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Ferrosol
Nov 8, 2010

Notorious J.A.M


Because I've ssen this go of on a tangent in so many different threads I figured I'd throw together one place where everyone can talk about the goodOk the Bad and the downright terrible in one of my favourite popcorn genres.

With alternate history there are a lot of different stories set in completely different time periods.

Want to see time-travelling racist South Africans from the far future year of 2014 give AK-47s to the Confederacy? It's been done.

Napoleon conquering the world? Done about 180 years ago

Life in a United States conquered by Germany and Japan after World war 2? Done really well.

Oh and a thousand and one books where the Confederacy wins in the American Civil War or the Nazis win World War 2 because this poo poo is targeted extensively at Americans and those are the only two wars most Americans are assumed to know about.

Glossary of Terms

POD: Point of Departure. The point at which the story diverged from real history. For example it could be as simple as a blacksmith failing to properly do his job before a minor skirmish or as complicated as Hitler calling off the entirety of World War 2 two days before the invasion of Poland.

OTL: Our Time Line/Original Time Line. AKA real history.

For want of a Nail: A story that generally doesn't involve time travel but instead usually has one minor and potentially insignificant event that nontheless leads to an entirely different History.Named for an old proverb/poem.

Counterfactual: Alternate History as written by professional historians who don't want to be associated with the kind of people who'd find being placed next to a Tom Clancy book on a shelf an honour.

ISOT: Island in the Sea of Time, In which instead of a single character going back in time an entire group of people or geographical area is sent back instead. Named for the allegedly terrible S M Stirling series where the island of Nantucket is sent back to the bronze age.

So what are peoples favourite stories in the genre? which ones did people find laughably bad? and are there any that can be genuinely be considered to be good?

Ferrosol fucked around with this message at 23:54 on Nov 3, 2014

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Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



I thought Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle was pretty interesting. It's an alternate history where FDR was assassinated causing the US to lose WW2. Most of the book takes place in California, which is under Japanese occupation (you also read about how the Nazi's took over Europe and Africa and drained the Mediterranean for farmland, but this is just distant background really). As with pretty much all Dick novels, the writing itself is not great and most of the characters flimsy at best, but the way the plot unfolds is pretty interesting and I think it's a cut or two above your average Harry Turtledove kind of poo poo.

Teriyaki Hairpiece
Dec 29, 2006

Ask me about my dream Frasier episode where Frasier and Bulldog oil their heads and then rub them together. It's definitely not a fetish of mine, I swear!

I've actually made at least two Turtledove threads here before, most of which had mostly posts by me in them.

Also, I always thought OTL stood for "original time line", I've learned something today!

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



Also, I've heard a lot of good things about July's People by Nadine Gordimer, which was written in 1982 and involves a hypothetical future that takes place in the wake of civil war in South Africa which resulted in the end of apartheid. I have not read it, but the one book by Gordimer I have read (The Pickup) was excellent, so I have hopes that this too is much better than the typical war fantasy stuff. However at the time it was written it was not "alternate history" but rather speculative fiction.

Also I very much enjoyed Baudolino by Umberto Eco. This isn't alternate history in the sense of history taking a different path, rather it takes place during a version of the middle ages in which elements of the supernatural play a somewhat more prominent and direct role, in an almost sort of magical realist way, but concerning actual historic figures like the Emperor Frederick I

Earwicker fucked around with this message at 19:44 on Jun 12, 2014

Grifter
Jul 24, 2003

I do this technique called a suplex. You probably haven't heard of it, it's pretty obscure.

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon is a good book. In it the US created a haven for European Jews in 1940, in Alaska. In this timeline Israel was created and then destroyed a few years later in a pretty grim sounding manner. The novel itself pretty dark, with some similarly dark humor.

“Like 90 percent of the television they watch, it comes from the south and is shown dubbed into Yiddish. It concerns the adventures of a pair of children with Jewish names who look like they might be part Indian and have no visible parents. They do have a crystalline magical dragon scale that they wish on in order to travel to a land of pastel dragons, each distinguished by its color and its particular brand of imbecility. Little by little, the children spend more and more time with their magical dragon scale until one day they travel off to the land of rainbow idiocy and never return; their bodies are found by the night manager of their cheap flop, each with a bullet in the back of the head. Maybe, Landsman thinks, something gets lost in the translation.”

