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Friday, 21 January 2022

The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories - Isobel Mason (Editor) - Stories of Alternative Histories

The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories: 
Stories of Alternative Histories
Isobel Mason (Editor)
Electronic Bookshop
ASIN B00O2AAJ3C


I love reading anthologies to get exposed to new authors. Sometimes I pick them up because of a specific author or authors who contributed, other times just because they catch my attention. I did pick this one up because of the contribution of Andrew M. Seddon. I did enjoy the collection once I settled down and started reading it. The description of this volume is:

“What the world would be like if some great event in history had never taken place or had taken a different course? A different decision made or the untimely death of someone else?

Two thousand years ago the Roman writer Livy asked what would have happened if Alexander the Great had gone Westward to attach the young Roman Republic, instead of Eastward to conquer Persia.

Last century Winston Churchill imagined Lee winning at Gettysburg, and wondered what the world would have been like.

Now we have asked our writers to join together to bring new and exciting tales of these alternative worlds.”

In the prologue we are informed that:

“The Tanist’s Wife and other Stories. A book of ten alternative history short stories by various authors.
 
In July 1914 an Austro-Hungarian soldier forgot to tell the driver the revised route for the Arch-Duke’s car and a World War killed millions. What if he had remembered to tell the driver the new route? History is all about ‘what-ifs’. Most events which shape the history of nations stem from coincidences or from choices that seemed trivial at the time.

This collection takes past events and asks what if they had turned out otherwise, what would the alternative history have been like?

The stories are all different, reflecting the different backgrounds of the writers. Some are traditional, some experimental, one is a pastiche of a bestseller of a hundred years ago. But what links them all is that they are based in well researched and well thought-through alternate worlds.”

The stories in this collection are:

The Tanist’s Wife - Malcolm Cowen
The Pride of Knossos - Andrew Seddon
Flesh Eyes - Heather Titus
Autobiography of a Lateral Time Traveller - Forrest Schultz
Wave Goodbye - Steve Wilson
Danger of Death - Isobel Mason
American Samurai - Magdalene Zapp
Milking the Good - Jeffrey Paolano
The Other England - Malcolm Cowen
A Second Chance - Isobel Mason

The genre of Alternative Histories is not a new classification. There are authors out there who have had stellar careers focusing primarily on these types of stories. And several authors I appreciate have tried their hand at it at least once, and usually in the short story format. Short stories require a very different skillset than novels. The writing needs to be tighter, cleaner, crisper, or at least if it is to be done well. And there are authors who made their Careers out of the short form fiction, I think specifically of J.F. Powers who in his lifetime published 4 collections of short stories and two novels. And both the novels would be considered Fix Up Novels in that a few chapters in each appeared as short stories in various form and formats in years prior to being in the novels. But back to this collection.

In any anthology there is bound to be a favourite and a least favourite. I would be hard pressed to pick a least favourite from these 10 stories, but my top three stories are:

A Second Chance 
The Pride of Knossos
The Tanist’s Wife

I already have a few works from Seddon in my queue but after reading these stories I plan on tracking down more from Isobel Mason and Malcolm Cowen. I loved that in this collection each piece had a brief introduction, and then the story of how the piece cam to be. I found these stories about how the work came to be almost as entertaining as the stories themselves. It is a great little collection and If you read it I am certain you will find an author or two you really grabs your attention and whom you want to read more from.

Note:
For reviews of other Anthologies click here.
For reviews of other books by Andrew M. Seddon Click here.

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