Other Earths (edt. by Gevers & Lake)

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51o9mwqIdXL__SL500_AA240_.jpgOther Earths, edited by Nick Gevers and Jay Lake is an anthology collecting eleven short stories by various authors set on alternative universes where history, as we know it, didn't quite turn out the way it did on our planet.

 

As stated in the book's introduction, the editors felt that the "alternative history" field of the science fiction genre had been too "concerned with militaria, fiction about soldiers and the wars they fight", as seen in the works of such writers as Eric Flint and Harry Turtledove.  Gevers and Lake reached out to writers in both the AH form and other kinds of science fiction to produce "a showcase of what can be done by some of the most brilliant minds writing today, many working in a form not normally their own." For the most part, the writers delivered the goods.

Things get off to a bang with Robert Charles Wilson's "This Peaceable Land, or The Unbearable Vision of Harriet Beecher Stowe", where the reader is taken to an Earth where the Civil War was never fought and slavery was allowed to continue.  That's followed by such tales as Jeff VanderMeer's "The Goat Variations" (the events of 9/11 as they occur on another Earth..and another...), Gene Wolfe's "Donovan Sent Us"  (a mission to rescue Winston Churchill from Nazi-occupied England, with shocking results),  Greg Van Eekhout's "The Holy City and Em's Reptile Farm" (where religion is marketed and sold as a commodity, with churches run like casinos), and Lucius Shepard's "Dog-Eared Paperback of My Life", where the title character finds a book written by an alternative universe version of himself and proceeds to take a journey that leads him to... Well, you'll have to read it and find out for yourself.  (Confession:  I did NOT expect the story's provocative plot twist.) 

There are one or two duds here, like Liz Williams' "Winterborn" (Faeries run England and have to deal with ghosts; sorry, but I just couldn't connect), but Other Earths on the whole is an exciting and imaginative anthology of stories that take the alternative history subgenre to new heights of originality.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ed published on July 23, 2009 3:03 PM.

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