Sampling of AH books in Russia

This came up in a couple of earlier threads - years ago - about the state of AH in other countries and etc. And I mentioned having read Russian AH, which veered from good to facepalming bad to lunatic fringe fascism. Below is the sampling of the most popular AH books in Russia. As even paperback books are relatively expensive (as compared to other goods) in Russia, there is a thriving online community that torrents them, and I am basing "popularity" on the amount of downloads and reads.

Another thing to denote, to maximize sales, most Russian AH is not stand alone, but Turtledove style series. Often, a company will buy the rights to the concept along with the author's first two or three books and then farm out the series to other in-house writers to churn out as many books per year as possible. It is not unusual for there to be 12 book series. Sometimes, the original author's name is used as if he wrote all twelve, even though he left the series after the second or third. Sometimes, other famous writers are hired to continue the series under the aegis of the overall concept. Picture Del Rey telling Turtledove "You're writing too slowly. Eric Flint, Robert Conroy, and Nora Roberts are going to write the next three books for you. And you'll tie up their loose ends in the fourth. Go." And yes, they would use a Nora Roberts like writer in an AH series, despite her having no AH experience, if they had her under contract and wanted to use the name value. And yes, I deliberately used the inherent irony of anyone telling Turtledove that he writes too slowly to illustrate how fast these books are used to flood the market.

I am transliterating the names of authors as best I can, and I apologize if they themselves choose a different English language spelling.

Now, unto the books:


Vasily Zvyagintsev - Odysseus Leaves Ithaca. 17 volume series (allegedly all written by the author). When Nazis attack on June 22, 1941, the Soviets are ready for them. Soon, the counterattack takes the Soviets deep into Nazi held lands. Things get weird, when it turns out there are aliens involved, and the whole thing is a cosmic game between two competing forces, with humans as pawns. Humans eventually become aware of the nature of the game and try to alter it.

Highlight: the first two books, which stick to non-ASB format, and seem very military fiction based and factual.

Lowlight: from third book on, the aliens get involved, and the whole thing goes off the rails. The books should have been completely separate, but the company or the author kept pumping them out and under the same aegis. By the thirteenth book, psychic snipers suddenly are dueling Stalin in high stakes game of poker.


Sergei Burkatovsky - Yesterday There Will Be War (2008).

Contemporary Russian man falls through time and ends up in Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 and tries to avert the Nazi sneak attack on Russia. Features a very understanding and friendly Comrade Stalin and (Stalin's Himmler) Beria, and a too stupid to live Hitler. When the book came out, it was highly praised by nationalists for it's "nuanced" approach to Stalin.

Highlight: Stalingrad version 0.75 being fought in the western suburbs of Moscow that goes very well for the Soviets.

Lowlight: T-34 tanks are the answer to all questions and will win all battles regardless of strategy, fuel, lack of good commanders, or anything really. T-34 = instant victory.


Alexander Mazin - Barbarians. Four book series, all written by author.

Two Russian cosmonauts re-enter atmosphere to find themselves in 3rd century AD Russia, and decide they want to jumpstart Mother Russia as a nation and the great power in the region by whomping on the nearby Goths, Vandals, and soon run up against the decaying empire of Rome. After a series of adventures, they meet up with a honorable Roman patriot and centurion, who is sick and tired of Rome decaying. The three men bond and decide to help each other and an alliance of awesome results.

Highlight: Roman empire is dysfunctional and Byzantine, and the heroes are never quite sure what is going on there. Even with their ally in place, they have to resort to keeping their own private legions, despite ostensibly doing the bidding of the Empire.

Lowlight: Book 4. Evil proto-Islamic Persian hordes full of evil brown people threaten good blonde Christians, and must be put down, but oh noes, Rome is going through political instability and might not offer any help. If only a Comrade Putin type would show up, stay in office and provide peaceful transition and stability. If only. *dreamy sigh*


Artem Rybakov - Replaying The War. Three books published (ongoing series). Group of Russian WW2 reenactors are having some fun in the woods of Belorussia, running around with paintball guns and praising each other's authentic uniforms, when they fall through the portal of time and end up in WW2 Nazi occupied Belorussia. Things look pretty bad there for a second, but wouldn't you know it - all of the re-enactors are former members of Russian special forces, and veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. They dub themselves The Lost, and dedicate their lives to killing as many Nazis as possible.

