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Alt Hist Issue 5: The Magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History: Volume 5 Paperback – 8 May 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (8 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1484921917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1484921913
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,377,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Until recently alternative history was an alien concept to me. Like most people, I had often pondered how life would have been had the Germans won the war, or if the Americans had discovered life on the Moon. However, the fact that there was a whole genre dedicated to this art form had escaped me entirely.

Through technological advancement the fan base of alternative history is ever expanding and one such gentleman helping to achieve this is Mark Lord. Through his website and collections of short works of fiction he is helping to bring alternative history into the public domain.

Alt Hist Issue 5 is the latest instalment in his growing collection and, I'm embarrassed to say, the first I have read. The collection opens with an editorial by Mark Lord. Following a brief apology for the timeframe between issues, he jumps right in by introducing the guest authors and the treats on offer. Each author is introduced with a very brief bio of their work (a lengthened one concludes their contribution) and a brief over view of what's on offer. The friendly narrative immediately makes you feel the work is produced by a much larger family and one that should you wish, are more than welcome to join and enjoy the journey.

The collection consists of 5 stories, the first of which being `After Mary', by Priya Sharma. Set during the 1800's, After Mary is centred on a reclusive scientist, his assistant and his servant. What appears a love story is turned on its head following a visit from his old University friend and the mention/introduction of the novel `Mary Shelly's Frankenstein'. Written in the 1st person, `After Mary' is a great example of suggestive prose as its complex narrative drops the hints without ever fully exploiting them.
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Format: Paperback
I have always nursed a visceral interest in history, hence my qualms about mixing history and fiction. My contention simply was: unearth and collate the facts and nothing but the facts, fully aware of the dynamics inherent in modern historiography, that ongoing process of revising and adapting the documented course of events as research progresses and more data become available. It was with those reservations that I began reading AltHist 5, and I have got to admit that it has helped me shed my purist - and somewhat intolerant - attitude, thanks in particular to Jonathan Doering. To begin at the beginning:

"After Mary" includes some memorable lines, such as 'I've no time for fiction by women' and the ultimate shocker 'I was not born. I was made'. Who made whom, and where does Mary come in? I enjoyed reading the story twice, with several weeks in between, and it felt like reading two different stories. My fault? My humble ignorance? (A tad too many typos, though, if I may add - luckily, inversely proportional to the quality of the contents). That gory subject matter fuels an avid reader's imagination. Well done!

"AD 1929" evokes a nasty Al Capone and devises a doomsday scenario triggered by sheer coincidence (flipping a coin) as well as the throes of psychological mass manipulation. Moreover, I could literally hear the impact of a baseball bat on some hairy skull. Fiction always works when you get a sensation across. Combine brutality with art - and prevail; in blatant defiance of our late Seamus Heaney's 'The end of art is peace'. These are the makings of another Hitler. Eliot Ness dies a much more heroic death than in real life. Nice twist!

"The Stiff Heart" defines 'a community' as 'Watching other people die'. A timeless, placeless axiom.
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Format: Kindle Edition
mention this because it seems no matter of course when it comes to digital publishing. Also the formatting worked well on my reader.

Before I go into detail I would like to talk about the cover image. Mark Lord mentioned the name of the painting and the name of the artist. The Misses Vickers has been painted by the famous portrait painter John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 - April 14, 1925). I'm no adept which means I can't deliver an in depth review of the painting.

Editorial by Mark Lord

Mark explain the one year gap between Alt Hist Issue 4 and Alt Hist Issue 5 followed by additional information about the authors of the stories and the stories itself. The variety is shown in the historical periods covered by the stories from the 180s to the Second World War.
Anyway you get enough input to raise your nosiness.

It is always a balancing act not to give away too much of a short story. I decided to give you a short information of the content of each story based on the information you get in the editorial.

The first story of Alt Hist Issue 5 is After Mary by Prya Sharma which is set in the mid-1800s. A young scientist, misunderstood by the rest of the world, tries to realise his dreams in the reclusion of his country home supported by servant Myles and his assistant Myles. A copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein changes everything.

My thoughts
To give someone a specific book is like throwing a stone into a lake and see what happens. Prya Sharma let you understand very well how and why the persons in her story act like they act.

AD 1929 by Douglas Texter is the second story within Alt Hist Issue 5. The author let us know what happens when science and criminal energy meets. In 1929 the Italian Futurist F.T.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91045708) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90d9b75c) out of 5 stars An alternative view 30 July 2013
By GordonOS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the first issue of Alt Hist that I've read and I really enjoyed the experience.

The breadth of the tales is excellent; a story of the British resistance to a Nazi invasion continued from previous issues, a bridge with a mind and pull all of its own, a poignant reimagining of the Frankenstein story and Al Capone becomes a US Senator thanks to an Italian Futurist. All these stories excel as narratives while also providing counterfactual and alternative visions of the past.

