Making a Little List

I make lists. It’s what I do. Grocery lists, idea lists, homework lists (with due dates), lists of projects that need done around the house… and lists of books.

More correctly, I should say, I curate lists of books. I collect, organize, and present them, but I rarely make them up purely from my own preferences. For one thing, one woman’s pleasure is another’s sharp fork in the eye. For another thing, I have a dreadful memory for titles and plots (just yesterday my daughter corrected me on Call of the Wild. Buck doesn’t have a happy reunion with his owner, that was me mixing up one of the many other man-and-his-dogs books I’d read as a girl). For me, with the heart of a librarian (no, not in a jar on my desk. That could scare the children) I want to be able to help people find what they are looking for.  So I ask for help. Social media is, for this purpose, a fabulous place to get help with lists of books people loved. I usually post in a couple of groups I know will have plenty of readers eager to chime in with their favorites, and I put a call out on my wall. It’s a lot of work, as you can imagine, when I sometimes have hundreds of responses. So this time, I’m not doing that.

I’m asking that if you have a title for the list, which I will explain in a minute, that you comment on the blog with it. If you comment on the facebook share, I may not see it. My schedule is incredibly busy these days, and I don’t think I can spend the hours I usually do sorting through huge comment threads. Sorry… But if it helps, this one will be easier to find later, and the rabbit trails in comments are always fun. I will take the comment suggestions over the week, and compile them into a linked list, as I usually do, and then share that next weekend.

Curious about past lists?

That’s a lot of reading! But I have been asked specifically to create another list, so here’s the challenge: your favorite Time Displacement or Alt History novels. Give us a title, author’s name, and if you want, why this one should be on the list in a comment below. I’ll start it off with the comment that to me, Time Displacement would be epitomized by Eric Flint’s 1632, which kicked off a great series in a very big way (and it’s free to read in ebook!). I enjoyed SM Stirling’s Dies the Fire, which has a similar premise, but for me that series fizzled with the next book or two, and I never finished it. Alt History? Well, Turtledove’s Guns of the South would be my favorite in that genre.

When I asked the First Reader, he said that his suggestions would be The Lost Regiment, for Time Displacement. For the Alt History, he’d go with Turtledove’s work or David Drake, writing the Belisarius series (one I loved, too. Antonia is one of my favorite characters).

So what would you suggest, dear readers?

 

 

 

 

99 Comments

Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON

99 responses to “Making a Little List

  1. The classic – and model for many later books is L Sprague De Camp’s LEST DARKNESS FALL (about an archeologist who slips back in time in a lightning strike, and ends up if memory serves in 6th century Italy, trying to stop the dark ages.

    The David Drake and Eric Flint Malwa Empire VS Belisarius (IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS is the first IIRC) are also worth mention.

    Then that idiot Freer (with Lackey and Flint) wrote the HEIRS OF ALEXANDRA series with history branching at the non-destruction of the Library at Alexandra – resulting in a universe in which magic still works. SHADOW OF THE LION is the first book set early renaissance Venice.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Yeah, that Freer guy is such an idiot . . .

      Oh, hi Dave!

      • Everyone misunderstands that Freer dude. He is NOT an idiot. Mildly (and amusingly) insane, now, that would be accurate.

        • Sanity is a relative term. Look at some of my relatives….

          I have always taken the attitude that I prefer my foes to think me an idiot. Then if I am they won’t be disappointed (I’m kind like that) and all those preparations they made for dealing with an idiot won’t be wasted.

      • Christopher, I like to get in first, to save the gifted people at File 770 time. I’m kind like that 😉

    • Richard Cartwright

      Everyone thinks Dave is an idiot…till you realize that he is a mad genus THAT LIVES ON A REMOTE ISLAND. Plus, just where do you think he gets his chum from?

