The Way it Wasn't:
Alternate Histories

 

 


Welcome to the wonderful world of Alternative history where anything and everything is possible. Who hasn’t indulged in a little “what if” speculation every now and then? How would the course of human events been different if an aimed bullet missed by an inch or two…or if those desperately needed reinforcements did arrive on time…or if somehow modern weapons found their way into the hands of a 19th-century army? The possibilities are endless and the authors below have let their imaginations soar.

Stephen Barnes
Lion’s Blood. Warner, 2002.
In a world where Europe never advanced as a civilization and the Americas were colonized by African nations, a young Irishman named Aidan O'Dere is sold into slavery to an Islamic aristocrat. Followed by: Zulu Heart (2003).

Stephen Baxter
Voyage. HarPri, 1997, 1996.
President John Kennedy survived the assassination attempt in Dallas while Jacqueline died. The Kennedy Space Center is named in her honor and NASA is given the green light for a manned mission to Mars, known as the Ares program.

Emperor. Ace, 2007.
In 4 B.C., a woman struggling to give birth in ancient Britain begins babbling in Latin, a language of which she has no knowledge, a prophesy about the coming of three Roman emperors (Claudius, Hadrian, and Constantine) to the island, a prophecy that will guide her family’s futures for centuries.

John Birmingham
Weapons of Choice. RH, 2004.
In 2021, a United Nations battle group, clustered around the U.S.S. Hillary Clinton is trying to stop ethnic cleansing by an Islamist regime in Indonesia. When an experiment on wormholes goes horribly wrong most of the ships are thrown back in time right into the middle of the U.S. fleet on its way to Midway in 1942. Followed by Designated Target (2005) and Final Impact (2007)

Robert Conroy
1901. Lyford, 1995.
After President McKinley rejects a demand that he surrender Cuba and the Philippines to the Germans, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s imperial navy invades the United States and captures NYC, believing the Americans will now buckle. But when McKinley suffers a fatal heart attack, the new commander-in-chief, Teddy Roosevelt, rallies the American forces, under the command of former Confederate General James Longstreet, to oppose the supposedly unbeatable German war machine.

1862. Ballantine, 2006.
Outraged when the U.S. Navy seizes three Confederates aboard an English sailing ship, Britain retaliates by entering into the bloody Civil War in support of the Rebels.

1945. Ballantine, 2007.
Before he can surrender to the Allies after the atomic bombings of his country, Emperor Hirohito is kidnapped by extremists who force an invasion of Japan by President Truman in which hundreds of thousand of U.S. troops die.

Richard Dreyfus & Harry Turtledove
The Two Georges. TOR, 1996.
What American Revolution? It never happened, and the North American Union is a valuable colony of the British Empire--a union symbolized by the Gainsborough painting of the title, featuring George III and George Washington—which has been stolen and being held for ransom by the fanatical, pro-Independence group called the Sons of Liberty. Before King-Emperor Charles III comes to America to deliver a unity speech, Royal North American Mounted Police Colonel Tom Bushnell hunts for the painting. But there is also an assassination plot unfolding.

Brendan DuBois
Resurrection Day. GPPS, 1999.
In 1972, ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis triggered a nuclear war that decimated both the United States and Soviet Union, Carl Landry, a young reporter, searches for the killer of a veteran of the 1962 war and begins to suspect that the victim may have held the key to a terrifying conspiracy that is poised to reverse the course of American history.

Thomas Fleming
The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee. Forge, 2006.
In the wake of the Civil War, a cabal of radical Republicans, led by Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, conspire to circumvent the terms Grant offered Lee at Appomattox and execute him for the crime of treason.

Eric Flint
1633. Baen, 2002.
A cosmic accident sends Mike Stearns and his West Virginia coal mining community back to the time of the 30 Years War where they join forces with the king of Sweden and take on the scheming Cardinal Richelieu as they struggle to rescue Mike's wife from war-torn Amsterdam and his sister from the Tower of London. Other titles in the Ring of Fire series are: 1633 (2002); 1634: The Galileo Affair (2004), 1634: The Ram Rebellion (2006), 1635 (2006); 1634: The Baltic War (2007).

