Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Alternate Histories

As I was perusing through reading related websites I came across Uchronia - a site specializing in Alternate Histories. It contains a database of over 2900 novels and stories which focus on the "what if's". Usually alternate histories take a major event in history and speculate what might have happened had the outcome been different. What if the Nazi's had won WWII or what if the American Civil war had ended differently.

One book I've read this past year was Alfred and Emily, by Doris Lessing. Lessing addresses the idea of an alternate history in her latest book Alfred and Emily. Like countless others, Alfred Lessing and Emily McVeagh’s lives were changed by events in World War One. Lessing lost a leg and was nursed back to health by McVeagh who had lost a fiancee. Had this not happened and had they not married, what would their individual lives have been like? Lessing creates two worlds based on her intimate knowledge of her parents and at the same time portrays a prosperous and complacent England unaffected by war. The second half of this book is a series of essays describing Lessing’s actual childhood in Rhodesia and her complex relationships with her family.

All's fair in love and war:
Maelstrom, by Taylor Anderson [WWII]
Half A Crown by Jo Walton [WWII]
The Man With the Iron Heart by Harry Turtledove [WWII]
Resistance: A Novel by Owen Sheers [WWII]
MacArthur's War: A Novel Of the Invasion of Japan by Douglas Niles [WWII]
Final Impact by John Birmingham [WWII]
In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan [WWII]
1635: The Dreeson Incident by Eric Flint [Thirty Year's War]
Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik [Napoleonic Wars]
Land of Mist and Snow by Debra Doyle [American Civil War]

Taking liberties with historical figures:
The James Boys: A Novel Account of Four Desperate Brothers by Richard Liebman-Smith
The Betrayal: The Lost Life of Jesus: A Novel by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Eleanor Vs Ike by Robin Gerber
The Accident Man by Tom Cain [Princess Diana]
Magdelan Rising: The Beginning by Elizabeth Cunningham
Jamestown: A Novel by Matthew Sharpe [John Smith]
In Secret Service by Mitch Silver [Duke of Windsor]
The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee by Thomas Fleming
Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant, the Final Victory by Newt Gingrich
Darkwitch Rising by Sara Douglass [King Charles II]

1 comment:

  1. Wayne Johnston's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams also takes some liberties with a historical figure (Joey Smallwood) as well as with Newfoundland History in general. Unfortunately, it was not my cup of tea, despite the fact that it was quite well written...