth Colony in Boston, thus forming Massachusetts Bay Colony.  It was these English settlers who gave the region its name and the foundation for it's culture.

Though it might be hard to believe, the region has a long history of rebellion and secession.  In the late 18th century, the New England Colonies initiated the resistance to the British Parliament's efforts to impose new taxes without the consent of the colonists. The Boston Tea Party was a protest that angered Great Britain, which responded with the "Intolerable Acts", stripping the colonies of self-government. The confrontation led to open warfare in 1775, the expulsion of the British from New England in spring 1776, and the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.

It is here we must consider what would have happened to the region if the Americans lost their war for independence or if the war was avoided all together.  J.C.D. Clark speculated in his short essay "British America: What if there had been no American Revolution?" that the Revolution could have been avoided if the British allowed the colonies to have their own Parliament and continued the Dominion of New England.  This Dominion could have come to dominate the entire British North America, making it more an alternate version of the United States than an independent New England.  For those interested in a New England that won its independence from the British without the help of the other colonies, you should check out The Alteration by Kingsley Amis, where New England is a lone protestant state in a world dominated by the Roman Catholic church.

After the success of the American Revolution, the region experienced the Shays' Rebellion, an armed uprising that took place in central and western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebellion was named after Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War.  The rebellion started on August 21, 1786, over financial difficulties and by January 1787, over one thousand Shaysites had been arrested. A militia that had been raised as a private army defeated an attack on the federal Springfield Armory by the main Shaysite force on February 3, 1787, and five rebels were killed in the action. 

The rebellion energized calls to reevaluate the Articles of Confederation, which were eventually disbanded and replaced by the current United States Constitution.  Yet even here a New Englander could have thrown a monkey wrench into the plans for a stronger Union.  In William H. Riker's short story "What If Elbridge Gerry Had Been More Rational and Less Patriotic?", Massachusetts delegate Gerry votes against the proposal, causing the entire convention to collapse, the United States to balkanize and a war to break out between New England and New York over Vermont (which at the time was an independent republic).  The Constitution, however, was adopted and bloodshed between the states was avoided.

Even the Constitution did not stop the calls for secession and independence. From 1814-1815, New England politicians opposed the War of 1812 met at the Hartford Convention to air grievances concerning the war and the political problems arising from the domination of the Federal Government by Presidents from Virginia. Despite many outcries in the Federalist press for New England secession and a separate peace with Great Britain, moderates dominated the Convention and such a proposal was never adopted.  There is an online timeline called Decades of Darkness by Jared where New England secedes even earlier then the Hartford Convention after President Jefferson dies earlier and his successor continues the Embargo Act.  This eventually leads to a world that looks something like this:


The World of Decades of Darkness in 1935.

Following the War of 1812, New England had increased tensions with the southern states and saw themselves as the victims of a slaveholders’ conspiracy.  These tensions arose throughout the 1830s and 1840s due to the Texas Annexation, the Mexican–American War and the expansion of slavery. Anti-slavery proponents began voicing the idea of separation from the South.  In the May 1844 edition of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison wrote the "Address to the Friends of Freedom and Emancipation in the United States." Garrison wrote that the Constitution had been created “at the expense of the colored population of the country”. With southerners continuing to dominate the nation because of the Three-fifths compromise, it was time “to set the captive free by the potency of truth” and “secede from the government.  On the same day that this issue was published, the New England Anti-Slavery Convention endorsed the principles of disunion from slaveholders by a vote of 250–24.

In fact there are several stories featuring a "mirror" American Civil War where New England secedes instead of the South.  In "How the South Preserved the Union" by Ralph Roberts in the anthology Alternate Presidents, David Rice Atchison takes office when both Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore are killed in a carriage accident. In the story, New England secedes, then attempts to overthrow the Washington government. In the end, Atchison orders all slaves freed and armed and New England fails.  In the same anthology we also find "Now Falls the Cold, Cold Night".  In the that story, Millard Fillmore is elected as the Know Nothing party candidate in 1856, resulting in ethnic tensions in New England over the fugitive slave laws. John C. Fremont becomes President of the New England Confederacy with William T. Sherman as his commanding general, opposed by the Army of the United States under Robert E. Lee.

Today there are very few major movements that wish to secede from the United States.  Nevertheless, the region remains a unique part of America with a long history of rebellion.  Alternate historians will never fail to find inspiration for a new nation in their balkanized North America if they take a look at the history of New England.
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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekly Update #41

Editor's Note

Not much to report other then we got our first reader from Taiwan.  Welcome!

And now the news...

Gingrich Writes More Alternate History on Wikipedia

So the results are in for whether our readers could recommend any of Newt Gingrich's alternate history.  35% of you said you could not recommend them and 30% of you did not even know Gingrich wrote alternate history.  On the positive side, 20% of you said you could recommend some of them and 15% said you could recommend all of them.

For those interested in reading more works of alternate history by Newt Gingrich, you should check out his Wikipedia page.  Newt Gingrich's communications director has been criticized by editors on Wikipedia for dozens of edits he has made and requested in defense of his candidate.  This kind of behavior is not unknown to Wikipedia.  Even a member of Vice President Joe Biden's staff was caught once editing his boss' Wikipedia page.

This just goes to show you that you can get a fancy title and earn a salary just because someone is wrong on the Internet.

