Friday, December 28, 2018

Review: Napoleon Victorious by Peter G. Tsouras

Do you ever read an alternate history book and wish you knew more about the actual history the book is referencing? That is how I felt reading Napoleon Victorious by Peter G. Tsouras.

Tsouras has made a name for himself in alternate history by writing what ifs on various battles and wars and how they went a different way and Napoleon Victorious is no exception. In this alternate history, Napoleon Bonaparte escapes his imprisonment from Elba, but he makes some better decisions on the road to Waterloo and that, coupled with many other changes to history, allows Napoleon to defeat Wellington's army, make peace with the Seventh Coalition and ensure that his empire lives on.

And no it's not a spoiler to say that is what happens. I mean what do you expect from a book called Napoleon Victorious? This is a story where the journey is definitely more important than the destination (although I won't spoil the post-battle epilogue, which ends in a delightful bit of historical irony) and we are with Napoleon every step of the way in this alternate Hundred Days. We see him rebuild his armies, gather his Marshals, obtain intelligence, reform the French government, make secret deals with dissatisfied Saxons, use aerial reconnaissance and outmaneuver the British and Prussians before the final moves at what is called in this alternate timeline: the Battle of Mont St Jean.

Remember kids: only winners get to name the battles. Thus it's Mont St Jean, not Waterloo, in this alternate timeline.

The book itself is written like a fake history book (i.e. For Want of a Nail), complete with real and fictional sources (including some from the author's doppelganger, so it's good to know Tsouras gets work as a historian in other timelines). From my point of view it is a well-researched and written novel. Unfortunately, as I mentioned already, I can't comment on how plausible the scenario is because I don't know enough about the Napoleonic wars to say anything with any real certainty. I certainly have a general understanding of the era, but only in its broadest strokes.

Nevertheless, Napoleon Victorious did what any good alternate history does: it made me want to learn more about what I don't know. I really want to pick up a history book about Napoleon and if any readers of this review have any recommendations, please share them in the comments. Plus Napoleon Victorious still did enough hand-holding (and provided some very helpful maps) that I didn't feel completely lost even if I didn't always know why so-and-so general was important.

Honestly there is not much bad I can say about Napoleon Victorious. The only thing that comes to mind is that because of the number of things that went better for Napoleon in this alternate timeline some alternate historians may find Tsouras' scenario to be implausible from a technical point of view, but truth be told that didn't bother me.

If you love reading history so much that you even enjoy fake history books, then I can heartily recommend Napoleon Victorious.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

What If the British Won the Battle of New Orleans?

Can a change in the outcome of a battle that happened after a war was over alter the course of history? Let's find out...

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Review: Through Darkest Europe by Harry Turtledove

I've been a fan of Harry Turtledove since the beginning of my dive into alternate history. Now while I recognize that many of his long running series are some of the best in the genre, I personally enjoy his stand-alone novels more. Its hard to explain why exactly, I just feel like the author can really tell an interesting and emotional story when he limits himself to a single novel. Great examples, in my humble opinion, include Ruled Britannia, In the Presence of Mine Enemies and Joe Steele.

So, of course, when I heard about Through Darkest Europe, I wanted to read it as soon as possible. It is set in a timeline where the philosophical underpinnings of the Christian and Muslim worlds are reversed. Thus in this alternate history, Islamic theologian al-Ghazali advocates for a more rationalist Islamic religion that promotes learning and science. This causes the Muslim nations of the Middle East and North Africa to be the center of the developed world, the drive behind all modern technology and the ones who explored/colonized the planet. Meanwhile, St. Thomas Aquinas promotes Christian fundamentalism, which means that over time Western Europe falls behind the rest of the world and Christianity remains mostly isolated to a single continent.

The plot itself involves two investigators from the Maghreb (which appears to be a powerful state located in North Africa), a Muslim named Khalid al-Zarzisi and his Jewish partner Dawud, being sent to the Grand Duchy of Italy (minus Sicily). They are there to help the Italians deal with the Aquinists, a fundamentalist Christian sect that preaches a new "Crusade" against the godless Muslims and all of their modern trappings, like tolerance of other religions and feminism. As you can expect, it hits the fan fairly quickly and Khalid and company now have to figure out how to stop an all out religious war from spreading across the world.

