The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories by Ian Watson, Ian Whates

By Ian Watson, Ian Whates

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Yes, before the Titanic sailed he should have protested the paucity of lifeboats. And, yes, when designing her he should have run the bulkheads clear to the brink, so that in the event of rupture the watertight compartments would not systematically feed one another with ton after ton of brine. But even in his wildest fancies, Mr. Andrews could not have imagined a three-hundred-foot gash in his creation’s hull. “Let him amongst you who has designed a more unsinkable ship than RMS Titanic cast the first stone,” I told the mob.

The raft! Hurry! ” “The raft! Hurry! ” “The raft! Hurry! ” And so they swam for it, or, rather, they splashed, thrashed, pounded, wheeled, kicked and paddled for it. Even the hundreds who spoke no English understood what was required. Heaven be praised, within twelve minutes our entire company managed to migrate from the flooded deck of the Titanic to the sanctuary of Mr Andrews’s machine. Our stalwart ABs pulled scores of women and children from the water, plus many elderly castaways, along with Colonel Astor’s Airedale, Mr Harper’s Pekingese, Mr Daniel’s French bulldog and six other canines.

The Wideners insist their decision has nothing to do with the stress of the sinking, and everything to do with their disagreements over women’s suffrage. I personally don’t understand why the gentler sex wishes to sully its sensibility with politics, but if ladies really want the vote, I say give it them. * * * * 7 July 1913 Lat. 9°19’N, Long. 44°42 ‘W For reasons that defy my powers of analysis, a steady cheerfulness obtains aboard the Ada. Despite our isolation, or perhaps because of it, we’ve become quite attached to our crowded little hamlet.

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