There's a lot of Jewish culture and beliefs in the book. I am not Jewish so I feel like I missed a lot - I think maybe if I had better knowledge of certain things (like the Jewish Messiah belief), it could have worked better for me, but I thought it was pretty great anyway. If you're enthusiastic about Judaism, mobsters and chess, it's your kind of book.

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



Grifter posted:

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

I've been meaning to read this book for years and I'm not sure why I haven't yet. The one thing I know about it (aside from what you mention) is that Landsman is named after the same actual detective Jay Landsman who also inspired characters of the same name on both Homicide and The Wire. You can read about the real Landsman in David Simon's book Homicide which unlike the show is entirely non-fiction and is a very good read.

dublish
Oct 31, 2011



Fatherland by Robert Harris. The Nazis won World War II. 20 years later, a Kripo detective stumbles across a conspiracy that makes the Nazis look like bad people (). It ends about as well as you'd think.

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. Really? Yeah. Well, it's been a good few years since I read this one, and it's all the milsperg you'd expect, but it's still early Clancy. The Soviet Union finds itself facing an oil situation and decides to rectify it by kicking off World War III.

Rockopolis
Dec 21, 2012

I MAKE FUN OF QUEER STORYGAMES BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO WITH MY LIFE THAN MAKE OTHER PEOPLE CRY

I can't understand these kinds of games, and not getting it bugs me almost as much as me being weird


Lest Darkness Fall by L Sprauge DeCamp is one of the all time classics. Been a while since I read it, but it revolves around an archaeologist gets zapped back in time to Rome.

Stravinsky
May 31, 2011



Grifter posted:

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

There is so much that could of made this book really terrible and yet it avoids being kitschy and dumb pulp. I am really surprised at how well he used slang and yiddish phrases without making it corny or awkward like you will often find in say a science fiction book or something (chummer) and instead really does some real world building with it. Are any of Chabon's other books worth checking out?

Furious Lobster
Jun 17, 2006



Soiled Meat

Stravinsky posted:

There is so much that could of made this book really terrible and yet it avoids being kitschy and dumb pulp. I am really surprised at how well he used slang and yiddish phrases without making it corny or awkward like you will often find in say a science fiction book or something (chummer) and instead really does some real world building with it. Are any of Chabon's other books worth checking out?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is actually his most well known novel given that it won the Pulitzer and I found the premise and parts of the book to be fairly good; though at some point, it becomes a little plodding and I finished it out of force-of-will.

moot the hopple
Apr 26, 2008

dyslexic Bowie clone

Stravinsky posted:

There is so much that could of made this book really terrible and yet it avoids being kitschy and dumb pulp. I am really surprised at how well he used slang and yiddish phrases without making it corny or awkward like you will often find in say a science fiction book or something (chummer) and instead really does some real world building with it. Are any of Chabon's other books worth checking out?

The aforementioned The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is what you should immediately check out, though I have a soft spot for Gentlemen of the Road which is a very fun, swashbuckling kind of adventure yarn. Chabon's working title for it was "Jews With Swords"

Gertrude Perkins
May 1, 2010

Gun Snake

dont talk to gun snake

Drops: human teeth


My go-to recommendation for alternate history novels is Stephen Fry's Making History. The POD isn't the old classic "what if Hitler lost" but "what if Hitler was never even born", as his home town has its water supply sterilised. The result (told through some pretty great WWI vignettes before the full alt-present is revealed) is a different and much more dangerous man rises to lead a significantly more successful Nazi Germany. Like a lot of Fry's novels the actual narrative is smaller, focused mainly on the protagonist discovering himself against the backdrop of OTL and ATL society. Great sense of humour, and you can tell from the occasional lyricism of the prose that Stephen Fry just loves the English language.


On the subject of "counterfactuals" I recently read a really interesting analysis by Richard J. Evans called Altered Pasts: Counterfactuals In History. A collection of longform essays, the book covers everything: the history of the genre, the ideologies behind creating these narratives, the pitfalls and clichés, and the historical basis for their credibility. He covers everyone from Niall Ferguson to Robert Harris, and it's a great read for anyone interested in some of the political/historical contexts for alt-history.

