Harry Turtledove

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Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove 2005.jpg
Turtledove at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Born (1949-06-14) June 14, 1949 (age 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Pen name Dan Chernenko, Eric G. Iverson, Mark Gordian, H.N. Turteltaub
Occupation Novelist, short story author, essayist, historian
Nationality American
Ethnicity Jewish
Genre Science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, historical fiction, history
Notable works Southern Victory series, Worldwar series, Crosstime Traffic, The Guns of the South, and The Two Georges

Harry Norman Turtledove (born June 14, 1949) is an American novelist, best known for his works in several genres, including that of alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.

Early life and education

Turtledove was born in Los Angeles, California on June 14, 1949, and grew up in the nearby city of Gardena, California. His paternal grandparents, who were Jewish Romanian immigrants, had first settled in Winnipeg, Canada, before moving to California.[1][2] He was educated in local public schools in early life.

After dropping out during his freshman year at Caltech, Turtledove attended UCLA, completing his undergraduate degree and receiving a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977. His dissertation was titled The Immediate Successors of Justinian: A Study of the Persian Problem and of Continuity and Change in Internal Secular Affairs in the Later Roman Empire During the Reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (AD 565–582).[3]


In 1979, Turtledove published his first two novels, Wereblood and Werenight, under the pseudonym "Eric G. Iverson." Turtledove later explained that his editor at Belmont Tower did not think people would believe the author's real name was "Turtledove" and came up with something more Nordic.[4] He continued to use the "Iverson" name until 1985. Another early pseudonym was "Mark Gordian."

That year he published Herbig-Haro and And So to Bed under his real name. Turtledove has recently begun publishing historical novels under the pseudonym "H.N. Turteltaub" (Turteltaube means turtle dove in Yiddish)[citation needed]. He published three books as Dan Chernenko (the Scepter of Mercy series).

He has written several works in collaboration, including The Two Georges with Richard Dreyfuss, "Death in Vesunna" with his first wife, Betty Turtledove (pen-name, Elaine O'Byrne); Household Gods with Judith Tarr; and others with Susan Shwartz, S.M. Stirling, and Kevin R. Sandes.

Turtledove won the Homer Award for Short Story in 1990 for "Designated Hitter," the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction in 1993 for The Guns of the South, and the Hugo Award for Novella in 1994 for "Down in the Bottomlands." Must and Shall was nominated for the 1996 Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novelette; it received an honorable mention for the 1995 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The Two Georges also received an honorable mention for the 1995 Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

His Worldwar series received a Sidewise Award for Alternate History Honorable Mention in 1996. In 1998, his novel, How Few Remain, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He won his second Sidewise Award in 2003 for his novel Ruled Britannia.[5]

On August 1, 1998, Turtledove was named honorary Kentucky Colonel while Guest of Honor at Rivercon XXIII in Louisville, Kentucky. His The Gladiator was the co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award.

Turtledove served as the toastmaster for Chicon 2000, the 58th World Science Fiction Convention.[6]

He is married to mystery and science fiction writer Laura Frankos. His brother-in-law is fantasy author Steven Frankos. He and Laura have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

"Master of Alternate History"

Publisher's Weekly dubbed Turtledove "The Master of Alternate History".[7] Within that genre, he is known for creating original alternate history scenarios, such as survival of the Byzantine Empire or an alien invasion in the middle of the Second World War. In addition, he has been credited with giving original treatment to alternate themes previously dealt with by many others, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War or the victory of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream.[8] He bases his alternate history in scenes of military combat and warfare.[9]


Writing as Eric Iverson


  • Wereblood (1979)
  • Werenight (1979, revised in 1994)
  • Prince of the North (1994)
  • King of the North (1996)
  • Fox and Empire (1998)
    • Wisdom of the Fox (1999, collects the revised Werenight and Prince of the North)
    • Tale of the Fox (2000, collects King of the North and Fox and Empire)

Writing as H.N. Turteltaub

Hellenic Traders

Historical fiction about two cousins, traveling merchants in the 4th-century BC Mediterranean.

Writing as Harry Turtledove


Set in a world analogous to the Byzantine Empire.

  • The Videssos cycle: One of Julius Caesar's legions is transported to a world with magic.
    • The Misplaced Legion (1987)
    • An Emperor for the Legion (1987)
    • The Legion of Videssos (1987)
    • Swords of the Legion (1987)
  • The Tale of Krispos series
    • Krispos Rising (1991)
    • Krispos of Videssos (1991)
    • Krispos the Emperor (1994)
  • The Time of Troubles series
    • The Stolen Throne (1995)
    • Hammer and Anvil (1996)
    • The Thousand Cities (1997)
    • Videssos Besieged (1998)
  • The Bridge of the Separator (2005)


Incorporates elements of both science fiction and alternate history. In Worldwar, aliens invade in the middle of the World War II in 1942. The Colonization trilogy deals with the course of history a generation after the initial series, as the humans and aliens work to share Earth. Homeward Bound follows a human spaceship that travels to the aliens' home world.

