Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: All Timelines Lead to Rome by Dale Cozort

Grade: B
If you have explored the twisted halls of online alternate history, Dale Cozort is a name you will recognize. Computer programmer, teacher and writer, Dale was an early pioneer in the alternate history community, posting his works online during the days when everyone still used websites to showcase their works (remember GeoCities). Thankfully he is still writing and his recent work of fiction is the upcoming All Timelines Lead to Rome.

In the universe of All Timelines, there are two timelines, ours and a world where the Roman Empire still exists. In fact, the Old World is in a state of stagnation. Technology and culture has not progressed in over two thousands years and New World remains free from contact with the rest of humanity...until our timeline discovered it. Portals can be used to access "Timeline X" but only in the Americas and few other remote locales. Our chrononauts are extremely careful travelling to this alternate America since there are millions of people without immunity to our diseases. Meanwhile, there are theories on why the wall between realities is weaker there or why technological advancement halted in the Old World, but nothing is known for sure.

It might have something to do with a picture of bizarre humanoid creature discovered on a dead body. This leads Bureau of Timeline Integrity analyst Scott White to team up with FBI agent Darla Smith to track down the murderer. Their investigation leads them to suspect Jeni Burgen, the young and wealthy owner of Burgen Industries. She has her own reason to avoid government intrusion into her activities because she has opened an illegal portal to Timeline X to trade with the Romans. Yet there appears to be other players in this drama and the true mystery could put an entire civilization at risk.

All Timelines was an enjoyable story and interesting take on parallel worlds fiction. Dale's use of Native Americans is a refreshing change of pace when so many alternate history focus on American or European cultures. Dale's writing style is heavily dialogue driven with little reliance on background or inner monologue. While this avoids text dumps that are prevalent in the genre (us history nerds tend to be a wordy bunch) some readers might find it to be a tad unusual. That is not say the writing is bad. Dale has created a cast of colorful and witty characters who have moments of compassion and pettiness just like us.

Having read many of Dale's counterfactuals over the years, it was a good change of pace to read one of his fictional works. If you like strong dialogue in a unique alternate history setting then I can recommend All Timelines Lead to Rome by Dale Cozort.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a volunteer editor for Alt Hist and a contributor to Just Below the Law. His fiction can be found at Echelon PressJake's Monthly and his own writing blog. When not writing he works as an attorney and enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana.

No comments:

Post a Comment