  2. Tim Power’s “The Anubis Gates” is about a modern (well, modern at the time the book was written, in the 1980s) college professor stranded in London in 1810. I reviewed it as part of my Appendix X series on the Castalia House blog.

    http://www.castaliahouse.com/guest-post-by-misha-burnett-the-anubis-gates-by-tim-powers/

    For alternate history I would go with Norman Spinrad’s “The Iron Dream”, which is an alternate history in which Adolf Hitler moves to America and becomes a pulp science fiction writer. The book is mostly Hitler’s last novel, “Lord Of The Swastika”, followed by an afterward for the novel written from the perspective in which WWII never happened.

    • The Anubis Gates is one of the best novels I’ve read.

      • TRX

        10-4. I read it straight through, finished it at 0200, flipped back to the beginning, and had to put it down at 0500 since I had to catch to nap to before getting ready for work at 0700.

        My list of “best books” varies, but “The Anubis Gates” has always been in the top 5.

        It’s one of the books I snag extra copies of when I see them in used book stores, then give to unsuspecting victims. But while most of my selections are well-received, *nobody* I gave a copy to managed to finish it.

        Even if you don’t like the book, it’s worth reading to see how Powers goes from juggling half a dozen apparently unrelated subplots, to “how can all this get resolved without author wankery”, to “well, of course, how else?”

        Alas, Mr. Powers never managed to write at that level again.

        • I’d disagree with your last line. I think that “Last Call” was on par with it, and “Declare” was in some ways more impressive.

          • Ben Yalow

            It would, I think, be a reasonable position to put most of Powers’ novels into the Alt History category. Certainly, you can argue that “Declare” was an Alt History version of the Cold War — although the general publicly known events weren’t “alt”, but real history. It’s just that the explanations for what was taking place were different from the public versions.

            And he used that model for lots of his novels.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Tim Powers is a master of the “Secret History”.

              IE What people think happened in History is only “part of the story”. 😀

        • Luke

          “Three Days to Never” came damn close

          • Luke

            If you haven’t read Three Days to Never, it features time travel, remote viewing, a covert war between the Mossad and Templars, the secret history of Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplain, the main protagonist and antagonist being time-shifted versions of the same character (with one slight difference sending them down different legs of the trousers of time), and has the type of ending you rarely see in this age of grey goo.

      • Luke

        Seconded. As much as I love Turtledove, Anubis Gates is number one wire a bullet.

  3. Doug

    Guns of The South, by Harry Turtledove. Mainly for his detailed treatment of Robert E Leee. His huge series American Empire(?) that covers the time period from the Civil War through the Second World War requires some commitment, but is worth it.

  4. Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now would be a good time slip one

  5. Mark Twain’s “Yankee at the Court of King Arthur” is probably the original time slip book

  6. Larry Correia’s Grimnoir books are alt hist with Magic starting out in about 1890 IIRC

    Dave Freer wrote his Cuttlefish books are pretty good alt hist too IMHO

  7. I’d also recommend Frederick Brown’s “What Mad Universe” as an alternate history novel.

  8. Fatherland by Robert Harris is among the all time classics in my opinion.

    Robert Conroy has written quite a few alt-history stories. 1901 is a good place to start.

    Colin Taber has an interesting series about the Vikings in America, starting with The Landing.

  9. Chris Boyd

    Harry Harrison – “A Rebel in Time” is about a racist Colonel who co-opts a time travel experiment he’s supposed to be guarding for the DoD to send himself back in time with plans for a simple automatic rifle to help the south win the Civil War, with a black Major sent back to stop him.

    Robert Aspirin and Linda Evans have more than a couple, but they’re more time displacement than alternate history. “Far Edge of Darkness” – well, here’s the blurb copied from Amazon: Sibyl Johnson is a graduate student in classical archeology. She is just this side of her Ph.D., when an anachronism at her dig in Italy causes her career to take a sudden lurch in time–and suddenly she’s a slave in the very society she is studying. She, along with two others are castaways in time, victims of the same evil hand–and now they are out for vengeance.

    They wrote another time displacement with people running around sharing bodies by sending their consciousnesses back into the time of King Arthur’s court called “For King and Country.”

