Tag Archives: alternate history

And the Last Trump Shall Sound by Harry Turtledove, James Morrow and Cat Rambo Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Three authors share a very relevant collection of short stories that showcase the horrors that await the United States if division continues to take hold in the novel “And the Last Trump Shall Sound”. 

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The Synopsis

Set in the near future, And the Last Trump Shall Sound is prophetic warning about where we, as a nation, may be headed. A politically torn nation watches as the Republicans solidify their hold over the US with a series of electoral victories and judicial appointments. Mike Pence leads the country, succeeding Donald Trump as the flag-bearer of an increasingly dogmatic movement.

There are parts of the country, however, that cannot abide by what they view as a betrayal of the nation’s founding principles. At what point do these communities break down and the unthinkable suddenly becomes the only possible solution…the end of the Union.

Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, and Cat Rambo give us three novellas, each following the other, describing the frightening possible consequences of our increased polarization–a dire warning to all of us about where we may be headed unless we can learn to come together again.

The Review

This was a marvelous, eye-opening, and engaging mixture of historical fiction/dystopian future novels with a “what if…” twist. The narratives each author brought to life capture the raw emotion and power that this world’s division has created in recent years, and showcases how the world and in particular the United States could look like if events continue to unfold the way they are. 

From a future that sees the West Coast states seceding from the Union to the leader of the free world turning portions of the United States into a religious-run state and the “resurrection” of the man who started it all, these author present ideas and futures which could prove to be our future. The way the authors write captures the emotion of our nation as it stands now: confusion, frustration, anger, and sadness all extend over us all right now. 

The Verdict

Fast-paced, engaging, and detail-oriented in its delivery, the authors give readers a marvelous yet haunting look into what the United States could become. In the face of racial tension, immigration horrors, pandemics and so much more, the American Empire as it stands could look drastically different in just a couple of decades. Utilizing real political and historical figures into a well-developed fictional political satire, these authors have delivered a memorable novel that cannot be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

James Morrow

“Watch out for James Morrow: He’s magic” is how The Washington Post’s Ron Charles describes the author.

Janet Maslin of The New York Times call him “a novelist of intellect, bravado and wildly phantasmagorical imagination.”

James Morrow’s fiction always presents an original (frequently outrageous and eccentric) take on any subject he tackles, often using satire to bring his point home. Much of his work has received high praise, not only from within the science fiction community but from the mainstream literary world as well.

Russian translations of his novel, Only Begotten Daughter, and collection, Bible Stories for Adults, led to him being invited to participate in the Fifteenth International Tolstoy Conference.

James Morrow calls State College, Pennsylvania, his home, where he resides with his wife, his son, and an enigmatic sheepdog and a loopy beagle.



Harry Turtledove

Dubbed as “The Master of Alternate History” by Publishers Weekly, Harry Turtledove has written a number of classic bestsellers in the subgenre, including How Few RemainThe Guns of the South and The Man with the Iron Heart.

He uses his study of history (with a Ph.D in Byzantine history) to create alternate worlds in intricate detail; crafting enthralling adventures that have garnered him high critical praise as well as making him one of the most successful bestselling authors in alternate history.

Turtledove has won, or been nominated, for nearly every major award in science fiction (multiple times, for many) including the Hugo, Nebula, Sidewise (alternate history), Homer (short stories), The John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction and the Prometheus Award.

Many consider him to be one of the most distinguished authors of alternate history to have ever written in that sub-genre―he is certainly one of the most critically acclaimed.

Harry Turtledove is married to novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters, Alison, Rachel and Rebecca.

http://www.sfsite.com/~silverag/turtledove.html



Cat Rambo

Cat Rambo is a prolific science fiction and fantasy writer of short stories. Her two hundred plus stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines including Asimov’sClarkesworld, and Tor.com.

She has been nominated for the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award, and been a finalist for the Million Writers and the Compton Crook Awards, as well as been on the Locus Recommended Reading List.

Cat was the co-editor of Fantasy Magazine from 2007 to 2011 and is a past President (two terms) of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She lives and teaches in the Pacific Northwest.

Interview with Author Robert J. Sawyer

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My father was an author of books on macroeconometrics, his field of specialty, and my great uncle had written a definitive volume on antique salt shakers, so the concept of writing a book was never daunting to me.

