- Paperback: 434 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812523466
- ISBN-13: 978-0812523461
- Product Dimensions: 4 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,051,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Alternate Warriors Paperback – September 1, 1993
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Resnick asked writers to imagine people known for pacifism, diplomacy, or nonviolent protest if they had chosen another route. In some instances, this works well -- a young Mohandas Gandhi recruited into the underground Kali cult, or Jesus of Nazareth opting to lead the militant Zealots rather than call for a peaceful embrace of a kingdom beyond this life. Another interesting entry imagines Francesco Bernardone becoming the leader of an ascetic order of holy militants fighting the Crusades, and still being canonized as St. Francis of Assisi in death -- though as the patron saint of warriors.
Resnick's conceit is a bit limiting, though. Perhaps the best story in this volume is one he was at first reluctant about, since it was about a man who was already a warrior: T. E. Lawrence. Here, Lawrence's sympathies for his Arab allies lead him to convert to Islam and help craft a strong Arab state. Imagining other actual warriors on different paths might have led to more compelling stories than those about Mother Teresa, Pope John XXIII, Albert Schweitzer, and Albert Einstein, to name a few.
Still, there are some high points.
Resnick’s own “Mwalimu in the Squared Circle” centers on a real, if obscure, historical story. General and President-Elect-for-Life Idi Amin Dada of Uganda challenged Julius Nyerere of Tanzania to a boxing match to settle the war between their two countries. The challenge is accepted here.
Yes, Michael P. Kube-McDowell’s “Because Thou Lovest the Burning Ground” is a Ghandi gone bad story – gone Thuggee as it happens, but it’s atmospheric and has details on the Kali worshippers.
Maureen F. McHugh’s “Tut’s Wife” is a serious, moody look at what its heroine must do to preserve the Kingdom of Egypt. Judith Tarr’s “Queen of Asia” is a well-done look at how Persian Queen Sisygambis confronts Alexander the Great. Mercedes Lackey’s “Jihad” is a plausible seeming look at T. E. Lawrence’s conversion to Islam. However, essentially, these are “how things changed” stories which end with the reader being invited to speculate how history will develop – as if the same questions couldn’t be spurred by regular history books. Both Tarr’s and McHugh’s stories end with their heroines seeking marriages not seen in our history. Essentially, that’s just stretching out the moment-of-change concept and not a real alternate history.
Marilyn Monroe has connections to Castro and Che Guevera in Jack C. Haldeman’s II “The Cold Warrior”. Despite not being much interested in the Kennedys and Marilyn, I liked this depiction of Monroe as spurned Commie agent.
It was Resnick’s introductory notes for Beth Meacham’s “One by One” saying it was “a true alternate history” that tipped me off that these anthologies are, by and large, not real alternate histories.
Meacham’s story is probably the best in the book charting into our time the consequences of a different life for American Indian Tecumseh. It’s tale of irredentism in which the Alliance Warriors Society continues the Two Hundred Year of the Shawnee Alliance with the European invaders. Perhaps inspired by Balkan events at the time of the writing, it still, with its Army Counter Terrorism units operating in several parts of America, seems contemporary and, for me, a fictional (though I doubt Meacham intended this) argument that whites and Indians could never equally and peacefully inhabit North America.
Dishonorable mention for the book goes to David Gerrold’s “The Firebringers”, a cheap, implausible, and bad literary collage depending on odd juxtapositions. We not only get some tired arguments about the immorality of using the A-Bomb and with the following characters: President Cooper, Bogey the bombardier, General Tracy, Drs. Karloff and Lorre, Colonel Peck and Colonel Regan, and Captain Fonda, etc.
But it doesn't really work all that well...I'm not really sure why. Most of the takes on the "what ifs" seem to be pretty far-fetched and unlike the people we know from history. Often the writing seemed terse and ideas weren't fleshed out.
Just didn't work for me as a collection. If you're a hard core collector it's worth adding to your library, but otherwise...meh.