There are some fascinating novels based on a single action changing history. No, we aren’t talking about time travel, but about speculative stories that look at a single event and postulate what might have happened if the outcome had been different. One term for it is “alternate history.”
Alternate history is usually classed as science fiction, and we can’t argue with that, even though often there’s no science in it. Some the oldies we remember are Ward Moore’s Bring the Jubilee, The Gate of Worlds by Robert Silverberg, and Tunnel Through the Deeps by Harry Harrison. Personally, our favorite is A Midsummer Tempest by Poul Anderson; an original hardcover edition still resides on Jude’s bookshelves.
Sometimes a story isn’t strictly “alternate history” because the event that changed history isn’t part of it. Is that really important? Perhaps we can apply the theory that each decision creates a new possibility and myriad almost-parallel worlds lies side by side, but isolated from each other. And if you can accept that, it’s easy to accept stories that take place on Earth, but a different Earth from the one we currently exist on. After all, isn’t all fiction more or less like that? There are far more dukes in Regency romances than ever existed in the real England, nowhere near as many serial killers (thank goodness) in our world as in the many thrillers and mysteries about them, and not a whole lot of vampires walking the streets of our hometowns. Yet we accept all those alternate views of reality because they are entertaining, interesting, gripping.
Where are we going with this? As a matter of fact, this month’s release started us thinking about alternate history and alternate worlds, mostly because we couldn’t figure out quite what to call it. As far as we know, there is no place on our Earth with a society like it describes, but there could have been. Oh, yes, there could have been, for nothing is impossible.
In Ascension, Carmen Capuano describes a believable society with a structure of law intended to protect its citizens from the wages of sin and chaos. Everyone accepts the societal definitions of right and wrong until Jessica, a young woman with the unusual ability to see the color of people’s souls, realizes that a friend’s life will be destroyed by blind obedience to the law. With that realization comes questions, and those questions lead her on a quest. What she finds may threaten the whole fabric of society. The choice she makes could destroy her world. (Ascension, $6.99. ISBN 978-1-60174-2255-4).
We love mystery-thrillers, particularly those with just a touch of romance. Our March release fits that description nicely. Al Haggerty’s debut book, The Failover File, has industrial sabotage, plane crashes, billionaire industrialists, and a couple of federal agents who can’t be bought. What more does one need for a satisfying read? Oh, yes, there’s romance in there too.
And remember, we’ve always got a bunch of good (Uncial Press) ebooks for you to read. Stay tuned…
Star & Jude