Tag Archives: alternate history

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.

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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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The Shadow of Albion by Andre Norton and Rosemary Edgehill

Published: 1999

Genre: alternate history/fantasy

Length: 350 pages

Setting: England and France, early 1800s

Interest: I was looking for an N author and for my reading challenge and came across an Andre Norton book. I read a lot of her stuff as a kid and enjoyed it, so it seemed a safe and enjoyable bet. Continue reading

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1632 by Erik Flint

Published: 2000

Genre: alternate history

Length: 608 pages

Setting: West Virginia, present day, and then Germany, 1632

Interest: A random book I picked off my Kindle, originally put on free from Baen Books. Continue reading

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Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

Published: 2002

Genre: epic fantasy

Length: 700 pages

Setting: various countries around Terra D’Ange, soon after the events of Kushiel’s Dart

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

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Short Stories by Brooke Bolander

Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring

Published: February 2012, Lightspeed

Genre: weird Western

Length: 16 pages

Setting: American Southwest, probably 1800s

Interest: It was included in the 2014 annual Campbellian Anthology (as were the following two stories).

Summary: Rosa is out in the desert, tracking her erstwhile fiance. Turns out, he had a bad habit of killing his brides, and Rosa found out before her wedding day. She went after her fiance, to provide revenge for the dead girls she found at his villa. Along the way, she has the help of spectral foxes who represent the souls of the dead girls.

Title comes from: The titular vixens came into existence by being thrown up by Rosa as she was hunting her fiance

Sun Dogs

Published: September 2012, Lightspeed

Genre: alternative history

Length: 8 pages

Setting: Russia in the 1960s

Summary: The story is told from the point of view of Laika, the dog the Russians sent into space. She’s in her capsule and remembering her capture, training and launch into space. As she continues to orbit the earth, she’s greeted by dogs made of fire and given a choice as to what she wanted for her life.

Title comes from: Sun dogs are a solar phenomenon, and are treated in this story as if the were real dogs

The Beasts of Earth, the Madness of Men

Published: November 2013 in Nightmare

Genre: a bit of horror fiction

Length: 5 pages

Setting: the ocean, probably 1800s

Summary: The narrator is hunting a whale, with the rest of her crew and ship dead and broken. It becomes apparent the whale is not just any whale, since it is rotting as it swims. At one point, the whale beaches itself in the hopes of dying, but the narrator pushes it back out to sea to hunt again.

Title comes from: The beast was a whale (although it’s not really of the earth) and the madness of men was because the narrator kept repeating the same actions, hoping for a different end result (maybe – I couldn’t really figure out what she was hoping for in her ongoing hunt).

Final thoughts: My favorite of the three stories, by far, was the first. Bolander seems to enjoy despair and hopeless situations in her stories, and an animal protagonist. I’m sure there’s a message in the last story about madness and repeating actions, but I’m not very good at reading between the lines.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since these were short stories

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