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Harry Turtledove (1949–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

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(Eric G. Iverson, Harry Norman Turtledove, H.N. Turtletaub)

Personal

Born 1949, in Los Angeles, CA; Education: University of California at Los Angeles, Ph.D. (Byzantine history), 1997.

Addresses

Agent—Scott Meredith, 845 3rd Ave., New York, NY 10022.

Career

Science-fiction novelist and short-story writer. Technical writer for Los Angeles County Office of Education, c. 1982–91.

Member

Science Fiction Writers of America (treasurer, 1986–87).

Honors Awards

HOMer Award for Short Story, 1990, for "Designated Hitter"; John Esthen Cook Award for Southern Fiction, 1993, for The Guns of the South: A Novel of the Civil War; Hugo Award for best novella, 1994, for Down in the Bottomlands; Sidewise Award honorable mention, 1995, for The Two Georges, and 1996, for "Worldwar" series; Premio Italia, 1996, for Worldwar: In the Balance; Nebula Award and Hugo Award nominations, both 1996, both for "Must and Shall"; Sidewise Award for Long Form, 1997, and Nebula Award nomination, 1999, both for How Few Remain; Publishers Weekly Top Ten SF Books list, 1998, for The Great War: American Front; Hugo Award nomination, 2000, for "Forty, Counting Down"; Sidewise Award for Long Form, 2002, for Ruled Britannia; Golden Duck Hal Clement Award, 2004, for Gunpowder Empire; World Fantasy Award nomination, 2004, for First Heroes.

Writings

NOVELS

A Different Flesh, Congdon & Weed (New York, NY), 1988.

Noninterference, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1988.

A World of Difference, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1990.

The Guns of the South: A Novel of the Civil War, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1992.

The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Richard Dreyfuss) The Two Georges, Tor (New York, NY), 1996.

Thessalonica, Baen (New York, NY), 1997.

Between the Rivers, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Judith Tarr) Household Gods, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

Sentry Peak, Baen (New York, NY), 2000.

Marching through Peachtree, Baen (New York, NY), 2001.

Ruled Britannia, New American Library (New York, NY), 2002.

Counting up, Counting Down, Del Ray (New York, NY), 2002.

Advance and Retreat, Baen (New York, NY), 2002.

In the Presence of Mine Enemies, New American Library (New York, NY), 2003.

Conan of Venarium, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

Days of Infamy, New American Library (New York, NY), 2004.

End of the Beginning, New American Library (New York, NY), 2005.

FANTASY NOVELS; "GERIN THE FOX" SERIES

(As Eric G. Iverson) Wereblood, Belmont Tower, 1979.

(As Eric G. Iverson) Werenight, Belmont Tower, 1979.

Prince of the North, Baen (New York, NY), 1994.

King of the North, Baen (New York, NY), 1996.

Fox and Empire, Baen (New York, NY), 1998.

FANTASY NOVELS; "VIDESSOS CYCLE" SERIES

The Misplaced Legion, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

An Emperor for the Legion, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

The Legion of Videssos, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

Swords of the Legion, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

Krispos Rising, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.

Krispos of Videssos, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.

Krispos the Emperor, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

The Stolen Throne, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.

Hammer and Anvil, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.

The Thousand Cities, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.

Videssos Besieged, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.

FANTASY NOVELS; "TIME OF TROUBLE" SERIES

The Time of Troubles I, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2005.

The Time of Troubles II, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2006.

FANTASY NOVELS; "DARKNESS" SERIES

Into the Darkness, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

Darkness Descending, Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

Through the Darkness, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

Rulers of the Darkness, Tor (New York, NY), 2002.

Jaws of Darkness, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

Out of the Darkness, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

FANTASY NOVELS; "CROSSTIME TRAFFIC" SERIES

Gunpowder Empire, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.

Curious Notions, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

In High Places, Tor (New York, NY), 2006.

SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS; "WORLDWAR" SERIES

Worldwar: In the Balance, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

Worldwar: Tilting the Balance, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.

Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.

Worldwar: Striking the Balance, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.

Colonization: Second Contact, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1999.

Colonization: Down to Earth, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2000.

