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DarkCrawler
Apr 6, 2009



My favorite alternate history work is actually free online, still ongoing and very, very long. Very well written in my opinion too:

Look to the West by Thomas Anderson on AlternateHistory.com

Basically posits the question, what if Fredrick, Prince of Wales, had lived. On occasion, you receive hints from the future about the crazy world that has resulted as a consequence of this change.

It's written from the view of hundreds of historical books in that universe though, so if you want a more traditional main character type story it's not like that. The detail, number of countries and number of characters can be exhausting, if you keep breaks between reading you might lose track. By 1800's very few of the people who are known in our world are in existence or even more rarely, in power.

DarkCrawler fucked around with this message at 10:16 on Jul 27, 2014

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Mycroft Holmes
Mar 26, 2010

To the Moon! For Queen and Country!


Wow. Someone else knows about Thande. Another good one is Decisive Darkness: What if Japan hadn't surrendered in 1945? and The Falcon Cannot Hear: The Second American Civil War 1937-1944.

Sato
Apr 28, 2013


Has anyone else read The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln? It deals with what might have happened if Abraham Lincoln hadn't been assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. I thought it wasn't bad, though I could have done without all the historical figures marveling over how awesome the lead character is.

Guildencrantz
May 1, 2012

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.


Nckdictator posted:

Eric Flint's 1632 on the other hand is fun pulp. A small West Virginian mining town is sent back to 1632 Germany in the middle of the 30 Years War. The protagonist is a mary sue, the plot is stupid, and Flint has long, long scenes on how awesome Unions are and how cool America is but it manages to still be a fun, if dumb read.

Also, Flint himself is interesting because he's a card carrying Socialist but you wouldn't think that if you looked at his book covers.



Welp thanks for introducing me to my newest literary guilty pleasure. The prose in this book is awful, there's no plot to speak of beyond the high concept and its logical consequences and the characters are about as three-dimensional as an all-American breakfast pancake, and yet it's so drat fun. Normally I prefer my narratives bleak as gently caress, yet somehow Flint's wide-eyed, square-jawed, corn-fed American optimism is so completely earnest you end up buying it.

I guess it's just refreshing. In a genre populated by frothing reactionaries with weird fetishes, Flint writes a paean to American liberalism, where modern egalitarian values are affirmed, the sex and romance are straightforward and sweet, communities matter and the good guys win

Guildencrantz fucked around with this message at 18:35 on Aug 6, 2014

Yeah Man
Oct 9, 2011

And if you had, you know, a huge killer robot at your command, yeah, that would just clutter things up; and a lesser person might want that kind of overwhelming force on their side, but you know - where's the challenge in that?


Guildencrantz posted:

Welp thanks for introducing me to my newest literary guilty pleasure. The prose in this book is awful, there's no plot to speak of beyond the high concept and its logical consequences and the characters are about as three-dimensional as an all-American breakfast pancake, and yet it's so drat fun. Normally I prefer my narratives bleak as gently caress, yet somehow Flint's wide-eyed, square-jawed, corn-fed American optimism is so completely earnest you end up buying it.

I guess it's just refreshing. In a genre populated by frothing reactionaries with weird fetishes, Flint writes a paean to American liberalism, where modern egalitarian values are affirmed, the sex and romance are straightforward and sweet, communities matter and the good guys win

This is the best description of this series I've seen yet.

Groke
Jul 27, 2007
New Adventures In Mom Strength

Yeah Man posted:

This is the best description of this series I've seen yet.

Be aware that it's turned into this huge loving shared-world thing involving a bunch of different authors and some of those are... not good at all.

Personally I'm just sticking to the ones that at least have Eric Flint's name on the cover.

ClearAirTurbulence
Apr 20, 2010
The earth has music for those who listen.

Guildencrantz posted:

Welp thanks for introducing me to my newest literary guilty pleasure. The prose in this book is awful, there's no plot to speak of beyond the high concept and its logical consequences and the characters are about as three-dimensional as an all-American breakfast pancake, and yet it's so drat fun. Normally I prefer my narratives bleak as gently caress, yet somehow Flint's wide-eyed, square-jawed, corn-fed American optimism is so completely earnest you end up buying it.

I guess it's just refreshing. In a genre populated by frothing reactionaries with weird fetishes, Flint writes a paean to American liberalism, where modern egalitarian values are affirmed, the sex and romance are straightforward and sweet, communities matter and the good guys win

One of my favorite details of the series is how the 17th century people view the Americans. Cardinal Richelieu originally had a theory that they appeared in their times by some kind of Satanic power, but explains later that it was close to a dualistic heresy for Satan to have the power to move a whole city full of people through over 300 years of time, and decides it was done by God to warn mankind of the dangers of the future, since at this time modern history books have been obtained by spies and widely copied and circulated.

I also liked how modern firearms just "looked deadly" to people of the past, who's to say if it's accurate - maybe modern guns would look toy-like or flimsy compared to their weapons - but it worked in the story.

Jedi
Feb 27, 2002




Grifter posted:

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon is a good book. In it the US created a haven for European Jews in 1940, in Alaska. In this timeline Israel was created and then destroyed a few years later in a pretty grim sounding manner. The novel itself pretty dark, with some similarly dark humor.

I just picked this up and I can not put it down - it's absolutely phenomenal. You probably did miss a bit by not knowing much about Jewish culture. It reads kind of like a pulpy Noir book from the 40's, and I mean that in the best possible way.

One thing that really impressed me was the style of dialogue. He absolutely nailed the cadence of Yiddish despite writing it in English. A lot of times, writers will say their characters are speaking another language but it's just English - it uses English idioms and phrases or a bad accent. Chabon's characters don't do that. Having spent my life around people who either speak Yiddish or whose parents do, it's amazing to see that particular language rendered so perfectly in English.

The story itself is interesting as well, and even if you know absolutely nothing about Judaism, you'll be able to follow along. drat good book.

Jedi fucked around with this message at 17:22 on Aug 13, 2014

Grifter
Jul 24, 2003

I do this technique called a suplex. You probably haven't heard of it, it's pretty obscure.

nucleicmaxid posted:

I'm reading these books and I'm on the third one. The only thing I don't really like is the Prince Harry character, who is sort of needlessly there unless his grandmother getting killed by the Nazi Superman assassin and he takes over England as its newest monarch or something is a future plotpoint.

The writing is mediocre to me, as it has a lot of miltech masutrbation, but that's sort of par for the course in any book about historical wars. I'll also second, heartily, that the 1940's contemporary reaction to the 2021 attitudes towards race, sex, sexuality, freedom, equality, and even stuff like copyright law is actually really interesting to read about and is the best part of the book.

That and Slimjim, that dude owns.
I too read the Axis of Times books as a result of this thread. I agree about Prince Harry. I also found him mildly irritating mostly because the author obviously has a massive hardon for him. You're right on about the culture being the most interesting part. I wanted to know what would happen next, with the progressive cultural elements being fueled by all the money coming out of the Zone, plus all the important counterculture figures being really attracted to that way of life.

