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Fire on the Mountain (Spectacular Fiction) Paperback – October 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Spectacular Fiction
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: PM Press; Second Edition, Second edition edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604860871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604860870
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“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 is—and how it might be different."   —Indypendent (NYC)

More About the Author

Formerly ('75-'02) a Kentuckian living in New York,
currently a New Yorker living in California.

Known mostly for SF short stories (Hugo, Nebula awards),
also writes novels, screenplays, comics and non-fiction.
Biographer of Mumia Abu Jamal. Former automechanic,
wrote CAR TALK with 'Click and Clack'. Produced and
edited NO FRILLS Books back in '80s. Completed ST
LEIBOWITZ AND THE WILD HORSE WOMAN for Walter M Miller
estate. Lives in Oakland. Rides a KLR650.

Hosts monthly author reading series in San Francisco (SFinSF).
Edits 'Outspoken Author' series for PM Books.

Customer Reviews

Story line is difficult to follow.
honyock.honey
Maybe, I will try again...I don't know...for now it is in my archives.
Janice K Hurst
The best alternative history I've ever read.
Adil Mughal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jack on January 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
John Brown is one of the most intresting and lesser known characters of American History. He led an unsuccessful raid on an armory in an attempt to start a revolution amongst slaves. This book tells the story of his success and the dramatic difference in American history and advances in modern technology as a result. It's got great characters and is intresting to anyone intrested in Sci-Fi, American and civil war history, black history, or current race relations.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the book to be disappointing. My expectation was that the author would go into more detail about how the country and society had developed since John Brown's forces won the rebellion. The description of the historical event was adequate enough, but I felt that I never got a good sense of how the subsequent version of America differed from the current one. There were references to several wars that were fought but no explanation of what had precipitated them or who was on which side. There were references to places like Nova Africa, but again I was never clear what that was - was it the entire country or only one part of it. There were hints that the European and African countries had developed very differently, but again it was only hinted at. Those things would have been the most interesting for me - how would America, and the world, look different if the slave rebellions had been successful. I felt I never got a clear picture of that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ariel on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
I don't usually like alternate histories but my brother recommended this one and it was very good. It's narrative is based on letters and a memoir of people at the time of the main events (1859) and tied in nicely with what the alternate history looks like from the vantage point of a 100 years on. A very well written book. I really enjoyed reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adil Mughal on August 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
The best alternative history I've ever read. It makes the narrative a personal experience and thrilling history novel, rather than simply mechanical exposition. Anyone who loves history or dares to dream bigger will love this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've always been a fan of alternate history stories and this one was no exception. I enjoyed the author's take on the point of divergence and the lasting impact it has on the new timeline. Including out own timeline as a story within a story was a little cheesy and could have been dropped. I was also a little leery that technology seemed to be far more advanced in the alternate timeline.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Short, fun beach read, you can't go wrong with 99 cents and Utopian revised history.
There are a few things unexplained (precise geography, how technology advanced so fast so quickly, mostly).
Loved the irony of Abe Lincoln, whose mission was to preserve the Union and implement gradual emancipation, has mad him a villain.
Only question for me is why was the mechanic named Elvis Pressley Cardwell (not sure if the last name is correct) - is he supposed to be the "real" Elvis?
Overall, it's an intelligent, fun, interesting read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thom on December 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an amazing creation of a world that could have been... If John Harper's Raid on Harper's Ferry were successful. In recreating the past, as well as the future, this book demonstrates what social change and revolution aims to do, and also demonstrates that justice is not as simple as a revolution, but we must continue to seek it forever onward! I recommend this book to folks who are interested in imagining what a more just world could look like.
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