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More books - Historical/Alternate History Fiction.

More books - Historical/Alternate History Fiction.

Looking for some good books. Turtledove, I've read some of his stuff and it seems hit or miss. Good thought provoking stuff sometimes but might work better as a 10 page essay "what if..." type stuff rather than numerous novels. 1632 Series was absolutely great, the first book at least.

Anyone recommend anything? Something set in the real world either past or present. I'd like to enjoy the novel but have it be something where I learn something by the end of it.

I enjoyed 1632 a lot, but I thought 1633 lacked the fun charm of the other one. Have you read the Man in the High Castle? It's a WWII alt history.

Yeah, the second book wasn't as good and I stumbled through the 3rd but it started to get formulaic and those were the only 3 out at the time so I haven't kept up as others were released.

No, I haven't read that one, it looks really good though. I'm not experienced in the genre but I do enjoy them when I've stumbled into them. Usually I read economics/politics books and fantasy.

I've heard great things about The Baroque Cycle, but have never had the chance to pick it up myself so I could be misled. It's by Neal Stephenson (of Snow Crash fame). If I've heard correctly, the series is set in early modern Europe and follows a lot of the intellectual movers and shakers of the period, along with kung-fu wirefighting. I'm probably lying about that last part, but again, I haven't read it yet.

Haven't read the Baroque Cycle yet so I can't comment about it but I've heard generally good things.

AH is one of my special favorite genres. Here's a quick overview of some of the stuff in my personal library.

You're quite right to regard Turtledove as hit or miss (and these days he's more miss) but once upon a time he really was the undisputed champion of AH. I'd recommend A Different Flesh, Agent of Byzantium, Worldwar (But not the Colonization series unless you really feel the need), How Few Remain (but not the multiple series that followed it) and above all Guns of the South. You might also check out Ruled Brittania. Avoid the Darkness series if you value your sanity. And avoid the War Between the Provinces series even harder unless you really want a mediocre version of Killer Angels in a fantasy universe.

John Barnes is best known for very thoughtful SF reminiscent of Heinlein but with Timeline Wars he decided to just have fun and Patton's Spaceship, Washington's Dirigible and Caesar's Bicycle deliver. Not traditional AH but you can see it if you squint.

John M. Ford is a personal favorite and The Dragon Waiting is one of his better known works. Technically it's historical fantasy I suppose, not true AH. But when it's this good, who cares?

Perhaps surprisingly good, William R. Forstchen and Newt Gingrich (Yes, I know, just ignore it) serve up a compelling alternate in Gettysburg, followed by Grant Comes East and Never Call Retreat.

Really the best work in AH is commonly done in short form. I can't begin to list the short story collections but I'll hit what I can recall of the highlights. The various books in the Alternate ... series (Presidents, Generals, Kennedys are mostly decent as is the What Might Have Been series.

Well, well, well look what a little research can find. This is a list of AH collections. don't know how comprehensive it is, but it looks pretty solid.

Originally Posted by leons1701 View Post
and above all Guns of the South.
That is what started me on Turtledove... I found it kind of silly I guess? It was good but just a bit goofy with AK47's in the Civil War... I guess I like a bit less fantasy/time travel in my AH. Worldwar was good though, I read the first one or two. I don't think it was finished yet when I started and I never picked back up. The humans started to win, writing was on the wall.

Originally Posted by leons1701 View Post
Perhaps surprisingly good, William R. Forstchen and Newt Gingrich (Yes, I know, just ignore it) serve up a compelling alternate in Gettysburg, followed by Grant Comes East and Never Call Retreat.
I read Pearl Harbor and Valley Forge by those two this month, it's what kicked off my interest in delving more into it (and I happen to like Newt anyway.. lol).

One Second After by Forstchen was good if you haven't read it yet. Makes me want to raise goats and learn to subsistence farm...

If you don't mind fantasy thrown in with your alt-history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark is a great read.

Originally Posted by Mook_Fodder View Post
I really enjoyed the Atlantis series of books by Turtledove, and they haven't been mentioned yet.
They weren't bad, but they do represent the heavily thematic and repetitive Turtledove of recent years. Not his worst stuff, but not his best either.

I must have been tired because I overlooked some things that really need to be mentioned.

Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee might come off as a bit dated, but it was one of the most influential early AH works.

L. Sprague De Camp's Lest Darkness Fall is unabashedly a time travel AH but it is magnificent and should be read by anyone with any interest in AH. Heck, by anybody at all. Turtledove has credited it with getting him interested in history in the first place.

John M. Ford is wonderful! Second the recommendation on The Dragon Waiting. It has a really nifty solution as to whether Richard III did or did not kill the princes in the Tower.

If you are into WWII you might try the Jo Walton series that begins with Farthing. Or if you like SF with your history COnnie Williss's The Doomsday Book and related books are good.

For absolutely masterful historical fiction, read Dorothy Dunnett. King Hereafter is a standalone speculation on Macbeth. The Lymond Chronicles (6 books with chess titles) are incredibly accurate as far as history goes. She set up a 10-year timeline covering several walls on where each major historical figure was during that part of the 16th century, and wove the novels through them, covering Scotland, England, France, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire. There was even a fanzine where people wrote articles following her research and finding her sources. The only fantasy in them is some prophecies that come true.


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