Axis of Reviews!

Well, my two book series, Axis of Andes and New World War is out in the world, and astonishingly, it’s selling like hotcakes. And I’m getting reviews.  So in the vein of shameless self promotion, I just want to share some of them, starting with this gem:

Crusty Critic, on Amazon.  Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2021
Professor Valdron Tells It Like It Might Have Been. 5.0 out of 5 stars
Frankly, this is the best alternate history (AH) book I have ever read, and I have read a lot, including those by the “famous” authors. It is not done in the usual AH cliched pattern, with “heroes” and “villains” and love interests. It is written the way you wish all the best history books should be, whether recounting Real History or AH.
That’s….  not bad at all. Maybe I should stop now.  Where would I go from that?
The rest if the brief review is quite complimentary as well.  Here’s another excerpt:
….like listening to a series of lectures by a favorite professor. You are astonished by his erudition, amused by his clear-eyed cynicism and way with words (e.g., his “explanation” of the true nature of fascism hits home in today’s US), and saddened by his depictions of racism, colonialism, and Big Power attitudes (none of which has gone away in our Real History)….
Okay, so what else?

Also from Amazon there’s this:
C on Amazon, Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 21, 2021
Burning Down The South, 4.0 out of 5 stars 
… It’s a mix between a breezy and irreverent history of the real Latin America, a breezy and irreverent history that never was, and various punchy short narrative vignettes from the world of the war, with a mass of colourful characters. … The subject matter gets bloody and grim, but never loses its pitch-black comedy sensibilities. (A standout moment is when Hitler hears the war has started, remembers there’s a friendly country in it, and sends a telegram congratulating them to the WRONG country)
And then…
Jayp, Reviewed in Canada on June 14, 2021
Alternate history in a fresh context. 4.0 out of 5 stars
…. alternate history in a new setting is a welcome diversion. This one does the 2 main things required from a satisfying uchronia : it grabs your attention and entertains you ; it also gives you (sometime at length) a plausible background. 
https://www.amazon.com/Axis-Andes-World-South-America-ebook/dp/B0968T8V7L/
That’s Amazon. Now, if I was with a big time publisher, or even a mid-sized or very active small press, I’d probably have a lot more reviews piled up. Personally, I’m basically just stumbling around. So… these are completely unsolicited, and really kind of flattering.
But there’s more.  Getting past Amazon, I’ve actually got a coupe of pro-reviews this time out.
Amazing Stories!  This is one of the original Sci Fi magazines, founded in 1926, by Hugo Gernsback himself. Amazing Stories was one of the touchstones of Science Fiction. After Gernsback went into bankruptcy, it passed through several hands.  In 1938, Ray Palmer became editor, a position he held until 1949. Palmer purchased Isaac Asimov’s first Professional story and went in for lurid pulps, he went on to be the center of the Shaver mystery and the UFO movement.  It had it’s ups and downs.  There was a time when it published only reprints and didn’t pay the authors. From 1969 to 1978, Ted White took the magazine to heights of respectability. After that, it hung on until closing down in 2005. Acquired by Steve Davidson in 2012, it relaunched, first as an online publication and then paper, with Editor, Ira Nayman.
This is just a potted history. A magazine that’s been around for almost a century has a lot of stories, both between its covers, and in its editorial offices. Some are brilliant, some, expecially the background stuff, can be kind of dark and sleazy. Amazing Stories literally embraces the history of science fiction as a genre, with all its ups and downs, its glories and its sordid foibles.
So I’m just thrilled to be reviewed in it.  If not Crusty Critic’s “the best alternate history I have ever read” I would have lead with this. I’m pleased as punch.
And the review, by R. Graeme Cameron, is detailed, thorough and thoughtful. Cameron goes on at great length, quoting an entire passage, reflecting on various incidents.  It’s the kind of loving and insightful review that writers lay awake at nights daydreaming about.  Here’s a bit of it…
Amazing Stories, R. Graeme Cameron ….   It is a tour de force alternate history offering many examples of assumptions and mistakes to avoid. A study of what not to do. An eye-opener, really. To read this book is to gain, first, an understanding of the intricacies of South American history up to the 1930s, and then, second, an understanding of the kind of fatal flaws politicians are prone to and what ordinary people need to pay attention to as their political favourites blunder along in same-old, same-old fashion. Reading this book will give you a better understanding of what is happening anywhere and everywhere. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it results in an epiphany
or two for the majority of readers. It’s that good an historical essay.

I found Axis of Andes utterly fascinating. But then, I love history so much that this book’s incredible depth of detail is immensely appealing. Given that it’s nature is primarily a text book in some alternate universe, it may not be for everybody, but for such as I it is a “must read.”

I love it.

