My Copy of “A Mighty Fortress” Has Arrived

mormon

© James Pyles

Some time ago, I announced that my short story “The Deseret War” had been published in the Immortal Works anthology A Mighty Fortress: A Mormon Steampunk Anthology Book 4 edited by Holli Anderson.

There was some sort of snafu with the mailing, and I never got my copy of the book…

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COVID-19 Log: WIP for April 23, 2020

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

Editing an over 28,000 word novella takes a long time. I’m actually okay with that, since I’m not (paid) working today, and we don’t have the grandchildren. My wife is going nuts since she’s far more social than I am, and she’s spent long periods of time talking by phone to our daughter and my Mom.

I thought I’d share portions of my current work in progress (WIP), which involves space travel, time travel, espionage, aliens, and real technology. I’m especially proud of the research I did on mid-1960s American spy satellites.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been working on. Let me know what you think (and remember, this is not the polished form):

“That son of a bitch,” Smirnoff spat out as ear-splitting klaxons and flashing alarm lights on the bay’s walls announced the opening of the primary launch doors over fifty feet above their heads. “What’s he doing? Romanovich knows the first trial flight isn’t scheduled for six weeks, and Cosmonaut Dobrovolsky won’t arrive here until next Tuesday.”

Utkins could smell stale cigars and vodka on his breath. “Well, Lieutenant! Stop that ship. Don’t let it get off the ground!”

She screamed at her troops and they all rushed forward. Smirnoff ranted at nearby technicians to override the launch bay doors as they were vainly pounding keys and gibbering something about the security lockouts being disabled.

The ramp had been fully retracted by the time the Lieutenant’s complement reached the ship. She ordered them to fire their rifles, sparks flaring off the impervious skin.

To the left, from around the edge of the craft, the two men Smirnoff had ordered to check Romanovich’s quarters were accompanying a very recognizable, diminutive figure, spindly legs extending out of oversized boxers. “Fuck you, Volkov,” Smirnoff murmured with satisfaction. “I see Romanovich pulled one over you.” Then he watched as a blast of force exploded outward from the slowly rising spaceship, vaporizing the irritating Lieutenant and seven other “heroes” of the state.

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“A Mighty Fortress” Is Now Available!

mighty fortress

Promotional image for the Immortal Works anthology “A Mighty Fortress”

It’s here! A Mighty Fortress (A Mormon Steampunk Anthology Book 4) from Immortal Works and is now available for immediate download to your Kindle device. Read for free using KindleUnlimited, or purchase at the modest price of $1.99 USD. At Amazon UK, that’s £1.51.

Here’s the official announcement on Facebook.

Features my short story “The Deseret War.” Here’s a summary:

Once Stephen Isaac Eddington converted to Mormonism in his native London and realized the severe persecution the Church was enduring in the United States, he knew he had to use his unique skills to help defend the faith. But to do that, he would have to steal an incredible invention devised by his scientist mentor who had recently perished, and the greedy and corrupt tycoon who had financed the venture. Eddington and his ill-gotten technology arrived in Utah well ahead of the U.S. Army troops who the President commissioned to remove Brigham Young from power and establish a new Governor over the Utah territory.

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Review of Brad Linaweaver’s Novel “Moon of Ice”

moon of ice

© James Pyles

When I wrote about the recent passing of SF author Brad Linaweaver, and then reviewed his original novella Moon of Ice, a few of the people who knew Brad contacted me and shared a little of their experiences with him.

I was also gifted with a copy of the full length novel which I finished recently.

In a way, I’m not sure it was an advantage to have read the novella first. I was able to pick out seeming inconsistencies in the older material. A large part of this had to do with the novella being told from the point of view of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, while the novel had several primary voices, but most of all Hilda, Goebbels’ daughter.

In the novel, Goebbels’ long suppressed journals are on the verge of being released to the public by Hilda thirty years after the end of the second world war, and not long after her father’s death. In this alternate universe, the Nazis developed the atomic bomb and subdued Europe and England, but were prevented from conquering the U.S.

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Book Review: “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century”

alt

Cover art for the anthology, “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

Note that I’ve previously reviewed individual stories presented in this anthology, such as Brad Linaweaver’s novella Moon of Ice, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike, and Susan Shwartz’s Suppose They Gave a Peace. This review applies to the entire book.

The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century is a 2002 anthology edited by Harry Turtledove with Martin H. Greenberg. As the title suggests, it’s an eclectic collection of short stories and novellas crafted by various science fiction luminaries over a span of nearly fifty years.

As with all anthologies, it is pretty uneven.

Ward Moore’s “Bring the Jubilee” was the toughest to slog through. It’s depressing and seems to be overly long, including details that may not have been necessary to tell the core story. Also, it’s hard to believe that the Confederate Army could have won the Civil War based on a single engagement, one that our hero managed to change by sheer ineptitude.