RE: Slimjim - I was convinced he was one of the murder/rapists.

Tomn posted:

I seem to remember that one thing I found irritating about the series is the tendency to skip over important events between books - like near the end of one book it ends on a cliffhanger and seems like it's setting up for a major battle, and then in the next book "Oh, yeah, we won that battle, we're moving on with the campaign now. Try to keep up, would you?" It was fairly enjoyable otherwise, though.
Yes, it was real bad when that happened. It was pretty nonsensical when Dan Black died between books, and with Hawaii being retaken. The author also almost completely dropped the murder mystery from the first book through like 98% of the following two. He's way more interested in milporn than solving the crime. I could do without knowing how awesome frangibles, drones, Nemesis, et cetera are.

The book series is clearly leading into another sequel, which would feature at least some of the following. (This is my speculation but I'm spoilering it because it gives away contents of the first three.

  • War with Stalin
  • Kolhammer entering politics
  • The Zone being preserved due to lobbying from Slim Jim/control of Kennedy.
  • The persecution of that MoH guy who turned out to be the rapist/murderer, and possibly pursuit of those who enabled him.


Did anybody else think the cultural values espoused by this book were a little odd? It's a mix of very liberal equal-rights-for-everyone, gays-are-cool, combined with "gently caress Muslims, it's totally cool for us to sew dead muslims in pigs as a military sponsored sanction".

Captain Monkey
Aug 23, 2007



Guildencrantz posted:

Welp thanks for introducing me to my newest literary guilty pleasure. The prose in this book is awful, there's no plot to speak of beyond the high concept and its logical consequences and the characters are about as three-dimensional as an all-American breakfast pancake, and yet it's so drat fun. Normally I prefer my narratives bleak as gently caress, yet somehow Flint's wide-eyed, square-jawed, corn-fed American optimism is so completely earnest you end up buying it.

I guess it's just refreshing. In a genre populated by frothing reactionaries with weird fetishes, Flint writes a paean to American liberalism, where modern egalitarian values are affirmed, the sex and romance are straightforward and sweet, communities matter and the good guys win

This is a really good description of these books, and I've been powering through them. Like you said, the baldfaced American liberal optimism is just great, and while I see the ~*Romance Plots*~ coming a mile away, I can't help but grin every time one of them comes to fruition.

The only thing I don't like is Simpson, but I think I'm supposed to dislike him (I'm halfway through book two, I just started reading the series seriously on Sunday) but he's just kinda.. I dunno, a little cartoonishly dumb sometimes. I see his reasoning and stuff, but it just doesn't jive to me that a smart businessman would be all GUNG HO PROPER ORDER BIG NAVY GOTTA FIGHT AND BE A DICK ABOUT EVERYTHING OMG to the detriment of his relations with pretty much anyone and everyone else.

Tomn
Aug 23, 2007

And the angel said unto him
"Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself."
But lo he could not. For the angel was hitting him with his own hands


Grifter posted:

Did anybody else think the cultural values espoused by this book were a little odd? It's a mix of very liberal equal-rights-for-everyone, gays-are-cool, combined with "gently caress Muslims, it's totally cool for us to sew dead muslims in pigs as a military sponsored sanction".

Actually, I think you just reminded me of another thing I disliked about the book - every baddie is cartoonishly, mustache-twirlingly evil, acting sometimes almost for the sake of evil. I don't recall that there was any real effort to humanize any of the leaders of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or Imperial Japan - it was bastards all the way down.

That said, I don't think their "gently caress Muslims forever" stuff was actually supposed to be condoned. It felt like it was supposed to present a mirror to our own society, just as '40s society did. While we could laugh about how backwards the social views of the '40s were, we could also look at the radicalism and extremism of the near-future heroes and feel kinda uncomfortable about it all - "Yeah, we've made a lot of progress, but that doesn't mean we're incapable of sliding into bad habits just because we're from the future."

Mind you, it's been ages since I read the series so I don't recall how well the execution of the theme went, but I seem to remember feeling like that was the intention, not "YEAH gently caress MUSLIMS WOOHOO!"

Grifter
Jul 24, 2003

I do this technique called a suplex. You probably haven't heard of it, it's pretty obscure.

Tomn posted:

Actually, I think you just reminded me of another thing I disliked about the book - every baddie is cartoonishly, mustache-twirlingly evil, acting sometimes almost for the sake of evil. I don't recall that there was any real effort to humanize any of the leaders of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or Imperial Japan - it was bastards all the way down.
I felt this way too. There's the Japanese guy who is the ruler of Hawaii when it is held by the Japanese, and he talks about enjoying raping the captive women, and specifically talks about how he enjoys making their husbands watch. It just felt like they wanted him to be really evil. The only person who escapes this is Isoroku Yamamoto. Does anyone know if the thing about Stalin basically torturing his senior leaders with horrible dinner parties actually happened, or is that more mustache twirling?

quote:

That said, I don't think their "gently caress Muslims forever" stuff was actually supposed to be condoned. It felt like it was supposed to present a mirror to our own society, just as '40s society did. While we could laugh about how backwards the social views of the '40s were, we could also look at the radicalism and extremism of the near-future heroes and feel kinda uncomfortable about it all - "Yeah, we've made a lot of progress, but that doesn't mean we're incapable of sliding into bad habits just because we're from the future."

Mind you, it's been ages since I read the series so I don't recall how well the execution of the theme went, but I seem to remember feeling like that was the intention, not "YEAH gently caress MUSLIMS WOOHOO!"
I am open to this, because we never really see much of muslims in the actual book. I think I may be bringing my own influences into this too much, as I tend to associate milporn with right wing notions (See: Clancy, Tom) and so through that filter I felt like I was getting more anti-muslim notions out of this than may have really been in there. Your view of it does fit if you just think of the future people as more hardened, such as their rules allowing for in-field no trial executions of war criminals. This particular practice backfires on them in that it tends to motivate the axis into more savagery.

Yeah Man
Oct 9, 2011

And if you had, you know, a huge killer robot at your command, yeah, that would just clutter things up; and a lesser person might want that kind of overwhelming force on their side, but you know - where's the challenge in that?


nucleicmaxid posted:

This is a really good description of these books, and I've been powering through them. Like you said, the baldfaced American liberal optimism is just great, and while I see the ~*Romance Plots*~ coming a mile away, I can't help but grin every time one of them comes to fruition.

The only thing I don't like is Simpson, but I think I'm supposed to dislike him (I'm halfway through book two, I just started reading the series seriously on Sunday) but he's just kinda.. I dunno, a little cartoonishly dumb sometimes. I see his reasoning and stuff, but it just doesn't jive to me that a smart businessman would be all GUNG HO PROPER ORDER BIG NAVY GOTTA FIGHT AND BE A DICK ABOUT EVERYTHING OMG to the detriment of his relations with pretty much anyone and everyone else.
He gets a looot better in the later books.

