Archive for the ‘Alternative History’ Category

Liberty 1784: The Second War for Independence-Robert Conroy

March 8, 2014

Liberty 1784: The Second War for Independence
Robert Conroy
Baen, Mar 4 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781476736273

In 1781, the French fail to prevent the British navy from reaching General Cornwallis at Yorktown; leading to the crushing of the colonial rebellion and capture of its leader George Washington and other notable traitors. Washington is found guilty of seditious acts and in 1783 is executed at the Tower of London while many of the rebellion’s leaders incarcerated in Jamaica or in brigs are left to die.

One year after the beheading of Washington, rebel spy Will Drake escapes his death sentence on a ship. He travels to Fort Washington to join freedom fighters emerging there. Sarah Benton treks to Fort Washington to avoid the sexual blackmail attempts by the local law official as does Royal Marines deserter Owen Wells where each enlist in the rebel cause.

Governor General Cornwallis orders General Burgoyne to end this revolt using any means necessary. Still fuming with humiliation as the biggest British loser during the recent hostilities, Burgoyne plans to harshly defeat the rebels at a time the French monarchy is in peril from radicals.

This is a super alternative historical in which the pivotal point change occurs at Yorktown. Most of the events that flow from that key event seem genuine as Robert Conroy defends his time line modifications with strong arguments interwoven into the exciting storyline. The prime players appear real though the rebels are too paragons of virtue; while on the British side Burgoyne seeks to regain his fractured pride; Tarleton a vicious psychopath, Arnold an opportunist traitor; and the Iroquois trust neither side but ally with the lesser of two evils. Readers will appreciate this entertaining entry as Mr. Conroy moves back in time from the twentieth century with another winner.

Harriet Klausner

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Disenchanted & Co.-Lynn Viehl

February 3, 2014

Disenchanted & Co.
Lynn Viehl
Pocket, Jan 28 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476722351

In the Provincial Union of Victoriana, Charmian “Kit” Kittredge firmly believes in the logic of science and math though she knows many in society strongly accept the existence of magic. Kit investigates crimes in which magic is allegedly reported with her objective being to solve the case while proving the mundane not the hocus pocus was involved.

In Rumsen, Lady Diana Walsh states her spouse’s first wife cursed her with the odious words etched into her skin. Though Kit hates dealing with the aristocracy, she decides to look into the assertion; expecting to debunk Walsh’s claim as non-magic means perpetrated by the husband. However, Kit finds there is more under the sun than just physics as she fears the city will turn into a paranormal dead zone while she also avoids the deathmage of Toriana, Lucien Dredmore who pursues her.

The first hard copy printing of the opening two Kittredge alternate steampunk America e-books (see Her Ladyship’s Curse and His Lordship Possessed) is an enjoyable paranormal mystery in which the vivid Viehl world’s pivotal moment is the British won the American War of Independence. Kit the skeptic is super when she works her case that curses her belief system by offering proof that counter her logical preposition. Although Dredmore is too aggressive (assault comes to mind) towards the reluctant sleuth he wants to possess, readers will enjoy Kit’s investigation that takes fans on a tour of a different America.

Harriet Klausner

The Forever Engine-Frank Chadwick

January 11, 2014

The Forever Engine
Frank Chadwick
Baen, Jan 7 2014, $15.00
ISBN 9781451639407

In 2018, Professor Jack Fargo teaches History at the University of Chicago. British Army Major Reggie Llewellyn orders Jack to come to Wessex without explaining why. Jack remembers Reggie from their Afghanistan War days as a casual killer. They meet at the Wessex High Energy Collider where the visitor is shown a recently minted Roman coin that Reggie insists is real. When the collider sends items into the past, an equally weighted object arrives in the present. However, the coin differs as it apparently represents a different historical timeline than that Jack and Reggie claim as theirs.

