Sunday, May 03, 2009

Uchronical postage stamps

Uchrony or alternate history is a literary genre inside science-fiction, whose goal is to imagine a rewritten history. Action takes place in a modified line of events compared to the history we live in. The famous "What if..." The French word seems to be created by Charles Renouvier in the 19th century for his book Uchronie, l'utopie dans l'histoire (not yet numericly available on the web).

Among other topics, the world as it might have been if World War Two turned otherwise. And not simply the victory of Hitler's Germany, a easy topic when faced with the massive documentation produced by the thousand year Reich-to-be and Speer's projects under the dictator's guidance. But, the internal divisions inside the two alliances are largely showed and used by authors, like in The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. He told how Nazi Germany and Japan would diverge their ways during the occupation of Northern America... in a fake brotherhood.

On the science-fiction market that has been producing a lot for so long (understand in France: before "adult" and "serious" publishers saw the cultural and financial interest), the cover is a weapon to catch the reader vulnerable in the middle of new book towers and juxtaposed titles on entire walls.

To shock to catch an eye. The postage stamp can help.

In 2004, the one cent green of the 1934 National Parcs series was used cancel with a Nazi swastika on Philip Roth's novel cover, The Plot Against America. The story used the anecdot that a Republican senator had proposed to aviator Charles Lindbergh to enter the race to the 1940 presidential election, when the United States were in their isolationist period.

The actual stamp earn alone a specialised collection: useful denomination, philatelic minisheet at the 1934 Trans-Mississippi exhibition, and, with this cover, a imaginary fancy cancel.


In 1978, the first publisher of SS-GB by Len Deighton went right to the thing: Hitler profile on a British-like stamp ("POSTAGE REVENUE", value in pence, cancel in London).

The United Kingdom lost the Battle of England in 1940-1941. Late 1941, a detective loyal to Scotland Yard, but obviously doubting of the new power, found secrets from a simple criminal investigation. A storyline that will infant Robert Harris' Fatherland in 1992 and whose first cover was shocking too, but not in a philatelic manner.

Note : new label with this article. "Cinderella" as in the collection of fictive stamps and other stamp-like labels.

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