Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Jake Page's second Apache alternate history novel, Apacheria, is set in a world where the Apaches, under the leadership of Juh, formed an independent nation in the America Southwest. Although billed as a novel, Apacheria is structured as three interrelated stories set over a span of several decades. The novel's first section, set in the 1880s describes the formation of Apacheria and the birth of Juh's son, Little Spring. Subsequent sections of the novel follow Juh's family through to America's prohibition.
Page has selected a difficult branch point for his alternate history. The Apaches were in such a weak position, it is hard to see a realistic way to give them their own nation. Page is not able to do it, either. Although he begins well by making the Apaches more unified than they were in our world, he also shows the United States backing down from annihilating the Apaches a little too easily.
Furthermore, many of the situations Page describes are not always clear. This is not simply a matter of Page describing complex scenarios, but rather this seeming inability to clearly communicate the action to the reader.
Following the Apache succession, Page fails to examine the historical changes which would result from the loss of land and sovereignty to the Indians. Grover Cleveland still manages to win a second term of office, after being out of office for four years, despite his close ties to Geronimo, the Apacherian ambassador to Washington. Carrie Nation's anti-alcohol crusade still brings about prohibition and Teddy Roosevelt still winds up in the White House after leading a charge up San Juan Hill.
What Page does focus on is the question of what it means to be an Apache and, by extension, any other ethnic group. The definition of being Apache ranges from Victorio's very limiting definition to Naiche's, Cochise's son who takes up with a Causcasian Woman.
Page's portrayal of 1920s era Chicago is also interesting, although its depiction is so close to the real O'Banion-Torrio feud that this part of the book nearly doesn't qualify as alternate history.
While Apacheria examines dome important issues, the reader is left feeling that the same issues could have been explored as well, if not better, without imposing the alternate history angle on the story. Because the alternate history aspect of the book is not written as logically as it could have been, the rest of the novel tends to suffer.
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