Disaster fiction? My current

August 28, 2003

Disaster fiction?

My current book on tape is Harry Turtledove's Great War: American Front an alternate history of world war one set in a land where Lee won at Antietam, Britain and France recognized and supported the confederacy before Lincoln was able to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and North America became divided up between Canada, the USA, the CSA, and the Mexican Empire much as Western Europe was.

It is hackwork, but it is more interesting than the other thing I checked out of the library, Dickens's Tale of Two Cities - a novel that did not translate well to book on tape.

What struck me is something that this has in common with, say, John Ringo's stories of alien invasion, Walter Jon Williams The Rift or what I have heard of the Tribulation novels in the Left Behind series. There is something odd in reading about destruction and devastation happening in places where you know the name and the geography, and it can make otherwise plebian prose somehow more compelling. So just as we can go down to Gettysburg and walk the battlefield today, imagining what was happening on those green fields a hundred fourty years ago, so can this disaster fiction take spaces that we know, if only vicariously, and overlay new images onto it.

I don't know if I will finish it, I do not normally read alternate history fiction that overlaps with the stuff that I teach. However, it is a nice change of pace from the heavy diet of military science fiction that takes 19th century colonialism and warfare involving asymetrical technology and imposes it onto some future space - I think I blogged on this a few months ago.

For our drive to Albany this weekend, it will be Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill and Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

And so to lunch.

Posted by Red Ted at August 28, 2003 02:28 AM | TrackBack