26 June 2010

The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories - Edited by Ian Watson and Ian Whates

  • Author: Ian Watson and Ian Whates (Editors)
  • Title: The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories: Short Stories of What Might Have Been
  • Publisher: Robinson UK 2010
  • ISBN: 978 1845297794
I'm not really sure why I got this book out. I don't much like alternate history fiction, mostly because it tends to deal with things that either bore me stupid (history I have studied, like Russia, Germany, Ancient Rome/Arab States in Ancient Times) or I don't know anything about (USA Civil War, Ancient China). I didn't even finish most of the stories, I didn't like most of the stories and I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone with my kind of taste in fiction, that being SPACE OPERA and NEW SPACE OPERA, with occasional Space Military or Planetary Romance type novels included.

That said, I am sure that plenty of people will love this book. It has work by Ken McLeod, Robert Silverberg and the ever present Harry Turtledove, who's World War series I have been meaning to read for years. (World War 2 plus aliens? What's not to like??) Also a reprint of Pat Cadigan's 'Dispatches from the Revolution,' which I liked the first time I read it. James Morrow writes a piece in which the passengers of the Titanic escape on a raft built in the hours before the ship sinks, only to drift south and on through the Panama Canal. Paul McAuley, Ian McLeod and Stephen Baxter all have work in this book, which on contemplation is probably the reason I got the damn thing out of the library. I must have been expecting Ancient Roman spacecraft or something.

This book has 25 stories of Alternate History, some reprints, some specially commissioned. There is probably something for everyone in here. I did rather enjoy the McLeod piece, apparently one of the commissions, which is about two factions of dimensional shifters who are at war over preservation or intervention in time streams where things didn't go so well. I wish it had been longer though, as it didn't get a chance to go anywhere.

There is a reprint of Frederick Pohl's 'Waiting for the Olympians' that I didn't read, but have come across before. That one was OK, from memory. Rudy Rucker's 2008 short 'The Imitation Game,' in which Alan Turing fakes his own death rather than committing suicide, is also included. Add all this up and you have a book that on face value is pretty impressive in it's lineup.

No rating - I don't know enough AH to judge, and I am highly prejudiced against anything without space ships.