The alternate history novel To Climates Unknown by Arturo Serrano was released on November 25, the 400th anniversary of the mythical First Thanksgiving in what is today the United States. It asks: What if the Mayflower never made it? I've got a hardcover at home, and I want to show you how cool it is. Never mind a summary — let me show you some scenes.
Part 1“...palace, I was the best köçek.” He took two spoons from a side table and started clanking them in his hands. “I learned to charm the eyes of a man like no harem ever can,” he added, gradually twirling his shoulders and tracing endless circles with his hips. “I sweetened the weary days of palace officials and ministers.” The rhythmic sound of the spoons became hypnotic, and he moved around the dining table with a gracefulness that should have been impossible for his massive frame.
“You’ve made your point, Signor Fulla,” said Brigitte, but he continued dancing, oblivious to their astonished stares.
Part 2“...nature of time, the properties of divine foreknowledge, the number of types of the gift of grace, the limits of unaided human choice, the truth value of counterfactual claims, every shred of Scriptural evidence, and the other side’s counterarguments. It was fascinating, but exhausting.”
“Were any new doctrines formulated?” asked René, with evident excitement.
“That is not what philosophy is for! Now pay attention, Monsieur du Perron, to what I’m trying to explain to you.”
Part 3“A mirror?” asked Christian.
“He’s thinking of Archimedes,” said Sophie. “He used reflected sunlight to burn enemy ships.”
The king turned toward her, greatly surprised. “And why aren’t we doing that?”
Part 4...that formed the Forbidden City. The way he stared at her across the desk was unmistakable: he had more serious matters to think of, and she should be prepared to offer an acceptable excuse to merit his attention.
“Agent Ma Liang, I have just wasted hours of work reviewing your assignment history. The picture that this office has of you is that of an efficient, resourceful, and loyal member. Did we miss a side of you that you were hiding until now?”
Part 5Azlor’s voice shook as he asked, “For how long have they been hiding this machine?” He tried to retrace mentally the milestones in the ascent of the Canutic Empire, knowing that everyone in the room was doing the same exercise, afraid to venture a number of years, feeling the seed of anger sprout from fertile speculations.
“Are you suggesting,” asked Gerbaut, “that this is why our ships vanish?”
Part 6“Neema, are you awake? Please open the door.”
She had never had an interest in poetry. What she had started writing had no name yet, but it felt necessary to her. Everything was poured through her quill: the wars of Vedic gods, the laws of motion, the rivers of Brazil, the moons of Saturn, declensions in Ottoman, the alloys of tin, Canutic dynasties, the burning of Tenochtitlán, the strange animals of Encoberta, the months of the Hebrew calendar, every single lake in Novadania...
“Neema, today we’re teaching the refraction of light. I need some silver paper. Can you open the door?”
Part 7“What happens to someone who is hit by this bomb?” asked Gediminas, and Gilberto’s face stiffened.
Yakub wanted to ask what unspoken disagreement existed between Gilberto and his secretary, but didn’t think it was the right moment. “Those at the center of the explosion simply disappear. Their bodies turn to nothing. It may not even hurt; I don’t know.”