Mitchell J. Freedman
A Disturbance of Fate. Seven Locks, 2003.
What would have happened had Robert F. Kennedy survived the 1968 assassination attempt and been elected President of the United States?

Stephen Fry
Making History. RH, 1998.
In this humorous story by actor Fry (Wilde; Gosford Park), a Cambridge graduate student writing a dissertation on Hitler’s youth and an aging German physicist find a way of preventing Hitler's birth, with interesting results.

Robin Gerger
Eleanor vs. Ike. Avon, 2008.
In 1952, former First Lady and social reform advocate Eleanor Roosevelt throws her hat into the run for the presidency against Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Kurt R.A. Giambastiani
The Year the Cloud Fell. Penguin, 2001.
President George Armstrong Custer sends his son on a mission in an experimental dirigible to chart the locations of enemy Native Americans, but the young man is forced to crash land his aircraft and is taken prisoner by the Cheyenne. Followed by: The Spirit of Thunder (2002) and From the Heart of the Storm (2004).

Newt Gingrich & William Forstchen
Gettysburg. T. Dunne, 2003.
Supposes what might have happened had Confederate General Robert E. Lee listened to his subordinate, James Longstreet, and opted against a frontal attack against the Union Army at Gettysburg in favor of a flanking movement, thereby forcing Gen. George Meade into making his own fatal “Picket’s Charge.” Followed by: Grant Comes East (2004) and Never Call Retreat (2005.)

Robert Harris
Fatherland. RH, 1992.
20 years after the Nazis won World War II, Joseph P. Kennedy is president of the United States. Edward VIII is king, with Wallis Simpson by his side, and Adolf Hitler is about to celebrate his 75th birthday. But the festivities are spoiled by the murders of two retired high officials. Berlin criminal investigator Xavier March must track down the killers.

Harry Harrison
Stars & Stripes Forever. Ballantine, 1998.
During the Civil War, after the North commits what Great Britain deems a hostile act, it declares war on Abraham Lincoln. But when British forces attack Confederate territory by mistake, the North and South join forces against their common foe. Followed by: Stars & Stripes in Peril (2000) & Stars & Stripes Triumphant (2003).

Tom Holt
A Song for Nero. Abacus, 2004.
Nero did not perish in the 69 C.E. uprising in Rome. It was the brother of Galen, a street thief, who now feels obligated to help the suddenly unemployed Emperor make it out in the real world.

Stephen King
11/22/63. Scribner, 2011.
Jake Eppings, a high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, travels back in time to stop the assassination of JFK.

Jonathan Lowy
Elvis and Nixon. Crown, 2001.
The effects of the Vietnam War on American culture and the political fallout of the My Lai Massacre provide the backdrop for this story highlighting the washed-up, pill-popping singer’s strange 1970 White House meeting with Richard Nixon.

Andrew Nagorski
Last Stop Vienna. S&S, 2003.
In the aftermath of WWI, young Berliner Karl Naumann becomes a member of Hitler's storm troopers. Although he is married Karl becomes involved with Hitler's niece, Geli, and her death--presumed by Karl to be at the hands of her rising-star uncle--prompts him to take history into his hands.

Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson
Fox on the Rhine. Forge, 2002, 2000.
After Hitler is assassinated by his own men, Himmler seizes control of the Reich and instigates a plan to change the course of the war by forging a peace treaty with Russia while Rommel takes on Patton in a campaign that will determine the fate of the free world. Followed by: Fox at the Front (2003).

Naomi Novik
His Majesty's Dragon. Del Rey, 2006.
During the Napoleonic Wars, Capt. Will Laurence of the HMS Reliant captures a French ship transporting an unhatched dragon's egg. Laurence is about to become a member of an elite aerial squadron in Britain's war against the French. Followed by: Throne of Jade (2006), The Black Powder War (2006), Empire of Ivory (2007), Victory of Eagles (2008), Tongues of Serpents (2010) and Crucible of Gold (2012).

John Maddox Roberts
Hannibal’s Children. Ace, 2002.
The mighty Roman Empire falls when Hannibal receives the reinforcements necessary for him to prevail during the second Punic War? But now the Romans are plotting their revenge against Hannibal's descendants. Followed by: The Seven Hills (2005).

