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.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Look, Mom, I'm Reading Poetry!

Yup!  I would just like to point out that we're not just all alternate-universe and slam-bang action here on this website. I do poetry as well. (You don't write/read poetry, you "do" it. Go figure.) I would rate myself as a middling poet. But here's a picture of me in action at Planet Earth Poetry tonight at the open mic.  It's on every Friday night at 7pm at  The Moka House, #103-1633 Hillside Avenue, in Victoria, running weekly until sometime in May and monthly thereafter through to September. So if you're in Victoria or visiting and you "do" poetry, or just like to listen, come join us.

In the meantime, you can help out this struggling poet/author by purchasing  Elvis Saves JFK! for just $0.99 (free to preview) and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 (also free to preview). Both War Plan Crimson and Elvis Saves JFK! are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Preview From Elvis Saves JFK!

(As told to Michael Cnudde)
I'll never forget the time I met Duke Slade. October, '62. What a wild time that was. Seems so distant now, but what a wild, way out time. I mean here was JFK going toe-toe with Mr. K. over Cuba and no one knew how the chips would fall. But for us boys, it was the time of our lives: broads, booze, and bucks. Me, I was working the Sands in Vegas the night it all came down. I’d just walked off the stage from my last set with the audience, applause still in my ears when the stage manager passed me the phone. “Call for you, Mr. Bishop.”
I held the receiver to my ear. There was no mistaking the voice: "Hey Joey, how's it hanging?" It was Frank. Sinatra.
"Hey Frank, what's up?"
"I'm calling a meeting. Caesar's in one hour."
I smiled as I hung up. Good thing about Frank: even though it was his world, he still let us all live in it. I hopped into my T-bird convertible and drove up the Strip to Caesar's Palace where Frank had his secret penthouse pad. It was where Frank held all his meetings with us. I put the radio on as the cool night wind whipped though my hair. Everybody was keeping their ears glued to the Emergency Broadcast Network, but tonight it didn't matter. I turned the dial until familiar music drifted out of the dashboard speakers: "Let's Face the Music and Dance," by Frank. Hey: If the Reds attacked in the middle of one of Frank's songs, it was their tough luck.
When I got there, the rest of the gang was already sitting in the sunken living room, on the big U-shaped couch, all looking out the picture window at the Strip. There was Frank, the Chairman of the Board himself, then the others: Peter Lawford; Dino Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Donny Rickles who was in town doing a show at the New Frontier. Real cool guys. And God rest their souls, most of them are gone now. Me too, if you’re reading this now.
Frank looked at me, then his watch. "Alright if we're all here, let's begin. Early this morning, I got a call from Jack..."
From Jack? The thoughts rolled through my head on a conveyer belt. In the midst of footsies with the Soviets, JFK makes time to call Frank. Something big must be up. Big and bad. 

Frank lit a cigarette, turned to Lawford. "Peter?"
     Lawford, who was our Intel officer, stood up. He had one thing going for him, a connection: he was JFK's brother-in-law. Real, live member of Camelot. I think Frank always secretly envied him for that. Lawford pointed a remote control at the flagstone fireplace. Immediately, shades slid down over the windows, the lights dimmed and a projector screen rose from the floor. "Right, then," said Lawford, decked out in his Brooks Brothers suit, "I believe you all know what this is."
"Hey Frank," said Dino in that voice as smooth as the bourbon in his glass. "That's not what I think it is?"
"Hush up and let the man finish," said Frank.
As I looked at the screen, my mind went back to Berlin, at the tail end of the war. We'd jumped into the bombed-out city just ahead of the Reds: Frank, Dino, Lawford and me, fighting our way past fanatical SS eager to make a last stand and earn their wings in Valhalla. In a last-ditch attempt to hold the Red Army at bay and turn the course of the war, the SS high priests had attempted a death magic ritual harnessing the stored vril energy of over six million murdered souls to bring a pair of shoggoths over from The Other Side.
We stopped them.
And now I looked at the image on the screen and other memories flickered back: that last desperate, close-run firefight in the bunker, going down to bayonets and brass knuckles... the dark, the explosions, the smoke, the screams, the fire and the chanting... and now, this. I couldn't believe my ears what Lawford was saying.
"Do you want to repeat that, man?" asked Sammy. His one good eye widened. Sammy's other eye, the glass one courtesy of that car accident in '54, stared out into space. Used to spook me until I got used to it.
Lawford's eyebrows shot up like an annoyed schoolteacher. "I said, `They've stolen the Black Book.'"
Lawford let that little bombshell sink in.
"Who did it, Frank?" I asked. "Thought we had that... thing under lock and key, surrounded by armed guards."  Mentioned in the same hushed breath as the Necronomicon and the Voynich Manuscript, by those who knew the true ways of the world, the Black Book of Al’zaroth was legendary for the things that happened around it. Very bad things.  

Preview copyright 2010 Michael Cnudde
You can buy Elvis Saves JFK! for just $0.99 and is free to preview. And of course, War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History,  is on sale for $2.99, and as always, it's free to preview.
Both War Plan Crimson and Elvis Saves JFK! are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.