Colonization: Aftershocks, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.

Homeward Bound, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.

SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS; "GREAT WAR" SERIES

How Few Remain, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1997.

American Front, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1998.

Walk in Hell, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1999.

Breakthroughs, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2000.

SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS; "AMERICAN EMPIRE" SERIES

Blood and Iron, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2001.

The Center Cannot Hold, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2002.

The Victorious Opposition, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.

SCIENCE-FICTION NOVELS; "SETTLING ACCOUNTS" SERIES

Settling Accounts: Return Engagement, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2004.

Drive to the East, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

The Grapple, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.

SHORT-STORY COLLECTIONS

Agent of Byzantium, Congdon & Weed (New York, NY), 1987, revised edition, 1994.

Kaleidoscope, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1990.

Earthgrip, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.

Departures, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor) Alternate Generals, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor with Martin H. Greenberg) The Best Military Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor with Martin H. Greenberg) The Best Alternate History Stories of the Twentieth Century, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor) Alternate Generals II, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2002.

3 × T (includes Earthgrip, Noninterference, and Kaleidoscope), Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2004.

(Compiler with Noreen Doyle) The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor with Martin H. Greenberg) The Best Time-Travel Stories of the Twentieth Century, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

(Editor with Roland J. Green) Alternate Generals III, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 2005.

Contributor of short stories to anthologies, including Worlds That Weren't, Roc (New York, NY), 2002; contributor to periodicals, including Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Analog. Author of novella Down in the Bottomlands.

OTHER

(Translator) The Chronicle of Theophanes: An English Translation of Anni Mundi 6095–9305 (A.D. 602–813), University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1982.

(As H.N. Turtletaub) Justinian (historical novel), Forge (London, England), 1998, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

Also collaborated with Susan Schwartz, S.M. Stirling, and Judith Tar on "War World" series.

Adaptations

The Two Georges was optioned for film by Britain's Granada Television.

Sidelights

Harry Turtledove is "the standard-bearer for alternate history," according to Tom Squitieri writing in USA Today. A sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history gained popularity as a genre during the 1990s, and according to Russell Letson in Locus, Turtledove is considered the "best practitioner of the classic alternate-history story since L. Sprague de Camp domesticated it for American SF over a half-century ago." According to Letson, Turtledove's work, which includes novels in the "World War," "Colonization," "American Empire," and "Great War" series, as well as stand-alone titles such as Ruled Britannia and Advance and Retreat, is characterized by "meticulous research and thorough knowledge of his period, an understated but firm way with storytelling, and a sense of the exotic appeal of the past combined with a recognition of the ordinariness of ordinary life."

Turtledove has served up fantasy versions of the Roman Empire and Byzantium in his fictions, reworked the U.S. Civil War so that the Confederacy wins, allied Nazis and Jews against an unearthly reptilian power, constructed trench warfare in the United States, and rewritten the history of early man. Quite brazenly creating alternate universes, turning history on its head, and perennially making the reader ask the question, "What if?," Turtledove's alternate histories frequently span several volumes. His popular "Videssos Cycle," in which Caesar's legions are transported from ancient Gaul to a world of wizards, comprises eleven books; his "Worldwar" series began as a tetralogy and has since sprouted a further trilogy in the "Colonization" extension; his "Great War" series included four books before morphing in to the "American Empire" cycle; and "Darkness," set in a fantastical middle ages, concluded in six. Turtledove's breakthrough, however, was not in a series, but in the stand-alone title The Guns of the South: A Novel of the Civil War, his account of how the Civil War might have progressed if South African time travelers had handed over a modern arsenal to General Lee.

Turtledove and his coauthors posit sixteen scenarios in which readers discover what would happen in history if famous military leaders were put in charge of unfamiliar, and sometimes failed commands. (Cover illustration by Charles Keegan.)

As Turtledove told Jeremy Bloom for SciFi.com, "I use the standard SF technique. Because one of the things SF does is postulate—if we changed this, what happens next?—most of those changes are set in the present and then you examine the future, or set in the future and then you examine the farther future. I say, all right, what if we make that change and set it in the past? With as rigorous an extrapolation as I can make." Rigor is something Turtledove can appreciate in things historical: he earned a Ph.D. in Byzantine history from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) before making his name among alternate history fans.

Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1949, Turtledove grew up in nearby Gardena; his parents, Romanian immigrants, first settled in Winnipeg, Canada, before making their permanent home on the U.S. West Coast. A major turning point in his life occurred at age fourteen, when he discovered a copy of L. Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall in a second-hand bookstore. "I read it," Turtledove told Bloom, "and thought 'This is so cool,' and started trying to find out what Sprague was making up and what was real. I was hooked."

History would become a passion, although Turtledove was slow to realize it. He began college as an engineering major at Cal Tech, but flunked out in his freshman year. Because a college deferment kept one out of Vietnam, Turtledove subsequently spent a year at California State in Los Angeles improving his grade-point average, and then entered UCLA where he ultimately—in 1977—earned a doctorate. His dissertation was titled The Immediate Successors of Justinian, a look at late sixth-century Byzantium. "If it hadn't been for Sprague I wouldn't have the degree I have—I wouldn't have gotten interested in Byzantine history any OTHER way," the author admitted. "I wouldn't have written a lot of what I've written, because I wouldn't know the things I happen to know."

With few jobs available to scholars of Byzantium, Turtledove turned to writing, publishing his first two novels, Wereblood and Werenight, in 1979 under the pseudonym Eric G. Iverson because his editor thought that no one would take his real name seriously. (He continued to publish as Iverson until 1985). In addition to fiction, he earned his living as a technical writer for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. It was not until 1991 that he was able to leave technical writing and devote himself full time to creating alternate history.

Turtledove's writing has included many genres. As he noted to Bloom, he has written pure science fiction as well as high-tech "hard sci-fi," and has also worked in the fantasy genre: "historically-based fantasy, high fantasy, funny fantasy." Ultimately, however, it is Turtledove's reworking of history that has produced his most notable work.

Turtledove began experimenting with his peculiar blending of fantasy and history right from the start. Both Wereblood and Werenight, part of his "Gerin the Fox" series, deal with an empire in decline. As Peter T. Garratt noted in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, all the "Gerin the Fox" books deal with a theme and location that "resembles a cross between Rome and medieval Europe." The hero is a baron living in Elabon, a border province that remains aloof from central authority, paying no taxes, and when menaced by a powerful wizard, the province and its baron are left to defend themselves in a battle for survival. Turtledove returned to the series fifteen years after the first two titles, expanding on Gerin's life and his attempts to make peace for his people, and exploring the concept of a universe containing multiple gods. Prince of the North, King of the North, and Fox and Empire fill out the history of this mythical empire of Elabon.

In 1987 Turtledove began his ambitious "Videssos Cycle," which is comprised of three separate series of books, as well as a few short stories. The core of the cycle includes four books published in 1987: The Misplaced Legion, An Emperor for the Legion, The Legion of Videssos, and Swords of the Legion. The hero of this quartet is Marcus Scaurus, a well-educated Roman officer of the late republic era who receives a mysterious sword while campaigning near Gaul. During a battle with an enemy chieftain possessing an identical sword, the sword blades touch, and Scaurus, the chieftain, and all the Roman soldiers in their vicinity are magically transported to another world. This alternate world, the empire of Videssos, resembles eleventh-century Byzantium, and the enemy chieftain joins forces with the Romans to make contact with the locals. Meanwhile, Scaurus and his men also become involved in palace intrigue and adventures that almost bring about the downfall of the Videssian empire. According to Garratt, the second and third volumes of the tetralogy "are among the best things Turtledove has written." As the empire crumbles into chaos, Scaurus marries the widow of a powerful mercenary. Although he tries valiantly to bring civil wars within Videssos to an end, Scaurus's wife must choose between loyalty to her new husband or to her own kin, a long line of mercenaries.

Serving as a three-book prequel to the "Videssos Cycle" are the novels Krispos Rising, Krispos of Videssos, and Krispos the Emperor. Set several centuries before the main novel cycle, these books feature the protagonist Krispos, born a lowly farmer, but advancing to his destiny as emperor during the course of the trilogy. Turtledove returns to Videssos again in the four-volume "Time of Troubles" cycle.

