Posts Tagged ‘alternative history’

The Rag Doll Plagues

November 28, 2012

Title: The Rag Doll Plagues

Author: Alejandro Morales

Genre: Fiction, magic realism, historical, sci-fi, Chicano lit

Publisher: Arte Publico Press: Houston

Number of Pages: 200

Date of Publication: 1992

Geographic Setting: Spain, Mexico, California, Lamex

Time Period: 1788-1792, modern day, 2050

Summary: The plague called La Mona (what we would call AIDS today) is sweeping through Mexico during its colonial period, and no one knows what to do. The King of Spain sents his physician, Dr. Gregorio Revueltas, to try and help the colonists. Interwoven is the story of a doctor in California who falls in love with a woman who contracts AIDS from a blood transfusion; and the future story of Lamex, a collaborative state combining Mexico and the Southwest USA: where the people who once lived in Mexico City may finally develop the cure for the plague. The whole book is one cycle, as the main characters of books two and three are descended from the physician of the first, and that the spirit of the doctor returns to help guide them to the cure.

Subject Headings: communicable diseases–fiction

Appeal: drama, disease study, dystopian world, suspense, contemporary, Chicano, alternative history, deep, detailed, culture study, folk medicine, terse writing

My Three Appeal Terms: culture, detailed, disease study

Recommended Nonfiction Authors:

Santeria:The Religion: Faith, Rites, Magic by Migene Gonzales-Wippler. World Religion and Magic Series, 2002.
An in-depth look at Santeria, a religion that combines Catholicism and Yoruba African deities into a spell-binding package. Chosen because it plays a major role in Dreaming in Cuban.

The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani. Norton W. W. & Company. 2008.
An unconventional look into AIDS from angles people might not have considered, including political and autobiographic viewpoints. A little graphic in parts, but not meant to be gratuitous. Chosen because it deals with the main subject of Rag Doll.

Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx by Sam Quinones. University of New Mexico Press, 2001.
A book of nonfiction vignettes about contemporary Mexico collected while reporting in the area. Chosen for subject area and general format, as well as for setting, which ties it to the other recommended books.

Recommended Fiction Authors:

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. Ballatine Books: New York. 1992.
A family split by the revolution in Cuba and each takes their own way in life. Chosen because it falls under Latin American literature and history. It also is cyclically written and detailed in its settings like Rag Doll. Recommended for those who want another view on Hispanic culture, modern history or religion.

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. Perfection Learning 1995.
The youngest daughter of a Mexican woman in the 20th century tries to find true love and independence from her overbearing mother and the rule that the youngest daughter cannot marry. Chosen because it is cyclical, deals with family and is extremely detailed. Recommended for those who like cooking, romance, history, culture and for those who like to get angry when they read ( trust me, you will!)

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. Harper Perenial Modern Classics: New York. 2006.
A cyclical view of the mythical town of Macondo, as told by the Buendia family. Chosen for being in the canon of Latin American Literature and lush, detailed settings. For those who like drama, family and Latin American culture studies.

Name: Jennifer

The Eyre Affair

February 16, 2011
Book Jacket

Author: Jasper Fforde

Title: The Eyre Affair

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2001

Number of Pages: 374

Geographical Setting: Alternate England

Time Period: 1985

Series (If applicable): Thursday Next, #1

Plot Summary:
Fforde blends genres seamlessly in this literary Fantasy and Mystery, riddled with wordplay and humor. In an alternative version of Great Britain in the 1980s, where the Crimean War still rages on, time travel is a routine occurrence, and one can be literally lost in literature, Thursday Next works as a Special Operative in Literary Detection. When Dickens’ manuscript for Martin Chuzzlewit disappears, Thursday becomes embroiled in increasingly strange literary malfeasance, culminating in the kidnapping of characters from beloved works of fiction. Jane Eyre’s disappearance prompts Thursday to enter Charlotte Bronte’s master work, where she must confront the world’s Third Most Wanted villain and prevent a literary homicide.