    Also, bordering on not fitting the theme is the Time Scout novels, starting with “Time Scout”. Also by the Aspirin/Evans pair.

  10. Fox on the Rhine
    How Few Remain (Turtledove)
    Invasion, 1950 (Nuttall)

    Cross Time Engineer for time displacement

  11. I’d also bring up Julian May’s Exiles Saga, “The Many Colored Land”, “The Golden Torc”, “The Nonborn King”, and “The Adversary.” for time displacement.

  12. Ron (Zeke) Zukowski

    Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer.
    I missed Piper’s Paratime stories so this was my intro to the concept.

  13. For Time displacement, there is SM Stirling’s Nantucket series: “Island in the Sea of Time”, “Against the Tide of Years”, and “On the Oceans of Eternity”

    • Forrest

      I second this. The Nantucket books are tangentially related to “Dies the Fire” but IMHO, much, much better. Like1632, they also explore what it means to be an American in a time before American values and mindset have been set forth. And it is a well-told, interesting, good story, as well. Sent me to look a few things up, which I consider one of the marks of good science-fiction. I like to learn.

  14. Confutus

    Probably fitting best under Alt history, are H. Beam Piper’s short Paratime stories (which I haven’t read), and “Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen”, the longest one of them, which I have. This would count as a time slip, except that it’s into a different timeline than ours.

    • Do read the short Paratime stories – first rate. (I believe, although I haven’t gone back to my stacks to verify, that they are all here, for a buck: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPZF234. Not the Kalvan novel, though.)

      • Ben Yalow

        Most of Piper’s work is public domain (the publisher, who bought the copyrights in an estate sale, didn’t bother to renew the copyrights). But the Kalvan novel came out after the change in copyright law period (works after Jan 1, 1964 had their renewal rules changed by the 1992 amendment), so it didn’t need explicit renewal, and is still in copyright.

        Most of the public domain works are available at Project Gutenberg.

        • Mentioned it because Gutenberg has had a few problems with Kindle versions (for me, at least). I have a couple of other collections of public domain works that John McGuire has put together, and he does an excellent job.

          Something like paying a good bookbinder, I suppose, it does nothing to produce good writing – but for a buck, which I think is what he prices all of them at – worth it to me. (He has them all on KU, too, so you can get them for nearly free.)

      • TRX

        [cough, cough] I have a chambering reamer for .235 Ultraspeed-Express.

        Since Piper didn’t include all of the relevant information, I had to work back from what a “gun crank” in 1948 might have come up with in a different timeline…

        “The name was so cool, I had to design a cartridge to match…”

  15. Chris Nelson

    Ken Grimwood’s “Replay” is more mainstream than traditional sci-fi.

    For something truly dark, try John Barnes’ “Kaleidoscope Century” in his “Century Next Door” series. The series is one of his two master pieces, but “Kaleidoscope Century” is an exploration of the twisted side of mankind and evolved “memes”. (This is not a trigger warning, just expect adult themes.)

  16. TRX

    I was still a pre-teen when I found a copy of Keith Laumer’s “Worlds of the Imperium.” Half a century later some of the shine has worn off, but I was gobsmacked at the time. I looked for more like it, but alternate-universe SF was thin pickings in the 1960s-1970s, at least compared to nowadays.

    In due course I found Laumer’s “The Time Bender”, which was a riotously funny alternate universe story. He followed up with a couple of sequels of more of the same.

    My favorite alternate-universe SF is packaged as fantasy: Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber. Nine Princes In Amber, The Guns of Avalon, Sign of the Unicorn, Hand of Oberon, The Courts of Chaos. Zelazny wrote it as a single mega-sized novel, which was published as five volumes. Corwin not only can travel to alternate universes, he can make them to order. Or find them. It gets a bit philosophical there. What’s it about? Pride, greed, privilege, duty. The usual.

    *Now* the Amber series seems like “more of the same” in a genre… but that’s because it *created* the whole worldwalker genre.

