- New Book by Ian Sales reviewed by Ian Shone for Alt Hist – Adrift on the Sea of Rains (althistfiction.com)
- By the Blood of Heroes reviewed by Ian Shone for Alt Hist (althistfiction.com)
Ian’s latest review is of a new novel by Ian Sales called Adrift on the Sea of Rains. This novel is about the Cold War and astronauts – a combination of alternate history and hard science fiction.
Alt Hist Issue 3 is on its way and should be with us in November (or perhaps sooner for the eBook version). In the third issue of Alt Hist we have two stories about the American Civil War, one about the great Tesla, a tale about of wartime revenge set in Dublin, and a dramatic look at the early years of the cold war space race.
Here are the story titles and authors:
Another Historical Film Friday!
Red Tails is about a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.
It’s released 20 January 2012 in the USA.
With Columbus Day coming up soon as a holiday in America – 12th October is the date celebrated I believe, I though it might be interesting to see what historical fiction has been inspired by Christopher Columbus the great explorer (although the Vikings got there before him didn’t they!)
If you do a check on Amazon for books featuring Christopher Columbus, the following spring up as most intriguing:
Codex 632: The Secret of Christopher Columbus: A Novel by José Rodrigues Dos Santos
Christopher Columbus Answers All Charges by Yuri Rubinsky
There also seems to be quite a bit of self-published material (I am guessing anyway by the look of it and the lack of popularity), and no really big name authors. I’m probably missing something huge, but has anyone really done a good fictional account of Christopher Columbus?
I have the feeling that someone is going to comment and provide the answer! Please let me know. Perhaps we’ll find out before Columbus Day itself dawns?
A second book from Severn House Publishing released on 1st October
Available from Amazon.com
Available from Amazon.co.uk
From the publisher’s website:
From war-torn Europe they came to Britain, yearning to start a new life. Together, they found it.
Spring, 1947. A concentration camp survivor, noted sculptor Felix Breit, arrives in London, hoping to rebuild his life and career. His opportunity comes when two English architects invite him to join a community they are creating at the Dower House, a Georgian country house in Hertfordshire. He is soon joined by Faith Bullen-Ffitch, an ambitious young publisher, but as the house fills with families, Felix realises he has fallen for Angela Wirth, a fellow camp survivor. But dare they ever admit their love, knowing the horrors in their pasts? . . .
And from Amazon:
Severn House adds to its engaging series of historical romances with the first in a new series by bestselling British author MacDonald set during in the devastating aftermath of World War II. Jewish sculptor Felix Breit has survived Nazi medical experiments at the Mauthausen concentration camp. He reaches London in 1947, where two architect friends, sensing that the war and its atrocities will utterly change humankind’s perspectives on our capacity for good and unspeakable evil, rent a 60-room country manor, the Dower House, in the hope of establishing a commune dedicated to a “post-war renaissance.” Their “community of the future” will include working class people, and all will strive for “the next stage of himself warning a Frenchwoman about the scars she’ll get if she “keeps picking at the wound,” thus establishing the tale’s moral center amidst post-war tension. Blending a well researched setting with an unusual story line, MacDonald captures the era’s specifics, and reaches for universal truths while probing wounded psyches in a damaged world. — Booklist, September 15, 2011
ISBN 9780451464170 | 432 pages | 04 Oct 2011 | Roc | 9.25 x 6.25in
Available from Amazon.com
And Amazon.co.uk – seems to be simultaneous publication on 4th October on both sides of the Atlantic.
Here’s some more information from the publisher’s website:
“I cannot recommend Taylor Anderson too highly.” -David Weber, author of Out of the Dark
Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker find themselves caught between the nation they swore to defend and the allies they promised to protect. For even as the Allies and the Empire of New Britain Isles stand united against the attacks of both the savage Grik and the tenacious Japanese, the “Holy Dominion”-a warped mixture of human cultures whose lust for power overshadows even the Grik-is threatening to destroy them both with a devastating weapon neither can withstand.
Andrew Knighton is making writing stories for Alt Hist a bit of a habit! With a piece of medieval historical fiction in both issue 1 and issue 2, I’m hoping that we’ll be seeing much more of his work in the future. Find out a bit more about him in our interview.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Norwich, and following a couple of detours now live in Stockport, part of the growing sprawl that is Greater Manchester. I spend most of my time doing the sorts of things people do to avoid reality – playing games, writing fiction, and working in an office.
How did you get the idea for ‘Long Nights in Languedoc’?
The two I’ve had in Alt Hist came from different places mentally. ‘Holy Water’ came from reading about local Cheshire myths, and then cramming together the ones that seemed to have a thematic connection. The story that a lord had a statue executed particularly appealed to me because it showed an idea taken to its logical yet absurd conclusion.
‘Long Nights in Languedoc’ was inspired by my undergraduate dissertation from over a decade ago, which was about the role of chivalry during the Hundred Years War. I love the idea of chivalry, and again it’s the absurdities and contradictions that appeal to me. No-one really lived by its rules, so I wanted to explore the behaviour of someone who tried. The monsters became a vehicle for that – an impossible challenge for an impossible person.
