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Alt.History 101 by Samuel Peralta
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Alt.History 101

by Samuel Peralta (Editor), Nolie Wilson (Editor)

Other authors: Tony Bertauski (Contributor), Sam Best (Contributor), Michelle Browne (Contributor), Peter Cawdron (Contributor), Ann Christy (Contributor)8 more, Zig Zag Claybourne (Contributor), Stacy Ericson (Contributor), Ken Liu (Contributor), Thomas Robins (Contributor), Anthea Sharp (Contributor), Logan Thomas Snyder (Contributor), Pavarti K. Tyler (Contributor), Nicolas Wilson (Contributor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Future Chronicles (7)

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Good selection of fairly short alternate history stories. ( )
  Guide2 | Jan 17, 2017 |
Mostly enjoyable, with five particularly excellent stories. The breakdown:

ALTERNATIVE HISTORY 101 (Alt. Chronicles) Ed. by Samuel Peralta contains 13 stories by five women and eight men. I have starred 🌟the five stories I enjoyed most, and thought worth re-reading. I enjoyed most of the others to a certain extent, enough to award the collection four stars.

"Les Meduses", by Stacy Ericson, is told by an executioner's daughter, seeking to escape from her cursed fate as a social outcast, as the day of Anne Boleyn's execution takes an unexpected turn. ("Les medusas" are a kind of jellyfish.) This story asks the question, "What if the Ming Dynasty's armada had turned their sights on invasion, instead of disbanding?" A mood poem.

"Unnatural", by Ann Christy, asks what would have happened if Pope John Paul the First had not died after only 33 days (poisoned). SLIGHT SPOILERS: It breaks the 4th wall, stating "Rather than find the pope deceased the next morning as happened in the history we know, [he] delivered one of the most profoundly impactful sermons in history that day" on IVF, leading to stem cell research, etc., without laws restricting such having been enacted. There's no explanation of why, if he overturned his cup, thus preventing being poisoned, he wasn't poisoned the next day instead, after the sermon, instead of living a further 23 years and "chang[ing] the entire character of Catholicism." 100 years later, conception, genetic selection, etc. is so medicalized, with artificial wombs, that natural birth is illegal. END OF SPOILERS. Hardly ground-breaking, but mildly enjoyable.

"Old Ventures, New Partners", by Nicolas Wilson, postulates a man developing a flying steel suit named Hugh Howard (I thought there were typos for Howard Hughes at first!) trying to save JFK on 11/22/63 based on a tip by a British spy named Ian [presumably Fleming]. I'm not into superheroes.

🌟 "Concerns of the Second Sex", by Pavarti K. Tyler is NOT exactly a match for the brief description at the front of the book, or even Alternative History branching off at any obvious point in any clearly defined way that might almost have happened, but it IS an outstanding story, worth re-reading, which is its own justification for being included.

🌟"Renegat", by Logan Thomas Snyder, is about life in a Wyoming internment camp for Russians, after a nuclear exchange between the USA and the USSR in 1983. (In this story, the departure from our history is that NATO's military exercise Able Archer 83 was in fact, rather than merely falsely suspected of being, a ruse to conceal a first-strike by the USA.) This bittersweet love story drew me in, being, thank goodness, unlike a conventional romance.

"108 Stitches", by Tony Bertauski, explores what might have happened if Steve Wozniak had switched interests from personal computing to stem cell technology because of a neighbor's accident. I found that an intriguing notion. Then, what if biomites could fix practically anything physical or emotional, to the point of changing who one was? I can buy them creating new limbs, fixing genetic defects, and adjusting neurotransmitters to cure psychological disorders, but I can't buy taking it to the disastrous limits proposed here. Implausibility overload.

"Rengoku", by Sam Best, tells the story—after the Battle of Midway was won by Japan—of three soldiers abandoned/left-for-dead who continue their mission until they find the war has ended surprisingly—with cultural realignment that does not seem technologically possible. Interesting, and plausible until shortly before the end.

"The Sun Never Sets", by Anthea Sharp, postulates another species contacting Queen Victoria in 1850. Steampunk with aliens, though without steam. The author calls this genre mashup Space Regency. I enjoyed it.

"The Factory", by Michelle Browne, does not have a clearly defined branching-point to explain why England would have slavery, or why the high-class accent would be Mainlander (Europe?), as opposed to Islander Cockney, or why someone who spoke it would also speak Chinese and be more comfortable with chopsticks, but it's a good tale, anyway, with a lesbian romance thrown in as a detail.

🌟"Natural", by Peter Cawdron, asks what might have happened if Edward Jenner had died of smallpox, instead of pioneering the concept of vaccination to (mostly) public acceptance. What if so many more had continued to die, including Einstein? Edison? Wilbur Wright? What if it were up to someone ELSE to advance the cause of "anti-naturalists, advocating for medicine to extend the natural bounds of life beyond the age of forty", instead of the current-day fight of anti-vacciners to bring us back to those days? A compelling story.

🌟"Eighth Amendment", by Thomas Robins, looks at the conflict between the death penalty, and the prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment". What if a Supreme Court decision had gone another way back in the 1970s? If the death penalty were legitimate, but there was no form of execution that was legal, how about declaring someone "dead" and stripped of all legal rights? What would be their options then? Though a long-time abolitionist myself, I was unable to anticipate what would (quite logically) happen.

🌟"A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel", by Ken Liu, is the painful story of a Formosan working on the TPT that connects Shanghai, Tokyo, and Seattle. It tells of an alternate history (complete with excerpts from reference works) where this project ended the Depression and headed off WWII. It also tells of the consciousness raising of a tunnel-digger. This is the one story with no afterward by the author, who evidently feels that it speaks for itself.

"Agents of Change", by Zig Zag Claybourne, is about, surprise, agents of change living and acting amidst infinite permutations of alternative history. Eh.

I was given an ARC of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review. Supposedly the typos I and others caught will all be corrected shortly, now the book is available, and "unlocked" from being frozen pre-launch. ( )
  Wordwizardw | Jul 31, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peralta, SamuelEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, NolieEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bertauski, TonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Best, SamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Browne, MichelleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cawdron, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Christy, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Claybourne, Zig ZagContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ericson, StacyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Liu, KenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Robins, ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sharp, AntheaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Snyder, Logan ThomasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tyler, Pavarti K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, NicolasContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peralta, SamuelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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