Newt Gingrich, Science Fiction Novelist?
And a little on some less freakish alternate histories
As I may have mentioned before, I'm a big science fiction fan (my favorites are Philip K. Dick, Octavia Butler, Nicola Griffith, Frederick Pohl, Samuel R. Delany, Nalo Hopkinson, Orson Scott Card, Ray Bradbury and of course Kurt Vonnegut, just FYI).
Science fiction has a LOT of subgenres (space operas, time travel, dystopias, generation ships, alien encounters, cyberpunk, Women in Unbearably Tight Spacesuits and so forth), and in the hands of the right authors, alternate history is one of the best. A classic (and highly recommended) example is Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, which explores a horrible world in which the Axis powers won World War II and have divided the U.S. up among themselves. A more recent (and also highly recommended) example is African-American science fiction writer Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood: A Novel of Slavery and Freedom in an Alternate America, which takes place in an America colonized by Islamic Africa, where Europeans are slaves (and slavery is equally as bad as in our own past, of course, just different in lots of subtle ways).
And while we're talking about slavery... Well, as I discovered while wading through the Science Fiction Book Club's new selections list, Newt Gingrich has taken time out of his distinguished career as a Fox News analyst to contribute to the alternate history genre, but I don't think he sees slavery as all that bad. Apparently the former House Speaker is now amusing himself writing fantasy histories in which the Confederacy beats the Union thanks to the genius of Robert E. Lee. The first in the series is called "Gettysburg: A Novel of the Civil War." From the inside flap of the book:
As the years passed, and the scars healed, the debate, rather than drifting away, has intensified. It is the battle which has become the great "what if?" of American history and the center of a dreamscape where Confederate banners crown the heights above the town.Sounds like some has a bad case of the "I wish slavery were still around so I could beat black people and get away with it" blues...
The year is 1863, and General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia are poised to attack the North and claim the victory that would end the brutal conflict.
Launching his men into a vast, sweeping operation, of which the town of Gettysburg is but one small part of the plan, General Lee, acting as he did at Chancellorsville, Second Manassas, and Antietam, displays the audacity of old. He knows he has but one more good chance to gain ultimate victory, for after two years of war the relentless power of an industrialized North is wearing the South down. Lee's lieutenants and the men in the ranks, imbued with this renewed spirit of the offensive, embark on the Gettysburg Campaign that many dream "should have been." The soldiers in the line, Yank and Reb, knew as well that this would be the great challenge, the decisive moment that would decide whether a nation would die or be created, and both sides were ready, willing to lay down their lives for their Cause.
An action-packed and painstakingly researched masterwork, Gettysburg stands as the first book in a trilogy to tell the story of how history could have unfolded, how a victory for Lee would have changed the destiny of the nation forever. In the great tradition of The Killer Angels and Jeff Shaara’s bestselling Civil War trilogy, this is a novel of true heroism and glory in America’s most trying hour.