Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Harry Turtledove

So about a year ago I was in a bookstore, searching for a quick read for a flight. I saw on the end cap a paperback with Robert E. Lee holding an AK-47 on the cover.

Being a student of history, I picked it up.
Turtledove is the master of the "alternative history" genre, as I found out. The plot of this book was that during the Civil War, some men appear, and approach Lee. They have a new weapon, the AK-47 (called "repeaters" in the book), and they offer them to the Confederates. They also train them how to use them.

The result, of course, is a Confederate victory, but with a price, for the men are actually South African Afrikaners from the 20th century who traveled through a time portal, wishing to alter history and ensure a South victory. Why? Because in the 20th century, they are in desperate need of an ally to save apartheid.
Lee gets elected President of the South, and decides to free the slaves, pissing off the Afrikaners.

An interesting concept, and story, enough to keep my attention.

So I go back to the bookstore sometime later, and find another book by Turtledove, with yet another interesting cover.

I read the back cover for my usual brief synopsis (I also, sometimes, read the ending of a book while in the middle. Never know when you're gonna die, and I'd hate to not know the end). Looked pretty interesting.
Turtledove creates an alternative timeline. In this one, George McClellan never receives General Lee's invasion plans, and is defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia. The Civil War drags on, until France and England recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation, and successfully negotiate a peace.

After the war, the South beats the US again in another war.

The North, still smarting from the two defeats, aligns with the German Empire in the early 1900's, and thus takes Germany's side in the Great War when the Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated. The new Alternative Axis defeats England, France and The C.S.A.
After the war, the South dips into a depression.

Great book, but the ending was open-ended. For good reason, as I check online, and the book is the beginning of a trilogy, which is a middle trilogy of 3 trilogy's. Well, 2 trill's and a 4 book series.
Anyway, 10 books in all.

So now I'm nearing the last, last book. It's the second great war, the South is reeling...They dropped an atomic bomb on Philly (no great loss in any timeline) and the North has wiped out Charleston and Newport News...