Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekly Update #82

Editor's Note

I teased you all on Friday with news of a big announcement that will impact the continued existence of Alternate History Weekly Update. Well today is the day. No more waiting. Time to share what has been happening in my life.

First, some good news for me even though you might not find it to be that interesting: I got a new job! I will be working full-time at a law firm in downtown Chicago. My days of a contract attorney are nearly over. I have enjoyed the flexible hours and learning about a wide variety of legal fields, but the position lacked the financial security necessary for my family. Hopefully my new job will help as my wife and I make our dreams of owning a home and having children a reality.

Next, and this you should all be excited about, I got a new job! Wait, what? Well sort of. I am going to be blogging for a distinguished science fiction magazine. Any guesses?

Yep, that's right. Starting next year I will be blogging for Amazing Stories. First published in 1926 by Hugo Gernsback, it has been published for almost 80 years before the last issue was printed in 2005. Now Steve Davidson has purchased the trademark and the magazine will return as a professional online magazine in 2013. I will be writing in the SF literature category and although I will be covering SF books in general, I plan to insert a good helping of alternate history into the magazine.

Now I know what you are saying: "Mitro, we always knew you were awesome, but how does this effect Weekly Update?" That's the thing, I just don't know. As I said before, my new job will not have the flexible hours I enjoyed as a contract attorney. On its face that shouldn't be a problem since I do most of my writing during the evenings and weekends. Also, as you probably noticed, guest posts from our great contributors make up most of our content in a week.

Promotion of posts, however, my be difficult. I don't know what my schedule is going to be like yet or my firm's Internet policy. For a short while I did use Networked Blogs to post automatically to social media, but I noticed a significant decrease in page views, which I believe was caused by people blocking that app on their profiles and feeds.

Speaking of writing, a lot of my time writing is now going to be given to Amazing Stories. Book reviews that otherwise would have been posted here will be published instead on the magazine. Plus I still want to be a published fiction writer, and while I have fallen behind on my writing, I will not give up on my dream. In fact, that is one of the reasons why I did apply to write for Amazing Stories. It is a chance to take my writing to a larger audience.

So for the next two weeks you will not notice anything different. You will get your regularly scheduled doses of alternate history. Meanwhile, with the holidays and my wedding anniversary coming up, I am going to be taking a much needed break from the blog, which is good because it will correspond with the start of my new job. By 2013, with the start date for Amazing Stories, you might start noticing fewer posts during the week or see them be posted at random times.

I ask that you please have patience with me as I create a routine for the next chapter of my life. Since I have no idea what to expect I am preparing you for the worst, while I hope for the best. Worst case scenario: I find managing the blog is too time-consuming and I will sell the domain to a new editor. I say sell because my belief is the person who pays to operate the blog is more likely to live up to the mission of the blog. Sort of a "put your money where your mouth is" philosophy.

If I can't find someone to buy the blog...well let's not think about that right now.

Like I said that is the worst of worse case scenarios. What is most likely to happen is I find a way to balance my new responsibilities, my fiction writing and this blog in a way that makes everyone happy. If you have any ideas on how to help this process, feel free to email me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com. I love hearing from you guys and I will try to respond back to you asap.

Phew! Alright, enough of that crap. Let's get to today's Weekly Update.

So even with the lack of posting over the Thanksgiving holiday we still managed to beat our monthly page view record...AGAIN. The new record is 13,261 page views. Yay! We might have that record for a while, however, since I am taking a couple of weeks off this month. To keep from thinking about that, please enjoy this week's reviews of Rising Sun, American Indians Victorious and the short story from the Anno Dracula universe "Aquarius". We might even have an article on everyone's favorite French general or an after-action report from Arsenals of Democracy. We shall see.

Got our first readers from Nicaragua and Guatemala. Welcome and let me tell you I am happy to fill in more of Central America.

And now the news...

East vs. West: A Hearts of Iron Game Developer Diaries Launched 

The most quickly moving half century in history has always been a daunting setting for game designers, but Paradox Development Studio and BL-Logic have donned their cloak and dagger, calculated the appropriate payloads and are now ready to reveal to the world how they are taking on the challenge of bringing the Cold War to life in the grand strategy game East vs. West: A Hearts of Iron Game.

East vs. West: A Hearts of Iron Game is the team’s first title to come to grips with the standoff between the United States of America and the Soviet Union in the last half of the 20th century. Players will be able to take control of ANY nation in those nerve-wracking decades in a strategy game with a host of tense features, from taking issues in front of the UN Security Council to nervously watching the game's Doomsday clock.

