Monday, November 10, 2014

SciFi Month: Alternative History Series Recommendation (and a plug for Literrater)

I like alternative history books, if you don't catch on to that fact by the end of this month I'll just tell you outright right now. There is a great trio of books by Jo Walton ("Small Change") that I really enjoyed. The books are all loosely strung together by a few character who show up in more than one book but you could read them independently of each other and not feel lost. I really enjoyed all of them but I think my most favorite was the first book. Hopefully they arouse your curiosity :)

The descriptions and picture are from Goodreads. Click on pictures for link:


One summer weekend in 1949--but not our 1949--the well-connected "Farthing set", a group of upper-crust English families, enjoy a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter in one of those families; her parents were both leading figures in the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Herr Hitler eight years before. 

Despite her parents' evident disapproval, Lucy is married--happily--to a London Jew. It was therefore quite a surprise to Lucy when she and her husband David found themselves invited to the retreat. It's even more startling when, on the retreat's first night, a major politician of the Farthing set is found gruesomely murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic. 

It quickly becomes clear to Lucy that she and David were brought to the retreat in order to pin the murder on him. Major political machinations are at stake, including an initiative in Parliament, supported by the Farthing set, to limit the right to vote to university graduates. But whoever's behind the murder, and the frame-up, didn't reckon on the principal investigator from Scotland Yard being a man with very private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts…and looking beyond the obvious.

As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out--a way fraught with peril in a darkening world.


In 1949, eight years after the "Peace with Honor" was negotiated between Great Britain and Nazi Germany by the Farthing Set, England has completed its slide into fascist dictatorship. Then a bomb explodes in a London suburb. 

The brilliant but politically compromised Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard is assigned the case. What he finds leads him to a conspiracy of peers and communists, of staunch King-and- Country patriots and hardened IRA gunmen, to murder Britain's Prime Minister and his new ally, Adolf Hitler.

Against a background of increasing domestic espionage and the suppression of Jews and homosexuals, an ad-hoc band of idealists and conservatives blackmail the one person they need to complete their plot, an actress who lives for her art and holds the key to the Fuhrer's death. From the ha'penny seats in the theatre to the ha'pennies that cover dead men's eyes, the conspiracy and the investigation swirl around one another, spinning beyond anyone's control. 

In this brilliant companion to Farthing, Welsh-born World Fantasy Award winner Jo Walton continues her alternate history of an England that could have been, with a novel that is both an homage of the classic detective novels of the thirties and forties, and an allegory of the world we live in today.


In 1941 the European war ended in the Farthing Peace, a rapprochement between Britain and Nazi Germany. The balls and banquets of Britain’s upper class never faltered, while British ships ferried “undesirables” across the Channel to board the cattle cars headed east. 

Peter Carmichael is commander of the Watch, Britain’s distinctly British secret police. It’s his job to warn the Prime Minister of treason, to arrest plotters, and to discover Jews. The midnight knock of a Watchman is the most dreaded sound in the realm. 

Now, in 1960, a global peace conference is convening in London, where Britain, Germany, and Japan will oversee the final partition of the world. Hitler is once again on British soil. So is the long exiled Duke of Windsor—and the rising gangs of “British Power” streetfighters, who consider the Government “soft,” may be the former king’s bid to stage a coup d’├ętat. 

Amidst all this, two of the most unlikely persons in the realm will join forces to oppose the fascists: a debutante whose greatest worry until now has been where to find the right string of pearls, and the Watch Commander himself.


Here's my plug for Literrater. You basically go on, rate books that you've, and then earn points to use for free books or for gift cards. It's a fun way to spend time (especially if your husband has a tendency to fall asleep on the floor at 8:30pm which mine has a tendency to do). Here is my referral link if you'd like to sign up!

Sci-Fi November - Hosted by Rinn Reads & Oh, the Books!


  1. I never even thought to include alternate history books among sci-fi!

    1. I always put them there but I don't know if I should or not. This is my thought process: in a lot of books due to some event, technology isn't where it should be. Like in one book I read there was a horrible meteor diasater or something and the British still ruled everything but because of this event airplanes and telephones hadn't been invented yet. Everything was basically stuck exactly as it was at the diaster even though 100 years had passed. So in a lot of the stories technology and science play big roles in what makes the world the way they are. Does that make it scifi? Maybe not necessarily but then I don't know where to put them :)

  2. Ooh, literater sounds like fun! Both rating books and getting free books sound good to me :)

    1. I like the slidey things! It's a nice break from the one to 5 scale. And I can vouch for the fact that they pay out on the Amazon gift cards, I haven't gotten a book yet but I'm sure I will soon!


Thank you so much for your comment. I'd love to talk books with you!