Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 AH.com Turtledove Awards

Welcome my dear readers, and prepare for a real treat! On the tail of Mitro's splendid coverage of the AH Wiki's Stirling Awards, I will be covering it's Alternatehistory.com cousins, the 2012 Turtledove Awards!

Every year in January, the members of AH.com choose what they feel are the cream of the crop of the past years Timelines, stories and images posted on the site, and from there, vote on what they feel happens to be the very best of the very best. It goes without saying that for AH fans, receiving a Turtledove is one of the highest honors online AH can receive, and are always among the best to be found on the Internet. Needless to say, for the AH community as a whole, this is a big event.

Some of the nominees may be familiar to a number of you. Some, we've even profiled for this very site. All of them are superb, fascinating, and above all else, the very best AH.com has to offer from the last year. Without further adieu, let us introduce our winners:

Our first award goes to the best new Prehistory timeline, which covers all new works that involve a POD prior to 3500 BC. This year, the winner is...

Neanderthals in the America's by Domoviye

I personally have not read it, but given the interesting concept, and that it has now won a Turtledove, I will look to change that.

Next up ladies and gentlemen we have our continuing Prehistory Timeline, which goes to the best work that is older than a year with the POD prior to 3500 BC. This year, our winner is...
Lands of Red and Gold by Jared

The TL, which involves a breed of yam ending up as a staple crop in Australia, allowing for a number of strange and wonderful Aboriginal civilizations to pop up in parts of the continent. Very well researched and detailed, it has earned its Turtledove - certainly since the TL is now going into first contact with the European explorers.

Next up, we have our new Ancient TL category, which covers the period of classical antiquity. Our winner?

The Realm of Millions of Years: The World of an Atenist Egypt by NikoZnate

The TL covers a successful transition to the Atenist beliefs of the Pharaoh Akhenaten is adopted by Egyption society, and how Egyption society and the world at large is shaped by it as a result. A facinating TL, especially given the shocking shortage of Egyptian TLs, I recommend it highly.

Next up for our continuing Ancient TL, we have:

The Weighted Scales: The World of an Aborted Rome by Errnge

A world without Rome is one utterly alien to us, so the realism and detail of this TL is a treat. Check it out if you haven't already.

Next up are our two Medieval Era categories. Our winner for new is a shocker given that compared to it's competitors, it is a very young TL - but then you read it, and you know why it won. For Best New Medieval TL:

Lands of Ice and Mice: An Alternate History of the Thule by both DirtyCommie and DValdron

While I will admit I voted for An Age of Miracles, this superb TL on how a few changes in lifestyle turn the Inuit into a powerful sedentary civilization, in spite of carving a home for themselves in one of the planets most inhospitable climates is a great TL as well, and one you must check out.

For Best Continuing Medival TL:

Issac's Empire 2.0 by Basileus Giorgios

The original is an AH legend online, so that's it's equally superb continuing relaunch wins the Turtledove is no surprise. Read this at once, and then go read the original.

Moving on to the Renaissance and Reformation era, for our Best New Renaissance and Reformation TL we have:

The Bloody Man by EdT

Written by the man behind both Fight and be Right and A Greater Britain, his latest TL takes us make to the English Civil War, with Oliver Cromwell off in the new world leading the settlement of colonies in New England, and the rise of the Commonwealth without him. A Fascinating read, and one of my favorites.

As for continuing TLs, we have another great one. Our winner for Best Continuing Renaissance & Reformation is:

Anahuatlacanco: The Land Between the Waters, Land of the Nahuatlaca by Cuāuhtemōc

This TL is one of the rare alternate Aztec TLs, and one with a VERY interesting concept: Rather than conquer the Aztecs for Spain, Cortez instead forms an independent kingdom out of the ashes of the Aztec - one ruled by himself naturally. Having gone through a couple of reboots, this is a superb TL, please give it a read.

Now into the awards for 18th Century, we open with the award for Best New 18th Century TL:

The Hero of Saratoga: The Presidency of Benedict Arnold by IchBinDieKaiser

Following an American Revolution where Benedict Arnold rallies American troops after the death of General Gates at the battle of Saratoga, not only resulting in Arnold never betraying the Americans and remaining a hero of the colonists on par with Washington, a very diffent world takes shape, one where the USA is a Centralized Republic with a strong military tradition and no slaves, and Europe was just been torn apart by another war on the scale of the Napoleonic War, which ended in a truce in this world.

As for Best Continuing 18th Century, we have a favorite of mine - and not just for the prominent cameo I have:

Dominion of Southern America by Glen

I did my first showcase for this site on this masterful TL, and a great deal of changes happened in this world since then. For starters, a proto-fascist ideology has taken hold in great swaths of the world, and a war over it has consumed this once peaceful planet. Right now, the sides are evenly matched, so please, give this a read if you haven't already.

Next up, we have the award for Best New 19th Century TL, which goes to...

The Stars at Night: A Texas Timeline by Sicarius

A shockingly plausible look at an independent Texas that thanks to it's humor never takes itself too seriously, the mixture results in one of the best new TLs on the site. Go read it at once!

For Best Continuing 19th Century, we have another returning favorite for our winner:

Union and Liberty: An American TL by Wilcoxchar

In this TL, a more amiable relationship between President Andrew Jackson and then-Senator John Calhoun, which keeps the two from splitting like in OTL - which leads to a horde of butterflies getting unleashed when Calhoun accends to the presidency when Jackson is assasinated. A splendid vision of an alternate America and an alternate world, check it out with all haste.

Noe entering the modern era, we have our award for the best New Early 20th Century TL, which goes to:

What If - Finland had been prepared for the Winter War? by CanKiwi

Following a POD of the newly independent Finland paying special attention to ensuring it's new found nationhood is aptly defended, details of how to make Finland both a viable military and economic powerhouse, one that will not fear facing down the Soviets or the Nazis.

