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Books & Authors

Alternate Histories

Alternate history, sometimes called allohistory, is a genre that asks, "What if?" What if JFK had survived his attempted assassination? What if the South had won the Civil War? What if the Inca Empire had become a global superpower? What if the dinosaur extinction hadn't occurred? If such questions intrigue you, browse the titles below or check out the winners of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History*.

 The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. This Hugo Award-winning novel established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.
 
 My Real Children by Jo Walton
It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. She forgets things she should know, but she remembers things that seem impossible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children, and she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev. And does the moon outside her window host a benign research station or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles? Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs.
 
For sixty years, Jewish refugees and their descendants have prospered in the Federal District of Sitka, a "temporary" safe haven created in the wake of the shocking 1948 collapse of the fledgling state of Israel. Proud and longing to be American, the Jews of the Sitka District have created their own little world in the Alaskan panhandle. Now the District is set to revert to Alaskan control, and their dream is coming to an end. But homicide detective Meyer Landsman of the District Police has problems of his own. His life is a shambles, his marriage a wreck, his career a disaster. And in the cheap hotel where he has washed up, someone has just committed a murder—right under Landsman's nose.
 
 The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
What if the black plague had killed 99 percent of Europe's population? This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east, where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world's greatest scientific minds-in India, where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions and Christianity is merely a historical footnote. From the steppes of Asia to the shores of the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.
 
 Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler
Lord Scott Oken, a prince of Albion, and Professor-Prince Mikel Mabruke live in a world where the sun never set on the Egyptian Empire. In the year 1877 of Our Lord Julius Caesar, Pharaoh Djoser-George governs a sprawling realm that spans Europe, Africa, and much of Asia. When the European terrorist Otto von Bismarck touches off an international conspiracy, Scott and Mik are charged with exposing the plot against the Empire. Their adventure takes them from the sands of Memphis to a lush New World, home of the Incan Tawantinsuyu, a rival empire across the glittering Atlantic Ocean. Encompassing Quetzal airships, operas, blood sacrifice and high diplomacy, Ramona Wheeler's Three Princes is a richly imagined, cinematic vision of a modern Egyptian Empire.
 
 His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain's defense by taking to the skies... atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future—and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France's own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte's boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
 
When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but upon taking office, he negotiated a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without dif?culty. What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling book, which recounts what it was like during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.
 
 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can, will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original: this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
 
 Clash of Eagles by Alan Smale
This stunning work of alternate history imagines a world in which the Roman Empire has not fallen and the North American continent has just been discovered. In the year 1218 AD a Roman legion crosses the great ocean, enters an endless wilderness and faces a cataclysmic clash of worlds. Praetor Marcellinus and his men expect easy victory over the native inhabitants, but on the shores of a vast river the Legion clashes with a unique civilization armed with weapons and strategies no Roman has ever imagined. Marcellinus is spared by his captors and kept alive for his military knowledge. As he recovers, he is drawn into their society, forming an uneasy friendship with the denizens of Cahokia. 
 
 Heart of Iron by Ekaterina Sedia
In a Russia where the Decembrists' rebellion was successful and the Trans-Siberian railroad was completed before 1854, Sasha Trubetskaya wants nothing more than to have a decent debut ball in St. Petersburg. The pressure intensifies when Chinese students start disappearing. Sasha and her British friend Jack find themselves trying to stop a war brewing between the three empires. The only place they can turn to for help is the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, newly founded by the Taiping rebels. Pursued by the terrifying Dame Florence Nightingale of the British Secret Service, Sasha and Jack escape across Siberia via train to China.

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