Interested in contributing to (or reading) the Mormon alternate history anthology I am editing (deadline for submissions is March 19!)? Curious about what alternate historical fiction is all about? Here are some works to consider reading:
Mormon Alternate History
“For the Strength of the Hills” by Lee Allred. This novella is one of the most re-printed stories in Mormon literature and one of the earliest (if not the earliest) iterations of the sub-sub-genre.
“Traitors and Tyrants” by John Nakamura Remy and Galen Dara in Monsters & Mormons. This short comic mixes pulp adventure tropes with steampunk and features Erasmus Snow and his plural wives on a trip to Japan.
City of the Saints by D.J. Butler is also a Mormon alternate history steampunk story. It features such characters as Orson Pratt, inventor of the airship, Sam Clemens and his steam truck, and Egyptian antiquities exhibitor Edgar Allen Poe.
Note: Orson Scott Card’s The Tales of Alvin Maker is considered to be alternate history, but it doesn’t really fit with what I’m asking for because it involves the use of magic. Alternate technologies are okay with me (e.g. steampunk/dieselpunk) but magic isn’t something I’m interested in for this particular anthology.
Other Alternate History Works/Resources
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. A key text in alternate history, the novel takes place in a 1962 America that has been partitioned in two by the Axis powers Japan and Germany. All the more remarkable in that it is also a meta-narrative about alternate history.
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by American Michael Chabon is a key influence on my own alternate history story “The Darkest Abyss in America”. It take place 60 years after a (in our actual timeline rejected) proposal to temporary settle WWII-era Jewish refugees in Sitka, Alaska is passed.
Uchronia is the go-to online database of alternate history works.
The Sideways Award is the major aware in the genre.
There is a lot more out there, but this is a good start. Anybody have other reading suggestions?
6 thoughts on “Mormon alternate history anthology: background reading”
Although his writing is pedestrian at best, Harry Turtledove’s imagining of alternate Americas are still compelling.
Although it wouldn’t really be appropriate for this collection, Steve Peck’s Talmage story is in itself a catalogue of possible places to take Mormon alt history.
The Superman story Red Son imagines baby Kal-el crashlanding in Russia instead of Kansas with the alt-(fictional)-history that would have created.
It’s interesting that “alternate history” is considered science fiction and mostly written and read by science fiction writers and readers, even if it doesn’t include any of what are typically considered science-fictiony elements. As opposed to (say) mathematics, where envisioning a universe where the set of rules is different from those we know is: mathematics, performed by mathematicians.
I haven’t read much of her work, but Jo Walton has written quite a bit of alt-history.
And if you click through the various years of the Sideways Award, some of the short fiction works that are finalist have a link where you can read them for free.
I also purposefully didn’t mention Roth’s The Plot Against America because I don’t think it’s interesting as alternate history.
That’s an interesting point, Jonathan. Although I’d say it’s closely allied to science fiction in the sense that it’s about extrapolation. So in that sense it’s a social sciences version of science fiction.
My favorite alternative history series (not LDS) is Joan Aiken’s Wolves chronicles. Wonderfully eerie writing. Childrens’/YA.
Yes! on Aiken’s books. Especially the first three in the series: Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, and Nightbirds on Nantucket. Though maybe that’s only because those were the ones I read first as a child.
I should note that the above books barely scratch one tiny part of the surface of alternate history. It really is quite the large sub-genre, especially if you add in alternate history with magic like Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.