Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Standing On the Edge of the Abyss

Guest post by Thomas Diana.

What if Japan changes its strategy and tries to stop the war before it’s too late?

What if the 20 July plot succeeds?

What would the world look like during the Cold War or in the 2000s?

In June 1942, Japan suffers a major defeat during the battle of Midway losing four aircraft carriers. Most Japanese leaders will not admit it, but they lost the war that day. Few of them understand it and they will work to overthrown the Tojo military government, protect the Emperor and change the course of war in the Pacific.

From the Solomon Islands to the Mariana Trench, from Burma to China, the war will follow a different path, because Japan wants to win the peace. The only way is to push the US Navy to strike before she’s too strong to be beaten.

In Europe, the 20 July plot and Operation Valkyrie succeed in killing Hitler and his staff in the Wolfsschanze. The plotters will also convince most of the SS that the coup has been staged by Himmler, Goebbels and Goering. Once again, some politicians and military leaders will try to achieve peace in honor in the West so they can focus their forces in the East.

Unfortunately, after what happened in Asia only few month ago, Stalin wants a total victory against Germany and to avoid any conflict with the Man of Steel, the allied leaders will not change their mind either: unconditional surrender. This is the only way to not unleash the anger of Koba.

But even in this new Germany, some leaders can’t accept the humiliation of unconditional surrender.
The war will be long. The war will be bloody.

This is the story of the French alternate history book Au Bord de l’Abime, the first book in a trilogy.
It’s not a novel but a compilation of fake articles, book extracts and web pages (even a thread from a discussion forum) which details this alternate World War II and gives various points of view over 734 pages. Chapters alternate from political and technical stuff, to epic and bloody battles, or simple biography and OOB. You can expect new destinies for people like Isoroku Yamamoto, Kanji Ishiwara, Tomoyuki Yamashita, Claus Von Stauffenberg, Erwin Rommel and others. Even FDR will enjoy a different destiny.

The book also contains a hundred illustrations, maps, flags and insignias. The illustrations (portraits, battle scenes, vehicles) are made to looks like the real picture from this time.

On the technological side there is already two alternate vehicle design. The Japanese Navy has two anti-aircraft battleships and the German Luftwaffe has an additional variant of the Me-262 jet-fighter. But to know more about it you’ll have to read the book.

Au Bord de l’Abime is also an opportunity to show some details and historical figures from a different angle. The first volume ends with some hints on what will happen during the second and third volumes. You can also expect some Easter-eggs from other alternate history and science fiction books, plus some cryptozoology and nerd stuff.

The book is available on Kindle and there is also a collector's edition with some color illustrations and bonuses.

The bad news is the book is only available in French.

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Thomas Diana is a French self-taught writer and illustrator, who previously worked in the video game industry. Passionate about history and geopolitics, he found a cool way to understand and manipulate them thanks to alternate history. He also wrote a short alternate history called Platine, which is available on Kindle. You can follow his current project on Facebook and discover his illustrations on DeviantArt and Artstation. He’s also the founder of a French Alternate History forum.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New Releases 9/27/16

You can support The Update by clicking the banner to your right or the links below if you are purchasing through Amazon!

Hardcovers

The Gradual by Christopher Priest

Alesandro Sussken is a composer living in Glaund, a fascist state constantly at war with another equally faceless opponent. His brother is sent off to fight; his family is destroyed by grief. Occasionally Alesandro catches glimpses of islands in the far distance from the shore, and they feed into the music he composes.

But all knowledge of the other islands is forbidden by the military junta, until he is unexpectedly sent on a cultural tour. And what he discovers on his journey will change his perceptions of his home, his music and the ways of the islands themselves. Bringing him answers where he could not have foreseen them.

A rich and involving tale playing with the lot of the creative mind, the rigours of living under war and the nature of time itself, this is multi award-winning, master storyteller Christopher Priest at his absolute best.

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick

From the acclaimed author of The Information and Chaos, here is a mind-bending exploration of time travel: its subversive origins, its evolution in literature and science, and its influence on our understanding of time itself.

