Friday, May 25, 2012

Alternate World War Twos

As I mentioned on an earlier blog post, one of the most popular topic for readers and writers of alternate history alike, is alternate outcomes of the Second World War. Most times, this means a Nazi victory in Europe, or sometimes the world, but not always. This is typified by a collection of sort allohistorical works edited by Peter Tsouras, Third Reich Victorious (2002), which is not to be confused with Hitler Victorious (1986), a collection of similarly-themed short fiction edited by Gregory Benford. As with Tsouras’ companion work, Rising Sun Victorious (2007), we are given a dizzying tour of a series of plausible, if chilling outcomes where the Axis comes out on top.

Two more books, which take a decidedly alternate twist on the later part of the war, are the hugely enjoyable Fox on the Rhine (2000) and its equally enjoyable sequel, Fox at the Front (2003), by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson. Without giving away too much, the books hinge on the tale of a Battle of the Bulge that goes in a decidedly different direction. If you’re a fan of Second World War figures such as Erwin Rommel and George Patton, you won’t be disappointed.  Definitely worth picking up.

I wish I could say better about the authors’ next joint effort, MacArthur’s War: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan (2007). This one earned the dubious distinction of being thrown across my living room in frustration; an award only given once before to the odious 1945 (1995), by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen – another alternate history novel of World War Two. To be fair, MacArthur’s War does have some good points, but it’s marred by sloppy editing (in one case, in the paperback edition, a whole chapter is repeated) and an ending that looks like it was shoehorned in to fit a page limit.

If you’re in the market for a well-done novel of the invasion of Japan, you could do no better than Alfred Coppel’s The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan (1983). This novel is both a well-researched and a plausible look of how an invasion of the Japanese Home Islands may have gone, with a strong set of characters. If you spot this one in your local used bookshop, do yourself a favour and scoop it up.

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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