Throughout his career Turtledove has written stand-alone works, one of the most popular being the 1987 Agent of Byzantium, a collection of seven inter-related stories about the adventures of secret agent Basil Argyros. The tales rest upon a tweaking of history: in Turtledove's cosmology, the young Mohammed is converted to Christianity by a Nestorian priest instead of founding his own powerful religion. Turtledove then follows the historical revisions that would follow upon such a change, one of them being the presence of still-powerful Byzantine and Persian empires in the early fourteenth century. Argyros figures at the center of the novel's plots and counter-plots, and introduces many inventions to the empire: the telescope, gunpowder, and printing among them. "The narrative carries the reader along," commented M. Hammerton in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, the critic adding that Turtledove's protagonist is portrayed as a fully fleshed out human being rather than a wooden figure. As Letson reported in Locus, the "greatest pleasure in these stories … is the evocation of the past."

Other popular individual titles include the author's humorous take on the environment in The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, as well as another volume set in the same universe thirteen centuries earlier, titled Thessalonica. 1998's Between the Rivers is related to The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump due to the books' shared theme of henotheism: the belief that many gods exist and that their strength is based on the number of adherents and worshipers they attract. Set in a fantasy world similar to ancient Mesopotamia, the gods of this universe are not only manifold, but also manifest; their actions are all too visible as they constantly meddle in human affairs. A trio of protagonists scheme to cripple the power of some of these gods as Turtledove examines the classic SF theme of reason versus faith. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that the author "uses all of his historiographical and narrative skills, plus his inimitable wit, to elevate his version of [this] theme to the same high level occupied by (among others) L. Sprague de Camp." Jackie Cassada, writing in Library Journal, noted that Turtledove's "cadenced prose imparts an epic feel to this tale of humanity's attempt to forge its own destiny," and a critic for Kirkus Reviews called Between the Rivers "historically intriguing, splendidly textured, and full of stimulating ideas."

Justinian is a straight history from Turtledove, who in this instance writes under the pen name H.N. Turtletaub. The choice of pseudonym was once again an editor's dictate, based on concerns that straight historical fiction would not sell well and might negatively affect Turtledove's future sales. In the event, his portrait of Justinian II, the wily Byzantine emperor, proved quite successful and saleable. Booklist reviewer Flanagan called it an "artfully styled narrative," noting that the author's "painstaking attention to historical details" serves to "vivify this mesmerizing account of one of history's most remarkable rulers."

Focusing on Great Britain, Turtledove collaborated with actor Richard Dreyfuss on the speculative novel The Two Georges, which focuses on a version of the American colonies in which England never lost control of its North American relatives. In Ruled Britannia he moves even further back in time, this time to England during the age of William Shakespeare. In the novel, set in 1598, the Spanish Armada has proved victorious over British naval power and England is now under the sway
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of both the Spanish government and the Vatican. With Queen Elizabeth I deposed and languishing in the Tower of London, Shakespeare has no patron, and his writings must reflect an ardent Catholicism or be prohibited. His creative abilities are ultimately put to the test when he is asked by the Resistance to author a play containing coded lines that will incite rebellion against the Spanish monarchy. Praising the novel for its compelling plot, Christine C. Menefee noted in School Library Journal that Ruled Britannia is a "complex tour de force" that brings Shakespeare's "work and times to life." In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer echoed such praise, writing that "Turtledove has woven an intricate and thoroughly engrossing portrait of an era" that includes such individuals as Kit Marlowe, Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley, and others. Calling the novel one of Turtledove's "finest achievements," Ronald Green wrote in Booklist that Ruled Britannia stands as a "thoroughly magisterial work of alternate history."