In the first diary “Controlling the Cold War” Lennart Berg, project lead, focuses on what East vs. West: A Heart of Iron Game is all about:

"Did your parents ever tell you that you would grow up to become a prominent, illustrious leader? Has that not happened yet? Never fear! The developers of East vs. West would like to welcome you to the Executive Branch! East vs. West: A Hearts of Iron Game will let you control a nation during the recent past, leading it through the remarkable time of the Cold War. Nuclear weapons, politics, the space race, spies, guerrilla warfare and the delicate art of diplomacy, this is not a game, THIS is personal."
This time period presents unique challenges for a development team, with rapid technological advancement, dueling espionage programs and the looming threat of suicidal nuclear war. Will you wield your air force, economy and nuclear supremacy like a cudgel, bludgeoning your neighbors into submission? Or select the sharper knife of politics and espionage? Without wanting to influence you, commander, your private collection of Spy Cards is ready and waiting to be deployed…

Personally, I wonder how often players will nuke the world just for the hell of it.

Meanwhile here are some upcoming Paradox games that alternate historians can enjoy. In Q4 2012 we have Salem: The Crafting MMO. Q1 2013 we will have March of the Eagles. In Q2 2013 we have East vs. West: A Hearts of Iron Game and Cities in Motion 2. Finally, in Q3 2013 we have Europa Universalis IV.

Update: Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest, author of the Clockwork Century series, did an interview with Tor last Monday. In it she talks about her novels, writing female characters and, of course, steampunk. If you haven't read anything by Priest yet, you can check out my review of Boneshaker or Falcata Times review of the same novel where they rate the book lower then I did and said it was "more of an extensive set up for future outings rather than a real story for the reader to get behind."

If you want to read more reviews on the Clockwork Century series check out Matt Quinn's review of Clementine or Marion Deed of Fantasy Literature's review of Priest's newest entry into the series The Inexplicables. Marion called the tale "a dark journey in a blighted city and an addict’s mind, and Priest carries off both of these."

Update: Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis is another author who has recently showed up on my radar for his imaginative works of alternate history. The Coldest War, his recent entry into superhero alternate history series, was reviewed by David Marshall at Thinking About Books. He said the novel is "at every level and in every way, this is better than Bitter Seeds, the first in the series. But you absolutely cannot read this as a standalone."

Tregillis also appears to be entering the world of historical fantasy and steampunk with a new series:

The Clakkers Trilogy is set in a fantasy alternate 1921.  And I mean VERY alternate.  History changed back in 1671, when Christiaan Huygens stole the alchemical research of Isaac Newton, and combined magic with his own knowledge of clockmaking to invent the first Clakker: a clockwork man bereft of Free Will.   It wasn't long before the Dutch conquered Europe with armies of tireless mechanical servitors…  Fast forward 250 years, and the world becomes an incredibly fun playground for an author.

You can read about his new project here.

Award Watch

The makers of the indie, SF film Iron Sky have something to cheer about. Their film won the "SyFy Public Award & Special Mention" for this year's Utopiales Awards. Congrats!

In other award news, the AH Wiki has begun accepting nominations for the 2013 Striling Awards. The Stirling Awards recognize the best editors, timelines and articles on the Wiki. If you are eligible to vote, hurry up and cast your ballot today.


Steampunk Things to Do

Looking for something to do in the wide world of steam powered fun? Well if you live in Valley Village, CA you can check out the recently opened Steampunk Coffee Bar & Kitchen. Meanwhile, those readers living near Abilene, TX can attend the steampunk version of "Twelfth Night" at Hardin-Simmons University. The show runs from Dec 6th to the 8th.

Know about a steampunk event or business you want to promote? Please let us know.

New Releases

Hardcovers

Rising Sun by Robert Conroy
It is the summer of 1942 and what our historians have called the Incredible Victory in the Battle of Midway has become a horrendous disaster in the world. Two of America’s handful of carriers in the Pacific have blundered into a Japanese submarine picket line and have been sunk, while a third is destroyed the next day.  The United States has only one carrier remaining in the Pacific against nine Japanese, while the ragtag remnants of U.S. battleships – an armada still reeling from the defeat at Pearl Harbor – are in even worse shape.

E-books

Armour of Valentine by A.J. Powell
Fourteen year old Richard Kiev and a train full of youngsters are being evacuated from York after an unexpected, crippling blitz. Little do they know that they are about to be placed in more danger than anyone can possibly imagine.

Cyrus Darian and the Ghastly Horde by Raven Dane
In this eagerly awaited sequel to the Victorian Steampunk Society Best Novel of 2011 our favourite anti-hero is back! And this time he's acquired an army of adoring followers from the netherworld. Share his adventures as he struggles to extricate himself using Steampunk technology and a tiny dose of the occult.

