I have to admit that I sometimes enjoy judging books by their cover. I like reading the covers of the trashiest novels, from the ripping romances, to the ludicrous science fiction and fantasy books that get churned out. I especially like trashy political thrillers. Even fairly good books with a fan base offer interest, and I manage to follow some series vicariously. I know that Jack Ryan is the President of the United States, for instance, even though I’ve only ever read Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October. There is an art to back cover blurbs, and the trashiest novels sometimes have the best ones, as the back cover blurb authors try desperately to sell the poor, unfortunate book they’re printed on.
For this reason, whenever I head to Goodwill, I often park myself down in the books’ section. Because the only thing better than back cover blurbs for trashy novels is back cover blurbs for trashy novels written in the 1970s.
Anyway, I like to read these blurbs and, in some series, I’m able to follow the narrative vicariously through them. So, I’m interested in what’s happened to that one-trick-pony, Mr. Harry Turtledove. He’s the science-fiction author that took the old chestnut (“what if the South had won the Civil War?”) and beat it into the ground (several novels pushing the timeline from the 1880s to the 1930s). The last novel, Victorious Opposition gave the Confederate States of America a fascist dictator named Jake Featherstone who is obviously going to become this timeline’s Hitler (Germany won WWI in this timeline, thanks to the United States, and so is not governed by a Nazi regime). Everybody’s rushing headlong into war, and all would be revealed in the new novel, Return Engagement, to debut in hardcover in May 2004.
It is now September 2004, and there’s no sign of the new Harry Turtledove novel.
Has he been distracted by his other alternate history books? (What if Rome never fell? What if Spain conquered England? What if the Second World War had broken off due to an alien invasion? What if they fought World War I with magic and dragons?) I mean, I don’t intend to read the book other than its back cover (and perhaps a few pages within, to chuckle at the prose), but this sudden silence after approaching this obvious crescendo is a little unnerving. What gives?
Later: Ah, I see. Just a little delayed.
“First of a new trilogy”? Dear God.
On the other hand, Dan and I were going through this story’s alternate history. Germany a constitutional monarchy. England a weak power. Russia in Alaska and still ruled by the Tsar. The Japanese dominating the Pacific. Knowing Turtledove’s propensity for drawing parallels, Dan wondered which power would discover the atomic bomb first.
My prediction? Japan. Who would they use it against? The fascist south.
Erin is at the Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival. She left in an Airways Transit van at 5:15 a.m. Friday morning to catch an early Air Canada flight out of Pearson. She returns late Sunday night.
She’s already had her first panel discussion, one alongside George Bowering, Canada’s first Poet Lauriet. She has a reading on the main stage tonight.
I’ve heard from her; she’s enjoying Winnipeg, especially the walks down by the river. She’s having a great time at the hotel and the city reminds her very much of home.
If anybody happens to be in Winnipeg during this weekend, perhaps you should stop into the festival and say ‘hi!’.
Like We Said, Hurricanes are Unpredictable Things
Many of you have already seen the map of Florida with the storm tracks of Charley, Francis and Ivan skirting Democratic counties to strike Republican areas. Those tracks, however, were not the actual paths of the storm. In the words of this liberal blogger:
It would be a good analysis if the tracks of the hurricanes really followed Morris’ map. Unfortunately for his thesis, Ivan made landfall in Alabama, Charley exited the state in Flagler County, and Frances exited into the Gulf of Mexico in Pasco County. Still, it’s all in good fun, I guess …
I had to admit, they had me. It was one well drawn map