Jack observes an experiment until an explosion repels him back to 1888 London. Captain Gordon of the Horse Guards escorts Jack into a different city then the one he knows as a historian as he learns The Confederate States of America has an embassy in Great Britain. At Dorset House, scientists and military Intel interrogate Jack. Quartermaster General Redvers Buller accepts Jack’s contention of time travel while assigning him, Gordon and Glasgow University Physics Professor William Thomson to find killers threatening the kingdom. Thomsom introduces Jack to Nikola Telsa before the trio crosses the Channel on a Grand Tour where French agent Gabrielle Courbiere joins them as they head to Bavaria to inspect a twenty-first century damaged armored vehicle found there.

Using the same world as the Space 1889 game, The Forever Engine is an entertaining alternate Victorian due to the fascinating nation changing and the fun steampunk technology. Readers will appreciate this engaging thriller anchored by a wonderful cast (real persona included) who don’t know Jack as the time displaced single dad who just wants to get back to his college bound daughter Sarah.

Harriet Klausner

Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter-L.A. Miller

January 10, 2014

Quests of Shadowind: Sky Shifter
L.A. Miller
Millhouse Press, 2013, $10.95
ISBN: 9780615439259

On summer vacation, frightened thirteen year old Mindy Oakes wakes up her fifteen years old brother Logan concerned that their parents were gone. Logan wants his bratty sister to let him sleep, but he soon realizes nothing is right including the room he sleeps in as the house is not theirs; neither is the location; or the PJs he wears. He tries the phone with its odd umbilical cord to call his parents, but no one answers.

Stepping outside, Mindy and Logan see no adults except their neighbor Preston, but mechanical insects grab and take him away as today is his twentieth birthday. The horrified siblings soon meet other young people like Samantha but no adults. As they learn more about this new world, the Oakes and others begin a quest to obtain the Staff of the Sky Shifter before Lord Torrent releases his computer virus with the help of Kyle Whitelaw the neighborhood bully in both worlds. To do so they must enter Computerland even as the evil Torrent deploys his WMD to devastate their earth and their new (hopefully temporary) home Shadowind

The first Quests of Shadowind is an exhilarating young teen fantasy that brings the Lord of the Flies and gruesome beasts into the digital age. The action-packed storyline with its vivid locales is excellent when the focus is on the Oates (especially Logan the leader) and Torrent, but loses some steam when cartoonish Kyle (think of a teen Bluto), take center stage. Armchair readers will appreciate spending time with the struggling to survive youth in vivid Shadowind and colorful Computerland while also knowing we are home.

Harriet Klausner

1636: Sea Of Fortune-Iver Cooper

January 9, 2014

1636: Sea Of Fortune
Iver Cooper
Baen, Jan 7 2014, $15.00
ISBN 9781451639391

“Stretching Out.” In Belem do Para, Brazil, Henrique Pereira da Costa and his servant and best friend Maurico enter the Amazon Valley seeking rubber trees. They show drawings to the native Indians, who fail to comprehend what the outsiders want until Maurico makes a clay model that lead them being escorted to rubber trees. Henrique and Maurico send sap to Portugal for testing. When they come home, Henrique finds a cracked vase with the silver candelabra secretly inside gone. He knows the inquisitors will destroy him as a Jew and take everything he owns including Maurico. Dutchwoman Maria Vorst illustrates plants and animals in Grantville, but craves working in South America. She persuades Dutch sea captain David Pieterszoon de Vries to take her on his colonization voyage to Suriname as his science officer.

“Rising Sun.” For several years Portuguese priests converted Japanese to Christianity until the religion was banned from the locals though secret ceremonies still occur. Shogun Iemitsu Tokagawa and his senior councilor Sakai Tadakatsu struggle with their Christian subjects when they learn about the soon to come rebellion. Many Christians are executed while others sent to New Nippon in the Northern New World under the control of Grand Governor Date Masamune.