    For time travel… I’m still partial to Isaac Asimov’s “The End of Eternity.” It’s not one of his better-known works, and, frankly, it reads a lot like Orwell’s “1984” with time travel. But Asimov did a lot of work on the idea of, “what if you could change history… and what if you could *keep on* changing it, sending it off in different paths to suit your ideology or mine it for technology? Laumer’s “Dinosaur Beach” was the same thing, except much more readable… but even he couldn’t take the basic concept any farther.

    As an honorable mention, Harry Harrison’s “The Technicolor Time Machine.” What would happen if someone invented working time travel… and a sleazy Hollywood studio used it to make cheap movies?

  17. RG

    I see no one has mentioned James Young’s excellent Usurper’s War series.

  18. Paula Volsky’s _Illusion_ is an amazing alt-fantasy of the French Terror.

    _The Golden Key_ (Rawn, Roberson, Elliot) is both alt-Renaissance fantasy and sorta time displacement (MC gets trapped like a fly in amber and time goes on …almost… without her).

  19. slab1

    Maybe I misread the post, because no one has mentioned H.G.Wells The Time Machine.

  20. There’s an alt-history set of books from the historian side of things. The first What If? isn’t that great from an alternate history standpoint, as the historians involved just talked about the inflection point, rather than the results of changing it, but the second collection moves clear into speculative territory. It’s interesting especially because they talk about events you’ve probably never heard of, big and small, and while the writing is a bit more dry than you’d expect from an SF author, it’s not the dull that American students seem to expect from history.

    (Seriously, how on earth did we convince people that history is boring? That takes talent.)

    • Here it is, so you don’t confuse it with the Randall Munroe book of the same name.

    • TRX

      If you had any of the twaddle that passed as history books from the schools I went to, you wouldn’t think much of “history” either.

      Almost all of the classes I was forced to take were simple lists of events and dates, which we were supposed to memorize and regurgitate for tests.

      As an example, there was a quarter-course called “History of WWII.” The final consisted of listing the names of Truman’s cabinet in alphabetical order. (the bulk of the course boiled down to “All Glory to St. Roosevelt.”)

    • B. Durban, we had a generation of history profs who penalized their students for writing readable stuff. because they wrote dull stuff about interesting topics, so that they would sound more “serious.” I caught the tail end of that as an undergrad. ‘This is too interesting. Make it more academic” to quote Dear Advisor #1.

      • I had a truly amazing history professor in college who rampaged through three centuries in a semester while having us read four novels (one of which was Anna Karenina.) He actually bothered to explain the Cuban Missile Crisis and how Reagan’s election rhetoric was almost identical to John F. Kennedy’s. And he tried to find out as much as he could about his students. He was generally credited with making a lot of history majors.

        He died of undiagnosed stomach cancer two weeks after finals, right after he’d turned in his grades and decided to see why he was in pain. Horrible, shocking loss. We still raise a pint of Guinness to him now and again.

  21. Aimee Morgan

    In addition to Flint’s 1632 series, there are two or three books in his 1812 series. That was a series I liked better, as it was true Alt-history, rather than time displacement. The period is recent enough that I don’t need to read a bunch of history books to identify the changes, and it’s an interesting look at where the US could have gone. I’d love to see him finish it.

  22. Anachronda

    In alt history, Michael Moorcock’s “The Warlord of the Air” caught my interest when I was a young airship nut. In that book, heavier than air flight didn’t happen until after Zeppelins ruled the sky. One of the rare users of heavier than air flight is this mysterious Ulianov character, who has created a peaceful utopia (Democratic Dawn City) in the far east.

    There are three novels in the series, but Warlord of the Air has my airship-loving heart.

    As for time travel, one of my favorites is Barrington Bayley’s “The Fall of Chronopolis”. Chronopolis is a chronotic empire that spans a millenium or so, using time-travelling battleships to ward off invasions from the future.

