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