Interview with David X. Wiggin, author of ‘The Apollo Mission’

Next in our series of interviews with authors from our second issue is David X. Wiggin. He wrote the wonderful ‘The Apollo Mission’ for Alt Hist Issue 2.

1. Can you tell us a bit about the mythology behind this story: Apollo and the links with NASA’s space programme?

Apollo, being the Greek & Roman deity of the sun and archery (not to mention a symbol of the triumph of rational civilization over nature), is really the most logical choice for a program that involves shooting giant arrows into the sky. Originally this story was going to be about the moon landing hoax conspiracy theory (not something I believe in but I think there’s some wonderful potential there) and in the course of doing research on space travel I came across the story of Wan Hu, a minor Ming Dynasty official who tried to fly into space using rockets attached to his chair. Immediately this turned to thoughts about earlier civilizations starting up space programs and a program for Rome – with its expanding empire, advanced technology, loyal soldiers, and actual worship of Apollo – suddenly made way too much sense. I’m surprised we don’t see more ideas for flying machines or lunar travel in ancient texts, frankly, but I guess that was seen as pretty far fetched for even those advanced civilizations.

2. What do you think might have been the historical implications if Romans had ventured into space?

I can’t even imagine. But since you asked, I’ll try.

Well, contrary to the legionnaire’s good feelings before he starts to plummet, I suspect Rome probably would have gone bankrupt and fallen all the same before it could have done anything meaningful with the program. The knowledge involved probably would have been forgotten for centuries until the sparkling minds of the Renaissance rediscovered it. Imagine: the V-2 rocket, invented by Leonardo almost half a millennia early! Imagine that power in the hands of an Italian city-state or the Catholic Church, the power to strike with the wrath of God from hundreds of miles away at your command. Now, imagine the same technology in the hands of the no-less brilliant Islamic world, a religiously-inspired Cold War heating up centuries early with Jerusalem or Constantinople caught in the middle. Hmmm… I think I smell sequel!

3. Tell our readers a bit about your background as a writer and what you’re currently working on.

I’ve been writing stories since I came in 3rd at a Halloween writing competition in 3rd grade. I wrote the same sorts of godawful poems and stories everyone did up through high school and then got into Sarah Lawrence College where I studied under and alongside some pretty amazing writers. I was fortunate to have the experience of growing up in places like Japan and Russia thanks to my parents work in the State Department, so I draw a lot from those experiences.

I tend to be pretty ADD and am a horrible commitaphobe so I usually have 4-5 projects going simultaneously and take years to finish any of them. Mostly I’m working on short stories these days and I’m doing research for two different books: a fantasy-comedy set in 1930’s China and a horror-mystery set in ’20’s Japan that’s basically an Edogawa Rampo homage. I’ll probably have them done in 10 years or so!

4. What are your favourite fiction genres and why?

Fantasy and horror would be my favorites, though they’re only ahead of the pack by a nose. Really I enjoy all kinds of literature and most of my favorite books in recent years have actually been more journalistic and autobiographical than anything else but I love the freedom of style that fantasy and horror provide. I mean, which would you rather read if given a choice? A book that dissects class and race in America, the beauty and torment of what it means to be human; or a book that discusses those things and has NAZI WEREWOLF NINJAS? The answer seems pretty clear to me.

David doesn’t have a website at the moment, but here’s some links to where his other work can be found online:

“A Fabulous Junkyard”
Steampunk Magazine #4

“The Burden of Proof”
Theaker’s Quarterly #36

“Chess Stories #1-5”

Don’t forget to read a free sample of David’s ‘The Apollo Mission’ from the second issue of Alt Hist. We think you’ll like it.

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Interview with Jessica Wilson, author of ‘Death in Theatre’

We’re going to be running a series of interviews with the authors from our second issue. First up is Jessica Wilson, author of ‘Death in Theatre’.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m a recent graduate of the University of Maryland’s Elementary Education program. I’ve loved writing since the third grade, and I’ve been an aspiring novelist since middle school when my friends and I would exchange writing on the bus. I’m 23, recently engaged, and currently working on what I hope will be my first novel. I write largely fantasy; I’ve actually earned Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest twice.

What attracts you to historical fiction?

“Death in Theatre” was actually a happy accident. I do not typically write historical fiction, and I only rarely read it. When I do read it, my favorite part is being immersed in the world as it was back then. It’s one thing to think about how different life was in historic times, but quite another to view it through the eyes of someone (real or fictional) who lived it.

How did you get the idea for the story?

I wrote “Death in Theatre” for a challenge on my writing website. It was a genre challenge, and that round was Historic Fiction. At first I wanted to go with something closer to my usual comfort range, like something medieval, Roman, or feudal Japanese. But eventually I decided that focusing on an individual would be best, and that a traitor or assassin would be the most intriguing. When I thought of John Wilkes Booth, I was uncertain at first because it’s not my usual fare, but I decided to challenge myself. What kind of man must Booth have been to assassinate President Lincoln?

Union or Confederacy?

Union. My family is actually from the south, but my dad was in the Army when I grew up and I lived all over. When I came back to the family home for my tenth grade year, seeing the Confederate pride down there disturbed me on a number of levels. The Confederacy wasn’t all about slave-holding, of course, though that was one reason I was put off by all the Confederate pride. But the simple fact that the Confederacy wanted to split from the Union makes all that pride seem unpatriotic to me. Maybe they view it differently, but that’s why I found (and still find) it hard to understand.

What are you currently working on?

