C.E. Alexander’s forthcoming Book of Constants follows a middle-aged widower and his son to a small development in rural Wyoming. The city is named New Potomac, with tall concrete barrier walls inspired by recent architectural monuments in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Take the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, for one:
Various characters in the story refer to New Potomac as a troy, using the word as a common noun and without further explanation. We would ultimately settle on the chalkboard theme, but first we explored the idea of fortifications, bunkers, walled-in cities and castles. The shot that really caught our breath was the one below. If it looks familiar, it’s because the top third of the image wound up in our masthead. The image dates back to the U.S. Civil War, and is riddled with those wonderful film blemishes and exposure issues you just can’t recreate with digital. (Yeah, we saw that AltHistory Wiki article, too. If it turns out that this 150-year-old photo is actually a 4-year-old hoax, we’re crawling under a rock. After, of course, we change our masthead back to that grainy picture of the birds.)
Here it is, our first Book of Constants cover that wasn’t. If we’ve just whet your appetite, might we suggest The Music and the Spires as amuse-bouche?