Back in the USSA (ISBN ) is a collection of seven short stories by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman, which was published in by Mark V. Back in the USSA by Kim Newman, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. One of the two superpowers which has dominated the 20th century is on the verge of being torn apart. The old communists regime which has held sway.
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When Eugene Debs led the Revolution, few expected it to lead to the iron-fisted regime of Chairman Al “Scarface” Capone, a dictatorship that would last into the s. This is the story of 20th century ij America had a revolution Kim Newman and Eugene Byrne turn history on its head with this novel of “what if?
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One of the two superpowers which has dominated the 20th century is on the verge of being torn apart. The old communists regime which has held sway since the Revolution of is weak and divided. Dissident voices, silent for too long, have been raised against the corrupt and inefficient gangsterism of a morally and financially bankrupt ruling party. A new age of o A new age of openness and reconstruction is dawning This is the United Socialist States of America.
Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Dec 13, Riju Ganguly rated it really liked it. But in this book, perhaps because of the geography the United States of America is, after all, much-much bigger than the comparatively tiny UK or Britain envisaged by Saki, in his “When William Came” or in the Anno Dracula booksthe gallop never becomes canter. The way pop culture and history mixes into imagination to give it a pseudo credibility is also very good.
But it could have been great. Perhaps the authors would give it a new flourish, adding a few more taut novellas to the main body, when they hopefully re-release this book at some point of time.
Nov 01, Alejandro Vasquez rated it really liked it. Try to picture this: Other althist writers would have been strict in determining exactly how the 20th century would have turned out if the United States had gone communist at its start, but this team does not go for this “hard science fic Try to picture this: Other althist writers would have been strict in determining exactly how the 20th century would have turned out if the United States had gone communist at its start, but this team does not go for this “hard science fiction” approach.
Instead, they try a “space opera” approach and recast the historical roles of the century’s major world powers: Oh, and France is China. This lets them have fun with presenting historical figures and events in a new way as Al Capone becomes this timeline’s version of Joseph Stalin, and British and Russian soldiers fight American-backed Vietcong forces.
Althist purists may balk, and the question remains: Debs for Russian socialist leader Vladimir Lenin? Well, perhaps they just felt that predicting an actual alternate timeline was futile. After all, there’s no way they’d get every detail right no matter how much they research, and there’s no way they could ever know if this is how it’d actually be.
Or perhaps they thought it’d be more entertaining and interesting to do it this way. Althist writing for the sake of considering an alternate timeline is mostly an exercise in interpreting our own history. Why not just have some fun with it? Speaking of which, they certainly seem to be enjoying themselves in the way that they reimagine historical figures in this timeline.
Jack Kerouac and Howard Hughes are noncomformist drifters roaming the country by barnstormer, Isaac Asimov still lives in Russia and reads people’s fortunes, and Alfred Hitchcock is a restaurant owner with a habit of poisoning past critics, among many others. Some of them are used specifically as replacements for the roles of real-life figures, much like how the world powers switch places – for example, Jean-Luc Godard is this world’s Mao Zedong.
Wikipedia has a list of them, though I didn’t see Bill Clinton, listed as this world’s Vladimir Putin, while reading the book. More entertaining, at least for me, is the typical Newman trope of inserting fictional characters into the story. The inclusion of such characters doesn’t always work – the last section in particular includes JR Ewing, the Blues Brothers, and The Man with No Name in – but most of the time it makes things just a little more interesting.
All this is to say that the worldbuilding is quite excellent. Byrne and Newman are both experienced in writing althists, and it doesn’t take long at all before they manage to immerse the reader in this familiar yet disturbing world.
Better still, they do it without pounding it over our heads, meaning no one says, “Man, can you imagine if we hadn’t gone through a communist revolution in ?
Back in the USSA – Wikipedia
But none of this wouldn’t work if we weren’t invested in the protagonists, and thankfully, we are. It’s exciting to see meek boy scout Charles Holdin Holley known to most as Buddy Holly stand up to his heroes, and by extension the communist government, in “In the Air. And the outcome of Melvin Purvis’s hunt for a folk hero in “Tom Joad” is something to behold.