    One of the odd characters is Prince Narcis, who (against all law and conventions) travelled forward in time, fell in love with his future self, and convinced that future self to come back in time and live with him. The future self now lives in fear of the time when a younger self will appear and convince his lover to leave him (that is, when the younger self becomes the older self in a new round of the relationship).

    • Anachronda

      I probably ought to mention that, in addition to the bit about Lenin successfully building a thriving communist utopia, Warlord of the Air also features a gratuitous scene aboard an airship involving an obnoxious and racist Ronald Reagan in which aspersions are cast on Republicans in general.

      But …. airships! Glorious airships!

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I like early Moorcock, but I find his work takes a nosedive shortly after Jerry Cornelius shows up.

      I frickin’ hate Jerry Cornelius.

  23. Confutus

    Take the story out of history and turn it into a list of disconnected facts with no interpretation and presto! Boring.

  24. Here I go sleeping in, and folks mentions in comments everything I’d thought of. I guess that’s a sign I should stop reading blogs, get lunch, and get on with my day.

  25. “Pavane” by Keith Roberts. Very, very English, especially if you know the parts of Dorset where it’s set. Go there and it feels like stepping back in time, so it’s ideal for an alt-history where the industrial revolution stalled.

  26. Uncle Lar

    I don’t believe anyone has yet mentioned the ultimate time loop story “All You Zombies” by Heinlein. Made into a fairly decent movie by an Australian film company, Predestination was the name.
    Then back when David Gerrold was ripping off Heinlein ideas for his novels he wrote a thing called The Man Who Folded Himself. Not to disparage Gerrold, he actually did a fair job taking RAH’s ideas and fleshing them out in several of his earlier books.

    • You could call the end of “Time Enough For Love,” and of course all of the “Job” and “Number of the Beast” novels examples also. (The two follow-ons to “Number,” too.)

      Thing about those, though – RAH really only used the alt-hist as pure background. He, as usual, was far more concerned with his protagonists and how they deal with it, so the alt-hist is sketched out just barely to the point it becomes believable. Which is probably why the first mentioned – Eric’s 163x – is more satisfying to read and reread when I’m in the mood for alternate stuff.

  27. Weapons of Choice (Axis of Time, Book 1) by John Birmingham is one I read not too long ago. About some military and their equipment from our future somehow ending up in the middle of WW II.

    There was another one that I’m trying to find (I’m really bad about remembering authors and titles) that had some WW II Navy ships going to an alternate world.

    Naomi Novik wrote the Temeraire series, about an alternate history where dragons are used in the Napoleonic War. His Majesty’s Dragon: A Novel of Temeraire is the first one. These were pretty good — I’ll have to see if the library has gotten the latest one yet.

    • And, after looking at the Temeraire series, it appears that I’ve read all but the last one, League of Dragons. It’s supposed to be the end of the series, so I will have to see if I can find it. I was reading some of the reviews, and one thing several people said is that the series is uneven in quality, which is true, but you really have to keep pushing through. It’s not one of those series where you can jump in anyplace and have things make sense, you really need to start from the beginning to see where the characters have come from and how they have grown, made connections, and so on.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Likely the Destroyermen Series by Taylor Anderson.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyermen

  28. For future reference, my first alt-hist/secret history novel _A Carpathian Campaign_ will be out in December *taps on wood*.

    And I’ll add a second vote for James Young’s Usurper’s War series, even though I did beta read one of the early versions.

    Steve Barnes Lion’s Blood https://www.amazon.com/Lions-Blood-InshAllah-Book-1-ebook/dp/0446526681/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474135176&sr=1-1&keywords=lion%27s+blood Not all that gripping, but it’s an intriguing premise (I crashed on his religious chronology, but that’s just me)

  29. Alt-History: Patricia C. Wrede’s Frontier Magic series.

  30. Wes S.

    I’d also have to go with Drake/Flint’s Belisaurius series as my favorite alt-history novels, for its (ahem) Byzantine plotting, epic scope and in particular its array of richly-drawn characters.