Through Darkest Europe reminded me a lot of Matt Ruff's Mirage, which I didn't read, but I did read about the setting. In that book it was North America that was the stand in for the Middle East, while in Turtledove's book its Europe. Frankly, I find Turtledove's switch to be more plausible and to be fair he did do a good job with the world-building, even if there was some parallelisms (we even got a Hitler analog because alternate history). Nevertheless, the cultural changes this Muslim majority world instituted (from the style of business dress to polo being the world's most popular sporting event) were fun and believable.

Honestly the part of the story I had trouble with the most were our heroes. I just found them to be passive observers at best who were only there to tell the reader what was happening at the time. They mostly just reacted to what was happening around them and the "advice" they gave to the Italians about how to deal with their terrorist problem was often of the "well duh" variety. They were still likable characters and I did care what happened to them, I just wish they did more to drive the plot forward.

So yeah Through Darkest Europe wasn't one of Turtledove's best, but it wasn't the worst either. If you are a big Turtledove fan, then I recommend you check it out. If not, maybe check some of the other Turtledove novels I mentioned before reading this one.

Friday, November 23, 2018

What is Happening Inside the Republic of Gilead? (A Map Analysis)

Yeah we are talking about Gilead from The Handmaid's Tale again, but this time its not a fan made map. This was something created presumably by does it hold up?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review: Black Chamber by SM Stirling

I have a confession to make: I don't like spy thrillers. They are just so...boring. All of the sneaking around, coded talk and lavish parties...yawn. Its why I could never get into Tom Clancy and why I tend to abandon alternate histories that use that type of plot. For me to really enjoy a spy thriller, there has to be something unique about it. So what does today's subject got? Well its written by SM Stirling...good start. And its set in a timeline where Theodore Roosevelt won a third term as president...okay, you hooked me, lets take a look at Black Chamber, book one in Tales from the Black Chamber.

Black Chamber is set in a timeline where William Howard Taft, then President of the United States, dies of a heart attack before he could be nominated again as the Republican presidential candidate in the 1912 election. With Taft gone, the Republicans have no choice but to nominate Theodore Roosevelt, former American president who in our timeline ran under the Progressive Party in 1912 after he failed to secure the Republican nomination. In this timeline, however, Roosevelt gets the nomination, defeats Woodrow Wilson, changes the name of the Republicans to the Progressive Republicans and sets about driving America out of its 19th century attitudes as soon as possible.

Fast forward to 1916 and President Roosevelt's reforms have revolutionized the country. New possibilities have been opened for women and POCs, while industrial and technological development is encouraged by the federal government, which sits on any robber barons or traditionalists who might try to stymie change. Mexico has also been invaded in response to a raid by Pancho Villa and is now a protectorate of the United States, which has to deal with an insurgency against their rule there. Meanwhile, the Great War rages in Europe, but Germany is doing a tad better than they did in our timeline, having managed to capture Verdun. Nevertheless, their unrestricted submarine warfare has angered President Roosevelt and it is only a matter of when America will enter the war on the side of the Entente.

As preparation for this, our hero, Luz O'Malley Aróstegui, is tasked with a secret mission that will take her to the heart of Germany. Posing as a Mexican insurgent willing to help the Germans fight America, she meets with a German agent who takes her to the middle of Saxony where she witnesses a weapons test that can finally break the stalemate on the Western Front...and make America think twice before challenging the coming Pax Germanica.

Black Chamber was an enjoyable read...but it had issues. Admittedly I found the setting to be fascinating. Theodore Roosevelt ranks in my top 5 favorite American presidents and seeing what he might have done had he won his third term made for an interesting thought experiment. I especially liked how Roosevelt worked hard to chip away at the laws that kept women and POCs down, which is an optimistic take on the early 20th century that was refreshing to read. Furthermore, I never felt bored during the less action packed scenes of the novel, which is a plus when it comes to the spy genre and me.

That said, a lot of Stirling cliches tropes appear throughout the book. Airships, of course, make an appearance, which is something Stirling appears to love writing about so much he even included them in his book where there was human life on Venus. Luz, thought a likable character, is your standard bad-ass, non-heterosexual female character that Stirling loves to write about. Granted there is nothing wrong with that, especially when SF in general still tends to downplay anyone who isn't a straight, white person with an easy to pronounce name, but that doesn't mean I haven't seen this character before in Stirling's work.

