What if the Ripper had kept killing, Hitchcock had directed Titanic, or an alien attack forced two adversaries into an unlikely alliance? Visit worlds where wartime experiments unlocked genetic potential, where magic and magical creatures flourish, and where two detectives solve crimes in a world where Rome still rules.
The third Tales From Alternate Earths arrives with more fourteen stories and includes award-wining authors. Discover these worlds if you dare!
“Blueprints for a plough?” Bryn Cartival, decanus to Dai Llewellyn, vigiles investigator, sounded incredulous. “Let me get this straight, Bard, you’re saying we are being assigned to find some old sketches of a horse-drawn plough?”
“Ox drawn. Except you’re missing the point. These are not designs of any old plough – these were the original designs of Lugh Tasgo.”
There was a silence and Dai realised the puzzled look on Bryn’s face was not lifting.
“Who’s he when he’s at home?” Bryn sounded as if he thought Dai was playing some joke on him.
Dai gaped and shook his head. “Didn’t you learn anything when you were at school?”
Bryn shrugged. “Enough to get by. I was the kid sitting at the back of the room playing games on me wristphone or listening to music on my IXI.”
That produced an odd snort from the decanus whose greying hair betrayed his middle-age in a way his tough body still did not.”So who was he? Someone famous? Sounds British…”
Dai shook his head in mock despair.”He was British. He was an agricultural engineer back in the time of the Divine Diocletian. He invented the heavy wheeled plaumoratum and was hailed as a hero. He saved the Empire.”
Bryn laughed.”Now I know you’re joshing me. How could a ploughmaker save the Empire? Besides, Romans don’t make farmers into heros. Not even clever farmers. And never if he were a Briton.”
“The Divine Diocletian had a passion for gardening. Even a spado like you must have learned that. And Tasgo’s plough is what saved the Empire. Because of it, places like Britannia and Gallia could grow enough to feed the people living in our towns and cities. Without it, they would have starved and civilization broken down, taking the Empire with it over a thousand years ago.”
Miming a yawn, Bryn cut to the chase.“So, ancient history aside, who would want the designs of his plough nowadays? We have hydroponics and automated combine harvesters today. So not like it’s exactly cutting edge technology.”
“No. But they are unique historical documents. Extremely valuable historical documents. In fact, priceless historical documents. They were on loan from a private collection somewhere to the Bibliotheca Britannica. Theft was reported by the courier about twenty minutes before she died from the stab wounds she received in the robbery. No info on her attacker – not even gender as he or she was wearing an obscuring helmet and a hoverbike outfit.”
“We’re investigating a murder then?”
“You’d think.” Dai made no attempt to keep the wry note from his voice. “But we got the budget for this from Antiquities. Our masters value the stolen document as ‘an artefact of Roman significance’ more than the life of the courier – but then she was only a Briton.”
From Dying to Alter History by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, one of the fourteen alternate history short stories in Tales From Alternate Earths III from Inklings Press.
A Bite of… Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook
Q1 – What do you most enjoy about co-authoring the Dai and Julia stories?
EMSH – Writing can be a pretty lonely business and there is nothing better than having another person just as invested in what you are writing as you are. Someone to share ideas with, discuss possible plots and characters and work with to bring about a really great story.
JJ – Having someone make me concentrate on one thing at a time. Also my co-author is rather clever and makes me keep my nose clean. But. Enjoy? Mild squabbles and loud giggles I think.
Q2 – What is it about alternate history that attracts you to write in the genre?
EMSH – I love history, indeed my latest project is pure hisorical fiction. So with alternate history you can think about how things might have been if something slightly different had happened, if someone who dies had lived or if a battle won had been a battle lost or if an invetion was made much sooner that it was – or was never made at all. Then you take that notion and think how that might have turned out. It is playing with history.
JJ – It feels a bit like being a pagan goddess. One can say ‘I’m okay with history up to this point, but then I want x to happen’. And it happens and you then have a whole bucketload of consequences to play with. It’s a lot of fun.
Q3 – Will there be more Dai and Julia in the future?
EMSH – The answer to that is a solid ‘maybe’. It is something you will just have to wait and see.
JJ – I have no idea. If the captain so decrees it will happen
The writing team of E.M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago has produced a
number of books following the characters of Dai and Julia in a world where the Roman empire never faded.
E.M. Swift-Hook has had a number of different careers, before settling in the North-East of England with family, three dogs, cats and a small flock of rescued chickens.
The term genre-hopper could have been coined to describe Jane Jago and her books, modern-day thrillers sitting side by side with sword and sorcery, wicked dragons, and short stories and verse. You can find then both right here, on this blog every day!