Although other stand-alone novels by Turtledove have achieved success, The Guns of the South, published in 1992, first connected his name to the alternate-history genre and attracted the attention of both mainstream reviewers and the science-fiction community. The story begins in January, 1864, with Confederate General Robert E. Lee's troops suffering from shortages of both arms and supplies. Lee is despondent that the war may be lost, until he receives an interesting visitor. Andries Rhoodie, a time traveler who has come from South Africa together with several fellows, offers the general a supply of futuristic armaments, including the AK-47. When this weaponry allows the South to win the war, it also changes history, although not perhaps as Rhoodie might have wished. When the Confederacy subsequently begins to relax its slave laws, the South African becomes nervous; his purpose in helping Lee was to lay the foundation for a future white supremacist culture. As Lee continues his reforms, he and his men are suddenly faced with a new threat: Rhoodie and his soldiers.

Margaret Flanagan, reviewing The Guns of the South for Booklist, called Turtledove's re-creation an "exceptionally riveting and innovative narrative that successfully straddles the gulf between fact and fantasy." Discussing his own personal fascination with the Civil War period, as well as its popularity as a theme for alternate history, such as his standalone novels Sentry Peak and Marching through Peachtree, Turtledove told Bloom, "There is a general fascination with that period because it's a key period in the history of the United States. We are what we are now, for better and for worse, because of what happened during those four crowded years." In Turtledove's "Great War," "American Empire," and "Settling Accounts" series he also based his storyline on a United States torn by a civil war in which Confederate forced prevailed.

Containing a strong sci-fi element, the "Worldwar" series explores what might have happened had an external menace confronted Earth at the time of World War II. The series opens in late 1942 with In the Balance. Nazis are busy trying to eliminate Jews in Europe, while in the United States scientists are attempting to unlock the secrets of the atom. Suddenly, the skies overhead are filled with spaceships full of aliens. These reptilian invaders call themselves the Race, but earthlings name them the Lizards. Due to the invasion Earth-bound enemies must form odd alliances to battle this new and devastating menace, which seeks to enslave the people of this world.

Turtledove's canvas for his "Worldwar" epic is the planet Earth. The huge cast of characters includes real people from history, such as military generals Marshall and Patton, scientists Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi, and political figures such as Churchill, Roosevelt, and Molotov. Settings include the United States, England, Germany, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan. Reviewing In the Balance, Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer Thomas Pearson called the series "promising," while Booklist contributor Roland Green dubbed Turtledove "one of alternate history's authentic modern masters" and called the novel "engrossing." Letson, reviewing the initial title in Locus, commented that In the Balance delivers excitement "in the form of interesting characters responding to conditions both new and unchanged…. It is this ground-level … view of the world at war that I find gripping, the lives of individuals as they are affected by the macrohistorical military-economic-political forces represented by the wargames layer of the book." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the series opener an "intelligent speculative novel" which "gives a surprisingly convincing flavor to the time-worn story of warring nations uniting to repel extraterrestrials."

Turtledove continues his "Worldwar" saga with Tilting the Balance, in which Earthlings begin to fight back using ginger, a substance found to be addictive to the Lizards. Pearson commented in Voice of Youth Advocates that "real historical characters intermingle with Turtledove's fictional creatures in a wild 600 page blend of soap opera, carefully drawn character studies, and slam-bang action." Upsetting the Balance and Striking the Balance complete the tetralogy, ending with an uneasy truce declared between Earthlings and the Race. Reviewing the final volume, a critic for Kirkus Reviews said that Turtledove has created a huge opus: "A cast of thousands with a plot to match, well-drawn if unoriginal aliens, a wealth of fascinating speculation—and scope for any number of sequels."

Extending the "Worldwar" scenario, the "Colonization" series is set sixteen years after the end of the "World-war" books, and opens with the arrival of a flotilla of Lizard starships carrying a cargo of forty million sleep-frozen Lizard colonists. As the series continues, Lizards are integrated into human society, while alien technology has been mined by the major superpowers for use in weaponry advances in the ongoing war. Colonization: Second Contact is "outstanding entertainment," according to Booklist contributor Roberta Johnson. "In high fashion, the master of alternative SF launches a sequel series to his acclaimed 'Worldwar' tetralogy," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, adding that Turtledove, "with his fertile imagination running on overdrive … develops an exciting, often surprising story that will not only delight his fans but will probably send newcomers back to the 'Worldwar' saga to fill in the backstory." Reviewing the concluding "Colonization" novel, Aftershocks, Booklist critic Roberta Johnson dubbed the book "highly entertaining," and noted Turtledove's "trademark wry humor" in composing the Warren Commission of lizards charged with investigating the death of President Earl Warren. The entire "Worldwar" sequence concludes with Homeward Bound, in which a human spaceship travels to the Race's home planet, thus threatening the lizard's technological dominance and leaving Turtledove room for yet another sequel.

