Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekly Update #24

Editor's Notes

Some good stuff coming up this week.  I will be posting my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I had to postpone, plus War Blogger will be posting his review of Red Inferno 1945.  I will also be starting an "Airship Update" to keep you informed about the wonderful world of airships.  Airships are an infamous alternate history trope and should be given the same coverage of other tropes like the multiverse.  So stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, yours truly applied to be a guest editor on a future issue of The Future Fire.  I proposed an alternate history themed issue (big surprise) and I am now waiting for their response, which should happen after October 31st.

Got our first reader from Tanzania.  Karibu!

And now the news...

Coming Soon: The Wars of Other Men

While those of us in the States may have to wait a while until Resistance is released on this side of the pond, the fans of steampunk are giving us something to cheer about.  It is called The Wars of Other Men and it is being filmed in Detroit with a very small budget.  It is about a nameless Lieutenant who has to lead a squad of men through a war-torn city to find a facility producing the Fog, an enemy chemical weapon, and kidnap the Fog's creator.  You can see the trailer below:

Coming Soon: Rome, Sweet Rome

An upcoming alternate history film may have revolutionized how films are optioned.  Warner Bros. has purchased the pitch titled Rome, Sweet Rome from James Erwin, an author and two-time "Jeopardy!" champion from Des Moines, Iowa.  Erwin's pitch sale came about as a result of several postings on the website, an online community and social news aggregator where users vote to determine which posts land on the site's home page.

Rome, Sweet Rome is an alternate history film.  A unit of current U.S. Marines are ISOT back to ancient Rome and forced to do battle with the Roman legions.  The film will follow the Marines where they encounter one of the world's most legendary villains (Augustus) and disrupt history. To return home, they have to set history back on the right track.

Madhouse Entertainment's Adam Kolbrenner spotted Erwin's Rome, Sweet Rome posts once they reached the top of Reddit and moved quickly to contact the writer and begin working with him to develop the concept. When it came time to find a home for the project, Kolbrenner brought it to WB's Chris Gary, a young exec who encouraged the studio to move aggressively to acquire it.  Kolbrenner will produce with Gianni Nunnari (Immortals) of Hollywood Gang, where John Ridley will oversee the project for the company. Madhouse's Robyn Meisinger will exec produce and Gary will shepherd the project for Warners.

Will it be a hit?  I, and War Blogger agrees with me, find the concept a little silly due to how historically inaccurate the pitch is.  Augustus, the first emperor of Rome, is hardly considered a "villain" by historians.  While he was a military dictator, he should be given some credit for ending the long civil strife that engulfed Rome and starting the Pax Romana, an era of relative peace that lasted for two centuries.  During his reign he rebuilt Rome, reformed the tax system, developed a network of roads and created police and fire-fighting services for Rome.  Considering how influential the Roman Empire is to Western society (see Romance languages and Civil law for just two examples), it seems really odd that someone would vilify the man who helped create it.  It is even odder when you consider that the Roman Empire gave us plenty of bad emperors throughout history, including Caligula.

Still I give Erwin credit for doing something that has not been done before.  One can hope that by crowdsourcing pitches like this, we may finally end the trend of sequels, prequels, remakes and based-on-books that have dominated the film industry these last few years.  We should at least be happy that it was an alternate history film that did it, though I would rather see Lest Darkness Fall made into a film.

SF Encyclopedia and Gateway

On October 3 the beta text of the third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction went live.  The encyclopedia is 3/4 complete and plans are for it to be finished in 2012.  Updates are likely to happen monthly, and be flagged through their blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook page.

There are several alternate history related articles throughout the encyclopedia.  For example, you have the main article on the genre and one for Harry Turtledove, the master of alternate history.  Check them out, look around and if you see something that is not quite right, let them know.  Since this Encyclopedia is not yet finished, do not freak out if you do not see your favorite alternate history book, author, film, television show, etc.  Give them some time, I think we are going to see some good things come out of this site.

Meanwhile, working closely, but independently, with the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction , is the SF Gateway which has also gone live recently. Administered by Darren Nash (Gollancz), the site is a collection science fiction and fantasy e-books. Thanks to digital publishing, large backlists of an incredibly wide range of classic and modern science fiction and fantasy authors are once again available. The website is still in development, but you should check it out. Perhaps I will write up a list of alternate history novels that all alternate historians should read.

Update on William Peter Grasso

You guys remember William Peter Grasso, right?  I interviewed him a couple of weeks ago and War Blogger reviewed his novel East Wind Returns.  Well he has been very busy as of late.  His new novel Unpunished has a Facebook fan page you can check out for news and updates.  He also did an interview at the Underground Book Review you should check out as well.

Links to the Multiverse


Steampunk alternate Mormon history fiction by The Religiously Sanctioned Co-Habitation Chronicles.


Hitler's War: The War That Came Early by Harry Turtledove by Mark Yon.

Review of the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld done by Mike Perschon.

Review of the Miss Tolerance series by Madeleine Robins done by Sherwood Smith.


All Nightmare Long by Metallica - Watch as the Soviet Union uses zombies to invade the United States.

Multiverse Doppelgangers: Do Many Versions of You Exist?


Frank Chadwick's Space: 1889 Blog

* * *

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.


  1. Mitro, what I actually find the most grating issue about "Rome, Sweet Rome" is that it's one more example of a show/movie/story frantically looking for a reset button. Just *once* I'd like to have a story produced by Hollywood where the time travellers actually *achieve* something!

  2. I guess it is the "Back to the Future" syndrome. Everyone assumes you have to set history back to normal, even though Marty must have had a better life with his improved family at the end of the first film. I think you would like "Hot Tub Time Machine". It is a comedy, but I think you would like the philosophy of one of the time travellers.

  3. Yeah, I've heard of that one. I suppose the underlying issue is that I find it hard to believe that people would spend all their efforts to undo all their actions' impact. Eric Flint had one of his characters in *1632* make a nice point to that effect (or was it Stirling in ISOT? I don't remember...): suppose you're transported back in time, which has a chance of about 1 in a billion. Being re-transported back to where you come from then should have a chance of 1 in a billion billion times, or shorter, it's bloody unlikely and you should concentrate on making the absolute best of the situation at hand.

    You can find the same (as in Rome, Sweet Rome) mindset in the otherwise excellent series "Zipang".


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.