What is alternate history? Let's say a novel is set in a world where the Revolutionary War never took place, or dinosaurs are still alive. That's alternate history. Think of the lively Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. That's alternate history along with other sci-fi elements, such as time travel. Now think of the television series Fringe or Sliders. Both show parallel worlds and alternate history. Now think of Sliding Doors, where viewers see a young woman's life proceed forward from a certain point down two very different tracks. That film may not have had altered a worldwide event, like a war, but for the protagonist, a small action - catching a London Underground train or missing it - made a world of difference to her and changed her life.
If you're looking for a really cool book with personal alternate history, please pick up The Boys Are Back in Town by Christopher Golden. In this engrossing novel, one man struggles to keep a grasp on his memories after his attendance at a high school reunion challenges what he believed to be true, as what he remembers happening and what actually happened seem to be at odds. Could it be that, somehow, the past has been changed?
If you like the movie Frequency and/or you love "what if" stories infused with personal histories as well as imaginative elements, you'll love The Boys Are Back in Town. It will make you think about how your life could be different had you done (or not done) something in your formative years, and how the actions of your youth shape touch your adult life, whether you like it or not - how what you did as a child and teen shapes who you are, whether you realize it or not.
Read the first three chapters of The Boys are Back in Town by Christopher Golden.
Check out my full-length review of the book.
Read a roundtable discussion of The Boys are Back in Town in which Courtney Summers and I discuss the book at length.
What is steampunk? Here's how Wikipedia defines it: "a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, frequently featuring elements of fantasy, that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s."
Earlier this year, we featured the novel Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld at readergirlz. This book re-imagines the events leading up to and taking place during The Great War, which was later known as World War I. The novel follows the lives of two young people, both of whom must fight for their lives and their countries: Aleksander Ferdinand, the prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Deryn Sharp, a girl posing as a boy in order to join the British Air Service. The story continues in the second book, Behemoth, and the third, Goliath, is due out in October 2011. The book's black-and-white illustrations by Keith Thompson capture and detail the unique characters, creatures, and methods of transportation featured in the book. Check out those nifty gears!
Read my review of the book.
Learn more about some of the cool slang used in Leviathan.
For additional book recommendations in either of these genres, check out the roundup at Chasing Ray this week.