Pierson
Oct 31, 2004





College Slice

Turtledove and a lot of this genre always struck me as slightly creepy because it seems they really, really loving love to write about the Nazis/Confederacy winning and will go to great lengths to make sure they do, and will then almost always write the following timeline as "hey this isn't so bad HMM REALLY MAKES YOU THINK". Is that about right or am I giving them a bad rap? I like the 'maybe it could have happened this way' pseudo-documentary books rather than the pulp-action ones so I've never really picked him up.

Earwicker posted:

I thought Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle was pretty interesting.
It has been a while since I read this but I remember losing patience with the book when the I-Ching was being manipulated or something by people from our timeline to tell the people in the book that theirs was the incorrect timeline. It went from alt-history to flat-out sci-fi and I was annoyed by that since it was perfectly good before that little revelation. At least that's how I remember it going down.


Is it kosher to talk about some of the threads on alternatehistory.com's forums? Because if so A World of Laughter, A World of Tears was a fun afternoon read about what if Walt Disney was elected as president after Eisenhower, and accidentally started the US down the slippery crypto-fascist slope. I can't talk about how realistic it is because I don't know that period of history so great, but it's written well and nothing is so egregiously out-there as to make you shout "that's bullshit". There's also another thread there somewhere about a timeline where the IRA succeeded in the plot to assassinate Thatcher which people recommend but I haven't had the chance to read yet.


Will definitely be checking out some recommendations from this thread though. Thanks!

Groke
Jul 27, 2007
New Adventures In Mom Strength

Pierson posted:

It has been a while since I read this but I remember losing patience with the book when the I-Ching was being manipulated or something by people from our timeline to tell the people in the book that theirs was the incorrect timeline. It went from alt-history to flat-out sci-fi and I was annoyed by that since it was perfectly good before that little revelation. At least that's how I remember it going down.

On the other hand, the alternate history novel referenced within the book clearly describes a timeline that isn't ours either, so everything's all wrong in any case. Dick was a pretty weird guy.

Tulul
Oct 23, 2013


Pierson posted:

Turtledove and a lot of this genre always struck me as slightly creepy because it seems they really, really loving love to write about the Nazis/Confederacy winning and will go to great lengths to make sure they do, and will then almost always write the following timeline as "hey this isn't so bad HMM REALLY MAKES YOU THINK". Is that about right or am I giving them a bad rap? I like the 'maybe it could have happened this way' pseudo-documentary books rather than the pulp-action ones so I've never really picked him up.

Yes and no, I think. There's definitely a giant strain of creep in the community, but I don't think people like Turtledove necessarily fall into it. They write a lot about the Civil War and World War II for the same reasons there are a million non-fiction books about both. In particular, both have a default heroes vs villains narrative built in, and from there, the single easiest (laziest!) plotline to write is "what if the villains won?" The Nazis winning is the alt history version of a fantasy book about a magic macguffin and a dark lord.

If you want to check out something that is unreservedly gently caress HITLER and is pretty heavily critical of the sci-fi community, you might like The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad. It's about a timeline where Hitler immigrates to the US after WWI, becomes a sci-fi writer, and espouses all of his ideals through his trashy books.

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



Tulul posted:

If you want to check out something that is unreservedly gently caress HITLER and is pretty heavily critical of the sci-fi community, you might like The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad. It's about a timeline where Hitler immigrates to the US after WWI, becomes a sci-fi writer, and espouses all of his ideals through his trashy books.

And, let me guess, simultaneously a certain Sporman Ninrad moves to Germany as a college exchange student, gets involved in local politics, eventually becomes chancellor and his policies lead to 200 years of peace, prosperity, and tolerance for all peoples?

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



Earwicker posted:

And, let me guess, simultaneously a certain Sporman Ninrad moves to Germany as a college exchange student, gets involved in local politics, eventually becomes chancellor and his policies lead to 200 years of peace, prosperity, and tolerance for all peoples?

Actually no, it's presented as a novel written by the fake Hitler, with bibliography and biography to match. And an introduction by a clueless historian! My copy has blurbs from Harlan Ellison and Mike Moorcock praising fake-Hitler.

