Monday, January 30, 2006

Today's WFA Reading: 1/30

Two more issues of F&SF: May and June. It will be sad when I hit the end of the year in a couple of days, since I'm getting used to these little packages from Gordon waiting in my mailbox. (Not that I've started to read them yet, but merely piling up more stuff to read is a joy in itself.)

Today I finished Farthing by Jo Walton, which is neither fantasy nor published in 2005 (it's coming this August), but which is excellent, in that chilly, alternate-historical, all-other-possible-worlds-are-worse-than-this-one kind of way. It's an English country-house murder mystery set in a 1949 where Hess's flight to Scotland in 1941 led, fairly quickly, to a negotiated "Peace With Honor" between England and the Third Reich. On the one hand, it's an alternate history that has nothing to do with battles, which is a wonderful relief. But it is yet another book about how horrible the world would be if we didn't lick Hitler, and the world is amply supplied with those. Luckily, that's not the main point of Farthing, which is much more about its characters than about vast movements of history. It's quite an impressive book, but I worry that mystery readers will be put out of joint by the ending.

3 comments:

James Nicoll said...

It's marketed as SF, isn't it?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Yup, Tor is calling Farthing SF, on the grounds that that's where we put pure alternate histories. (And I think they're still right on that, though it looks to me that the alternate history genre might become its own entity, at least on a similar level to horror, within the next decade.)

Oh, and hey! you got your name to appear! Glad that's finally working.

James Nicoll said...

Yeah, I think I was doing something wrong in the preview, so I stopped doing preview at all.

Anyone who hasn't read the book, don't read past this line, ok?

The ending is in keeping with other mysteries set in similar settings [1]. If the entire system is run by corrupt people, it cannot possiblely produce uncorrupt results.

1: In fact, I just read a mundane mystery set during the run up to WWII, where it was necessary to interact with the Reich's police and the results were not entirely un-sausagelike.

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