I had some great school teachers—particularly in the fifth and sixth grade, where it happened to be the same woman, although she was Miss Matthews the first year and Mrs. Jones the second!—and also in high school who were very encouraging.

In fact, I’ve got a phone message on my answering machine right now from one of those high-school teachers, Bill Martyn, that I need to return. It’s been forty-one years since I graduated from high school, but he just called to say he’d loved my latest novel, The Oppenheimer Alternative.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

This is the 75th-anniversary year of the birth of the atomic age, with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It seemed like a good time to try to delve, as only a novelist can, into the inner lives of the people who were responsible for unleashing hell on Earth: Edward Teller, Leo Szilard, General Leslie R. Groves, and, most notably, the scientific leader of the Manhattan Project, the mercurial, tortured J. Robert Oppenheimer.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The theme of not just The Oppenheimer Alternative but some of my 23 other novels, too, is that the world would be a far better place if the brightest people simply stopped making the things the stupidest people wanted them to make. No general, president, or dictator can make an atomic bomb—only geniuses could do that—and instead of saying nope, they dove right in.

The great irony is this: it’s arguable that, although Oppenheimer and others were salivating at the notion of an essentially unlimited budget—the spent two billion 1945 dollars, which is the equivalent of $28 billion today—to create the atomic bomb, the head of the German bomb project, Werner Heisenberg, knew the folly of letting a madman like Hitler have such a thing and so he may very well have deliberately failed to build one.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Well, “this particular genre” is one that actually I may well have created: hard-science fiction secret/alternate history.

My novel is a real, honest-to-goodness accurate and carefully extrapolated science-fiction tale built on sound science woven into the gaps about what we know really did occur between 1936, when The Oppenheimer Alternative begins, and 1967, when the novel ends. Nothing in it contradicts anything we know to be true, but the reader will be treated to what I hope they’ll consider a mind-blowing science-fiction tale as well as a heart-wrenching historical-fiction story.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Perhaps surprisingly, it would not be my main character, the J. Robert Oppenheimer of the book’s title, but rather his erstwhile friend and then betrayer, Edward Teller.

Although ironically Teller wrote his memoirs and Oppie never did, it’s Teller—the man often cited as the principal inspiration for the title character in the movie Dr. Strangelove—who leaves me scratching my head.

Teller really said, “No amount of fiddling will save our souls” and he really did go to see his dying colleague, Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi, to, in Teller’s own words “confess his sins.”

But even with such apparent misgivings he just went right on pushing for bigger and bigger bombs—ranging in size from merely genocidal to ones that would trigger the extinction of most life on our planet—as well as shilling for Ronald Reagan’s fatally flawed Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) until the day he died.

What the hell was Teller thinking? He was great with kids, often carrying candy for them in his pockets, and he loved his own children and grandchildren—and yet he was monstrous.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook, for a few reasons.

One: I’m a long-form writer—a novelist!—and so the character-count constraints of Twitter make it ill-suited for me.

And two, as all good writers know, the heart of good writing is revision: you can’t edit a tweet, and but you can go back even years later and correct typos or ambiguous phrasing on Facebook.

I long ago hit the hard-coded 5,000-friend limit Facebook has built into its architecture, but you can still follow me there—as 6,500 additional people do—and join in the daily lively discussions and debates we have there.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

In 1997, I came out of a deli in Los Angeles and saw Gordon Jump, one of the stars of WKRP in Cincinnati standing on the sidewalk, so I went up to him and said, “I’d just like to shake the hand of the man who uttered the funniest line in sitcom history.”

We chatted for a bit, and I asked what he was doing just hanging out in front of a deli. He replied a young wannabe actor had said he’d take him to lunch here in exchange for some advice about getting into the industry. I asked, “What advice are you going to give him?” And Gordon replied, “Don’t get into the industry.”

Seriously, this is an awful time to be a traditionally published author. In the thirty years I’ve been a novelist now, there have been enormous cost reductions for publishers—no more re-keyboarding typed manuscripts, no more sending page proofs by courier, instead of servicing thousands of small bookstore accounts mostly just servicing a few big ones, having authors do their own promotion via social media instead of publishers advertising their books, etc.

