________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 4 . . . . October 16, 1998

cover Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas.

Edited by Mark Shainblum and John Dupuis.
Winnipeg, MB: Nuage Editions, 1997.
191 pp., paper, $19.95.
ISBN 0-921833-51-2.

Subject Headings:
Science fiction, Canadian (English).
Fantastic fiction, Canadian (English).

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


Wilson actually had a decent shot at earning himself a spot on the team...

But realistically speaking, there was only one spot open on defense and two candidates for the job. Wilson was one, the other was a highly-touted Russian winger named Boris Smolnikov. Smolnikov was a classic Russian hockey player, much smaller than Wils on, but good with the puck and quick on his skates. It would all come down to what kind of defensemen Coach Chase thought he needed to round out the team - a rugged stay-at-home type, or an eggs-in-his pocket, fancy-skating playmaker.

Canadian history and speculative fiction (aka science fiction) meet in the genre of alternate history. Editors Shainblum and Dupuis have put together an engaging collection of a dozen stories, each written by a different author, which look at 12 points i n Canada's history where the nation's present might have been markedly different "if only...." For example, the "excerpt" is taken from "Hockey's Night in Canada," by Edo van Belkom, in which defenseman Kelvin Wilson, a second-round draft pick of the Tor onto Maple Leafs, is trying to win a spot on the Leafs, but, because Paul Henderson missed the winning goal in the crucial 1972 Russia-Canada game and the Russians came back to score, Canadian hockey went in a different direction which has resulted in Can adian NHL teams only having to carry five Canadian-born players and the Leafs already have seven.

      While "hard" history buffs and sports fans may disagree over just how important a 1972 Canadian hockey loss might have been to the nation's future, the two groups should find agreement around the significance of other stories. For example, Dave Duncan's " For the Want of a Nail" presents an alternate outcome to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham while Keith Scott's "On the Edge" presents a scenario in which contemporary Quebec has separated. Some of the stories are built around single incidents. "Misfire ," by Shane Simmons, finds the famous World War I German fighter pilot, the Red Baron, surviving, and Glenn Grant's "Thermometers Melting" sees the famous Halifax explosion not occurring. And Eric Choi tantalizes readers with "The Coming Age of the Jet" in which the Avro project comes to fruition.

      Obviously, the contents of Arrowdreams should be skimmed by high school history teachers who may find some enticing links to what they are teaching. As well, the book's stories could serve as models for creative writing classes. And like all good short story collections, Arrowdreams should be part of recreational reading collections.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in YA literature in the faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364