Also I found the idea that Mexico could be subjugated so easily in just a couple of years to be a little hard to believe. The insurgency is described as almost dead by the start of Black Chamber, which is surprising considering the Philippines put up more of a fight in our timeline when the United States tried to incorporate them.

That all being said, Black Chamber is still a good book in my opinion and I am interested in seeing where Stirling is taking the story. Not to spoil anything, but Stirling seems to be trying to take the geopolitical situation of 1940s Europe and transplant it a couple decades ahead of schedule. Granted the Kaiser's Germany is not Nazi Germany, but there are a lot of hints through the book that we are going to see World War II fought with the personalities and weapons of an earlier generation...and that could be cool to read about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Warrior and the Saint

Guest post by Ian Sharpe.
There is something otherworldly about an old Norman church. A sanctity, certainly; the trappings of Christian worship both exude and compel hushed reverence. A sense of community perhaps, as the Anglican Communion struggles to fill the gaps left by austerity, providing food banks now alongside village fetes and raffles. But there is always something beyond that; something in the very fabric of the building, buried deep in the centuries old stone. The best of those churches are keepers of ancient tales, conduits that speak of England’s green hills and forests and what lies beneath.

I was married in one such church, parts of which date from the 12th century, set on falling ground to the west of my home town. The churchyard contains St Withburga's Well, supplied by a spring that is said to have issued forth from the burial place of Withburga, who laid the foundation of a church and convent there, the first Christian settlement in the area in the year 654. She lived and died in an era of unprecedented change. Her father was Anna, King of the East Angles, pagans who came to the British Isles with iron and fire, who believed the green church of the woods heard their prayers more clearly than any monument of stone.

But it is stone that has proved the most enduring store of the pagan story.

At the north side of Gosforth village on Wasdale Road, Cumbria, stands the ancient parish church of St Mary and, in the churchyard the equally ancient and famous Gosforth Cross. This magnificent cross has stood on the same spot for over a thousand years. The monument is a very tall, slender cross made from red sandstone, richly decorated with some very exquisite carvings of Norse gods, Christian symbolism and mythical beasts. It is at the heart of the All FatherParadox and takes pride of place on the cover. I chose this cross as my central motif for the novel because, like Withburga’s well, it has been witnessed to endless change. We can only imagine who built it and why, or what manner of men have toiled in its shadow over the course of that millennium. There was nothing like going there this summer and feeling the power of the landscape myself.

Christianity was in the north-west of England long before of course. Roman soldiers had spread the faith, and left traces when their armies were withdrawn. Wandering saints and preachers came up the Irish Sea from Rome, such as the man later venerated as St. Patrick or Bega of St. Bees, bringing their religion to the Anglo-Saxons who settled there. There is no definitive proof of a church in Gosforth before the Viking Age, but it would have been Celtic, made of wattle and daub, and it too, would have been focused around the local holy spring.

The Vikings swept through Britain with series of invasions throughout the 10th century, and for a time controlled the area of northern England known as Danelaw. Names of towns, roads, and families still in existence today attest to this Scandinavian stronghold. But, like the Angles before them, it seems as though the conquerors were quickly conquered by the customs and beliefs prevalent in their new land. The Gosforth Cross speaks to this unique juncture in time, a world halfway between the pagan and the Christian.

It was first identified in 1886 by the amateur antiquarian Charles Arundel Parker. His findings were a sensation in an age obsessed with Vikings (Wagner's Ring debuted just ten years before), the Victoria and Albert Museum quickly had a replica made. Parker demonstrated that the cross showed scenes described in Norse myth, such as Loki bound, the god Víðarr tearing the jaws of Fenrir, and Thor's failed attempt to catch Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent.
Inside St. Mary’s church are two hogback tombs, another example of this unique fusion of Viking paganism and Anglo-Saxon Christian cultures. About four to five feet long and shaped generally like a bowed house, the hogback derives its name from the convex curve of its roof. Narrative scenes on their sides also depict scenes from Norse mythology and Christian iconography. They are assumed to be tombstones or gravemarkers, and once they too probably stood in the churchyard. But over time, their original use forgotten, their pagan overtones became uncouth. When the church was rebuilt in the 12th century, they were used in the foundations – and only rediscovered in the 1896 rebuilding. At one time, there were other crosses standing in the churchyard as well - some of the fragments remain, also built into the church wall, but most of the structures are lost.