Let me put in a plug:  Maybe you like alternate history, maybe you don’t.  Maybe Axis will appeal to you, maybe it won’t.  It’s a big world, and I’m happy to acknowledge my work isn’t for everyone.

But do yourself a favour, subscribe to Amazing Stories.  Under Davidson and Nayman, it’s really making strides, and it’s a storied part of a genre we love.  And look out for the work of R. Graeme Cameron, who has consistently produced a series of remarkable and insightful reviews, and is a publisher of Aurora Borealis himself.

Finally, we come to Sea Lion Press.   Sea Lion, based out of the United Kingdom, is a small press publisher which specializes in Alternate History fiction. Gee whiz. That’s almost terrifying. These guys are the real deal, the gold standard of the genre. These are the people who help define the genre and are completely willing to tear guys like Turtledove and Stirling a new one if they deserve it.

Guess what, they liked me! Or, at least Sea Lion’s Gary Oswald liked Axis…

‘Axis of Andes’ review (sealionpress.co.uk)

Valdron is a genuinely talented writer, he creates vivid characters, has a keen eye for dialogue and has a strong narrative voice. There are scenes in these books that are fantastic. The last stand of the president of Bolivia is one of the best darkly comic scenes I’ve read in any book, let alone just AH, for its depiction of a man caught up in a different story to the one he thought he was. He also knows what he’s talking about, the research is palpable…. 

I enjoyed the first book, but it felt flawed. The second book is just a great example of how readable good AH can be….  Alex Wallace recently wrote an essay about choosing the voices you write through. Do you write from the POV of princes or from peasants? Valdron resolves this in one of the cleverest ways I’ve ever seen. …It punctures a lot of the assumptions that the readers have formed about these characters and is ruthless about doing so.  It’s a book which starts by telling one story and then undercuts that to reveal the actual story it was telling all along and it does so brilliantly.

Amazingly, (no pun intended), there’s a commentary section, and instead of cialis advertisements or random trolling, there’s three whole pages of discussion.  It took my breath away…

(4) ‘Axis of Andes’ review | Sea Lion Press | Forum

Turns out, there’s a bonus.  Oswald writes…

Axis of Andes, a single story told across two books by D.G. Valdron, whose ‘Bear Cavalry‘ I adored, very much emerges from that amateur tradition.

He adored another book of mine?  Cool!  Bear Cavalry is a shorter alternate history novel, maybe novella, which covers a period running from about 1000 AD to 1600 AD, with a lot of modern era commentary.  It’s about how bears were domesticated by Vikings, and how those domesticated bears become a ferocious medieval cavalry force and later a cultural Icon.  Now, that’s tough sledding in 40,000 words or so. So to make it fun and interesting, I framed the story as a kind of Morgan Spurlock documentary, and wrote it as if you were watching it.

Anyway, Gary Oswald at Sea Lion Press liked it:

Review – The Bear Cavalry by D.G. Valdron (sealionpress.co.uk)

But it’s a great book …. In fact it’s probably my single favourite AH book I’ve ever read that wasn’t published by Sea Lion Press. It is imaginative and interested in history and not focused on the same old eras of WWII and the American Civil War…

…What I love about this story is first off it’s an interesting idea, something offbeat and original of the kind you rarely get in published AH and Domesticated Bears is just a cool alternate cultural trait to give to a society. And the world-building is excellent, it feels at first like it’s our world but as the documentary takes us through an Icelandic subculture of tamed Bears you get a look into a very alien world….

And it’s really historically vigorous and plausible. The fake documentary talks you through all the steps that led to the Icelandic people domesticating Bears and this is where the format really shines. Because it feels as entertaining and educational as a good documentary you should….

And I got a couple of more pages of commentary.

(4) Review – The Bear Cavalry by D.G. Valdron | Sea Lion Press | Forum

Not bad.

To be completely honest, the reviews aren’t utterly unalloyed. An Amazon review points out numerous typos, a self publishing giveaway (folks I tried). The books are excruciatingly detail oriented, which some point out as both a bug and a feature. There’s genuine and thoughtful criticism. I get called out on stuff. But I’ll say this, the criticism is fair. I made choices, the critics assess these choices with insight. I might still make the same choices, but I respect the criticism.

As a general rule, I try to avoid looking at reviews.  Normally I don’t see an upside.

Either a review is really negative, and it ruins your day.  In which case, why are you punishing yourself.  Avoid that negative toxic swill.

Or it’s positive, and you get a swelled head. I don’t really need an ego.

But …  maybe I can stand a little swelling?  It’s nice to know that my stuff is reaching people out in the world.  Maybe not a lot, but some.  And it’s nice to see that people are getting what you’re doing, even if they’re not necessarily happy with parts of it, they’re still getting it.  The is something satisfying to see the parts you loved writing the most actually scoring with the audience.

So … thanks.

 

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