If you missed it previously, I did a review of Clarkesworld issue 141 in conjunction with Unreal Magazine. They were nice enough to reach out to me and make that review, so if you can, do give them a look. They produce amazing short fiction and are a brand new magazine, with stories such as the one I’m featuring today from Issue #3.
If you’re wondering, no, this has nothing to do with the Marvel heroes. But it does have plenty of alternate history with Norse gods.
Today’s short story is Thor Meets Captain America, by David Brin, as featured in Unreal Magazine. You can buy an issue here. We’ve seen plenty of alternate history stories around WWII and the “what if Nazis won the World War” plot. Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, is a classic example enough to have Amazon adapt a series into a TV show. What the author has noted was given how insane the Nazis were, it would have been hard for them to win the war in any reality.
So here’s a take where the Nazis have the upper hand through some divine force: the Norse gods. Let’s take a look.
Norse Gods and Nazis vs. American Soldiers
Believed to be aliens, Norse gods arrived on an alternate 1944 earth to turn the tide of the Second World War. One American, Chris, is forced to ally with the Norse god, Loki. However, Hitler’s alliance with Odin proves to be too strong, but a potential bond with Thor could expose the Nazis true goal.
This was a very interesting take on alternate history with a magical twist. It’s hard to make such a situation work sometimes because it tends to come off as a cop out. This story provided plenty of character depth and was long enough to be an entertaining read.
Of course the Norse gods were their mighty, realistic variants instead of their Marvel appearances. Which despite the title, makes more sense. I do appreciate how the main lead, the “Captain America” in this situation is named Chris, as in Chris Evans, the actor playing Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. Granted, this story came out WAY before the films (published first in 1987), so this is more sheer coincidence if anything. Humorous in the fact that this character, this “Captain America” would no doubt be played by someone named Chris in one of the most iconic superhero movie franchises of all time.
The story itself is very interesting and gives an explanation, a more magical one if that, on why Hitler rounded up the Jewish population, giving a possible reasoning as to why a man would go so far as to slaughter millions of innocent people for the sake of superiority and world domination. Such an event in our history would have been best left for fiction, a reality that would have been impossible to obtain. But Hitler caused so much chaos that it shaped our entire world forever.
It’s interesting figuring out a justification for Hitler’s actions. In this story, the goal is unleashing a dark magic known as Necromancy (raising the dead). You could honestly see Hitler mad enough to believe in such a possibility, but of course, the main motive for Hitler’s actions remains only in guesses and theories. Some would say he wanted to take out Germany’s failures after WWI on Jewish people, but it’s possible that there could be more to that than simply revenge.
Nowadays, such a story wouldn’t really be made without following the same route as Mr. Dick’s iconic work. Perhaps some historical mysteries are best left alone, but this story definitely provides a unique take on alternate history. I enjoy stories like this where magic is involved, especially considering how common it appears in some form of our life. It’s always fun to play the “what if?” game and figure out if such a thing could happen in some far off reality.
Either way, this is a pretty grand tale and I would definitely give it a read. You might be impressed what gems you find in the world of fiction.
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