But every penny of those costs savings—every single one—has been kept by publishers, with none passed onto authors. Meanwhile, in addition to the production of print books for distribution to bookstores—the one thing publishers are good at—they also demand ebook rights, audiobooks rights, and they’re trying to get a piece of the film and TV action, too.

So, my advice is simply this: license your intellectual property as narrowly as possible and only let a licensee have rights to specific aspects of it that they have a great track record with, and make sure they’re making real money not just for themselves but for you, too.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ve been asked to write a lengthy original audio drama, and I may, or may not, sign the contract for that; we’ll see. But really, the new books on my horizon right now are books that are new to me: I’m just catching up on my reading!

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About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada’s best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.

Robert Sawyer grew up in Toronto, the son of two university professors. He credits two of his favourite shows from the late 1960s and early 1970s, Search and Star Trek, with teaching him some of the fundamentals of the science-fiction craft. Sawyer was obsessed with outer space from a young age, and he vividly remembers watching the televised Apollo missions. He claims to have watched the 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey 25 times. He began writing science fiction in a high school club, which he co-founded, NASFA (Northview Academy Association of Science Fiction Addicts). Sawyer graduated in 1982 from the Radio and Television Arts Program at Ryerson University, where he later worked as an instructor.

Sawyer’s first published book, Golden Fleece (1989), is an adaptation of short stories that had previously appeared in the science-fiction magazine Amazing Stories. This book won the Aurora Award for the best Canadian science-fiction novel in English. In the early 1990s Sawyer went on to publish his inventive Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, about a world of intelligent dinosaurs. His 1995 award winning The Terminal Experiment confirmed his place as a major international science-fiction writer.

A prolific writer, Sawyer has published more than 10 novels, plus two trilogies. Reviewers praise Sawyer for his concise prose, which has been compared to that of the science-fiction master Isaac Asimov. Like many science fiction-writers, Sawyer welcomes the opportunities his chosen genre provides for exploring ideas. The first book of his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, Hominids (2002), is set in a near-future society, in which a quantum computing experiment brings a Neanderthal scientist from a parallel Earth to ours. His 2006 Mindscan explores the possibility of transferring human consciousness into a mechanical body, and the ensuing ethical, legal, and societal ramifications.

A passionate advocate for science fiction, Sawyer teaches creative writing and appears frequently in the media to discuss his genre. He prefers the label “philosophical fiction,” and in no way sees himself as a predictor of the future. His mission statement for his writing is “To combine the intimately human with the grandly cosmic.”

The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A chapter in history get’s a secret new chapter that showcases a thrilling possible sequel to one of history’s greatest, most powerful yet most terrifying projects in the name of science in author Robert J. Sawyer’s “The Oppenheimer Alternative”. 

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The Synopsis

On the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, Hugo and Nebula-winning author Robert J. Sawyer takes us back in time to revisit history…with a twist.

While J. Robert Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project team struggle to develop the A-bomb, Edward Teller wants something even more devastating: a bomb based on nuclear fusion—the mechanism that powers the sun.

Teller’s research leads to a terrifying discovery: by the year 2030, the sun will eject its outermost layer, destroying the entire inner solar system—including Earth.

As the war ends with the use of fission bombs against Japan, Oppenheimer’s team, plus Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun, stay together—the greatest scientific geniuses from the last century racing against time to save our future.

Meticulously researched and replete with real-life characters and events, The Oppenheimer Alternative is a breathtaking adventure through both real and alternate history.

The Review

A brilliant combination of true historical events mixed with alternative history, author Robert J. Sawyer has created a masterpiece of a story. Delving into the deeper character growth of historical figures like Robert J. Oppenheimer, the author brings more of a personal viewpoint of these larger than life figures. With figures like Oppenheimer and Einstein being so notable and their work making them as infamous as they are, it was fascinating to see how facing the end of the world would have brought them together in a whole new way. 

The author does an excellent job of highlighting the brilliant minds at work historically during this period of time, and the science that they both discovered and worked in. The irony of choosing Oppenheimer as the protagonist is felt in the pages of this book. While he is notorious for his quote, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”, the author not only does an excellent job of exploring the man behind the legend, but giving him the chance to fight for humanity’s survival as our own solar system threatens to turn against itself. 

