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The Alternate Lavender Island.

Marooned Guest: Arturo Serrano

Today, our marooned guest on Lavender Island is Arturo Serrano, author of the AH novel To Climates Unknown . He’s been long-listed for the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 2022 and 2023, and is an editor and reviewer of science fiction and fantasy for the Hugo- and Ignyte-winning blog Nerds of a Feather. [2]. An experienced and respected member of the AH community indeed.


Welcome to the isolation of Lavender Island, Arturo. What’s the first AH book you’ve chosen?

In my never humble opinion, The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson is the best AH ever written, and no AH list is complete without it. I have a weakness for historical novels that aspire to fit an entire world inside of them, and this one succeeds spectacularly while making it look easy.

Picture courtesy Amazon.

And the second AH book you’ve selected?

One of the most important AH novels in my TBR list is Everfair by Nishi Shawl. It’s unfortunately rare for an AH novel about Africa to be actually written by an Afro writer. We must always keep our ears open to the possibilities of imagination that can be found outside of the dominant cultures.

Picture courtesy Amazon.

Moving on to your third book. What have you chosen?

The 2020 Sidewise winner, The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky, contains several uchronias in one volume, which in a way lets me cheat at this game without really cheating. Tchaikovsky has a brilliant talent for imagining non-human characters, a great asset when the PoD is evolution.

Picture courtesy Amazon.

Can you talk about your fourth book?

Far too much AH is founded on a different trajectory for a war, which is unfortunate because war is boring. The series that begins with The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal has a more refreshing premise: a different trajectory for technology and social mores. I’ll pick social analysis over battle tactics any day.

Picture courtesy Amazon.

What’s the fifth and final AH book you’ve chosen?

I don’t know how long I’ll stay on that island, so let’s go big. From what I’ve been able to gather (most of it in French) the novel Dreamericana by Fabrice Colin is a uchronia about uchronias, the tale of a writer who can barely keep up to date with history because time travellers keep changing it.

Picture courtesy Amazon.

You’re also allowed one history book of OTL history. What will you be taking?

This one is very hard to answer. I’ve been collecting books on the history of various technological tools (the history of wood, of cloth, of horse riding, of land ownership), but one that has been a long time in my TBR list and that I suspect would be very satisfying is A Historical Survey of Military Incompetence by Geoffrey Regan. It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable read for a pacifist.


Moving on, those are your books. Music. What AH music would you like to have with you?

Since I’m going to be in the middle of the ocean, let’s go with the lost Music for an Aquatic Ballet by John Cage. It included instruments intended to be played underwater, so I’ll need a waterproof player and earphones to take with me.


The final item you are allowed is a luxury item taken from Alternate History. What have you chosen?

Maybe one surviving branch from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon would help make my survival more likely....?


Those are all your items. How well do you think you will cope with the isolation and your time on Lavender Island?

I’m a city animal. I don’t know how to survive anywhere without indoor plumbing and food refrigeration. The island would kill me of dysentery and/or botulism within a day.


 Discuss this interview Here.






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