Southern Victory

The Confederacy wins the American Civil War in 1862 with the help of the United Kingdom and France. It still operates as an independent nation in the 20th century. (The title 'Southern Victory' is used by fans; the overall series has no official title. Another popular moniker is Timeline-191.)

Darkness / Derlavai

A fantasy series about global war in a world related to medieval Europe, where magic exists. Many plot elements are analogous to elements of World War II, with kingdoms and sorceries that are comparable to the historical nations and technologies.

War Between the Provinces

This fantasy series is based heavily on the American Civil War, except magic exists, the roles of the North and South have been reversed, and blond-haired serfs are featured rather than slaves.

  • Sentry Peak (2000)
  • Marching Through Peachtree (2001)
  • Advance and Retreat (2002)

Crosstime Traffic

Travel between parallel timelines has become possible in the late 21st century. This is a young-adult fiction series; it includes no racial slurs, profanity or sex.

Days of Infamy

The Japanese gain the initiative in the Pacific War by invading and occupying Hawaii immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor.


A trilogy which describes a world where the American eastern coast from the tip of Florida to Nova Scotia breaks away from the mainland around 85 million years ago and has an island biota similar to New Zealand's. It was discovered in 1452 by a French fisherman named Francois Kersauzon and named Atlantis. This eighth continent becomes a focal point in a gradually diverging timeline. Two short stories, "Audubon in Atlantis" and "The Scarlet Band", have been set in this milieu.

Opening Atlantis was nominated for the 2009 Prometheus Award.[10]

Opening of the World

A trilogy describing a fantasy world in which inhabitants of an Iron Age empire explore a land uncovered by a receding glacier.

The War That Came Early

An hexalogy describing an alternate World War II which begins in 1938 over Czechoslovakia. The first volume, Hitler's War, was released in hardcover in 2009 without a series title.


A trilogy where the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts at some unspecified point in the future, and covers the decade following the Eruption.

The Hot War

The series begins with the point of divergence in early 1951, with US President Harry S. Truman accepting General MacArthur's request to employ tactical nuclear strikes against Northeast China in response to China's intervention in the Korean War. In response, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin initiates nuclear strikes against several cites in Germany, France and England. Invoking the NATO Treaty, the United States responds by launching a nuclear strike against a Soviet military base in Finland, to which the Soviets respond by destroying a US military base in Alaska. The exchange escalates further, and World War III begins with the Soviet Union launching a ground invasion of Western Europe and using Tupolev Tu-4 long-range bombers to attack cities on the American West Coast. The United States responds by rushing troops to Europe to try and halt the Soviet invasion while launching a full-scale nuclear counter-attack against the Soviet Union. With neither side showing any intention of backing down, and with the looming development of far more powerful Thermonuclear weapons, many individuals on both sides of the conflict begin to wonder how much of the world will be left by the time the war ends.

  • Bombs Away (2015)
  • Fallout (2016)