The Verdict

Highly scientific and creative, “The Oppenheimer Alternative” by Robert J. Sawyer is a masterful work of fiction that both entertains and educates readers on the work done by scientists, the manipulation of scientific discoveries by politics and militarization, and the work that can occur when scientists use their brilliance to saving lives rather than destruction. Oppenheimer is a truly unique and memorable protagonist and readers will love the sci-fi turn of events as the story progresses, creating a one of a kind read that readers will not be able to get enough of. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Robert J. Sawyer is one of Canada’s best known and most successful science fiction writers. He is the only Canadian (and one of only 7 writers in the world) to have won all three of the top international awards for science fiction: the 1995 Nebula Award for The Terminal Experiment, the 2003 Hugo Award for Hominids, and the 2006 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan.

Robert Sawyer grew up in Toronto, the son of two university professors. He credits two of his favourite shows from the late 1960s and early 1970s, Search and Star Trek, with teaching him some of the fundamentals of the science-fiction craft. Sawyer was obsessed with outer space from a young age, and he vividly remembers watching the televised Apollo missions. He claims to have watched the 1968 classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey 25 times. He began writing science fiction in a high school club, which he co-founded, NASFA (Northview Academy Association of Science Fiction Addicts). Sawyer graduated in 1982 from the Radio and Television Arts Program at Ryerson University, where he later worked as an instructor.

Sawyer’s first published book, Golden Fleece (1989), is an adaptation of short stories that had previously appeared in the science-fiction magazine Amazing Stories. This book won the Aurora Award for the best Canadian science-fiction novel in English. In the early 1990s Sawyer went on to publish his inventive Quintaglio Ascension trilogy, about a world of intelligent dinosaurs. His 1995 award winning The Terminal Experiment confirmed his place as a major international science-fiction writer.

A prolific writer, Sawyer has published more than 10 novels, plus two trilogies. Reviewers praise Sawyer for his concise prose, which has been compared to that of the science-fiction master Isaac Asimov. Like many science fiction-writers, Sawyer welcomes the opportunities his chosen genre provides for exploring ideas. The first book of his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, Hominids (2002), is set in a near-future society, in which a quantum computing experiment brings a Neanderthal scientist from a parallel Earth to ours. His 2006 Mindscan explores the possibility of transferring human consciousness into a mechanical body, and the ensuing ethical, legal, and societal ramifications.

A passionate advocate for science fiction, Sawyer teaches creative writing and appears frequently in the media to discuss his genre. He prefers the label “philosophical fiction,” and in no way sees himself as a predictor of the future. His mission statement for his writing is “To combine the intimately human with the grandly cosmic.”

Tales From Alternate Earths Book Review

Some of you may not know this, but one of the most fascinating scientific theories I’ve ever found in life has been the theory of alternate
realities. The theory that our world is one of an infinite amount of realities, with each reality similar in all but one way, is one of the most
incredible and interesting scientific theories in the world, and I love anything that revolves around this subject. So I jumped at the opportunity
to review a brand new anthology from Inklings Press, called “Tales From Alternate Earths”. Released a couple of days ago, the anthology covers
tales of various alternate histories and worlds, some that emerged from a small change to our history, and some from a massive change. Tales of
horror, science fiction and thrillers make up the heart of this anthology, showcasing our world from various different viewpoints.

The incredible authors in this anthology include Jessica Holmes, Daniel M. Bensen, Terri Pray, Rob Edwards, Maria Haskins, Cathbad Maponus, Leo
McBride, and collaborators Brent A. Harris and Ricardo Victoria. The stories range from political upheaval in the form of a President Kennedy who
was never assassinated and a Cuban Missile Crisis that hadn’t been diffused, but rather the nukes had flown. Tales of ancient rulers living past
their time or the dinosaurs having never gone extinct and becoming the dominant species on Earth. The most fascinating thing about these altered
histories however is just the sheer amount of knowledge one gains from reading these stories. While I’m a huge fan of history, I don’t claim to
know everything, and by the end of this anthology, once you read what the true histories were of each story, you will come away with a real sense
of a better understanding of our world.

Overall, this is a phenomenal read that is not to be missed. Each of these stories are super well written and pack both an action-packed and
emotional punch. In a short span of time, the reader will instantly become invested in the lives of these various characters and their world, and
getting glimpses into what our world could have been like if one tiny detail had changed is a fascinating thing to consider, so be sure you read
the fourth anthology from Inklings Press, “Tales From Alternate Earths”, today!