In Dublin, Fair City by Rick Wilber, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2017

In Dublin, Fair City by Rick Wilber is an alternative history piece set in 1940. WWII has gone much different than what we know of the war. The Japanese decimated Pearl Harbor and destroyed many of the warships, including some aircraft carriers. Instead of trying to fight, the Americans abandoned Hawaii, and also San Diego when the Japanese close in, and so the Japanese have a foothold on American soil and the fear is San Fransisco will be next.

On the other side of the globe, Europe has fallen to Hitler. England lost the Battle of Britain, and the Irish were somehow able to remain neutral. There are rumblings of a new super bomb the Germans have developed. One that can destroy an entire city, perhaps more.

The is protagonist Moe Berg, who was a real person and played in the MLB as a catcher but also helped the OSS as a spy due to his fluency in many languages. He is tasked with a job to go to Dublin and recover a German scientist who has defected. There is talk of Hitler losing control of his people. Some Germans within the Reich believe Hitler has gone too far, and so there is turmoil everywhere.

The best part of this piece is the imagining and discovery of how this WWII is different than the historical one. It’s very real, very believable. I’m excited that a couple more Moe Berg stories are in the works as well. (B-)

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10/16/14

When I was in my early and mid twenties I wanted to experience everything. I guess I’m still in my mid twenties, right? is 27 mid or is it bordering late? I’m unsure.  But I know I feel old. Or–what I mean to say is that my actions now reflect those of an older man. Far older than I was at 23-24-25, though it’s been only two years, three years, four years. Back then I was always on an adventure and that was how my life felt–like one long adventure. I don’t know when I lost that but I suspect it was about a year into my masters program. This isn’t to say I dislike my schooling at the moment. In fact I enjoy it very much. I enjoy sitting down everyday and diving into books and contemplating the way in which fiction works. What compels people to continue to read the next page, then the next, and the next. But with a program such as the one I am taking part in so do a lack of time–a lack of time to do other things. Before I started at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts I had so much time to work and play. Work hard, play hard.

A Nazi bunker being swallowed by the sea.

When I turned 21 I went to Europe for six months. I lived out of one bag for all that time. I hitch hiked in the middle of the night in cities I had been told never to do so, Rome, Berlin, Milan. I climbed the beach cliffs of northern Denmark where the Nazi’s had built bunkers. These bunkers were slowly being devoured by the sea. Every year the high tides road up and crashed upon the cliffs and eroded the land on which the bunkers were set. Some bunkers were so covered with sand that only a tiny edge of them stuck out, like a hand from quicksand from the flat of the beach. One was even out in the water. The sea has slowly crept up on the land and what was once walkable is now underwater. I wondered what those of the Third Reich might have thought of that. Eventually all of those bunkers will be underwater and no trace of German occupation of Denmark will be left.

At 23 I left for South Korea to teach english as a second language. I went alone–my girlfriend at the time would follow 3 months later. I knew nobody in South Korea. I was alone and had never taught before. I had taken a very short–quite crappy TEFL course online. It didn’t really teach me anything, but I had to have it in order to go to South Korea. While there I was making so much money I had no idea what I should do with it so I bought the nicest bicycle I could find–a touring bike–and cycled the 300 miles from Seoul to Mokpo, through the countryside and along dirt roads and didn’t more than a dozen words to anyone for 4 days. The solitude was fantastic and alarming and miles and miles of the a 75% mountainous country passed below my tires, my feet.

 

10/8/13

When I came to the diner two porters were standing about outside the door. In their get straight and pressed slacks they looked rather out of place in steerage. Those exiting the diner were quite vagabond even compared to myself who, having slept in my clothes was near an expiration date with certainty.

“Excuse me sir,” I said to the the porter I thought looked the kinder.

“Yes?” he asked, turning his head toward me.

I almost ran for the hills, Hildebrand, if there had been on the chip. The fellow had the largest mole on his nose I’d ever seen.

I composed myself and said, “I am sadly out of funds but am an able body who’d like to earn his meals.”

“You’d take that up with the cook around her,” said the man.

I looked down the hallway. I know not how much time you’ve modern day steamers, Hildebrand, but they are dreadfully claustrophobic places. The halls, in steerage at least, aren’t wide enough for two to walk abreast. The halls, stretching out before me seemed to lose all relevance in distance. Where there was a curve at the very end of the hall and where there was a door seemed to be nearly a hand’s breadth away. I do hate these closed spaces.

Without a word I walked away. My appetite was indeed gone. Vanquished by the blast of unfortunate vertigo. But I had no desire to work for a kitchen. Really, Hildebrand, I am a dignified layabout despite being a layabout. I know you shake your head, but I will not debase myself with washing dishes or wiping down tables.

I walked down the same hall I had just come to dislike so strongly, turned the corner and followed the exit signs to one of the elevators. The porter there asked if I were going up. I told him I was.

“All the way up, sir?”

“Yes. I need some fresh air,” I told him.

“Very well then.”

On the deck we hadn’t even pushed off yet. Cuxhaven was socked in with dense mist and the air was chill and moist. Goose flesh popped out on my skin. A great many people seemed to be upon the deck, though I hadn’t had anyone else in my elevator. heads with hats and pony tales clustered here and there and hung over the railings on all sides. Suddenly the crowd, I among them, jumped about a foot in the air as the fog horn of RMS Sixsmith blasted forth. And again it went, long and hard and lonely into the gray day that would surely be left behind once we were away from the continent. I covered my ears, the blast was so loud. Not at all agreeable before breakfast–even if I had lost my appetite.

If it wasn’t my luck though, Hildebrand, we began to move at that very moment. Pushed off just as I had arrive on the deck. The crowd cheered and whistled and I couldn’t help joining in. This was, for me, the continuation of my life. If I had stayed upon the continent I would not have fared well. But now my survival was ensured. How could I not rejoice. That is, at least, how it felt.