Next SFF Author: Stuart Turton
Previous SFF Author: Megan Whalen Turner

SFF Author: Harry Turtledove

fantasy literature author Harry Turtledove(1949- )
Harry Turtledove was born in Los Angeles. He is a historian who has taught ancient and medieval history at UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal State L.A., and has published a translation of a ninth-century Byzantine chronicle, as well as several scholarly articles. He is also an award-winning full-time writer of science fiction and fantasy. Many of his alternative history novels cross over into the fantasy and science fiction genres by incorporating magic or aliens. He is married to novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters.Dr. Turtledove also write fantasy under the pseudonym Dan Chernenko.


The Tale of Krispos: Fairly enjoyable alternate history

THE TALE OF KRISPOS by Harry Turtledove

The opening chapter of The Tale of Krispos really sucked me in. There is realism, which I’m always a fan of, and there are hardly any wasted words. At least that’s how it is at first — but more on that later. Harry Turtledove does a great job of describing what is going on by working the information you need into the narrative in natural ways rather than just straight-out telling you certain facts.

The three books that make up The Tale of KrisposKrispos Rising,

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A Different Flesh: Thoughtful stories about humanity

A Different Flesh by Harry Turtledove

A Different Flesh (1988), by Harry Turtledove, is a thoughtful collection of linked stories set in an alternate America which was inhabited by a hairy upright-walking sub-human species (homo erectus) when European settlers arrived. The settlers call them “sims.” The earliest story is set in 1610 and the last one in 1988 and, as the stories progress through time, we see the sims become more and more advanced, but it is clear that they will never reach the level of cognition that homo sapiens has achieved.

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Down in the Bottomlands: Hugo-winning novella

Down in the Bottomlands by Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove is known best for his alternate histories. In Down in the Bottomlands, a novella which won the Hugo Award, Turtledove goes with the premise that the Atlantic Ocean did not re-fill the dried-up Mediterranean Sea during the Miocene period. The sea basin becomes a desert, and this alteration in the Earth’s geography affects many aspects of humanity’s genetic and geopolitical evolution.

Radnal vez Krobir, a citizen of the Hereditary Tyranny of Tartesh,

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The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump: Very punny

The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump by Harry Turtledove

David Fisher is an inspector for the Environmental Perfection Agency (EPA), a bureaucracy in charge of regulating the industrial by-products (pollution) caused by using magical spells in an alternate America where most of the technology is based on magic or the actions of any deities or demons that people believe in. For example, the telephones work because there are imps that relay messages back and forth, salamanders produce heat, and vehicles are actually flying carpets.

One night, David gets a frantic call from a superior who tells him that there’s some unusual activity at a spell dump north of this world’s version of Los Angeles.

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Atlantis and Other Places: What if?

Atlantis and Other Places by Harry Turtledove

Atlantis and Other Places is a collection of short stories published over the last ten years, in which Harry Turtledove does his best to showcase the freedom offered to writers of alternate history. Just ask “what if” and see what happens. For example:

What if 21st century news media existed during World War Two? What if centaurs suddenly discovered humans? What if complex intelligence had evolved in mollusks instead of people? They’re interesting ideas and it’s tough not to be curious about what sort of ride Turtledove has constructed for his audience.

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SHORTS: Thomas, Foster, Valente, Turtledove

There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 

The Sea of Ash by Scott Thomas (2014)

The Sea of Ash is a wonderful little novella. It’s creative, creepy and oh so very ‘Lovercraft.’ My only complaint is that it’s too short. So much of the Lovecraftian world is in short stories and novellas; I’m not quite sure why there isn’t more in a longer form.

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SHORTS: Campbell, Turtledove, Corey, Balder

“The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging” by Harry Turtledove (2014, free at, 99c Kindle)

It has a pedestrian title, but this short story is anything but. As usual for Turtledove, it’s alternative history; as not so usual for him, it’s a subtle, understated tale. The plot of this story is … well, exactly what the title would indicate. A class of thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds visits 84 year old Mrs. Anne Berkowitz in a California old folks home, to hear her tell her story about her experiences in WWII.

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Golden Reflections: Stories that boldly blend sci-fi and alternate history

Golden Reflections (Mask of the Sun & stories) edited by Joan Spicci Saberhagen & Robert E. Vardeman

Golden Reflections is an anthology of stories based on Fred Saberhagen’s Mask of the Sun, the premise of which is the existence of certain goggles that allow the wearer to see events in the future. But it only works sometimes, and it’s unclear what it chooses to show the wearer and why. Golden Reflections includes Saberhagen’s original Mask of the Sun while bringing together several well-known sci-fi/alternate history writers who build on his original concept and its world.

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The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination: For a dose of crazy genius

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination is the latest themed anthology edited by John Joseph Adams — and it’s another good one. This time, Adams has collected a set of short stories featuring the hero’s (or often superhero’s) traditional antagonist: the mad genius, the super-villain, the brilliant sociopath who wants to remold the world in his own image — or occasionally, maybe, just be left alone in his secret lair to conduct spine-tingling experiments that,

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The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014: An enjoyable collection

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014 edited by Rich Horton

I’ve been reading a lot of anthologies lately, including another of the several “Year’s Best” collections (the Jonathan Strahan one). I was pleased to find that, unlike some of the others, this one matched my tastes fairly well for the most part.

I enjoy stories in which capable, likeable or sympathetic characters, confronted by challenges, confront them right back and bring the situation to some sort of meaningful conclusion. I was worried when I read the editor’s introduction and saw him praising Lightspeed and Clarkesworld magazines,

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The Reinvented Detective: Some of these detective stories are excellent

The Reinvented Detective edited by Cat Rambo & Jennifer Brozek

As is typically the case for story anthologies in my experience, The Reinvented Detective, part of an anthology series edited by Cat Rambo and Jennifer Brozek, was a mixed bag, with stories ranging from excellent to good to flat at best.

All of the stories are set in the future, though the time spectrum runs from the relatively near-future to a few decades to a far-flung future of interstellar travel. Settings move from the “real world” to the virtual one (sometimes within the same story),

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Next SFF Author: Stuart Turton
Previous SFF Author: Megan Whalen Turner

We have reviewed 8302 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.


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May 2024