Harry Turtledove, “The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging.” Tor.com, January 8, 2014.
Am I the only one who found this story about an Anne Frank who survived WWII on the creepy side, and not in a good way, especially coming from somebody who made his name essentially writing Slaver Rebellion fanfiction? It doesn’t help that it’s so damn pious about it all, with huge chunks of as you know Bobbery about the Holocaust and what happened to the Dutch Jews in World War II. It’s a very American way of looking at the Holocaust and an approach I find suspicious at the best of the times. I much prefer Lavie Tidhar’s way of handling it, much more willing to take risks with such a heavy subject.
On a more general note, doing an alternate history story this way, in which there’s nothing going on but figuring out how the world differs from our own because something else happened, is only fun if the world is indeed somewhat different. Of course it is possible to focus your story on an ordinary life lead in an altered world — Jo Walton did this well in My Real Children presenting two different timelines and the different lives lead by the protagonist — but what Turtledove does with it is just not interesting apart from it being Anne Frank. Using her name gives it a cachet it hasn’t earned.
Genevieve Valentine, “The Insects of Love.” Tor.com, May 28, 2014.
This is another sort of time travel/alternate history malarky all together and a much better story, one that has earned its emotional weight. Love conquering death has been done before, but rarely it’s been the love between two sisters. Told in fragments, in stream of consciousness by the younger of the sisters, which more often than not doesn’t work, but here does. What also worked was the overall insect imagery, which I’m not sure was about real or imaginary insects and don’t want to find out.
Damien Angelica Walters, “The Floating Girls: A Documentary.” Jamais Vu 3, September 2014.
The best story of these three and one that’s gone on my Hugo nominations list. A very simple story about an unexplained wave of girls, well, just floating up into the air and the indifference with which it is greeted. It feels very much of the moment, a response to things like GamerGate and such.