As for the award for Continuing Early 20th Century, it goes to one of the rare WWI TLs:

A Shift in Priorities by rast

This is one of the most discussed TLs on AH.com, and the POD focuses on a change of German battle tactics in WWI, and all the changes to the Great War that it brings, for better and worse.

Now we get to see our winners for World War II, begining with the Best New World War II TL:

Happy and Glorious by Devolved

This TL starts with a very small POD, certainly compared to the size and scope of World War II: The HMS Glorious survives it's encounter with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and sinks the former, robbing Nazi Germany of one of it's big naval victories, and butterflies taking wing over the European front.

As for our Best Continuing World War II TL, we have a rather facinating role reversal:

The Anglo/American - Nazi War by CalBear

Following events in a world where Nazi Germany successfully overcame Soviet Russia, in part by Germany preparing it's troops with winter gear, in part due to Stalin purging what remains of the Soviet High Command after the fall of Stalingrad, and afterwards gets locked into a Cold War with an Anglo-American alliance that, though unable to make landfall in Europe, stands stalwart for what remains of the free world. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t remain a Cold War for long, and the detailed writing on the liberation of Nazi Europe inch by bloody inch is gripping and well worth a read.

Moving on to the awards for the Cold War AH, we have a pair of interconnected Tls, starting with the award for Best New Cold War TL:

Land of Flatwater: Protect and Survive Middle America by Chipperback

A spin-off on the massively successful Protect and Survive TL (more on them later), this one follows survivors of a mid-eighties Nuclear War centered on Nebraska. Having just delved into the aftermath of the conflict, this TL is going to tread some interesting territory in the upcoming months.

Given the winner of the new, the winner for Best Continuing Cold War TL shouldn’t be too surprising:

Protect and Survive: A Timeline by Macragge1

This TL follows the aftermath of a mid 1980s nuclear war, less like 1983:Doomsday and more akin to The Day After. Having inspired a number of spin-offs, the original is still a gripping read, and a must for fans of post-apocalyptic TLs.

Now we have reached our final category for the awards for Timelines, Modern and Future history. Our award for the Best New Modern/Future TL goes to a personal favorite of mine:

A Giant Sucking Sound: a President Perot TL by MaskedPickle

Following Texan Billionaire Ross Perot winning the Presidency in 1992, all sorts of events wonderful and tragic unfold. Perot spearheads many reforms for the nation and the government, including a national Internet network, a balanced budget amendment and the creation of a viable centrist party. He also presides over the rise of violent terrorism at the hand of extremists that make the OTL militia movements look like hippies, and one cult in Japan that set off a nuclear weapon. Even pop culture is drastically different, with Brandon Lee surviving, Titanic flopping and Jon Stewart elected as a Congressman. Very detailed and filled with fun and frightening tidbits, I urge you to see this TL for yourself.

Finally, we have the award for Best Continuing Modern/Future TL, which goes to:

A Revised History of the Future (2001 - 2150) by Pkmatrix

A massively detailed TL that starts in the recent past and shoots forward step by step more than a century, all of it within the realm of possibility. One of the rare good Future Timlines, this is a treat you have to read.

With the Timelines awarded, it is now for the Media awards:

For the Best Map, we have Eigenwelt's United States and the Nations of North America
For Best Flag, we have Cazaril's Communist Scotland
For Best Photo, we have Color-Copycat's Alternate Manhattan
Finally, for Best Artwork, we have Pischinovski's Empire of Bryton Family Tree

Moving on to the awards given to the work of the Writer's Forum and the ASM Forum, I've discounted many of the awards given for work not AH-related (ie, fanfiction, work based of published media, etc), even then we have a fantastic lot, and we open with one of the best, our winner of the Best New Fantasy/Sci-Fi Story:

For All the Marbles by William Dellinger

Now this is among the finest works of fiction I've read all year, and by that, I mean ANY fiction. The premise is brilliant in it's simplicity: A god-like entity (or ASB, if you prefer) has gathered over a hundred of human histories best and brightest leaders, generals, scientists and cultural figures to fight in an interstellar game of war. The very idea of having Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Thomas Jefferson, Genghis Khan, Whinston Churchill and a hundred more of humanities best on the same side is fascinating enough, and coupled with the narrative style, this story will have you from the first paragraph. Currently undergoing it's second draft, I cannot urge you to read and support this classic in the making enough - and not just because I, your humble narrator, have a cameo as an apprentice to Shakespeare!

Next, we have our Best Continuing Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fiction award:

Great Interstellar War mini-comic by BlackWave

With perhaps the only comic series on AH.com, this is unique enough before you dive in and discover a fantastically entertaining tale of a cosmic conflict between Wester civilization and the dreaded hordes of the Red Russian-Chinese in a delightfully over-the-top space opera.

Nest up we have the award for Best New Historical Fiction Story:

The American Invasion of Libya by MacCaulay

Penned by AH.com's own military fiction master, the story follows the formation of a Volunteer Brigade recruited, trained and deployed in a fashion somewhat between a Mercenary company and a Yankee version of the French Foreign Legion, as they deploy to Libya in an attempt to aid the Rebellion against Qaddafi. For fans of military fiction, this is a must read.

As for the award for Best Continuing Historical Fiction Story:

The Revolution Will Be Live - A Prose TL by The Vulture

The POD starts with a far more severe Red Scare in the 1920s that leads to the USA taking a far more militant stand against Communism and Communist influences, both real and percieved, resulting in both a highly polarized nation come TTLs 1950s, and a strong backlash and revolution in which this stories protaganist first plays witness, and then plays a part participating in. Very grim and dark, and very well written.