Both segues expand the Ring of Fire universe into new or previously limited geography and culture. “Stretching Out” includes seven excellent entries mostly in South America and the Caribbean built on real events but with a nice Grantville twist. “Rising Sun” contains five terrific tales in Japan and the American-Canadian West Coast also built on real events enhanced by historical speculation but with a nice Grantville twist.

Harriet Klausner

1920: America’s Great War-Robert Conroy

December 9, 2013

1920: America’s Great War
Robert Conroy
Baen, Dec 3 2013, $25.00
ISBN 9781451639315

In 1914 Southern France, the British Expeditionary Force’s dejected soldiers sit in mud as their officers surrender to the Germans. Their only solace is the French suffered worse at the Battle of the Marne when their ally’s army collapsed in its entirety while these brothers in arms remain defeated but intact. The German western front has become quiet too as the powerful army is devastated the Russians. The Kaiser owns Europe as the world’s only superpower.

By 1920 Russia remains embroiled in a long-running terrible civil war and almost all the rest of Europe allied or totally consolidated under German rule. Kaiser Wilhelm II knows the only threat to his dynasty is the United States with its incredibly growing economy. The Germans also know militarily their foe is weak as ailing President Wilson believes in peace so spends little money on an offensive fighting force. Not wanting to risk that a White House successor will prove formidable by using the industrial complex to create a powerful modern day military, the Germans persuade Mexico to join them in a blitzkrieg through California and Texas with plans for their ally to annex what was once their territory.

Though there is similarity to Robert Conroy’s 1901, the major differences include changed invasion locale with Mexican support; the motivation to defeat a sleeping giant before it awakens vs. colonization; and the blitzkrieg victory in Europe. Filled with action and real persona like an overbearing Churchill, this fast-paced alternate history uses the Battle of the Marne as the key pivotal moment to change our reality. Although the aftermath of the climactic Battle of California seems abrupt, readers will enjoy Mr. Conroy’s exciting tale.

Harriet Klausner

Visibly Struck: a Novel based on the True Experiences of George Washington and his Faith in the Invisible Hand of God-Steve Kubicek

November 11, 2013

Visibly Struck: a Novel based on the True Experiences of George Washington and his Faith in the Invisible Hand of God
Steve Kubicek
Summit Partners LLC, Nov 5 2013, $16.95
http://summitpartnersllc.net/summitpartners.html
ISBN: 9780984842643

Seventeen years ago, historian Stephen Spitzen’s son and daughter-in-law died in a plane crash. Soon after that his wife passed away. As a single “dad”, Spitz raised his beloved granddaughter Aspen while ranting at God for taking away his other loved ones.

Years after her parents died, financier Aspen loves her Papa but worries about his health as his anger towards God consumes Spitz. Deciding to prove that the Founding Fathers were not influenced by Christianity; Spitz hypothesizes that George Washington and the others did not trust in God when they created the United States. However, Spitz suffers a stroke that leaves him in a coma and Aspen praying for divine intervention. In his comatose state, Spitz travels back in time to observe Washington in two wars as an officer and eventually as the first president of this new experiment.

Using time travel by a twenty-first century deity denier, Visibly Struck is an enjoyable historical. The storyline enables the reader to better understand George Washington through the experiences of the Father of Our Country as a soldier and a statesman, and his writings that argue in his strong “Faith in the Invisible Hand of God.” Although the wealth of information gives the storyline a nonfictional feel at times, readers will appreciate this enjoyable different perspective of the founding of America.

Harriet Klausner

The Osiris Curse-Paul Crilley

October 23, 2013

The Osiris Curse
Paul Crilley
PYR, Oct 15 2013, $17.99
ISBN: 9781616148584

Late in nineteenth century London, someone murders Nikola Tesla and steals the inventor’s WMD schematics. Encouraged by Sebastian Tweed’s father Barnaby, he and his partner Octavia Nightingale investigate the homicide in order to obtain the weapons’ plans before the killer deploys them.

