From Publishers Weekly
Hugo Award-winning Bisson's novel looks at an alternative North America in which John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry is a success and the South becomes a separate nation with an African majority. Told through the journals of the former slave Dr. Abraham, who witnessed Brown's raid, letters of the abolitionist Thomas Hunter, and the life of Abraham's great grand-daughter Yasmin Odinga, whose story is set in the 1950s, Bisson offers a complex view of a world which inexplicably leads to technological achievement far beyond that which occurred in our own history. All of Bisson's characters come to life and present their understanding of the world around them-although not always accurately. In addition to the focus on the aftermath of Brown's raid, Odinga's story revolves around her personal issues, including her fractured relationship with her daughter, and the very public loss of her husband. The 19th and 20th century storylines don't completely mesh, with little to indicate how the changes introduced by Brown's success would result in Odinga's world of the 1950s. Civil War buffs and alternate history fans will both enjoy the proposals Bisson advances, even if he doesn't provide the necessary extrapolation.
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You don’t forget Bisson’s characters, even well after you’ve finished his books . . . [this book] does for the Civil War what Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle did for World War II.” George Alec Effinger, author, When Gravity Falls
Few works have moved me as deeply, as thoroughly . . . With this single poignant story, Bisson molds a world as sweet as banana cream pies, and is briny as hot tears." Mumia Abu amal, death row prisoner and author, Live from Death Row
"A slender novel, but it does the science fiction trick of making you step back from your own world and see it more clearly, and it does so while wrenching your heart and setting your pulse pounding. All in all, one of the best alternate histories I've read." Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
"A book that continues to provoke questions about how and why our world is the way it isand how it might be different." Indypendent (NYC)