Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Quick Message From Our Editor

Dear Readers,

Sorry everyone for the lack of posts this week. I had Monday through Wednesday planned but a combination of a busy day job, Easter and a lack of sleep led to me scrapping the afternoon half of it. Hopefully this doesn't happen again anytime soon.

Thank you for your patience and your continued support.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. 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.

Preview: Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove

Holy crap! I won a copy of Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove, the last book in the Pantheon series, from My Bookish Ways (who I link to often in my Weekly Update posts as they are a great source for alternate history literature). I just received my paperback copy in the mail and you guys can enjoy a review of this book. Here is the description from Amazon:

A team of godlike super-powered beings based on the ten avatars of Vishnu from Hindu mythology is assembled, but are they in fact a harbinger of apocalypse?

The latest standalone novel in the best selling Pantheon series.

Zachary Bramwell, better known as the comics artist Zak Zap, is pushing forty and wondering why his life isn’t as exciting as the lives of the superheroes he draws. Then he’s shanghaied by black-suited goons and flown to Mount Meru, a vast complex built atop an island in the Maldives. There, Zak meets a trio of billionaire businessmen who put him to work designing costumes for a team of godlike super-powered beings based on the ten avatars of Vishnu from Hindu mythology. 

The Ten Avatars battle demons and aliens and seem to be the saviours of a world teetering on collapse. But their presence is itself a harbinger of apocalypse. The Vedic “fourth age” of civilisation, Kali Yuga, is coming to an end, and Zak has a ringside seat for the final, all-out war that threatens the destruction of Earth.

Stay tuned to either The Update or Amazing Stories for my upcoming review (although I am likely to post my review The Adjacent first). Thanks again to My Bookish Ways for this wonderful opportunity.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. 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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Releases 4/22/14

You can support The Update by clicking the banner on the top right or the links below if you are purchasing through Amazon!

Paperbacks

Son of the Morning by Mark Adler

Edward the Third stands in the burnt ruin of an English church. He is beset on all sides. He needs a victory against the French to rescue his Kingship. Or he will die trying. Philip of Valois can put 50,000 men in the field. He has sent his priests to summon the very Angels themselves to fight for France. Edward could call on God for aid but he is an usurper. What if God truly is on the side of the French? But for a price, Edward could open the gates of Hell and take an unholy war to France ...Mark Alder has brought the epic fantasy of George R.R. Martin to the vivid historical adventure of Bernard Cornwell and has a created a fantasy that will sweep you to a new vision of the Hundred Years War.

E-books

George and the Dragon by Philip Tolhurst

World War II has broken out. The Germans have started to blitz the UK and now they have a new weapon, a weapon so powerful it could end the British war effort before it has even started.

With bombs falling dangerously close to home George Atkins’ mother, Mary, decides to evacuate their home and go to live with his uncle in the heart of English countryside. George’s whole world is turned upside down when five dragons, ridden by Luftwaffe airmen, destroy his uncle’s house. At the same time, with thanks to his father and a group of bumbling British scientists, George becomes the rider of an emerald green dragon he names Spitfire.

The pair and are recruited, albeit reluctantly, by a special unit of the RAF. As the first dragon and rider fighting for the allies, they face the biggest challenge of their lives to save the country from defeat by the Luftwaffe and the evil leader of the Nazi’s forces General von Vogler and his mutant dragon Blitzkrieg.

To fans, authors and publishers...

Is your story going to be published in time for the next New Releases? Contact us at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  We are looking for works of alternate history, counterfactual history, steampunk, historical fantasy, time travel or anything that warps history beyond our understanding.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. 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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekly Update #143

Editor's Note

I am taking some time off of work this week. That means I am also taking some time off the blog. So no new posts Thursday and Friday this week. I will return next week to our regularly scheduled program.

Fair warning: prepare to see the word "altered" a lot in today's Weekly Update.

And now the news...

Altered America Sales Result in Altered Europa Announcement

Altered America first came to my attention last year and I was fortunate enough to get a better introduction to Altered America by one of its authors, Bruno Lombardi. All evidence shows that the anthology has been well-received by the alternate history community. It was announced last Tuesday by Martin Ingham of Martinus Publishing that sales of the alternate history anthology Altered America have been extremely well. Because of this fact, on Saturday, Martin announced calls for submission for a new alternate history anthology: Altered Europa.

According to the submission guidelines on Martinus' website: "Altered Europa will feature stories of alternate history where something changed in European history as we know it. Let your imagination run wild, and imagine how things might have turned out differently. Any point in history is fair game, from Ancient Greece to near modern times, and perhaps even some tales slightly into the future, so long as the alternate history is exposed. Show us what happened at the event, what happened shortly thereafter, or reveal how things are impacted much later on. Give us something to think about, something that will thrill and entertain us, and reveal a Europe that might have been!"

An official deadline has not been announced yet, but expect to hear about that in the near future (I will make sure to add it to our calendar). For more details you will need to check out their submission guidelines. I am thinking of submitting my own story to the anthology, but more on that later.