The story begins at the turn of the previous century, with the young H. G. Wells writing and rewriting the fantastic tale that became his first book and an international sensation: The Time Machine. It was an era when a host of forces were converging to transmute the human understanding of time, some philosophical and some technological: the electric telegraph, the steam railroad, the discovery of buried civilizations, and the perfection of clocks. James Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea that becomes part of contemporary culture—from Marcel Proust to Doctor Who, from Jorge Luis Borges to Woody Allen. He investigates the inevitable looping paradoxes and examines the porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics. Finally, he delves into a temporal shift that is unsettling our own moment: the instantaneous wired world, with its all-consuming present and vanishing future.

E-Books

Avenging Steel 5: The Man From Camp X by Ian Hall

It is October 1941... German troops have held Britain for over a year.

James Baird, a 21 year old student has joined the SOE and has proven his worth in the resistance against the Germans in Edinburgh.

Unknown to James, his superiors have plans for him. It is time to expand his training; the SOE are sending him to Canada's Camp X.

For the first time in his life; James is going overseas. He thinks he's going for a medal ceremony or something...

What he doesn't know... he's about to enter the most rigorous six weeks of his life... and that's just the beginning of his adventure.

Avenging Steel 5 is the latest in the saga of James Baird, Secret Agent.

In long novella parts, we follow James's story as a nation begin to rebel against Nazi jackboots.

Thus continues, Avenging Steel, a new Alternative History series.

Get your teeth into a brand-new version of World War 2.

Guardian by Joe Haldeman

During the Alaskan gold rush, a woman pursues a destiny that will change the world in this alternate-history novel from a sci-fi legend.

In the tradition of Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land), multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Joe Haldeman set a new standard for military science fiction and hard sci-fi with The Forever War and his phenomenal Worlds series.  Now the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master dabbles brilliantly in alternate-history fiction with the world-altering adventures of a remarkable woman during the gold rush in late nineteenth-century Alaska.

Sent from her Georgia home to Philadelphia to escape the carnage of the Civil War, Rosa Coleman studied astronomy and mathematics, ultimately settling into a new life as the wife of a wealthy man and mother of young Daniel. But when she discovers an unforgiveable secret about her reprobate husband, Rosa takes the boy and flees to the West on a desperate escape that takes them from Dodge City to San Francisco one step ahead of the Pinkertons hired to bring them back home.

On the run in a strange and exhilarating new world, Rosa and Daniel find a haven where they might never be found: the wilds of Alaska among the dreamers drawn to its magnificent wilderness by the promise of gold. It is here that her spiritual guide first appears to Rosa in the form of a raven—an incarnation of the trickster god of Native American and Eskimo lore—suggesting that her destiny lies not in sparkling riches but in something far greater. This mystical harbinger has come from a distant, alien place, and will set her on an astonishing course . . .

A magnificent blending of historical and speculative fiction, Joe Haldeman’s Guardian is a breathtaking departure for the author whom Peter Straub calls “one of our most aware, comprehensive, and necessary writers” and David Brin praises as “one of the best prophetic writers of our times.”

Spartan Beast (The Hellennium Book 2) by PK Lentz

The war between Athens and Sparta is over.

But not for Demosthenes of Athens, who has but one purpose: kill every Spartan. In his possession is a weapon that might achieve it, the living, unstable weapon which fell from the stars, Thalassia. At present, she lies dead, but that is sure to change. Demosthenes will need her help, for Sparta has a weapon just as deadly in the form of Eris, the white witch who takes her name, not without reason, from the war-god's slaughter-loving sister.

The pre-order sale has ended. BUT... sign up now at IRONAGE.SPACE and start reading this book immediately with a 50% Preview Edition. Then I'll send you a reminder to come back & buy when the price is $2.99 again starting 9/24.

The Hellennium takes place in an ancient world depicted with brutal realism, weaving threads of cosmic SF into bloody and graphic historical fiction.  At the heart of the series is the ever-evolving, dysfunctional relationship between Demosthenes and Thalassia, whose 'anti-romance' is destined to leave a trail of slaughter and ruin down the centuries.

If you're a fan of David Drake's Northworld series, or Gene Wolfe's Soldier series, you'll want to join Demosthenes and Thalassia as they cut a bloody path of destruction through the ancient world. Frequent readers of David Weber, David Gemmell, Michael Moorcock, and even Bernard Cornwell have also found much to love.

