Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: The Confederation Part 1 by Devin Nuhfer

I have been burned by self-published alternate histories before. Bad cover photo, implausibility, political bias, grammar/spelling errors and unreasonably high price. That being said, I have been pleasantly surprised on numerous occasions, Outrageous Fortunes by Steven W. White being a prime example. The Confederation: Anniversary, Part 1 by Devin Nuhfer falls somewhere in the middle.

The first part of a serial novel, the story takes place during the 1960s in a world where the Confederacy won the Civil War. Along with flashbacks and a brief background history in the beginning, we learn about this version of the CSA from Colonel James Radcliff, a war hero who made a name for himself in Cuba. Through a first-person narrative we are a shown a Confederacy that can be described as a North Korea-lite. The CSA is a police state and pariah among world nations, but has still managed to survive. As the nation celebrates its centennial, Radcliff is courted by vying political factions and witnesses growing discord among the oppressed "servant" class, the PC term for the slaves. Much of the story, however, focuses on Radcliff's experience fighting in Cuba, this timeline's Vietnam War.

I will start with the negative points since I want to end on a high note. There were many grammar/spelling errors throughout the book, highlighting a common problem among self-published authors: they either don't have their work edited or else they do not use a professional. Also, as Seb has pointed out on more than one occasion, you can judge a book by its cover in the self-publishing industry. The cover photo for The Confederation leaves much to be desired and can only hurt sales in the long-run. There are a couple implausibilities, including a type of body armor in this world that is impregnable, unless you can afford the bullets that can break through it.

Despite these issues, The Confederation is a solid dystopian story not weakened by any political bias that is often found in American Civil War alternate histories. Though most of the story is spent introducing the protagonist, you finish knowing the CSA could be on its last legs, which leaves the story open for more action-oriented sequels. With some experienced beta readers and a professional editor, Nuhfer could have an engaging novel that can be easily digested in between longer novels. Whenever Part 2 is published, I just hope a new edition of Part 1 is released correcting some of the more glaring errors I found.

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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.

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