Is Harry Turtledove's TL-191 worth it?

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

  1. theg*ddam*hoi2fan Beware of the Leopard

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    The Mormon revolt was probably solely a Doylist thing: American industry and population size meant America had to be nerfed in some way or his story would have been over quicker and with less challenge.

    It's definitely fairly crazy, though, and if I was a Mormon I'd feel insulted for sure...

    On a different subject, one thing I find quite interesting is that while he definitely seems on the right side of the spectrum from some of the stuff he's written...Flora Hamburger-Blackford is easily one of the most moral and decent characters in the story, yet she's a Socialist. And it definitely shows the better aspects of the Socialist Party becoming a major force - see the improved conditions for labour unions.
     
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  2. Seandineen Member

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    The idea of mormons as gurrliea is not entirely fatuous
     
  3. Confederate Liberal Well-Known Member

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    It was my first taste of alternate history as a teenager it was a great read I will reread the first three parts How Few Remain , The Great War Trilogy and the American Empire Trilogy I generally don't care for the Second Great War Trilogy. And think he just gave up in the End and went Nuke Happy. My favorite characters are Flora Hamburger/Blackwell, Clarence Potter, Reginald Barlett and Roger Kimball, I even like Great War vintage Jack Featherston.
     
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  4. Zheng He Well-Known Member

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    These books will always be special to me regardless of their flaws. This series (starting with How Few Remain of course) is what really got me hooked on Alternate History. The World War series and Guns of the South were nice but those were more straight science fiction - aliens invading during WW2 or racist South Africans travelling back in time as opposed to TL-191 which is a true alternate timeline in the historical sense. No aliens or time travelers or cross dimension travel but our history in a different timeline. Once I read those it was a straight line from that to ending up here. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  5. Oliver Lambkin Well-Known Member

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    My experience exactly
     
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  6. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    I think the Mormon Uprising was supposed to be an analog to the Irish Rebellion? It's not perfect, but that's about the only thing I can think of. Of course, given what (very little) I know of the Mormon faith, the idea of them even reacting violently is a little too out there.

    But all in all, the series is a flawed, but fun run. Provided you can stomach Turtledove's sex scenes. And really, the only one that I found myself near violently ill over was when Jefferson Pinkard raped his wife. That honestly made me ill.
     
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  7. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Can we just agree to never remind ourselves of Turtledove's sex scenes ever again? I don't think I'm the only one who would rather not remember those.
     
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  8. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    If we have to suffer that atrocity you have to suffer alongside us! We suffer as one!

    I dunno though, as I've branched out and started reading other alternate histories, I'm finding myself honestly put off by how bland the Southern Victory series is.
     
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  9. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    See, if I were TD I'd have had a weird quasi-socially-liberal totalitarian/futurist USA fighting a dying CSA, and something nuts going on in China (Heavenly Kingdom-esque uprising?).
     
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  10. theg*ddam*hoi2fan Beware of the Leopard

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    Personally, I'd have the US having gone effectively full-blown Socialist in all but name before a rematch with the CSA. But with Teddy still running things...
     
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  11. wilji1090 [Going Waffles]

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    I would actually find a Heavenly Kingdom-esque uprising to be very interesting oddly enough.

    Given that Prussian influence was so heavy in the Union, would it be too on the nose to have the USA wearing uniforms from East Germany? :p
     
  12. The Unwise One Member

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    I enjoyed the series. I wished the books had, at least, news report coverage of Europe and Asia.
     
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  13. The Unwise One Member

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    That summarizes my experience as well. I did not get into AH until my 30s and I got hooked on this series.
     
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  14. Kerney defender of low probability atls everywhere

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    It's written with Confederate PoV characters who would see the Union as the aggressor, regardless of the technicality of Ft Sumter, realistically.

    It was written in the early 90s, at a time when the Lost Cause was no longer acceptable/in vogue but the interpretation of the Civil War was still less anti Confederate/product of a less polarized climate than today (look at the Ken Burns documentary or the 1993 Gettysburg film for comparison) where saying anything positive about any Confederate invites a reaction.

    I think if you keep that in mind, it's an enjoyable read.

    I don't think it apologized for the South, but pointed out the difference between cultural racism and active racism. From that perspective it shows the Confederacy as a lighter shade of grey in comparison with groups like AWB, one that isn't good, but under the right circumstances is capable of considering change.

    I think that's fairer, not perfectly, but closer to okay and also very much a best case scenario for the Confederacy from a Civil Rights perspective, with literal boomerang ASB.
     
  15. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    The book fundamentally misunderstands the structure and entire point of the Confederacy in a way that is very sympathetic to it, though. @thekingsguard has written entire essays about this, but the gist of it is that the Confederacy was literally built from the top down as an oligarchic slavocracy, to the point that their constitution specifically forbid the banning of slavery, which Turtledove then has happen soon after the AWB helps the South win (thanks to Lee winning an election despite literally standing against the very thing that the South had rebelled for), and then on top of that the North then turns around and attacks Canada for at best dubious reasons. That may have been acceptable historiography in the 1990s, but it's still a fundamental whitewashing of the kind of state that the Confederacy actually was.
     
  16. Nathan Bernacki Well-Known Member

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    I've said this before, but one thing that frustrates me about the book is Turtledove's almost benevolent treatment of Lee, like there was nothing wrong with him, aside from him choosing to fight for the CSA. In April 1866, at least one slave IRL testified to Lee's brutality when it came to punishing runaway slaves.

    Tell me, does this sound like a man who would support the abolition of slavery in the CSA?
     
  17. Allochronian Well-Known Member

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    Reading the posts on this thread, I find it interesting that some of the things people don't like about TL-191, I like, while some of the things that people like about TL-191, I don't like.

    For example, while there are some good reasons to criticize the plausibility of a WWII scenario in North America, I actually loved the parallelisms in this part of the story.

    Featherston-Hitler
    Confederate Freedom Party- Nazi Party
    CSA-Nazi Germany
    USA-Soviet Union (in terms of military power)
    Blacks-Jews
    Population Reduction-Holocaust
    Superbombs-Atomic bombs
    Morrell-[Rommel/Eisenhower fusion]

    I was thoroughly entertained in seeing the Confederacy and everything it stands for finally getting crushed by the USA.
     
  18. FleetMac Patriotic Scalawag

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    Your taste, of course, and nothing wrong with that. However, for others like me, the parallelism smacks somewhere between boring (why not actually examine CHANGES stemming from the myriad knock-on effects from the POD and immediate result?) and insulting (IMO the CSA + Jim Crow South on its worst behavior was waaay better than Nazi Germany on its best behavior, scary as that thought is). Plus, one could argue that the schadenfreude of seeing an obnoxious regime being crushed so thoroughly is cathartic/satisfying for one reader, but for another is pointless hateporn.

    For me, the best part of the series is HFR and the Great War trilogy, especially the latter. If one looks at the OTL fighting at Petersburg, it's interesting how much of trench warfare was lampshaded and seeing it carried forward to a logical point in evolution (that is, WWI-level technology) for me. Beyond that, it becomes an examination of a Nazi expy that IMO doesn't fit a slavocracy like the OTL Apartheid RSA does. That plus the clumsy handling of the Mormons, Canada, and scant look at the world beyond North America sort of sinks the franchise for me. That, and the fact that Turtledove's prose isn't anything to write home about leaves any value for me solely in concept/worldbuilding, which I just said ends up falling apart.
     
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