Reviews of Altered Pasts by Richard J Evans

Historian Richard J. Evans made some waves in the alternate history community with his article in The Guardian entitled 'What if' is a waste of time. I still recommend reading this controversial article because he does make some good points and you can also check out my response to the article on Amazing Stories.

For those who don't know, Evans has an even more in-depth argument against counterfactuals in his recent book Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals in History. I have been seeing more reviews on this criticism of counterfactual history.

Owen Hatherley at The Guardian gave Altered Pasts a good review saying "Altered Pasts sharply reasserts the need for history to explain what did happen, and why" but did say the "underlying sternness can be stifling." John Gallagher of The Telegraph was a bit more critical of Altered Pasts calling it a "a bullishly enjoyable primer in the history of what might have been" but felt it is unlikely to convince many due to Evans' "unreasonably narrow definition of 'counterfactual history'".

I will keep an eye out for more reviews and who knows, maybe we will even see a debate between Evans' and a proponent of counterfactuals in the near future. My recent interview subject, Frank Harvey, told me he has been corresponding with Evans...

Brass Sun: a new US-format miniseries from the Eisner-Nominated anthology 2000 AD

Fans of clockpunk should check out Brass Sun, a new comic set in a clockwork Solar System. 2000 AD is bringing Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard’s series to North America with a six-issue US-format miniseries in May.

The series take place in "The Orrery", a clockwork solar system where planets whirl on vast metal arms and the sun of cogs is worshiped as a god. But the sun is dying, the planets are freezing one by one, and cults burn as heretics those who warn of the danger. The main character, Wren, sets off on an adventure to restart the sun. The mini-series will culminate in the collected trade paperback, which is being released to comic and book stores simultaneously in the UK and North American in December.

In all honesty this sounds like the comic version of Jay Lake's Mainspring series, which I never continued with after reading the first book. Despite have two nominations for the Sidewise Award, I thought it was a tad weird even for me. So I probably won't be picking this up, but if anyone else finds this interesting, let me know and I may post your review.

Video Gallery

This week in videos we have the opening battle clip from the time travel (and possibly alternate history) film X-Men: Days of Future Past:
O yeah did I mention it has superheroes? We end with the release trailer for Paradox's War of the Vikings:
Send your video recommendations or any questions/comments to ahwupdate at gmail dot com.

Links to the Multiverse

Books


5 Science Fiction and Fantasy Reads for Lovers of Classic Literature by John DeNardo at SF Signal.
1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies – Snippet 19 by Eric Flint.
[Excerpt] THE BURIED LIFE by Carrie Patel (+ Exclusive Preview of John Coulthart’s CITIES & THRONES Cover Art) at SF Signal.
Keith Brooke Says The Most Political Story is a Good One at SF Signal.
PERFIDITAS is on tour! by Alison Morton.
Review: The Land Across by Gene Wolfe at Thinking about books.
Review: Once Upon a Time in Hell by Guy Adams at Falcata Times.
Review: Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins at The Book Plank.
The School of Hard Knocks (Schooled In Magic V)–Snippet by Chris Nuttall at The Chrishanger.
Signed Paperback Historical Fantasy Werelord Thal Now on Etsy at Digital Journal.

Comics

Review: Katusha at Til the Last Hemlock Dies.

Counterfactual and Traditional History (plus news)

5 'Game of Thrones' Plotlines Ripped Right Out of History by Adam Ganser at Cracked.
5 Insane Supervillain Schemes by Real Governments by Alex Hanton and Evan V. Symon at Cracked.
5 Scenes From History That Everyone Pictures Incorrectly by J. Wisniewski at Cracked.
7 Alternate Histories of Rome by Jordan Harbour at Twilight Histories.
All the Planets are But Rays: Victorian-era Magical Societies, Telepathy, and Interplanetary Space Travel by Felix Gilman at Tor.
Anti-Dieselpunk prejudice by Travis James Leland at Dieselpunks.
Did the Byzantine Empire Have a Byzantine Tax Code? by Brian Palmer at Slate.
The forgotten man who almost became president after Lincoln by Scott Bomboy at Yahoo! News.
Preparing for Travel to 1900s Europe by Evangeline Holland at Edwardian Promenade.
Vintage Public Health Posters Show Just How Creepy The 20th Century Was by Vincze Miklós at io9.

Film and Television

All The Ways You Can Screw Up Your Own Timeline by Madeleine Monson-Rosen at io9.
BioShock movie could be back in development by Chris Pereira Gamespot.
Da Vinci's Demons 2.5: Corn at Paul Levinson's Infinite Regress.
X-Men: Days of Future Past Viral Explains Alternate History by Joe Dussander at SciFiNow.

Games

Pre-order Wolfenstein: The New Order, earn Team Fortress 2 hats by Earnest Cavalli at Joystiq.

Interviews

Tim Lebbon at SF Signal.
Daniel Levine at My Bookish Ways.
Christopher Priest at Screen Invasion.

Podcasts

Dissecting Worlds Series 8, Episode 4: God Emperors at Geek Syndicate.
What Podcasts Do I Love? (And Some Bumbersnoot Poetry) by Gail Carriger.

