For those of you unfamiliar with the Sidewise Awards, they have been presented annually since 1995 to recognized excellence in alternate historical fiction.
If you’ve never read any alternate history, you’re missing out. In a nutshell, these types of books explore “what if” situations and how they would have impacted history. Probably the most famous book of this type is Harry Turtledove’s book, “Guns of the South,” which explores what would have happened if the Confederate army had been supplied with AK-47s during the Civil War.
Nominees for best alternate history book this year include:
- “Columbia & Britannia” by Adam Chamberlain and Brian A. Dixon
- “Red Inferno: 1945” by Robert Conroy
- “Pinion” by Jay Lake
- “When Angels Wept” by Eric Swedin.
The winner of this year’s Sidewise Award will be announced in August in Reno, Nev.
Past winners of the Sidewise Award include:
- “Pasquale’s Angel” by Paul J. McAuley
- “Voyage” by Stephen Baxter
- “How Few Remain” by Harry Turtledove
- “Making History” by Stephen Fry
- “Resurrection Day” by Brendan DuBois
- “Ash: A Secret History” by Mary Gentle
- “The Children’s War” by J.N. Stroyar
- “Ruled Britannia” by Harry Turtledove
- “The Severed Wing” by Martin J. Gidron
- “Collaborator” by Murray Davies
- “The Plot Against America” by Philip Roth
- “The Summer Isles” by Ian R. MacLeod
- “The Family Trade,” “The Hidden Family” and “The Clan Corporate” (series) by Charles Stross
- “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon
- “The Dragon’s Nine Sons” by Chris Roberson
- “1942” by Robert Conroy.
I read in my trusty Old Farmer’s Almanac that this past Friday was Midsummer Day, which occurs annually near the summer solstice or what we think of as the first official day of summer.
To farmers, Midsummer Day is generally regarded as the midpoint of the growing season, that is, the day that marks the halfway point between planting and harvesting.
Historically, Midsummer Day has been an occasion for celebration and since ancient times, Midsummer Day has been the occasion for weddings, feasts and other fun events.
Tuesday of last week was the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. After Midsummer Day, our daylight hours also begin to shorten a little each day.
In the U.S., we celebrate New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, which is in the dead of winter. Ancient Egyptians celebrated their new year when the star Sirius rose at around the time of sunrise. This event roughly occurred at the same time as the summer solstice as well as the annual flooding of the Nile River.
Sirius, nicknamed the “Dog Star,” is the brightest star in the night sky. Actually, Sirius is two stars about 8.6 light years from Earth, but to the naked eye, the system looks like one big, bright star. Sirius is so bright that it can even be observed during the daylight hours with the naked eye under the right conditions.
The summer solstice was also important to folks in ancient England. The prehistoric monument at Stonehenge is believed to have been erected around 2500 BC, and many researchers believe farmers built it to help determine the date of the summer solstice.