I’m almost caught up! And I’m reading a SUPER long book so I’ll stay caught up.
Mothership readers remember than HBO was at one point considering a show called Confederate (helmed by the white-savior-narrative peddlers of Game of Thrones, ugh) that would tell the story of an alternate history of the U.S., a what if the South had won. Underground Airlines has a different alternate history to propose – what if the war had never really been fought, but a truly terrible compromise reached instead?
In this history, Lincoln was assassinated right as he was taking office and that act triggered a reconciliation of sorts between the Union and the Confederacy. The solution they reached was that slavery could remain, confined to the South, and subject to state by state regulation. Now it is 2015, slavery remains only in the “Hard 4” and abolitionist states enforce “Clean Hands” laws in which they will not engage in commerce with slave-holding companies. Escape is harder, but not impossible, and law enforcement of the Hard 4 has expanded to ever more insidious methods of reclaiming “lost property”.
It’s an interesting premise that offers something different in an often-tread territory and I liked this book a lot more before I realized it was written by a white guy. In the end there are a lot of weird layers of what really amounted to corporate espionage that dragged the book down and it feels like we’re not left with much of a firm conclusion. Winters had a new core idea, but a different writer could have mined a whole lot more out of it.