But, what if the experts have got it wrong? What if the depicted duality was something they made up, or misidentified?  What if the gravemarkers and crosses had a different purpose, also broken up and buried with the ages? Or, what if the tipping point toward Christianity changed? What would 1,000 years of history look like then?

I was fascinated by one of the key figures represented on the cross, thought to be the god Heimdall. Heimdall is the sentry of Asgard and a member of the Aesir, the gods of the Norse pantheon. He is the herald of Ragnarök, fated to sound his majestic trumpet, Gjallarhorn, and leading the Aesir into their final battle.

In an entangled world of the Vikingverse, St. Mary’s is home to Churchwarden Michaels, himself a guardian of sorts. But it soon becomes difficult for him to tell Christian from Norse, friend from foe. It is often said that X marks the spot, but exactly what is underneath?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

What If Pope Alexander VI Had Lived Longer?

Pope Alexander VI (aka Rodrigo Borgia) had big plans for the House of Borgia before he died unexpectedly...but what if he had lived a few years more?

Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, the first full-length novel in The Lady Astronaut series, is being praised as not just as a great alternate history, but as a great science fiction story. I've seen dozens of reviews recommending this one to alternate historians and general science fiction fans alike. But does it know what, I'm not even going to finished writing that rhetorical question. Yes, it certainly deserves the praise and you should go read it.

But I still need to write a review of it and while much of what I've said has probably been said by others before, I still feel to desire to talk about this book.

The Calculating Stars is set in an alternate history where the American space program gets a boost from two different points of divergence (PODs). The first one is that Thomas Dewey actually defeats Harry Truman in 1948 US presidential election. Under President Dewey, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the predecessor to NASA in our timeline) is given a bunch of funding to beat the Soviets into putting a satellite into orbit, which they do.

The second point of divergence is that a meteorite crashes in the ocean not far from Washington, DC. This not only wipes out the city, but devastates much of the American East Coast and causes a nuclear winter to begin. Now I am initially skeptical of any alternate history that has to rely on more than one point of divergence, but apparently there is a short story called "We Interrupt This Broadcast" that links the two PODs. Having not read the story yet I can't confirm if this is true, but I'll give the author the benefit of the doubt for now.

Our protagonist, Elma York (a Jewish-American former WASP pilot and mathematician) is the first to discover that the amount of water vapor thrown into the air by the meteorite will cause temperatures to rise over the years, eventually making the planet unlivable. This spurs a multinational effort to colonize space to save humanity. Elma joins the effort as a computer for the International Aerospace Coalition (IAC), but what she really wants to be is an astronaut. For as we all know, you can't really have a colony without women, otherwise where are the babies going to come from?

Despite this biological requirement, Elma and other female pilots wanting to be astronauts find themselves blocked by the sexist 1950s society, but Elma is determined to get into space. Unfortunately this propels Elma into the media's spotlight as "The Lady Astronaut" and her own anxiety about being in the public eye may bring her down before the patriarchy can.

The Calculating Stars was an enjoyable, character-driven story from start to finish. I've always enjoyed alternate Space Race timelines and the novel delivered everything I could want such as cool rocket technology and ambitious dreams to colonize the Solar System. The world-building was good as well, especially with the brief news snippets that showed what was going on across the rest of the world (for example, the Soviet Union didn't weather the extended winter all that well, but China did and is trying to play catch up with the IAC, since the remaining communist bloc is not a part of the IAC).

I also liked how Kowal essentially took our current debate on global warming and transported it to the 1950s, but still managed to make it plausible, even with the conspiracy theorists who don't believe the Earth will warm up enough to make it uninhabitable. Because even with the fate of humanity at stake, if it effects someone's wallet, then it can't possibly be that big of a threat, am I right?

I also liked the character of Elma York. She is a good balance between the common cliche female characters. She is far from a "damsel in distress", being a trained pilot and skilled mathematician who can easily out-fly and out-think many of the boys, but she isn't a simple "strong female character" and has real flaws. For example, even though she is perhaps more progressive when it comes to race then a lot of characters, she still fails to realize at times how privileged she is as a white woman. Her biggest flaw, however, is her social anxiety. As someone who has his own social anxiety issues, I thought Kowal did a great job at presenting this in a realistic way.

