Dale Cozort's Alternate History Newsletter 

Volume 6: Number 2 --- March  2003


Hitler Doesn’t Declare War On the US (part 8)

What if Hitler doesn't take Roosevelt's bait?

Conqistador Review

A strong alternate history story with a problem or two.

 Best of the Comment Section

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.  





Putting Dale back together again. For those of you who missed this last issue, I fell down some stairs back on December 14 of last year. The fall tore the big tendon at the front of the knee that holds the kneecap in place completely in half. I wasn't able to leave the house without assistance for roughly two months. I wasn't able to drive until the last week of February. As of mid March I'm mostly off of crutches, and doing physical therapy. I've gotten much more mobile in the last week. I'm guessing that I'll be fairly close to normal by mid-April.

Physical therapy is interesting. I like to tell people that my therapist's name is Wolfgang and that he attaches electrodes to my muscles. That's all true, but slightly misleading. Wolfgang is a nice guy, an Australian ex-tennis pro whose dad wanted his son to follow in his footsteps as a composer of classical music, and named the poor kid Wolfgang Amadeus (plus some other composer's name I can't remember). In self-defense the guy became an athlete. The electrodes were designed to get muscles working again after six weeks of almost total inactivity. The muscles of my left leg shrank by roughly an inch and a half in circumference in the six weeks. I'm working hard to get that all back.

Missing my 15 minutes of fame: I made a rare foray into current affairs in mid-February. I had promised the guys at StrategyPage.com a scenario on the American Revolution. I couldn't get to my reference stuff because it is all up stairs or in the basement, and I couldn't do stairs. As a result I ended up doing a thought piece on Iraq. StrategyPage.com ran it. A few days later I got an e-mail from a guy from MSNBC, asking if I wanted to come on and share my views. I was tentatively scheduled to go on Nachman (4 pm MSNBC) the Friday when that horrible nightclub fire happened. That pushed Iraq (and me) out of the show. Oh well.

Ironically, I turned on Fox News at 2 pm that Friday and watched a retired army officer go down all but one of the points I made in that article point-by-point, but in his own words. Anyone who had read my article could have pretty much predicted what he was going to say next. I had mixed emotions about that. At least the ideas got out there, and I didn't get further embroiled in the increasingly bitter Iraq debate.

Writing another novel: I was too out of it to do much writing for the last part of December and the first half of January. In the last half of January I started seriously plotting Mars Looks Different. I had the basic idea and a fragment done before then, but the plot and characters needed a lot of fleshing out. As I said last issue, Mars Looks Different is an alternate history/space opera set in near future Earth.

I spent about two weeks plotting and working on characters, and then finally started writing seriously on January 27. As of March 14 I'm a little more than halfway done with the rough draft. I've written a little over forty thousand words so far.

I was hoping to be over fifty thousand word by now, but at times life has intervened. I screwed up my schedule big time when I bought the Angel first season DVD. I hadn't followed either Buffy or Angel until last summer when one of my friends insisted that I watch an episode from first season Buffy. I've become a major fan-ridiculous premise, ridiculous name, spin-off of a rather bad movie, but also at its best very well written, with a quirky, dark sense of humor. In some ways it reminds me of the first (good) season of Twin Peaks. In any case, I went through 18 hours of Angel in about 4 days. Needless to say I didn't get much writing done those four days.

The Iraq situation also ate into my writing time as I went into infoholic mode and spent way too much time in front of Fox News or CNN. My POD writing has also taken a hunk out of the novel writing time in this past week. Oh well. I'm still averaging over five thousand words per week on the novel. If all goes well I should be at close to fifty thousand words by the time you read this. I promise not to dump two-thirds of a novel on the POD membership in one swell foop, but they will be seeing a fairly substantial hunk of the story this issue, along with more Char and a lot of commentary on last issue of POD.

Conquistador: I read this latest Steve Stirling effort and will be reviewing it this issue if time permits. The short version is: good novel with one flaw. The flaw is that about two-thirds of the way through he basically puts the plot on hold while the heroes tour his alternate history version of California. He has obviously done a lot of thinking about his AH California and the tour is marvelously detailed, but very little happens to advance the plot for a good fifty pages. The book would have been stronger if that section had been half the length it was. Oh well. The book is still very much worth reading.

American Indian Victories: Well, it isn't exactly a best seller, but it is selling. Twice so far it has bounced back and forth between the sixty to seventy thousand range and the four to five hundred thousand range as far as Amazon sales rankings go. That means that on my best days over sixty thousand books sold better than mine. Of course Amazon lists over three million books, so I can at least say that I'm in the top five to ten percent.

How does that compare with other alternate history books? Well, I got curious and wasted the bulk of an afternoon finding out. At that time, What If 2 was at a little over twenty-four thousand. Steve Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time was at forty-six thousand. His Preshawar Lancers was at around twenty-nine thousand, and Conquistador, which I review this issue, was at around ninety-six hundred. Best Alternate Histories of the Twentieth Century was at a little over ninety-nine thousand-so on a good day I at least beat that one.

Of course all of these comparisons are apples to oranges to a large extent because all of those books have far wider distribution than mine, and several have been out longer. I'm just happy to get the Indian stuff out there in more permanent form. I suspect that my World War II scenarios might have sold more quickly, but I felt that the Indian stuff was more unique.

Commentary Section:There are several general-interest snippets in the commentary section, this time. 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. I may put the commentary section up this time because it gives a good flavor of the give and take that goes on in POD.

Columns in StrategyPage.com:
I'm still writing alternate history columns for the website StrategyPage.com (www.stratgypage.com) from time-to-time. The most recent was an extensive rewrite of my Soviet Civil War scenario of a few years ago. I hope to have my first venture into American Revolutionary War scenarios to them by the time you read this. After that it is kind of up to them. Drop by their website from time-to-time if you like military history, and tell them I sent you. You'll probably see the Revolutionary War scenario here next issue




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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.