Back in the CS of A

That’s the Confederate States of America, y’all.

I read this piece (via Kalyr.com) yesterday with a sense of guilty recognition. In it, Charles Stross laments the state of American sci-fi, horror and fantasy. He is particularly damning of the current US sci-fi trend toward alternate history “tiredly re-hashing the US Civil War, the Second World War, the War of the Triple Alliance, and the Russian Revolution”.

Shortly before reading this rant I finished Harry Turtledove‘s Settling Accounts: Return Engagement, the 210th instalment in his alternate history of the States from the Civil War onwards. It’s strangely compelling in the way it drives the story gradually forward through often mundane seeming scenes and it’s not very challenging- but I don’t feel like reading something challenging at the moment. In many ways it reminds me of another guilty pleasure- the technothriller, though without quite so much fetishisation of technology.

There is a certain lack of imagination. This is just a re-telling of the Second World War on the American rather than European continent, with the Southern states as the Nazis. They’re building prison/ extermination camps, only for Blacks rather than Jews, and are lead by a charismatic but obviously insane veteran. They even have Stukas and their own National Socialist Freedom Party. Hawaii is still the Sandwich Islands, tanks are referred to as barrels and loads of historical details are slotted in and repurposed.

Despite all the failings, I got to the end of the book and wanted to find out what happens to all the characters next. So it’s off to the library later for part two- Drive to the East.

Update Got it. I picked up Stross’ Accelerando as well, just to see what he’s made of.

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0 Responses to Back in the CS of A

  1. Accellerando is one of the best SF books I’ve read for a long while. So many ideas in the first few pages it gave me a sort of mental vertigo!