New Book: Mirage by Matt Ruff

A new alternate history novel has hit the mainstream media.  It is called The Mirage by Matt Ruff and below is the product description from Amazon:

A mind-bending novel in which an alternate history of 9/11 and its aftermath uncovers startling truths about America and the Middle East.

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.

The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage—in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of The New York Times, dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee—a war hero named Osama bin Laden—will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.
Acclaimed novelist Matt Ruff has created a shadow world that is eerily recognizable but, at the same time, almost unimaginable. Gripping, subversive, and unexpectedly moving, The Mirage probes our deepest convictions and most arresting fears.
Early reviews of the book are positive.  Cory Doctorow from BoingBoing said: This is one of those books that you read while walking down the street and long after your bedtime, a book you stop strangers to tell about.  I may post a review of this novel in the near future, but in the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the author and the novel check out this interview with Ruff at CBS News.

More Shattered World e-books

The next two Shattered World ebooks by Bobby Hardenbrook (Storm in the West and Global War), covering up through part 43 of his WWII alternate history timeline, are now published on the Amazon kindle store for $.99.  Those sections of the timeline are no longer available online, you will have to buy the e-books instead. The rest of the existing timeline will be released as e-books in the near future. Bobby has also stated that he will begin working on new Shattered World content as well.

Links to the Multiverse

Articles

Chrysler, Dirty Harry and the bailout by Jon Talton at The Seattle Times.

Class, cricket and the French Revolution by BBC News.

A Counterfactual Buildup by Michael Bevacqua at Marianas Variety.

Deathless prose: the vampire novel of the century by David Barnett at The Guardian.

Pastwatch Reflections: Cause, Counterfactual and Fracturing the Past by Trevor Owens at Playing the Past.

Interview

Jacqueline Carey at Gollancz Blog.

Online Alternate History

Alternate History: Super Bowl XXI by Jesse Lamovsky at The Cleveland Fan.

Books

Review of Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood done by Axie at The Figment Review.

Review of 1635: The Cannon Law by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis done by Master of All Things at Geeky Scifi.

Review of Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett done by Ay-Leen at Tor.com.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Multiverse Profile: Texas

In honor of Balkanized North America month and a new book I am about to read, I decided to do a multiverse profile on one of the more common nations found in BNA TLs: Texas.  Settled originally by the Spanish until Mexico assumed control of the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845 it joined the United States as the 28th state.  Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as an independent republic and as a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico. The "Lone Star" can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texas state seal today. 

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Texas has had such a long history of rebellion in the United States.  A slave state, Texas declared its secession from the United States in early 1861, joining the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.  Though Texas eventually returned to the Union after the war ended, the calls for secession were never silenced.  Proponents of the idea include fringe organizations like the Republic of Texas and former Republican presidential candidate and current governor of Texas, Rick Perry. In April 2009, Perry raised the issue of secession in disputed comments during a speech at a Tea Party protest saying "Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that...My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that."  Of course, Texans have a lot of odd ideas about their rights as a state.

So with that in mind, it is easy to see how Texas provides fertile ground for the imagination of an alternate historian.  Ignoring the Confederated State of Texas (except for those that eventually secede from the Confederacy, like the Texas in Harry Turtledove's Timeline 191 series), alternate history is full of independent Texas nations.  Roswell, Texas by L. Neil Smith and Rex F. May features a timeline where Davy Crockett survived the Alamo and Santa Anna did not.  Texas would eventually become the libertarian "Federated States of Texas" rather than becoming a part of the United States.  Other independent Texas nations include the one found in the short story "Soy la Libertad!" by Robert Coulson and Captain Confederacy by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone.  In the later, the United States balkanized following the American Civil War.  The creators were kind enough to share a map of the former United States on their blog:



So what would happen if Texas seceded again, like it did in the Family Guy episode "Back to the Pilot"?  To answer that questions, perhaps I only have to read the The End of Texas by Juan Batista.  Here is the plot summary:

The End of Texas is a work of alternate history showing how one governor's treason could have led to a secession movement countered by a movement of loyal patriots, ending in a shattered state. Militias launch more campaigns of assassination and bombings. Loyal Americans rise up against secession. Loyal patriots in the state, Mexican-Americans, Blacks, progressives, moderates, and non-treasonous conservatives struggle to keep much of Texas in the USA, and break away from Texas to form their own states.

A book for anyone asking the question, "How can anyone claiming to be a loyal American favor secession and treason, and what can true patriots do to stop them?"

The End of Texas is also a thorough debunking of the John Wayne image of Texas, an incisive look at the real Texas, stripped of myths. The book is a salute by a lifelong Texan to the best parts of the state. Texas, far from being a land of rednecks or rigidly fundamentalist conservative Christians, also is diverse and modernizing land, a state with one third of its people Latino, with one of the highest Muslim populations in the nation, and even a lesbian mayor of Houston. Texas is a state where one can find kosher chili and leftwing country music. It is that part of the state that must win out over its redneck past.
And for those who like maps, here is what Texas will come to look like in the story:

So stay on the lookout for my review of The End of Texas and stay tuned for the next multiverse profile on an imaginary North American nation: New England!

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Mitro is founder, editor and contributor of Alternate History Weekly Update. When he is not busy writing about his passion for alternate history, he spends his time working as a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois and dreams of being a published author himself one day.