I think that Mary Gentle is as bemused as I am that she had to call The Black Opera ‘alternate history;’ it is, technically, but it’s not alternate history in the current style. It’s alternate history because it’s a book about early 19th century Italian opera, with a plot that have could come out of early 19th century Italian opera, which means that history is pretty much folded, spindled and mutilated to make room for the music. Need magic to work? No problem! It’d be convenient if Napoleon didn’t lose at Waterloo? Sure, hey, the librettist can do something with that! Will it be necessary to take southern Italy and… whoops! Gotta watch for those spoilers.
Seriously, it’s a fun, very melodramatic book; and I plan to hand a copy off to a friend of mine who is genuinely knowledgeable of opera. I expect either it’ll be well received, or else it’ll be thrown across the room. Possibly both: opera’s like that.
And so, adieu to Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas. Which was also fun, and melodramatic. Well, sort of melodramatic.