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Topic: Alternate history?

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Subject: Alternate history?
Date Posted: 6/22/2007 12:24 AM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2007
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I'm not a huge historical fiction fan, but I do really enjoy alternate history. I've read quite a few of Harry Turtledove's books, namely his two giant series, the "World War" set and the "American Empire" set (each actually consists of several mini-series). The first is based on the premise: What if aliens had invaded during World War II? The second: What if the South has won the American Civil War? Fascinating stuff.

I also really enjoy what I amuse myself by calling "alternate future". The only examples of that form that I've read are all by Orson Scott Card-- the "Shadow" series and his newer book, Empire. It's all politics and war and maneuver and technology and plots and conspiracy and loyalty and love and death. Great stuff. :) Card has a definite way of making you stop and think while you're reading. Empire is set in the not-too-distant future and is almost disturbingly plausible. The "Shadow" books, a series following Ender's Shadow, the parallel novel to Ender's Game, are set a century or two in the future and deal with the shape of the world and the human race following the events of Ender's Game/Shadow. Lots of war and politics, but some startling doses of philosophy, too.

Anyway, like I said, I enjoy both of these unusual genres very much but was wondering if anybody out there has any suggestions for other material in these categories that I might try? Always look to add to my TBR pile!  

FeliciaJ avatar
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Date Posted: 6/22/2007 12:19 PM ET
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My husband really liked Turtledove's "World War" series.

You may know about these already, but Turtledove also wrote Ruled Britannia and In The Presence Of Mine Enemies.

The first book is based on the question: What if the Spanish Armada had conquered England? It has Queen Elizabeth imprisoned in the Tower and a young Will Shakespeare writing a play to rally the English people to revolt.

The second book asks "What if Hitler had conquered Europe?" It follows the life of a Jewish man living secretly in Berlin.

Keith Roberts wrote a book, Pavane, which had Elizabeth I assasinated in 1588. A series of interconnected stories show how Spain, and rigid Catholicism, then took over Europe.

Last Edited on: 6/22/07 12:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
MarciNYC avatar
Date Posted: 6/22/2007 12:56 PM ET
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Someone gave a link to a site with a listing of historical fiction releases -- here's a few that I found that might be of interest (note I didn't look at publication dates other than 2007, so some of these might be coming up later in the year):

  • Stephen Baxter, Emperor  (alternate history epic set in Roman Britannia)
  • Robert Conroy, 1945 (alternate history in which Japan never surrenders during WWII, forcing America to carry out a perilous invasion)
  • Newt Gingrich and William Fortschen, Pearl Harbor (alternate history, first in trilogy about WWII, focusing on the Japanese decision-making that forced them into conflict with America)
  • Stephen Baxter, Conqueror (book 2 in alternate history series, set three centuries after Rome fell)

Last Edited on: 6/22/07 12:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
GowerMeower avatar
Date Posted: 6/22/2007 1:33 PM ET
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Ok, these sound very interesting. Thanks for starting the thread. I will check out Turtledove. Sounds like my husband would really enjoy those as well.

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Date Posted: 7/24/2007 10:07 AM ET
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Also try Archangel by Mike Connor. This is an alternate history novel about Minneapolis in the 1930's. I enjoyed it!

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Date Posted: 7/28/2007 1:13 AM ET
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First I will say I have not read any of these so I cannot offer an opinion on them. But, in looking at mysyery authors I came across Jasper Fforde who writes a series about a character called Thursday Next. The books are described as mystery/sci-fi/alternate history. They seem a bit intriguing and I will probably read at least the first one to get a taste.

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Date Posted: 7/28/2007 3:27 AM ET
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Fatherland by Robert Harris looks at what the world might have been like if Hitler/Germany had won WWII.
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Date Posted: 8/2/2007 6:48 PM ET
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Oh, the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next books are great! They're not just alternate history, they're an alternate history where literature is integral to daily life. I think they'd be very popular with pbs-ers.

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Date Posted: 8/10/2007 7:51 PM ET
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My husband and I both love M.S. Stirling's two series, "Island in the Sea of Time" starts his "ancient history" trilogy, and "Dies the Fire" starts his more modern set.   He has other alt. history titles as well, (Conquistador) but they're still on my TBR list.  If you have to choose one, Island in the Sea of Time is better, IMHO, but the 2 series are (we believe) connected.   They were the first alt. history things we'd read, but  we really enjoyed them.  The "time travel/cosmic disturbance" thing is not as cheesy as it sounds.