To readers, authors and publishers...

Is your story going to be published in time for the next New Releases? Contact us at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  We are looking for works of alternate history, counterfactual history, steampunk, historical fantasy, time travel or anything that warps history beyond our understanding.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Map Monday: United States of Europe by Zek Sora

Zek Sora returns to Map Monday, this time with a map without zombies (shocking, I know). I present the "United States of Europe":
In this timeline, Napoleon decides to preserve the preserve the Continental System rather than conquer anymore of Europe. Although Zek does not go into too much detail in the description that went with the map, my guess is that Napoleon never invaded Russia in this alternate history. Eventually the Continental System evolves into a more centralized European Union-esque organization known as the "United States of Europe".

To be fair, this is perhaps one of the more plausibly optimistic timelines involving a victorious Napoleon. Direct French control of most of Europe probably wouldn't have lasted long, but uniting them under a confederation where France was essentially the leader among equals could have worked. While I am curious to know how the USE governs its colonial possessions (since they apparently do have some according to the map), I still found this 1868 hybrid political/election map to be a good way of presenting the alternate history. I also like the color pallet Zek uses, which is similar to some of his other maps.

Honorable mentions this week go out to "World War 2.5" by RvBOMally and "Union of Islamic Republics" by Doctor President.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Weekly Update #248! What I Am Reading Now...

Editor's Note

So I have been sick with a cold for the last few days (I guess this is what I get for turning down a free flu vaccine from my work). I did have brief moment on Saturday where I felt well enough to go outside and do some apple picking, but as I write this on Sunday I am sitting next to an overflowing garbage can full of my used tissues. Even Alana is afraid to kiss me. So my apologies if I don't have much to post this week. I also need to post a video soon, but until I get my voice back it may be a while.

Don't forget to check out Map Monday: Different Ottoman Partition by Panhomo and my review of Prince of Outcasts by SM Stirling, which has revitalized the Emberverse series in my humble opinion. Also don't forget to buy your books through our Amazon banner. May I recommend last week's new releases or some of the books I will be mentioning below?

Also I don't think I will be posting a Flag Friday this week. I didn't find anything interesting to talk about from last week's crop of flags. Still if there are any intrepid alternate vexillologists out there who want to showcase their work, send a submission to ahwupdate at gmail dot com.

And now the news...

What I am reading now...


So my next review will be the first Casefile: ARKHAM book, titled "Nightmare on the Canvas", which is perfect with Halloween season being upon us. Here is the description from Amazon:

What if Raymond Chandler wrote Lovecraft stories? Set in the mid-1940s, Casefile: ARKHAM follows Hank Flynn, a down on his luck private eye who is back from the war and now working the mean streets of the most cursed city on Earth Arkham, Massachusetts. And things only get worse for Flynn when a wealthy uptown socialite hires him to track down an artist by the name of Pickman. What begins as a simple missing persons case leads Flynn down a dark path of flesh eating ghouls, vengeful witches, and the notorious Innsmouth mafia.

The book I am currently reading, however, is King of Worlds by M. Thomas Gammarino, which can best be described as a 90s nostalgia trip set in the near future of an alternate history where humans have started colonizing the galaxy. So far its good, but a little sad. Here is the description from Amazon:

This dark comedy explores the lost universes of disgraced idol Dylan Greenyears. Dylan had always wanted to live as many lives as he could--that was the appeal of being an actor. But at the end of a brief, bright stint as a Hollywood heartthrob, Dylan loses the lead in Titanic and exiles himself and his wife to a recently settled exoplanet called New Taiwan.

At first, life beyond Earth seems uncannily un-wondrous. Dylan teaches at an American prep school, raises a family with his high school sweetheart, and lives out his restlessness through literature. But then a box of old fan mail (and the hint of a galaxy-wide conspiracy) offers Dylan a chance to recapture the past. As he tries to balance this transdimensional midlife crisis against family life, Dylan encounters a cast of extraordinary characters: a supercomputer with aspirations of godhood, a Mormon-fundamentalist superfan, an old-school psychoanalyst, a sampling of his alternate selves, and, once again, the love of his lives.

King of the Worlds throws cosmology, technology, nineties pop culture, and religion into an existential blender for a mix that is by turns tragic and absurd, elegiac and filled with wonder.

