Across the Universe


Sorcerers, superheroes, and zombies.

Out of work, out of luck, out of practice.

Gods, clods, or four simple lads.

Here are the Beatles as you’ve never known them before: singing for their supper, singing for their souls, and singing to save the world.

Join 25 remarkable authors as they take you Across the Universe!

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Nancy Holder
“Rubber Soul” by Spider Robinson
“A New Beginning” by Jody Lynn Nye
“The Perfect Bridge” by Charles Barouch
“The Hey! Team” by Gordon Linzner
“Paul is Dead” by Lawrence Watt-Evans
“Come Together” by Allen Steele
“The Truth Within” by Sally Wiener Grotta
“Foursomes” by Ken Schneyer
“The Fabtastic Four” by David Gerrold
“All You Need” by Cat Rambo
“Used to Be” by Keith R.A. DeCandido
“Game Seven” by Bev Vincent
“When I’m #64” by Patrick Barb
“Deal with the Devil” by Carol Gyzander
“Meet the Beatles” by Pat Cadigan
“The Walrus Returns” by Gail Z. Martin
“My Sweet Lord of Light” by Brenda Clough
“Liverpool Band Battle 1982” by Eric Avedissian
“Undead in the Material World” by Alan Goldsher
“The Heretic” by R. Jean Mathieu
“Cayenne” by Beth Patterson
“Through a Glass Onion” by Christian Smith
“A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera” by Gregory Frost
“Apocalypse Rock” by Matthew Amati
“Doing Lennon” by Gregory Benford

hard cover | paperback | kindle | nook

“This collection is a Magical Mystery Tour through alternate universes where the familiar narrative of the Beatles is turned on its head. Or ear. Or ass. It’s fun, irreverent, sexy, and twisted–just like the Fab Four themselves.” — Vicki Peterson, The Bangles

“I must have read a thousand Beatles books. But not one of them mentioned that the Beatles were attacked by aliens at the Hollywood Bowl. Or talked about their encounter with the Mersey Monster. Or discussed how they became zombies. I had to learn all of this from the thoroughly entertaining anthology Across the Universe. Each of its 25 stories of speculative fiction re-imagine The Beatles in alternative universes, allowing us to laugh at and with John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Highly recommended!” — Scott Freiman, creator of Deconstructing the Beatles

Across the Universe is way too much fun! It’s the Beatles in the Twilight Zone of infinite possibilities! Highly recommended!” — Jonathan MaberryNew York Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Rage

Across the Universe is a fantastic, freewheeling, and imaginative romp of a collection. The authors transported me not only across the universe, but to what might have been in many and various alternate universes, all populated by the Beatles and their peculiar possible transmutations. Totally engrossing.” — Paul Marshall, Strawberry Alarm Clock

 “The Fab Four are reimagined as wizards, robots, hockey players, zombies, the Marx Brothers, and more in this anthology from Ventrella (Big Stick) and Dawn (Home for the Holidays). An introduction by “Wicked” series coauthor Nancy Holder sets the stage. Standouts include the clever time-travel, short-short “The Perfect Bridge” by Charles Barouch; “Meet the Beatles” by Pat Cadigan, a delightful exercise in nostalgia; and two stories based on the “Paul is dead” hoax: “Paul Is Dead” by Lawrence Watt-Evans, in which an alternate universe Paul replaces the original, and “When I’m #64” by Patrick Barb, in which Paul constantly dies and comes back to life. The absolute standout is “Through a Glass Onion” by Christian H. Smith, a poignant, inspirational tale about a failed musician named John Lennon from another universe who is given a vision of the success he had in ours. VERDICT: This anthology will be mostly of interest to Beatles fans, but even non-fans will find stories here that will move and surprise them.” — Library Journal

“Ranging from trippy fantasy to hard science fiction and zombie apocalypse mash-up, the stories in this anthology send the members of the Beatles on wild adventures through alternate timelines and universes. In Allen M. Steele’s “Come Together,” artificial intelligences named for each of the Fab Four identify so strongly with their namesakes that they jeopardize their space probe’s mission when they begin to fall out with one another, mimicking the breakup of the band. An idealistic George Harrison tries to teach transcendental meditation to Richard Nixon with disastrous geopolitical results in Sally Wiener Grotta’s “The Truth Within.” Gregory Frost’s “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera” plugs the band members into the plot of a Marx brothers movie to hilarious effect. It’s clear that each of the 25 contributors are true fans, filling their tales with references to Beatles history and, in the case of David M. Gerrold’s “The Fabtastic Four,” so many song lyrics that readers will be tempted to sing along. Beatles aficionados and fantasy fans will enjoy this affectionate, speculative homage.” — Publishers Weekly

“Here’s a collection of eighteen stories built around the most influential group in the history of pop music. The publisher raised the advance money with a Kickstarter campaign, proving that the idea has wide appeal among potential readers. But of course; who’s not a Beatles fan?