Also if you liked Baudolino you might like John Crowley's Aegypt books, the first book is Aegypt or The Solitudes. They have one plot strand quite similar-sounding to that one, another which is a novel-in-a-novel, and the main plot is kind of similar only with ex-hippies in the 70s.

ArchangeI
Jul 15, 2010


Pierson posted:

Turtledove and a lot of this genre always struck me as slightly creepy because it seems they really, really loving love to write about the Nazis/Confederacy winning and will go to great lengths to make sure they do, and will then almost always write the following timeline as "hey this isn't so bad HMM REALLY MAKES YOU THINK". Is that about right or am I giving them a bad rap? I like the 'maybe it could have happened this way' pseudo-documentary books rather than the pulp-action ones so I've never really picked him up.

Admittedly I have only read Turtledove's alternate WWI books, where the Confederacy allies with the French and the British and fights the Union which is allied with Imperial Germany, but I didn't get the impression that he wanted to paint the CSA as the good guys or the misunderstood villains. He shows them as racist and classist as all hell (there is a scene where a British character compares the CSA unfavorably to tsarist Russia on the "Freedom" scale), while pointing out that the Union wasn't made up of modern enlightened people either. At best you can accuse him of showing that people, even disenfranchised people, can and will adapt to political realities and might prefer accommodation to confrontation.

Ms Adequate
Oct 29, 2011

Baby even when I'm dead and gone
You will always be my only one, my only one
When the night is calling
No matter who I become
You will always be my only one, my only one, my only one
When the night is calling





I'm a big loving nerd for alt-history. In an alternate timeline I've got interests that actually lead to a productive use of my time but gently caress those non-Earth-Prime Mister Adequates.

For Want of a Nail is a pretty good read, partly because it's presented as a history book from the alternative timeline. The American Revolution fails, but many of the instigators survive and gently caress off to Mexico, where they sponsor a revolution and stuff.

Captain Monkey
Aug 23, 2007



I'm interested in the genre, but I only really read kindle books now a days.

Are there any good ones that come in that format?

ZombieLenin
Sep 6, 2009

All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.

-Vladimir Lenin

Pierson posted:

Turtledove and a lot of this genre always struck me as slightly creepy because it seems they really, really loving love to write about the Nazis/Confederacy winning and will go to great lengths to make sure they do, and will then almost always write the following timeline as "hey this isn't so bad HMM REALLY MAKES YOU THINK". Is that about right or am I giving them a bad rap? I like the 'maybe it could have happened this way' pseudo-documentary books rather than the pulp-action ones so I've never really picked him up.

Not to white knight slavery or the Confederacy, but there is a huge difference between "What if the Confederacy Won" and "What if Hitler Won." If the Confederacy had really managed to win the American Civil War, the "history" would probably be much more boring than a Turtledove novel.

It would have read something like the history of Brazil until 1890. Brazil was the last country to end chattel slavery.

Hitler winning is much more like a story about a dude who didn't want to continue a terrible and oppresive pre-existing economic system that viewed some humans as property, so much as it would be about a dude who wanted to remove entire races and ethnic groups by means of industrialized assembly line murder.

But, yeah, I get what you mean. It seems like lots of people who write in this genre have a thing for either Nazis winning or the South winning. I'm guessing this is probably due to the "ease" of writing these stories, since many of their readers are already familiar with the potential list of antagonist characters.

Harry Turtledove in particular is not particularly imaginative. I really liked some of his early books about an alternative world where Mohamed, peace be upon him, becomes an Orthodox Christian Saint. Thus extending the power of the Byzantine Empire at its height until the 1500s (which is the time period of the books).

Where Turtledove really lost me was the crappy "The South Won" novels. Specifically the WWI and WWII books. I managed to force myself through all of the WWI books and started the WWII books. Unfortunately, when it become clear that he was basically just re-writing WWII exactly, with the president of the Confederacy as Hitler I couldn't do it anymore. Talk about lazy.

In any case, I really like the idea of this genre, but in practice most of it seems bad re-fights of the American Civil War, WWI, or WWII. Does anyone have any recommendations for smarter books that maybe focus on "obscure" (to most of us Americans) timeline divergences?