Captain Monkey
Aug 23, 2007



Yeah Man posted:

He gets a looot better in the later books.

After finishing book 2 and getting about halfway through book 3... Yeah I like him now.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

I've finished Harry Turtledove's Last Orders, I've found to my pleasant surprise that I could sit down in the bookstore and reach it in good chunks at a time during a 1-2 hour sitting so I haven't needed to buy it!

Last Orders, is the final book in the War That Came Early series where what if the war began in 1938. Unsurprisingly: Hitler Loses but what made it interesting was the various twists and turns that got us there where the premise is what if the world fought a war that it really didn't want to fight?

The key highlights and points of divergence is a different fat General leading the Spanish nationalist forces (Sanjuro (sp?)) and a Czech nationalist assassinating a Sudenten German Nazi who was instigating the events leading up to the Munich Agreement.

The following happens:
-The Japanese use full on Biological and Chemical warfare on the Americans, Chinese and Russians.
-The Manhattan Project is cancelled.
-When Hess travels to England Churchill (Minister of War iirc) is assassinated by German agents allowing Chamberlain and his successor when he kicks the bucket to sign peace terms with Nazi Germany along with France, agreeing instead to send expeditionary forces to fight the Russians.
-England has a military coup that reverses this, the French follow suit and their military forces escape to behind Soviet lines and make their way back to the West to fight the Germans Again but this time from a better position.
-The Germans focus on just building Tigers and long barreled Panzer IV's.
-The Germans never get further than a failed pincer movement on Smolensk and are gradually pushed back.
-Czech's are the most Badass badasses who have ever badassed on this Earth and single handedly win the Spanish Civil War (I exaggerate only slightly).
-Hitler is successfully assassinated in 1944 in something resembling the July Incident, resulting in a civil war between the SS and the Wehrmacht with the latter winning and repealing the laws that removed citizenship from Germany's Jewry.

For me the books were engaging, seemed to generally be better writtenedited than his previous works, and as a Paradox strategy game the scenario was one I could and did easily mod into Hearts of Iron 2.

An interesting conclusion I have is that I think the USSR while not having Eastern Europe at the end of hostilities is nevertheless in a superior position than in real life. The International wasn't discredited by the M-R Pact and will likely end up with both Korea's and a chunk of Japan.

To its credit, this book was the first time I actually felt an emotional connection with its characters, particularly Vaclav Jezek who no longer has a homeland and Adi Stoss aka Saul Goldman when he finally reunites with his family in civil war torn Munster; an accomplished Panzer commander .

Nevertheless, the books still have a lot of the same issues his books have so unless the alternate history scenario appeals to you they are probably still skippable; the best thing I can say about them is that these are probably the first books he has wrote with something resembling an actual narrative.

Particularly: The differing careers of Ivan Kuchkov and Anastas Mouradian. The former lived life to the fullest, giving no fucks and taking them when he could. At first having the same fears of the Soviet regime as Anastas and keep mum until gradually, once he's fighting the ground war as a rifleman instead as a bomber person he gradually loses his inhibitions about speaking his mind among his comrades in arms to blow off steam. Anastas stays paranoid and never ever speaks his mind about anything to anyone, always fearing that someone is listening or that someone he trusts could one day say something they shouldn't and implicate him.

This ends predictably, Ivan is eventually rounded up by the NKVD to be sent to the gulag when his unit is on its way to the Far East to fight Japan in round 2 while Anastas gets to remain in the service as an accomplished bomber pilot; but always afraid of missing up and getting sent to Vorkuta. I felt that something was being said there, especially when Lt. Oborsky remarks that if everyone thought like Ivan the NKVD would be in a lot of trouble.

Raenir Salazar fucked around with this message at 03:01 on Aug 31, 2014

alex314
Nov 22, 2007


Raenir Salazar posted:

I've finished Harry Turtledove's Last Orders(...)
I've only read your post and wikipedia summary, but I don't get why Germany would care about striking France in that alternate reality. They got Czech lands, could probably wrestle some lands from Poland in exchange for helping with USSR, what motivation short of revenge for WWI they'd have?

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



alex314 posted:

I've only read your post and wikipedia summary, but I don't get why Germany would care about striking France in that alternate reality. They got Czech lands, could probably wrestle some lands from Poland in exchange for helping with USSR, what motivation short of revenge for WWI they'd have?

Do they really need a reason? Hell I feel a little bit like striking France myself right now, and I neither know nor care why. In fact, gently caress it, look out frogs I'm coming over.

Tevery Best
Oct 11, 2013

Hewlo Furriend


Elsass-Lothringen, I presume.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

alex314 posted:

I've only read your post and wikipedia summary, but I don't get why Germany would care about striking France in that alternate reality. They got Czech lands, could probably wrestle some lands from Poland in exchange for helping with USSR, what motivation short of revenge for WWI they'd have?

Because the Molotov-Rippsomethingtrop Pact didn't happen. With the USSR invading Poland (officially to help the Czech's and fight the Germans but its Stalin and he just wants Wilno/Hrodno) Hitler has sometime to deal with what he feels are the more immediate "dangerous" enemies i.e the decadent western democracies(tm).

It makes strategic sense, the Russians aren't progressing very well because of the Purges but on the other hand England and France are right on his doorstep and the Siegfreid Line is in actuality a joke. Plus Hitler is of an aggressive take-the-fight-to-the-enemy mindset and generally feels if he can beat them fast enough they might give in and help him fight the Russians instead.

I'd say the logic is similar to the Schiffelin plan of WWI but moreso dictated by the actual events on the ground than the last war's mobilization tables; the Russians are moving slowly and he feels the Allies don't have the stomach for a fight (and he's right for the most part).

Remember also that the Germans had in actuality were allied or at least cooperative with Poland who were sorta proto-fascist authoritarians and anti-communist themselves in 1938 but Hitler's desire for return his "cores" superseded that shared interest. Poland actually fighting the Soviets in 1938 would change that and the Poles would themselves be desperate enough for help they would give some land anyways (and in the book they likely did, I think its implied).

Hunterhr
Jan 4, 2007

And The Beast, Satan said unto the LORD, "You Fucking Suck" and juked him out of his goddamn shoes

Grifter posted:

Does anyone know if the thing about Stalin basically torturing his senior leaders with horrible dinner parties actually happened, or is that more mustache twirling?


This was actually a Historical Thing(tm). Stalin apparently really enjoyed getting his senior officials drunk as gently caress and keeping them up until the wee hours of the morning.

dublish
Oct 31, 2011



Raenir Salazar posted:

Unsurprisingly: Hitler Loses

World War 2 alt-hist would be much more interesting if this wasn't always the case.

Ferrosol
Nov 8, 2010

Notorious J.A.M


dublish posted:

World War 2 alt-hist would be much more interesting if this wasn't always the case.

