Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012

Wow an entire year of blogging about alternate history. 2012 is kind of special since this is the first full year The Update has been active. Thanks to the apocalypse not happening on the 21st (wow the hippies were wrong again) I get a whole new year to keep sharing my love of alternate history with you all.

Since the year is coming to an end, it is time to talk about the Best of 2012. Like I said before there is no scientific selection process about these "awards". No one is voting on anything and several of the works below were not even created this year. This is really just my personal thoughts and feelings on the subjects covered by The Update this year. Perhaps next year we will make a real award since the Sidewise only covers books and short stories.

So without further ado...

The Update is primarily a literary blog so of course we need to start with the best book of 2012. My choice has to be Land of Hope and Glory by Geoffrey Wilson, even though it was published in 2011. It was a surprisingly delightful novel to read and I highly recommend you check it out. As for the books read by our other contributors...ah hell I don't know what to do about those. There are just so damn many of them. Seriously, check out the Book Review page and I will leave that decision up to you.

We haven't covered many current series this year, although I have been enjoying the reprints of the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman, especially The Bloody Red Baron. If you want to check out some classic universes of alternate history reviewed this year may I recommend Worldwar (reviewed by Chris Nuttall) and Crimson Skies (reviewed by Sean Korsgaard).

The best anthology of 2012 has to go to Substitution Cipher, edited by Kaye Chazan and featuring a short story by our own Tyler Bugg. I have been covering the creation of this anthology since October 2011 and although my own submission was not selected, I am still thankful to Candlemark & Gleam for opening this anthology to the public. It inspired me to write more fiction. Now I got three of my short stories published and a job blogging for Amazing Stories (don't forget, beta testing starts Jan 2nd).

Short story
I thought about giving this nod to "Vampire Romance" by Kim Newman, but since I already gave Anno Dracula the nod for best series, I decided to go with "The Beast of the Bosporus" by Matthew Quinn. It is a fun cautionary tale about why you should not call on the Great Old Ones to solve your problems. Of course, I am not the only one to review a short story this year. Check out the review of "43*" by Jeff Greenfield done by Andrew Schneider.

Non-Alternate History
It is rare, but every once in a while we do feature a publication that does not fit even under the liberal definition The Update uses for alternate history. This year the honor for the best non-AH has to go to the "No Bulls**t Guide to Self-Publishing" by Jennifer Ciotta, author of I, Putin. This quick read is a must for anyone thinking about self-publishing.

For me personally, I have to go with The Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders. In it Twain and Tesla team up to defeat tentacled evil in this steampunk adventure comic. Of course I would be remiss not to mention Chris Nuttall's review of Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2. I realize I have been promoting this review for three whole days now, but come on, it is doing well in page views. At least I'll promise not to show the cover art again.

Speaking of page views, showcases of web original AH are the lifeblood of The Update. They have, until very recently, been our most popular posts. I can't stress enough how much I need showcases to publish on this blog. The people love them and I like to give the people what they want. That being said, how exactly do you pick the best of what is already the best? I decided to share one showcase from each of the authors who submitted one this year (and if they submitted more than one I selected the one I liked the best).

Although biased, I did enjoy the showcase I did for A Crack at Draka, a timeline featuring a revamped history of the Draka. Brian W. Daugherty feature on the extremely detailed Protect and Survive universe also brought light to an amazing piece of nuclear war fiction. Out of all the showcases written by Sean Korsgaard, however, I would have to pick A Giant Sucking Sound. You just don't see that many dystopias from the 1990s. Finally, let us move away from the good folks at to highlight the work of the editors over at the AH Wiki with Napoleon's World, covered by Tyler Bugg. It is a reminder to us that despite's vast size, there are other communities out there striving to produce excellent work of AH.

Please send me your thoughts on your favorite web originals. I would love to share them with our readers.

