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Tales from the Otherverse Paperback – November 21, 2015
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The stories are -
Battle of the Bands by Scott A. Cupp - Custer v. Crazy Horse as American Bandstand.
Port Radium by Lou Antonelli - The MacArthur clan goes to Germany instead of Amerca and Douglas leads a different kind of invasion on behalf of the Third Reich in definitely the most improbable "Nazis win World War II" alt.hist.
Mrs. Lincoln's Dinner Part by Cheryl Pierson - Mary Todd Lincoln holds a dinner party that threatens to re-unite the States, until a third party plays its hand.
The Assassination of President Broussard by Keith Ward - World War I is burning up Europe; Woodrow Wilson is Vice President; and cajun-born President Broussard is thinking of throwing in to help the French against the Huns. On a hippopotamus hunt in Louisiana, a disgruntled former-Boer is about to change history.(FYI - There was a Senator Robert Broussard from Louisiana; he was a Catholic and it seems nigh impossible that a Catholic could have been elected in 1914, or that Williams Jennings Bryan would have threw his support to a Catholic...but it is a different alt.hist, so maybe anti-Catholicism was non-existent in this version of history.)
Books Burning Brightly in the Night by Robert Vardeman - J. Edgar Hoover didn't make it past the 1930s....and their are Zeppelin air pirates who want to steal a book about how to rule the world. (This one has the possibility to merit a longer treatment based on the possible romantic relationship between the FBI agent and the lady Zep captain, but it seems like an odd "point of departure" for alt.hist, and there was no explanation for zeppelins in the 1930s.)
A Wisp of Memory by John Hegenberger - Rod Serling hires a LA detective to find a lost friend. ( I couldn't figure out the point of departure in this one.)
It Doesn't Matter Anymore by Bill Crider - Buddy lost that coin toss to Waylon and is staging a remembrance concert for the Day the Music Died.
The Great Steamer Riot of 1936 - Race riots in the South....with a non-human minority.
The Alexandria County Library Book Sale by Scott Dennis Parker - Humorous confection about advanced readership in Ptolemaic Egypt.
The Hero of Deadwood by James Reasoner - Wild Bill takes the place of James Garfield.
These are quite readable stories, but none of them blew my mind.
There is also a fine Stan Wade story from John Hegenberger, and seven other entertaining tales from excellent writers like, Scott A. Cupp, Lou Antonelli, Cheryl Pierson, Keith West, Robert E. Vardeman, Scott D. Parker, and Richard Prosch. An anthology very much worth the price of admission.
I'm just going to add my quick impressions on each with P.O.D. standing in for "Point of Divergence":
Battle of the Bands - Meh. P.O.D.: ??? Two themed bands get into a drug-induced fight based on racial/cultural grievances than any real twist in history. Could have happened in our world unless I'm really missing something.
Port Radium - Liked it for the most part. P.O.D. is MacArthur on the German side of WW2 and apparently given carte blanche. Ending seemed too deus ex machina, though. I know it's a short story but geez.
Mrs. Lincoln's Dinner Part - P.O.D. is Lincoln's wife throws a party in an effort to stop the Civil War. Not my favorite. Seemed to kind of preach that old generalization that war is only caused by testosterone and women know better. Side note: I know the Secret Service didn't exist until Lincoln's assassination in our timeline. But did no one think to check or escort the guests?
The Assassination of President Broussard - P.O.D. is an unlikely Cajun president is elected instead of Woodrow Wilson (who is now Vice President). Really enjoyed it. I was constantly highlighting names on my kindle and incredulous to find that these people existed in our history. Look up Fritz Joubert Duquesne sometime for some interesting backround.
Books Burning Brightly in the Night - My favorite of the bunch. I think the P.O.D. was the lack of a Hindenburg disaster in this timeline. A rollicking pulp-fiction adventure with airships. I was motivated to dig up other work by this author.
A Wisp of Memory - P.O.D.: ??? I didn't get it. Rod Serling tells this gumshoe to find this guy from his past that he thought he saw. Target turns out to be...not real? A ghost? Rod tells the P.I. to forget about it.
It Doesn't Matter Anymore - P.O.D.: Buddy Holly lives instead of Waylon Jennings. This was a great short story that really centers more on the redemption of a failed Elvis Presley when Buddy cuts him a break and let's him tour with his band for a memorial tour.
The Great Steamer Riot of 1936 - P.O.D.: androids invented by Nicola Tesla to fight in the trenches of WW1 face discrimination for causing the Great Depression (overabundance of machine labor replacing men). Ultimately a cautionary tale that you must be careful what you ask for (Nazi-bots!)
The Alexandria County Library Book Sale - P.O.D.: Ancient Egypt in modern times? Bla, bla, bla...something something dusty scrolls...e-readers on the horizon. Skipped most of it.
The Hero of Deadwood - P.O.D.: Wild Bill Hickok becomes President because he saves a town for attack. Really short and brutal. Pretty good.