Is Harry Turtledove's TL-191 worth it?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Eonex, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. Eonex 秘鲁人红色外套

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    I'm looking for a new series to start reading. I had this on my Reading List since a long of time and I think is time to get it since Christmas is near. I always wanted to dig more in the American Civil War since it's an important topic in Alternate History. But I want to know, should I dig more in the CW topics before I buy the first book: "How Few Remain"?

    As for the author, I've read only the Worldwar series (which I found awesome) so I'm expecting this one will be very good too. It's even longer than Worldwar (It has 11 books compared to the 7 ones). Speaking of this, is this series too different from Worldwar?

    Thanks for answering, and I hope you have a good day.
     
  2. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    How Few Remain is decent, the Great War books are OK too. After that it really goes to crap.

    Everything about Featherston sucks and is boring and cliche.
     
  3. Allochronian Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely recommend reading TL-191, especially if you like the American Civil War.

    Despite being a "superfan" of the series, I admit that it does have its faults as the story progresses. However, if you can suspend your disbelief with the Worldwar series, then you can accept some of the choices Dr. Turtledove made when writing how logical/illogical the roles of the CSA and USA are in the world.

    The latter part of the series prepare the reader for a "WWII in North America" setting and it will be something that you will really love or really hate.

    Regardless, I find that part to be very entertaining.

    Try it out with the first book and get back to us with your feedback.

    Happy reading!
     
  4. Filo Count of Santa Lucia

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    No. It's bad and unimaginative as any other works of TD.
     
  5. Starfox5 CMII (2016) and Bar (2017) Donor

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    The Alternate WW2 of the series is, alas, mostly a copy of the WW2 in Europe, just transplanted into the USA. Down to details, such as the SS-analogues. As with WW1, Turtledove doesn't give a damn about Europe - effectively, both "World Wars" aren't World Wars, just one War fought in Europe and one in America at the same time - and we don't hear anything about Europe. If you like the American Civil War, then you can just assume that the series is about a series of ACWs, so to speak.
     
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  6. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    If you're an ACW buff, you'll enjoy it. If you enjoy the Kaiserreich, you'll enjoy it too. Hell, even if you like Wehrmacht uniforms (of which the USA adopts) then you'll enjoy it even more. If you're looking for a thought-provoking look into what the world could've been like with a victorious CSA? You're gonna be disappointed.

    One good thing I can say is that there's a LOT of good fanworks that speculate on different things whether it's post-Second Great War (TL-191: After the End) or an Alternate of an Alternate (The Presbyterian Butcher) or even just filling in the missing years in a believable fashion (TL-191: Filling the Gaps)

    But stories like Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee or Turtledove's own Guns of the South are far more entertaining (if wholly unrealistic) in my opinion.
     
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  7. Soundwave3591 Member

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    It's a good read if you don't try and take it too seriously. it's definitely more along the lines of what one would read if they're only just exploring alternate history. Some other authors (hell, some of Turtledove's own books) are far more in depth with their alternative lore.
     
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  8. Nathan Bernacki Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, every fan of alternate history should at least read one book in the Southern Victory series. The Great War trilogy is my favourite part of the series. I do have a soft spot for the Settling Accounts tetralogy, but the parallels to real world history in that tetralogy are so transparent Turtledove must've been breathing on glass when he wrote it.
     
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  9. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    Honestly, the best book out of the Southern Victory series, for me, was How Few Remain and even then there are a few gripes I do have with it in the form of how they treat Ulysses S. Grant.
     
  10. Starfox5 CMII (2016) and Bar (2017) Donor

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    To elaborate a little on my first post, I think the books missed a chance by focusing exclusively on the Alternate USA's POV - and then copying Nazi Germany's history almost completely for the second part of the series, just set in the CAS. I feel that detracts, and quite a lot, from the "alternate USA" feeling (and it also means you already know how it'll end).
     
  11. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    I think that's why people liked the Great War trilogy much better because it could've ended either way really. Hell, when I first read it I was under the impression that the USA was going to go down the path of Imperial Germany OTL if only due to how Flora Hamburger resembled Rosa Luxembourg and Gordon McSweeney resembled Adolf Hitler (nevermind Irving Morrell...)
     