The teenage sleuths quickly find a stunning connection between the Tesla homicide and the disappearance of Olivia’s mother over a year ago. More clues lead the daring duo to The Hermetic Order of Set whose members attempt to assassinate them. Sebastian and Olivia flee on the luxury airship Albion heading to Tutankhamen’s View Hotel built inside the Great Pyramid knowing that the history texts are wrong and England is in peril.

The second Tweed and Nightingale steampunk investigative thriller (see The Lazarus Machine) is an engaging save the Victorian world young adult adventure. The teenage amateur sleuths are fascinating heroes as they try to save England while shocked by what they have learned about the history of the world. Although the romantic elements between the lead couple feel more of a requirement that takes away from an otherwise entertaining alternate historical suspense with fun steampunk inventions in the name of progress, readers will enjoy the teens’ heroic escapades.

Harriet Klausner

1636: The Devil’s Opera-Eric Flint and David Carrico

October 18, 2013

1636: The Devil’s Opera
Eric Flint and David Carrico
Baen, Oct 1 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9781451639285

King of Sweden, Emperor of the United States of Europe and the Union of Kalmar leader Gustavus Adolphus Vasa II recuperates from war wounds and is unable to perform his leadership duties. Swedish Chancellor Oxenstierna grabs the chief positions; superseding the claims of Gustavus’ heir Princess Kristina. To solidify his power, Oxenstierna opens a court in Berlin.

USE President Ed Piazza and Vice President Rebecca Abraband are concerned with Oxenstierna’s power grab especially his presence in Berlin. They ask arts guru Mary Simpson for help to get Oxenstierna out of Berlin by tricking him into believing Magdeburg is the heart of USE power. Mary obtains help from several people like Marla Linder the musician to bring a major art festival to Magdeburg. After finding a floater, Simon Bayer rescues Hans Metzgerinin from an assault; the latter introduces him to his sister Ursula as the Magdeburg Police investigate the death of the drowning victim. However, Marla’s contribution to the festival, a King Arthur opera, sparks a patriotic reaction that upsets Oxenstierna.

The latest Ring of Fire alternate history entry (see 1636: The Kremlin Games) is an engaging for the most part low key tale that focuses on political intrigue during a leadership battle to fill a void at the top. The use of music to obtain support for an outcome (such as George M. Cohan’s “Over There” and “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Robin Moore and Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler) is cleverly handled. Fans of the series will enjoy the chess game over who leads the USE while the Emperor remains severely injured.

Harriet Klausner

Warbound-Larry Correia

August 15, 2013

Warbound
Larry Correia
Baen, Aug 6 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9781451639087

Sally Faye Vierra the Traveler believes she is a Grimnoir Knight though most Actives assume she will turn into a monster. Whisper advised her to seek Jacques Montand the Grimnoir Elder. When she finds him on a church rooftop, Faye dangles Jacques over the edge while explaining why she looked for him. He sends her to what was once Berlin, but now the Dead City to meet a zombie who sees the future.

At the same time Bureau of Investigation Chief J. Edgar Hoover assigns ex-convict Jake Sullivan a Grimnoir Knight Heavy to stop the Pathfinder. He begins to put together a team to breech the Imperium to obtain a Pathfinder Detector with the assistance of Francis Stuyvesant the Mover. As part of his rapid response recruitment, Jake travels to his former residence Rockville State Penitentiary to talk with prisoner Wells the Massive psychopath about the Pathfinder. Soon his mission and Faye’s quest collide.

The third Grimnoir Chronicles (see Spellbound and Hard Magic) is an exciting alternate historical fantasy. The Correia world is anchored by noted real persona like FDR, Congressional hearings, William Donovan and Hoover in somewhat limited roles as the prime plots center on the Actives being active with Sullivan and crew working the Pathfinder mission and Faye proving her worth. Readers will enjoy the 1930s as the Depression world seems Warbound.

Harriet Klausner