I’ll readily admit that some of the novellas are weaker than others. And there’s something strangely disjointed about “On the Road,” the concluding story written specifically for this collection. It ends the book not with a bang, but with a whimper and some really weird imagery. But when the stories don’t feel light and don’t have trouble finding their tone, they’re great.
It’s a shame, then, that this book is so difficult to find. I’ve been looking on and off for this collection for years, and I couldn’t even find it at my local libraries.
Thankfully, an inter-library loan request thw me the gift to finally give bacj a try, and it’s been worth the effort. Back in the USSA hits way more often than it doesn’t, and even the lesser stories have great moments and interesting aspects to them. Plus, the parts set during the war itself blend iin first and superior half of Full Metal Jacket with the dark journey of Apocalypse Now.
Makes me wonder what the Soviet equivalent was, if any. And who made Hannibal Lecter the head of the Department of Health?! May 15, Dan rated it really liked it. This is my second time reading this and I still think it rips. Newman applying his considerable skill to alternate history is incredibly fun. If there’s any flaw in it I think it might be the over reliance in fictional characters as major political movers and shakers, but once you get past the Revolution it becomes less of an issue.
Ironic that Newman’s vision of a shattered USSA isn’t too dissimilar from our This is my second time reading this and I still think it rips. Ironic that Newman’s vision of a shattered USSA isn’t too dissimilar from our current United States, and even the stuff that gets exacerbated by Capone’s Stalinistic tactics magnified by his mafioso tendencies, proving that even through a mirror darkly some things never change aren’t exactly things that went good hack the capitalistic reality of kkim US.
Maybe the only slight on the book is that, lacking an actual vision into the rise of Capone as Party Leader ala Stalin, the idea of Capone as the USSA’s Stalin feels more like thw fun gimmick than one with any thought put into it.
Back in the USSA by Kim Newman
Oct 29, Billy Roper rated it liked it. What this alternate history “what if” misses is that a Czarist Russia would have meant no W. Ironically, it is true that the United States today, after yhe end of the Cold War, has become more Communistic than Russia now is.
Jan 07, Raymond Thomas rated it liked it Shelves: The collection of short stories in Back in the USSA are very entertaining and do a great job of world building without really moving from the obvious plot lines.
To some degree however, I feel like this is a missed on of sorts. Certainly it is interesting to have very clear and identifiable events that occurred in both the real history and this fake one, but its hard to believe you could simply displace roles and transfer them to other nations like kn done for much of the history in the The collection of short stories in Back in the USSA are very entertaining and do a great job of world building without really moving from the obvious plot lines.
Certainly it is interesting to have very clear and identifiable events that occurred in both the real history and this fake one, but its hard to believe you could simply displace roles and transfer them to other nations like is done for much of the history in the book.
Back in the USSA
It just seems like a missed opportunity. May 26, Diamond Jim rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of my favorite iin history books. This one is a series of short stories set in a world where the USA, not Russia, underwent a communist revolution.
Byrne and Newman went a little overboard with trying to draw too many parallels such as having Aleister Crowley stand in for Rasputinbut the sheer coolness of the stories make ussa for it. Jan 25, Boyd rated it really liked it. What if Eugene Debs had a successful uwsa How would the United States look? How would Ed Gein as a Marxist Party boss run his district. How would Russia look with Asminov as an astrologer?
And Leonid Brezhnev as a democratically elected politician?
And how would Kurt Vonnegut be as a president in a country on the verge of collapse; read and find out. I love history and I love SF and I’m from ex-communist country and in love with this book.
Alternative history or slipstream or whatever, idea is absolutely brilliant. Style need to be polished a bit, thou. Dec 25, Butch Rosenbalm marked it as to-read. tje
Really looking forward to this. Been out of print for a while, got lucky yhe found it for a good price. Ubi me u pojam, kao i Britansko pitanje. Nov 17, Simon rated it it was amazing.
Back in the Ussa
Very clever alternate history. Odlicna knjiga, budi mastu! Robert Taylor rated it it was amazing Jun 25,