For the Best Continuing Geographic/Evolutionary Story, we have a returning feature of the AHWU:

Green Antarctica by DValdron

Given the vivid profile I did of this story back in October, what else is there to say? That this world of a Green Antarctica that plays host to a horde of monsters, human and otherwise, that will make your skill crawl and give you nightmares on a scale that makes HP Lovecraft look like Dr. Seuss? That sums it up, and given that, the story fully award it won... I just hope the Tsalal don't rape it.

For the award for Best Continuing Alien Contact Story, we have another AH.com classic:

Swarm on the Somme by BlackWave

This sci-fi feature follows the landing of an alien prob in the middle of World War One, one that spits out assimilationist alien life forms that push humanity to the brink all over the world. It is gripping, creative and a must read for fans of science fiction - plus, you get to see Teddy Roosevelt fight alien robots!

For the award for Best New ISOT/Other ASB Story, we have another returning TL:

Ad Astra Per Aspera: A Modern History by rvbomally

As Mitro wrote in his profile of this TL, this takes place in a future dominated by three pan-galactic dictatorships locked in a war that the destruction of entire planets is child's play, and the modern ideals of freedom and liberty are all but dead in the face of cosmic war. A must read.

For our final award before the best in show, we have Best Continuing ISOT/Other ASB Story:

United American Flight 817 2.0 by Jim Smitty

Following a group of 747 passengers who get taken back into the 1930s USA, and use thier knowledge and expiriences to shape the world in many ways big and small. Detailed and charachter driven, this is a great ISOT story.

Now, for the moment we've all been waiting for, the awards for the Best of the Best Turtledoves... drumroll please:

Best Timeline: Lands of Red and Gold by Jared

Best Media: United States and the Nations of North America by Eigenwelt

Best Alien Space Bat Story: Swarm on the Somme by BlackWave

Best Story: For All the Marbles by Willaim Dellinger
That concludes my coverage and tribute to the many winners and nominees of the 2012 AH.com Turtledove Awards, to whom I all congratulate and ask to keep the good stuff coming. To all of our readers, I cannot urge you enough to take a look at these magnificent works! Until nest year, lets give a saulte to the best of what AH.com has to offer!

Good night everyone!

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.

Review: "Hitler Invades England" by George Crall

Grade: C

Operation Sea Lion has plagued alternate historians since its inception.  It has been the fodder of many alternate timelines...most of them implausible.  I do not have to remind you that "alien space bats" was first coined during a debate about an Operation Sea Lion timeline.  It seems almost impossible to have Germany successfully invade England, but many still try even today.

Hitler Invades England by George Crall, however, presents one of the more plausible scenarios I have ever read involving a German invasion of England. Crall does not diverge his TL in 1940 and try to follow Sea Lion to the letter as many have mistakenly tried before him.  Instead the timeline begins to diverge years earlier in 1938 when Claus von Stauffenberg manages to convince Hitler refocusing his strategy on defeating Britain as soon as possible.  According to Stauffenberg, Britain is to key to the Reich's victory and once he convinces Hitler of this fact Europe's future begins to grow dim.

As his plans takes shape, Germany develops the industrial and technological capacity to invade England and keeps the British unaware by following a foreign policy that makes the Germans seem less antagonistic (the war actually does not start until 1940).  The book covers the initial planning, to the start of the war, to the invasion of England and the early advancement into the interior.  It ends with a series of OTL bios of the historical actors in his book along with further speculation on history.  I would have liked to learn more about the later campaign and what would have happened after England eventually surrendered, but that story was not available.

The book contains a lot of historical data on the people and weapon systems used in the war.  If this was a textbook AH, like When Angels Wept, I probably could have given it a better review.  Crall, however, attempted to tell the story using a large cast of characters both historic and fictional, but with the large amount of info contained with the book, the transition to the narrative form hurt the story in the long run and distracted me from the scenario Crall was crafting.

The dialogue was rather weak (I lost count of the number of times I read someone say "as you know" to someone else) and the characters were not believable.  The Germans sounded more like 21st century Americans and the British characters acted more like stereotypes than people from that period.  Though it is possible to find a balance between info dumps and characterization (see Then Everything Changed), Crall was unsuccessful in this attempt. 

Crall has managed to make Operation Sea Lion more plausible, but how he presented his ideas prevents from giving this novel a better review.  With more work on his writing Crall may be an excellent alternate military historian and I hope to see more of his scenarios in the future.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Update #39

Editor's Note

When I first started Weekly Update, I used a series of Google Alerts to keep me updated on what was going on in the alternate history community.  Now I have discovered that Twitter is much more helpful on keeping track of what is happening in the larger world of fake history.  Most of the big news stories you see below you are a result of that social networking site.

Speaking of social networking, do not forget to follow us at our new sub-reddit.  We only got one reader so far (guess who it is), so help us build up the number of our subscribers.

This week I will be announcing the start of Balkanized North America month, plus I will be reviewing Hitler Invades England by George Crall.  I also started reading New Frontier by Cliff Ball and you can expect a review about that next week.

And now the news...

Could Compensation Have Ended Slavery?

It is very common to find alternate histories that bring up the idea of a compensated end to American slavery.  Sometimes this is a solution to avoid the American Civil War altogether or a scheme that the Confederacy would eventually adopt when they decided to free their slaves.  Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic, however, questions whether such a scheme would have been feasible.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul (W) speaks during a Compensation Day Celebration.
In a two-part article (here and here) Teri discusses the history of this option and the counterfactual economics involve.  In short, the total cost of the American slave population in 1860 was $3 billion ($70-75 billion today), making it near impossible for the government to pay for all of the salves at once.  Even figuring in payments spread over 25 years and other cost-saving measures, government expenses could triple, especially since the slave owners would have no reason to accept the minimum price since it is the government that is attempting to avoid bloodshed and not them.

