Click here to buy _Cigar-Box Faust_ by Michael Swanwick
 
The Infinite Matrix
 

Stories Columns Archive FAQ Home
 
 

I C London, I C France  
I C London, I C France

a weekly blog
by Howard Waldrop

like waldrop?
so do we.

make howard prosperous.

send money.

Donate via PayPal:



or via Amazon's Honor System:

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More



Or buy yourself something at Amazon.com.

More options on the Contributions page.

T H A N K S !


In Association with Amazon.com

 

06.08.04

Schicklgrubers on Parade

3. Don't be a Dummy, be a Smarty!

 

I believe Swastika Night is back in print somewhere, and if they haven't already, Virago Press or some other will get V. Sackville-West's Grand Canyon back out. Both were written before Hitler Lost. Swastika Night is by reputation a truly visionary work — it's set 500 years in the future, halfway through the Thousand-Year Reich dream-to-come. That a British author could envision, only four years after Hitler's accession to power, the repressions to come, is truly an act of the imagination.

Then of course there's the true masterpiece of the Hitler Wins genre, Phil Dick's The Man in the High Castle, from 1962. It's (if there is such a thing) an atypical novel for him; it's also (as they say in the SF Encyclopedia) an Oulipo work — one with certain strictures set down beforehand. In this case, when he came to a plot or character crux, he threw the I Ching; the I Ching itself figures in the book.

There's a divided America (prefigured in the Shirer Look piece): the East Coast and Midwest are German-occupied; the Japanese have a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere trade monopoly on the West Coast; as in America today, nobody much cares about the Rockies... That's where Abendsen lives, maybe, and where he wrote The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, in which Hitler Lost.

When Mr. Tagomi gets a glimpse into that Hitler-Lost world — nobody at the crowded diner gives up their seat for him, as is custom, and the counterman says, "Buzz off, Tojo" — we feel the true impact of the conceptual breakthrough involved. Further reading reveals that neither the Grasshopper Lies Heavy world, nor the world before the war, was ours, either. The layers are piled on, yet Dick gives a truly convincing picture of real life under the Germans and Japanese — not just the occasional horrors but the day-to-day grind — and some smarmy wonders, too. You never forget in the book where you are and what's going on around you — or, at least, the apparently real....

The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad: going way beyond the call of duty to produce an (intentionally) bad novel as written by Adolph Hitler. (The novel within is called Lords of the Swastika, and is as bad as Hitler's daydreams — and nightmares — must have been. It's full of real super-men and real under-men, and is as apocalyptic as the Battle of Berlin must have been. In the academic afterword (by Homer Whipple, if I remember correctly) we are informed that Hitler emigrated to America in the teens (after failing at the Vienna Schools of Art and Architecture), that he fell in with a bad emigré crowd (Frank R. Paul and the other German-born who illustrated and translated for Hugo Gernsback at Modern Electrics, Science and Invention, and later Amazing Stories, for which Hitler began to do the covers Paul didn't do); he became an SF fan, and finally became proficient enough in English to write Lords of the Swastika. After he died, what are essentially SA and SS uniforms and regalia become prize-winners at the masquerade contests at worldcons... Like Burdekin, like Dick, it's a true visionary work — from within the vision of Adolf Hitler, and a triumph of a specialized sort. Hitler didn't Win, he just lived another life — it was his work that endured; the costumes of his imagination Won the prizes...

The trouble with Fatherland (1992, and a made-for-TV movie later) was that Harris, or his publisher, thought he had invented the Hitler Wins book, despite 60 years of predecessor-novels. He's the first (besides Shirer) to give a look at the monstrous Speer-designed buildings and monuments of a re-formed and renewed Berlin, capital of the Thousand-Year Dream. He manages to still have the Beatles be playing in the 1964 setting of the novel.

I'm glad to see the fringes of Nazism (the Morning of the Magicians parts) represented, not just the straightforward boogeymen of mainline thinking. McBride's Torch of Honor is about Sir Oswald Mosley's Black Shirts — homegrown fascists of the 1930s. (The American equivalent was William Dudley Pelley's Silver Shirts.) Brad Linaweaver's Moon of Ice takes in the Horbiger Ice-World Theory — which had a huge following in Nazi Germany. I don't think anyone's written yet about the theory current at the time that we live on the inside of a Hollow Earth — there were several Nazi missions aiming radar up at a 30-degree angle, just in case we were on the inside; the radars should have picked up British bombers crossing the Channel at that angle, if we were. I'm waiting for the Hitler Wins/SS-Holy Grail novel (it has something to do with Pouisson's Et in Arcadia Ego). Raiders of the Lost Ark touched on some of the (early) SS assertions: it wasn't until later, during the war, when the true, mystical side of Himmler — a former ego-collective manager — really came out...

 


I C London, I C France, which may be the Web's most technologically primitive blog, is brought to you through the typing, proofreading, editorial, and coding efforts of Team Waldrop, also known as Mary Kay Kare (proudly reality-based) and L. Blunt Jackson (Seattle, Philadelphia, Tau Ceti), and via the steadfast couriers of the United States Postal Service. Much thanks to all involved!

New: Locus Magazine is offering a special deal on the issue with the superb Heart-of-Waldrop photo and interview. Che'ekidaou'ut.

Howard Waldrop is a legend in his own time. He writes, he fishes, he builds bookcases. He does not have a cellphone, a computer, or an email account.

For someone who is about as wired as an echidna, Howard has a pretty substantial online career. He has had a website since 1997. You can read The Ugly Chickens, The Other Real World, Winter Quarters, D = R x T, and his collaboration with Leigh Kennedy, One Horse Town, on SciFiction. Mary Margaret Roadgrader is available on the excellent Strange Horizons. He has an occasional column, Crimea River, on Electric Story. And now he has a blog. Go figure.

For additional embellishments of the Waldrop legend, see Who Is Howard Waldrop, Anyway? For extravagant lies about Howard, see Alternate Waldrops, on Strange Horizons. Howard's most recent books are Custer's Last Jump and Other Collaborations and Dream Factories and Radio Pictures. Buy 'em.

home | stories | columns | archive | faq | talk