Ruthanna Emrys' post-Lovecraftian novelette The Litany of Earth
serves as a starting point for Ada Palmer's polyhistoric thoughts about repurposed fiction, from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Marvels
Discontinuity and Empathy: a non-review of “The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys.
It's debatable whether the troubled World War Z
signals the end of the ongoing zombie craze, but the film that started it all is much more clear: Danny Boyle's
bleak, artful cult horror-drama 28 Days Later
, which saw its US premiere ten years ago this weekend.
From its iconic opening shots of an eerily abandoned London
(set to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's
brooding post-rock epic "East Hastings"
) to the frenzied chaos of its climax
, Boyle's film -- a dark yet humanist tale
of a world eviscerated by a frighteningly contagious epidemic of murderous rage -- reinvented and reinvigorated the genre that Romero built (though many insist its rabid, sprinting berserkers don't really count
And while sequel 28 Weeks Later
with its heavyhanded Iraq War allusions
failed to live up to the original (despite boasting one of the most viscerally terrifying opening sequences
in modern horror), and 28 Months
looks increasingly unlikely
, there remains a small universe of side content from the film, including music, short films, comics, and inspired-by games. [more inside]
Recently, a recording
of electronic music allegedly created by an East German Kosmische Musik enthusiast
recruited to help the DDR's Olympic training programme appeared
. This recording turned out to be a hoax created by two musicians from Edinburgh
, but, as such, it is the latest in a long line of ersatz krautrock to emerge in recent years. [more inside]
It's hard to believe these days, what with Gazprom sponsoring the Champions League, that thirty years ago, if not for the actions of one man, Stanislav Petrov
) the world might have ended in a nuclear holocaust. His story long kept secret, only revealed in 1998, Petrov has finally been rewarded for his courage this week, as he became the latest recipient of the Dresden Peace Prize
. Coincidently, this honour came only days after the meteorite strike in Russia
, which as Charlie Stross points out, in the Cold War context of three decades ago might have ended in tragedy
. Curious of how that might have panned out? Well, the Protect and Survive series at Alternate History.com shows what would've happened to Britain in a full scale nuclear war
: it's not pretty. [more inside]
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws
, The GUMSHOE system
) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite
(Tour De Lovecraft
, GURPS Horror
) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild
, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist
, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson
, Gencon and sundry RPGs
, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy
, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums
, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley
My name is Paul Drye and False Steps is my project blog for a history book of the same name which looks at the Space Race as it might have been. Beginning with what I think to be the very prehistoric beginning of manned space travel (the so-called Magdeburg rocket of 1932) I aim to trace the ways in which people tried to travel to space and came close to accomplishing, all the way through Nazi German rocketry, the post-WWII fallow period, the crazy times of Sputnik through Apollo, the second down time of the 1970s, and the gradual revival of human space programs from then into the present day.
Paul Drye of Passing Strangeness
has a new blog about the roads not taken in the space race.
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, great-grandson of African nobleman and military strategist Abram Petrovich Gannibal
, is well known for the tremendous influence his writings have had on both Russian and American literature. What is somewhat less known is that Pushkin, a notorious firebrand, fought in a total of twenty-nine duels in his youth.
Imagine how different the world would be if he had died as a result of one of them
Sady Doyle, writing for Global Comment, has released a glowing retrospective
of Joanne Rowling's beloved Hermione Granger series of books and movies.
This is all rooted in a vision I had, of William S. Burroughs as a CIA agent, and Philip K. Dick as his young henchman, going head-to-head with notorious gangster and pervert Adolf Hitler somewhere in Hamburg to find out where Hitler is shipping all the computers he can get his hands on.
- In another world Charles Stross wrote this sprawling work
of Alternate History
instead of the Merchant Princes
books. Fictional books are of course themselves a common them in Alternative History stories, from The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in The Man in the High Castle
to Adolf Hitlers pulp novel Lord of the Swastika
in The Iron Dream
. Stanisław Lem was particularly enamoured with the idea of the fictional book, and wrote two volumes of reviews and introductions for them, lovingly described here
by Bruce Sterling.
