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Harry Turtledove

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 07:07 PM

Good historical fiction writer. Some of his books are kind of weird but they are good (Aliens invade during WW2, anyone?) His giant set of books about the south winning the civil war are great... any way I was just wondering if anyone else had read any of his stuff... I haven't checked any of the fantasy stuff but his historical fiction is great.

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 04:58 PM

I wasn't aware that alternate history fell under the heading of historical fiction. I've always heard "historical fiction" used to refer to stories set in factual history.

I'm reading the How Few Remain/Southern Victory series (which is composed of three series and a stand-alone novel that take place in the same timeline) and it is indeed interesting. Currently, I'm about halfway through American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold.

Of the five books I've read so far, I felt that How Few Remain was by far the best, partially because of pacing. The Great War series manages to drag on and on while revealing very little information and depicting very few events, mostly because it has something like 10 viewpoint characters who have to share each chapter. The fact that the author seemed to realize how confusing it was all becoming and constantly restated basic information about the characters' lives actually made things worse.

What I've read of the American Empire series seems to have almost the opposite problem; it skims over so many months and years in each of the cast's lives that I've barely gotten used to one moment in time before the next is thrown in my face. I keep having moments like "Wait, the baby's seven now? When the hell did that happen?" And since this series shares most of its characters with the Great War series, the contrast between the two paces is particularly jarring.

I think the main difference between How Few Remain is that and the books that follow it is that How Few Remain's viewpoint characters are all actual historical figures, while those of the later books are almost exclusively random people who, at most, brush up against actual historical figures. I understand the reasons for this; as the timeline progresses, the likelihood that the same people will exist, and will accomplish the same things if they do, decreases. But I would rather sacrifice that bit of realism for the sake of a bit less of the endlessly-repeated information about people who are largely unimportant to the story and almost exclusively too poorly-written for me to care about them. The one exception is the clear counterpart of Hitler, and he's interesting because he's Hitler, and he's too bitter and brutal not to be interesting.

The "aliens invade during WWII timeline" does sound interesting, but I haven't been able to find the first few books in that series, so I haven't read any yet.

Departures, his short story collection, is a bunch of bland idea-based oddities; interesting, but little more.

And that is all I've read. I don't particularly care for his style and doubt his storytelling abilities, but the stories he is telling make up for that.

This post has been edited by Itaritz: 03 September 2008 - 05:03 PM

When in doubt, plead sarcasm.

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