Category Archives: Alternate History

Book 12 – Dominion by C.J.Sansom

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I like a good alternate history, and this one treads that fairly well-worn path of exploring how things might have been if the Nazis had won.  Set in 1952, Halifax had become Prime Minister in 1940 rather then Churchill, and consequently Britain made peace with Germany after Dunkirk. There was no Blitz, no Pearl Harbor, no Africa campaign, no Normandy landings and no Hiroshima/Nagasaki. The British Government operates as a client state of the German Reich, which is mostly concerned these days with the endless war in Russia and the power struggles in anticipation of Hitler’s death. America has remained isolationist

Sansom’s world building is based on extensive research into the mid-century period (there’s a bibliography at the back), and his general picture of things comes across as pretty plausible. Think of a very dull austerity Britain with added repression, anti-semitism and state-sponsored violence. His speculations about how the actual political leaders of the time would have responded to the situation are particularly interesting. I suppose one of the reasons why he had to base his book pretty far back in time was to ensure all the people he used as characters are safely dead in the real world, and therefore unable to take umbrage.

However, where this novel fell down was with the plot and characters. It’s a standard issue spy thriller plot, which draws together some fairly random strands to bring the narrative together. And none of the characters really come to life.

 

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Filed under 2018, Alternate History, Thrillers

Book 11 – The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

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Nothing like as good as I remember, but then everyone says Hesse should only be read by adolescents. I expected to be slightly annoyed by his portrayal of a secular monastic order of intellectuals. And I was. But it was also quite boring, I mean both the writing, and the things being written about.  Also I found myself thinking too much about what Castalia was really like. What food did they eat and who cooked it? Who cleaned the loos and did all the laundry? Why wasn’t there a Magister for Facilities Management? And did they ever have any parties?

 

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Filed under 2018, Alternate History

Book 4 – The Plot Against America by Philip Roth 

A very timely, pertinent read. Written in 2004, and describing an alternative history where populist right wingers plot to usurp American democracy during the Second World War, the plot contains some scarily prescient parallels with current events (dateline February 2017)

I don’t usually like novels which interpret the grown up world through the voice of a child narrator, but Roth writes so beautifully and intelligently, that it works.

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Filed under 2017, Alternate History

Book 14: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

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Sexy time travelling Jacobites go to sea.

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Filed under 2016, Alternate History

Book 11 -The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

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I generally enjoy alternate history novels and this one is very well done. Found all the I Ching stuff a bit weird, though.

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Filed under 2016, Alternate History, Thrillers

Book 3 – Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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An everyday story of sexy, time-travelling Jacobite folk. Very entertaining.

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Filed under 2016, Alternate History

Book 27 – Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

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Now this is what I mean by enjoyable hokum (Dan Brown please note)

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Filed under 2015, Alternate History