Standalone Books

  • The Chronicle of Theophanes, Harry Turtledove editor and translator, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. A translation of an important Byzantine historical text, completed soon after Harry Turtledove's PhD studies.
  • Agent of Byzantium (1987) — Imperial Byzantine special agent Basil Argyros is sent on various missions in an alternate universe where Muhammad became a Christian saint and consequently Islam never existed and the Byzantine Empire never fell.
  • A Different Flesh (1988) — A related set of short stories spanning the 17th to 20th centuries set in a universe where the ancestors of the Native Americans never crossed into the New World, only Homo erectus, who become known as "sims" to the colonists of English descent. Suggested by Turtledove's reading of Steven Jay Gould, the novel's main theme is what effect the proximity of a closely related but significantly different species would have on how humans view themselves, each other, and the great chain of life.
  • Noninterference (1988) — A human interstellar survey team violates a directive to avoid interference with alien civilizations, with disastrous long-term consequences.
  • A World Of Difference (1990) — In this alternative history story, the 4th planet of our solar system is larger and named Minerva instead of Mars. The Viking space probe of the 1970s sends back one picture — that of an alien creature swinging a stick — before losing contact. A U.S. mission and a Soviet mission are sent to explore the planet; these two missions start separately but later have to cooperate.
  • Earthgrip (1991) — A woman whose desire is to teach a university course in Middle English Science Fiction joins a trader ship's crew, just to get something different on her curriculum vitae.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump (1993) — EPA agent David Fisher battles displaced magical powers in a very creative sorcerous equivalent to late-20th century Los Angeles. He follows the evidence to a toxic spell dump, where dangerous remnants of industrial sorcery are stored.
  • Thessalonica (1997) — Early Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica deal with barbarian invaders on both physical and metaphysical levels (the book was inspired by the Medieval Miracles of Saint Demetrius).
  • Justinian (1998) — Fictionalized account (with some speculation involved) of the life of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II—using H.N. Turteltaub pseudonym.
  • Uncle Alf (2012) - A novella included in the collections Alternate Generals volume 2 and Atlantis and other places. The German Empire has won World War I when Alfred von Schlieffen lived to see his plan executed successfully and Germany occupies France and Belgium. In 1929, Sergeant Adolf Hitler is sent to occupied France to hunt down Jacques Doriot, an agitator against the German occupation of France.
  • In the Presence of Mine Enemies (2003) alternate history — Follows the struggles of a family of secret Jews in Berlin two or three generations after a Nazi victory in World War II. The events in the story follow a common theme of Turtledove's work, transplanting one set of historical events into another setting (the most prominent example being Southern Victory Series moving European history onto the American continent). In this case, the decline of the Soviet Union in the 1990s is translated to the Third Reich in the 21st century (and the secret Jews' way of life is reminiscent of Marranos in Spain).
  • Every Inch a King (ISFiC Press) (2005) — An acrobat becomes king of a small country. Although set in a fantasy world, it is analogous to the real world, this time in the Balkans, between the first and second Balkan War. Shqiperi is modeled on Albania, and the story itself is modeled on the story of Otto Witte.
  • Under Saint Peter's (2007) — Short story found in The Secret History of Vampires (Edited by Darrell Schweitzer) and We Install and Other Stories. This is Turtledove's rare concession to the secret history genre, which he professes to have little interest in writing. In 2005, viewpoint character Pope Benedict XVI (unnamed but recognizable) is led by an eccentric priest to a secret bunker under the Vatican for a little-known initiation undertaken by each new Pontiff since the days of Saint Peter.
  • After the Downfall (2008) — A Wehrmacht officer is transported into a fantasy world during the Soviet invasion of Germany at the end of World War II.
  • Reincarnations (2009) — A limited edition hardcover containing eight stories, including six never before reprinted and one original story.
  • Joe Steele (2015) — Expanded from the short story of the same name, this alternative history deals with Joseph Stalin (whose Americanized name is the title character) having been born and raised in America. When the life of NY Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt is ended by a fire, the Democratic Party has little choice but to nominate the upcoming Steele as their candidate for the 1932 Presidential election. The novel mirrors Stalin's real world acts with actions taken by Steele through the depression, the lead up to World War II, and the ensuing Cold War through the eyes of President with the soul of a tyrant.
  • The House of Daniel (2016).

Web publishing

  • Winter of Our Discontent: The Impeachment and Trial of John F. Kennedy (2007), co-written with T.V. series creator Bryce Zabel. After John Kennedy survives the attack at Dealey Plaza unharmed, the resulting investigation sets events in motion that tear apart his administration. Zabel eventually published the final work as a solo project in 2013.
  • Turtledove, Harry (2009). "The House That George Built". Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Babe Ruth remains a minor league player for most of his career, until he retires and opens a Baltimore pub. In 1941, Ruth reminisces about what could have been with a skeptical H. L. Mencken.
  • Turtledove, Harry (February 3, 2010). "Vilcabamba". Tor Books. Macmillan. Retrieved January 28, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> After an alien race known as the Krolp subjugates most of the world in the 22nd Century, a rump United States and Canada that runs along the Rocky Mountains and the Wasatch Range must decide how to respond for to the aliens' plans to violate the treaty that guarantees the country's sovereignty. The story is told from the perspective of U.S. President and Canadian Prime Minister Harris Moffatt III.
  • Turtledove, Harry (2013). "Lee at the Alamo". Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> When Texas secedes from the Union in 1861, Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, acting commander of the Department of Texas, decides to defend U.S. munitions at the Alamo, launching the first battle of a slightly different American Civil War.


  1. Thomson Gale (April 2007). Something About The Author: Volume 176. Ktav Publishing House. p. 212. ISBN 0-7876-8800-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Harry's War of the Worlds
  3. The immediate successors of Justinian : a study of the Persian problem and of continuity and change in internal secular affairs in the later Roman empire during the reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (A.D. 565-582) / by Harry Norman Turtledove, Thesis (Ph.D.), UCLA, 1977. Reproduction: University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1979. http://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/1601866
  4. Barnes & Noble Meet the Writers: Harry Turtledove
  5. "Sidewise Awards for Alternate History, Past Winners". Retrieved 2008-09-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Chicon 2000, Guests of Honor". 2000-07-23. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Hall, Melissa Mia (April 7, 2008). "Master of Alternate History". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Graeme Blundell (2008-10-18). "On lowbrow street". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-10-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "All the Alternate Histories in "Other Earths"". Book review. io9. March 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Prometheus Finalists". Science Fiction Awards Watch. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Amazon.com
  12. The War That Came Early: The Big Switch
  13. [1]
  14. http://www.risingshadow.net/library?action=book&book_id=41294

External links