Not surprisingly, the authors—a list including such notables as Gregory Benford, Pat Cadigan, Brenda Clough, David Gerrold, Spider Robinson, Allen Steele, and Lawrence Watt-Evans—are clearly having a lot of fun creating worlds in which John, Paul, George, and Ringo have radically different careers than they did in ours. And “fun” is pretty much the operative word to describe this anthology. The stories, with only a few exceptions, are clever and cute, with nothing really deep or disturbing. Beth Patterson’s “Cayenne” turns the Fab Four into Cajun musicians dealing with a loup-garoux. Allen Steele’s “Come Together” sends them on an interplanetary voyage. And Gregory Frost’s “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera” puts the band—or their near relatives—into a Marx Brothers comedy. And that’s just a quick sample.

A few reach for something a little bit more than just fun. Spider Robinson’s “Rubber Soul,” which leads off the volume, brings John back from the dead to discover the world of the future. In Sally Wiener Grotta’s “The Truth Within,” George goes to the White House to try to convert Richard Nixon to transcendental meditation—with unhappy results. And Benford’s “Doing Lennon” takes a look at how an impostor might take on the persona of John Lennon years after his death.

Most of the writers are well up on their Beatles trivia, with loads of in-jokes and references to obscure song lyrics and other bits of lore salted throughout almost every story. You’re likely to find yourself humming bits of fifty-year-old songs at various points while reading. And of course, the band was as much a cultural phenomenon as a musical act, with an impact on everything from clothing styles to politics and religion. If the Beatles and their music meant anything at all to you, give this one a look—you’ll be glad you did.” — Peter Heck, Asimov’s Magazine

“One has to give major kudos to Michael A. Ventrella and Randee Dawn for Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles.

Perhaps you’ve never wondered what the world would be like if the Fab Four had been aliens, or magic-users, or American. Maybe you’ve never pondered an alternative universe in which George Harrison couldn’t stand sitar music. Don’t worry, this anthology has you covered…

Each story is more outrageous than the one before; no matter what strange things you’ve heard about the Beatles, I can guarantee that you’ve never dreamed half of the outrageous ideas here.” — Don Sakers, Analog Science Fiction and Fact

“As a Beatles fan (old enough to remember them in the present tense), I was thrilled with the idea of an anthology of fantasy stories about the Fab Four. As most anthologies are, this one proved to be a mixed bag, but it contained a number of stories that I really enjoyed.

The stories explore a number of alternate times and settings. In several, the band broke up early on and its members have gone on to humdrum lives in Liverpool, finally being reunited (or at least thinking about it) in middle age. Settings range from a sword-and-sorcery universe (“Used to Be,” by Keith R. A. DeCandido) to time-travel/alternate history or the far future (the latter, “Doing Lennon,” Gregory Benford). The boys are reimagined as everything from a Cajun band (“Cayenne,” Beth W. Patterson) to—my absolute favorite—the Marx Brothers (“A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera,” Gregory Frost).

Perhaps the best thing that the anthology as a whole did was reminding readers that what made the group memorable was not only their marvelous and wide-ranging music but their unique personalities, so different (resulting in all those arguments, from cheerful banter to breakup) yet often so compatible. Different stories feature the points of view of different Beatles. John and Paul, of course, appear often, and George, the “quiet Beatle,” is the center of attention in a perhaps-surprising (but welcome) number of tales. (“My Sweet Lord of Light,” by Brenda W. Clough, does him no favors, though, picturing him as almost a sexual predator. She gets yin and yang reversed, too.) Only poor Ringo seems to be left out, at least as a point-of-view character, though he does get to Save the Day in both “Cayenne” and “Apocalypse Rock” (Matthew F. Amati). Two of my favorite stories stress the feelings of camaraderie, kindness, and joy that the band seemed to radiate: “Liverpool Band Battle 1982” (Eric Avedissian), in which the members help each other, and “All You Need” (Cat Rambo), in which they inspire kindness in others.

I would strongly recommend this anthology to anyone who likes both the Beatles and fantasy (or science fiction, though I think fantasy predominates and is done better)—or who simply wants to get some idea of what the fuss was all about. The more song titles and lines you know, the more fun you’ll have in spotting them scattered through the stories, but even without that, I think you’ll find that the boys’ personalities come through loud and clear.” – Lisa Yount

A good friend and fellow Beatle fan turned me on (Sorry, inevitable), to this alternate Beatles anthology. I don’t know how I’ll ever thank her.

Much of it is funny. as in “The Walrus Returns”, an alternate “Scooby-Doo” mystery. But instead of a talking Great Dane, our boys have a perpetually hungry beagle named Pete. They are also portrayed as a Cajun band, complete with a drummer called “Ringeaux.”

By far, the funniest story is the pitch-perfect “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera”. Yes, it’s exactly all the components of that title.

And yet, as I think about it, the story that keeps running through my head is “Through a Glass Onion”, which would have made a fine “Twilight Zone” episode back in the day. In it, a 32-year-old John Lennon in a parallel universe, once the leader of a local band that went nowhere, married for the third time, is given the title object by a mysterious stranger who may or may not be from the future. In it, Alternate John sees the life and career of the John Lennon we all know and–well, know, anyway. In spite of everything, including the horrific death we’re all familiar with, Alternate John embarks upon a showbiz career. That story alone is worth the price of the book. – Pattye Stringer

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