It's pretty hard to get Hitler to win plausibly, The German economy was about the 4th strongest in the world rankings and was going up against enemies who were 1st 2nd and 3rd. You can't even argue that if Germany had had better luck they could've won because Germany was ridiculously lucky as things stand who could predict that first the French would ignore the weakly defended German border while Hitler was busy with Poland. And later that the French would commit their entire reserves forward into Belgium leaving the Ardennes relatively uncovered. German War industry was (speer myth aside) running at full tilt from the start of the war and while they could've made efficiency savings that would require you to utterly change Hitler's entire style of leadership. Also short of massive incompetence on the allied side and perfect "play" on the german side Hitler is not going to win anything like a remotely historical world war.

Nckdictator
Sep 8, 2006
Just..someone

Maureen F. McHugh's Hugo Award winning The Lincoln Train is fairly nice -and free online from the publisher. It's implausible and purely ASB however.

http://smallbeerpress.com/wp-conten...hers2.htm#train


quote:

Soldiers of the G.A.R. stand alongside the tracks. They are General Dodge’s soldiers, keeping the tracks maintained for the Lincoln Train. If I stand right, the edges of my bonnet are like blinders and I can’t see the soldiers at all. It is a spring evening. At the house, the lilacs are blooming. My mother wears a sprig pinned to her dress under her cameo. I can smell it, even in the crush of these people all waiting for the train. I can smell the lilac, and the smell of too many people crowded together, and a faint taste of cinders on the air. I want to go home, but that house is not ours anymore. I smooth my black dress. On the train platform we are all in mourning.

The train will take us to St. Louis, from whence we will leave for the Oklahoma territories. They say we will walk, but I don’t know how my mother will do that. She has been poorly since the winter of ’62. I check my bag with our water and provisions.

“Julia Adelaide,” my mother says, “I think we should go home.”

“We’ve come to catch the train,” I say, very sharp.

I’m Clara, my sister Julia is eleven years older than me. Julia is married and living in Tennessee. My mother blinks and touches her sprig of lilac uncertainly. If I am not sharp with her, she will keep on it.

I wait. When I was younger I used to try to school my unruly self in Christian charity. God sends us nothing we cannot bear. Now I only try to keep it from my face, try to keep my outer self disciplined. There is a feeling inside me, an anger, that I can’t even speak. Something is being bent, like a bow, bending and bending and bending—

“When are we going home?” my mother says.

“Soon,” I say because it is easy.

But she won’t remember and in a moment she’ll ask again. And again and again, through this long, long train ride to St. Louis. I am trying to be a Christian daughter, and I remind myself that it is not her fault that the war turned her into an old woman, or that her mind is full of holes and everything new drains out. But it’s not my fault either. I don’t even try to curb my feelings and I know that they rise up to my face. The only way to be true is to be true from the inside and I am not. I am full of unchristian feelings. My mother’s infirmity is her trial, and it is also mine.

I wish I were someone else.

The train comes down the track, chuffing, coming slow. It is an old, badly used thing, but I can see that once it was a model of chaste and beautiful workmanship. Under the dust it is a dark claret in color. It is said that the engine was built to be used by President Lincoln, but since the assassination attempt he is too infirm to travel. People begin to push to the edge of the platform, hauling their bags and worldly goods. I don’t know how I will get our valise on. If Zeke could have come I could have at least insured that it was loaded on, but the Negroes are free now and they are not to help. The notice said no family Negroes could come to the station, although I see their faces here and there through the crowd.

The train stops outside the station to take on water.

“Is it your father?” my mother says diffidently. “Do you see him on the train?”

“No, Mother,” I say. “We are taking the train.”

“Are we going to see your father?” she asks.

It doesn’t matter what I say to her, she’ll forget it in a few minutes, but I cannot say yes to her. I cannot say that we will see my father even to give her a few moments of joy.

“Are we going to see your father?” she asks again.

“No,” I say.

“Where are we going?”

I have carefully explained it all to her and she cried every time I did. People are pushing down the platform toward the train, and I am trying to decide if I should move my valise toward the front of the platform. Why are they in such a hurry to get on the train? It is taking us all away.

“Where are we going? Julia Adelaide, you will answer me this moment,” my mother says, her voice too full of quaver to quite sound like her own.

“I’m Clara,” I say. “We’re going to St. Louis.”

“St. Louis,” she says. “We don’t need to go to St. Louis. We can’t get through the lines, Julia, and I . . . I am quite indisposed. Let’s go back home now, this is foolish.”

We cannot go back home. General Dodge has made it clear that if we did not show up at the train platform this morning and get our names checked off the list, he would arrest every man in town, and then he would shoot every tenth man. The town knows to believe him, General Dodge was put in charge of the trains into Washington, and he did the same thing then. He arrested men and held them and every time the train was fired upon he hanged a man.

There is a shout and I can only see the crowd moving like a wave, pouring off the edge of the platform. Everyone is afraid there will not be room. I grab the valise and I grab my mother’s arm and pull them both. The valise is so heavy that my fingers hurt, and the weight of our water and food is heavy on my arm. My mother is small and when I put her in bed at night she is all tiny like a child, but now she refuses to move, pulling against me and opening her mouth wide, her mouth pink inside and wet and open in a wail I can just barely hear over the shouting crowd. I don’t know if I should let go of the valise to pull her, and for a moment I think of letting go of her, letting someone else get her on the train and finding her later.

A man in the crowd shoves her hard from behind. His face is twisted in wrath. What is he so angry at? My mother falls into me, and the crowd pushes us. I am trying to hold on to the valise, but my gloves are slippery, and I can only hold with my right hand, with my left I am trying to hold up my mother. The crowd is pushing all around us, trying to push us toward the edge of the platform.

The train toots as if it were moving. There is shouting all around us. My mother is fallen against me, her face pressed against my bosom, turned up toward me. She is so frightened. Her face is pressed against me in improper intimacy, as if she were my child. My mother as my child. I am filled with revulsion and horror. The pressure against us begins to lessen. I still have a hold of the valise. We’ll be all right. Let the others push around, I’ll wait and get the valise on somehow. They won’t have us travel without anything.

My mother’s eyes close. Her wrinkled face looks up, the skin under her eyes making little pouches, as if it were a second, blind eyelid. Everything is so grotesque. I am having a spell. I wish I could be somewhere where I could get away and close the windows. I have had these spells since they told us that my father was dead, where everything is full of horror and strangeness.

The person behind me is crowding into my back and I want to tell them to give way, but I cannot. People around us are crying out. I cannot see anything but the people pushed against me. People are still pushing, but now they are not pushing toward the side of the platform but toward the front, where the train will be when we are allowed to board.

Wait, I call out, but there’s no way for me to tell if I’ve really called out or not. I can’t hear anything until the train whistles. The train has moved? They brought the train into the station? I can’t tell, not without letting go of my mother and the valise. My mother is being pulled down into this mass. I feel her sliding against me. Her eyes are closed. She is a huge doll, limp in my arms. She is not even trying to hold herself up. She has given up to this moment.