  12. Starfox5 CMII (2016) and Bar (2017) Donor

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    the worst I find is that Germany wins the war in Europe, yet we don't really hear anything about the entire continent - no changes, nothing. It's as if nothing outside the USA and the CAS exists.
     
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  13. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    I can't remember if The War That Came Early did the same thing?
     
  14. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    yeah, it would have been nice to hear more about what was going on overseas... but... the books were already gawdawful long....
     
  15. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    I already suffered through enough Featherston, sunscreen, and Southun Notzis, I shudder to think of what Turtledove would do with Europe. Probably have Germany get taken over by '50s Notzis, too, just because of "historical parallelism".
     
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  16. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    well, I didn't really want to have any real POV chapters set overseas... it would have been nice to just have the existing characters talk a bit more about the war overseas...
     
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  17. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Honestly, I would've just scrapped the *ww2 but it's the ACW again bit. USA re-annexes the CSA, forcibly institutes anti-racist measures (because there is no way in Hell that the USA would in a Southern victory universe NOT become aggressively socially progressive), and spends the next couple of decades hunting Klansmen and dealing with the challenges of being a democracy occupying a bunch of land where half the population hates Philadelphia's guts.

    If we absolutely have to have a Third American Civil War, let's have it be realistic and creative. The South is a decaying mess barely capable of keeping up on infantry tech, let alone tanks and aircraft. The Union has an overwhelming advantage in technology, population, and industry.

    And the candidates for POTUS in the election are straight-up socialist FDR and creatively racist anti-racist nazbol William Dudley Pelley, who believes that Jesus is a reptilian alien who told him that Pelley is the final prophet, sent to America to help breed a new "Coming Race" (the name and idea for which Pelley got from reading science-fiction serials) containing the "superior racial traits" that Union propaganda claims are inherent to black people and Northern whites. (basically, instead of Hitler with a southern accent, American Hitler in this very different timeline is a Northerner, and a crazy fascist with an ostensibly good goal who's willing to use preposterously draconian means to create his custom master race)

    I mean, for crying out loud, I came up with that in like 5 minutes a couple months back. Surely Harry Turtledove could've done better, right?
     
  18. Greenhorn Well-Known Member

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    I liked it. I think if you liked some of his other works and want to get into the Civil War, then Southern Victory is a logical choice. Guns of the South was better though IMO, and might be better to read first since it's only a standalone.
     
  19. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Guns of the South is loaded with blatant Southern apologia and falsely vilifies the Union as the aggressor, though.
     
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  20. Col. Angus Mem8er

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    Eric Flint's 1632 series was my first contact with alternate history, but Turtledove was my first contact with alternate history without supernatural elements, and where I kind of got into the idea of alternate history as a concept rather than just liking an isolated book in the genre

    But Turtledove is pretty flawed. It isn't the strongest writing, and the concepts can sound kinda neat (it's world war two WITH ALIENS! or the south wins the civil war, and we see how the next 80 years of conflict on the American continent goes! and so on) but ultimately it ends up being kind of mediocre writing and the concepts form the backdrop of the story but it doesn't necessarily develop those concepts that much, apart from going for simple paralellisms.

    In short, it is mass market commercialized AH lit. The sort of thing that could be good enough for some people, but others will want something more substantial and more based on playing with history rather than crafting a character narrative with history and alternate history as something of a backdrop perhaps. Which is what I like about online AH, it may not be as oriented towards a mass mainstream audience, but one can find both more in depth dealings with the history side and on the larger scale, and on the literary side, while some TLs may be rather dry to the non history fan, there's also plenty of works out here that do put a lot of work into the literary side and achieve something less, bland perhaps? than published AH like Turtledove

    In regards to personal taste, I don't much care for Turtledove at this point, but it's the sort of thing that can certainly be enjoyable depending on one's taste, and it does hold a certain place of acknowledgement for me personally as being sort of an entry level thing for me
     
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