Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekly Update #94

Editor's Note

Usually I use this space for announcements rather than editorializing, but this story caught my eye and forced me to wade into a controversial subject. To sum up, an American teacher wanted her students to understand why slavery was bad, but in an unusual manner. She asked to kids to imagine they lived in a world where slavery still existed and create posters reflecting this alternate history. People became offended after one kid made a poster featuring a reward for a runaway slave.

Personally I am siding with the teacher on this one. I have always believed counterfactuals are an excellent tool in helping truly understand the importance of historical events. As more generations are born, further separating present day humans from the events in question, it becomes easier to forget or be swayed by others who have a desire to revise how others perceive their ancestors. Furthermore, if Kevin Willmott can create a mockumentary featuring slavery in a modern day Confederacy I see no reason why others can't take from his example in teaching children about the subject.

Okay, hopefully I don't get too many angry comments.

And now the news...

Update: Clockwork Century by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest, probably the most well-known steampunk author currently, was in the news last week. For one thing, her new novel Fiddlehead, the 5th book in her Clockwork Century, series was announced. Scheduled to come out in November, here is the synopsis from SF Signal:
Ex-spy ‘Belle Boyd’ is retired – more or less. Retired from spying on the Confederacy anyway. Her short-lived marriage to a Union navy boy cast suspicion on those Southern loyalties, so her mid-forties found her unemployed, widowed and disgraced. Until her life-changing job offer from the staunchly Union Pinkerton Detective Agency.
When she’s required to assist Abraham Lincoln himself, she has to put any old loyalties firmly aside – for a man she spied against twenty years ago.Lincoln’s friend Gideon Bardsley, colleague and ex-slave, is targeted for assassination after the young inventor made a breakthrough. Fiddlehead, Bardsley’s calculating engine, has proved an extraordinary threat threatens the civilized world. Meaning now is not the time for conflict. 
Now Bardsley and Fiddlehead are in great danger as forces conspire to keep this secret, the war moving and the money flowing. With spies from both camps gunning for her, can even the notorious Belle Boyd hold the war-hawks at bay?
In other news, David Marshall at Thinking about books reviewed her recent novel The Inexplicables. Spoiler alert, he didn't like it and described it as "terrible". Ouch, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, including Eric Brown at The Guardian who reviewed Priest's Dreadnaught and called it a "marvellous steampunk, western and horror mashup that takes time out to examine warfare, racism and gender definitions." Check out The Update's past reviews of Boneshaker and Clementine done by myself and Matthew Quinn respectively.

On a side note, Brown also reviewed James P Blaylock's The Aylesford Skull and Ian McDonald's Planesrunner so click on that article if you want to see the reviews on those novels as well.

Jim Butcher to Publish Steampunk series

Speaking of steampunk, Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files (wait a second, a contemporary fantasy/mystery series set in Chicago...why the hell haven't I read this yet?) will be publishing a new steampunk series for Penguin. Publisher's Weekly was the first to break the news:
Penguin Group is continuing its relationship with bestselling fantasy writer Jim Butcher. The author of the Dresden Files and Codex Alera closed a seven-figure, three-book deal with his current publisher for a new series. Anne Sowards, at Roc, took world English rights to The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, and two sequels, from agent Jennifer Jackson at Donald Maass Literary...The Cinder Spires, Jackson said, is set in a world “of black spires that tower for miles over a mist-shrouded surface” and follows a war between two of the Spires: Spire Albion and Spire Aurora.
Seven figures?!?!! I need to spend more time writing...but anyway, when asked to describe his upcoming series on a Reddit AMA, Butcher said:
It’s kinda League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies.
The first book still does not have a release date, but congrats to Jim and I look forward to learning more about this upcoming series in the future.

DLC with the Famed Actor’s Powerful Voice Now Available, Trailer of Many Decibels Released

Paradox Interactive  released the powerful vocal performance of Brian Blessed as an add-on for their medieval combat title War of the Roses. Players can now charge into battle with the acting legend commanding them to victory. Available as optional DLC for the game, the “BRIAN BLESSED VO” pack replaces the existing announcer with the hearty, dramatic commands of England’s greatest voice. The DLC can be purchased via Steam for $4.99.

Turn your headphones down—or up, if you like that sort of thing—and listen to BRIAN BLESSED in this newly released video:

In addition, a free demo is now available for War of the Roses, allowing any brave warrior to pledge their steel to the houses of Lancaster or York. However, demo players will not gain any prestige inside the game – nor can they enjoy the rich vocal work of BRIAN BLESSED.

