August SFF-KIT: Alternate History
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This month's topic is alternate history, also known as alternative history. I have so many books tagged alternate history in my collection, I thought it would be simple to describe, as in one or more historical events occur differently. Yet when I looked at some of the titles that came up, it's not so simple after all, as alternate history encompasses time travel between alternate histories, psychic awareness of another universe, or time travel that causes history to be changed (Wikipedia is always helpful...).
This is a sub-genre of science fiction that I really enjoy, and with the success of The Handmaid's Tale and The Man in the High Castle, I'm not the only one!
Besides those two well-known works, here are a few others that are tagged alternate history, most of which I've read and enjoyed:
There are many good series out there that fit: Outlander, Kushiel's Legacy, S. M. Stirling's Emberverse, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials,
Many zombie novels would qualify, you could try World War Z
How about the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, The Underground Railroad? Other books not necessarily considered science fiction would include The Plot Against America
Like vampires? Try Anno-Dracula, where Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort Vlad Tepes (Count Dracula!)
A fan of short fiction? There's lots of good alternate history anthologies out there - consider Alternate Presidents, Hitler Victorious, What Might Have Been or the Wild Card anthology series.
Connie Willis has some good ones that fit: Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog
If you're a fan of graphic novels, Watchmen is a good choice as is V for Vendetta.
How about big brother - 1984?
Never Let Me Go is also tagged alternate history - loved this book by Kazuo Ishiguro
I have been meaning to read The Yiddish Policeman's Union for at least one other monthly challenge this year, so I hope to get to it in August. It Can't Happen Here is maybe too scary to read right now, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to fit it in! And if there's still time, maybe I'll slip an anthology in, like The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century.
Please share what you're planning to read, how you liked it and don't forget to update the wiki!
I am going to read the first book in the Northland Trilogy called Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter.
I've never read Harry Turtledove, but I've been told he's very good with alt history.
I'm going to finally attempt 1632 which has been sitting in my to read list way too long.
>4 fuzzi: He is well-known as a leader in the Alternate History genre! I have an "Atlantis" of his that I may read in August (doing a lot of finishing of books this month). I did find his alternate history for the Civil War just far too un-nerving for me. He co-wrote with Judith Tarr an alt history where a modern woman transits into ancient Rome; it's called Household Gods and I think it would qualify as another alt history book.
>1 LisaMorr: Would time travel living in another time and place but not adjusting events count for this month's theme?
I read a really good Victorian alt history earlier this year called The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder that was really, really good and fit a lot of genres.
It's possible I'm being way over-ambitious with this plan, considering its length, but I'm hoping to read the anthology, What Might Have Been Volumes I & II edited by Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg--it's been sitting on my shelf for ages, and I haven't been reading nearly as many short stories as I'd planned this year, so this feels like a good time for it.
>7 threadnsong: I think time travel living in another time and place would work - that's kind of like the Outlander series, isn't it?
>10 whitewavedarling: I really enjoyed What Might Have Been Volumes I & II - you've reminded me I need to get to What Might Have Been Volumes III & IV!
Lots of really interesting choices here for me to add to my list!
I just realized that I began a series this year that takes place in an alternate-history Portugal! So I'll most likely read book #2 in August, The Seat of Magic by J. Kathleen Cheney.
I started a bit early - I've already completed my reread of 1632 by Eric Flint. Happily, there are many, many, more books in the Ring of Fire / Assiti Shards series (the majority of which I have not read) - enough, actually, that it'll take me months to get up to date. I'm going with Eric Flint's "Comprehensive Approach" to the series, which, along with the "Spinal" order, can be found here.
I may manage a few non Ring of Fire alternate histories - we'll see.
>10 whitewavedarling: and >11 LisaMorr: - I totally loved the What Might Have Been, Vols. 1 & 2 series. I read them first in college in a book club edition, and then re-read them a few years back. It's fascinating to see the different takes on history.
>15 NinieB: - Yay! So I'll put The Eyre Affair in my purse this afternoon and read it instead of the Atlantis book. The latter is just too big for right now, but I am really interested in re-reading the former!
>16 threadnsong: I don't know why, but the People's Republic of Wales struck me as laugh-out-loud hilarious!
The September thread is up!: https://www.librarything.com/topic/310207
Here's my pick for this month:
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Fantasy/alternative history in which the Napoleonic Wars are fought with the added force of a Dragon Corps. Laurence is a Navy captain who find himself forced into a change of career when the dragon egg his ship's crew found on a captured French vessel hatches and chooses him as its handler. The change means quite a bit of adjustment for Laurence, since the Dragon Corps have very different ideas about how things are done and aren't easily moved to accept outsiders, but his fast-growing friendship with Temeraire (the dragon) makes it worth the life upheaval.
I enjoyed this one a great deal (which isn't at all surprising, since I absolutely loved Novik's Uprooted), and I'd give it 10/10, except that the battle scenes went on too long for me. That sort of thing makes me go cross-eyed very quickly, and I'm not interested enough in it to make an effort at understanding what's happening. So for me the story got bogged down with the battle bits, but was otherwise excellent. I love Laurence and Temeraire, and their relationship is wonderfully developed.
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