Both your stories for Alt Hist have been set in the Middle Ages. What’s the appeal of this period in history for you?
It’s in my upbringing. My parents used to take me to castles during my summer holidays, and my dad read me Ivanhoe and Lord of the Rings at a susceptible age. I loved the glamour and excitement that is the fantasy of the middle ages, an age of heroism completely different from our own. As I grew older and more jaded I became fascinated by the reality of that period, the inequalities and stupidities that made the Middle Ages so much like the modern world. But it’s mostly still a love of castles.
Who are your favourite authors/books and why?
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, because of its wonderful depiction of a person as a product of their setting, and never gets bogged down in its prose. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – a story that’s funny, sad and insightful, full of great characters and with a smart, playful structure. Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles – an epic story with an unusual setting and some fascinating, deeply damaged characters.
Now that I look at those choices together, it seems that I like contradictory characters facing impossible situations and defying the accepted order. And I don’t like straightforward happy endings. There needs to be some bite.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been playing with ideas about smugglers. There’s a period sometimes referred to as the scientific age of smuggling, when people along England’s south coast went to ingenious ends to turn a tax-free profit. Fake hulls, hidden chambers, secret coves, chases across sea and shore. But just as fascinating is the context, the way that a certain type of crime became acceptable to whole communities, and a way for them to retain some independence from oppressive power structures. It’s not just a struggle for rum, it’s a struggle for
identity and for control. But turning that into a successful story is proving tricky.
Andrew has a website at https://andrewknighton.wordpress.com.
His stories for Alt Hist are:
‘Long Nights in Languedoc’ from Issue 2
‘Holy Water’ from Issue 1
Alt Hist’s next author interview is with N. K. Pulley, who wrote ‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ for Issue 2.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I work for Cambridge University Press in the maths and astronomy departments, where I write a lot of blurbs and steal cake from the production editors. In September, I’ll be starting a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia. I hope, at some point after that, to go to Japan.
How did you get the idea for the story?
Keita Mori coelesced one evening while I was watching Dr Who. I built everything else around him; I read through some old editions of the London Illustrated News to see what was happening in the 1880s and found that there had been an Irish bombing campaign, and that there had been a Japanese presence in Knightsbridge in the form of a show village. One of the lovelier things about historical fiction is that it practially writes itself.
I understand that your story is part of a series. What does the future hold for the characters of Watchmaker of Filigree Street?
Gilbert and Sullivan, a clockwork octopus and some suffragists, although possibly not all together.
Do you write exclusively historical fiction or do you stray into other genres? If so what do you think the main challenges are of writing historical fiction compared to other genres?
I write fantasy too. In some ways it is much easier than historical fiction, because you can make up your own timeline and your own rules; in others, historical fiction is a gift to plotting because often the things that actually happened, or could have happened if somebody hadn’t had toothache, are much more extraordinary than something completely imaginary. I think the main difficulty is finding the line between fiction and biography. It doesn’t do to get too bogged down in whether the Earl of Salisbury grew petunias or not, but at the same time, there needs to be enough research involved to avoid any howling errors.
Don’t forget to check out N. K. Pulley’s story ‘The Watchmaker of Filigree Street’ in the second issue of Alt Hist.
AshleyRose Sullivan, author of ‘In Cappadocia’ from Issue 2 of Alt Hist is next up for an interview.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Los Angeles now but I grew up in the mountains and foothills of Appalachia. I have a degree in Anthropology with minors in English and Theater and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Aside from writing, I founded and run a Shakespeare Institute for children in rural Kentucky.
What attracts you to historical fiction?
I’ve always been a huge history fan but when it comes to fiction, I prefer alternate history. I like looking at the tapestry of our past, getting really close to it, and asking, “What would happen if I were to pull at this single thread? What sort of effect might that have on the larger piece?” And, of course for me, thinking about it isn’t enough. I have to come as close as I can to actually pulling the thread and running with it. Writing alternate history is a way for me to do that.
Tell us a bit more about the background to the story ‘In Cappadocia’.
I’d heard about the Cappadocian civilization before but had never seen it until I caught a special about it on The History Channel. Once I got a look at the amazing caverns that make up the underground cities and the alien landscape above them, I was transfixed. I thought about how terrifying and captivating a place like that would be to an invader from antiquity and wanted to get close to a person like that – to show how scary the unknown can be.
One of your stories has been turned into a musical. How did that come about and what did you think of the results?
At Spalding, I got to work with a number of really talented writers. One of the playwrights, Tommy Trull, liked my work and asked if I had any stories that might work as a musical and I sent him “Silent Pictures” which is about an immigrant actor at the end of the silent film era who’s in danger of losing his job because of his accent. The play premiered at the Greensboro Fringe Festival in North Carolina. Tommy did an amazing job converting the story to a musical, especially considering the fact that the main character didn’t have a single line of dialogue in the original piece. It’s a fresh, multimedia production and I love what he’s doing with it.
What are you currently working on?
I recently finished an alternate history young adult novel which I’m beginning to shop around and I just started research on a new novel that mixes contemporary paranormal elements with events and people from history.
Don’t forget to check out AshleyRose’s story ‘In Cappadocia’ in the second issue of Alt Hist.