Is there anything I didn't like about The Calculating Stars? Well this might be nitpicky, but I thought Elma's husband and chief engineer of the IAC, Nathaniel York, was a little too perfect. He always had the right thing to say (or knew when to just shut up and listen), was always supportive of Elma's dreams and was very attractive for someone who spent a lot of time behind a desk. That all said, I didn't find the character to be offensively bad and he was still likable, but it would have been nice to see some more obvious flaws. Nevertheless, it doesn't really ruin the story in the slightest and I only included it here because I wanted to balance out the review.

So yeah if you haven't read The Calculating Stars then you are missing out. I personally plan to pick up a copy of the sequel, The Fated Sky, as soon as I can. Hopefully Kowal continues to write more in this universe as we need more stories about humanity reach for stars rather than the current timeline we live in where we do nothing but squabble in the mud.

Monday, August 27, 2018

How Plausible is the Balkanized America from Crimson Skies? (A Map Analysis)

Perhaps the most famous example of a balkanized North America comes from Crimson Skies, but does this fan made map of it hold up?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: Low Chicago edited by George RR Martin

I've been meaning to get back into the habit of writing text reviews of alternate history books and stories I've been reading. So I posted a poll on Twitter to see if anyone was interested in seeing them and it turns out people wanted to read my reviews. I will still occasionally do reviews on the channel proper, but those reviews will focus primarily on how plausible the alternate history is. Reviews on this blog will instead focus on whether or not you should read the story.

Still with me? Good, lets begin.

Recently I finished Low Chicago edited by George RR Martin, a fantasy author you may have heard of. This is actually book twenty-five in the Wild Cards series, which for those who don't know, is the shared superhero universe where an alien plague is unleashed over New York City in 1946. While most who contracted the diseases were killed, an unlucky few were mutated into horrible parodies of humanity called "Jokers". Even less people gained useful superpowers, becoming "Aces". The last twenty-five books flesh out how the post-WWII world handles these super-powered beings in a realistic style reminiscent of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.

I received a copy of this book from Tor for the Sidewise Awards consideration, but having only read the first four books of the Wild Cards series, I didn't plan to actually read Low Chicago anytime soon because I thought I wouldn't be able to follow the plot. Thankfully, the kind folks at Aces & Jokers: A Wild Cards Podcast pointed out that the book is actually meant as a jumping on point for new readers, which was great for me because I really wanted to read this one.

You see I'm from Chicago and I always enjoy when stories are set in my hometown. I even hope someone will actually take the characters to my old neighborhood, which is a place so obscure that even third generation Chicagoans who have never left Cook County would have trouble picking it out on the map of the city. Plus since I was already a big Wild Cards fan, I went into Low Chicago with high expectations.

Like many Wild Cards books, Low Chicago is a mosaic novel, which means its one story written by several different authors, all tied together into one coherent narrative. The main character is John Nighthawk, a Chicago-based Ace who has precognition and life-draining abilities. He was born a slave and should have spent the last moments of his life in a hospital in New York City, until he was infected by the Wild Cards virus, making him practically immortal. By the present (2017), he is hired on to be a bodyguard for a player at a high stakes poker game happening at the Palmer House. When a fight breaks out another Ace that is there accidentally sends everyone back to different points in time causing reality to break down in the present.

To make matters worse, the Ace who sent everyone back in time is Croyd Crenson, a.k.a. The Sleeper. Every time he falls asleep he wakes up a new power and look. Thus John and Croyd only have a limited amount of time to travel back in time to gather up everyone who was lost before Croyd falls asleep and lose his time travelling powers. Their journey takes them to several famous events in Chicago history, like the Great Chicago Fire, the World's Fair, the opening of the Playboy Club, the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and more. The book's jacket also makes a big deal about going to the 1920s (you know when Capone and other gangsters were running around) as if it will be the climax of the story, but (SPOILER ALERT) only one story takes place there and it happens midway through with little impact on the overall plot.

Since this is a time travel story, things get confusing from the start. For example, Croyd can travel with John through time, but not space. Thus when they first go back in time they find themselves back in the Palmer. Of course, this makes little sense once you think about it since the Earth is moving through space as we speak, meaning that Croyd would have to be able to travel through space in order to reach the specific point Earth is at in the ever-expanding infinite universe, but like most time travel stories, this is glossed over.

