Alternative History Novels

About a year ago, I was searching the local used book store and trying to find something new to try. For years, I had read only certain genres and had finally tired of reading the same stories over and over and over by the same dozen or so authors… hence my search. Anyway, after a thorough perusing, I happened upon an area devoted to Harry Turtledove and on a whim, I picked up one of his books to read the jacket. It was the first book in the World War series, an Alternative History novel concerning an alien invasion during World War II, and being both a general sci-fi geek and a history nerd, I decided to buy it. I liked it and eventually wound up reading the entire series, its follow-up series, and most of his other work.

The problem now is that I’ve read all the books by him that I am interested in and would now like to try out some similar authors and their novels… I just don’t know where to start due to my aforementioned stonewalling for so many years. Despite loving to read, I’m pretty much a literary neophyte… I was wondering (and hoping :)) that some of you might have similar tastes and steer me towards to some other worthy books within the genre.

So… anyone?

I remember reading a book about the Nazi’s winning the second world war, it’s title was … almost remeber … something Ice…Something Frozen… sorry I’ll get back to you.
Go to and search for Alternate history in Books, it’ll give you about 122 books.

Ah, der… I’m an idiot. I didn’t even think to go to Grazie.

I’d still appreciate any recommendations though.

Try ‘Pastwatch-The Redemption of Christopher Columbus’ by Orson Scott Card.

It is a very interesting book. I totally disagree with the basic premis of the novel but it was still a good read.


I’ve actually read that book, Sleestak. Orson Scott Card’s one of my favorite authors and Pastwatch was my introduction to him.

Do you care to explain what exactly it was that you disagreed with? It’s been dozens of novels since I’ve read the book and my memory’s a bit fuzzy on it other than remembering I enjoyed it.

Harry Harrison and Stars and stripes forever. And two sequals (not sure if one is out yet)

Almost anything by SM Stirling.

The book is Moon of Ice, by Brad Linaweaver.

Among novels :
The Man in thye High Castle, by Philip K. Dick,
Triumph, by Ben Bova,
1945, by William Forshtner and Newt Gingrich,
Bring on the Jubilee, by Ward Moore.

Among anthologies :
What might have been vol. 1-4, edited by Gregory Benford
Hitler Victorious, also edited by G. Benford

And one of my alltime (pun intentional) favoritesLord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper. Your basic Pennsylvania State Patrol officer ends up in a feudal-era North America, with a large chunk of it ruled by a nasty theocracy able to maintain power because they know the secret of gunpowder manufacture (called “fireseed” in the book).

Of course, our hero knows how to make BETTER gunpowder…

Beautifully worked out and a rousing good story to boot.

Then there’s Poul Anderson’s
High Crusade in which a scruffy group of feudal Englishmen manage to take over an alien spaceship.

No! No! Skip these! Harrison’s A Transatlantic Tunnel! Hurrah! it great, but these would not have been published if anyone else had written them.

Again, if it had not had Gingrich’s name on it, it would have languished unpublished. I don’t know what happened to Forschten, he is usually much better than that.

The best place to find out about Alternate History stories is Uchronia: The Alternate History List.

Hometownboy is right about Piper. The world of Kalvan is well done and a lot of fun to read. There have been a couple of novels by others, in the same universe, which are not quite as good, but still worth reading.

Stirling’s Island series of books is quite good for the most part. There were some problems in the third book, but they are still good reads. His Draka books, OTOH, are scary. And you should read them a couple of times.

*Anti-Ice by Stephen Baxter. It’s a alternate history steampunk novel where the English have discovered Anti-Ice (a mysterious powerful element that goes almost nuclear at room temperature) and they use it to totally dominate Europe. Giant land yachts, a trip to the moon it’s all there.

sigh preview is your friend… preview is your friend…

My first introduction to alternate history was “Fatherland” by Robert Harris. I think they made it into a TV movie, too. Very good book set in a victorious post-WWII Germany.

There’s a nice little collection of alternate history short stories named Arrowdreams, all with Canadian subjects, edited by a couple of acquaintances of mine; Mark Shainblum and John Dupuis.

My personal favourite is “Misfire” by Shane Simmons, about Roy Brown wounding but not killing the Red Baron (I’ll admit it’s possible the RB was shot down by Australian infantry but that’s not critical). Germany still loses WW1 but with Richthofen as a living hero to organize advanced flight schools, Germany clobbers England in the blitz of 1940 and knocks them right out of the war. It’s a great story.

My understanding was that anti-ice was supposed to be a form of antimatter that become superconducting at (relatively) high temperatures, containing it in such a way that it could be safely handled. When you brought it above freezing point the superconductivity failed and the antimatter came into contact with it’s surroundings, causing them to mutually annihilate.

This wouldn’t really work, but it’s sounds plausible enough to be part of a Stephen Baxter novel. :slight_smile:

Not quite alt-history, but these are two you might find interesting:

Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle. It’s more alt-science. What if the Greeks’ view of the universe was true? And the history that might follow from that.

Similarly, I’m currently reading Lord Darcy by Randall Garett. They’re murder mysteries set in an England where European history took a different turn and magic is real.

Not a novel, but an anthology: Alternate Presidents edited by Mike Resnik, I think. Has a story for each administration, where the contest went a different way – sometimes amazingly different. (Ben Franklin as president! John Brown as president!) The cover shows Thomas E. Dewey holding up the Chicago Trib with Truman Defeats Dewey! as the headline.

“The Two Georges”
by Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove

(Yup, that’s the actor Richard Dreyfuss, from ‘Jaws’ and such.)

I cannot reccomend this book enough. England never lost the colonies, no war of independence, no diminishing empire, no major world wars, and yet all this is just background to a modern mystery with our heroes 2 inspectors with the Royal American Mounted Police! Wonderful world they put together, in many ways a place I’d like to live.

Read this book!

Also by Turtledove, his series “The Great War.” which is a follow-up to his south-winning-the-civil-war book “How few Remain”
not to be confused with his other south-winning-the-civil-war book “The Guns of the South” (this one has time-travel, so it’s really sci-fi)

I love that guy’s writing.
you know what I want for Christmas?
“2 Turtledoves…”
…and the Partridge family on tee-vee.

I know there’s one called What If? but I don’t remember who the author is. Also, The Years of Rice and Salt (Kim Stanley Robinson) is interesting–it’s set in a world where the bubonic plague killed off the majority of Europeans and the world is dominated by Arabic/Asian culture.

“What If” isn’t fiction - it’s a collection of essays by historians genuinely tackling the question of what the world might have been like if history had taken a different turn at certain points.

For ficton, I remember some time ago reading one where the Aztec civilisation had not died out but colonised all of America. Can’t remember the title or author though!