I’m afraid truly new stuff is going to be rather sparse here for awhile.
I’m working on some stuff related to the short fiction of Kathe Koja, reading a long, detailed history of intelligence operations in Latin America in World War One for a future review, and then I’ll be reviewing another Peter F. Hamilton book, some weird fiction, and doing some rather self-indulgent reviews of a couple of non-fiction books I read this summer (on the Worldwide Church of God’s fragmentation and the history of the Homestake Mine, if you must know).
Or so the plan goes.
But I’m also putting a full day in as election judge for the Presidential election this week and taking a short vacation afterwards.
And I’m more in a consumer mode lately and catching up on reading other people’s blogs and watching movies and listening to podcasts.
And I’ve been having a hankering to write some more poetry.
And I’ve just about exhausted my supply of retro reviews — you’ll be getting the last one shortly. (Well, after that, I have one left, but a review of a textbook of Japanese history seems to really be scrapping the barrel, so I won’t be posting that.)
So, that’s my excuse for giving you some more Raw Feeds.
I’m going with an alternate history series, and, since Joachim Boaz brought it up recently, I’m starting with this classic novel.
The title, incidentally, comes from the rousing Civil War anthem “Marching Through Georgia“. In fact, I was listening to a bunch of Civil War songs before reading this book, and that was the motive for reading it when I did.
Raw Feed (1987): Bring the Jubilee, Ward Moore, 1953.
As with most classics of sf I’ve read, I knew most of the plot of this one already. However, it was still a delight to read.
Despite criticisms I’ve read of the book (mostly British so perhaps they are unaware of the finer points of American history), I believe the timeline at novel’s end is not ours because of the references to black legislatures and politicians.
The tone of book was a well-written, casual, introspective one. The alternate history was intriguing and well-thought out. The whole issue of whether the end timeline is ours poses the question of whether our timeline is morally the best.
I particularly liked the characters: the spectator Hodge; the neurotic Barbara (did she knowingly send Hodge back to have him trigger death of her grandfatherr? — interesting development of kill-your-parents time travel idea), the insightful Catty; the strange, contradictory Tryss, and the gentle Hatiaan Enfandin.
Moore, like many writers of alternate histories, recreates historical figures (usually of science): Barbara is much like Einstein and Midbin is Freud-like. I usually don’t like the conceit but it was ok here.
Besides the creation of this world, I liked the way Moore neatly tied together the themes of chance, free will, predestination, character, and Hodges propensity for being a spectator. His two proponents of differing philosophies (Enfandin and Tryss) came off as characters, and Moore resisted the temptation to neatly tie up loose plot ends: Barbara’s final motives, what Catty’s brother was doing, the Grand Army’s doings, Enfandin’s fate. This fit in well with Hodges passivity.
Hodges’ remarks on the people who live history and their motives (and how historians view history) are eloquent remarks worthy of discussion in any history class.
I liked philosophical underpinning of novel and vague hint at end that final timeline is not ours and perhaps our past and memories mutate constantly (not a new idea but well done here).
In short, well told story with good characters, fascinating idea, and very well-done connecting of theme, plot, and character. And there is a truly beautiful and memorable passage of the Battle of Gettysburg.