Suggested summer reading-- on and off topic

I'm going to go camping this weekend, and if you're like me you may want to bring a book or two along wherever you are going. For professional reading, I'm bringing Safety Instrumented Systems Verification by Bill Goble and Harry Cheddie, available from I am also bringing Practical Process Control for Engineers and Technicians by Wolfgang Altman, available from Newnes. You can get your own copy direct from, or through I'm looking forward to seeing how these are, and I'll report on them as I read them. For fun, I am bringing new alternate history novels from two of my friends, Eric Flint and Dave Freer. Flint, who won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer back in the early '90s, writes science fiction, fantasy, and, increasingly, alternate history. For those of you not familiar with the genre, alternate history is a sort of "what if" riff on actual historical events. A real popular topic has been "What if the South had won the Civil War?" Another has been "What if the plague in the sixth century killed all of Western Europe instead of just 25%?" Flint has rung an interesting change on the alternate history format in Rivers of War, available at Amazon and bookstores everywhere. One of the most haunting occurrences in the colonization of the West was the Cherokee and Choctaw Trail of Tears. Flint, by positing one simple change in history, takes us on an interesting journey through an alternate history where the Trail of Tears will not occur. What is the historical change? Read the book. I confess that I was one of Eric's "first readers" on this book, and this will be my third time through. I really like this book, and I think you will, too, if you like Harry Turtledove, Kim Stanley Robinson, or Eric Flint's earlier efforts, 1632 and 1633. (My own only published fiction is included in Flint's Ring of Fire anthology, set in the same history as 1632). Dave Freer, on the other hand, is one of the wildest characters I know. A former shark biologist and conscript South African soldier, Dave is brilliant, funny, and dyslexic. This creates an author who has perpetrated, either alone or in company with the aforementioned Eric Flint and esteemed fantasy author Mercedes Lackey, some of the lowest humor ever published in science fiction. He's great. The book I'm taking with me for summer reading is called A Mankind Witch, the third volume in the alternate history series "The heirs of Alexandria." It is the first standalone novel by Freer in the series, but it is quite possibly the best. It is certainly the tightest written, at something less than half the size of the first two volumes, and the action moves right along as the milieu is revealed. It too is available worldwide from Amazon. Happy reading. Walt
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  • <p>I hope you guys have a nice long weekend. I'm really looking forward to getting AMW and Rivers of War myself. They both sound like good reads.</p>


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