Turtledove: Worldwar Series: Small Revelation

I think I just had a revelation about a little ‘joke’ Turledove put in his ‘Colonization’ series. You know the one: the continuation of the ‘Worldwar’ series…

The setting is the early 1960s.

Shiplord Straha, the defector, lives in the United States in exile. He has a US-supplied bodyguard who is also an intelligence officer.

The officer is named, “Gordon”.

In one scene he tells Straha that if his superiors tell him to stick his hand in a fire he would. He then begins to prove it by grabbing his lighter.


Straha’s bodyguard is G. Gordon Liddy! In a cameo role! WAH!

Or was I just being dense the first time I read this?

Holy cow! How could I have missed that? That’s so cool.

However, to my own credit, I did not miss “Glen Johnson,” the Marine astronaut with the right stuff at the wrong time.

I wonder how many other living characters he slipped in there?


Glen Johnson is someone real?


John Glenn, of course.

Between you and me we’re gonna figure this whole thing out.

D’oh!! i didn’t see that at all!

I don’t know about that. In the original series, there were plenty of “real” people in the series undisguised.

Why would Turtledove need to “disguise” Liddy or Glenn in the second series? He had Earl Warren “in plain view” as well as others (I think I remember seeing Sandy Koufax’s name too). Since he had no aversion to “dropping names” in the first series and he did some in the second as well, I don’t think he’d bother disguising real people as someone else.

If you want to sit and figure out who’s who in a Turtledove series, read his “Darkenss” series (where WWII is played out in a fantasy world).

Zev Steinhardt

I don’t remember seeing Koufax, but could be.

But if you want ballplayers…

In his Great War series, one of the lead characters, Sam Carsten, is in the Navy. He’s doing repairs on a sponson and runs across a fellow sailor who’s handshake feels funny…like he’s missing a finger or two.

Later, this sailor is referred to as “Mordecai”.

3 Finger Brown, anyone?

And I think Turtledove isn’t so much dodging placing real people in his books (though those still among the living might have some objection) so much as he’s just playing. Seeing what he can get away with, if you know what I mean. He’s done this before, as I said.

John Glenn. DAMN!

Oh, and Richard Nixon makes an appearnace in the second Colonization book, too. As a Congressman who objects to dealing with Communists.


I just had another one.
In the Colonization series. Ambassador for the Race to the Soviet Union Queek has an interpreter. First Secretary Molotov thinks, many times, that the interpreter enjoys telling Molotov things that will make him unhappy or are bad for the USSR. Molotov wonders several times what reason the interpreter has to dislike the Soviet Union so much. It’s idle speculation…but it recurs. Which got me to thinking…

The intepreters name is Pyotr Maksimovich. That means his fathers name was Maksim…or Max.

As you might recall, at the end of the first (Worldwar) series poor American physicist Max Kagan was left in the USSR having been loaned to them to jump start their nuclear weapons program.

What do you want to bet that Kagan never got back from Russia and that interpreter is his son?

I think Turtledove may just have an aversion to straight out putting living people in his books, dead ones are fair game. (Hence Glenn Johnson vs. Harold Stassen). If anyone knows exceptions to that, i’d be happy to disavow this post.

I respectfully disagree with you, zev. Most of the “real” characters that Turtledove uses are deceased. Liddy and Glenn are still kicking around, which might make using them in a fictional work a bit problematic.

I’m pretty sure that Glen Johnson is largely based on John Glenn. Turtledove is careful to point out that Johnson was a Marine pilot, as was Glenn, and that he was already nearly too old to be a space jockey (Glenn was 39 when he first went into space) but still in phenomenal shape.

However, Turtledove also mentions that Glen Johnson is divorced, and he is a rather impetuous and rougeish fellow, which is more reminiscent of astronaut Pete Conrad than John Glenn. Glenn had a reputation for being annoyingly prim when he was an astronaut, which makes for bad reading in a science fiction novel, so I’ll have to concede that the fictional character and the real one are not exactly the same person.

Ok, I can’t figure out the people, but how about this for the countries?

Unterklant-The Soviet Union
Duchy of Bari-Alsace? the Saarland? (even though it’s role in the books is more like the Danzig corridor)
Lagoas- the UK
Kusamano-the US

How’d I do?

Then there was the scene where Arthur and Maude MacGregor meet ‘Pierre Lapin, lieutennant’.

(My reaction was to groan, loudly, as my brain automatically translated it into English. :eek: (I’ll leave it as an excercise to the reader what it means. For now.))

And the General MacArthur that serves under General Custer.

Now, since the Great War books happen 50 years after history diverges from the real world, I’m of the thinking that Turtledove’s Gen. MacArthur is not just a reference to our Gen. MacArthur, but a child of the same parents under differing circumstances.

(Though the similarities and vague skewings (pipe to cigarette holder) are amusing in a less groanworthy fashion than Pierre Lapin.)

This, of course, happened in the Great War, not Worldwar.

Note to self…proofread edited quotes.

<Very slight hijack that only needs one post in answer>

Oooh, oooh! Now do Videssos!!

</Very slight hijack that only needs one post in answer>

Me, for one.

No really. Back when HT maintained a regular presence on AOL, he and I used to correspond quite regularly. When he wrote the Worldwar series he put in the names of a number of his AOL acquaintances, including myself.

See if you can find the character that refers to me with these clues: It’s a very minor character, it’s a member of the Race, and the name of the character is based on my real name.

Now for the bonus question; what other alternate history novel has me mentioned in the list of acknowledgments?

Pathetic, I know, but at least I can live vicariously through the work of others.

In one of the Worldwar books, the first I think, there was a black army guy giving out fried chicken to some other army guys… his name? Sanders. His rank? Colonel…

But I don’t see why he was black…

the Yezda-the Turks (with some aspects of the Mongols)
Halogaland-the Norselands
Duchy of Namdalen-the Normans

Not entirely sure about Agder, Katrish, Kubrat, and Thatagush.

My favorite example is in the Great War series. The Radical Liberal candidate in the Confederate presidential election of 1915 was named Doroteo Arango.

I didn’t think anything of it at the time except to wonder how the Mexicans (and Cubans) fit into their racially polarized society.

Last month, however, I was skimming a book on revolutions when I ran across that name again. It’s the original moniker of – Pancho Villa!! !Ay caramba!

(I hadn’t known Mordechai Anielewicz was a real person either until I saw that ghetto-uprising movie on NBC.)

Damn! I missed G. Gordon, but I did get “Glen Johnson.” Now I have to re-read all of his books more closely. . .

Yeah, he’s a tricky one, all right. And he likes to play like that.

Wow. Arango is Pancho Villa.


Oh, I think I spotted another one today…


President Warren is dead. Molotov is visiting the USA for the state funeral.

He is greeted by what he describes as a ‘young protocol officer’. Further it states that Molotov had bothered to learn his name and patronymic because he’d heard promising reports about him (other than he was more interested in appearance than ideology).

Mikhail Sergeyevich.

I think that is a young…

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev.

God, this could keep us up all night.