My husband also loves Eric Flint's Assitti Shards series (starts with 1632) , while I read the first one and lost interest after that.  If you like them, though, there's plenty to be had -- he wrote a number of volumes in the series, paired up with various other authors, did some related anthologies, published some fan fiction -- a whole lot of stuff related to his initial concept.

I've not tried any of these, but while finding Stirling's ISBNs on Amazon, I happened across this list of "Excellent Alternative History that Isn't By Turtledove"

Some already mentioned here, but maybe worth a look.


Last Edited on: 8/10/07 8:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 10/6/2007 6:38 PM ET
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I love this thread -   Orson Scott Card is one of my favorite authors - read Folk of the Fringe sometime for real goose bumps about how this country could go. 

Anyway I'm looking for a book I read in the 1980s, that was a what if? ? the Mmuslims had won the big battle for Spain instead of the Christians and how the world would have turned ou, all the way through to the space age. t.  Has anyone heard of it?  Call it a senior moment but I've forgotten the title and author and with all that's going on in the world I'd like to read it again.  HELP?!

Thanx everybody



Last Edited on: 10/6/07 6:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 10/6/2007 7:52 PM ET
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Gray Victory :: Robert Skimin

Civil War alternate history


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Date Posted: 10/7/2007 12:37 PM ET
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My husband and I both really liked the Axis of Time trilogy by John Birmingham, in which a United Nations battlegroup from 2021 ends up sent back in time right into the middle of the 1942 Battle of Midway, changing history.

1) Weapons of Choice

2) Designated Targets

3) Final Impact


Last Edited on: 10/7/07 12:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
loverm47 avatar
Date Posted: 10/14/2007 10:12 AM ET
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I totally agree. S.M. Sterlings's two trilogy' beginning with "Island in the sea of time" and the other "die the fires", both sets are beyond fantastic. If I had to choose which trilogy I liked better it would be the "island in the sea of time". It still brings tears to my eyes remembering the two scenes where the Capt from the coast guard ship was saved by her lover, "Swindapa" ??? Also made you look (at least for me) at same sex relationships in a new and beautiful way. More people need to read this to possibly understand.


                                         peace and blessings




P.S yes, I too see how they are both connected (both trilogy's)

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Date Posted: 10/16/2007 8:57 PM ET
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I don't mean to sound doy, but what is "alternate history"?  What qualifies as "alternate history"?  Thanks!

Cattriona avatar
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Date Posted: 10/24/2007 9:33 AM ET
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Melody sez:

<<I don't mean to sound doy, but what is "alternate history"?  What qualifies as "alternate history"?  Thanks!>>

No dumb questions round here :-)  Alternative history is, well, fiction written about things that could have happened, but didn't.  Say, for example, if the South had won the Civil War, or England had won the American Revolution or Hitler had triumphed, etc.

This also includes books in the "interesting if it happened but ain't likely going to", such as books where chunks of modern land (say, Nantucket Island) get sent back to another time period and history is thusly rewritten, etc.

There are some good recommendations in this thread (and I ain't just saying that cause I posted some) :-) ; if you think this might be a genre of interest to you, look at the links and descriptions for the titles, and you'll likely get a better idea.



achadamaia avatar
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Date Posted: 10/26/2007 5:45 PM ET
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Catt, thanks so much for the explanation.  Now I have awhole new genre to go out and explore!

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Date Posted: 10/29/2007 1:00 AM ET
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Knitbooky - that sounds like The Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson.  I haven't read it, though, so I'm basing that guess on a) what I've heard of it and b) what Wikipedia says about it.



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Date Posted: 12/2/2007 11:10 PM ET
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Alternate History is one of my favorite genres.

Try S.M. Stirling's Draka series, it starts with Marching Through Georgia.  The Draka are the decendents of British loyalists from the American colonies and  Confederates who have all relocated to South Africa and they go about conquering the continent.  The first book pits them against Hitler in a different WW II.


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Date Posted: 12/19/2007 9:16 AM ET
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I know what you mean, there was a book I read eons ago titled "Pig World" that seems to not really exist LOL.  Probably I just remembered the title completely wrong--it was a hypothetical book about the replacement and kidnapping of the president.

As for alternative histories, I have a book called Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois I'll post if you are interested.  It's an alternative of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the U.S. did invade Cuba and started a nuclear war (the book takes place about 20 years later.