I can’t hold on to my mother and the valise. So I let go of the valise.

Oh merciful God.

I do not know how I will get through this moment.

The crowd around me is a thing that presses me and pushes me up, pulls me down. I cannot breathe for the pressure. I see specks in front of my eyes, white sparks, too bright, like metal and like light. My feet aren’t under me. I am buoyed by the crowd and my feet are behind me. I am unable to stand, unable to fall. I think my mother is against me, but I can’t tell, and in this mass I don’t know how she can breathe.

I think I am going to die.

All the noise around me does not seem like noise anymore. It is something else, some element, like water or something surrounding me and overpowering me.

It is like that for a long time, until finally I have my feet under me, and I’m leaning against people. I feel myself sink, but I can’t stop myself. The platform is solid. My whole body feels bruised and roughly used.

My mother is not with me. My mother is a bundle of black on the ground, and I crawl to her. I wish I could say that as I crawl to her I feel concern for her condition, but at this moment I am no more than base animal nature and I crawl to her because she is mine and there is nothing else in the world I can identify as mine. Her skirt is rucked up so that her ankles and calves are showing. Her face is black. At first I think it something about her clothes, but it is her face, so full of blood that it is black.

People are still getting on the train, but there are people on the platform around us, left behind. And other things. A surprising number of shoes, all badly used. Wraps, too. Bags. Bundles and people.

I try raising her arms above her head, to force breath into her lungs. Her arms are thin, but they don’t go the way I want them to. I read in the newspaper that when President Lincoln was shot, he stopped breathing, and his personal physician started him breathing again. But maybe the newspaper was wrong, or maybe it is more complicated than I understand, or maybe it doesn’t always work. She doesn’t breathe.

I sit on the platform and try to think of what to do next. My head is empty of useful thoughts. Empty of prayers.

“Ma’am?”

It’s a soldier of the G.A.R.

“Yes sir?” I say. It is difficult to look up at him, to look up into the sun.

He hunkers down but does not touch her. At least he doesn’t touch her. “Do you have anyone staying behind?”

Like cousins or something? Someone who is not “recalcitrant” in their handling of their Negroes? “Not in town,” I say.

“Did she worship?” he asks, in his northern way.

“Yes sir,” I say, “she did. She was a Methodist, and you should contact the preacher. The Reverend Robert Ewald, sir.”

“I’ll see to it, ma’am. Now you’ll have to get on the train.”

“And leave her?” I say.

“Yes ma’am, the train will be leaving. I’m sorry ma’am.”

“But I can’t,” I say.

He takes my elbow and helps me stand. And I let him.

“We are not really recalcitrant,” I say. “Where were Zeke and Rachel supposed to go? Were we supposed to throw them out?”

He helps me climb onto the train. People stare at me as I get on, and I realize I must be all in disarray. I stand under all their gazes, trying to get my bonnet on straight and smoothing my dress. I do not know what to do with my eyes or hands.

There are no seats. Will I have to stand until St. Louis? I grab a seat back to hold myself up. It is suddenly warm and everything is distant and I think I am about to faint. My stomach turns. I breathe through my mouth, not even sure that I am holding on to the seat back.

But I don’t fall, thank Jesus.

“It’s not Lincoln,” someone is saying, a man’s voice, rich and baritone, and I fasten on the words as a lifeline, drawing myself back to the train car, to the world. “It’s Seward. Lincoln no longer has the capacity to govern.”

The train smells of bodies and warm sweaty wool. It is a smell that threatens to undo me, so I must concentrate on breathing through my mouth. I breathe in little pants, like a dog. The heat lies against my skin. It is airless.

“Of course Lincoln can no longer govern, but that damned actor made him a saint when he shot him,” says a second voice, “And now no one dare oppose him. It doesn’t matter if his policies make sense or not.”

“You’re wrong,” says the first. “Seward is governing through him. Lincoln is an imbecile. He can’t govern, look at the way he handled the war.”

The second snorts. “He won.”

“No,” says the first, “we lost, there is a difference, sir. We lost even though the north never could find a competent general.” I know the type of the first one. He’s the one who thinks he is brilliant, who always knew what President Davis should have done. If they are looking for a recalcitrant southerner, they have found one.

“Grant was competent. Just not brilliant. Any military man who is not Alexander the Great is going to look inadequate in comparison with General Lee.”

“Grant was a drinker,” the first one says. “It was his subordinates. They’d been through years of war. They knew what to do.”

It is so hot on the train. I wonder how long until the train leaves.

I wonder if the Reverend will write my sister in Tennessee and tell her about our mother. I wish the train were going east toward Tennessee instead of north and west toward St. Louis.

My valise. All I have. It is on the platform. I turn and go to the door. It is closed and I try the handle, but it is too stiff for me. I look around for help.

“It’s locked,” says a woman in gray. She doesn’t look unkind.

“My things, I left them on the platform,” I say.

“Oh, honey,” she says, “they aren’t going to let you back out there. They don’t let anyone off the train.”

I look out the window, but I can’t see the valise. I can see some of the soldiers, so I beat on the window. One of them glances up at me, frowning, but then he ignores me.

The train blows that it is going to leave, and I beat harder on the glass. If I could shatter that glass. They don’t understand, they would help me if they understood. The train lurches and I stagger. It is out there, somewhere, on that platform. Clothes for my mother and me, blankets, things we will need. Things I will need.

The train pulls out of the station and I feel so terrible I sit down on the floor in all the dirt from people’s feet, and sob.

The train creeps slowly at first, but then picks up speed. The clack-clack clack-clack rocks me. It is improper, but I allow it to rock me. I am in others’ hands now and there is nothing to do but be patient. I am good at that. So it has been all my life. I have tried to be dutiful, but something in me has not bent right, and I have never been able to maintain a Christian frame of mind, but like a chicken in a yard, I have always kept my eyes on the small things. I have tended to what was in front of me, first the house, then my mother. When we could not get sugar, I learned to cook with molasses and honey. Now I sit and let my mind go empty and let the train rock me.

“Child,” someone says. “Child.”

The woman in gray has been trying to get my attention for awhile, but I have been sitting and letting myself be rocked.

“Child,” she says again, “would you like some water?”

Yes, I realize, I would. She has a jar and she gives it to me to sip out of. “Thank you,” I say. “We brought water, but we lost it in the crush on the platform.”

“You have someone with you?” she asks.

“My mother,” I say, and start crying again. “She is old, and there was such a press on the platform, and she fell and was trampled.”

“What’s your name,” the woman says.

“Clara Corbett,” I say.

“I’m Elizabeth Loudon,” the woman says. “And you are welcome to travel with me.” There is something about her, a simple pleasantness, that makes me trust her. She is a small woman, with a small nose and eyes as gray as her dress. She is younger than I first thought, maybe only in her thirties? “How old are you? Do you have family?” she asks.