I highly reccomend any alternate historian who is writing a timeline during this period to check out these articles.

More Calls for Submissions

Want to be a published alternate history writer?  Well here are a few open calls for submissions that you should keep in mind:

Gingrich Returns

With Newt Gingrich once again one of the frontrunners for the 2012 Republican nomination, it was only a matter of time before someone used Twitter to poke fun at the former Speaker of the House.  The best part of Newt Gingrich is that his alternate history background provides some interesting fuel for laughs.  Just check out this Tweet from @gingrichfiction:

“His Satanic rituals complete, President Roosevelt resumed work on the architecture of The New Deal.”
Hilarious, though not as bad as this review of Newt's 1945, which was called "a fairly primitive example of the kind of speculative fiction known as 'alternate history'.”

Speaking of Gingrich's alternate history, check out the poll I have going at the top right.

Convention Watch: Harry Turtledove at A-Kon 23

Do you live in Dallas, Texas and want to meet Harry Turtledove?  Well you can!  The master of alternate history will be a guest at A-Kon 23, which will run from June 1st to the 3rd.  Those interested in attending can find more information here.  In the meantime, why not check out this review of Homeward Bound done by Emma at Em and Emm Expound on Exposition.

Links to the Multiverse


Doomsday Speeches: If D-Day and the Moon Landing Had Failed by Dominic Tierney at The Atlantic.

An exercise in insanity (or: an alternate history of the New York Rangers by Joe Reiter at Blueshirt Banter.

It’s Time to Rethink Steampunk by Jess Nevins at io9.

Shortlists revealed for British Science Fiction Awards by Alison Flood at The Guardian.


Greg Ahlgren done by JeanzBookReadNReview.  (You can check out my interview with Greg as well)


Fantastical Fake Machines, Rendered With a Historian's Eye for Detail by Steven Hellr at The Atlantic.

Review of The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar done by Traveler at The Traveler's Steampunk Blog.

Review of Soulless by Gail Carriger done by Weirdmage's Reviews.

Steampunk at Audible.com by Steampunk Scholar.

Online AH

Eagles and Hawks by LSCatilina.

Odessa by Christian Rubiano and Louie Chin.


Alternate History: Three Mile Island by Troy Larson at Exodus North.


Alternate History Jewelry at Etsy.

* * *

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, January 28, 2012

DD Date 1984.01.25

January 25, 1984

It's getting where I can't concentrate at work. Beth Eden Nursing Home has been officially closed. It has become clear that there are no more funds available from US governmental agencies to support the residents. It will continue as a nursing facility for the treatment of private citizens with the funds to keep their aged parents hospitalized. Medicines are scarce and getting scarcer. Meanwhile, herbal and alternative treatments are on the rise.

This does not bode well for me, for my job is low skill (taking blood pressures, checking temps) and physical (turning patients and bathing, for instance). As the needs increase, administrators are looking to hire more nurses and do with fewer aids. My hopes to finding a church to serve are slim, so it's going to be into the odd jobs market for me if I get let go. I would have thought in the current situation healthcare would be the securest of all fields. I certainly hope Debbie's job holds up. The hospital she works at is privately owned, but I'm pretty sure a lot of the patients there depend on government insurance to pay for their care (like Veterans' Administration).

On another related note, the abortion clinic near the hospital has been shut down! It came as a result of a rash of abortions after the reports of nuclear war became public in October. Hundreds rushed to end the lives of babies they didn't think they could afford. Some of my friends were outside on Grove Road trying to stop them, holding signs and all that. But mostly just praying publicly. Well, anyway, without proper facilities, the doctors got sloppy. Some girls died as a result, so charges were filed. The local police made it a priority, the courts pushed it through, and quite appropriately the order to close was affective last Sunday, January 22, on the eleventh anniversary of the famous Roe v. Wade decision.

The abortions continue over on Laurens Road, though. I talked with some friends at church and they want to picket the place. It's the least we can do, I guess. I wonder if the politicians locally will change things after this. I doubt if any courts of appeal will take a case when we can't even get a phone call to reach Asheville anymore. Maybe the next election will change things. You never can tell.

Previous Entry: DD Date 1984.01.21
Next Entry: DD Date 1984.02.14

Friday, January 27, 2012

Multiverse Profile: United States of America

If you look at the large library of alternate history, you cannot help but notice that the United States plays a large role in many stories.  And why not?  The United States is one of the most influential nations of the world.  It has the world's largest economy and it is an important cultural force in the world.  So it only stands to reason that when I start discussing how different nations are portrayed in alternate history, I should start with the United States.  Perhaps by seeing how it is altered in different stories, we can get a snapshot of the OTL United States and its people.

Note: While there are many alternate versions of the United States in the multiverse, the versions I will be discussing are the most common.  Also I will not be discussing balkanized United States.  That is a discussion for next month.

Let us begin...

Fascist United States

Americans takes pride in being a liberal democracy.  For centuries the country has managed to hold an unending streak of free and fair elections.  What would happen, however, if the United States lost this aspect of its culture?  That is where the "fascist United States" of alternate history comes into being.  This version of America does not have to follow a fascist ideology per se, but it does have to be authoritarian and have some sort of tyrannical dictator in charge.  Versions of the fascist United States can be found in Amerikan Eagle by Alan Glenn and The Plot Against America by Philip Roth.  In these stories authors play on Americans greatest fear: that the freedom they have learned to cherish and protect will be taken away by some power-hungry maniac.  Obviously it is impossible for one person to show up and take power without support, but these alternate dictators usually receive it from a populace that is scared and desperate.  That is why you see American politicians and their supporters use words like "Nazi" and "fascist" to describe their opponents.  Americans still fear this possibility.

