Sunday, November 06, 2011

4 Stars: The Book of Elizabeth

Artist Unknown?  I tried!
Good Book Alert posted a good and fair review of The Book of Elizabeth today - 4 out of 5 stars!  Some very good praise:

'The Book of Elizabeth is a fascinating take on alternative history speculative fiction.'

'One of the joys of this novel is the exploration of this alternate Earth and how the various strands of history and potential history mesh together.'

A pretty interesting discussion on the genre of alternate history and what is or isn't alt-history develops in the comment section.  The discussion specifically in the comments got me to thinking about that particular genre and its conventions.  I never thought of Elizabeth as specifically an alt-history book.  The point of divergence in the novel is very obscure - I never actually identify it, though there are clues - and it is a result of an event that goes unexplained.  It's not a traditional 'what if Queen Elizabeth I had lost to the Spanish Armada' kind of POD story.

For readers of alt-history, is an explanation necessary?  Is a definite POD?  For me, every work of fiction is in some way an alternate history; it imagines a world that either diverges or impinges on ours through the projection of stories and events that (often) have no real historical source.  Sometimes this is obvious; sometimes not.

The historical Elizabeth has been extracated from our history at age 32 and transplanted to one completely alien.  A terrible event has completely collapsed all of human history, violently, and chaotically.  Something new has been built in its place; unfortunately the new structure is a little drafty.  Our history remains, in the presence of Echoes, individuals who have survived the event, like Elizabeth, and been exiled in the new history.  The confrontation becomes inevitable; will our history - both public and personal - reassert itself?  Is it doomed to repeat, as it so often does?

I'd love to know what thoughts people who've read the book have about alt-history or my book in particular - feel free to leave comments!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Artist is not unknown. Here's the link you need:
http://www.redbubble.com/people/carnyvour/works/841184-cate-blanchett-as-queen-elizabeth-the-1st