    I too am a fan of Antonina – her “knife fight in a kitchen” is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series – but there were so many other characters I like that it’s hard to pick which one is my favorite. Belisaurius himself, Maurice, Anastasius and Valentinian, Ousanas, Eon, Sanga, Rao and Shakuntala, Kungas, Irene, Ajatasutra, Sittas . . . even Theodora had a crowning moment of awesome there at the end of the second book (yeah, THAT scene with the traitorous John of Cappadocia). And some pretty awesome villains, too.

    (Along with one truly *vile* villain, and speaking of crowning moments of awesome: “I thought you would approve, Venandakatra. You always did favor a short stake.” Snork.)

    If I’m not mistaken, Drake also used Belisaurius as a basis for the earlier Raj Whitehall novels he co-authored with S.M. Stirling, which is another of my favorite series, and for much the same reasons.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Oh yes, Valentinian.

      Upon seeing this boy ready to fight him says to a companion “you handle this, I fought the kid’s father and I don’t want his father hunting me down for killing his son”. (or words to that effect). 😈

  31. Mark

    I don’t know that I’d call Mrs. Pollifax fierce, but she was certainly old. She was a grandmother back in 1966. I read her first story in a Reader’s Digest condensed book issue (remember those).

  32. Dare I mention the Merchant Princes series by Charlie Stross?

    Two alt-histories with protags who can walk between then as well as to our own world. One is medieval, the other vaguely steampunkish.

    And Dick Cheney as a villain, which might not be to everyone’s taste.

  33. The Two Georges: A Novel of an Alternate America by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss

    Cheats on the AH since the names are the same (Sir Martin Luther King is Governor General of the NAU) but it’s fun and has airships.

    The Peshawar Lancers by S M Stirling (stand alone, there is a short too)

    AH triggered by meteor impact.

    And Airships.

  34. A Transatlantic Tunnel AKA Tunnel Through the Deeps by Harry Harrison.
    Steampunk from 1972 (!)
    Very unlike his other work. Written in the style of Verne/Wells rather than most late 20thC/early 21stC steampunk which uses contempory writing techniques and/or contemporary character motivations.

    The Difference Engine, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
    Um … cyberpunk applied to Victorian England? I’ve been told by science fiction panelists that it isn’t really steampunk because it’s just so different. The authors evidently loved doing the research for this, and at times it shows, but that’s a minor flaw.

    The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
    This is a world where the Black Death wiped out all of Europe in the Middle Ages, not just one-third. Wait! This is emphatically NOT a book about how great everything would be if there weren’t any Westerners. KSR writes about people, not stereotypes, and his alternate world has just as many problems as our own.

    • The Years of Rice and Salt also has recurring “characters”, like Cloud Atlas apparently tried later. In the final vignette, somebody brings up a novel of people reincarnating, using the first initial to designate which character is which, and the idea is derided as being ridiculous.

  35. Forrest

    And, of course, Andre Norton’s Time Trader series. Set during the Cold War, the remains of alien ships that landed on Earth thousands of years ago have been discovered. Both Russia and the U.S. send agents back in time to try to recover the space ships when they first landed. Neither side wants the other side to have truly effective space travel, potential alien weaponry, etc.

  36. Dav

    Uchronia.net is the go to online resource for all thing Alt-History IMO.

  37. Tim McDonald

    Didn’t check all the replys, but H. Beam Pipers Gunpowder God by whatever name belongs on the list, you can check it out for free on Gutenberg I think.

  38. Worldwar by Harry Harrison
    The Axis of Time by John Birmingham
    A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z. Williamson

    • Harry Turtle dove, not Harrison.
      Also, as someone else mentioned, The Crosstown Engineer by Leo Frankowski (RIP). 20th century Polish engineer ends up in 13th century Poland 9 years before the Mongols invade.

