Classic and Iconoclastic Alternate History Science Fiction

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These essays analyze the important sub-genre of science fiction called alternate history, stories set in worlds that have been fictionalized by altering some key event in real history. They examine some of the famous themes of this literature: the American South winning the Civil War, and the Nazis winning WWII, as well as analyzing fascinating experiments with the form, such as those by Robert Silverberg and Robert Coover. It fills the void in scholarship in this popular literary form, and contains essays by several very well-known scholars in the fantastic literature field, including Thomas Shippey, Steven Kagle, Robert Geary, Martha Bartter, and Joe Sanders. Moving from the origins of alternate history to discussions of early examples and unusual experiments with the genre, the essays deal not only with print literature but also with film and graphic novels.


“Any work by Edgar Chapman is well worth a reader’s time and his latest, on alternate history, is no exception. It is amazingly comprehensive n its coverage, with its informed analysis of a wide variety of fascinating alternate histories. Beyond Chapman himself, the other critics he and his co-editor have chosen…are all highly qualified and uniquely equipped to handle their subject matter. As a solid contribution to modern scholarship this is a book that I can recommend without reservation.” – William F. Nolan, author of Logan’s Run, and award-winning horror fiction

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. General Introduction: Three Stages of Alternate History Fiction and the “Metaphysical If” (Edgar L. Chapman)
2. Taine and Leinster and the Origins of Magazine Alternate History: If Only…. (Joe Sanders)
3. The Ironical Mysteries of Time: Ward Moore’s Classic Bring the Jubilee (Robert Geary)
4. A Dance of Apes: Sarban’s The Sound of His Horn (Carl Yoke)
5. Toward a Theory of Alternate History: Some Versions of Alternative Nazis (William Hardesty)
6. Metafiction and Quest for Illumination in The Man in the High Castle: Dick’s Alternate History Classic Four Decades Later (Howard Canaan)
7. The Aztecs and Incas Have It: Robert Silverberg’s Playful Alternate Histories (Olena Saciuk)
8. Authentic History, Alternate History, and Alternate Future History in Superhero Graphic Novels, 1986-96 (Darren Harris-Fain)
9. Between the Poles of a Paradox: Robert Coover’s The Public Burning and What Became of Gloomy Gus as Alternate History (Martha Bartter)
10. Kingsley Amis’s Science Fiction and the Problems of Genre (Thomas Shippey)
11. Alternate History and Dislocation in Joanne Russ’s The Female Man (Karen Hellekson)
12. Alternate Views of Time and History in Orson Scott Card’s The Tales of Alvin Maker (Steven Kagle)
13. Gallic Paradoxes: The Great Implosion, A French Alternate History (Claire-Antoinette Lindenlaub)
14. Multiple Alternate Histories by Robert Heinlein and John Crowley: Slick Gimmicks or Postmodern Extrapolations (Edgar L. Chapman)

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