Alt Hist: Issue 5 by Mark Lord

(8.0/10) This anthology takes us for a trip through the major events that have shaped human history.

Alt Hist, now in its fifth issue, is a wonderful little publication of original works of short fiction on the historical fiction, alternate history or historical fantasy theme.

In the latest issue, Priya Sharma - a contributor to the first two Alt Hist issues - kicks things of with After Mary, a story inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and a cautionary tale warning of the dangers that come from meddling with science, nature, god and the natural order of things.

The second tale is set in America in the late 1920's and early 1930's, with the gangster Al Capone as the figurehead. It is a work of alternate history that shows what might have happened had Capone attempted to become legitimate and run for Senate. There are moments of shocking brutality and it all seemed too plausible.

The third short story is The Stiff Heart by Meredith Miller, a story set in America after the Civil War. It was nicely written but it left a lot to the imagination, with the ending too sudden and abrupt for my liking... but I did enjoy it nonetheless!

The fourth short story is The Bridge by Micah Hyatt and my personal favourite. Set in 1918, the central character is a bridge itself, which is currently being built. And as we follow the construction of the bridge through the ages, next stopping at 1922, then 1930, we see how the bridge affects men in different ways, and rarely for the good. It is immense, inscrutable, immortal and the lives of men are naught to it. This is a great story, hinting at a battle between great entities that has been fought for eons.

The collection ends with Battalion 202: Rotten Parchment Bonds by Jonathan Doering. A work of alternate history that draws parallels with Robert Harris's Fatherland, being that it shows how Europe may have been had the Nazis won the war. The Germans have invaded and are in the process of occupying Great Britain and this short story offers an insight into what things may have been like and also highlights the often forgotten fact that many of the German soldiers and officers were no different to those on the side of the allies.

As ever Alt Hist is a solid, well-written collection of short stories that will appeal to readers who enjoy works of alternate history, historical fiction and historical fantasy. From the American Civil to the Second World War this anthology takes us for a trip through the major events that have shaped human history.

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