Building a Better Future

Building a Better Future

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching events unfold in Ukraine with mounting frustration. Vladimir Putin is inflicting terrible and unnecessary suffering on the country, but there is so little we, ordinary Westerners, can do.

I recommend donating to a charity of your choice to help the people of Ukraine. 3.5 million have fled the country. Millions more are internally displaced, hiding out with family or friends or — worse — in basements and bunkers in cities like Kharkiv and Kiev and Mariupol, often without electricity, heat, medicine and running water. Charities like Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross are doing what they can to reach these people, and others are helping to provide shelter to refugees both inside Ukraine and in other European countries. They need and deserve your help!

Thanks to Sergeant Frosty Publications, a relatively new publisher of historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction, there is one more thing we can do: buy the alternate-history anthology Building a Better Future. Edited by David Flin, it contains thirteen stories. All the proceeds go to charities helping the people of Ukraine.

Click here to find the book on Amazon.

Also consider signing up for a writhaton this Saturday, Alternate Historians for Ukraine, which will raise money as well.

New Look for the Never Was Lounge

Never Was neon logo

I’ve restyled our message-board community, the Never Was Lounge. The black-and-yellow colors and neon sign harken back to the glory days of the Smoking Lounge, which was our message board when we were still The Gatehouse. When The Gatehouse became Never Was, the Smoking Lounge was renamed the Never Was Lounge.

The lounge opened in January 2008. When Brass Goggles launched their own steampunk forum that year, we had hoped to merge with them, but it soon became clear that they would not allow discussion of dieselpunk, politics or anything risqué or controversial, so there remained a good reason for the Smoking Lounge to exist.

Others came and went. SteamPunk Magazine (no longer published) ran their own community for a time, The Gaslamp Bazaar. It is gone. Gothic Steam Fantastic had a forum. It is gone. Wings of Steam created a community. It is gone. There was a Retrofuturist Society. It is gone. Club of Clockwork Gentlemen is still online but dead. closed in 2020 after almost a decade. Now even The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles is down. (Some of its members can be found on Spare Goggles.)

The lounge has been online without interruption, and I intend to keep the lights on for as long as I can pay the bills. Why don’t you stop by and say hi?

Never Was in 2021

Happy New Year from the team at Never Was! We look forward to bringing you more to read in 2022.

But first, a look back. We published 154 stories in 2021.

Dieselpunk author Sarah Zama kindly allowed us to republish her A-to-Z history of Weimar Germany. Dale Cozort gave us permission to republish several of his alternate-history scenarios: “What if Turkey had entered World War II?” “What if Germany had returned to war in 1919?” and “What if Hitler had gone for Moscow?

We continued our partnership with Sea Lion Press, the world’s first publishing house devoted exclusively to alternate history. We republished stories and reviews by Ryan Fleming, Matthew Kresal and Adam Selby-Martin from their blog, and they republished several of ours. Kresal won the Sidewise Award for Best Short Form Alternate History this year for “Moonshot,” published in the Sea Lion Press anthology Alternate Australias.

Alexander Wallace joined our team in late-2020, but became our top contributor in 2021, reviewing 46 books and movies, including Lyssa Medana’s impressive debut novel Out of the London Mist, Arturo Serrano’s sprawling To Climates Unknown, C.J. Sansom’s Dominion and the successful horror-war movie Overlord.

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Matthew Kresal Wins Sidewise Award for Alternate History

Never Was would like to extend a hearty congratulations to Matthew Kresal for his victory in the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History. His short story “Moonshot,” published in the Sea Lion Press anthology Alternate Australias edited by Jared Kavanagh, has won the 2020 Sidewise Award for Best Short Form Alternate History.

Matthew is a regular contributor to the blog of Sea Lion Press, the world’s first publishing house dedicated to alternate history and a Never Was partner. We’ve republished several of his stories and reviews.

In winning, Matthew has shown the creative potential of online alternate history, and how it is slowly but surely becoming recognized by the science-fiction mainstream. He is the first author of Sea Lion Press so honored.

Three cheers for Matthew!

Partnership with Sarah Zama

Never Was is proud to announce a partnership with Sarah Zama, author of four books and many stories set in the diesel era. She most recently published Living the Twenties, a nonfiction ebook about the decade. Sarah also maintains an active blog, called The Old Shelter.

In 2018, she blogged about the history of Weimar Germany in an A-to-Z challenge: 26 entries, one for each letter of the alphabet. We’ll be republishing those stories in the coming months. The first one, about the 1918 armistice that ended World War I, just went up.

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Happy Holidays!

Santa Claus Christmas poster

The team of Never Was wishes you and your family happy holidays!

It’s an usual Christmas for many of us. The coronavirus makes big family gatherings unwise. In some countries they’re not even allowed.

Please do follow the recommendations of health-care professionals where you live and remember there is light at the end of the tunnel: vaccines should become widely available in the new year. We will have Christmas again.

In the meantime, we’re switching from two to three new weekly blog posts to give you a little something extra to read. And don’t forget: we have our own message-board community, the Never Was Lounge, which is a great way to connect with fellow fans of alternate history, retro-futurism and science fiction!

Kevin Steele’s Steampunk Books Archived at Never Was

For the last four years, Kevin Steele published hackneyed book reviews and lists at his website, Steampunk Books. A fan of Mark Hodder, Stephen Hunt and China Miéville, he recommended A Red Sun Also Rises, The Court of the Air and the Bas-Lag trilogy that started with Perdido Street Station. Among his popular articles were the ten best steampunk books, four steampunk clichés and steampunk novels that should be made into movies.

We exchanged links and some content with Steampunk Books, so when Kevin’s website went down we happily agreed to host his stories in an archive here at Never Was. Visit the overview page or follow the tag to find them all.

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Why a Message Board Is Better Than Facebook

When I got involved in diesel- and steampunk, most of the online communities were message boards. Now most are on Facebook.

It has not been an improvement. Interactions in message boards were more civil and informative than they typically are on Facebook (or Twitter for that matter). Message boards were never enormous, so you could become a well-known member and make friends. Some of the fellow alternate-history aficionados I met in message boards are still acquaintances and in some cases Never Was contributors.

The problem with Facebook is that everyone is on it. But that is also its power. It’s why most people, when they want to create a community, create a Facebook group.

That’s not what we did for the Never Was Lounge. Here’s why.

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Partnership with Sea Lion Press

Never Was is happy to announce a partnership with Sea Lion Press, a UK-based publishing house that specializes in alternate history. You will see stories from their blog republished here every two weeks and vice versa, starting with Paul Hynes’ “The ‘What Ifs’ of Operation Barbarossa“.

Sea Lion most recently published Katherine Foy’s Freedom’s Rampart: The Russian Invasion of New Zealand, which follows Russian sailors and citizens of New Zealand during Imperial Russia’s naval bombardment and occupation of Dunedin in the late 1800s.

Other Sea Lion authors include Tom Anderson, author of the Look to the West series, in which Revolutionary France is far more aggressive in its conquests and America remains British; Andy Cooke, whose The Lectern Series imagines a more successful UKIP; and Hynes, who tells the story of the Allied invasion of Japan that never was in the two-parter Decisive Darkness.