  39. How the bleep has NO ONE mentioned ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ by Madeleine L’Engle yet!?

  40. Basara549

    Time/alt history displacements
    Another vote for Leo Frankowski’s Cross-time Engineer series (well, the first 6 books, at least).
    Operation Time Search by Andre Norton (an interesting stand-alone; I wish I could have seen other books dealing with the ramifications of its end).
    The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Frederick Pohl, originally serialized in Analog in the 80s. What happens when alt-travel destabilizes the entire multiverse, effectively.
    A time displacement forward – Armageddon 2419/Air Lords of the Han, by Phillip Frances Nowlan (I prefer the Ace modernization by Spider Robinson over the original, and Niven & Pournelle did an outline for sequels that led to 3 other authors doing a total of 4 books set there – and in the process made Lucifer’s Hammer the PREQUEL to A:2419)
    There was a book in the 90s or late 80s (lost to my thieving late brother) called “Palimpsests”, where a military team is sent to Louisiana to investigate odd anomalies in the archeological record, only to BECOME part of the anomaly, and all but one of the team is killed by the local natives in the time period they are displaced to, resulting in the anomalies. However, the book is mostly about the one team member that was displaced to an alternate timeline in the same past period, and having to adjust to an alternate past where the Greeks had colonized the coasts of North America and were interacting with the locals, as he had no way home. Help tracking down the author’s name and publishing info would be appreciated.

  41. Luke

    My top four:
    The Anubis Gates (Powers-time travel)
    In the Presence of Mine Enemies (Turtledove-alt history)
    Three Days to Never (Powers-time travel)
    How Few Remain (Turtledove-alt history)

    Someone’s already gushed about Anubis Gates, and I’ve done the same about Three Days to Never above.

    In the Presence of Mine Enemies is a retelling of how the Soviet Union fell, in a world where the Nazis won WWII, witnessed by a small community of Jews who secretly live in fear in the Capital of Berlin. It’s utterly subversive, because nowadays Communists are almost always given the benefit of the doubt, but Nazis are allowed to be evil. And there is no question of what will happen to the protagonists if the secret police ever suspect them. Very effective. And emotionally draining.

    How Few Remain is an American Civil War where the Yankees don’t find Special Order 191. Therefore, no battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam, no Emancipation Proclamation, and no diplomatic masterstroke to keep the European powers from interfering with the blockade. Elections lead to a victory for the South, but it’s clear the rival powers will not be friends.
    It largely focuses on JEB Stuart, so you know I loved it.

    All those are serious to one extent or another, so here’s one that’s just flat out fun.
    William Forstchen’s Gamester Wars trilogy.
    In a decadent future, underground tournaments pit the most famous generals of history (captured by time travel, naturally) against each other. It’s really not the best thought out idea, and hubris winds up being appropriately punished.

    • TRX

      Yeah, but having the 47 Ronin as bodyguards in a society of hashashim was nifty enough for me to overlook quite a lot…

      • Luke

        I kind of loved that part.

        But I was referring to bringing forward the very people best equipped to destabilize the established order as the idea that hadn’t really been thought through (by the villains of the piece).

  42. Oh I kinda forgot because they’re YA, CUTTLEFISH and STEAM MOLE – which have the synthesis of Ammonia (the Haber process) as their ‘split point’. Also that idiot Freer.

    • Eleanor

      Glad you mentioned those. If you hadn’t, I was planning to. Those are some of the best alt-history I’ve read. Guy Gaveriel Kay’s Saratine Mosaic is also excellent, although his other stuff is pretty hit or miss IMHO. I’ve also enjoyed Alma Boykin’s “Elizabeth” series.

  43. And I just realized we all forgot
    Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett as Alt Hist

  44. Hmm… could Pournelle’s CoDominium series be refiled under alt-history, given that the Soviet Union is no longer a going concern? They’re still excellent stories nonetheless.

  45. Since Tim Powers is being brought up a lot, I’ll throw in The Stress of Her Regard, fantasy Romantic poets with vampires. It works, it really does.