Roads Not Taken by Gardner Dozois(2 ratings)
|Title||Roads Not Taken|
|Submitted by Anonymous|
This is a book of short stories culled from the magazines Analog and Asimovs.
"Must and Shall" by Harry Turtledove
In this story, Turtledove shows he is a better Author than Editor.
Set in 1942, at the time of the second world war, the story concentrates itself on the situation in New Orleans.
But this is a New Orleans in a Different America to the one which we know today. In this America, Lincoln was shot at Fort Stevens in 1864. Far from losing the civil war, the North then went on to a crushing victory leaving the south resentful to this day.
Overlay WW2 onto this alternate history and posit that the Nazis would be sympathetic to the souths cause, (on the basis of your enemy is my enemy), and the stage is set for an entertaining read.
Turtledove has a number of powerful insights and draws the reader into making their own comparisons with history in our own continum.
"An Outpost of the Empire" by Robert Silverberg
This is by Robert Silverberg and therefore is a de-facto long and rambling story which doesn't seem to be going anywhere before it finishes leaving you strangely satisfied with the outcome. In this story the Roman Empire never fell. The story of the empire is told through
the eyes of a Roman Proconsul as he woos a Greek lady on his latest posting.
The Romans have effectively imposed the Pax Romana on the entire world, stopping scientific progress in its tracks.
At the end of the tale, I had to stop and ask myself... was this such a bad thing ?
A story that makes you think a litle... Can that be a bad thing ?
"We Could do Worse" by Gregory Benford
This very short short takes place in a bar at the time of the 1956 republican convention in the USA.
It is so short that to say any more would be to spoil the story.
It says much in a very short space, but I think to fully appreciate the irony, you would need to be American.
"Over There" by Mike Resnik
This story deals with some of Americas famous statesmen in unfamiliar settings.
How would some of the gung ho heroes of the past fare in World War 1 trench warfare ?
Resnik does a good job in conveying the sense of mud, loss and waste. However, there is
little here to really get your teeth into.
"Ink From the New Moon" by A.A. Attanasio
Attanasio postulates an American continent, North and south, discovered by the chinese
before any caucasians made their claim.
In the form of a letter from a clerical assistant to his far away loved one, this story
charts the first contact between the Chinese settlers in their new world and Christopher Columbus
on his first landing.
The parts that stand out for me are the graphic descriptions of the technological advantage
the Chinese had at that time. The portrayal of the difference in racial psyche is also pronounced
although conveyed subtly by Attanasio.
What might have been if the Chinese truly had achieved this early colonisation is nicely
left for the reader to ponder on his own.
"Southpaw" by Bruce McAllister
Not many people know that Fidel Castro, the renowned and feared leader of communist Cuba, was a fine
baseball player in his youth.
In this alternate world, Castro did not turn down the New York Giants and go on to become a revolutionary leader.
Instead he finds himself on a pitchers mound in New Yark, A western appartment, wife and lifestyle.
Perhaps because the alternate history, (ours), is so strong, he finds himself having halucinations of being
a rebel, fighting in jungles.
This then leads him to become involved in a secret(ish), plot to free Cuba.
Mcallister makes some interesting points but the denoument is all to predictable.
"The West is Red" by Greg Cosikyan
A world where America is not the capitalist bastion we all know...
but an America of socialist ideals and leftward leanings.
As predicatable as the seasons, the socailist economy is shown to be hopelessly backward, examples being
a single computer in each country with a snippet of dialog amongst the heroes speculating what could be
done with a computer per person.
This of course is all a valid postulation. However, here it is done without balance.
Would it be so bad to trade off a slight delay in the speed of scientific development in favour of feding the
poor and ensuring that education is universal ?
such notions are given short shrift here. They are discussed in such a way as to show that the Author is
American as apple pie and proud of the American way.
I found that this unbalance marred what could have been a great story.
"The Forest of Time" by Michael F Flynn
I discovered Michael F Flyns work when 'In the country of the blind' was published in serialised form in Analog magazine.
That was a science fiction story set in the past or a parallel universe.
"Aristotle and the Gun" by L. Sprague de Camp
De Camp chooses a subtle twist for his contribution to this work.
Can history be changed by a time traveller is the question. The protagonist sets out to resolve the question once and for all.
Not by killing anything or anyone, but by educating Aristotle so that science would accelerate and advance much faster
than it did in our time line.
"How I lost the Second World War and helped turn back the German Invasion" by Gene Wolfe.
As anyone who has read 'Shaddow of the Torturer' knows, Gene Wolfe has a
slightly off beat view of the world.
I may be guilty of understatement there.