Subject Headings:
Women detectives, Time travel, Characters in literature, Great Britain, Criminal investigation, Jane Eyre, Crimean War, Women in military service

Appeal:
Fast-paced, humorous, quirky characters, witty, literary references, alternative history, entertaining, episodic, descriptive, playful, dramatic, investigative, imaginative, conversational, contemporary, series

3 terms that best describe this book: Witty, literary, quirky

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker Series #1) by Douglas Adams
Fun and quirky science fiction series chronicles the intergalatic adventures of Earthling Arthur Dent and his extraterrestrial friend Ford Prefect, meeting an eccentric cast of characters along the way.
Similarities: witty and humorous prose, quirky characters, fast-pacing, series, British protagonists

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
Epistolary novel depicting the struggles of a society whose communication is increasingly limited by a government’s ban on using letters from the alphabet.
Similarities: clever wordplay, alternate reality, witty prose

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
Chabon imagines that Alaska is declared the homeland for the Jews following World War II rather than Israel, and with good humor follows Detective Meyer Landman and his cousin Berko as they investigate a murder.
Similarities: alternative history, witty and descriptive prose, blend of Mystery and Literary Fiction

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan
NPR book critic Corrigan discusses the books that have had a significant impact on her life and ruminates over the power and magic of books in all of our lives.
Similarities: literary references, Jane Eyre references

A Few Good Women: America’s Military Women from World War I to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee
A history of female military service in America past and present supplemented by interviews and archival material from servicewomen.
Similarities: Fforde’s main character Thursday Next is an ex-servicewoman in the British Armed Forces.

Crimea: The Great Crimean War, 1854-1856 by Trevor Royle
Accounts the causes, battles, and consequences of the Crimean War, fought by Britain, France and Turkey against Russia, responsible for introducing trench warfare and up-to-date press coverage among other innovations.
Similarities: true account of Crimean War, mentioned often in The Eyre Affair

Name: Cassie Carbaugh

World War Z

April 1, 2009

World War Z

Author: Brooks, Max
Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Genre: Best-seller,
Horror, Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 352 p.
Geographical Setting: Multiple global locations
Time Period: near future: mid- to late-21st century
Series: NA

Plot Summary: When taken piece by piece, the speculated future presented in World War Z sounds speculative at best, and like a laughable horror-movie cliché at worst. Zombies take over the world! However, the author’s chosen format and the scope and circumstances of his story create an engrossing and horrifyingly believable scenario that gives the story an overall affect of believability that makes it even more frightening. Brooks presents his story—a global epidemic of a virus that reanimates the recently dead and imbues them with a single purpose: to attack and infect the living—in a series of interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse. These detailed, emotional, and terrifying accounts are arranged in roughly chronological order, exploring the origin of the outbreak in rural China, tracing its spread across the planet, delving into the reactions of various governments—which range from brutally harsh plans that some see as tantamount to genocide to so fueled by denial as to have the same ultimate effect—and the different military reactions to the threat. The survival stories are not limited to the political or military, however. Also included are accounts by common citizens—a Midwestern teenager whose family flees north (zombies are slowed by cold temperatures) and discover another threat in a massive, unregulated refugee camp, a soldier who fought in several key battles across the United States, a blind hermit in Japan, a European historian who discusses how various groups used the continent’s medieval fortresses as defense. Brooks’ interview format allows him to focus on the smallest facets of his detailed characters, and the stories they tell are action-packed and rich with fascinating details of any number of topics, well beyond the physiology of zombies and the best way to survive their ceaseless attack. World War Z is much more than a zombie horror story. It is a spellbinding study in speculative history, sociology, and epidemiology, as well as a cautionary tale for today’s shrinking world.

Subject Headings: Undead; Zombies; Supernatural; Epidemics; Diseases; Post-apocalypse, Oral histories; Survival (after epidemics); War

Appeal: alternative history, apocalyptic, atmospheric, bleak, candid, character-centered, cinematic, compelling, complex, conversational, darker, detailed settings, details of military strategy, details of survival techniques, details of zombies, direct, dramatic, edgy, engaging, engrossing, episodic, explicitly violent, frightening, futuristic, jargon, journalistic, menacing atmosphere, multiple plot lines, multiple points of view, nightmare, oral history, plot-centered, political, recognizable characters, resolved ending, retrospective, speculative, speculated near-future, strong language, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, thought-provoking, tragic, unusual narrative voice, vivid, well-drawn characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Darker Angels, S.P. Somtow. 1998. (horror, zombies, alternate history, Civil War)

· Earth Abides, George R. Stewart. 1949. (post-epidemic apocalypse, speculative “near future,” survival)

· Oryx and Crake, Margaret Attwood. 2003. (post-apocalypse, near future, genetic engineering, survival)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

· The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. Studs Terkel. 1984. (oral history, war stories, inspiration for World War Z)

· The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Deadliest Epidemic–and How It Changed the Way We Think about Disease, Cities, Science, and the Modern World. Steven Johnson. 2006. (epidemics, detailed study of origin and spread of cholera in urban setting, microhistory)

· False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear. Marc Siegel. 2005. (fear, epidemics, manipulation of public fear, propaganda)

Name: Cynthia