"Second Chances" by Elizabeth L. Howard
Every choice changes the course of history. How might things have been different if Billy the Kid became a sheriff and Pat Garrett remained an outlaw?

Steampunk Omnibus by Michael Coorlim
The Steampunk Omnibus is a collection of the best-selling titles from the Collected Bartleby and James Adventures and the Gentlewoman's Chronicles anthologies of steampunk mystery and thriller fiction. These seven stories build a world of Edwardian adventure in a galvanic century.

The World Turned Upside Down by J. D. Buchanan
A gritty crime thriller wrapped within a dystopian version of history where the Russians won the cold war.

Graphic novels

Adolf Hitler's I Dream of Ants by Lavie Tidhar and art by Neil Struthers
The ants have lived in peace for years, behind the wainscoting of the house. But when the house's occupant, Adolf Hitler, becomes haunted by nightmares in which he is consumed by ants, he becomes obsessed. Afraid he is losing his mind, the desperate Hitler reaches at last a final solution: the ants must be exterminated!

Links to the Multiverse

Articles

5 Insane Pop Culture Crossovers That Almost Happened by Ken Ossea Jr. at Cracked.

An Alternate History of the Mitt Romney Campaign by Ilya Gerner at Comedy Central.

An Alternate History of the US Economic Recovery by Joshua M Brown at The Reformed Broker.

6 Badass Revolutionary War Alternate Histories Nobody Uses by John Wiswell at The Bathroom Monologues.

If Every U.S. State Declared War Against the Others, Which Would Win? by Jon Davis at Slate.

My God is Lawful Evil: Alternate Morality in Alternate Worlds by James Calbraith at Fantasy Faction.

Steampunk shifts gears by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz at Chicago Tribune.

Steven Spielberg was denied 007 directing assignment by Bryan Enk at Yahoo! Movies.

U.S. had plans to nuke the moon by Brian Todd and Dugald McConnell at CNN.

Vanished Kingdoms – Borussia by Oldcat at Kilobooks.

Why Abe Lincoln was lucky by Jeff Greenfield at Yahoo! News.

Books

Promotional Spotlight - An Airship Named Desire by Katherine Mcintyre at Jeanz Book Read N Review.

Review of Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman at Geek Syndicate.

Review of "The Beast of the Bosporus" by Matthew Quinn at The M.

Review of The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth at Geek Syndicate.

Review of Steampunk Fashion by Spurgeon Vaughn Ratcliffe at Nerd Reactor.

Review of Zeuglodon by James P Blaylock at Thinking about books.

There’s a Little Real History in my Alternate History #2 by M. Fenn.

Update on Alt Hist Issue 5 by Mark Lord at Alt Hist.

What is to Be Done?: Ann Vandermeer’s Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution by Ay-Leen the Peacemaker at Tor.com.

Comics

Exclusive Preview of Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre Conclusion by Corrina Lawson at Wired.

Films

Review of It's A Wonderful Life at Dieselpunk.

Games

Review of Guns Of Icarus Online at Geek Syndicate.

Teslagrad is a 2D steampunk puzzle/platformer in the vein of Braid by Jeffrey Matulef at EuroGamer.net.

Interview

10 Questions With….’T’ From Time Samplers at 3 Million Years.

Joseph Nassise at The Qwillery.

S. M. Stirling at The Unknown Studio.

Television

'Revolution' scores competitive ratings, but not without criticism by Stephanie Goldberg at CNN.

Review of Elementary Season 1, Episode 8 at Thinking about books.

* * *

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.

6 comments:

  1. Double wow! Congratulations on both fronts.

    In uncertain times, financial security for the family is a must. An even more so if you want to build a solid future.

    And a great coup to gain the Amazing Stories job. I look forward to reading the first post.

    Alas, there are a mere 24 hours in the day, so we cannot expect more than you can give, unless, of course, there is an alternate world where days are 36 hours long...

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  2. Congrats. Hopefully won't affect the blog too much, as it seems to have taken on a life of its own.

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  3. Thanks for the well-wishes guys. I really do appreciate it.

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  4. Agreed! Way to go on both counts! I'm especially in awe of you landing a job at Amazing stories - that's a great honor!

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  5. To echo everyone else, congrats on both jobs! I hope the changes don't effect The Update, but if you are not able to be as active, don't worry. The Update has a large pool of contributors and a huge readership, and where there's a will there's a way.

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    1. Hmm..."The Update"...I like the sound of that.

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