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Literature Politics

Alternative Truths – Book Review

From January 2016 to the present date, both British and American politics have been a bloody nightmare.  I found myself questioning whether the entire western world hadn’t been sprayed with an unknown chemical by strangers from another universe.

In the UK, it’s not only been Brexit, but it’s been a whole Right Wing disaster, plus three fatal terrorist incidents. This nightmare finally culminated in a fatal fire that destroyed 120 apartments in London that was driven by local “Zombie Economy” politics. In a civilised society none of these events should have happened.

In the US its “just” been Donald Trump

All the while these issues were being dealt with there has been a sustained attack from the political right who seem hell-bent on grinding the British people into the ground just so that Corporatocracy can rule and the wealthy Elite can cement themselves firmly into the moral high ground well away from the inevitable floods in the lowlands.

The only ray of sunlight was the calling of a snap General election in June 2017 by the PM Theresa May (Just after she had been stating categorically there would be no snap General election ), in which the Tory party lost their majority. Hopefully the government will fall very soon

In America you have had Donald Trump to deal with, and you have my most sincere commiserations.  I know that you have had brushes with celebrity president’s before in the form of the movie actor Ronald Reagan, and heaven knows he did enough damage, but now we have “The Donald” to contend with.  His affinity to all things Scottish seems to extend to his very name, modelling itself upon some of the Up Market Scotch whiskies that call themselves “The Claechsporran” or something.

While all this was going on I found myself wondering why, in these dystopian times, we had not heard a great clamour from the writers; the artist’s; the musicians, they are not usually backward in coming forward when Governments get too big for their boots and too close to the edge of darkness.

Yes, sure, there has been some political output, but one would have expected very much more, especially with all of the current trans-Atlantic turbulence and the wealth of material supplied by all concerned.

All of the above has kept us very busy at the Dangerous Globe in our inaugural year, and of course my expectations of the writing community had not taken everybodies frenzied activity level properly into account.  Writing can be a lengthy process, and like everything else there is a gestation time, and often a long painful period of labour, so the fact that I was busy didn’t mean that others weren’t busy too.  As is often the case, while I was thinking these thoughts, we received an e-mail from a group of writers in the USA.

The group had put together a collection of short stories that fit neatly into the Sci-Fi genre all centred on the first 100 days of ‘The Donald’s’ administration.

The book is now published and I bought an E-copy for my Kindle. I dived into its depths and found myself devouring story after story, so much so I had to put the brakes on after the first 5 stories so that I could savour them properly.  As you would expect, each story has its own style and they are all very well crafted.

They do what I expect from such a book, they poke and prod my mind, they made me laugh, they made me scared, they made me worried and most importantly they made me think.

It is also a very well balanced anthology, with all of the contributions fitting together to make a great book, a Pièce De Résistance but in a slightly different sense, it is a Work of Resistance, with writers resisting the excesses of the state, and they have done an excellent job of it.

They are now busy with the second 100 days and frankly I cannot wait, {I just now finished Alternative Truths #1, …. now need More!}

I paid £3,89 for the UK version, I have no idea what it costs in America, but whatever it is, it is cheap at twice the price, and more importantly a good chunk of the proceeds are going to the ACLU, (American Civil Liberties Union). Causes don’t get much worthier than that on this Dangerous Globe and in these Dangerous Times

What follows here is an introduction to the book, written by one of the authors, Paula Hammond, who contacted us in the first place. Thank you for that Paula, I am not sure I would have found “Alternative Truths” otherwise, and it is with great pleasure we seek to find you some more readers.

Authors Resist Trump Alternative Truths

By Paula Hammond

Aldous Huxley, Ray Bradbury, and PK Dick would probably never have considered themselves political writers. However, works such as “Brave New World”, “Fahrenheit 451”, and “Man in a High Castle” represent science fiction at its very best – exploring, questioning, and illuminating the world of the ‘what-if.’

To mark 100 days of the Trump Administration on April 29th, a short story anthology, called “Alternative Truths”, set out to uphold these traditions by turning the spotlight on the post-Trump world. In two dozen stories, the Anthology postulated many possible futures, from Louise Marleys vision of a world lived literally in the shadow of the never-ending Wall, to the Joel Ewy’s clever and sobering tale, in which reality isn’t what we used to think it was.