Turtledove's multi-part "Darkness" series includes this 2003 novel, which finds the Algarve laying siege to the continent of Derlavai with fantastical weapons that threaten to wipe out a civilization. (Cover illustration by Bob Eggleton.)War on a global scale also serves as the backdrop for Turtledove's "Great War" series, which had its inception in the Civil War novel How Few Remain. This time, Turtledove tweaks history by having the Confederacy winning the Battle of Antietam and go on to victory after creating an alliance with the French and British. When the United States declares war on the Confederate States in 1881 over its purchase of northern territories from Mexico, the Confederacy again wins the conflict, again with the support of French and British troops. This is the setting for the alternate history Turtledove explores in subsequent novels about the First World War. How Few Remain "displays the compelling combination of rigorous historiography and robust storytelling that readers have come to expect from Turtledove," noted a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, who added that "Turtledove delivers his most gripping novel since 1992's The Guns of the South."

In The Great War: American Front Turtledove roots his tale in the same historical world. It is 1914 and there is a world war between Germany, an ally of the United States, and the alliance comprising France, England, and the Confederate States. "Turtledove sustains high interest throughout the lengthy narrative," commented a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. "With shocking vividness, Turtledove demonstrates the extreme fragility of our modern world…. This is state-of-the-art alternate history, nothing less." Turtledove extends the saga in The Great War: Walk in Hell, which covers the year 1915 and includes a Negro rebellion in the Confederacy and a U.S. invasion of Canada where the horrors of trench warfare play out on the American continent instead of in Europe. According to Green, "This is not alternate history intended to give readers the warm fuzzies; it is a remorseless working out of the consequences of greater follies producing even worse results than the ones we may read about in actual history."

Throughout the "Great War" novels Turtledove follows the rise to power of Jake Featherstone, president of the Confederate States of America and a member of the radical Freedom Party. Featherstone's power base continues to grow in the "American Empire" and "Settling Accounts" novels, in which events unfold in North American that are analogous to those that actually transpired during World War II. With the World War over, beginning with American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold, the French have since restored their monarchy with Charles XI, and an economic depression has hit around the world. As World War II looms in the near future, a racial holocaust begins to unfold in the South. The militaristic Featherstone attempts to avert economic disaster by proposing War with the United States to his north, and the secession of Kentucky to the Confederacy and its racial policies may provide the spark. War ultimately breaks out in the "Settling Accounts" series, and Featherstone plays out as a native-born Hitler. Calling the concluding novel in the "American Empire" series, The Victorious Opposition, "the most powerful volume" in the "Great War" saga, Green added in Booklist that the novel showcases its author's "continuing mastery of historical fiction on the macrocosmic and the microcosmic levels." In Publishers Weekly a critic also praised the novel as "compelling," citing the entire "Great War" saga as "colossal and brilliant."

Turtledove's "Darkness" fantasy series utilizes technology of the 1930s and 1940s, but takes as its setting an imaginary world where technological advances are achieved through magic. Into the Darkness, the first novel in the series, opens in a fantasy world reminiscent of medieval Europe, Derlavai, where sorcery has been harnessed to create military power. This sprawling saga, which follows the armies of Algarve as they embark upon world conquest and gain power from the blood of their Kaunian foe while the Unkerlant seek to stop them, continues in Darkness Descending, Through the Darkness Rulers of the Darkness, Jaws of Darkness, and Out of the Darkness. In Booklist Green praised the series as "original and absorbing," while in Library Journal Jackie Cassada deemed the novel sequence "a complex and richly detailed epic of war and magic."

