Pavane by Keith Roberts

Pavane is an alternate history collection of short stories set in the same setting by Keith Roberts, with the POD being Elizabeth I's assassination in 1588 leading to England's conquest by the Spanish Armada, the total defeat of Protestantism in Europe, and the Catholic Church holding sway over a Western world that remains under feudal and predindustrial conditions. Australasia has been discovered and steam locomotives exist but other technology such as electricity and internal combustion engines remain suppressed by the Catholic Church. There are some odd, not terribly plausible elements in this alternate history, with feudalism not only remaining in power but in some ways being even stronger than in the 16th Century. A past English monarch has even imposed different languages on different classes with the aristocracy switching back to Norman French and cities have Latin names such as Londinium and Dunrovia. There is relatively little AH content, especially on conditions outside of England, and at times the work feels more like steampunk fantasy, an impression reinforced by the presence of the "Old People" (fairies) who make an appearance from time to time in the short stories.

The Coda at the end reveals that the Catholic Church has been suppressing technology due to knowing that there was a nuclear war that annihilated humanity in our world and the current timeline is a universe subsequent to ours, something which the fairies are also aware of. This raises the question of whether the work even counts as alternate history at all. At any rate, technology has apparently from quasi-medieval conditions to semi-futuristic in the space of a generation with hovercrafts and nuclear fusion.

Has anyone else read the novel? Ian Montgomerie did a review some 20 years ago and non-AH genre writers such as George RR Martin also have a high view of the book.
 
Has anyone else read the novel?
I read it many years ago, in he late '70s. Enjoyed it, though it got a bit too clever for me.
It's an interesting companion piece to Kingsley Amis' 1976 novel, The Alteration, which has different PODs but a similarish result. And it has airships.
 
Just read it and finished it yesterday. On the whole, it was very good but several of the measures went over my head. What was the deal with The White Boat? Did it have some larger connection?

Regarding characterizing the book, while it is set in an alternate timeline there is not very much context on the wider world, as you mention, so I'm almost hesitant to truly call it AH.
 
Gosh. Pavane.
It must be nearly 50 years since I read that!
It predates modern conventions for AH and It was I seem to remember a series of short stories linked by setting and tone. Many SF books were then.
I remember it having a powerfull emotional feel and I think that Was the aim rather than Historical Rigor
 
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