The standout story, The Stiff Heart by Meredith Miller is an absorbing exploration of the inner turmoil of a woman in the post US Civil War period, wanting to die with a gun sitting in the shed "until she needs it, waiting with its one dark eye. Campbell will oil it every Friday afternoon as he always does, until she is ready."

Issue 5 is a coherent group of stories with strong individual voices balancing adherence to an authentic seeming past while still imagining vastly different outcomes to accepted history. Alt Hist really lives up to its name and provides a radically different and alternative past.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90d9bb64) out of 5 stars How history could have been. 2 Nov. 2013
By CRYates - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Until recently alternative history was an alien concept to me. Like most people, I had often pondered how life would have been had the Germans won the war, or if the Americans had discovered life on the Moon. However, the fact that there was a whole genre dedicated to this art form had escaped me entirely.

Through technological advancement the fan base of alternative history is ever expanding and one such gentleman helping to achieve this is Mark Lord. Through his website and collections of short works of fiction he is helping to bring alternative history into the public domain.

Alt Hist Issue 5 is the latest instalment in his growing collection and, I'm embarrassed to say, the first I have read. The collection opens with an editorial by Mark Lord. Following a brief apology for the timeframe between issues, he jumps right in by introducing the guest authors and the treats on offer. Each author is introduced with a very brief bio of their work (a lengthened one concludes their contribution) and a brief over view of what's on offer. The friendly narrative immediately makes you feel the work is produced by a much larger family and one that should you wish, are more than welcome to join and enjoy the journey.

The collection consists of 5 stories, the first of which being `After Mary', by Priya Sharma. Set during the 1800's, After Mary is centred on a reclusive scientist, his assistant and his servant. What appears a love story is turned on its head following a visit from his old University friend and the mention/introduction of the novel `Mary Shelly's Frankenstein'. Written in the 1st person, `After Mary' is a great example of suggestive prose as its complex narrative drops the hints without ever fully exploiting them. I'll leave the reader to draw their own conclusions.

The second story, `AD 1929', by Douglas W. Texter, tells the story of what would happen if idealism, or in this case futurism, were to combine with the driving force and sheer will of Al Capone and his criminal underworld. Written with a touch of `The Untouchables' and the political malice of `The Ides of March', AD 1929 is an insight into political machinations and how easily the wrong choices can propel us forward.

The third choice on offer is `The Stiff Heart', by Meredith Miller. Set during The American Civil War, this is a story of choice, fears and one person's contemplations of suicide. Beautifully written, I do feel this story is a required taste and one with which I couldn't fully engage.

The penultimate, and by far my favourite of the collection, is `The Bridge', by Micah Hyatt. Told in four sections, covering just over a decade in time, the narrative follows the construction of a suspension bridge and the cost to the men building it. However, as the story unfolds, you notice a dark undertone running in tandem with the narrative, building to a climax I never saw coming. This story was a real joy to read and will play on my mind for many sleepless nights to come.

The final contribution is `Battalion 202: Rotten Parchment Bonds', by Jonathan Doering. Based in the Northern town of Pontefract, `Battalion 202', deals with the successful invasion of Britain by Nazi Germany. The narrative follows the tale of Harold Storey, a policeman left to defend the town as his comrade's move to the front line to fight, and how he deals with the eventual occupation. Even though this works well as a standalone story, I was more than happy to find out that it was part of an ongoing saga, told from different character viewpoints, the first of which is in an earlier edition of Alt Hist.

To conclude, I believe this is a quality collection of fiction that is both intriguing and entertaining for the reader. The collection of stories on offer cover a variety of genres, are written in a variety of styles and, as such, there should be something for everybody to enjoy.

Alt Hist Issue 5: The Magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History
HASH(0x90d9bbdc) out of 5 stars Strong, consistent set of stories 26 Aug. 2013
By Kong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This issue of Alt Hist is beautifully presented, as was the previous one, but there is a noticeable jump in the overall quality of the content this time around. The standout stories for me were Priya Sharma's 'After Mary' and Meredith Miller's 'The Stiff Heart', but the volume as a whole was a satisfying and consistent read. Jonathan Doering's story also deserves a mention for its inventiveness in terms of form.
HASH(0x90d9bf6c) out of 5 stars Four strong stars 10 Aug. 2013
By J. Gunnar Grey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
A beguiling collection of historical and alternative history short stories, well written, well edited, and well presented. These are the sort of stories you have to think about a while, even as the feel of each story soaks through you like the aftereffects of fine wine. Of particular interest for this reviewer (who also writes World War II historical fiction) is Battalion 202: Rotten Parchment Bonds by Jonathan Doering, where a British policeman finds himself entering murky moral territory following a successful invasion by Nazi Germany.