Short Fiction

Table of Contents: CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS. ALIENS Edited by Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier at SF Signal.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. 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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Flag Friday: Ukraine

Originally posted on Sean Sherman's blog Other Times. Support an alternate historian by subscribing to his blog!
After the Baltic Event crippled the Russian Empire on 30 June 1908 dozens of new nations broke away from the Empire. The new Ukrainian Hetmanate was declared on 29 November 1908. It faced border skirmishes with the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1909, a war with the new state of Poland from 1912-1914, and the loss of Crimea to the recovering Russian Empire in a war from 1918 - 1919.

Despite territorial losses Ukraine survived. Once their borders stabilized in the 1920s their primary concern was Ruthenian separatists in their western regions.

* * *

Sean Sherman has been a fan of alternate timelines ever since seeing Spock with a goatee.  By day he is a CPA, at night he explores the multiverse and shares his findings over at his blog, Other Times.

Famous Tuckerizations of Alternate History

A "tuckerization" is when an author uses the name or likeness of a real person as a character in their fiction. Usually the author is friends with the person, but it could also be a contemporary celebrity or a fan who won a chance to have their name featured in their favorite work of fiction. Not only is this common in science fiction, but it is prevalent in alternate history as well. Here are just a few examples:

Ian Arnstein: Introduced in Island in the Sea of Time by SM Stirling, the bald and bearded Ian is a major POV character throughout the series. He also is knowledgeable about ancient history, had dreams of being a science fiction writer and made a Monty Python riff at the siege of Troy. If he sounds a lot like the master of alternate history himself, Harry Turtledove, you would be correct. Although as far as I know neither author has confirmed Ian is Harry, most fans are in agreement that the character is based off the author.

Michael Pound: Speaking of Stirling, over at his Facebook group Stirling hinted that the stocky (possibly Canadian) barrel driver from Turtledove's Southern Victory/TL-191, Michael Pound, is actually a tuckerization of him. "Michael" is the "M" in "SM" and Stirling did admit Turtledove likes to pun, which probably explains how Stirling became Pound (get it?). Both character and author are also quite outspoken.

Lord Darcy series: Although I have never read the series myself, Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett is a popular short fiction universe from the 1960s and 70s that is still spoken of fondly by older fans. This historical fantasy features England and France united under the Plantangenets. It is also full of tuckerizations including TA Water (Sir Thomas Leseaux), Michael Kurland (Michel Coure-Terre), James Randi (James Zwinge) and EE Smith (Sir Edward Elmer, Th.D).

Axis of Time series: The Lord Darcy series, however, pales in comparison to the king of tuckerization, John Birmingham, whose Axis of Time series is stuffed full of cameos. Some hero went to great lengths to list them out on Wikipedia, but not only did Birmingham include SM Stirling and Harry Turtledove (as Commander Turteltaub), he also referenced other recognizable names to alternate historians like Eric Flint and William R. Forstchen.

Can you name any other tuckerizations from alternate history fiction? Let us know in the comments below.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. 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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Timeline Thursday: CSA Today by Matthew White

Years ago, people looked at the state of American politics and asked a simple question: who actually won the American Civil War? It is not that ridiculous of a question. The last half of the 20th century was full of southern politicians, on both sides of the political spectrum, holding positions of national importance. So Matthew White decided to showcase how the political careers of northern and southern politicians would be different if their respective regions were separate nations in his timeline "CSA Today".
I will be completely honest: this is not a very plausible timeline. White doesn't go into detail about how the South won the American Civil War or how the CSA handled the end of slavery (a crisis that historian Roger Ranson thought could have broken up the nation in the 1880s if not handled correctly). The CSA's continued existence to the 1960s is simply presented as a matter of fact with no explanation. Meanwhile, the butterfly effect is completely ignored by having world history still play out as it did in our timeline, with recognizable political figures still gaining importance in their respective nations.

The separate histories of the two nations differ drastically. The American history tends to be kind of dull, with issues such as civil rights and national healthcare having been dealt with earlier. The Confederate history tends to be the more interesting of the two and darker. White portrays the Confederacy as a poor, corrupt and intolerant nation racked by civil disorder. I can already hear the furious clicking of keyboards as people prepare to tell me everything that is wrong with this scenario, so please let me preempt that by getting to the point of this Timeline Thursday.

Many alternate histories are criticized for their author's political bias and rightfully so. That being said, there is a fine line between political attacks and social commentary/satire. Both can be controversial, but only one can successfully act as the warped mirror of society the author intended. Regardless of whether or not you agree with White's timeline or whatever message you think he was trying to get across, you can't ignore the fact that alternate history (like science fiction in general) can and has been used to point out the flaws in mainstream society. "CSA Today" is an early example of this phenomenon in the young online community of alternate historians and probably influenced many of those who read it.

For that reason alone I felt it deserved some recognition, because even works of alternate history that are implausible (and borderline offensive) can still have an impact on our community. As always, if there are any timelines you would like for me to check out or ones you would like to recommend to our readers, please contact me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.

* * *

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. 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.