Ferrosol
Nov 8, 2010

Notorious J.A.M


I'm a big fan of Eric Flint and one of his slightly more obscure series is the Rivers of War series. Basically this starts during the war of 1812 in OTL Sam Houston was badly injured storming an Indian barricade. In this time line he slips as he climbs over the barricade turning what would otherwise have been a debilitating injury into a minor flesh wound meaning he has a very different war and a very different career.

Originally the author wrote this because he wanted to find a way to do an American history that somehow avoids the Trail of Tears. In reality he ends up taking things a lot further than that. I'd say it's pretty good and it's certainly more obscure than the usual round of American Civil war and WWII you see. Only one thing that might annoy you, He has a somewhat whitewashed view of Andrew Jackson which might not be popular with everyone.

ClearAirTurbulence
Apr 20, 2010
The earth has music for those who listen.

Though it has some SF elements, I thought The Guns of the South was one of the more interesting Turtledove takes on the Civil War. Racist South Africans from our near future hijack a time machine and use it to deliver 100,000 AK-47s to the Confederacy. The war itself is actually a small part of the book, as it is quickly and decisively won by the Confederacy. What I liked most about it was how the people in the past were reasonably intelligent and outwit the folks from the future coming to "help" them. Both sides almost immediately figure out time travelers are responsible for the guns, and spies go to work infiltrating the colony the South Africans have set up and stealing history books. It ends on an oddly optmistic note, the Confederacy is still strong but it's leadership is questioning it's direction after seeing how they were viewed in the future. The weakened Union is in a war with Britain over the Great Lakes but is starting to turn things around with their own reverse-engineered automatic rifles.

ZombieLenin
Sep 6, 2009

All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.

-Vladimir Lenin

Ferrosol posted:

I'm a big fan of Eric Flint and one of his slightly more obscure series is the Rivers of War series. Basically this starts during the war of 1812 in OTL Sam Houston was badly injured storming an Indian barricade. In this time line he slips as he climbs over the barricade turning what would otherwise have been a debilitating injury into a minor flesh wound meaning he has a very different war and a very different.

This sounds pretty interesting. I think I will pick it up and let you guys know what I think.

ClearAirTurbulence posted:

Though it has some SF elements, I thought The Guns of the South was one of the more interesting Turtledove takes on the Civil War.

While it has been a long time since I read this novel--17 years probably--I had mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand Turtledove was being imaginative and really thinking through the political ramifications of a Confederacy winning the American Civil War--especially a late (post 1862) victory.

There would have been a tremendous amount of economic and political pressure to end slavery. The internal Confederate struggle over which would have been pretty brutal. I think I remember Guns of The South taking that on.

On the other hand I found the sci-fi elements hard to stomach. Not because I can't handle time travel story lines, but rather because it just made no sense.

If apartheid South Africa wanted to secure its "future" via time travel, there are a lot better candidates for "helping" in the past--the Boers come to mind.

Helping the Confederacy is just dumb because chattel slavery continued elsewhere after the ACW and disappeared on its own. I'm not sure why one would assume that there would still be a Southern slave state in the late 20th century.

And even if you thought there might be, why would you arm the 1864 Confederacy? By 1864 there where some serious and important people were murmuring in back rooms about the wisdoms of Confederate manumission of slavery.

By the end of the war this had become a reality when the Confederate Congress freed all slaves and their families willing to fight for their "homes" (aka the guys who enslaved them).


edit

An interesting premise for a novel about the ACW would be examining what would have changed had this happened in January of 1864 rather than 2 weeks before the fall of Richmond.

*edit


Instead it would make much more sense to help the 1861 Confederacy where everyone was "telling us we can't have slaves is evil tyranny."

ZombieLenin fucked around with this message at 03:43 on Jun 22, 2014

Zamboni Apocalypse
Dec 29, 2009


ZombieLenin posted:

And even if you thought there might be, why would you arm the 1864 Confederacy? By 1864 there where some serious and important people were murmuring in back rooms about the wisdoms of Confederate manumission of slavery. Instead it would make much more sense to help the 1861 Confederacy where everyone was "telling us we can't have slaves is evil tyranny."