Not a great year for film. As far as I know there were no pure alternate history films released this year (although some people think Django Unchained is one), but you did have a couple that were in the same spirit. I enjoyed Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and Sean liked Iron Sky as well. Check out both of those movies and cross your fingers that we will see another alternate history film in our future (we have been experiencing a drought since 2011). Hopefully it will be War of the Worlds: Goliath.

Not a great year for television either. The only thing we really had was NBC's Revolution, which if you read Seb's review of the first episode, didn't excite most AH fans. It seemed even the people who liked it spent more time apologizing for the show's flaws and suggesting ways to improve it. People seem to like Elementary, the modern Sherlock Holmes in America crime drama on CBS, but I have not watched it so I can't really comment. Perhaps 2013 will be better when the World War II, alien invasion drama Horizon is produced.

Wow this is a tough one. On one hand I really like Twilight Histories by Jordan Harbour. This podcast has some imaginative scenarios and their presentation as a radio play makes this one of the most intriguing sources of alternate history. On the other hand, Series 6 of Dissecting Worlds has showcased a lot of good discussion on alternate history across various medias and I can't forget how nice they guys were when they invited me to be a guest on their American Civil War episode.

I don't know, I just can't decide. I guess you will just have to listen to both of them and decide for yourself.

Although Chris Nuttall's How to Write and Publish a Novel in Eight Easy Steps is probably one of the best essays I posted on this blog this year, it has little to do with alternate history. If you really want some counterfactual goodness, check out The Economics of a Roman Suez Canal by Christopher Brielman. I love it when writers step away from the great man theory and alternate battle outcomes when crafting their alternate history. Brielman's work needs to be read not just for the quality scenario he crafted, but also because it is an example as to why alternate historians must, must, MUST do their research. If you do, you get something as great as this essay.

The map of the year has to go to Ben Carnehl:
More thought experiment than plausible alternate history, this map shows what the continental United States would look like if it balkanized along ethnic lines. I really need to do more with maps in 2013. Perhaps a "Map of the Week" post or something similar. Hmm...

Finally we are on the people awards. This was a difficult category to narrow down. How exactly do you judge the best interview you conducted with someone?

Among the books I personally read, I would have to say my favorite interview was with Roger L. Ransom, author of The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been?. He crafted one of the most plausible CSA wins scenarios I ever read and it was also refreshing to talk to someone who enjoyed history as much as I do.

Among the books I did not read, I have to pick Rhys Davies, author of Timewreck Titanic. Not only did he have the best bio pic ever sent to me, but you can tell from his answers to my questions that he really put a lot of thought into them. They were a joy to read and I hoped you liked them as well.

Honorable mentions also need to go out to Doctor Quincy E. Quartermain (the biggest fan of alternate history/steampunk I ever met, who also gave me some good pointers about attending SF conventions) and Joe Pearson (the first film maker I ever interviewed).

This is another difficult one, but not for the same reasons as stated in the above categories. Everyone who has contributed to The Update is dear to my heart. You guys (and gals) have brought me joy by just believing enough in the mission of this blog that you wanted to help in any way you could. Thank you.

However, if I had to pick, then the honor for best contributor would have to go to Chris Nuttall. He is one of our most prolific reviewers and essay writers. Plus his most recent submissions have been extremely popular, especially with the Reddit community. I can't imagine the number of followers to The Update have been enticed by the works of Chris. Thank you Chris and I hope I get the honor of posting more of your work on this site in 2013.

You know what I just realized? We did not review any video or computer games this year. Huh...really need to get better about that. So many things I wish I could have done. So many topics left uncovered. Not exactly regrets, mind you. Just...lost opportunities. I got a lot of interesting ideas for 2013.

Well guys I hope you enjoyed 2012. You have two more posts before the year is up (an alternate history and steampunk themed Weekly Update) before The Update starts 2013. I hope you are looking forward to the future. I sure am.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a volunteer editor for Alt Hist magazine. His fiction can be found at Echelon PressJake's Monthly and The Were-Traveler. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Sorry Sam, I guess we just don't cover many video or computer games. I promise that will change in 2013. BTW, if you have any reviews for The Update, let me know.


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