A young adult fantasy novel. I actually have a lot of ideas floating around, but I’m trying to stick to this one. I have a long history of getting very far in a story and then abandoning it, taking a break for another idea. By the time I get back to the old story, I hate it and want to rewrite. My goal is to get all the way through this one this time, because what’s the use in being a writer if you never finish anything?

Don’t forget to read a free sample of Jessica’s ‘Death in Theatre’ from the second issue of Alt Hist. We think you’ll like it.

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Great Review of Alt Hist 2 at SF Crowsnest

Gareth Jones over at SF Crowsnest has given Alt Hist Issue 2 a really great review.

Here’s some of the highlights:

“The second issue of ‘AltHist’ magazine builds on the solid basis of the first issue, bringing a collection of historical fiction and alternate histories from a broad cross-section of history. There are some wonderful stories among them.”

“‘Long Nights In Languedoc’ … was a highly enjoyable start to the magazine. ”

“‘The Apollo Mission’ by David X. Wiggin is pretty short but does a good job of imagining the setting and the feelings of the unfortunate volunteer.”

‘Son of Flanders’: The horrors of life in the trenches are atmospherically portrayed”

‘In Cappadocia’: “short but intriguing”

“‘The Orchid Hunters’ is a superb story by Priya Sharma”

‘Death In Theatre’: “an interesting study in motivation and human nature.”

‘The Scarab Of Thutmose’: “an amusingly quirky tale of intrigue”

“‘The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street’ by NK Pulley is an intriguing Victorian tale set in London”

Remember if you want to order Alt Hist Issue 2 there are lots of options available. Visit the How to Get Your Alt Hist page for details.

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Alt Hist Issue 2 – Print Edition for UK via Lulu

Having waited patiently for to get the print version of Alt Hist Issue 2 set-up I have now discovered that CreateSpace don’t provide distribution to other Amazon sites – a little weird to say the least. So that means for UK customers you can’t order a print version via Amazon (you can get a Kindle version though at

But luckily Lulu do have a UK oriented business plan and I have created a print version that can be sold via their site. The price is £6.99 and I believe shipping is £2.99 at standard rate. Not as slick as Amazon with their free super saver delivery etc but not too bad. So all UK Alt Hist fans get on down to Lulu for your second dose of alternate history and historical fiction short stories.

Alt Hist Issue 2 on Lulu

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Highlights from the Locus Online review of Alt Hist Issue 2

Lois Tilton in her regular review of short fiction publications gave a very positive review of the latest issue of Alt Hist at Locus Online. So I thought I would share with you some of the highlights. I have included links to the preview page for each story so you can get a flavour of them for yourself.

Long Nights in Longuedoc‘ by Andrew Knighton is described by Lois as a “mix of farce and horror … reflecting something of the spirit of this brutal and credulous age.”

The Apollo Mission‘ by David X. Wiggin: “the humanity of the pioneer/victim is well-realized.”

Son of Flanders‘ by William Knight get a RECOMMENDED from Lois, which is a review she doesn’t give out lightly, so well done William! She described the story as: “Harrowing visit to a hell of human creation. The author captures the reality that faced the men in the mud of the trenches. It’s telling that every soldier gives Gurner a look of contempt when he sees the red tabs of the General Staff on his uniform. They know who their real enemy is.”

The Orchid Hunters‘ by Priya Sharma: “A tale in the classic mode, revealing the corruption that lies within the human heart and also the possibility of redemption.”

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street‘ by N. K. Pulley: “A wry narrative voice and a bit of the arcane makes this one unusually interesting.”

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Previews of Alt Hist Issue 2 Stories Now Available

You can now read free previews of each fiction piece in Alt Hist Issue 2 on the Current Issue page. I have included the biography of the author and about a quarter or so of the story in each case.

Hope it whets your appetite for more!

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Alt Hist Issue 2 Published as eBook and Print Book

Issue 2 of Alt Hist is currently being published in eBook and print format. For an eBookformat please visit Smashwords orAmazon. A print version of Alt Hist Issue 2 is available at, and will soon be available at and through major bookselling websites and wholesalers.

We’re also waiting for the issue to be published in other eBook channels such as Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble. More news on these when we have it.

You can read a very nice review of this issue at Locus Online.

For more information on Issue 2 go to

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3 Book Reviews Available Free Online

The three book reviews that will appear in Issue 2 of Alt Hist are now available for free online.

Books reviewed are:

Historical Fiction Writing: a practical guide and tool-kit by Myfanwy Cook

Rome Burning by Sophia McDougall

Ruso and the River of Darkness by R. S. Downie

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Provisional Table of Contents for Issue 2 of Alt Hist

As work progresses on putting together issue 2 – typesetting, proof-reading etc – I thought you might want to have a quick glimpse of what will be coming up, so here’s a list of the stories that will be appearing (in no particular order!):

  • The Apollo Mission by David Wiggin
  • In Cappadoccia by AshleyRose Sullivan
  • Son of Flanders by William Knight
  • The Orchid Hunters by Priya Sharma
  • The Scarab of Thutmose by Suzanne Sykora
  • The Watch-Maker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
  • Long Nights in Languedoc by Andrew Knighton
  • Death in Theatre by Jessica Wilson
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Eight stories in the second issue of Alt Hist

I am pleased to announce that we have now accepted eight stories in total for the second issue of Alt Hist. I’m really excited about this issue. We have managed to get more fiction in this time and an even more diverse range of settings and types of historical fiction, from straight historical to alternate to historical fantasy.

Work is now starting on typesetting. More updates soon.

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