By Ian Watson, Ian Whates
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Extra resources for The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories
I can’t imagine how we’re going to get through the canal. Mrs Wilde assures me we’ll think of something. Lord, how I adore my wife. In January we’re expecting our first child. This happy phenomenon, I must confess, caught us completely by surprise, as Mrs Wilde is forty-six years old. Evidently our baby was meant to be. * * * * 15 November 1914 Lat. 7°10’N, Long. 79°15’W Mirabile dictu - we’ve done it! Thanks to Mrs Astor’s diamond tiara, Mrs Guggenheim’s ruby necklace, and a dozen other such gewgaws, we managed to bribe, barter and wheedle our way from one side of the Isthmus of Panama to the other.
We must get farther south. My kingdom for a horse latitude. The meat in steerage has thawed, though it evidently remains fresh, an effect of the cold air and the omnipresent brine. I shall soon be obligated to issue a difficult order. ” Messrs Lightoller, Pitman, Boxhall, Lowe and Moody share my sentiments. The only dissenter is Murdoch. My chief officer is useless to me. I would rather be sharing the bridge with our Bolshevik, Plotcharsky, than that fusty Scotsman. In my opinion an intraspecies diet need not automatically entail depravity.
Despite our isolation, or perhaps because of it, we’ve become quite attached to our crowded little hamlet. Notwithstanding the occasional doldrums, literal and figurative, our peripatetic tropical isle remains a remarkably congenial place. I am aided immeasurably by the incompetence of captains who came before me. Thanks to the superfluity of wrecks, and our skill in plundering the flotsam and jetsam, we are blessed with a continual supply of fresh meat, good ale, novel toys for the children, au courant fashions for the first-cabin women, lumber for new architectural projects, rigging to improve our manoeuvrability, firearms to discourage pirates, and lambskin sheaths to curb our population.
The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories by Ian Watson, Ian Whates