Tag Archives: alternate history

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I decided to read this book to the kids. I remember enjoying it significantly when it first came out. This is the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Published: 1996

Genre: middle grade fantasy

Length: 399 pages

Setting: it felt like England and northern countries, including Svalbard, 1800s, but it wasn’t really Continue reading


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A Bird, A Broad, and a Mess of Kyodatsu by Stephen Lickman

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published:January, 2017 in Mothership Zeta: Issue 2

Genre: alternate history fantasy

Setting: Japan, post-WWII

Summary: Our narrator is a Tengu, a mythical Japanese bird soldier. Japan has been conquered, so he’s trying to make a living as a detective. Really, his goal is to make enough money to drink himself into oblivion. But, he’s been hired by a murder of jungle crows to recover a Buddha that was stolen from Crow Castle at the end of the war. He’s slipping into kyodatsu – a general state of depression because Japan lost that can be seen in people across multiple every aspect of Japanese society. However, the crows shame him into trying to recover the Buddha.

Final thoughts: Interesting because of the setting and new mythology. Our narrator was transformed into a Tengu to work off a debt to karma. He’s not doing a very good job at it at the beginning of the story. He’s slipping into despair, like so many people around him. He won’t even fly anymore – the skies are for the victors. But, he decides to do something instead and recover the Buddha and even takes to the sky to do so. We are left hanging – the thief has taken a ship to America, but he’s going to chase her. He’s got a purpose again in life.

Title comes from: The bird is our narrator – a crow-like creature; the broad is the thief of the Buddha; the kyodatsu is the state of mind of everyone around our narrator.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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What I Will Be Reading #33: Mr. Curiosity’s Edition

It’s Mr. Curiosity’s time to add some books to the reading list. He got some great suggestions from a GeekMom summer reading list. The list is organized by age group, with an emphasis on middle grade and up. We got quite a few suggestions from the list, including:

Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale by Ashley Poston. This is a modern retelling of  Cinderalla, with a strong side of geekiness.


Norse Mythologyby Neil Gaimen. This was a no brainer. Both kids are loving Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, so this was a no-brainer. Miss Adventure wants to read this as well, although I might need to read it first to make sure it won’t scare her. It is a modern retelling of the Norse saga.


31 Days of Wonder by Tom Winter. I’m not sure what drew Mr. Curiosity to this book. It sounds like a good relationship story, more in the realistic fiction side of things.


The final book from this list is The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford. This is an alternate history book set during WWII. The basic premise of the book is the atomic bomb was ready for the D-Day invasion, and how would things have changed.


One last book to add from a different source: We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Chan and Daniel Whiteson. I became aware of this book by reading their webcomic, PhDComics. It looked like the book would be in the same vein as xkcd’s book, What If?. The authors discuss all the parts of the universe scientists still don’t have a complete explanation for, and provide our current best hypothesis. Plus there are lots of illustrations and amusing comics to keep you wading through the science.

And those are the new books for Mr. Curiosity, although I’ll probably end up reading several of them as well. Any others that a geeky 14-year old boy would enjoy? Tell me in the comments!

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The Navigator by Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos

I picked this book up from the new books pile at the library looking for an easy vacation read (which will tell you how long ago I read the book). It also crossed off a topic bingo square for the summer reading program that year.

Published: 2007

Genre: thriller

Length: 448 pages Continue reading

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Best Energies by Josh Rountree

It’s my last story to read from Rayguns Over Texas. I’ll need to find a new book of short stories to review, now that I’ve finished this one!

Published: 2013 in Rayguns Over Texas.

Genre: alternate history

Setting: the U.S. at the end of WWII

Summary: George Washington discovered a pool of water that bestows immortality and has ruled the United States as monarch ever since. Of course, the U.S. is only the Eastern states, and there are several other sovereign nations on the North American continent, including the Republic of Texas. Sam Houston, who also partook of the pool’s water, is currently President of Texas, and once again trying to convince Washington to allow equal access to the Immortality Pool. Washington seems to have unlimited power, especially now that Einstein has turned alchemist and figured out how to modify the pool’s water for multiple uses. Texas has an ace in the hole, though, since they’ve convinced Einstein to turn traitor and develop a bomb to release the magic trapped in the Immortality Pool. Turns out, Einstein has other plans and the bomb won’t do exactly what the Texans expect.

Final thoughts: This was a strong story to finish on. I found the alternate history based around Washington’s immortality quite interesting. In Rountree’s vision, Washington continues to rule the U.S. What kind of problems would develop when your ruler is immortal and controls the source of immortality? It’s tolerable as long as the pool only provides immortality, but once Einstein figures out how to create magical fission bombs, and turning back time, and magical shock troops, the world has some serious problems. Houston recognizes those problems very quickly, and acts on them (hopefully before Washington has time to stop him). I loved the set-up to the story, but the ended seemed a bit soft. The story just kind of stops, with no real resolution to the conflict.

Title comes from: It probably refers to the energy being harnessed by Einstein in the Immortality Pool.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey

Published: 2003

Genre: epic fantasy

Length: 702 pages

Setting: from the world’s equivalent of Europe to the Middle East to Africa, 10 years after Kushiel’s Chosen

Interest: It’s the third Terra D’Ange book Continue reading

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Short Stories by Gary B. Phillips

art by Seth Alan Bareiss

art by Seth Alan Bareiss

The Lady Electric

Published: April 2013 in Daily Science Fiction

Genre: alternate history

Length: 4 pages

Setting: probably around the 1880s, near New York City

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: An mysterious lady who seems to generate electricity is captured and turned over to Thomas Edison. He uses her power to light the city, at least for the ten years that she survives captivity.

Final thoughts: The lady wasn’t supposed to be in our world, but she fell in love – the source of so many troubles in our worlds. Unfortunately, the scientists got a hold of her and she wasn’t strong enough to escape except through death. Of course, now everyone is used to lights in the city, and their power source just died. Did Edison continue his research, or just study her? Did he have a new power source to take her place, once she died? A good story makes you wonder.

Title comes from: It’s what Edison called the lady.

Enteral Feeding

Published: July 2013 in Kazka Press (which doesn’t seem to exist anymore)

Genre: horror

Length: 4 pages

Setting: I’m assuming it’s a prison that holds Muslim prisoners from one of our current conflicts in the Middle East

Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: The narrator is captured and brought to prison. After going on a hunger strike, he is force-fed by the guards. However, whatever they are feeding him is changing him into stronger and deadlier than the guards.

Final thoughts: This was a creepy story. I didn’t realize Phillips was aiming for “vampire” in the monster the narrator turned into (until I read his postmortem on the story), but the guards did something to the inmates, which then lead to their death when the inmates rose up.

Title comes from: At first I thought the title was a spelling mistake of “eternal” instead of “enteral”. Turns out enteral feeding is tube feeding, which you might do to a prisoner on a hunger strike.




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