(my links contain SPOILERS )

I think it was the usual time-travel "can't go further back than x years" bit, so there's a hard start-line for any changes you want to play with. I think time was passing on the other end at the same speed (usually the case) so five or ten years getting wasted out-time is wasted in FutureWorld as well. (This does keep if from being "poo poo, we backed the wrong horse, better turn the dial back another couple weeks prior to our last attempt and but Truman instead of Dewey.")

Harry Harrison did roughly the same thing back in '83 with A Rebel In Time, just on a smaller scale and nowhere near as much alternate-reality loving around.

Another one I enjoyed was James P. Hogan's The Proteus Operation, which is WWII fiddling, but in addition looks at why going back and kicking Adolf in the jimmy wouldn't erase the reality that worked to send someone back for jimmy-kicking, which means it wouldn't happen, which means...

Throw a little libertarian fanboyism lot of anarchcapitalist fantasyland into the mix with a Nail, and you get L. Neil Smith's The Probability Broach and sequels. These do run from 1980's "now" through the near-to-middlin' future though, and are much more skiffy than historical.

Seconding the recommendation for Spinrad's The Iron Dream, although be warned it's so over-the-top homoerotic that your vagina may fall off. (Deliberately so - there's no way to see it as actually glorifying fascism (even "Hitler's" fantasy version) without pre-existing brain damage. "Feric Jaggar's massive truncheon of true Heldon bathes in the gore of subhuma"AHAHAHAHAHAHAH oh I pissed myself.)

Nckdictator
Sep 8, 2006
Just..someone

Robert Conroy's books are just plain stupid and not in a good way.







SM Stirling is a creep who looks like a uglier George RR Martin and wrote a series about South African Supermen killing all the inferior races. He also had another book where a evil, liberal environmentalist is raped to death by a jaguar. He was also banned from Alt History Forums for advocating the genocide of Muslims





Eric Flint's 1632 on the other hand is fun pulp. A small West Virginian mining town is sent back to 1632 Germany in the middle of the 30 Years War. The protagonist is a mary sue, the plot is stupid, and Flint has long, long scenes on how awesome Unions are and how cool America is but it manages to still be a fun, if dumb read.

Also, Flint himself is interesting because he's a card carrying Socialist but you wouldn't think that if you looked at his book covers.



Mycroft Holmes
Mar 26, 2010

To the Moon! For Queen and Country!


1632 owns

Teriyaki Hairpiece
Dec 29, 2006

Ask me about my dream Frasier episode where Frasier and Bulldog oil their heads and then rub them together. It's definitely not a fetish of mine, I swear!

ZombieLenin posted:

And even if you thought there might be, why would you arm the 1864 Confederacy? By 1864 there where some serious and important people were murmuring in back rooms about the wisdoms of Confederate manumission of slavery.
I guess these are spoilers, but as the other poster said, it was a case of their time machine only being able to go a certain set distance back. In this case, 150 years specifically, from the far future year of 2014. I think they even mention that they wanted to come earlier but were unable to get their hands on a time machine before. Also I believe the book implies that AWB got kicked out of South Africa entirely, which is why they're hanging around backwoods North Carolina plotting how the South will rise again. I'm just saying lots of your questions are answered with plot reasons.

Mouro
Mar 4, 2013


Ferrosol posted:

So what are peoples favourite stories in the genre? which ones did people find laughably bad? and are there any that can be genuinely be considered to be good?

I love alternate history, but this genre attracts a lot of creeps somehow, here are a few people haven't mentioned yet:

Axis of Time series by John Birmingham: An American-led fleet from the year 2021 is sent back in time just before the battle of Midway due to an awry scientific experiment. I remember liking this one quite a bit, the culture shock when the people from those different timelines meet was one of the most interesting things in the story.


Conrad Stargard series by Leo Frankowski. In this one a polish dude appears in the years prior to the mongol invasion and decides to prepare the country to resist it. Ohh boy, this one was a doozy. The book starts with a scene in which a new female recruit for the Not-Timecops agency dares to ask her superior for information. His response is to threaten to kick her face in and scream how all he is smarter and better than her at everything It gets worse from there.

You get varied racism and misoginy, the character getting rich when he starts a chain of taverns where the barmaids go topless and in high heels(and they are virgins of course, if they have sex then they are sluts and are fired on the spot), our loved protagonist having sex with 13 year olds because "when you are in Rome...", and all women being either sexy objects of desire or shrill harpies (the former often turn into the latter after the dude has sex with them).

