~E-PUB ☦ Bring the Jubilee ♍ Alternate Cover Edition Can Be Found here
Trapped In , A Historian Writes An Account Of An Alternate History Of America In Which The South Won The Civil War Living In This Alternate Timeline, He Was Determined To Change Events At Gettysburg
When He's Offered The Chance To Return To That Fateful Turning Point His Actions Change History As He Knows It, Leaving Him In An All Too Familiar Past
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Bring the Jubilee is a fairly obscure alternatehistory story published in 1953 in which the South won the "War for Southron Independence". In this world, Robert E. Lee succeeds Jefferson Davis as the second president of the Confederacy in 1865. The Confederacy steadily expands its empire through Mexico and South America. Its chief rival is the German Union, which splits control of Europe with the Spanish Empire. In response, the Confederacy has allied with Great Britain, creating two opposing empires that straddle the Atlantic.
Strangely enough, slavery was abolished but minorities continue to face persecution, and poverty is rampant in the United States, the former Union states of the North. Other than a rich landowner minority, most people are indentured to their owners, effectively a form or slavery. In addition, the combustible engine, light bulb, and aircraft were never invented, instead they have steampowered minibiles (the equivalent of cars) and dirigibles, so horses or trains are still regularly used for transportation. The telephone was also not invented, so the telegraph is the main means of communication.
The main character is a directionless youth named Hodge Backmaker who leaves his impoverished life in the countryside of Wappinger Falls, Pennsylvania to move to New York, one of the few cities in the North to still thrive in a North America dominated by the Southron Confederate States. He comes to NY eager to get into a university, only to immediately be robbed of his possessions. Though great luck he manages to find work at a bookshop, reading almost constantly to educate himself. He develops a close relationship with the proprietor, who turns out to be in league with the Grand Army, a subversive organization devoted to restoring the United States to its former greatness.
The story then takes a sudden turn, as Hodges decides to leave NY and join a small progressive intellectual coop in rural Pennsylvania. He pursues his dream of becoming a historian dedicated to studying the war between the North and South, gets involved in a love triangle, and then encounters a device that could help him very directly in his research, with totally unexpected consequences…
The story is extremely wellwritten, informed by the initially ignorant but intellectuallyhungry mind of Hodge. His desire to pursue pure knowledge for its own sake in a poor, downtrodden North that has been left to decay after losing the war, and where blacks, Asians, Jews and other races are treated cruelly and with contempt, is not what you would expect of an alternate history tale centered around the Civil War.
I wouldn't even have known about this book if it weren't featured in David Pringle's Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels and I'm glad I read it. It presents so many brilliant little details of his alternate world, but the main story revolves around the life and thoughts of the main character, so that I often felt prevented from seeing the bigger picture of his alternate world, and despite the depth of characterization, this book could have been longer and more complex, taking more time to explore his concept, and most likely have made a greater impact in the SF field. If he was writing today, I think it would have been just the first book in a long and successful series. As it is, it's a "minor" classic that few people have read, and I’d like to change that.
What a wonderful surprise this was. Ok, my expectations should have been high starting another book in the SF Masterworks series but I hadn't heard much talk of this author and wasn't overly bowled over by the premise. This is an alternative history story, what might have happened if the south had won the American civil war.
The speculations are themselves quite interesting, The American north becoming impoverished and backward, allowing the European colonial powers to carry on dominating the world stage for longer, the Confederate south becoming powerful, conquering Mexico. Also of interest are the different technological paths that are explored leaving the world (in 1952) without aeroplanes, cars and electricity but far more developed in other ways such as in hot air balloons and gas utilisation.
More interesting though is the story of the central character Hodge. A natural bookworm and academic who grows up in a world that has no place for such impractical people. At first he merely wants to read and learn about the world, to take no active part in its affairs, nor take sides with those political and agitating forces mobilising around him. Can he merely observe and chronicle or is inaction itself just another form of action, a choice that may shape events one way or another? And does he really have a choice or is freedom itself merely an illusion?
A superbly written tale with well drawn characters and a pleasing narrative style. Now I can't wait to check out what else this author has to offer.
One of the first 'If south had won the war' novels, and still one of the best. The book has aged quite well, and it's still an engaging read. In this short novel you will find no decisive battle descriptions, no grand army movements, in fact, it's situated in time two generations after the 'War of southron independence', and is narrated by a historian.
This is definitely one of the most enjoyable books about alternate history I've ever read, and I wonder what took me so long. I read this years ago, when I devoured the whole corpus of SF. I enjoyed it then, and when I picked it up again after decades on the shelf, I was surge I'd like it even more.
I now know a great deal more about America and I've been to Gettysburg. I'm not entirely sure that possessing Little Round Top would have swung the whole war, but it would certainly have changed the entire tone of the battle if Lee had secured it on the first day.
But we don't get there for a long while. Moore takes his time, setting the scene, filling in the history of the defeated North and giving us tantalising glimpses of affairs in the wider world. It's a hard life in what's left of the USA, and the penniless protagonist is lucky to find shelter and employment with an oddbod bookseller.
