Alternate History Page
POD is an amateur press magazine and also a forum for discussing AH and AH-related ideas. A lot of the comments don't make sense unless you've following the dialogue, but a whole lot of AH ideas get thrown around.
So What Have I Been Up To?
For the last several months—since I finished the monster Pseudo-Analog issue for October 2003—I’ve been writing reasonably regularly but very slowly compared to what I’ve been used to being able to do. Lately, a good evening of writing has been 400 to 500 words, compared to the 1000 to 2000 I often averaged earlier. I’m not sure why that would be.
Part of it is probably that I’ve been watching a little more television lately. I had almost given up on television for a while, but recently I’ve developed a few shows that I watch regularly. I try to watch Angel, Tru Calling, and Monk on a regular basis. That’s three hours out of my writing time. Angel and Tru Calling are almost always are worth the time. Monk is somewhat weaker but still sometimes worth watching.
I’ve also gone back to my computer roots, learning skills that are starting to become important in the field. I’ve become an avid fan of open source software. I’ve spent hours downloading and learning the latest versions of GIMP, OpenOffice, Blender, Abiword, Mozilla, Pov-Ray and quite a few other pieces of open source software. Those hours are all time that I’m not writing. On the other hand, I’ll probably start to give you more sophisticated graphics and a more sophisticated website as I get better at using those tools.
Another time-sapping part of my life these days is that my wife has very reluctantly gotten sucked into our church’s politics. At least in our church politics has recently come to resemble Jim Rittenhouse’s description of science fiction convention politics: bitter feuds over very little. My wife has tried to be a voice of reason in all of this, but she is getting dragged in because she’s afraid that if she doesn’t get involved a church that has survived since the 1840s will be destroyed completely. I’m even more reluctant than her to get involved, but I finally got upset enough about what was going on that I did.
After a long period of ignoring it as a news source, I’ve finally started visiting Slashdot.org on a regular basis. Slashdot bills itself as ‘news for nerds’, and that’s exactly what it delivers. For example, on the morning of March 14, 2004 it had an article on the results of an autonomous robot race sponsored by DARPA that challenged teams to build a driverless robot able to drive a 150 mile course with no human intervention. The best entrants made it about seven miles, which is still a major advance over what I had thought was possible.
Okay. Now that I’ve reestablished my credentials as a geek, not that they were ever seriously in doubt, what do you have to look forward to this issue? I tried something a little different this time. It may be the start of a series called “Monday Morning General”. The idea is to put myself in a challenging historical situation and figure out how I would have done things differently. I then try to figure out what the results would have been.
For this issue, the challenge is: “It’s March 20, 1940 and you’re the new commander of the French Army.” You’ve got maybe a month and a half to get the French army ready for a German attack. What do you do? To be honest this one didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would. I’ve also written a rather twisted little short story tentatively called Magic and Religion. Some of the ideas for it have been in the back of my mind for a long time, but I didn’t quite know how to approach them. I put a very rough draft of the first little bit of the story in the print version of last issue. I may put the first couple of pages of it on-line this time.
The print version will have another section of Mars Looks Different. That story is going to see another revision or two—probably major ones before I send it off to a publisher, but I am going to go ahead and let POD members see some more of what I’ve done so far.
My mumblemumble-st high-school reunion is coming up about a month. I’m going, but with a bit of trepidation. Most of the few friends I had in high school were either a grade ahead of me or a grade behind, and the few remaining ones don’t do high school reunions.
I did a little mini-biography for the reunion and was surprised to realize that almost nothing I’ve done since high school would have surprised someone that knew me there very much. I was into alternate history back then. I loved to read. I was trying to write, though I didn’t have the skill or self-discipline to do it well. Personal computers weren’t widely available then, but anyone that knew me would know that I would take to them easily and naturally once they became available.
I recently went to a computer show at a local college along with a friend. We ended up in the wrong end of campus and were standing around trying to figure out where to go. Someone walked by, took one look at us and said, “Looking for the computer show, right?” I looked at them and asked, “Is it that obvious?” Seeing as there was an art show on campus and a fashion show and a bunch of other stuff going on I guess I should have been a little insulted, or again maybe not. I have geek hobbies. Deal with it. Right?
If anyone presses me on it I ask them why sitting in front of a TV watching mutant-sized fat guys running around in tight pants and throwing a football around while trying to ruin each others’ knees is any less weird than liking computers or alternate history. I usually don’t get a real coherent answer to that one. (To be honest I actually like football, and used to play it a lot in pick up games, but I think it’s still a fair question.)
Commentary Section: The comment section is smaller than I would like to see it be, but there is some good stuff there, so I will put it on-line. As I've mentioned in previous issues, I don't usually put those on-line because they are more like an off-the-cuff bull session than the stuff I normally put on-line. The last few have had quite a bit of general interest stuff, so I've included them, but do understand that my comments there are not necessarily going to be fact-checked as well as the rest of the zine.
This page has had hits since I posted it on May 23, 2004.
More Stuff For POD Members Only
What you see here is a truncated on-line version of a larger zine that I contribute to POD, the alternate history APA. POD members get to look forward to more fun stuff.