Also whether you can really change history is never quite clear throughout the story. Sometimes you can change the past in big ways, other times what you doesn't matter and some times you were always meant to go back in time and do the thing that happened. At one point near the end time is described as a river and time travelers are described as throwing pebbles into said river. They may cause ripples, but the course of the river eventually sweeps their impact away. Nice metaphor, but if time is self-correcting, then why the hell did everyone see reality start to implode shortly after the accident happened?

So yeah if you are looking for a plausible time travel story, Low Chicago is probably not for you. That said, if you want a superhero time travel story, you might want to check out Low Chicago. Since its a mosaic novel there are several different stories from several different authors (i.e. Saladin Ahmed, Paul Cornell, Marko Kloos, John Jos. Miller, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Christopher Rowe, and Melinda M. Snodgrass). To be honest not many of them stood out in any spectacular way, but all of them were enjoyable to read and generally fit together (although there was a story about a bird that went in two different directions depending which author told it).

Besides a story set in a more violent outcome to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the best story was the main narrative written by Miller which followed Nighthawk and Croyd as they traveled across time collecting all of the temporal castaways. I loved the chemistry between the increasingly reckless Croyd and the cool competency of Nighthawk. To be honest after reading Low Chicago I think I'd have to make Nighthawk my new favorite Wild Card character. I love "smart" characters. They don't need to be geniuses, but if they can overcome their troubled origins and really learn from it, then they make for a relatable and interesting character. Then go and contrast that with the drug-addled, morally gray, but still trying to be a "good" guy, Croyd and you get a great team-up.

So in the grand scheme Low Chicago is good superhero story set in a realistic(ish) universe that this Chi-town boy enjoyed. Sure the logic behind time travel could have been better fleshed out, but if you are a Wild Cards fan or want to be one, Low Chicago might be a good place to start.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

What If Beringia Still Existed?

The prevailing theory is that Native Americans reached the New World through the land bridge known as Beringia. But what if Beringia still existed?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Plausibility Review: Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois

Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois is one of the most beloved alternate histories about the Cuban Missile Crisis...but is it plausible?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: Who Killed the President? (Jour J #5)

Today I review a French alternate history graphic novel called...seriously? Its called "Who Killed the President?" O boy, I'm not going to see a dime from YouTube on this one.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

If You Want To Speak English, Go Back To England!

I got mad at something I found on the Internet, so I'm interrupting our normal schedule to bring you a scenario where the Iroquois League has to deal with illegal English immigration.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Saturday, April 7, 2018

State of the Channel: April 2018

Fun fact: the last time I did one of these State of the Channel posts was March 2017. I guess I just didn't find it necessary in the last year to do more of them, but recent events have convinced me that its time I get off my ass and talk to you guys about what is going on with the channel presently and what is coming to you all in the future.

Where I have been the last month?

Some of you may have noticed that many of my videos have been late by days or even weeks. Those who follow me on Facebook or Twitter may also have noticed that I have skipped several days of social media posting. I like to apologize once again for this...but unfortunately more delays are likely in the near future.

I can't go into too many details, but at my day job my department got saddled with a massively important project that has sucked up any time I've had to do anything else. I've been skipping lunches, working late at home and even putting in hours during the weekend. Even when I do have free time I am usually exhausted and would rather spend time with my family.

Now if this channel was just a hobby like I have said many times in the past, that might be a legitimate excuse, but I don't think I can call this a "hobby" anymore. I have a lot more subscribers and Patreon supporters than I had a few months ago giving me a serious obligation to make the videos I promised to make. Thus I will do everything I can to meet those promises.

All I ask for is patience as I struggle to balance family, work and the channel. To be honest all of you have been super supportive and I couldn't be more grateful that you all still follow me, but I guess I have just been feeling guilty lately and wanted to apologize again and promise to do better going forward.

Speaking of the future...

Sliders Retrospective Incoming!

So I recently reached one of my Patreon goals to watch and review every episode of the alternate history series Sliders. I'm looking forward to this one because I never did finish watching the series when it was on the air. I remember watching the first season, but lost interest in the second season and only watched a few episodes here and there as the show went on.

General consensus among alternate historians appears to be that this show had a great premise, but poor decisions by the producers led to the quality of the show's writing to deteriorate as the seasons went by. It will be interesting to see if I agree with this consensus.

So when will you get to see the first episode? Well I need to finish my Warping History series first. For those who don't know this is a mini-series I am doing where I recount the history of the online alternate history community. You can watch my first episode here where I discuss GEnie, the early years of Uchronia, the 90s alternate history boom, the founding of the Sidewise Awards and more. My next episode (which should be my next video) will discuss the soc.history.what-if years up to the year 2000, so stay tuned for that.

