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Alternate Gettysburgs Mass Market Paperback – February 5, 2002
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Some knowledge of the battle's real history and of military science may be helpful in enjoying these stories; mine is limited, which may be why I didn't find the book as good as I do most "alternaties." And I do think that the non-fiction essays that follow the stories weren't really necessary. So this collection isn't likely to become one of my favorites. But it still poses some interesting scenarios crafted by authors noted both within the sf genre (Simon Hawke, Denise Little, Kristine Kathryn Rusch) and outside it (James M. Reasoner, Robert J. Randisi,Harold Coyle).
Most of these are the same, tired concepts we've seen before (though Gettysburg turning out as a Southern Victory is already a tired concept as is), but, some are still entertaining despite the topic.
The most memorable story was the recap of a MMORTS MLG tournament that mixes quantum computing and questions of "making a new reality" from the old. It is, however, more of a sci-fi story with a Getttysburg alt-hist flavoring than the other way around.
Some are good, some are crap -just like every anthology out there.
In this book we find an alternate outcome to the battle is an international freedom movement that sweeps over Russia and liberates the serfs. Sure, why not? Then we've got a cyberpunk story where people running battle simulations in the future somehow changes the outcome of the battle in the past. This story manages to express no understanding of cyberpunk or the civil war or time travel, and is a great big ol' pile of 'why bother.' Most hysterical of all, though, is one story where the author didn't even give enough of a crap to finish it. No: seriously. I'm not joking. It tools on for a couple dozen pages, then abruptly stops and there's a note from the author saying "I ran out of time to finish the story, but here's what would have happened," and then we get a paragraph or two outline.
Truly, this is not so much a book for reading as it is one for laying down and avoiding.
What would have happened of Abraham Lincoln gave a tougher Gettysburg Address? What if the South had lost the battle of Gettysburg and General Meade had elected to pursue and destroy Lee's forces before he got back to Virginia? What if Jeb Stuart's cavalry had gotten back to the Confederate army with a captured wagon train loaded with Spencer repeating rifles? What if a sufficiently large, dedicated group of modern reenacters set up some sort of resonance that affected the original battle?
Four informative essays follow the short stories, including a convincing one on the impossibility of an ultimate Confederate threat to Washington even if the Union had been soundly beaten by the CSA. Supply lines were too long and Washington was defended by some very heavy guns, points out William R. Fortschen. Plus any advance would be slowed by heavy rains that, in fact, hampered Lee's withdrawal to Virginia.
Good collection. With my trip to Gettsyburg at the end of this month, I believe this has helped me a little in my efforts to educate myself on the subject.