Editor Mark Lord provided a free copy of [book:Alt Hist Issue 5|18040450] in return for this review.
HASH(0x90d9f0c0) out of 5 stars Five alternate history stories and four stars 4 Aug. 2013
By brienneselwyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
On August 14th, 2012, I posted my review of Alt Hist Issue 4 edited by Mark Lord.

In May 2013 Alt Hist Issue 5 has been published .........

Introduction
Mark Lord liked my review of Alt Hist Issue 4 and so he came back to me and asked if I would like to read an review Alt Hist Issue 5. As I liked the previous issue, I agreed and received a digital copy. Then a lot of things did not work as expected. My review activity hibernated and one of the "victims" has been Alt Hist Issue 5. I hope Mark Lord will accept my apology. I used the hot weekend in Germany to read and the following days with lower temperatures to review Alt Hist Issue 5.

For all of you who do not know Alt Hist: Historical Fiction and Alternate History, let me repeat the explanation by editor Mark Lord.

"Alt Hist, [...] is the new magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History. Lovers of historical fiction for too long have been denied outlets for short pieces of fiction, as the number of print and online magazines for historical short fiction is very limited compared to the popularity of fiction set in past times. Alt Hist's mission is to provide readers with entertaining and well-written short stories with a historical setting, whether portraying actual events or events that could have happened. If you read and enjoy historical fiction, alternate history or historical fantasy then we think you will like Alt Hist."

And now without further ado my review of Alt Hist Issue 5.

The Delivery
Alt Hist Issue 5 features five stories by five authors and editorial by Mark Lord.

At the end of each story you get basic information about the author and a link to a website or a blog which I appreciate.
I could not detect any obvious mistakes which means the proof-reading has been done well. I mention this because it seems no matter of course when it comes to digital publishing. Also the formatting worked well on my reader.

Before I go into detail I would like to talk about the cover image. Mark Lord mentioned the name of the painting and the name of the artist. The Misses Vickers has been painted by the famous portrait painter John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 - April 14, 1925). I'm no adept which means I can't deliver an in depth review of the painting.

Editorial by Mark Lord

Mark explain the one year gap between Alt Hist Issue 4 and Alt Hist Issue 5 followed by additional information about the authors of the stories and the stories itself. The variety is shown in the historical periods covered by the stories from the 180s to the Second World War.
Anyway you get enough input to raise your nosiness.

It is always a balancing act not to give away too much of a short story. I decided to give you a short information of the content of each story based on the information you get in the editorial.

The first story of Alt Hist Issue 5 is After Mary by Prya Sharma which is set in the mid-1800s. A young scientist, misunderstood by the rest of the world, tries to realise his dreams in the reclusion of his country home supported by servant Myles and his assistant Myles. A copy of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein changes everything.

My thoughts
To give someone a specific book is like throwing a stone into a lake and see what happens. Prya Sharma let you understand very well how and why the persons in her story act like they act.

AD 1929 by Douglas Texter is the second story within Alt Hist Issue 5. The author let us know what happens when science and criminal energy meets. In 1929 the Italian Futurist F.T. Marinetti offers his knowledge to Al Capone.

My thoughts
It is beautiful horrific to see what happens when science meet criminal energy and then use the laws and rules of country to manipulate the inhabitants. Not to forget the reaction of the administration and secret agencies. The more you read the more uneasy you feel.

The third story has been delivered by Meredith Miller.
The Stiff Heart is set in New England in the 1870s it gives an insight of fears, secrets and desires of some people in a post Civil War community.

My thoughts
While reading I felt a kind of trepidation. It must be traumatic when you can't cope with a situation and nobody seems to understand you or denies to understand you.

With The Bridge by Micah Hyatt we reach the last but one story of Alt Hist Issue 5. This is a story about engineering and the risk of life AND soul.

My thoughts
If you like the TV series The X Factor then you will like The Bridge too. The story is well executed and you may see bridges or other buildings from a different angle.

The final story of Alt Hist Issue 5 is Battalion 202: Rotten Parchment Bonds by Jonathan Doering
World War 2. Germany invade Britain. As the previous ones this Battalion 202 story is set in the town of Pontefract

My thoughts
I have had the pleasure to read two Battalion 202 stories in Alt Hist Issue 4 which is a slight advantage as I knew a bit more. The story is like a magnifying glass which show how single individuals who know each other well, cope with an unpromising situation where every decision has an impact on the lives of all inhabitants. Jonathan does a great job with the description of motives and emotion.

And what do I think about Alt Hist Issue 5?

I think it was worth to wait for this issue. Mark Lord put together a well mix of stories which show the variety of alternate history.
You get exactly what has been promised. It is a great opportunity to discover not so well known but promising alternate history authors.

If this is something after your taste then let me tell you that the previous four issues of Alt Hist are still available.
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