Drawn into shadowy affairs, things turn sticky, and has he really escaped to a better place when he falls in with some arcadian academics? There's sex and spice, history and conflict before the fateful trip into the past, to stand at a turning point in history.
I love time travel stories. Apart from the sense of anachronism"Good morrow, milord, can'st inform me whereabouts of a batterymonger?"there are all the delightful possibilities and paradoxes. What happens if you accidentallyor deliberatelykill your own ancestor? If you can change the past, will you also change the future, or is the universe selfrepairing?
Moore sketches in the outlines of this puzzling world that is at once past and future. The 1930s as they never were. But might have been. And he gives us enough details to illustrate how odd it could have been. If the USA had not been a prosperous and inventive hub of industry during the latter Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, what technologies might have gone undiscovered? No Henry Ford to bring motoring to the masses.
No Wright Brothers to bring us flight. No Edison, no Bell to harness electricity.
I'm reminded of Stephen King's recent expedition into time travel, where we find out what ramifications JFK had on the world. A single point in time where history teeters. A man in a Dallas warehouse, another in a peach orchard. Ordinary people in ordinary places, and yet the world forks.
This is one of the classics of science fiction and time travel. It isparadoxicallytimeless. An alternate history tale in which the South won the Civil War. The main part of the story takes place some 60 years after the war and the United States (just the North) has fallen into disarray after its disastrous loss to the South. I found this part of the book fascinating, with interesting speculation on how the state of the world changes if the United States breaks up (if a bit outlandish at times).
(view spoiler)[However, the book starts to lose its appeal when the author tries to reconcile this alternate timeline with our own through the use of science fiction and the invention of a time machine. The section on the building of the time machine and its design was quite awful; just a bunch of jargon tied together and "equations to be worked out." I have a prejudice against time traveling in fictioneither you're too simplistic and introduce too many logical inconsistencies or you attempt to deal with the paradoxes and the book becomes a joyless pain to read. This book takes the first path and when the narrator inadvertently helps the North to win the alternate timeline just disappears. If you must attempt to reconcile both timelines, don't do it at the end and leave a bad taste in my mouth. Do it in the beginning, such as in "Lest Darkness Fall" and give me the rest of the book to forget about your lazy and illconceived solution.
In summary, I loved the alternate history portion of the book, but hated the attempted timeline reconciliation at the end. Just tell the alternate historythere's no need to introduce time travel and muck up the book. (hide spoiler)]
In brief, the plot concerns an alternate history in which the South won the Battle of Gettysburg and, eventually, the Civil War. Thus the story takes place in a world where the Confederate States of America is a separate, prosperous country and the United States of Ameirca is a poor, declining one.
I was very impressed by Ward Moore's style of writing and I thought his characterization was superb. Reading the book was a pleasure and I was actually sorry when I came to the end as I wanted the story to continue. If you are a fan of alternative history (or just of fan of great stories) pick this book up. You will not be disappointed. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!! This 1953 novel is both an alternate history and time travel science fiction. In the years since, it has been in print through a succession of publishers, and will now be released in ebook format by Open Road Media. I received a kindle format version at no cost, prior to release, in return for publishing an honest review.
American Civil War alternate histories are a staple of the genre, probably the best known being MacKinlay Kantor’s If The South Had Won the Civil War (1961), and more recently Harry Turtledove’s Southern Victory series (19972007). There have been numerous stories which employ versions of this concept, and even anthologies thematically focused on it. But Bring The Jubilee predates all of the above, has been cited as inspiration for Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962), and should be seen as critical in the popular establishment of alternate history as a subgenre.
In the novel, the point of departure (POD) from our own universe is the Battle of Gettysburg turning to a Confederate victory. But rather than reading like a faux history book (If The South Had Won the Civil War), and rather than giving a blowbyblow of the conflict itself (Southern Victory), Moore immerses his story immediately in the resulting rump 3rd world United States two generations after the conclusion of the “War of Southron Independence.” In the person of young Hodge Backmaker, we first see his native backwater Wappinger Falls, and a muchdiminished New York City where he works in a bookstore/printer shop. Eventually he finds his way to a semiutopian community in the Pennsylvania countryside, where time travel capability is developed.
As a character, Hodge is believable and interesting. While not the central focus of the story, his sexual relationships with women are surprisingly forthright for 1950s writing. At the time of the book’s release, critics referred to it as “Bohemian”, which of course had nothing to do with Bohemia. As a result, the narrative has a much more contemporary feel. But this brings us to the character I found to be outstandingly not believable – Barbara Haggerwells. She is a brilliant physicist, but also seems to be a sexual predator who has cowed the entire Haggershaven community to her will. I guess there just was no good model for a polyandrist female character at the time; she comes across as irrationally needy and always gets her way.
I enjoyed the exchanges between characters regarding the philosophical nature of time and cause/effect, as well as some political observations that seem as true today as at the time this was written. This is a read for thinkers, and while the ending was what I was expecting, the getting there was most entertaining. If only, if only, Barbara was written better.
~E-PUB ☦ Bring the Jubilee ♍ Alternate Cover Edition Can Be Found here