“Ghosts in Alternate History”
By Gail Z. Martin
“Alternate” history means that the timeline has been changed. Maybe the Roman Empire never fell or the Titanic didn’t sink or Alexander the Great lived to a ripe old age. That one change, big or little, sends the future reeling in a direction different from the one we know.
Usually, alternate history focuses on the tangible. Inventions (especially those that make a big difference in military advantage) happen before or after their real time, changing everything. Individuals don’t die, or die young, thus affecting history and the accomplishments/contributions of descendants. Battles weren’t lost, ships didn’t sink, assassinations didn’t happen.
So if we’re mucking about with history, why not bring in the supernatural? Perhaps a timeline where events completely validate the predictions of Nostradamus or Edger Cayce beyond the shadow of a doubt? Maybe a timeline where Mesmerism turned out to be real, séances proved the existence of the afterlife, and it wasn’t considered crazy for heads of state to have mediums among their cabinet members.
Since history generally gets re-written by the winners, imagine what would happen if you could conjure up the real ghosts of history’s losers and find out what really happened? Or perhaps, summon the ghosts of a country’s or religion’s founders to validate or debunk what they actually intended from their writings? Suppose the ghosts of dead scientists could influence the research extending their theories?
In Iron & Blood, the steampunk series co-authored with my husband, Larry N. Martin, we have cool science and spooky magic. In fact, that tension between science and the supernatural is an important thread. In our alternate history Pittsburgh, it’s not about picking a side between the two—it’s about finding ways for technology and magic to complement and reinforce each other, or to function as counterbalancing weapons.
For me, the ‘what if’ factor of magic/supernatural elements adds an interesting dimension to alternate history, which is often very fact-driven or technology propelled. Maybe the supernatural becomes the ultimate ‘soft’ science, and in a reimagined past it is as empirically proven and testable as any other natural force.
Our past—real or imagined—is always haunted by our losses, broken dreams, and failures. People of every age have been fascinated with the inexplicable. Adding a well-explained and thoughtfully constructed supernatural thread to alternate history adds a deeper human dimension—and in my opinion, just makes it even more fun!
My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www.AscendantKingdoms.com
Trick Or Treat! Enjoy an excerpt from #Vendetta by @GailZMartin @RebellionPub here http://bit.ly/1ZXCPVS
DaysOfTheDead TrickOrTreat DoubleDragonSampler#1 http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/sample/DDPSAMPLE001.mobi
Trick Or Treat! Something wonderfully wicked this way comes! Coming Attractions w 4 sweet giveaways http://disquietingvisions.com/2015/10/13/coming-attractions/ @RebellionPub @orbitbooks
Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors http://on.fb.me/1h4rIIe before 11/1!
About the Author
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.
Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.
Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.