Submissions Wanted

Is it just me or is it easier to find submission requests for the horror genre? First off, if you live in the Atlanta area and have horror script you a trying to sell, this Craigslist notice might interest you. Meanwhile, fans of Lovecraft or just weird fiction in general, should check out the Lovecraft eZine and their submissions page. If you need help writing your Lovecraft story, may I recommend The H.P. Lovecraft Archive, an excellent database for your favorite Rhode Islander (well Peter Griffin might be higher on the list).

Had enough horror? Check out Water Closer Press which is calling for submissions for their next issue of Ladies and Gentlemen. Also this segment is never just about writing. Do you have an alternate history web series? Than you might be interested in submitting it to the Chronos Film Fest.

As always, good luck!

Things to do

So many things to do, so little time to do it all in (and don't forget how much a plane ticket costs):

March 14-17: The run of Mr Faust and Dr Jabberwocky in South Dunedin, NZ.

March 22-25: Steampunk at the Seaside at Camber, UK.

April 5: Deadline for panel proposals for the Alternate History Track at DragonCon.

August 9-11: The Nine Worlds Geek Fest at London, UK.

Also, those thinking of going to this year's WorldCon, should check out the list of guests released last week.

Come on, go out and have fun!

Links to the Multiverse


The 10 Least Competent Time Travelers by Rob Bricken at io9.

The Age Atomic (Excerpt) by Adam Christopher at Tor.

Blog Tour - The Charge by Sharon Bayliss at Katie Teller's Stories.

Cover & Synopsis: “Hive Monkey” by Gareth L. Powell at SF Signal.

Cover & Synopsis: Lavie Tidhar Heads to Mars with His Science Fiction Mystery “Martian Sands” at SF Signal.

Fantasy as History by Joshua S Hill at Amazing Stories.

The Joy of Steampunk by Meghan B at Stellar Four.

New Takes on Fairy Tales: A Reading List by Rebecca Joines Schinsky at Book Riot.

Solaris Commission Steampunk Novel from Gaie Sebold at SF Scope.

TOC: ‘Steampunk Specs’ Edited by Allan Kaster at SF Signal.

Today at Kirkus: Steampunk Update, Part 3 – Mash-Ups and More by John DeNardo at SF Signal.

The Return of Space-Age Alternate History (SAAH III) by David S.F. Portree at Wired.

Steampunk and Clocks by M. Holly-Rosing at Steamed!

What is Gaslamp Fantasy? by Terri Windling at Tor/Forge's Blog.

Why Is the Steampunk Community So Fractured and Fractious? by Austin Sirkin at Steampunk R&D.

Book Reviews

The Queen is Dead by Kate Locke at Falcata Times.

The Wind Whales of Ishmael by Philip José Farmer at Amazing Stories.


‘Amala’s Blade’ is exciting, thought-provoking steampunk by Michael May at CBR.


The Best Steampunk Movies by CDT at Squidoo.

Watch Will Smith fight neo-dinosaurs in the new trailer for After Earth by Annalee Newitz at io9.

Wonder Woman vs The Nazis by sarawestrop at Geek Syndicate.


Even in BioShock Infinite’s Alternate History, America Was a Woman. But Not a Nice One by Evan Narcisse.

Nazi Zombie Army now available! by Matt Farr at Geek Syndicate.

Steampunk 'Thief' Videogame Series Gets a Reboot by Carol Pinchefsky at Forbes.

Steampunk Tower [Game Saturday] by Martin Brinkmann at

Steampunk Undersea Adventure “Fathom” Surfaces on Kickstarter by Matt Farr at Geek Syndicate.


Liesel Schwarz at The Qwillery.

Q&A with the Authors of the New Anthology “Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond”  (and Part 2) by Patrick Hester at SF Signal.


Ratchet RetroCast Episode 4 – The Disney Deluxe Retro Jumbo XL Edition at Earth Station One.


Are Modern Twists on Classics the Future? by Samantha Henry at Amazing Stories.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger on Amazing Stories 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. In regards to your "editorial" at the top of the weekly update. I've been student-teaching this semester in a 10th grade world history class (totally loving it). A few weeks ago, when the class was covering the political suffrage movement in the mid 1800s (the chartist movement and women's suffrage). I combined this with a lesson on political cartoons, and the classes had to make cartoons that were either for or against those issues, and the groups were assigned their topic at random (by pulling a piece of paper out of a hat). Funny thing was that the "anti-women's suffrage" topic ended up coming up more than the three other topics. It was interesting watching these 10th graders defend a policy that is so foreign to us now (ESPECIALLY my female students). I think having assignments where students are forced to think from another person's perspective is very important, especially in a history class.

  2. Definitely have to agree with you on the case of the teacher usuing counter factuals as a teaching tool. I don't see the problem with that. If anything, people need to grow thick enough skin to think before reacting.


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