Next up is a book I have already read, but I am going to be jointly reviewing it with Alana on the channel. Its Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Believe or not, there is some alternate history in this book, in the It's A Wonderful Life variety. Anyway, here is the description from Amazon:

"The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."

And the last book I am reading right now is the Folio Society edition of The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Now I have read this book already, but Alana hasn't. So we are reading it together in preparation for Season 2 of Amazon's The Man in the High Castle. Here is the description from the Folio Society:

In 1962 Philip K. Dick conjured a new vision of our world – a twisted simulacrum in which the Axis Powers have won the Second World War. America is now divided: the eastern United States is the puppet of a maniacal German Reich, while the western Pacific seaboard is governed by a militaristic, yet spiritual, Japanese dictatorship. Amongst the complexities of this new existence, a group of unremarkable people – an American- Jewish craftsman, a judo instructor, a Japanese diplomat – play out their everyday lives, each striving to uncover a remnant of goodness in the shadow of a gathering evil. As their narratives intersect, Dick poses larger metaphysical questions concerning the authentication of history, perception and the building blocks of destiny.

So that is what I am reading and will be reviewing soon. If you want, read along with me and maybe we can discuss it together.

You should also check out...
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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, DeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Flag Friday: Flag of Utah by coolinwithcosta

For those who don't know, when the Mormons settled what would become Utah, they proposed a new state called "Deseret". It supposedly meant "honeybee" and even today you can still see bee imagery in many of Utah's state symbols. But what if Utah went all out with the bee imagery?
This is the "Flag of Utah" by coolinwithcosta. Its an alternate design that drops the current style of the flag (which is a just a blue background with the state seal) and enlarges the beehive in the seal. I especially like the 3D perspective coolinwithcosta used. It almost looks like the beehive is rising out of the flag.

The interesting thing about this flag is that it doesn't technically have to be from an alternate history. Many have lamented, like Cody Franklin, the lazy designs some state flags have where they just slap the state seal on a solid color background. Utah can still change their flag to something more imaginative. Although it doesn't have to be this flag, it is a good start.

Honorable mentions this week goes out to "The Divine Protectorate of Righteous Korea" by Xanthoc, "New World Holy Republic" by FlyingParafin and "Flag of Norwegian territories under the occupation of fascist Great Britain" by Mirror.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger for Amazing Stories, a volunteer interviewer for SFFWorld and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not exploring alternate timelines he enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterTumblrDeviantArt and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Remember, Remember the 6th of November?

Guest post by Tony Morgan.

On November 5th 1605 a major terrorist atrocity was prevented in England. If this had not happened the King would have been killed, Parliament and his government destroyed and the modern world would be a very different place.

Fascinated by the parallels between the England of 1605 and today – concerns over Europe, terrorism and government surveillance – I have written an exciting new alternate history based novel, REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 6TH OF NOVEMBER, which explores the events of the so-called Gunpowder Plot and asks two questions – what if things had turned out differently and do we ever learn from the mistakes of history?

November 5th is a hugely important date in the calendar of the United Kingdom. Each year, the evening is filled with smoke from our bonfires and fireworks light up our skies. We call it Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes night but what is it all about?

These events mark an annual celebration, not for what Guy Fawkes did but for what he was prevented from doing. On the eve of the Opening of Parliament, Fawkes was found hiding beneath the building, watching over an arsenal of gunpowder. The plan was to detonate this in the morning and destroy the building with the King, his sons and government inside.

Fawkes and his fellow plotters, led by the charismatic Robert Catesby, were Catholics, outraged at Protestant King James I’s policies of persecution of their religion, particularly as they believed he’d promised a more tolerant approach. Following Fawkes’s arrest, he was tortured and the other conspirators rounded up. Many were killed during the ensuing pursuit and in a bloody gun battle. The survivors, including Fawkes, were placed on trial for treason and eventually hung, drawn and quartered, a particularly brutal form of execution, in London.

But what if they had been successful? Would our world have been different? The answer is a categorical yes, and in many ways. In our reality, King James lived on for another 20 years. He was eventually succeeded by his son, Charles, who led the country into a divisive and bloody civil war, which eventually led to his own execution. If James and Charles had been murdered as intended by the plotters, could the English civil war have been avoided?

