As explained elsewhere, alternative (or alternate) history is a genre in which I have long been interested.
Here are my two books (currently only two) in this genre, which postulates a world in which the American Civil War was not fought, but the South still seceded from the North. The second one actually precedes the first in the timeline.
David Slater, a conscript in the 1920s Army of the Confederacy, faces a dilemma. When he and his regiment were shipped to Germany to help stage a coup there, his Limey fellow-soldier Brian was acting strangely. David now has the choice of reporting his best friend to his commanding officers, or keeping quiet and just doing his job: preparing for the arrival of Bismarck, the giant Zeppelin flying Hitler and his Nazi cohorts to meet their new allies, the Confederates.
Beneath Gray Skies follows the adventures of David and those around him in a past that never happened-where the Civil War never took place, and the Confederacy survived as a pariah slave-holding nation into the 20th century. Confederates, Unionists, British and Germans plot and counterplot in a tightly wove tale of espionage, treachery and romance.
The cast of Beneath Gray Skies includes rogue British agent “Bloody Brian” Finch-Malloy, hard-drinking Henry Dowling, and Christopher Pole, a slave who escapes from the hell of the Confederacy-living against a backdrop that includes real historical characters. Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, and Dr. Hugo Eckener, the brilliant anti-Nazi Zeppelin captain, all live again in this “extraordinarily well-written piece of mind candy that becomes more and more difficult to put down” (Christopher Belton).
Almost without realizing what has happened, David finds himself part of a conspiracy within the Confederacy that includes “Bloody Brian”, which is working to prevent the airship’s arrival in Georgia, to seize the mysterious priceless treasure on board the Bismarck, and to halt the spread of slavery to Europe.As David Slater and his President, Jefferson Davis III, confront each other on the doomed dirigible, David must ask himself once again where his loyalty lies: to his country, or to a higher morality.
If the Civil War had not been fought and the Confederacy had existed into the 20th century, how would modern history have developed? This “what might have been” tale has a tightly written plot, some colorful characters (including Hermann Goering and a forerunner of secret agent 007) and as an added bonus, a remarkably well researched introduction to German zeppelin technology. Kudos to Ashton for coming up with such a creative and entertaining formula.
British secret agent Brian Finch-Malloy (described by one reviewer as “a 1920s James Bond”) was introduced in Beneath Gray Skies, set in an alternate history where the American Civil War never happened. Red Wheels Turning takes place in the same historical timeline, and features some of the same characters.
With a backdrop of Tsarist Russia prior to the events described in Beneath Gray Skies, Red Wheels Turning once more mixes real historical characters with fictional characters and events in a an entertaining adventure featuring two of the most extraordinary weapons ever developed – the massive “Netopyr” and the rail cruiser “Zaamurets”.
Finch-Malloy battles against the maniacal gangster-turned-Bolshevik revolutionary Kolinski in a contest of wits to determine who will have control of these incredible machines. Described by readers as “a ripping yarn” and a “page-turner”, Red Wheels Turning continues the tradition of high adventure, espionage and treachery, mixed with steampunk-like technology in a genre best described as “steampulp” begun in Beneath Gray Skies.
The protagonist is Lt. Brian Finch-Malloy, a troublemaker plucked from the trenches to work for the hush-hush chappies who inhabit various anonymous offices in Whitehall. He’s a admirable cut of Englishman, full of honour and patriotism, and willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Boche and root out enemies of the Crown. However, he is just one of a large cast of very strongly delineated characters, and that includes the villains (I should say especially the villains), who are thorough rotters.
It is helpful to the reader, of course, to be somewhat familiar with the Great War, Tsarist Russia and the early Communist Party, but so engaging and fascinating is the story that you can enjoy it without any specialized historical knowledge. The action and the characterization will pull you along like a powerful riptide. There is one other (so far) book in the series, “Beneath Gray Skies,” but you don’t need to read it first to enjoy this book, And enjoy this book you will.
An unfinished book (provisional title) that deals with the Intervention, in which the Allies invaded Russia to lend support to the Whites in their fight against the Bolsheviks – this really happened, and it’s an episode that has nearly been forgotten in the West (but not in Russia). Derek Robinson has written about a fictional RAF squadron in Russia in A Splendid Little War.
This excerpt from my book postulates that Fanny Kaplan’s assassination attempt against Lenin succeeds, and that the Bolshevik Party must therefore seek a new leader.