While Turtledove's books are primarily geared for adult readers with a sophisticated knowledge of world history, his novels have also proven popular with young-adult readers. In his "Crosstime Traffic" series, which begins with 2003's Gunpowder Empire, the author addresses teen readers more directly by casting two teenagers as protagonists. In the story the Solter family is living in the twenty-first century, where alternative realities provide a means to escape the pollution and depleted planetary resources. While spending the summer in an alternative world where ancient Rome still rules, Jeremy Solter and his sister are left to fend for themselves when their mother must be rushed back to the hospital near the family's Southern California home. Unable to communicate with their parents due to technical problems, the stranded teens soon become aware that Lietuvan invaders are making strategic inroads into Roman lands, particularly in the city where the children are living. Hoping to survive the invasion with their status as time travelers undetected, the two West Coast teens are forced to rely on their wits. A Publishers Weekly reviewer described Gunpowder Empire as "a rousing story" in which Turtledove's teen characters are required to confront "moral choices and dilemmas that will … resonate with younger fans." The "Crosstime Traffic" series continues with Curious Notions and In High Places.

Turtledove, who is married to mystery writer Laura Frankos, spends much of his time writing. One interviewer estimated that Turtledove writes 350 days per year, hardly surprising given his prodigious output. In the 1990s alone he wrote over two dozen epics, while also serving as editor of several fiction anthologies. Summing up the difference between writing history and fiction, Turtledove explained to Bloom: "Fiction has to be plausible. All history has to do is happen."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Reginald, Robert, Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, 1975–1991, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.

St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, edited by David Pringle, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996, pp. 562-564.

Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, edited by Noelle Watson and Paul E. Schellinger, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991, pp. 809-810.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 1987, p. 878; May 1, 1987, p. 1336; June 15, 1987, p. 1565; August, 1987, p. 1722; October 1, 1987, p. 222; May 1, 1990, p. 1688; May 15, 1990, p. 1785; November 1, 1992, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Guns of the South: A Novel of the Civil War, p. 490; January 1-15, 1996, p. 799; February 1, 1996, p. 899; August 19, 1998, Margaret Flanagan, review of Justinian, p. 1971; January 1, 1999, Roberta Johnston, review of Colonization: Second Contact, p. 842; March 1, 1999, p. 1104; June 1, 1999, Roland Green, review of The Great War: Walk in Hell; November 15, 2000, Roberta Johnson, review of Colonization: Aftershocks, p. 588; February 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of Through the Darkness, p. 1086; April 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of Blood and Iron, p. 1510; October 15, 2001, Ronald Green, review of Marching through Peachtree, p. 388; May 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of The Center Cannot Hold, p. 1445; July, 2002, John Mort, review of Alternate Generals II, p. 1831, and Worlds That Weren't, p. 1833; October 1, 2002, Ronald Green, review of Ruled Britannia, p. 276; November 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of Advance and Retreat, p. 584; February 15, 2003, Roland Green, review of Jaws of Darkness, p. 1019; May 15, 2003, Roland Green, review of The Victorious Opposition, p. 1619; August, 2003, Roland Green, review of Conan of Venarium, p. 1969; September 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of In the Presence of Mine Enemies, p. 9; December 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of Gunpowder Empire, p. 656; February 1, 2004, Roland Green, review of Out of the Darkness, p. 933; April 15, 2004, Roland Green, review of The First Heroes, p. 1432; July, 2004, Roland Green, review of Return Engagements, p. 1800; September 15, 2004, Roland Green, review of Days of Infamy, p. 180; October 15, 2004, Roland Green, review of Homeward Bound, p. 363, and Curious Notions, p. 395.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1987, p. 682; March 15, 1988, p. 417; August 1, 1992, p. 947; January 1, 1995, p. 34; October 1, 1996, review of Worldwar: Striking the Balance, p. 1434; August 15, 1997, p. 1265; January 1, 1998, review of Between the Rivers, p. 28; June 15, 2003, review of Conan of Venarium, p. 840; July 1, 2004, review of Return Engagement, p. 605; November 1, 2004, review of Homeward Bound, p. 1032.

Kliatt, January, 2004, Sherry Hoy, review of Worlds That Weren't, p. 25; July, 2004, Sherry Hoy, review of Alternate Generals II, p. 33; March, 2005, Sherry Hoy, review of Gunpowder Empire, p. 29.