“I am seventeen. I have a sister, Julia. But she doesn’t live in Mississippi anymore.”

“Where does she live?” the woman asks.

“In Beech Bluff, near Jackson, Tennessee.”

She shakes her head. “I don’t know it. Is it good country?”

“I think so,” I say. “In her letters it sounds like good country. But I haven’t seen her for seven years.” Of course no one could travel during the war. She has three children in Tennessee. My sister is twenty-eight, almost as old as this woman. It is hard to imagine.

“Were you close?” she asks.

I don’t know that we were close. But she is my sister. She is all I have, now. I hope that the Reverend will write her about my mother, but I don’t know that he knows where she is. I will have to write her. She will think I should have taken better care.

“Are you traveling alone?”

“My companion is a few seats farther in front. He and I could not find seats together.”

Her companion is a man? Not her husband, maybe her brother? But she would say her brother if that’s who she meant. A woman traveling with a man. An adventuress, I think. There are stories of women traveling, hoping to find unattached girls like myself. They befriend the young girls and then deliver them to the brothels of New Orleans.

For a moment Elizabeth takes on a sinister cast. But this is a train full of recalcitrant southerners, there is no opportunity to kidnap anyone. Elizabeth is like me, a woman who has lost her home.

It takes the rest of the day and a night to get to St. Louis, and Elizabeth and I talk. It’s as if we talk in ciphers; instead of talking about home, we talk about gardening, and I can see the garden at home, lazy with bees. She is a quilter. I don’t quilt, but I used to do petit pointe, so we can talk sewing and about how hard it has been to get colors. And we talk about mending and making do, we have all been making do for so long.

When it gets dark, since I have no seat, I stay where I am sitting by the door of the train. I am so tired, but in the darkness all I can think of is my mother’s face in the crowd and her hopeless open mouth. I don’t want to think of my mother, but I am in a delirium of fatigue, surrounded by the dark and the rumble of the train and the distant murmur of voices. I sleep sitting by the door of the train, fitful and rocked. I have dreams like fever dreams. In my dream I am in a strange house, but it is supposed to be my own house, but nothing is where it should be, and I begin to believe that I have actually entered a stranger’s house, and that they’ll return and find me here. When I wake up and go back to sleep, I am back in this strange house, looking through things.

I wake before dawn, only a little rested. My shoulders and hips and back all ache from the way I am leaning, but I have no energy to get up. I have no energy to do anything but endure. Elizabeth nods, sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, but neither of us speak.

Finally the train slows. We come in through a town, but the town seems to go on and on. It must be St. Louis. We stop and sit. The sun comes up and heats the car like an oven. There is no movement of the air. There are so many buildings in St. Louis, and so many of them are tall, two stories, that I wonder if they cut off the wind and that is why it’s so still. But finally the train lurches and we crawl into the station.

I am one of the first off the train by virtue of my position near the door. A soldier unlocks it and shouts for all of us to disembark, but he need not have bothered for there is a rush. I am borne ahead at its beginning, but I can stop at the back of the platform. I am afraid that I have lost Elizabeth, but I see her in the crowd. She is on the arm of a younger man in a bowler. There is something about his air that marks him as different—he is sprightly and apparently fresh even after the long ride.

I almost let them pass, but the prospect of being alone makes me reach out and touch her shoulder.

“There you are,” she says.

We join a queue of people waiting to use a trench. The smell is appalling, ammonia acrid and eye-watering. There is a wall to separate the men from the women, but the women are all together. I crouch, trying not to notice anyone and trying to keep my skirts out of the filth. It is so awful. It’s worse than anything. I feel so awful.

What if my mother were here? What would I do? I think maybe it was better, maybe it was God’s hand. But that is an awful thought, too.

“Child,” Elizabeth says when I come out, “what’s the matter?”

“It’s so awful,” I say. I shouldn’t cry, but I just want to be home and clean. I want to go to bed and sleep.

She offers me a biscuit.

“You should save your food,” I say.

“Don’t worry,” Elizabeth says, “We have enough.”

I shouldn’t accept it, but I am so hungry. And when I have a little to eat, I feel a little better.

I try to imagine what the fort will be like where we will be going. Will we have a place to sleep, or will it be barracks? Or worse yet, tents? Although after the night I spent on the train I can’t imagine anything that could be worse. I imagine if I have to stay awhile in a tent then I’ll make the best of it.

“I think this being in limbo is perhaps worse than anything we can expect at the end,” I say to Elizabeth. She smiles.

She introduces her companion, Michael. He is enough like her to be her brother, but I don’t think that they are. I am resolved not to ask; if they want to tell me they can.

We are standing together, not saying anything, when there is some commotion farther up the platform. It is a woman. Her black dress is like smoke. She is running down the platform, coming toward us. There are all of these people and yet it is as if there is no obstacle for her. “NO NO NO NO, DON’T TOUCH ME! FILTHY HANDS! DON’T LET THEM TOUCH YOU! DON’T GET ON THE TRAINS!”

People are getting out of her way. Where are the soldiers? The fabric of her dress is so threadbare it is rotten and torn at the seams. Her skirt is greasy black and matted and stained. Her face is so thin. “ANIMALS! THERE IS NOTHING OUT THERE! PEOPLE DON’T HAVE FOOD! THERE IS NOTHING THERE BUT INDIANS! THEY SENT US OUT TO SETTLE BUT THERE WAS NOTHING THERE!” I expect she will run past me, but she grabs my arm and stops and looks into my face. She has light eyes, pale eyes in her dark face. She is mad.

“WE WERE ALL STARVING, SO WE WENT TO THE FORT BUT THE FORT HAD NOTHING. YOU WILL ALL STARVE, THE WAY THEY ARE STARVING THE INDIANS! THEY WILL LET US ALL DIE! THEY DON’T CARE!” She is screaming in my face, and her spittle sprays me, warm as her breath. Her hand is all tendons and twigs, but she’s so strong I can’t escape.

The soldiers grab her and yank her away from me. My arm aches where she was holding it. I can’t stand up.

Elizabeth pulls me upright. “Stay close to me,” she says and starts to walk the other way down the platform. People are looking up, following the screaming woman.

She pulls me along with her. I keep thinking of the woman’s hand and wrist turned black with grime. I remember my mother’s face was black when she lay on the platform. Black like something rotted.

“Here,” Elizabeth says at an old door, painted green but now weathered. The door opens and we pass inside.

“What?” I say. My eyes are accustomed to the morning brightness and I can’t see.

“Her name is Clara,” Elizabeth says. “She has people in Tennessee.”

“Come with me,” says another woman. She sounds older. “Step this way. Where are her things?”

I am being kidnapped. Oh merciful God, I’ll die. I let out a moan.

“Her things were lost, her mother was killed in a crush on the platform.”

The woman in the dark clucks sympathetically. “Poor dear. Does Michael have his passenger yet?”

“In a moment,” Elizabeth says. “We were lucky for the commotion.”

