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JULY 31 2000 -- Chatham, NJ -- Fictionwise.com (http://www.fictionwise.com) today released the acclaimed alternative history stories “Danny Goes to Mars,” and “Hillary Orbits Venus,” both by author Pamela Sargent. The two political satires are available in eBook formats for the Palm, Rocket Reader, and Adobe Acrobat format for personal computers.

Timed to coincide with political convention season, the two stories are in the so-called “alternate history” genre in which real past events are modified based on a “what if” scenario.

In “Danny Goes to Mars,” former Vice President Dan Quayle, through several twists of fate, ends up becoming the first person to visit the red planet. The story was inspired by a real life interview in which Dan Quayle gave his vision for landing on Mars, along with some stereotypically befuddled Quayle comments that made him a popular target for late night talk show humorists. The story won Pamela Sargent the prized Nebula® Award in 1992.

For political balance, Fictionwise.com simultaneously released Pamela Sargent’s story “Hillary Orbits Venus,” in which the current First Lady and Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes the first astronaut to visit Venus. Again, this story was inspired by a real life event. At the age of 15, young Hillary Rodham wrote to NASA asking how she could become an astronaut. NASA reportedly replied that “females need not apply,” which was the policy at that time.

“It’s in the great American tradition to poke fun at politicians,” commented Scott Pendergrast, co-publisher at Fictionwise.com. “When we realized Pamela Sargent’s stories were ready to publish just as the political convention season kicked off, it was just too good to pass up the opportunity to continue that tradition.”

Alternate history stories are a relatively recent development in speculative fiction, growing out of the historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction genres. In an alternate history story, real past events or people are fictionalized using a “what if” scenario. Good alternate history stories rely on both careful research and a fertile imagination by the author, who is expected to provide accuracy as well as a plausible outcome from a change in historical circumstances.

Pamela Sargent commented: "For some time now, I've had the feeling that we're all living in a continuum that has branched off from the main historical line--that line where the Soviet Union still exists and there are moon bases and the first manned mission to Mars is underway.  Or maybe the main line isn't that one, but a world where anyone still alive is sifting through radioactive rubble after a global nuclear war. Imagine believing in 1975 that in less than two decades Ronald Reagan would become president of the United States, the Soviet Union would collapse, Nelson Mandela would lead South Africa's government, and average people would have home computers more powerful than the ones NASA used to land on the moon. People who wonder about the plausibility of alternate history stories should remember how strange real history has been."

Fictionwise has created a special bundle of political alternate history stories to celebrate the launch. The bundle includes the two Pamela Sargent stories, as well as Mike Resnick’s “Bully!”, a story about former president Teddy Roosevelt, and Nick DiChario’s acclaimed story “The Winterberry,” which is about former president John Kennedy.

Fictionwise.com launched on June 1st with the goal of being the short fiction eBook leader.  The website now features almost 200 short story eBooks (with over 100 more in production), all by popular and/or award winning authors, including: Damon Knight, Robert Silverberg, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, David Langford, Mary Soon Lee, Barry Malzberg, Tom Purdom, Mike Resnick, Nick DiChario, Kate Wilhelm, and Michael Swanwick. In many cases, Fictionwise has the largest collection of individual eBook stories by these authors, and the website now has over 40 major award winning or award nominated eBook stories online.  New stories are being added weekly. 

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