Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Update #231! Preview of Hystopia and more alternate history goodness.

Editor's Note

I've been really pumped lately about alternate history. Coming up with ideas for the channel and recording videos has given me more energy to create. Who knows what crazy things I will do in the future, especially as we near the 5 year anniversary of Alternate History Weekly Update!

And now the news...

Book of the Week: Hystopia by David Means

So a recent novel that has gotten a lot of interest in alternate history circles is David Means' debut novel, Hystopia. Here is the description from Amazon:

At the bitter end of the 1960s, after surviving multiple assassination attempts, President John F. Kennedy is entering his third term in office. The Vietnam War rages on, and the president has created a vast federal agency, the Psych Corps, dedicated to maintaining the nation’s mental hygiene by any means necessary. Soldiers returning from the war have their battlefield traumas “enfolded”―wiped from their memories through drugs and therapy―while veterans too damaged to be enfolded roam at will in Michigan, evading the government and reenacting atrocities on civilians.

This destabilized version of American history is the vision of twenty-two-year old Eugene Allen, who has returned from Vietnam to write the book-within-a-book at the center of Hystopia. In conversation with some of the greatest war narratives, from Homer’s Iliad to the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” David Means channels the voice of Allen, the young veteran out to write a novel that can bring honor to those he fought with in Vietnam while also capturing the tragic history of his own family.

The critic James Wood has written that Means’s language “offers an exquisitely precise and sensuous register of an often crazy American reality.” In Hystopia, his highly anticipated first novel, David Means brings his full talent to bear on the crazy reality of trauma, both national and personal. Outlandish and tender, funny and violent, timely and historical, Hystopia invites us to consider whether our traumas can ever be truly overcome. The answers it offers are wildly inventive, deeply rooted in its characters, and wrung from the author’s own heart.

Mark Athitakis of B&N Review called Hystopia "wonderfully peculiar" and I am sure I will read it for the Sidewise Awards some day soon. Let me know if you got a chance to read it and what you thought in the comments.

Video of the Week

Cheating a little bit on this one (like always), but I had a great time making the video review of Terry Bisson's Fire on the Mountain so I am going to share it as much as I can:
If you get the chance you should also go check out my new Facebook page for the channel. I will be sharing a lot more updates and ideas on future videos over there.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblr and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

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