Library Journal, April 15, 1988, p. 98; September 1, 1992, p. 217; November 15, 1993, p. 102; December, 1995, p. 163; January, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Between the Rivers, p. 149; June 15, 1998, p. 110; January, 1999, p. 165; September 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Sentry Peak, p. 118; February 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Colonization: Aftershocks, p. 205; March 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Through the Darkness, p. 111; November 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Marching through Peachtree, p. 101; April 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Rulers of the Darkness, p. 128; July, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of The Center Cannot Hold, p. 127; November 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Ruled Britannia, p. 105; June 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Victorious Opposition, p. 106; August, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Conan of Venarium, p. 142; December, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Gunpowder Empire, p. 173; March 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Out of the Darkness, p. 111; May 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of The First Heroes, p. 119; August, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Return Engagement, p. 72; October 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Days of Infamy, p. 57; December 1, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Homeward Bound, p. 104.

Locus, June, 1990, p. 33; March, 1991, p. 60; October, 1991, pp. 31, 56; February, 1994, Russell Letson, review of Worldwar: In the Balance, pp. 31-32; April, 1994, Russell Letson, review of Agent of Byzantium, pp. 23-24.

Publishers Weekly, January 23, 1987, p. 66; May 22, 1987, p. 69; March 18, 1988, p. 76; March 16, 1990, p. 66; January 11, 1991, p. 98; August 24, 1992, p. 63; December 1, 1993, Roland Green, review of Worldwar: In the Balance, p. 678; December 6, 1993, review of Worldwar: In the Balance, p. 60; February 20, 1995, p. 200; January 22, 1996, p. 61; February 5, 1996, p. 80; August 16, 1997, review of How Few Remain, p. 390; January 26, 1998, review of Between the Rivers, p. 73; April 27, 1998, review of The Great War: American Front, p. 50; November 30, 1998, review of Colonization: Second Contact, p. 53; March 22, 1999, p. 74; August 23, 1999, p. 54; February 5, 2001, review of Colonization: Aftershocks, p. 72; February 19, 2001, review of Through the Darkness, p. 74; July 16, 2001, review of American Empire, p. 163; October 1, 2001, review of The Best Alternate History Stories of the Twentieth Century, p. 43; October, 21, 2002, review of Ruled Britannia, p. 59; November 25, 2002, review of Advance and Retreat, p. 47; March 10, 2003, review of Jaws of Darkness, p. 58; July 7, 2003, review of The Victorious Opposition, p. 57; October 20, 2003, review of In the Presence of Mine Enemies, p. 39; November 17, 2003, review of Gunpowder Empire, p. 49; February, 23, 2004, review of Out of the Darkness, p. 56; April 5, 2004, review of The First Heroes, p. 46; July 19, 2004, review of Return Engagement, p. 149; October 11, 2004, review of Days of Infamy, p. 60; November, 29, 2004, review of Homeward Bound, p. 27; March 28, 2005, review of Alternate Generals III, p. 61; June 6, 2005, review of Drive to the East, p. 44.

School Library Journal, March, 2002, Christine C. Menefee, review of The Best Alternate History Stories of the Twentieth Century, p. 261; May, 2003, Christine C. Menefee, review of Ruled Britannia, p. 180.

Science Fiction Chronicle, October, 1987, p. 41; January, 1988, p. 49; April, 1988, p. 52.

USA Today, October 13, 1998, Tom Squitieri, "Author Loves to Shake Up History."

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1992, p. 116; August, 1995, Thomas Pearson, review of Worldwar: In the Balance, pp. 160-161; August, 1996, Thomas Pearson, review of Worldwar: Tilting the Balance, p. 172; October, 1996, pp. 221-122.

Washington Post Book World, June 27, 1993, p. 12.

ONLINE

SciFi.com, http://www.sfsite.com/ (June 1, 2000), Jeremy Bloom, "Da Toastmaster Guest of Honor"; (December 1, 2005) Lisa DuMond, review of Ruled Britannia, and Steven Silver, reviews of Conan of Venarium and Days of Infamy.

[back] Ann (Christine) Turnbull (1943-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights

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