Ballantine Publishing Company/Random House: NY, 2001.
I so far haven't branched too far into reading adult alternate history. Since this is titled "Best of," I thought I'd give it a try. Many of the adult alternate history books are heavily sci fi (space oriented), which I'm not really interested in. I prefer the history based stories. This book has some of both. Overall I am excited about the book. There was only 1 story I wasn't interested in reading, and a few make the book definitely worth reading.
The book starts with a reworking of the dropping of the atomic bomb
which I love, The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson. If you
are going to die for principles, then the protagonist has got it right.
Next, The Winterberry by Nicholas A. DiChario envisions John F.
Kennedy's life if he had survived the assassination attempt. A little
depressing, but a good case of extrapolation. In Islands in the
Sea by Harry Turtledove, emissaries (one Christian and one Muslim)
curry the favor of a Bulgarian khan and debate religion for him. Then,
they await the decision he makes for his people. The fate of the world
hinges on his choice. Susan Shwartz's Suppose They Gave a Peace
describes a family that traditionally watches election results together,
this time during the Vietnam War. A father mulls the folly of his
daughter's behavior, but then changes his mind after hearing of his son's
military death and marriage. Gene Trimble in Larry Niven's All the
Myriad Ways contemplates the rash of recent suicides and wonders if
time travel trade is responsible. If endless results are caused by
endless branching universes, then the consequences are less dramatic.
Does this matter, or not? Through Road No Whither by Greg Bear
portrays a modern German war in which two couriers are lost as they try
to deliver orders. They come upon an old woman in a hut that refuses to
guide them due to their motives. After a century of no war, humans wage
war against rogue mechs that used to serve them in Manassas,
Again by Gregory Benford. In Dance Band on the
Titanic by Jack L. Chalker, a ferry's route corresponds to
several routes on other timelines resulting in countless changes in
destinations and passengers. After seeing repetitions, a new employee
interferes, with the hope of saving a life. Bring the Jubilee by
Ward Moore takes place in a United States defeated by the Confederate
States. Hodgins learns through self-study at his benefactor's book store.
When he is ready to move on, he joins a community dedicated to
scholarship and discovery. His forte is historical research, and he
assists a colleague with her time travel experimentation. Iason is a time
traveler, in Eutopia by Paul Anderson, researching alternate
histories, their cultures and governments. His briefing pre-travel is
faulty, and he unknowingly commits a faux pas and must be extricated from
the current project. The Undiscovered by William Sanders may be
my favorite story in the book. An Eastern American tribe captures a
scrawny white man who has unexpected depths. The tribe has an expert in
languages who is given a chance to communicate with the man. He is
embraced by the tribe after fiercely defending their camp and showing
himself to be an exceptional entertainer. Mozart in Mirroshades
by Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner is a little strange. Increased trade
is enabled by time travel, with a consequence of future knowledge and
technology being transferred to the past. In some cases, the travelers
use their future knowledge for their own motives, including fraternizing
with historical personalities. And those people use the knowledge to
escape their destinies. Some even manipulate their way onto flights to
the future. The Death of Captain Future by Allen Steele is my
least favorite. A grunt worker accepts a job on a shuttle to migrate
cross space. He thinks the captain is nuts. The ship goes to the aid of a
freighter, with even worse conditions. Last, but not least, is Moon
of Ice by Brad Linaweaver, in which the Nazis have won, and
propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels reminisces about Hitler, ideology,
and the relaxing of restrictions after the war. Goebbels has two
politically active children. One in the new SS controlled country of
Burgundy, and one fighting for the German Freedom League against the
agenda of her father.
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