Communist United States

After fighting a decades long Cold War against the Soviet Union that could have ended with the nuclear annihilation of most of the world, it is easy to see why alternate historians would take to creating a "communist United States".  Of course there is also the factor that the United States is a more conservative culture than most Western democracies, but nonetheless, most Americans have it in their minds that if the United States became communist, it was because they "lost".  Worlds where the United States lost the Cold War can be found in The Gladiator by Harry Turtledove or the first episode of the TV series Sliders.  Sometimes, however, the United States and the Soviet Union simply switch places.  The United States goes through a communist revolution, while Russia either remains an empire or becomes a democracy.  This example is most prevalent in Back in the U.S.S.A. by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman.  Rarely do any of these worlds make things "good" for Americans.  Most alternate historians hold to the belief that communism was, is and forever shall be a "bad" thing.

British United States

Americans tend to respect and glorify their founders.  They are taught how they were men of genius and integrity and fought to free the colonies from the tyrannical George III.  Ignoring the fact that the founding fathers were treated with more reverence then even the most popular monarch, Americans still feel that remaining a British colony would have been a disaster...or would it?  Most alternate historians do not paint grim pictures of what a British America would look.  How this American dominion is created varies across the genre.  Sometimes the Americans lose the American Revolution, as they did in For Want of a Nail by Robert Sobel.  A British America could also have been founded if cooler heads prevailed and the Revolution never happened in the first place, as it did in The Two Georges by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss.  Rarely are these alternate histories dystopias like the last two.  Perhaps alternate historians are trying to tell us that not all divergence points lead to a nightmare scenario.  Maybe some even share Winston Churchill's belief that the English speaking-world should have been united.

American Wanks

These Americas are probably even more then the dystopias I mentioned before.  These are American wanks and in them you find a version of the United States that is richer, larger and more technologically advanced then OTL.  They strain and often break all the rules of plausibility and often reflect the author's own nationalist sentiment of the United States.  Good (or bad?) examples of an American wank include the North American Confederacy series by L. Neil Smith and the United States of An Independent in 2000 that can be found on the AH Wiki.  Both alternate histories are made worse due to fact that they encapsulate the political beliefs of each author.  Their message is clear: if America adopts my politics it would be a better place!  History rarely agrees with such statements.

Other Alternate Names for the United States

Union of Free States, Columbia, Allied States of America, Commonwealth of America, Commonwealth of American States, Confederation of American States, Confederation of British North America, Fredonia, New England, North American Confederation, People's Republic of America, United Provinces of America, United States of North America, Vinland.

Next Profile: The United Kingdom!

* * *

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, January 26, 2012

2012 AH Wiki Stirling Awards

The 2nd Annual Stirling Awards have been annouced.  For those who do not know, the Stirling Awards are the AH Wiki's annual awards given out the best timelines, articles, editors, etc. of the previous years.  There are also Lifetime Achievement categories for content and editors who made there marks in earlier years.  Nominations are made throughout the month of December and voting runs from Jan 1 to Jan 25.  Winners are announced on Jan 26, which happens to be the day the wiki was founded.

So without further ado, here are the winners:

Writer Awards
Best Male Writer: KingSweden

Best Female Writer: Smoggy80

Best New Contributor: Detectivekenny

Best Writer in a Community Timeline: Mister Sheen

Best TSPTF Member: Lordganon

Best Copyeditor: Katholico

Best Ban: Rebelsoldier

Timeline Awards
Best Timeline: L'Uniona Homanus by Hidan43vr

Best Article: French Trafalgar, British Waterloo (1978-1997) by Tbguy1992

Best OTL/non-AH Work: ASB, Historical Fantasy, and Future History by Lordganon.

Best Non-English Wiki: Альтернативная История

Best Map Game: Greater Europe by Doctor261

Best 1983: Doomsday Article: Second Sicily War by various authors

Content Awards
Best Photoshopped Picture: Detectivekenny wins with this...

Best Flag: Bobalugee1940 wins with...

Best Map: ChrisL123 wins with...

Best Template: Mister Sheen with GWS-Santiago

Special Nominations
Lifetime Achievement Award - Writer: C II R

Lifetime Achievement Award - Timeline:  Napoleon's World by KingSweden

Lifetime Achievement Award - Article: Roman Empire (Superpowers) by Red VS Blue

Lifetime Achievement Award - Flags and Coats of Arms: There is a tie!  First is Xi'Reney...

and then we have Oerwinde...

Lifetime Achievement Award - Maps and Other Files: Lordganon wins with...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breaking News: Extraordinary New Book Rewrites Adolf Hitler’s Childhood

from Digital Journal. Crossposted over at The War Blog.

Frank Daversa, author and writer, recently published his new book “Young Adolf: An Alternate History” with AuthorHouse. It revisits Hitler's childhood as an exercise in developmental psychology: can an early romance overcome the domestic challenges of young Adolf's life? The story, written by Frank and Joseph Franciosa Jr., starts with Hitler’s birth, and proceeds through his adolescence. It depicts his childhood in striking detail. You will observe his ordeals, from the rigors of his schooling to beatings by his father Alois. 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 prejudices, 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 during his younger years. Know the boy before he was the world's most feared man. Witness his courtship with good-natured Helga. Decide whether her influence might have altered the course of history.

Frank is based in Houston, TX. It all began there back in early 2008, when he was thinking of how Adolf Hitler must have had a difficult childhood for him to turn out the way he did. He had no girlfriends during that time to speak of. Then it occurred to Frank, what would happen if someone intervened, someone to show young Hitler true love? Would this be enough to change him for the better as an adult? That is how “Young Adolf” was born.

