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The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories

The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories [Kindle Edition]

Ian Watson , Ian Whates
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Mr Watson wreaks havoc with what is accepted - and acceptable. (The Times)

One of Britain's consistently finest science fiction writers. (New Scientist)

Book Description

Over 40 fascinating stories of worlds that might have been

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More About the Author

Ian Whates lives in a comfortable home down a quiet cul-de-sac in an idyllic Cambridgeshire village, which he shares with his partner Helen and their pets. Ian's love of science fiction began while still at school, manifesting when he produced an SF murder mystery as homework after being set the essay title "The Language of Shakespeare", much to the bemusement of his English teacher. Ian also represented his school at various sports, including football, squash, and table tennis, whilst swimming saw him perform for both school and the county of Hertfordshire! Such athletic feats are now ancient history. These days he exercises only his mind and his imagination (and, occasionally, a cocker spaniel called Honey).

In 2006 Ian launched independent publisher NewCon Press, quite by accident (buy him a pint sometime and he'll tell you about it). That same year he also resumed submitting short stories, and has now seen some 40 appear in different venues. He is currently the chairman of the British Science Fiction Association and co-organiser of the Newcon conventions in Northampton.

Ian also likes to write books, and has two novel sequences ongoing, the 'Noise' books (space opera) via Solaris, and the 'City of 100 Rows' series (urban fantasy with steampunk and SF overtones) through Angry Robot. Anxious not to have too much spare time on his hands, Ian started writing a new series of books, provisionally titled 'Drake's Dark Destiny', towards the end of 2010... So watch this space!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is indeed a pretty mammoth collection of alternate histories. 20 stories, (3 of which are new to the collection), all of which are alternate histories. This is done in different ways - some are far into the future long after some diversion from our established history takes place, and some take place around what the author imagines to be a crux in history.

The quality is pretty high throughout (take a look at the list of authors to see that) and there was little in here that I personally disliked (though, of course you may not like as much as I did). In fact, even authors that I've never really fancied the idea of (Harry Turtledove, for one) have some enjoyable stories in this.

Given the number of stories, it's hard to provide comprehensive reviews of each (also, probably best to avoid spoilers!) suffice to say at the price, you can't really fault this. It's not perfect by any means, but there was little that I really hated, so give it a go!

James Morrow - THE RAFT OF THE TITANIC [New to the collection]: Everyone is evacuated from the Titanic in an audacious rescue attempt, but no-one is discovered. Set against the backdrop of what happened over the next few years. Good fun.

Ken MacLeod - SIDEWINDERS [New to the Collection]: Alternate history and the multiverse - features a chap that is able to jump between differing histories. Excellent stuff.

Eugene Byrne & Kim Newman - THE WANDERING CHRISTIAN: Christianity never quite gets the hold that it did. Basically a history of what happened over the preceding hundreds of years.

Suzette Hayden Elgin - HUSH MY MOUTH: Short story showing a different outcome from the American Civil war (and that doesn't mean a conventional "the south won" story). Good stuff.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This is the second "Mammoth" collection I've read, and they've made me much more positive about anthologies in general. This particular set of stories includes some impressive names and even more impressive tales. I enjoyed almost every story in here. One or two were a little bit off, but most hit the five star rating with space to spare, which is way above the majority of anthologies that I've come across.

Alternate History stories often tend to fall into the same broad strokes, and indeed you'll find several long lived Roman Empires, histories where different religions gain ascendancy in different parts of the world and of course a couple of visions of how Hitler could have elsewise spent his time.

I don't really want to do a synopsis for each story as some of them are difficult to introduce without being either so bland that several of them sound the same, or going into too much detail and giving away the entire story. That said, a few hightlights of this collection for me were;
A Very British History by Paul McAuley - A look back at a very different space race.
The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson - The most thought provoking story, about a different plane being assigned the Hiroshima bombing run, and the comparrison to a firing squad at the end is particularly striking.
and Darwin Anathema by Stephen Baxter - In 2009 a much more powerful Catholic Church puts the bones of Charles Darwin on trial for heresy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, overall rather disappointing 14 Aug 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A mixed section of stories, but overall I found this disappointing. I think alternate history generally does not flourish within the short story format as it needs more room to breath and create its alternative version of history in a way that explains itself in sufficient detail to convince.

My favourite stories in this collection were the four below, three of which are by legends in the SF/alternate history fields. The rest were a mixed collection of tales, some reasonable, others dull and unengaging.

The Lucky Strike (Kim Stanley Robinson)

The pilot due to drop the atomic bomb on Japan dies in an air accident and his place is taken by another who has doubts about his mission and deliberately drops the bomb on uninhabited land away from Hiroshima. He is court marshalled and shot but the Japanese surrender due to the power of the demonstration and the post-War world is largely non-atomic. Powerful stuff though not sure it is too realistic in terms of the Japanese surrender.

Islands in the Sea (Harry Turtledove)

A fascinating exploration of the clash of religions. Constantinople has fallen to Islam in the 8th century of the Christian era instead of the 15th. The Khan of the Bulgars summons Islamic and Chistian thinkers to present to him the arguments for their respective religions and he will make his choice, affecting the future development of history. As this is alternate history, he chooses Islam and Christianity is restricted to western Europe, with the momentum in Islam's favour.

The Einstein Gun (Pierre Gevart)

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand fails and WWI never happens. As Emperor he appoints Hitler as Chancellor in 1934 and repression against the Jews begins and world war looms in 1945.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First time I haven't finished a book in ages 19 Feb 2014
By sue
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After struggling for quite a while, I eventually gave up about a third of the way into the book. I just couldn't get on with it. The first couple of stories were interesting, but the rest from then on just got more and more confusing. It was difficult to try and work out where they were set and even what they were meant to be about. They just didn't make sense to me. I read for enjoyment and I just wasn't enjoying this because it was just such hard work. I hate giving up on a book, but in the end I thought "why am I struggling with this". Sorry, I can't recommend this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars the person it was bought for liked it.
Arrived on time, the person it was bought for liked it.
Published 13 days ago by Dragon
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay
As with any anthology it is hit and miss. Some good stories some not so good.
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read over a period of time though
A reasonable collection but some stories were a bit too alike in subject to be read one after the other. A good read over a period of time though.
Published 1 month ago by L. I. Palmer
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Not my cup of tea
Published 1 month ago by Michael E Cross
3.0 out of 5 stars but some are very good and make it worthwhile
Quite a mixed bag, but some are very good and make it worthwhile.
Published 1 month ago by M. H. Newton
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it if you like AH genre.
Alternative histories are good if plausible. A nice compendium here of well written shorts here.
Published 1 month ago by MARK HALES
2.0 out of 5 stars I like alternate histories...
...but short stories of alternate histories don't really work for me. They don't have time to get going, and it feels a little superficial.
Published 3 months ago by doctorblunkett
4.0 out of 5 stars Up To The Eyeballs In Alternate History
As the name suggests, this book had a mammoth amount of alternate histories which were each more different than the last. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dutch Bennie
4.0 out of 5 stars Alternate but not a mammoth amount of variation
Many years ago I read a book of altnerate history stories which I quite enjoyed (but the title of which I have long forgotten! Read more
Published 7 months ago by Tiger Lily
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange.
They're mainly American, they're odd and don't really relate to anything. Most of them aren't "alternate histories" - more simply science fiction versions of events and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Peter Fine
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