Thursday, November 20, 2008

Inspiration - American VSF

The good ol' U.S.-of-A doesn't get much lip service in VSF, it would seem. I think it's the whole "V" part of that equation. I also think that a good chunk of it is also based on the fact that Americans of that era were pretty busy tooling around their own continent and settling things there to get involved in all that colonial stuff (okay, we tried, but never were too good at it). But anyways, I digress. I have found a nice piece of inspiring fiction that folks may or may not heard of. It's called "The Year the Cloud Fell".

I haven't finished it yet, but it is a very nice piece of alternate history with a few VSF elements in it. You have a USA that never was, where Custer is president and where his son builds an ill-fated airship. You also have, and here's the nifty part, Native Americans who ride duck-billed dinosaurs, they call Whistlers. The NA have managed to halt American expansion with the Cheyenne Alliance and the fact that horse cavalry is useless against dino cavalry because the dinos spook the horses too much.

So far, I am really enjoying the book and its in-depth portrayal of the NA culture in the setting. Not only are Whistlers present, but you also have Hardbacks (ankylosaurs) and Walkers (some sort of dangerous predator that I think my be T-rex) mentioned. The US is not the same as we would know it having new territories and states that do not or never did exist and their are steam powered automobiles in use.

All in all it seems a good read and the author, Kurt R. A. Giambastiani, seems to really hold the subject matter dear to him. His descriptions of the plains tribes and the setting are evocative and endearing. Sure, some of his characters may seem a bit cliche on the surface, but this quickly withers away as you read into the book.

Now, how can I do dino-riding Indians?



  1. The INdians are the easy part. Pretty much any maker of Native Americans is going to have mounted versions. You just gotta find dinos to fit.

  2. That was my thought as well. 15mm dinosaurs seem a bit large. The Whistlers, as described in the book and portrayed on the covers, are a smaller breed of hadrosaur.

    Perhaps some of the new dinos from the Dinomite game which I think are scaled to 10mm might work?

  3. Yes or is it just a lack of vision for most authors? But you would think with American Imperialism in the nineteenth century there would be more of an effort to venture into VSF.

  4. I think it may actually come down to some amount of prejudice in that America, in that time, may not be seen as refined enough or some such to facilitate such adventure.

    Of course, this is a totally uneducated guess, but who knows. I Oppel has writen some junior fiction that seems to take place in the US, but it is not VSF but it IS steampunky in a 20s/30s fashion.


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