Monday, April 30, 2012

More Alternate Histories...

I’m just barely squeaking this entry in at the end of April. However, here it is and here we are. This month, we’re looking at four more alternate-history novels that sit on my bookshelf.

 The first novel in our ongoing survey of the alternate history genre is Resurrection Day, by Brendan Dubois (1999). Dubois asks the chilling question, what if the Cold War got hot over the Cuban Missile Crisis? In his novel, the some ten years afterwards, United States is reduced to a crippled giant, ostracized by the rest of the world and limps by on what foreign aid it can get. In a nice twisty plot, an American reporter suddenly gets plunged into a conspiracy involving the military government that leads him to the real reaons behind the war and those who want to keep it covered up.

For the more academically inclined, the next book on our tour is Peter G. Tsouras', Gettysburg: An Alternate History (2007). Tsouras, who has written many scholarly military alternate histories is no slouch and manages to produce a convincing story of a Battle of Gettysburg that could’ve happened. The fact that it reads like a textbook - complete with fake footnotes -  is a further credit to him and adds to the sense of authority.
Speaking of things military, author Robert Conroy appears again in this space in 1901 (1995). It's based on war plans sketched out by the German Empire at the turn of the last century for a possible invasion of the northeastern United States. The action chugs right along with the dastardly Germans invading New York. As per other Conroy books, historical characters such as Teddy Roosevelt and James Longstreet interact in a pleasing and enjoyable way with the fictional heroes. 

Finally, I’m saving possibly the best for last: Voyage (1996) by Stephen Baxter. It tells the story of the follow on mission to Mars that was actually planned for after Apollo but never happened in our history. In Baxter’s timeline, JFK survives the assassination attempt and remains a force behind the space program, even after leaving office. Of course, history recorded that Richard Nixon decided on the space shuttle over the Mars mission, a decision many have lamented; in the novel, it’s the Mars trip that receives the presidential thumbs-up instead, partially thanks to JFK's moral suasion. The novel is well written, logically developed and is believable. After finishing the book, I genuinely felt a sense of loss over what we could’ve had.

In the meantime, you can purchase both Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 (both are free to preview). Both books are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.

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