The depiction of the mongols is pretty funny too, when he meets the mongol envoys he describes how they never bathe or change clothes, when their garments begin to rot they just put another set on top, until they end looking like some kind of walking garbage onions. And do you know that the army that invaded Poland was 8 million mongols??? Also Germans, Roma and Muslims are evil and you can't ever get along with them, that's how it is.

Oh and he has a special katana from the future that can cut through anything and the only functional loving relationship is between a guy from the future and his artificial android assistant which is really nice, not like those real woman that are evil and mean and only want you for your money.

I'm not sure if the Destroyermen series counts, but just in case: A couple of obsolete WW2 destroyers travel to an alternate Earth where humans never evolved and join forces with seafaring humanoid lemurs to fight agains an horde of cannibalistic lizardmen.

Mycroft Holmes
Mar 26, 2010

To the Moon! For Queen and Country!


Destroyermen owns too

Edit: rip superbosun

ZombieLenin
Sep 6, 2009

All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.

-Vladimir Lenin

cheerfullydrab posted:

I'm just saying lots of your questions are answered with plot reasons.

Like I said I read the book 17 years ago, which might explain that.

There are still a lot of better "targets" in the last 150 years than the Confederacy to achieve their stated goal of getting some racist backup for white South Africa in the late 20th century.

Hell trying to help Hitler out is 1000% more likely to get them their "payoff."

Having said all that, I still remember a lot of Guns of The South as being smart. It's probably worth a read if people are interested in the time period or the American Civil War.

And none of this is an excuse for Turtledove's terrible, terrible let me re-write WWI and WWII nearly event for event with the Confederacy standing in as the Germans books.

Edited: decided to add spoilers just in case. Don't want to blow the plot for people interested in reading Guns of The South.

ZombieLenin fucked around with this message at 03:39 on Jun 22, 2014

The Berzerker
Feb 24, 2006

treat me like a dog



I don't know if anyone has read "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth, but I like that one.

From wikipedia:
"It is an alternative history in which Franklin Delano Roosevelt is defeated in the presidential election of 1940 by Charles Lindbergh. The novel follows the fortunes of the Roth family during the Lindbergh presidency, as antisemitism becomes more accepted in American life and Jewish-American families like the Roths are persecuted on various levels."

I hesitate to say any alternate history fiction is reasonable, but the story in this books is at least not full of Hitler clones or whatever. It's very different from the other Roth books I've read, I'd say give it a shot. edit: apparently it also won the same award the Chabon book above won, so if that sways you in any way, there you have it. In fact this entire list may be worth further investigation if someone is looking to check out some good alternate history.

The Berzerker fucked around with this message at 01:07 on Jun 22, 2014

Helsing
Aug 23, 2003

DON'T POST IN THE ELECTION THREAD UNLESS YOU JOE BIDEN

Groke posted:

On the other hand, the alternate history novel referenced within the book clearly describes a timeline that isn't ours either, so everything's all wrong in any case. Dick was a pretty weird guy.

Isn't that the point of the book though? The story is supposed to emphasize how after the War we were going to build a better world, but we didn't. Even though the characters in the narrative aren't in the 'correct' historical timeline, we, the readers, aren't in that 'correct' timeline either because we haven't lived up to the full potential of our victory. Like pretty much any sci fi story that isn't pure escapism the point is to criticize the time and place in which Dick himself was living. Or at least that's the interpretation that I've heard.

Grand Prize Winner
Feb 19, 2007




Mouro posted:


I'm not sure if the Destroyermen series counts, but just in case: A couple of obsolete WW2 destroyers travel to an alternate Earth where humans never evolved and join forces with seafaring humanoid lemurs to fight agains an horde of cannibalistic lizardmen.

Also some of the sailors gently caress the lemurs. That's an important plot element, y'know.

Grifter
Jul 24, 2003

I do this technique called a suplex. You probably haven't heard of it, it's pretty obscure.

Earwicker posted:

I've been meaning to read this book for years and I'm not sure why I haven't yet. The one thing I know about it (aside from what you mention) is that Landsman is named after the same actual detective Jay Landsman who also inspired characters of the same name on both Homicide and The Wire. You can read about the real Landsman in David Simon's book Homicide which unlike the show is entirely non-fiction and is a very good read.
As a big wire fan, this is very cool and I did not know it before.