Both “The Lucky Strike” by Kim Stanley Robinson and “Suppose They Gave a Peace” by Susan Shwartz were anti-war stories, the former being Robinson’s wish fulfillment of a world with no nuclear weapons, and the latter, an alternate history that bore little difference from the actual one, as told through the eyes of one family.

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Short Story Review: “Suppose They Gave a Peace” (1992)

Cover art for the anthology, “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

The latest tale I read in The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century edited by Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg is Susan Swartz‘s 1992 short story Suppose They Gave a Peace.

It’s an anti-war Vietnam era tale as seen through the eyes of a family in Ohio in the early 1970s. Frankly, it reminded me of the old sitcom All in the Family, set in the same era and, at least in the beginning, with the same stereotypes.

Dad’s a World War Two and Korean War vet who is a total conservative. Mom’s a peace loving Quaker. Daughter is a radical college protestor, and son joined the Marines and is serving at the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

The alternate part of this history is that McCarthy won the election rather than Nixon. It didn’t seem to make much difference since the Fall of Saigon was just as ghastly.

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Review: “The Lucky Strike” (1984) by Kim Stanley Robinson

Cover art for the anthology, “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

I’ve been reading the anthology The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century edited by Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg. The edition I have was published in 2001. I checked it out of my local library, and besides a bit of water damage, it seems to be missing the table of contents.

The very first story presented is Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Lucky Strike (1984). The premise is what would have happened if Paul Tibbets and the Enola Gay crashed during a training flight and they weren’t able to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima?

In Robinson’s novella, fictional Captain Frank January is the bombardier who joins the replacement team on the B-29 “The Lucky Strike.” It explores the classic trope about how one man wrestles with his conscience over dropping a single bomb that could potentially kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. He thought that dropping “the bomb” on an uninhabited area as a demonstration of America’s nuclear power would have been enough to make the Japanese surrender.

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Review of Brad Linaweaver’s Novella: “Moon of Ice”

Cover art for the anthology, “The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

Before it was a novel, Brad Linaweaver’s “Moon of Ice” was a novella that was a Nebula award finalist in 1983.

Almost four months ago, I wrote A Revelation on the Recent Passing of Brad Linaweaver. I had newly “discovered” Linaweaver’s works, thanks to the sometimes controversial File 770, and particularly in their article Brad Linaweaver (1952-2019). It’s a shame to find such a terrific author only after he’s passed.

I went through my local library system, but could only find his “Moon of Ice” novella in a collection called The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century.

Moon of Ice utilizes a very familiar science fiction trope: “What if Nazi Germany had built the bomb first and won World War Two?”

Actually, they only won Europe in the novella. America came up with the Bomb second and still conquered Japan.

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Excerpt From My Latest WIP

vampire verona

Found at “Book More Brides”.

I’ve been editing this one for days and it’s close to being finished. Here’s a sample of my latest short story:

It wasn’t a man and there was nothing average about her. The companion lamp to Leah’s on a table at the other end of the short corridor to her room, shone behind the intruder. It illuminated her diaphanous gown, which draped over her lithe curves like a cloud. Her long hair was almost as white and seemed to float around her head. The woman’s pale skin was offset by ravenous green eyes and luscious ruby lips. Her teeth, when she slightly parted them, were pearls.

“Hold it right there, sister. Who the hell are you and what do you want?” The gun in her right hand shook as she trembled, which caught Leah by surprise. Her breathing became shallow, and a horrible feeling or recognition overwhelmed her, though she knew she’d never seen this person before.

“Surely you remember my kiss, delicious one.” She smiled broadly, exposing twin fangs and confirming the worst possible notion of Reese’s fears. The apparition hissed menacingly like a feral animal.

“Vampire.” It came out as a gasp.

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Book Review: “The Berlin Project”

berlin project

Cover image for Gregory Benford’s novel “The Berlin Project.”

Just finished reading The Berlin Project, a novel by physicist and science fiction author Gregory Benford, and it was fabulous. Really top-notch alternate history, which was given enormous depth by the fact that Benford has met many of the people who were involved in the Manhattan Project during World War Two. His father-in-law is Karl Cohen, who is the book’s protagonist and in real life actually was a chemist on the project.

The novel’s premise is that at the Manhattan Project’s beginning, America’s secret effort to produce the Atomic Bomb, Cohen develops an alternate and faster method of producing weapons grade uranium for “the bomb,” allowing us to make a nuclear weapon in time for D-Day.

Not only are the technical details amazingly accurate, but the characterizations of the people involved, particularly Cohen and his family, are absolutely credible and “real.” Small wonder, since by marriage, they are Benford’s family, too.

As I imagine like most readers, I thought the climax of the book would be dropping the bomb on Berlin in 1944, killing Hitler and ending the war, but I was wrong. True, that was a pivotal moment about three-quarters of the way through, but it was the aftermath to that event that made all of the difference in changing the shape of alternate history going forward.

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