Philip Roth
The Plot against America. HM, 2004.
Aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, negotiating an accord with Adolf Hitler and accepting his conquest of Europe and anti-Semitic policies.

Pamela Sargent
Climb the Wind. HarPri, 1999.
In an America conquered by Native American warriors in the aftermath of the Civil War, two Indian warriors form an army of united tribes.

J. N. Stroyar
The Children’s War. Pocket, 2001.
50 years after winning WWII, the Nazis continue to rule Europe as a totalitarian regime. Two men, an Englishman named Peter Halifax (well, that’s one of his identities), escapes from slavery and joins an Underground movement to bring the Third Reich down.

 

Harry Turtledove

The prolific Harry Turtledove is the king of the alternate history genre. Below is just a sampling of his imaginative works.

Days of Infamy. NAL, 2004.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launch an attack against United States naval forces stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They follow up this surprise air assault with an invasion and occupation of Hawaii. Now they set their sights on the America's western coast. Followed by: End of the Beginning (2005).

The Great War: American Front. Ballantine, 1998.
It’s a very different World War I with Germany and the U.S. allied against Britain, France and the Confederacy. Envision a divided America--one camp led by Theodore Roosevelt, the other by Woodrow Wilson--in the most explosive conflict humankind has seen, where global war is waged with sophisticated weaponry on American soil for the first time in history. Followed by: The Great War: Walk in Hell (1999); The Great War: Breakthroughs (2000). This series was closely followed by another entitled “American Empire” with American Empire: Blood & Iron (2001) American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold (2002); & American Empire: The Victorious Opposition (2003).

Guns of the South. Ballantine, 1993, 1992.
In 1864, it is becoming clear that the Confederate army of Robert E. Lee cannot compete with the seemingly unlimited resources of the northern Army. Then a strange man approaches Lee with an extraordinary rifle—the AK-47.

Ruled Britannia. NAL, 2002.
The successful Spanish Armada has placed Britain has been under the rule of King Philip of Spain. Queen Elizabeth remains a prisoner in the Tower of London. Is there no one who can inspire the people of England to rise up against their foreign oppressors? Enter William Shakespeare.

Settling Accounts: Return Engagement. Del Rey, 2004.
Time has not healed the wounds caused by the Civil War, and in 1914, Confederate President Jake Featherstone, whose policy of "population reductions" among the African-American populace goes on unabated, suddenly attacks the Northern White House in Philadelphia, triggering war anew. While Socialist President Al Smith grapples with the carnage, an obscure assistant secretary of war named Roosevelt rises in the ranks. Followed by: Settling Accounts: Drive to the East (2005); Settling Accounts: The Grapple (2006); & Settling Accounts: In at the Death (2007).

Hitler's War: The War that Came Early. Ballantine, 2009.
Explores what might have happened if Neville Chamberlain hadn't backed down when Hitler was threatening invasion of Czechoslovakia and taking Sudetenland. Followed by: West and East (2010) & The Big Switch (2011).

 

Jo Walton
Farthing. Tor, 2006.
8 years after a group of English nobles overthrew Winston Churchill and made peace with Adolf Hitler, Sir James Thirkie is murdered at an elite gathering in the country, a yellow star pinned to his chest with a dagger. While suspicion falls upon Lucy Eversley’s Jewish husband, Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard deduces a plot hatched at the highest levels of government.

Bill Yenne
A Damned Fine War. Berkley, 2004.
After V-E Day, Stalin decides to invade Western Europe to bring it into the Communist fold. Standing in his way is the indomitable General George S. Patton and his Third Army.


Short Stories

Alternate Generals
Ed. by Harry Turtledove. Baen, 1998.

Alternate Generals II
Ed. by Harry Turtledove. Baen, 2004.

Alternate Generals III
Ed. by Harry Turtledove & Ronald J. Green. Baen, 2005.

Alternate Gettysburgs
Ed. by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg. Berkley, 2002.

Conqueror Fantastic
Ed. by Pamela Sargent, Daw, 2004.

Time After Time
Ed. by Denise Little. Daw, 2005.

--updated by Lisa Ferzola


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