Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One From My Bookshelves: The Shiloh Project, by David C. Poyer

Okay, first of all, major apologies to all of you readers of this blog.  Life sort of caught up with me.

The good news is that I’m back again with another book from my collection: The Shiloh Project, by David C. Poyer.  Published by Avon Books in paperback way back in 1981 (when I got my copy), it harkens to one of the alt-history genre’s favourite themes: What if the South Won the Civil War?

Now this has been done many times over the years, including by Harry Turtledove in his epic Southern Victory series (another favourite).  While most genre readers have at least heard about Turtledove’s work, I doubt few have heard of Poyer’s.

And more’s the pity.  I hate to slap a “lost classic” label on it, but The Shiloh Project is almost that good.  It takes place in a well-imagined 1980s Confederacy, with a strong cast of rich, developed characters.  The Confederacy has become a police state with its white elite ruling over a “conditionally emancipated” black population.  Poyer pulls no punches here: he shows us a Confederacy is rotting out from the inside and that is being propped up by brute force. This is a believable alternate history.

In the novel, the Union has just ended its long war with the Japanese Empire by obliterating Yokohama with an atomic shell fired from a battleship.  Desperate to regain the balance of power, the Confederates, along with their British allies, hatch a scheme to hijack a nuke for their own, and code name the operation Shiloh.

Of course, there are other players involved, which makes this more than a standard adventure romp. Both the Confederacy’s extreme right and the black resistance movement want the nuke for their own ends.  The action builds to a logical and satisfying conclusion.

Highly recommended and worth a trip to your local used bookshop.

I am still wading through the post-Christmas book hangover. Among the books I have on the go is the sequel to Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth, The Long War.  I am looking forward to getting into it and telling you all about it.  

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.