The comic series Ex Machina [PDF preview]
was started in 2004, created by Y: The Last Man
writer Brian K. Vaughn
and artist Tony Harris
. The main character, Mitchell Hundred
, is an ex-superhero who hangs up his jetpack and successfully runs for mayor of New York City in an alternate post-9/11 timeline. The last issue (#50
), released this week, concluded the series with a harsh yet wonderfully written view of Hundred's political fate. BKV talks about the final issue with IGN [Spoilers]
La Guerre Infernale
was a serialized novel for children, written by Pierre Giffard
and lavishly illustrated by Albert Robida
. It told the tale of the second world war, with battles between Britain and Germany, and between the United States and Japan. Sadly, it's been out of print for over 100 years, because it was written in 1908
. [more inside]
The Year 3000 looks back on the Beatles:
A future-documentary on the world-changing impact of the Fab Four. (via
Christopher Bird at Mighty God King has written some corkers in the past - from his ejection from Livejournal owing to his review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
to his frequent conversations with Flapjacks and Photoshopping of Final Fantasy Covers
He's really outdone himself this time, with Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels’ Generous Offer
. Read it, and, quite possibly, weep.
Bonus points to the first person who constructs a Primer-level explanation of what happened.
"An obsessively detailed alternate-history map,
imagining how Manhattan might have looked had the Nazis conquered it in World War II." A project by artist Melissa Gould
. The neighborhoods (Charlottenburg, Neukölln, etc.) are named for corresponding Berlin ones. Schrecklich
fun. Via strange maps
Jess Nevins, obsessive cataloguer of Victorian science fantasy
, early-twentieth-century pulp
, and forties-era superheroes
(all links Geocities) and annotator of certain reference-dense comics
, weighs in with an opinionated overview of Han Empire science fiction
. (Note: Enjrolasworld hosts several more comic series annotations, including the Sandman annotations previously discussed here.)
What If ... 9/11 Never Happened?
"The broader culture would have gone its own way
, 9/11 or no 9/11—progressing effortlessly from the obsessions of Gary Condit
in summer ’01 to Brangelina and American Idol
in ’06. The Oliver Stone project of August ’06, however, would not be World Trade Center
, but, with exquisite timing, Fidel
One possibility from many in a collection of "could've-beens" compiled by New York Magazine
. Other contributions of note: Tom Wolfe
, Fareed Zakaria
, an alternate-future blog by Andrew Sullivan
, and perhaps best of all, a simple sketch from Ex Machina
's Brian K. Vaughan
Iraq 2007: A geopolitical fantasy of what might have been
Today In Alternate History
, blogging the what if: "In 1984, John Lennon, an obscure musician who had once been in a band with international sensation Pete Best, writes a tell-all book about Best, detailing their crazy life in Hamburg, Germany, and their rough-and-tumble beginnings in Liverpool, England. The book, I Want To Tell You, is an international best-seller."
Giuseppe Garibaldi, who united Italy in the 1860s, was asked by Lincoln
to lead the army during the US Civil War. Garibaldi said he would if Lincoln officially declared that the aim of the war was to end slavery. Lincoln replied that he couldn't at that time, and so Garibaldi moved on to other things
. But what if Giuseppe had gotten involved? The Papacy would clearly have denounced the North
(indeed, the pope was the only world leader to recognize the Confederacy). The French hated him; the English loved him. Had he led the Federal troops, would France have jumped in on the side of the South? Would England have then jumped in on the Union side to counter? A whole different world history, perhaps, hanging on a yes/no question.
Truth, Justice, and the Soviet Way
What if baby Kal-El's spaceship had crashed on Earth 12 hours earlier, in the Ukraine instead of middle America? The new 3-issue comic book series Superman: Red Son
envisions the Man of Steel as a good-hearted citizen of the USSR, helping to spread communism across the world. Wonder Woman is his girlfriend; Batman is an anti-Soviet terrorist; Lex Luthor becomes U.S. president. This alternate-universe jaunt is not just for fun: writer Mark Millar says
it's a timely exploration of what happens when one all-powerful country anoints itself leader of the world.
What if...? Uchronia: The Alternate History List is an annotated bibliography of novels, stories, essays and other material involving the "what ifs" of history. Such texts may also be called as alternate histories, alternative histories, allohistories, uchronia, counterfeit worlds, counterfactuals, negative histories, etc.
Alternative history is big on the web
. See this alternative Russian Revolution
example. For an exaustive AH list check out Uchronia's links pages
. Are there any other favourite alternative history sites / books you have enjoyed?