This does seem like an interesting premise, though I'm rather doubtful as to its overall plausibility. By that I don't mean the possibility of Hitler getting a girlfriend, but of it having an overall impact on his personality and politics. But then I'm rather sceptical of the whole psycho-analysis as an approach anyway since in the end it always seems to boil down to some issue about one's mother and/or sex. Contrary to that I think that even people who one would identify as "good" and even "kind", who had a good childhood and experienced stable relationships, can through deliberations and the setting of priorities come up with ideas and concepts we would rightfully abhor.

Having said that, I may well be doing the whole project premature injustice (...can injustice be mature?^^). It certainly addresses an aspect few if any other writers have tackled in that way. That alone makes me anticipate reading it!

Mitro, the founder of the Alternate History Weekly Update, contacted the author of the above mentioned novel and secured a review copy for yours truly! Thanks, Frank and Mitro!

[Editor's Note (3/2/12): You can read the review here]

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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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Airship Update #7

Airship Updates is back with more news about those wonderful whales of the skies:

Links in the Air

Andy Lester thrilled residents by bringing a dirigible to Stuart in 1930 by Alice L. and Greg E. Luckhardt at TC Palm.

Argus One airship undergoes initial testing by Defense Systems.

The Fate of the K-14: Navy inquiry was fast, ignored key evidence by Earl Brechlin at Fence Viewer.

No Airship Was Safe From Nora by Jack Marsh at the North West Evening Mail.

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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, January 23, 2012

Weekly Update #38

Editor's Note

So I have started reading Hitler Invades England by George Crall.  Its definitely not one of your usual Operation Sea Lion alternate histories, the POD is earlier then you think.  Whether the book holds up though remains to be seen.  Check back next week for the review.

I have been having a case of writers block lately, both with this blog and my own stories.  I hope to change that around very shortly, so expect to see some new articles on how OTL nations are portrayed in alternate history and a new Airship Update.

Good news, Weekly Update now has their own sub-reddit!  Look for updates on reddit /r/adwupdate.

And now the news...

Shattered World now an e-book!

Shattered World by Bobby Hardenbrook is an epic alternate World War II timeline that starts with the Soviet Union invades Poland in 1936.  It has been one of my favorite online alternate history, but as of late it has only been updated sporadically.

Yesterday, however, Bobby announced that the first 29 segments of Shattered World, the "Eurasian War" period and the "Between the Wars" period, will be published for $0.99 as e-books on Amazon. These parts of the timeline can no longer be found on the Internet, so you have to buy the e-books if you want to enjoy this excellent timeline.


Found a new online graphic novel called 6-Commando by Mathieu Moyen.  Set in the 1990s, here is a more detailed description of this alternate history:

The state of the world in the year 1997 is unstable, at best. Early in the century, a Great War lasting over a decade bled the world white, and culminated in revolutionary bloodshed in Russia, China and Eastern Europe. The great powers realized that a second direct confrontation of that kind would mean the end of civilization, and that the only answer was to establish a balance of power to forestall such a conflict for as long as possible.

Thus, three gigantic superblocs developed, divided by ideology and geography. The UNA, an alliance of Western nations, calls itself the defender of the world’s Democratic ideals. The FSR, a conglomerate of Socialist states, claims to be struggling for the liberation of the world’s underprivileged classes. The Nonaligned Movement, dominated by the South American Coalition and the Arab League, is a loose confederation of states that claim to want no part of the Cold War.

Between these states lie areas of constant political and social upheaval called Disrecognized Zones. In these areas, the three power blocs fight out their disputes by proxy, with little regard for the misery inflicted upon the hapless inhabitants of these perpetual warzones. For eighty years, this has allowed the three alliances to defuse many political and ideological tensions, but recent developments threaten to upset this delicate balance of power.

Katanga, India, UNITA, and other newly-formed nation-states in Africa and Asia have grown weary of the constant devastation of their lands, and are starting to rise up and take their place as independent countries. As their buffer zones shrink, the superstates are beginning to confront each other directly for the first time since the Great War, and the threat of all-out conflict on a truly global scale has suddenly become very real.
A cursory look at the graphic novel tells you that this world is more advanced then ours.  Several characters are wearing power armor and there are other sci-fi weaponry scattered through the pages.  Should be interesting, keep an eye out for a review.  In the meantime you can check out 6-Commando's Facebook page.

Links to the Multiverse


Alternate history lessons for children's fiction by Imogen Russell Williams at The Guardian.

Mark Wahlberg could have stopped 9/11, according to Mark Wahlberg by Sean O'Neal at AV Club.

Poe's Birthday by Russell Scott at TimeDonors.

Thoughtful Thursday: Alternate History by Justin at Fantasy Literature.

Online Alternate History

The Case of the Small-Minded Medium by Benjamin Jacobson at SteampunX.

Video Games

Steampunk Batman Game: Why Hasn’t This Happened? by Caitlyn Muncy at gamefront.


How the West Wasn't Won: Powell's Water-based States by Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps.

"What if..." Movies reimagined for another time & place... by Peter Stults at Behance Network.

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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, January 21, 2012

DD Date 1984.01.21

January 21, 1984

Winter has been milder than scientists ever thought a "nuclear winter" would be. In fact, we are experiencing a rather warm and wet winter here in South Carolina. Or at least in our little corner of that fine state. From what has been gathered so far by authorized explorations - gasoline and diesel being scarce as it is with no new deliveries in over three months - the state south of Laurens county may have been largely destroyed. Nobody seems to be coming up the interstate since the first of December, so whoever is still living counties outside of the upstate are keeping to themselves nowadays.