I am beginning to be able to see. It is a storage room, full of abandoned things. The woman holding my arm is older. There are some broken chairs and a stool. She sits me in the chair. Is Elizabeth some kind of adventuress?

“Who are you?” I ask.

“We are friends,” Elizabeth says. “We will help you get to your sister.”

I don’t believe them. I will end up in New Orleans. Elizabeth is some kind of adventuress.

After a moment the door opens and this time it is Michael with a young man. “This is Andrew,” he says.

A man? What do they want with a man? That is what stops me from saying, “Run!” Andrew is blinded by the change in light, and I can see the astonishment working on his face, the way it must be working on mine. “What is this?” he asks.

“You are with Friends,” Michael says, and maybe he has said it differently than Elizabeth, or maybe it is just that this time I have had the wit to hear it.

“Quakers?” Andrew says. “Abolitionists?”

Michael smiles. I can see his teeth white in the darkness. “Just Friends,” he says.

Abolitionists. Crazy people who steal slaves to set them free. Have they come to kidnap us? We are recalcitrant southerners, I have never heard of Quakers seeking revenge, but everyone knows the Abolitionists are crazy and they are liable to do anything.

“We’ll have to wait here until they begin to move people out, it will be evening before we can leave,” says the older woman.

I am so frightened; I just want to be home. Maybe I should try to break free and run out to the platform. There are northern soldiers out there. Would they protect me? And then what, go to a fort in Oklahoma?

The older woman asks Michael how they could get past the guards so early and he tells her about the madwoman. A “refugee,” he calls her.

“They’ll just take her back,” Elizabeth says, sighing.

Take her back—do they mean that she really came from Oklahoma? They talk about how bad it will be this winter. Michael says there are Wisconsin Indians resettled down there, but they’ve got no food, and they’ve been starving on government handouts for a couple years. Now there will be more people. They’re not prepared for winter.

There can’t have been much handout during the war. It was hard enough to feed the armies.

They explain to Andrew and to me that we will sneak out of the train station this evening, after dark. We will spend a day with a Quaker family in St. Louis, and then they will send us on to the next family. And so we will be passed hand to hand, like a bucket in a brigade, until we get to our families.

They call it the underground railroad.

But we are slave owners.

“Wrong is wrong,” says Elizabeth. “Some of us can’t stand and watch people starve.”

“But only two out of the whole train,” Andrew says.

Michael sighs.

The old woman nods. “It isn’t right.”

Elizabeth picked me because my mother died. If my mother had not died, I would be out there, on my way to starve with the rest of them.

I can’t help it, but I start to cry. I should not profit from my mother’s death. I should have kept her safe.

“Hush, now,” says Elizabeth. “Hush, you’ll be okay.”

“It’s not right,” I whisper. I’m trying not to be loud, we mustn’t be discovered.

“What, child?”

“You shouldn’t have picked me,” I say. But I am crying so hard I don’t think they can understand me. Elizabeth strokes my hair and wipes my face. It may be the last time someone will do these things for me. My sister has three children of her own, and she won’t need another child. I’ll have to work hard to make up my keep.

There are blankets there and we lie down on the hard floor, all except Michael, who sits in a chair and sleeps. I sleep this time with fewer dreams. But when I wake up, although I can’t remember what they were, I have the feeling that I have been dreaming restless dreams.

The stars are bright when we finally creep out of the station. A night full of stars. The stars will be the same in Tennessee. The platform is empty, the train and the people are gone. The Lincoln Train has gone back south while we slept, to take more people out of Mississippi.

“Will you come back and save more people?” I ask Elizabeth.

The stars are a banner behind her quiet head. “We will save what we can,” she says.

It isn’t fair that I was picked. “I want to help,” I tell her.

She is silent for a moment. “We only work with our own,” she says. There is something in her voice that has not been there before. A sharpness.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“There are no slavers in our ranks,” she says and her voice is cold.

I feel as if I have had a fever; tired, but clear of mind. I have never walked so far and not walked beyond a town. The streets of St. Louis are empty. There are few lights. Far off a woman is singing, and her voice is clear and carries easily in the night. A beautiful voice.

“Elizabeth,” Michael says, “she is just a girl.”

“She needs to know,” Elizabeth says.

“Why did you save me then?” I ask.

“One does not fight evil with evil,” Elizabeth says.

“I’m not evil!” I say.

But no one answers.

Groke
Jul 27, 2007
New Adventures In Mom Strength

Ferrosol posted:

Also short of massive incompetence on the allied side and perfect "play" on the german side Hitler is not going to win anything like a remotely historical world war.

Massive Allied incompetence (at least to start with) and unreasonable luck on the German side (if not perfect play; they had their own massive helpings of incompetence) is arguably what got us the historical result anyway. Germany was doomed out of the starting gate and it's kind of incredible that they managed to last as long as they did.

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



Hunterhr posted:

This was actually a Historical Thing(tm). Stalin apparently really enjoyed getting his senior officials drunk as gently caress and keeping them up until the wee hours of the morning.

From what I read, Stalin did not drink much himself but he often encouraged his senior officials to get drunk so that they would be more likely to speak freely about their politics, rivalries, and feelings. He would then use whatever they had said against them.

Nckdictator
Sep 8, 2006
Just..someone

Earwicker posted:

From what I read, Stalin did not drink much himself but he often encouraged his senior officials to get drunk so that they would be more likely to speak freely about their politics, rivalries, and feelings. He would then use whatever they had said against them.

He also made poor Khrushchev do a silly dance.

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



Hard to blame him for that one, I'm sure it was hilarious.

inktvis
Dec 11, 2005

What is ridiculous about human beings, Doctor, is actually their total incapacity to be ridiculous.

By all accounts, Khrushchev wouldn't have taken much convincing:

quote:

What, he asked his Foreign Office escort, was that odd ‘oo, oo!’ noise coming from the back of the crowd? The diplomat explained that people were booing, an expression of disapproval. Khrushchev grew thoughtful. In the back of the car, he said experimentally to himself: ‘Boo!’ And then again: ‘Boo!’ He liked it. For the rest of the day, he went around exclaiming ‘Boo!’ to all kinds of puzzled people. He had learned something.

Sir DonkeyPunch
Mar 23, 2007

I didn't hear no bell


inktvis posted:

By all accounts, Khrushchev wouldn't have taken much convincing:

No no, they were saying "KhrOOOshchev"

janklow
Sep 28, 2001

whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.


Earwicker posted:

Hard to blame him for that one, I'm sure it was hilarious.
seems likely; i believe Khrushchev did describe himself dancing as similar to "a cow on ice."

Marshal Radisic
Oct 9, 2012




Well, on the subject of ol' Josef Vissarionovich, Harry Turtledove has expanded his old short story "Joe Steele" into a full-length novel that's coming out next year. The premise for this one is that the Djugashvilis emigrated to America in the 1880s, where Josef grew up, got into politics, and eventually became president in 1932.

