THE BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY STORIES OF THE 20TH CENTURY by Harry Turtledove

THE BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY STORIES OF THE 20TH CENTURY

KIRKUS REVIEW

Brightly conceived, even though the most widely known alternative history tale of modern times is ignored, James Cameron’s Terminator II. (In it, an android comes back from the future, destroys two computer chips, averts a future war with machines, and subverts his own existence—so does his alternative history still take place?) Reviewing the subgenre, Turtledove points to L. Sprague de Camp’s classic Lest Darkness Fall (read by this Kirkus reviewer in the early ’40s when it first appeared) as the gene pool for crossover SF/alternative history tales. (In de Camp, a modern archaeologist goes back to the fall of Rome and tries to avert the Dark Ages.) Mainstream novels include Robert Harris’s bestseller Fatherland (Hitler wins and it’s now 1959). In this new collection, in Jack Chalker’s “Dance Band on the Titanic,” a guy gets the best job in the world—on a monstrously huge ferry that’s really several ferries making runs in alternative worlds to lovely alternative ports; the trouble is, there’s this girl who keeps jumping to her death in the prop wash, run after run. In Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner’s “Mozart in Mirrorshades,” two buddies from Realtime pal around with hipster Mozart in Salzburg. Allen M. Steele produces hard science fiction and so is a natural to tell the true story of “The Death of Captain Future,” Edmond Hamilton’s hero from 1940s pulps: an inspired satire sprinkled with marvelous excerpts from Captain Future novels. Not to be missed: Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Lucky Strike,” Poul Anderson’s “Eutopia,” and Turtledove’s own “Islands in the Sea.”

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Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-345-43990-2
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2001




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