Local politicians, not knowing what is happening nationally, nevertheless are busy gearing up for the presidential race in November. The Democratic party is all excited about the candidacy of local hometown candidate Jesse Jackson - presently living and working in Chicago. Of course, like all big cities in a nuclear war, Chicago may have suffered like Charlotte and Atlanta did. But anyhow, talk is all around town - especially among the black community - that Jackson has a chance against former vice president Mondale. The Iowa caucuses are a month away - and if anywhere survives today it would be Iowa! - and both Jackson and Senator Hollings are on the ticket then. Of course, if the world beyond our state is like what we have seen so far, there probably hasn't been any campaigning going on. But still, you never know.

If there is an election, though, I think President Reagan can beat anybody the Democrats end up with. I really wish we'd get at least some radio coverage from somewhere. I mean, we've got some electricity and there are at least some radios that didn't die from the electromagnetic pulses. The mayor's office and county counsel insist that everything is being done to restore communications with the rest of the world, but I'm not so sure anything can be done. Well, it's time for my ride to work to get here, so I'd better turn out this light and say good night to Debbie.

Previous Entry: DD Date 1984.01.11
Next Entry: DD Date 1984.01.25

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Alternate Space Race

One of our contributors, Korsgaard, shared a new blog with me called the Alternate History of the Space Race.  Written by David S. F. Portree, this blog imagines space missions that never were.  After reading it I started thinking about the Space Race from an alternate history perspective and how alternate historians have approached this competition for space between the United States and the Soviet Union.

To a nerd like me, there is something really exciting about the Space Race.  A program built off the remains of an evil empire that allowed adventurous explorers to strap themselves to an explosive pile of lowest bids for a potentially one-way ticket to the unknown.  All of this set during the back-drop of the Cold War, where two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national security and symbolic of technological and ideological superiority.  Did the astronauts/cosmonauts in orbit ever fear that when they looked outside their windows they would see the cities of man blossom into nuclear flame?  What would happen to those in space when the world went mad?

Thankfully that never happened. The Soviet Union collapsed, but their existence and competition with the United States over space helped spark an unprecedented increase in spending on education and pure research, which accelerated scientific advancements that led to beneficial spin-off technologies. Counting all of that and a man landing on the moon (which some people still refuse to believe), is it possible that we could have done more?  Where are our cities in space?  Where are the colonies on Mars?  Where are the interstellar ships leaving to colonizing Earth-like worlds?  Where the hell is my jetpack?  Perhaps that is one of the reasons why so many people confuse 2001: A Space Odyssey as alternate history.  It represents that lost opportunity to accomplish something greater.

That is where alternate historians come in.  We are the men and women who can look back at history and see the divergence points necessary to make our science fiction dreams a reality.  Now we have all heard of some of the more the more well-known alternate histories of the Space Race, like Warren Ellis' Ministry of Space or Stephen Baxter's Voyager, but there are other alternate histories out there that cover an alternate Space Race.  An excellent short story I read last year during my honeymoon was Paul J. McAuley's Sidewise-nominated short story, A Very British HistoryThe story is actually a review of a fictional history book titled A Brief History of the Colonization of Space (Oxford 2001), which describes what happens after the British got to Peenemunde before the Russians or Americans.  You can find the full text of the story here.

If you are looking for some original, online alternate history you should check out David Atwell's Human Timeline, an epic alternate history, with references to various sci-fi franchises, that once again features Britain getting a piece of the Peenemunde pie.  The point of divergence leads to a mutli-sided Space Race and takes the reader far into the future as humanity advances and interacts with other intelligent species.  I first read it back when I was a teenager and you can still find the entire series on Changing the Times.

That is why I am looking forward to reading and reviewing indie author Cliff Ball's new novel, New Frontier.  Here is a description of the novel:

In this speculative fiction novel, what-if Ronald Reagan became President in 1976 instead and the Space Race turned out differently? He continues with the moon landings, and declares that a moon base would be established by 1979, followed by a Mars Base by 1989. The Soviets decide to up the ante by building an interstellar starship, and send it on its way as the US establishes a permanent presence on the Moon. The US builds a space station, followed by a base on Mars, that will eventually be turned into a colony.
The rest of Earth follows the original timeline, so terrorism rears its ugly head, which will forever change American politics. Iran and its attempt at taking hostages is taken care of in 1979, but a new threat emerges because of it. The new POTUS has to pursue these enemies of the US to secure America's future. We follow America's progress from Moon to Mars, along with the Teacher in Space Program, to an eventual starship mission out of the solar system, which will continue in book two.
Even though the Space Race may be over and the Space Shuttles retired, do not lose hope about getting your very own asteroid retirement home.  Here are some upcoming events to look forward to by the end of the decade:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Write for Weekly Update!

I had every intention of making Alternate History Weekly Update a community project.  At first I sought out good writers who I though my readers will enjoy.  Then I tried to use my Want to Contribute? page to reel in some interesting writers, yet that has not been very successful.  Now I realized that the reason it may not be successful is because people might not know what to write about.  So here are a few ideas:

Book Reviewer: Alternate history is primarily a literary genre, but I cannot possibly read all of those books on my own.  Please share your thoughts on all of these wonderful books.  You may even get some free review copies in the process.

Films, Television and Video/Computer Game Reviewer: There are a lot of other media that uses an alternate history storyline.  Weekly Update could use your help in reviewing works from these media, especially video games.

Showcaser: There are a lot of online work of alternate history...mostly bad.  The job of the showcaser is to find those few nuggets of good alternate history and share it with the world.

AH Directory Admin: Some of you may have seen the AH Directory.  The problem is I need someone to better manage it, keeping it updated with new site and removing dead links.  Meanwhile you can post about changes to the Directory to remind people of the ever changing world of online alternate history.

