Alt Hist Issue 9 Published!

Alt Hist Issue 9 CoverThe latest issue of the bestselling historical fiction magazine

Alt Hist Issue 9 has now been published!

You can purchase eBook and Print copies from:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Barnes & Noble

And eBook copies from:

Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks

Alt Hist Issue 9 brings you the best new writing in historical fiction and alternate history. This issue features six new short stories and takes the reader from German occupied Yorkshire to Samurai-era Japan, via the Bermuda triangle, medieval Wales, the Vikings and post-war Ireland. You’ll find action-packed stories of fights against sea monsters, the intrigue of resistance against Nazi and Norman oppressors and the upholding of honour within traditional Samurai and Viking societies inside the pages of Alt Hist Issue 9.

In “The Lords of Pontefract”, the penultimate story from Jonathan’s Doering’s “Battalion 202” series, the focus turns to one of the people tasked with providing government and leadership to the town. In “The Lords of Pontefract”, Jonathan Doering imagines the activities of “the other side”, a shadowy network of officials who would have acted as saboteurs and spies within the occupation administration.

Carl Owens, the navigator of “The Bonny Claire” is a rational man of science. He uses books and instruments to do his work. In Rick Novy’s story the Bonny Claire is on its way to Bermuda, when the captain warns of an impending storm—against all the evidence of the Owens’s scientific observations. But the captain is right—and more than a storm confronts the Bonny Claire and its crew.

When you have to have a courageous death in battle to reach the afterlife, a death from illness can present a dilemma for a man’s kin. In “First Kill” by Megan Jones, a Viking’s brother lies dying and the man’s promised consolation of passing onto Valhalla looks like a remote hope. Yet he discovers that there may be a way to give his brother what he needs.

“Ikigai: A Reason for Being” by Samantha Payne helped inspire the wonderful cover art for Alt Hist Issue 9—an encounter between a Japanese lady and samurai warrior. Mamoru, an unconventional samurai, is intent on upholding the honour of Shouka, a woman who has fallen on hard times.

“Lackendarra” by Séamus Sweeney gives us an insight into the life of a man scared by his experiences in the First World War—a man who became famous in Ireland as a hermit. Séamus shows how someone could become so affected by war that they shut themselves away from society. The story portrays Lackendarra’s encounter with a journalist in 1954 who is intrigued about how the world has changed. Séamus’s has also been previously published in Alt Hist: the wonderful “Dublin Can be Heaven” in Alt Hist Issue 3.

I’ve previously much enjoyed Andrew Knighton’s gritty yet humorous medieval tales for Alt Hist. The latest one from him, “The Sound of Stones”, is a conflict between serf and lord in medieval Wales—but also a cultural clash between the Welsh and the Anglo-Norman newcomers. Take a look at some of Alt Hist’s back issues for other fine medieval tales by Andrew.

 

 

Book Review: Coming Home by Roy E. Stolworthy

Coming HomeComing Home by Roy E. Stolworthy

Reviewed by Christopher Yates

  • Paperback, 368 Pages
  • ISBN: 9781781590713
  • Published: NOV 2012
  • Claymore Press

Purchase at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

As we move through the centenary anniversary year of the Great War, one would expect the market to become saturated with the memories, untold stories and fiction novels chronicling the exploits of the heroes of both sides. How will one story stand up against the others? Will they approach the subject matter from a similar angle or will somebody step up and offer something different? I’m pleased to say that Coming Home’ by Roy E. Stolworthy offers the latter.

The novel opens in Westminster Abbey, at the grave of an unnamed soldier. A man, Joshua Pendleton, enters the abbey and kneels at the grave. He removes a watch and, whilst placing it on the tomb, he recites the last part of a tribute chiselled into the marble ‘They Buried Him Among The Kings Because He Had Done Good Toward God And Towards His House.’ Then, after looking left and right to make sure he’s alone, he whispers to the unnamed warrior ‘Hello Thomas. How are you this morning? It’s raining outside, as usual. Although I hear the forecast is better for tomorrow’… It’s a beautiful opening. The iconic image, and one reminiscent of the unmarked graves that litter many a battlefield across the European theatre, created by the simple description of an ‘unnamed soldier’ sets you up for the atrocities ahead, the emotional rollercoaster you are about to embark on, and one that raises the questions for later; Who is Thomas? And why is he known only to one man?

The focus then switches back to 1916 and the story starts proper. The plot is a new, clever take on standard war fiction and can be broken down into three acts. Act one: introduces us to our protagonist, Thomas Elkin. Blaming himself for the accidental death of his brother, Thomas enlists in the army, under his brother’s name, with the sole intention of dying a heroic death in combat. Act two: Boot camp. We witness the deconstruction of the boy Thomas Elkin and the re-construction of the man, Archie Elkin. Act three: The war and Thomas’s attempts to immortalise his brother’s name, whist also coming to terms with the changes within himself and his environment.

