A Review of “Alternative Truths,” a Guest Blog by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is a Nebula winning science fiction/fantasy writer and editor  She recently read and reviewed Alternative Truths, the political satire anthology from B Cubed Press, and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her review as a guest blog.

E. A. Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

In The Wind Between the Worlds, Robert Ford, an RAF radio operator unfortunate enough to be helping the Tibetan government set up radio links between the settlements when the Chinese invaded described his treatment as a prisoner. His captors softened him up with sleep deprivation and starvation, and with sessions of yelling at him that what he believed was lies and what he thought was wrong was true. They kept repeating the lies they wanted him to believe, substituting them for any real news until he was confused about what was true and what was not. By the end of his stay, following his “confession,” he was convinced that his enemies were his friends and vice versa. He said that it took him years after his release to sort out his own concept of reality. Everything he was told was counter to his own opinions and experience, but isolated and bombarded by his captor’s “alternative truths,” he was forced to accept their version of reality.

More recently, June Weinstock, woman from Fairbanks, Alaska, in Guatemala on an archaeological expedition, was waiting for a bus when a mob of villagers attacked her, beating and stabbing her until rescuers told them she was dead. The government had been spreading the story that American tourists were kidnapping Guatemalan kids and cutting them up for their organs. When one of the villagers couldn’t find her child, people set upon Ms. Weinstock, who later died from her injuries. The child was later found rehearsing for an Easter pageant. The disinformation that led to the death of the woman was a Guatemalan “alternative truth.”

“Alternative truths” can have truly deadly consequences, and although the stories in the anthology of the same name are fiction and don’t pretend to be otherwise, they illustrate 24 reasons why it’s not a good way to run a country. The current administration should leave the story-telling to the professionals.
POTUS’s rambling oratory style is so well portrayed by Adam-Troy Castro in “Q&A” and Jim Wright’s “President Trump, Gettysburg, Nov. 19, 1863” mimic POTUS’S rambling oratory style that I almost couldn’t laugh for cringing.

My favorites were the more allegorical tales. Diana Hauer’s “The Trumperor and the Nightingale” gives a Trump/Midas twist to the Chinese fairytale about a real versus a fake songbird. The story is kind to “the royal family” but not as forgiving of the advisors and is one of very few in the book with a happy ending.

Louise Marley’s “Relics, a Fable” is a poignant tale of what life might be like for the old and poor in the shadow of the humongous wall that is supposed to keep Mexicans from immigrating to the US.

“Patti 309” by K.G. Anderson is also about older people, but the once-affluent and even celebrities in their–er–golden years, when age and ill-health have deprived them of not only their money, but also much of their identities.

“Melanoma Americana” is a thrilling uniquely Capitalist tale of where the money goes when big business meets medicine.

I particularly enjoyed the British humor in Parliament’s take on an a familiar-sounding American head of state in Susan Murrie Macdonald’s “As Prophesied of Old.”

I also found “Letters from the Heartland” by Janka Hobbs to have a more home-grown gallows humor.

Joel Ewy’s “about_the_change.wav” is a love story. It reminded me of a couple I know who almost split up over the election, though it has a bit of a Stepford Wives meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist to it. “Frozen” is also a love story, kind of, but this one doesn’t have any cute reindeer or princesses in it.

Particularly chilling were three stories about ordinary citizens caught up in the changes that come to pass when alternative truths become real. “Raid at 817 Maple Street” by Ken Staley, “Good Citizens” by Paula Hammond, “We’re Still Here,” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle and “The History Book” by Voss Foster show the horrific consequences of innocent behavior when monitored by a well-armed witch hunt in a time when paranoia substitutes for imagination and alternative truths trump (pardon the pun) reality.

“Altered to Truth” by the anthology’s co-editor (with Bob Brown) Irene Radford, “Alt Right for the President’s End” by Gregg Chamberlain, “Rage Against the Donald” by Bruno Lombardi, “It’s All Your Fault” by Daniel M. Kimmel, “Monkey Cage Rules” by Larry Hodges, “Duck, Donald: A Trump Exorcism” by Marleen S. Barr, and “Pinwheel Party” by Victor D. Phillips all feature different takes on what happens when the Wicked Witch of the West is also in charge of the West Wing.

“Walks Home Alone at Night” by Wondra Vanian is unfortunately non-futuristic, since it seems to be occurring right now.  The kind of mentality that threatens the protagonist in this story happens too often, particularly to minorities upon whom certain people currently in the Cabinet and Congress have declared “open season.”

In this versatile anthology, there’s even a story the NRA could love–a good old-fashioned-though-modern shoot-’em-up Western called “The Last Ranger (ANPS-1, CE 2053)” by Blaze Ward. An iron-jawed legendary hero, a young man earning his spurs, overwhelming odds, headin’ ’em off at the pass, and lots of things exploding!

This book doesn’t cure any of the evils that people do, but it does provide a feast of food for thought.

If this sounds like something you’d like to read and review, please do. It’s available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Altern…/dp/B0718YNJ97/ref=sr_1_1… Please share!

white house snowflakes

Mahalo to Elizabeth Ann Scarborough for her kind words on my story, our book, and her permission to reprint this book review on my blog. And merci beaucoup to the 70 readers who have reviewed Alternative Truths on Amazon thus far.