Altered States

A nice review over at
Altered States of the Union Cover

Story I’d Like Expanded Into a Novel: “Gertrude of Wyoming” by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald. This action-packed spy thriller had all the intrigue of a Bond story, but Gertrude had no need to supplement her awesomeness with hi-tech toys. I fell in love with this character AND the world she inhabits, and I’d love to know more about both.

A few notes about the story: Gertrude of Wyoming is itself a reference to a very popular narrative poem, Gertrude of Wyoming; A Pennsylvania Tale by Thomas Campbell, written in 1809.  It celebrates a now-obscure event in the Pennamite-Yankee War, a now-obscure war fought between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the ownership of the Wyoming Valley in what is now northeastern Pennsylvania (a major source of coal).  That war ran on-and-off from 1769 through 1784.  The root cause of the war was that King Charles II had granted the same land to both colonies, and it had major economic value.  (The poem was so popular at the time that the present US state of Wyoming was named for it.)

Anyway, in our story, the way the war resolved was with the Wyoming valley becoming its own state.  At the same time, the Indian Stream Republic (an independent country on the border between the USA  and Canada which now forms the town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire, which existed from 1832 to 1835) retained its independence and functioned as a kind of Switzerland in the Americas, where various governments could carry out informal actions.  In this case, it’s the Republic of Germany trying to steal the transistor secrets (WWI and WWII never having taken place and there being no atomic bomb).  The last major historical change is that the USA continued under the Articles of Confederation rather than switching over to the Constitution that we now know and love, so America is a set of loosely aligned countries, each with its own money, border controls, and so on. The time when the story is placed is the early 1960s.

The rest of the political geography of North America is taken from Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, specifically from his story “The Repairer of Reputations,” which I suppose puts it somewhere in the Cthulhu mythos, or at least among its sources and analogs.

The first draft of our “Gertrude of Wyoming” story was quite a bit longer and contained more subplots and nefarious doings.  The feel I was going for was a Cold War thriller; A Funeral in Berlin, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, etc. of which I read far too many in high school.

The exclusive period for this story is long over, so one of these days I’ll likely republish it myself (easier than finding a reprint market).


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