Tuesday 28 November 2017

[Guest post update] SS-GB and its place in the alternate history landscape .... revisited

In April, we published an article by Deighton Dossier reader and tier-one level collector Robert 'Raki' Rakison on SS-GB and alternate histories. He's been kind enough to provide an update on his research and to suggest some further reading which blog readers may find of interest.


Over the summer, there’s been a lot of activity in literary Spyland, leading up to the launch of John Le Carré’s Legacy of Spies on 7 July (no doubt you’ve all got your signed copies!!). In particular Waterstones Gower Street London had a “Summer of Spies” series of events, culminating with the Legacy launch. 

There were two events of particular Deighton interest: the first was a talk by Mike Ripley as part of the launch for his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang book on 22 August (KKBB is dedicated to Len) and the second, a talk on The IPCRESS File on 29 August attended by Ripley and Rob (editor of the Deighton Dossier). Around these two events there was a lot of wide-ranging Deighton discussion, including on SS-GB and alternate histories.
Mike Ripley mentioned that he’d already penned an article on SS-GB and alternate histories, and I reproduce his “Future Imperfect” below. It’s from a regular column he does for SHOTS Crime & Thriller e-zine, entitled “Mike Ripley’s Getting Away With Murder” and the article was from the August 2015 (No 105) issue: (Readers may want to subscribe, it's an excellent column)

Anyway, there are a few more books, again in order of publication, that I’d like to draw to your attention in the WW2 alternate history arena – a mix of some earlier material and more recent novels – which I hope you’ll find interesting. Len really did start a modern trend!!

1.   Dr Ewald Banse’s “Germany, Prepare for War!” (1934) (in German “Raum und Volk in Weltkriege” – literally “Space and People in the World War”). See 6 below.

2.   Katharine Burdekin’s (writing as “Murray Constantine”) “Swastika Night” (1937).

This takes place in a world where the Nazis and Japan defeated their enemies and conquered the world (from a modern perspective, the novel is an alternate history in which the Nazis won World War II, though at the time of its writing the war had not broken out and it was a work of speculative future fiction.)

It follows the protagonist, an Englishman in his 30s who works as a ground mechanic for the German Empire in Salisbury Aerodrome. He goes to Germany on a holy pilgrimage to see the holy sites of Hitlerism, the religion in this Nazi dominated world. These sites include the holy forest and the sacred aeroplane in Munich with which Hitler won the war by personally flying to Moscow, it is said. In this world Hitler is seen as a seven foot tall, long blonde haired, blue-eyed man who was “exploded” from the head of God the Thunderer and a god in his own right. He is preached about by "Knights" (a cross between the traditional, feudal knight and a priest) who pass this job down from father to son. Women are chattels, much as in Margaret Attwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. It was reissued in 1985.