Mike Resnick: The Other Teddy Roosevelts

This review was written by Faith J. Cormier

Alternative History — the literary artifice of postulating that some historical event either never occurred or had a different outcome than it did in real life and deducing how society would have been affected.

In The Other Teddy Roosevelts, Mike Resnick puts Teddy Roosevelt someplace where he could have been and sees what happens. London in 1888, chasing Jack the Ripper. New York in 1897, catching a vampire. The Congo in 1910, rescuing it from Belgium and trying his hand at colonization. France in 1917, dying on the battlefield. There are seven stories in the collection, all plausible (well, maybe except for the vampire and the extraterrestrials in Cuba), all nicely-researched to make them fit in with documented events in Roosevelt’s life, all fascinating. The eighth piece, “The Unsinkable Teddy Roosevelt,” consists of facts and anecdotes about Roosevelt. All eight were first published elsewhere, mostly in Asimov’s but also in F&SF and a couple of anthologies.

I have two tiny quibbles. To me, one of the marks of a competent mystery story has always been that I can’t figure out who-dun-it. In “Redchapel,” I knew who Jack the Ripper was well before the end. Also, the dénouement of “Two Hunters in Manhattan” was rather spoiled by the fact that it first appeared in the anthology The True History of Vampires. We know that there has to be a vampire someplace, and there’s only one real candidate.

Teddy Roosevelt has always irritated me. His politics have always have always struck me as prime examples of all that can be criticized in U.S. policies over the years. After reading The Other Teddy Roosevelts, I’m beginning to have a guilty suspicion that even though he was undoubtedly irritating, he probably wasn’t such a bad old fellow after all, and that we may have a lot more in common than I would ever have suspected.

Mike Resnick is an amazingly prolific author. Green Man has already looked at his edited collection, WorldCon Guest of Honor Speeches, and Dragon America (more alternative history, that). His Web site includes a biography, a bibliography, cover art from many of his books, lists of convention appearances and much more. The definitive guide to his life and work, or at least the approved one, is apparently Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work by Fiona Kelleghan.

(Subterranean Press, 2008)

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