King James oversaw early English expansion into North America, as part of an embryonic British Empire. He actively encouraged the Protestant “plantation” of Ireland, sowing the seeds for centuries of sectarian hatred and violence. If he’d died in 1605, both activities may have turned out very differently. What would have been the impact on the history of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, the US and so many other countries?

Of course, we can’t know for sure. The future would have depended on what happened next, immediately after the explosion of Parliament. Who would have taken control of England? Would the country have been able to remain strong and independent or would it have been invaded and subsequently controlled by Spain or France? All these factors would have been critical determinants for our own present day way of life.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the real events of November 1605 and exploring one view of how things may have ended differently, read REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 6TH OF NOVEMBER and support two very good causes, as all profits made in 2016 are being donated to charity – and please let us know what you think.

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Tony Morgan is 51, a Welshman living in Yorkshire in England in the UK. He has taken a gap year from work at the age of 50 to explore a range of interests, including writing two alternate history based novels. He returns to his day job in IBM on 7th November 2016.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

U-234: Hitler's Last U-Boat...The Hail-Mary Pass to Japan

Guest post by Ian Hall.
Crew from the USS Sutton board the U-234 in May, 1945
On April 30th, 1945, the bodies of Adolf Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, were placed in a bomb crater and doused with petrol. Trusted guards were stationed to ensure their bodies were burned beyond all recognition.

In the wake of Hitler’s suicide, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz assumed the position of head of state. Among his first orders was a radio broadcast for all submarines to surface and surrender.

My U-boat men, six years of war lie behind us… you have fought like lions… U-boat men, unbroken and immaculate, lay down your arms after a heroic fight…

Few knew the impact his simple statement made in the war against Japan.

U-234 being 'tugged' into Portsmouth, USA
In the middle of the Atlantic, on May 4th, German submarine U-234 first received a garbled version of Dönitz’s message. After much deliberation, six days later, they surfaced to affirm the news. Captain Johann-Heinrich Fehler assembled his crew and passengers, telling them of his intention to surrender to the Americans in Portsmouth.

The only objection to their surrender came from two Japanese Naval officers, Lieutenant Commanders Hideo Tomonaga and Shoji Genzo, who re-stated the U-boats mission; to sail to Japan and deliver essential cargo and weapons. To the Japanese officers, surrender was not an option. The German guards found the two officers on their bunks in full uniform; they had taken poison.

U-Boat U-234 was a modified mine layer, and the largest German submarine still in service, but for her last mission she had been turned into a cargo vessel. Packed into every section of the hull were goods destined for the defense of Japan…
U-234 being 'tugged' into Portsmouth, USA
  • A fully functional ME 262; the world’s first jet fighter.
  • A Henschel HS 293 guided missile; the world’s first cruise missile.
  • Parts for building a V-2; the world’s first intercontinental missile.
  • Several tons of blueprints for every weapon built, designed and considered by Germany.
  • 1200lbs of Uranium 235 (about 20% of the amount required for an atomic bomb).

ME-262, the fastest plane in the world
Sailors laughed when the Uranium was taken aboard, labeled U-235, they thought they had got the number of the submarine wrong.

Unknown to most of the world, the war had taken a sharp and decisive turn.

As far back as July 1943, the Japanese had one stumbling block to their own Nuclear-bomb project; they could not get enough U-235 to provide them with ‘critical mass’ (the phrase used to denote the amount of Uranium needed to create the chain reaction powering the explosion). Three Japanese submarines had almost got back to Japan with their crucial U-235 cargo, but all were sunk in the attempt.

After the surrender of the U-234, and hearing of its strangely-labeled cargo, Robert Oppenheimer himself searched the Submarine.

The US Uranium enriching plant was situated at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Here, the German uranium was processed, and included in the Manhattan Project’s critical mass.

Three months later, in August 1945, the Americans bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In a material so rare on the earth, it is inconceivable that German Uranium, once destined for Japan's own nuclear program, was not used in the American bombs.

History…. You just can’t make this stuff up.

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Ian Hall's latest series, Avenging Steel, is available in paperback, and in eBooks of all formats. The streets of Edinburgh were his home... this is WW2 alternative history written from the heart.