Because Warping History was a Patreon goal as well I think its best I finish it first. I think I got 4 (maybe 5) episodes left so the Sliders retrospective should begin in late 2018. In the meantime, I'm looking for ideas about what to call the show. If you have any ideas, feel free to share it in the comments below.

New Patreon Goals?

While I am excited about the upcoming Sliders retrospective, I am honestly surprised I reached that goal so quickly. I guess I didn't have much confidence that anyone would spend money on me to make videos (growing up a loner on the heavy side doesn't do wonders for your self-esteem).

So I made some changes to my Patreon goals. My next goal is to post a review of an alternate history every day for one month has been changed from $100 to $200. This is because I honestly don't think I could handle such a project right now with my lack of free time and my outstanding Patreon requests (more on those later). Hopefully the new goal will get me some breathing room to take care of my current patrons.

More importantly, that is my last outstanding goal! I need some new ones to encourage future patrons. So my question to you is: what kind of goals would you like to see? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Patreon Requests Backlog

So I'm super thankful about all of my current and new patrons. You guys rock! Also why are so many of you named Sean?

Anywho, there are a lot of videos I need to do and due to my current scheduling framework (where every other video is a map analysis) it means several requests won't be completed until months from now. I may need to stop doing so many map analysis videos, but I'm hesitant to do so because they are consistently my most popular videos on my channel. What do you guys think I should do? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Livestream Q&A?

So my next Q&A is scheduled for when I reach 20,000 subscribers and as I write this post I'm only a couple hundred subscribers from 16,000, so the Q&A is coming sooner rather than later. Would anyone be interested in doing a livestream Q&A? I've seen several other YouTubers do that and I'm curious about what you guys think of them. Do you want to do a livestream or do you prefer my current format? I've asked this question before and got only a tepid response so I dropped the idea, but now that there are more of you I've decided to revisit the idea once again.

Thanks again!

Well I think I've rambled long enough. Thanks again for sticking with me and here is to even more speculating for 2018!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Brief Ifs #1: Is 1983 the Start of the Netflix Multiverse?

In the inaugural episode of "Brief Ifs" we look at Netflix's new show, 1983, where the Soviet Union doesn't fall and Poland remains a communist country.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Review: The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

Do you want an alternate history where magic exists, but the author doesn't skimp on the socio-economic changes? Then read The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What if Grover Cleveland Didn't Survive His Secret Surgery at Sea?

Did you know American President Grover Cleveland had a secret surgery at sea? Did you also know what was at stake if he didn't survive it?

Friday, February 23, 2018

What's Up With Europe in Kaiserreich? (A Map Analysis)

Today we analyze a fan made map based on the computer game mod, Kaiserreich, where you can play as any country in an alternate history where Germany won World War I.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Do you want to know why I love alternate history? Its because you can write stories set in some of the craziest timelines imaginable and still have it be plausible because history is just that freaking weird. Case in point: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey.

Friday, February 9, 2018

10000 Subscribers Q&A Responses

You had questions and I (hopefully) had answers. Thanks again for 10000 subscribers!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Warping History Ep. 1: GEnie, the 'Net Alternate History List, the Sidewise Awards and the 90s Boom

In the first episode of Warping History, we look at the history of the online community of alternate historians. Join us as we see the community form up over at GEnie, which helped sparks the 90s alternate history boom.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Friday, January 19, 2018

What Happened to America in Ghost in the Shell? (A Map Analysis)

When creators can't be plausible, fans step in to fill in the gaps, just like we see in this map of America from Ghost in the Shell.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Top 5 Favorite Alternate History Stories of 2017

We remember 2017 on a high note by sharing my favorite alternate history stories of the year.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review: Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together? by Bryce Zabel

If you want to see how a rock band can change history then Once There Was a Way: What if The Beatles Stayed Together? by Bryce Zabel is a book worth checking out. Read my full review on Amazing Stories.

Friday, January 5, 2018

What Happens Next: Harry Turtledove's Timeline 191 (100TH VIDEO SPECIAL!!!)

To celebrate my 100th video, I'm talking about Harry Turtledove's Timeline 191 (a.k.a. Southern Victory) series and what I think this alternate history would look like in 2018.