Now, I don't like Turtledove. I think he long ago decided that he could just sling out slabs of grey prose and his fans would buy it, which they would since they don't want stories so much as extended scenarios full of data points to critique. I also feel he's been playing to his conservative reader base more in recent years, and this sounds a lot like it could be boiled down to say "FDR and the federal government are the Antichrist."

However, that's just the proximate problem. The real issue I have is that I don't find the concept all that interesting. I read a fair bit about Stalin in my younger days, and the one thing that keeps coming back to me his how much a product of his environment he is. He's bound up in questions of Caucasian culture, Russian culture, and the nature of the Bolshevik Party and of Soviet communism itself. Is he an aberration, or exactly the sort of man his environment would produce? Hell, let's go farther and ask if he was actually trying to become the man he thought his society needed. It's a question that can't be answered, and I would say that the history of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1991 was about trying to answer the question "can we be Soviet without Stalin, and would we want to be?" (I'd suggest the ultimate answer was "no" to the first and "I don't know" to the second, but your mileage may vary.) If you remove Stalin from Russia and put him in America...who cares? All that context is gone. He's just another boogeyman to frighten good little Yankee children.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

Conservative a what now? There's nothing in the books I've read that sound like Harry Turtledove in particular playing to his conservative readers if he has any. If anything he's generally been positive and glowing regarding FDR.

Trin Tragula
Apr 22, 2005



Goddamnit, very wrong thread

Marshal Radisic
Oct 9, 2012




Raenir Salazar posted:

Conservative a what now? There's nothing in the books I've read that sound like Harry Turtledove in particular playing to his conservative readers if he has any. If anything he's generally been positive and glowing regarding FDR.

Well, I may be wrong on that point. All I'm going off of is some half-remembered discussion about The Man With The Iron Heart, the book with Heydrich not getting assassinated and leading the Werwolf movement to become a success in postwar Germany. There was a bit of a stink about what sort of Iraq allegory the story was, but as I said, I didn't really pay close attention, so I may have some details wrong.

Raenir Salazar
Nov 5, 2010

ASK ME ABOUT MY LOVE OF EUGENICS AND MARIO 3


College Slice

Marshal Radisic posted:

Well, I may be wrong on that point. All I'm going off of is some half-remembered discussion about The Man With The Iron Heart, the book with Heydrich not getting assassinated and leading the Werwolf movement to become a success in postwar Germany. There was a bit of a stink about what sort of Iraq allegory the story was, but as I said, I didn't really pay close attention, so I may have some details wrong.

Iron Heart *is* basically the Iraq War with the serial numbers filed off, if anything it was an indictment of the Republicans of hoping onto a growing anti war movement regardless of its consequences, the Democrats were trying to hold onto their Post War commitments. Iron Heart was fascinating though from the perspective as to what sort of post war order Europe would have. It would entirely any chance of NATO forming and likely have ended up with the Soviets "forced" to move in and pick up West Germany, getting a line on the Rhine with France.

Books that had a positive view of FDR:
-TL-191. FDR is the Secretary of War for the United States. Our POV Socialist Senator character remarks what a tragedy it was that he had polio, as he could've been an amazing President.
-World War. FDR's death (1944 due to the increased strain of the war) is treated like a subdued version of when Kim Jong Il dies, with pretty much every character in ear shot of the radio breaking out into tears and swearing.

Those were the big ones, I think other more obscure books like the Pearl Harbour books have the odd character that's like "I <3 FDR" but you get the picture.

Sulphagnist
Oct 10, 2006

WARNING! INTRUDERS DETECTED



Raenir Salazar posted:

-World War. FDR's death (1944 due to the increased strain of the war) is treated like a subdued version of when Kim Jong Il dies, with pretty much every character in ear shot of the radio breaking out into tears and swearing.


Not quite on topic of the thread since it's actual history, but I just finished Studs Terkel's The Good War (which is a strong recommend if you aren't up to the gills with WW2 already, it's an oral history of WW2 mostly from the American perspective), and a lot of people remembered very clearly and starkly the moment they heard of FDR's death, and were grief-stricken by it, though not quite to the point of tears. At least no one admitted as much. It was definitely a momentous occasion for the contemporary American.

Not saying you were saying it wasn't momentous, but if anything it's faithful to real history to depict people being devastated by the news. Having it happen in '44 would have been even worse since the war in Europe was essentially won by the time FDR died in OTL.

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


I was keen on Timeline-191 when I was in school, but by the time I'd read them through to the end I realised that a) they weren't really very well-written and b) they were increasingly coming across as though Turtledove had gone through a WWII history book and done a Ctrl+F and Replace to reset the Eastern front in North America.

That being said, it is at least better than Stars and Stripes Forever by Harry Harrison (among other things, the Union and the Confederates instantly make peace to team up against the British, then manage to evade the Royal Navy to mount a land invasion of the British Isles, abolish the monarchy and "introduce democracy" to the benighted British serfdom) and 1862 by Robert Conroy (the USS Monitor can defeat the entire Royal Navy by shooting the rudders off its ironclads, and Ulysses S. Grant can guarantee victory simply by being present on the battlefield).

I enjoy some of the timelines I've read on alternatehistory.com, though my favourite is actually one which parodies The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, except with fictional characters as British prime ministers (so you get Harry Perkins overthrown and replaced by Francis Urquhart, who himself resigns in favour of his protégé, Alan B'Stard).

Mycroft Holmes
Mar 26, 2010

To the Moon! For Queen and Country!



hey ah.com buddy

Wheat Loaf
Feb 13, 2012

by FactsAreUseless


Mycroft Holmes posted:

hey ah.com buddy



Actually, I noticed earlier today that one of the timelines from the site - The Fourth Lectern - has been published as an eBook. It (and its sequel) is pretty good if you're interested in contemporary British politics.

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Reveilled
Apr 19, 2007

Take up your rifles


Metal Loaf posted:

I was keen on Timeline-191 when I was in school, but by the time I'd read them through to the end I realised that a) they weren't really very well-written and b) they were increasingly coming across as though Turtledove had gone through a WWII history book and done a Ctrl+F and Replace to reset the Eastern front in North America.

I read it as a teenager too, and while I really enjoyed How Few Remain, the later books really began to drag terribly, and by the end I was very much of the view that I just wanted to get the drat thing over with, swearing to myself at the end that I'd never force myself through a book series I wasnt enjoying ever again.

By contrast, though it was the trashiest, most lightweight thing ever, I really enjoyed the Worldwar books at the same age, simply for the fact that I didn't sit through the whole loving series thinking "this is just event X transposed to place Y" like so many other Turtledove novels. By the same token, I remember finding A World of Difference to be enjoyable, though I think I may have liked the premise more than the execution--the premise being that Mars is a larger icy planet called Minerva, which has a pre-gunpowder alien life on it, discovered by the first landers. The book then follows the simultaneous arrivals of the Russian and American explorers, looking to make contact with the Minervans.

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