Stravinsky posted:

There is so much that could of made this book really terrible and yet it avoids being kitschy and dumb pulp. I am really surprised at how well he used slang and yiddish phrases without making it corny or awkward like you will often find in say a science fiction book or something (chummer) and instead really does some real world building with it. Are any of Chabon's other books worth checking out?
I read and enjoyed Summerland, but it's definitely a YA book, or maybe even a children's fantasy book written to the length of a YA book. Also, baseball. Don't bother if you don't like baseball. I will pick up Wonder Boys sometime too, as I do like Chabon's style.

Tomn
Aug 23, 2007

And the angel said unto him
"Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself."
But lo he could not. For the angel was hitting him with his own hands


Nckdictator posted:

Eric Flint's 1632 on the other hand is fun pulp. A small West Virginian mining town is sent back to 1632 Germany in the middle of the 30 Years War. The protagonist is a mary sue, the plot is stupid, and Flint has long, long scenes on how awesome Unions are and how cool America is but it manages to still be a fun, if dumb read.

I like Flint, and I enjoyed the 1632 series as well as the Belisarius series, but I swear to God the man is physically incapable of writing a plot that does not go "Every character in the book, up to and including the nobler villains and the narrator, gloat about how much rear end the good guys are going to kick and how hard the bad guys are going to get beat" -> "the good guys kick tremendous amounts of rear end and the bad guys get beat so hard, you don't even know."

Fortunately his co-authors help iron out some of the worst of his faults, but they sometimes come with faults of their own - such as the one who ended up focusing the entire book on the doings of a backwoods hillbilly clan (in a book ostensibly about a French assassination plot).

space kobold
Oct 3, 2009




Grand Prize Winner posted:

Also some of the sailors gently caress the lemurs. That's an important plot element, y'know.

There weren't many women that came with them, and who knows if they're the only humans.

In all seriousness though, it's a fantastic book series if you enjoy a solid mix of alternate history and the attempts to carve out civilization in an untamed land. Oh, and large land and sea battles that occasionally involve dinosaurs.

Yeah Man
Oct 9, 2011

And if you had, you know, a huge killer robot at your command, yeah, that would just clutter things up; and a lesser person might want that kind of overwhelming force on their side, but you know - where's the challenge in that?


Tomn posted:

I like Flint, and I enjoyed the 1632 series as well as the Belisarius series, but I swear to God the man is physically incapable of writing a plot that does not go "Every character in the book, up to and including the nobler villains and the narrator, gloat about how much rear end the good guys are going to kick and how hard the bad guys are going to get beat" -> "the good guys kick tremendous amounts of rear end and the bad guys get beat so hard, you don't even know."

Fortunately his co-authors help iron out some of the worst of his faults, but they sometimes come with faults of their own - such as the one who ended up focusing the entire book on the doings of a backwoods hillbilly clan (in a book ostensibly about a French assassination plot).

It gets a bit better in some of the later books (the bad guys are allowed small, insubstantial victories that only delay the inevitable good guy curbstomping), but it's definitely one of his bigger faults, along with the seeming inability to make the main bad guys (apart from one or two antagonists) anything other than dog-kicking assholes, despite the stated idea that history is far more complex than just good vs. evil.

Also his prose is literally one sentence of a person saying one line and then paragraphs and paragraphs explaining the entire historical context and background of that line. Seriously, I like the series, but the prose is some of the absolute worst I've read. The idea keeps drawing me back though.

Groke
Jul 27, 2007
New Adventures In Mom Strength

Grand Prize Winner posted:

Also some of the sailors gently caress the lemurs. That's an important plot element, y'know.

I can't actually recall that happening for sure. It is joked about some, though.

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Stairmaster
Jun 8, 2012




ZombieLenin posted:


On the other hand I found the sci-fi elements hard to stomach. Not because I can't handle time travel story lines, but rather because it just made no sense.

If apartheid South Africa wanted to secure its "future" via time travel, there are a lot better candidates for "helping" in the past--the Boers come to mind.

Why are you expecting intelligence from white supremacists?

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