Despite being independently published, “Alternative Truths” became a surprise best-seller on its day of release ranking Number 1 in Books and Kindle eBooks: Science Fiction Anthologies & Short Stories.

For the writers involved, “Alternative Truths” was more than just another ‘gig’. It was writing as resistance.

“Alternative Truths” was formed when, on February 23rd 2017, Phyllis Irene Radford and Bob Brown, with a few friends, asked what they could do in response to Donald J Trump becoming America’s 45th President. “We decided that what we could do was write. So the “Alternative Truths” Anthology was born. And pens became word processors and ideas became stories.”

Bob Brown:

“Kellyanne Conway was not the first political operative to apply flexibility to truth. But she gave us the best ever description of the premise when she coined the phrase, Alternative Facts, in describing what George Orwell had, for all previous generations, labeled as Newspeak. Like beauty, truth -especially political truth – is in the eye of the beholder, and for years Americans have tolerated the common elements of exaggeration and rhetoric from their politicians. But not since the early days of the nation has such a mockery of truth been made in the name of politics, and out of that was born “Alternative Truths”.”

“Alternative Truths” is a look at the post-election America that is, or will be. “We attach no manacles to the word truth to bind it to our visions, but instead we free it to find its own way through the minds of the two dozen writers who have shared their vision of the future … To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the ink of patriots. And patriots these writers are, for they speak truth to power, and do so in the public square. And they do so because of the Constitution of these United States and the vigilance of groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Because of this, we are treating the ACLU as a part of this work and a share of the royalties will be donated to their unending quest for the freedom of the American People to express themselves.”

For Susan Murrie Macdonald the spur to write her contribution, “As Prophesied of Old” – was the CREATE Initiative. “I don’t have administrative skills; I don’t want to run for Congress. I don’t want to join a paramilitary group and plan a coup. I don’t have large sums of money to donate to opposing politicians. I wanted to do more than wear a safety pin. I wrote. I took a joke my son made, turned it into a story, and submitted, never figuring that I’d get more than $30 out of the deal or that anyone would buy copies of the book beyond our friends and families. Luckily for my bank account … Jim Wright (of Stonekettle Station) also submitted a short story to “Alternative Truths”. Jim has a LOT of friends, family, followers, and fans, and they’ve been buying the book like candy on November 1st.”

Karen Anderson’s inspiration for “Patti 209” came while visiting her 98-year-old mother at a high-end continuum-of-care facility.

Blaze Ward’s post-apocalyptic, dystopian cowboy story, “The Last Ranger”, came as the result of a poster on social media about the National Park Service going rogue.

Gregg Chamberlain’s “Alt Right for the President’s End” riffed on stories about Hitler’s doubles and the first Hate-Monger story in “Fantastic Four” comics.

Paula Hammond’s tale was written and filed-away “years before President Trump was even a twinkle… But when I re-read it prior to submission it felt like I was in the “Twilight Zone” and all the crazy things that you write but never imagine can happen suddenly do.”

Regardless of that initial impetus, the Anthology has grown beyond a collection of short stories to become a community committed to, as Bob says, “that noble tradition of using the pen to poke the powerful”.

On 6th July, in Seattle, Bob Brown presented ACLU with a cheque for their share of the Anthology’s initial sales: $451. A symbolic number if ever there was one. “We collectively decided to set aside a generous portion of the proceeds to the ACLU”, Bob says. “We made this decision jointly and freely because without the ACLU, it could be books like ours piled in the public square awaiting the match.”

Volume 2 is already being planned to mark the next 100 days – and the fact that life in the White House is currently far stranger than fiction is sure to keep the authors on their toes.

Alternative Truths Anthology, from B Cubed Press, is available to buy on Amazon in paperback and e-book.

 Photo courtesy of ACLU.

 

Left to right, Karen Anderson, Caitlin Lombardi, Blaze Ward, Janka Hobbs
Left to right, Karen Anderson, Caitlin Lombardi, Blaze Ward, Janka Hobbs

 

Click to buy either a Kindle download or an actual paperback from Amazon.

Alternative-Truths
Alternative-Truths

 

Tony Broomfield
Editor-In-Chief

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