Sunday, January 26, 2014

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

 Once again, I have been absent from this space.  I’m sorry – but with an explanation. I have since relocated (once again) for employment and am happy to report things are going well on that front.

In between moving into a new apartment, packing, unpacking, moving, and starting a new job and the Christmas holidays in between, I have managed to do some reading and more…

Over the last few months I read, If Kennedy Lived, by Jeff Greenfield, which imagines the first and second terms of JFK had he not been assassinated in Dallas. The author, journalist and political analyst Jeff Greenfield, deftly imagines a realistic and believable world that unlike other books of this sort, treats its subject as human being first – warts and all.   John F. Kennedy was a great man, but he also had his failings; Greenfield is the first to admit that, but the world he leaves us with is one that is more optimistic and somehow more innocent than our own. It’s highly recommended. 

The next book I read was In War Times, by Kathleen Ann Goonan.  Goonan gamely mixes particle physics, jazz, and alternate history to create a story that delights. Soon after his brother killed at Pearl Harbor, Sam Dance his contacted by a mysterious woman with a plan to build a device that may not only bring peace in our time but in all times. Along the way, Goonan expands upon her thesis that since 1945, we have never really been at peace.  It’s definitely worth adding to your reading list.

Alternate history on television and film is still rather rare.  With the century anniversary of the start of the Great War approaching this year, the History Channel turned history sidewise and threw in a dash of H.G. Wells, with The Great Martian War.  The mockumentary tells the story of a Martian invasion falling upon an unsuspecting Europe in 1913, just as it was arming for war. 

As I’ve long said, alternate history is at its best when it is able to shine a light on our past through a different perspective.  Using state of the art CGI visual effects and such faux-documentary touches as interviews, The Great Martian War helps explain both the Great War and the world it made.  It does have some largish plot holes – for example, that the United States would stay out of the war for so long the face of an alien invasion. That being said, it’s still worth watching. If you haven’t seen it, hopefully History will re-run it at some point in the future; I’ve got it saved on my PVR.

Lastly, I’m reading The Violent Century by the author of Osama (reviewed in an earlier posting), Lavie Tidhar. It’s an excellent book, but it left me a tad confused. At first I didn't think it was alt-history; but now, after some serious and enjoyable page-turning, I’m certain it is.  

I will provide a review of the book in a future posting… which, I hope, won’t be so long in coming.

In the meantime, have a look at my own books, Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.   Thanks.

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