As a reader, what we are faced with is a harrowing eye witness account of the horrors of the Great War. We learn as Thomas learns and grow as he grows. What starts out as an exciting adventure quickly turns into the nightmare it really was.  Through Roy Stolworthy’s use of beautiful prose, we are invited to share the sheer desperation those poor men on the frontline felt and the hopelessness of the task they had undertaken. Through allowing us to know Archie’s secret, we are asked to judge his character and the selfish urges that force him to undertake the most dangerous of missions. He not only puts his own life in danger, but also the lives of his comrades who have come to trust and rely on his leadership.

The character of Thomas/Archie is the back bone of the story. I’ve read too much war fiction (mostly glorified American acts of heroism) where the central character is always cut from the ‘Rambo’ mould, willing and wanting to win the war singlehandedly, and I’m glad to say that with ‘Coming Home’ this is not the case. In Thomas/Archie, Roy Stolworthy has created a character that could be anybody. A character that is an Average Joe off the street, thrust into an environment, who is reacting to that environment and the choices that he subsequently makes. Apart from his desperation for death, he has no qualities that are out of the ordinary and this is what makes him so endearing to the reader. In truth, and trying in vain not to be too patriotic, he embodies the real heroes who stood up to be counted when the time came. As such, you can’t hide form the emotional impact of the ordeals he experiences.

However, this is not to say the story is not without its faults. Parts of the narrative don’t sit well and are a bit out of place; for instance the feeding of the brother to the pigs is totally out of character with how Thomas is portrayed and the death of Corporal Wollard at the end of chapter 4 reads like a bit of a cop out. However, ironically, the problem with the story is the main plot point; Thomas’s attempts at death and his subsequent escapes. What starts out as a heroic deed, quickly descents into an annoyance with comedic overtones. Time after time he faces ever increasing odds and time after time he walks away unscathed. As the novel moves on, the reader quickly realises that only a nuclear warhead is able to end this poor boy’s life, whilst everybody around him drops like flies. Maybe I’m being a bit too flippant in my description, but somebody once said to me that reading a good story is like dreaming a dream. Every time there is a mistake or something doesn’t fit, the illusion is broken and you wake up. Unfortunately, these interludes of Thomas/Archie’s depression is where the illusion breaks. It gets old very quickly and at times I found myself skim reading these passages.

Having said that, ‘Coming Home’ is still a brilliant read and one that I would whole heartedly endorse. It deals with the subject matter in a frank, serious, and realistic way and contains an ending that will leave the reader thinking for many a restless night to come.

Alt Hist Issue 6 – News

For those of you eagerly awaiting the 6th issue of Alt Hist, I have some news.

First off the good news is that it should be a bumper issue – we have more words and pages in the next issue than ever before. Secondly, it’s probably not going to be out before Christmas. Currently its in editing stage and I anticipate that process will take the rest of December. So its likely that Alt Hist Issue 6 will be out in early January to rid you of those post-Christmas blues!

Here’s a sneak peak of the stories that will appear in Alt Hist Issue 6 (in no particular order):

  • “Hitler is Coming” by Martin Hill (Alternate History – Hitler in America)
  • “When Shots Rang Out” by Lynda M. Vanderhoff (JFK)
  • “B-36” by Douglas W. Texter (Cold War alternate history)
  • “Battalion 202: Worm in the Apple” by Jonathan Doering (German invasion of Britain)
  • “The Iceberg” by Andrea Mullaney (First World War spies)
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New Alternate History Book: Tannhauser: Rising Sun, Falling Shadows by Robert Jeschonek

Tannhauser: Rising Sun, Falling Shadows by Robert Jeschonek

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616611804
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616611804

Available from Amazon.com

Available from Amazon.co.uk

The year is 1954, and in a dark and violent alternate history, the Great War never ended. The forces of the Reich, led by the occult-obsessed Kaiser, have sold their souls to demonic powers as they scour the earth in search of paranormal weaponry. Meanwhile, President Edison has sanctioned the use of potent alien technology recovered at Roswell, in hopes of aiding the beleaguered Union in its fight against tyranny. As the war rages on, can anything – or anyone – tip the balance of power? Enter the Shogunate, a far-eastern warrior sect with their own shadowy agenda. When a small force led by “The Daimyo” Iroh Minamoto sets out toward the evergreen peninsula of Kamchatka, Union Major John McNeal and the 42nd Marines must discover their plans before it’s too late. To make matters worse, the nefarious Hermann Von Heizinger of the Reich’s Obscura Korps seems to be in league with the Shogunate. The race is on to control a weapon that could finally bring the Great War to its climactic end!

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Historical Film Coming Soon: War Horse

It’s Historical Film Friday! Every Friday I’m aiming to share a trailer about an upcoming movie with an historical subject.

The first up is War Horse, which follows a young man named Albert and his horse, Joey, and how their bond is broken when Joey is sold to the cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War One. Despite being too young to enlist, Albert heads to France to save his friend.

It is supposed to be out in January 2012 in the UK.

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