the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘alternate history’ Category

 Twelve, by Jasper Kent

Published in 2010

Where did I get it: Library, but plan to purchase a copy

I’ve been waiting a long time to read a book like this.  A book that puts the horror back in supernatural myths. Although it’s somewhat spoiled on the back of the book, I won’t even tell you which supernatural myth I’m talking about, just know that it’s one you are supposed to be afraid of.

To risk sounding cliche, Jasper Kent’s writing is just damn good.  Every sentence, every word moves the plot forward. There isn’t a slow moment in this book. Kent brings us to early 19th century Moscow, where the people are proud yet afraid of invasion.  Talk of republic is in the air, along with the early snows of autumn.

Don’t know anything about Russia, 1812 or Napoleon? Don’t worry,  the main character, Aleksei will walk you through everything you need to know.  My historical education is so lacking as to be embarassing, and not once did I feel lost. Twelve takes place during a war, and Aleksei and his friends are soldiers, but this is not a war book.  

As Napoleon’s Grande Armee marches towards Moscow, Dmitry offers to bring in some mercenaries to help with the effort. Aleksei, Dmitry, Maksim and their commanding officer Vadim aren’t on the front lines, per say, they are beyond the front lines.  Their mission is to cross enemy lines and cause disruptions and problems for the invaders. In modern jargon I’m sure the French would call them terrorists.

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  First things first, I adore Doc Holliday. 

Second things second, Mike Resnick’s The Buntline Special just might be the most fun I’ve had all year. Equal parts clever, crazy, snarky and suspensful, if you are looking for a good time here’s a book you can’t go wrong with.

In an alternate history style reminiscent of Tim Powers, Resnick takes what we know happened (or at least what probably happened), and adds in that magical, wonderful science fiction question of “what if”. His answer includes cyborg women, assassins brought back from the dead, Native American magic, horseless carriages, inventors with too much time on their hands and all the fun you can have in the Wild Wild West. It’s not the deepest book I’ve ever read, but sometimes girls just wanna have fun.

In thing only slighty alternate history 1880’s, Thomas Edison has a rockin’ steampunk prosthetic arm and works with Ned Buntline in the town of Tombstone to create horseless carriages, fancy weaponry, brass body armor, cyborgs, and all sorts of other wacky inventions. What Tom thinks up, Ned creates. They’ve brought the electricity revolution to Tombstone. Secretly the inventors have been funded by the US Government to find a scientific way of counteracting the medicine men of the tribes, whose magic has kept the white men from expanding their country past the Mississippi river.

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If you liked Twilight, you will love Clay & Susan Griffith’s The Greyfriar, the first volume of their Vampire Empire series. If you’re into any of this trendy YA-ish Vampire stuff, you will go nuts for this book. And how stunning  is that cover art?

 A young beautiful princess destined for a political marriage to a man she’s never met. A brash, ambitious, broad shouldered American hero out to prove the strength of his people. And The Greyfriar, a mysterious masked hero who operates from within vampire territory to help the human cause. Globe spanning Empires, blood thirsty vampires, and humanity on the brink of a war to take back what is rightfully theirs. What’s not to like? Did I mention the handsome and intellectual Scottish vampire who tends to dress in tight pants, an overcoat and no shirt (they don’t feel the cold, you know). The Greyfriar  would make an excellent movie.

Too bad I’m not the intended audience.

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Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman is part alternate history, part steampunk, part rolicking adventure, part futuristic scifi, and like another steampunk I recently reviewed the twist starts fairly early, and if I mentioned anything at all about it, it would wreck the surprise. I’ll try my best to make this review as spoiler free as possible.

In a (very) alternate history London, the British Empire has been taken over by Les Lezards, a humanoid race of intelligent lizards that evolved parallel to humanity. The lizards treat the humans fairly well, and heavily promote science and technology over warfare. Even Jules Verne’s dreams have come true, and thanks to patronage by the Les Lezards, unmanned satellites and space probes have been launched. The only fly in the ointment is The Bookman. Almost a V for Vendetta type character, he stays to the shadows, orchestrating bombings and chaos around events sponsored by the Les Lezards.

Strange yes, but the human populace of Great Britain has adapted pretty well to being ruled by giant talking lizards, and for most Britons, this is how it’s always been. The Les Lezards have been the ruling class for a few generations at least. Royal lizards aside, Tidhar populates his book with characters both historical and fictional, life like simulacrums, social revolutions, and much in the way of punny deliciousness.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.