History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Nineteenth Century Pageantry in Unfixed Timelines

Cover art for Unfixed TimelinesIn nineteenth-century America, pageantry became “a thing.” Many of the pageants had backgrounds in nativism and nationalism, and others delved into racist and classist origins as well. But in spite of (or perhaps because of) heir origins, they can be a fascinating look at American culture in that time period.

They’re also FULL of all sorts of interesting fodder for speculative fiction, as many of the pageants themselves had fantastical origins. The Veiled Prophet of St. Louis’s Veiled Prophet organization, was the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, who the Irish poet Thomas Moore wrote about in his 1817 Lalla Rookh. Thomas Moore’s fictional Veiled Prophet of Khorassan was meant to be an indictment of dictatorship and tyranny, not the celebrated fictional ruler of St. Louis who came to marvel at the city’s many advances. But the basis of a fictional character gives authors something fun to play with within the history of the city.

My story, “Tarnish,” plays in that arena, with the Veiled Prophet being an otherworldly entity who interferes in St. Louis for his own nefarious purposes. If that sounds like your kind of story, you can read it in Unfixed Timelines or at Mirror Dance!

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