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Showing posts with the label alternate history

Reading journal: Victory on Gallipoli and other what-ifs of Australian History edited by Peter Stanley

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Genre: Non-fiction Published: 2017 Date read: July 2018 I’m interested in alternate history. It’s a bit like studying history in reverse. In the study of history, the European approach is to examine primary sources to establish facts, and then retro-fit an interpretation onto that information. The interpretation changes as society and our current pre-occupations change. Alternate history is different. It postulates a change in “known” facts, then  tries to deduce what would have changed as a result. Of course some retro-fitted interpretation must still be present, but is usually not explicitly stated. In this volume, the authors do exactly this. I have a couple of complaints. Firstly, the events they have examined all fall into the traditional ‘famous men’ theme — military history, political events, and you guessed it, famous men. There are 24 stories, two are about women, and they are both political women (Vida Goldstein and Edith Cowan). Secondly, the interpretation. I

Reading journal: The Apple-Tree Throne by Premee Mohamed

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Genre: Science Fiction / Romance Published: 2018 Date read: November 2018 A wonderful story, sad but hopeful. Set in an alternate timeline, early Victorian industrial in some ways, young Lieutenant Braddock returns from war. He is injured, but he’s lucky—thousands didn’t make it back, and the man responsible was his commander and greatest friend, Theodore Wickersley. And now Theo’s ghost is haunting him. A beautifully written story that follows Braddock’s efforts to come to terms with what’s happened to him, and to deal with grief, anger and dislocation. Highly recommended.

Reading journal: Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

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Genre: Science Fiction (alternate history/crime) Published: 2001 Series: Arabesk Trilogy Date read: March 2018 An extraordinary story, wonderfully written. Ashraf al-Mansur, known to his friends as ZeeZee, travels to the free city of El Iskandryia, part of the Ottoman Empire in this alternate future where power lies in the hands of Berlin, Istanbul and Moscow. He’s lived most of his life in institutions, boarding schools, hospitals and prisons, with a brief career working for Chinese triads in Seattle. So it’s a surprise to be broken out of prison and given a passport and ticket for Africa, where an aunt he didn’t know he had has brokered a marriage for him. The story weaves together crimes, culture clashes, and a cast of fascinating characters. The other books in the trilogy are Effendi , a brilliant and terrifying story about child soldiers and artificial intelligence, and Felaheen , in which Raf explores his biological heritage. Grimwood (who also writes under

Reading journal: A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin

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Genre: Science fiction/thriller/alternate history Published: 2014 Date read: April 2018 The story starts in 1955, with an assassination. OK, this is a cold war spy thriller. The German Reich still rules over Europe. Hmm. Not only a spy thriller, then, but an alternate time line. Flashbacks into the protagonist’s involvement in destroying a Norwegian heavy water plant. OK, also a WW2 war story. Later, a mysterious experiment involving an ultimate weapon, time travel. I give in! It’s science fiction as well. A great story told at tremendous pace. It’s mostly told in the first person and the present tense, something I usually find tedious, but Shimmin is a master. You really want the protagonists to succeed and every setback is terrible. The author said he was inspired by Robert Harris’s Fatherland but many other influences can be identified. However, this book is all Graeme Shimmin’s, and it’s a keeper. If you like thrillers spiced with flavours of other genres, this one is