Just bringing this discussion over to ning...

What books are you reading right now that don't have a narrative driven by images as well as words?

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Luke Blanchard said:

Ward Moore Bring the Jubilee

This is a well-known alternative history novel about a world in which the Confederacy won the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War. The Confederacy has become a wealthy and powerful nation. The rump US has been held back by the pathologies of defeat. The first part of the book explores the alternative US through the experiences of the narrator. Half-way through he joins a commune for scholars, and this development leads to a climax involving a time machine.

The book is well-written, and its alternative US is well-imagined. In Moore's alternative world not all the same technological development and social evolution occurred, so the book has a steampunk flavour.

I read this years ago and still have the paperback somewhere. I don’t remember much about it.

This is the first one  I read when I was a kid. It is by MacKinlay Kantor :


It was published in 1960 and, in tune with the time, has the nations of USA, CSA and Texas reuniting into a single country (!) to face the threat from the Soviet Union.

I read this one, with a sci-fi spin, from Harry Turtledove:


It has white supremacists from the future bringing AK-47s to Robert  E. Lee in their time machine.

Turtledove subsequently wrote an entire series of novels sometimes called the Southern Victory series, which encompasses 80-plus years beginning with some changed luck in the Civil War, continuing through wars and other events into the 1940s:


This encompasses the following eleven novels:

Wikipedia mentions two precursors. One is Murray Leinster's story "Sidewise in Time", where the theme only appears briefly; and the other is an essay by Winston Churchill called "If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg", which appeared in a collection of counterfactual histories edited by J. C. Squire called If It Had Happened Otherwise

Moore's alternative US also reminded me of Sam Merwin, Jr's The House of Many Worlds. In this the heroes travel to a couple of alternative USes, including one with a history that diverged from ours in 1814. The US became the Columbian Republic with its capital at New Orleans, and the North tried to break away. This first appeared in 1951, a year before the first version of Moore's story, so it could be what gave him the idea.

The Turtledove Southern Victory novels get pretty interesting. How Few Remain concerns the second war between the USA and CSA, somehow prompted by the CSA purchasing two Mexican provinces to obtain Pacific ports and the doings of a still-alive Abraham Lincoln.  In this version of the Great War, the CSA is aligned with Britain, Canada and France against the USA and Germany. The USA makes an attack on Pearl Harbor, still in the hands of the British and the trench warfare occurs in Canada. Some clever stuff. If I ever manage to find the time and increase my reading speed I'll try to get past the beginning of the Great War trilogy.

Finally finished reading the Old Curiosity Shop.  I confess to finding the final fate of Little Nell neither especially moving or particularly hilarious.

Dennis Wheatley The Ravishing of Lady Mary Ware

This is the tenth book in Wheatley's Roger Brook series. The books are historical novels set during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. Brook is an English spy with a second identity as an officer in the French army. The eleventh book doubles as one of Wheatley's Satanist novels.

In this instalment he has adventures in Germany, restive under Napoleon's ascendency, and Portugal and Spain during the Peninsular War. After England sends him on an ambassadorial mission to Sweden, and Sweden's ruler to Russia, he is forced to resume his life as one of Napoleon's officers and accompanies the Grand Army during Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

These adventures are counterpointed by his relationships with his long-time lover Georgina (who I heartily dislike) and Lady Mary, an English aristocrat without money he meets in Portugal and half-seduces, half-rapes. He meets her again as the wife of a merchant in England, and again as a widow in St Petersburg. She becomes his lover and accompanies him in disguise during the retreat from Moscow. 

The depiction of the retreat and its privations is the best part. In the twelfth, final book in the series Roger's and Mary's relationship turns bad, but there's no sign that's going to happen here.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton The Lady of Lyons; or, Love and Pride

This is a play from early in Victoria's reign, set in France in the later 1790s when it was ruled by the Directory. Pauline Deschappelles is the beautiful daughter of a Lyons merchant who has rejected offers from rich men because her family hopes to marry her to a foreign noble (titles having been abolished in France). She also rejects the love of Claude Melnotte, the son of her family's late gardener, who has sought to become refined to win her. To humiliate her, her rejected rich suitors recruit him to pose as a prince and marry her. She falls in love with him. He's wracked with guilt, but has been bound by an oath to go through with it, and does. All ends happily.

The play is mostly written in prose, but it also has verse passages. There's a little early comedy, but it gives way to scenes of emotional turmoil. The verse is used to bring out what the speakers are feeling.

Since the 19th century the verse has been called bad. I though it mostly OK, and that the play's weaknesses are its melodramatic characterisation and lack of interesting incident. It was very popular in the 19th century.

Saturday I read The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum.

Sunday I read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.

Yesterday I read several Christmas-themed short stories by Charles Dickens.

Currently reading, The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories by Philip K Dick. So far a pretty neat collection of short stories. The only work I remember reading before was Dr. Bloodmoney. Unless, there was a short story in some anthology I read that I don't remember. 

Also, The Mentor by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli. Like a book I was reading earlier this year, this is another crime novel originally written in Italian. This one takes place in England, as a crime scene investigator notices that some new crimes greatly resemble a previously unsolved crime. Good, fun reading.

Page Smith's biography of John Adams.  Smith has a somewhat old-fashioned style of writing biography -- a little verbose and "colorful" -- but I enjoy it.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World, by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

The Consummata by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. So, this was a book originally started by Mickey Spillane in the late 60s. He had started a new series of books starring a character named Morgan the Raider. The first book was a success, and a movie was soon in the works. Mickey began writing the second book,but the movie never came to fruition and he soon quit the second book. Years later he gave what he had completed to Collins, telling him maybe they would finish it someday. Spillane later passed away, and with the advent of the Hard Case book line Max Allan Collins decided to finish up what Mr. Spillane has started.

It actually took me about 80 pages or so to get into this book, but now I'm all in.

Finished Volume 1.  Since I'm about to leave town, and don't want to pack a big, fat hardback to take with me, I'm taking a break and switching to The Making of the President: 1972.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

Page Smith's biography of John Adams.  Smith has a somewhat old-fashioned style of writing biography -- a little verbose and "colorful" -- but I enjoy it.

So, I just started the book Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone. I'm only about 50 pages in, but this a pretty fun book.

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