Misc.: Do not hold yourself back.  Wayne Gretzky once said you always miss the shot you never take.  If you have an idea that you think will work for Weekly Update, whether it is an essay or an original work of alternate history, then share it with us.  You never know what it will lead too.

If any of the above positions fit you then contact me at ahwupdate@gmail.com to apply to be a writer.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pros and Cons of Textbook AH

In a recent post about how an author took their online alternate history and turned it into a novel, one of contributors Korsgaard left this interesting comment:
Wow! All of the textbook style TLs have a publication potential now!
This got me thinking textbook alternate history in general.  Certainly they are not ignored by the community.  When Angels Wept by Eric G. Swedin won the Sidewise Award in 2010 and For Want of a Nail by Robert Sobel won the 1997 Sidewise Award for special achievement in alternate history and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  The question remains: are textbook alternate histories the way to go?  Here are some pros and cons to consider:


Alternate Historians Love Them: True fans of the genre will spend money on books, anthologies, comics, etc. with a narrative format, but they will also spend significant amount of their own time on forums, wikis and other online communities discussing and sharing their own original works.  These original pieces of alternate history tend to be in the textbook format, with pictures, maps and footnotes included.  Publishing a textbook alternate history is an easy way to reach the diehard fanboys.

Easier to Write: Narratives are hard to write.  It takes years of practice and some skill to be an effective story teller.  It is difficult to capture real life drama using the printed word.  Just look at some of these articles if you do not believe me.  Textbook, however, do not require the level of creative writing necessary to write a successful narrative.  An educated and experienced writer can produce a good quality textbook.


Smaller Audience: Alternate history is already a niche market, but it is not impossible for a good story to reach a larger audience.  Textbook alternate history, however, may have even a smaller chance.  History is already an unpopular subject for many people, so a wider audience may be even less interested in reading a textbook of fake history then they would reading a textbook of real history.

Plausibility Hounds are Looking for Blood: Alternate historians are notorious for demanding a high level of plausibility, but some will let it slide for narratives in deference to the "rule of cool".  Textbook alternate histories, however, will not get such a pass.  A writer willing to write a textbook alternate history must have his facts in order.


Every style of storytelling has its advantages and disadvantages.  A good writer has to weigh the pros and cons of each and consider their own comfort level.  Remember that when you sit down to write your next 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.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekly Update #37

Editor's Note

So I had to postpone my "Introduction to the Balkanized North America trope" again, but this time for a better reason besides laziness.  Korsgaard and I will be teaming up for a Balkanized North American themed month of February.  I hope you are all looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, I am going to be reading and reviewing Hitler Invades England by Colonel George Crall and Clopton's Short History of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1925 by Carole Scott.

Here are few posts to keep an eye out for: "The Pros and Cons of Textbook Alternate History" and "Nightmare PODs...or not."

And now the news...

New Calls for Submissions

While this Weekly Update's true purpose is to keep our readers informed about what is new in alternate history, I also like to share opportunities available for those among us who wish to be published authors.  I am pleased to announce two new calls for anthology submissions that were announced last week.

The first is by John Joseph Adams who is collecting recommendations for a reprint anthology called Other Worlds Than These.  Those interested in making those recommendations can do so at his Parallel Worlds Database.  Adams is also willing to submissions for the author's themselves.  Send an email to Adams with a copy in RTF or Doc format to jjadams.anthology [at] gmail [dot] com.

The second call for submissions comes from Dark Moon Digest, a horror fiction quarterly.  They are putting together a alternate history/horror anthology with the working title Zombie Jesus and Other True Stories.  Deadline is May 31st and you can find more information here.  I am already working on a new short story for this submission and I hope some of our readers will join me in submitting.


What does General Custer and the New England Patriots have in common?  The question is not as silly as it sounds.  General Custer's bandmaster was an Italian immigrant named Felix Vinatieri and was the great-great-grandfather Patriot's kicker Adam Vinatieri.  That was the same Vinatieri who with seven seconds left in the 2002 Super Bowl kicked a 48-yard field goal and won the game.

Now in OTL, Felix Vinatieri was ordered to stay behind at the 7th Cavalry's Powder River camp and missed the Battle of the Little Bighorn...but what if he did not?  That is the POD for the award-winning, 15-minute short film Bighorn (which describes itself as a supernatural historical fantasy.  Those interested in watching the film can do so on the film's website.  You can also learn more about the film on their Facebook page.

Convention Watch: Dragon*Con

It was announced on January 11th that the Artifice Club will be running the Alternate History track at Dragon*Con.  The Artifice Club describes itself as "a society of steampunks, retrofuturists, and like-minded creative folk who host and run amazing events."  I wish the Artifice Club the best of luck and it is shame I will not be able to attend.  If any of my readers are going to Dragon*Con, please let us know how it went.

Links to the Multiverse


Barbara’s Picks, July 2012, Pt. 1: From Kurt Andersen to James Howard Kunstler by Barbara Hoffert at Library Journal.  (Editor's Note: see the review on The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter).

Feature: Taft 2012 by Jason Heller at the AV Club.

Review of 11/22/63 by Stephen King done by Bane of Kings at The Founding Fields.

Review of Amerikan Eagle by Alan Glenn done by Dave from Dave's Buttoned-Up Mind.

Review of The Eyre Affair by Jasper Forde done by 15GoldsmithA at Youth Voices.

Review of Half a Crown by Jo Walton done by Jenny from Shelf Love.

Review of Tears of the Sun by S. M. Stirling done by Storybook Forest.

Online Alternate History

Affiliated States of Boreoamerica by Ben Karnell.

A Nicer by Nixon? at Y Files.


Life After Terra Nova: 4 Sci-Fi Subgenres We'd Like to See on TV by

Video Games

Getting serious about video games by Thomas E. Rick at Foreign Policy.

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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.