Highlight: The second book is called "Liquidators of Time: The Hunt For Reischfuhrer of SS" and it is nowhere near pulp enough to explain just how graphically The Lost go about to hunt down and exterminate the SS. I am not being ironic when I say, I truly enjoyed the death of every Nazi in this book. Inglorious Basterds ain't got sh*t on The Lost.

Lowlight: The third book. Stalin only now becomes aware of The Lost and theorizes they are secretly working for the Nazis. Much teeth gnashing is done over how sad it is all is that we mistrust one another. But, hey, if by books four The Lost decide to whack the Soviet secret police with the same relish they took out the Nazis, I will reverse my lowlight.


Alexei Vitkovski - Vityaz (Warrior). Two books. Both written by author. May, 1942, hero of Soviet Union, fighter pilot Alexander Savinov is shot down over sea by Nazis, and crashes into the choppy waters of 10th century Russia, where the local Russified Viking prince and his house jarls notice his coming. They declare him a Man from Sky, come forth from Valhalla to lead Great Russia to glory. He initially demurs, but then says, "Heck yeah" and gets it done.

Highlight: male bonding moments. Lots and lots of manly friendships.

Lowlight: feels oddly crypto-historical. It's as if the author just wanted to write about Slavic tribal history and mention the myths and beliefs of the people. Nothing Savinov does really has any real consequences, and you don't feel he is changing history, so much as just hanging around and keeping notes. And despite being specifically a WW2 fighter pilot and a Communist, he really doesn't do anything political or creative. He just fights well, but that's about it. He could have easily been a contemporary guy, and it would not change the story one bit.


Sergei Ansimov -The Bis Variant. It's 1944 and the Soviet Union armed forces are rolling into Brussels, Belgium and saving everyone from Nazi Germany. Take that, Saving Private Ryan. No, seriously, the book seems like the author is very, very pissed at having seen that movie and wants to shove it into everyone's face. Germans are idiots. Russians are geniuses. Americans couldn't pour piss from a boot without instruction printed on the heel.

Highlight: ISN'T THIS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER? The tone is so self-congratulatory, that some initially thought it was a parody. Nope.

Lowlight: sequel, Year of Dead Snake. Set during the post-WW2 Korean War. Toned down, and without the !!!! it just becomes a dreary slog of how Russians are doing their best to save Koreans from evil Americans, but gosh, they just don't have the money they need.


Andrei Valentinov - Spartacus. Two books. Spartacus wins, and tries to reform Roman society, but it's very difficult.
Highlight: Spartacus kicking all kinds of Roman ass.
Lowlight: As is with Warrior, the book feels oddly crypto-historical. Everything Spartacus does feels temporary, and even he laments that his actions could be undone and history rewritten when he passes.


Andrei Bondarenko - Double of The Grand Duke. Four book series. Professional Russian soldier Egor Letov is brought in on a secret project, he will be sent back in time and become man who was the best friend of Peter the Great. Turns out, the alien secret service wants Peter dead, and someone must save him. Letov agrees. Transports. Saves Peter the Great. Then refuses to return, and decides to stay and change history and make Russia a great empire. Greater than even Peter the Great made it.

Highlight: third book "Alaskan Gold." 16 years after Letov arrived, won many a war against uppity foreigners and made Russia more powerful in OTL, Peter the Great turns on him. Takes away his Grand Duke title, his lands and his goods. Send hims to Alaska. Letov quickly decides to rule Alaska as his own fiefdom, mine for gold and wait for Peter the Great to change his mind. Or, if Peter does not, then... well, he did say he was going to make Russia a greater empire than even Peter made it.

Lowlight: fourth book. The company publishing the series openly solicited fans on how the book should be written and how the characters should behave. The readers asked for: Peter the Great to be more evil, some samurais, pirates, and a love interest. And boy, did they get it. Peter the Great turns into Mr. Burns, there are samurai battles, cannibalistic pirates, and a comely wench. *face palm*


Yuri Nikitin - Russians Are Coming! (no, seriously, the exclamation point is in the title). Four book series. Evil NATO goes West, but Russia won't let them. War results. Russia wins, and United States collapses. Trouble brews when the Empire of Evil arises out of the ashes of United States, and tries to destroy the goodly nation of Russia as it does good in the world.

Highlight: the whole freaking thing. Just read the description. Come on!

Lowlight: third book "On The Dark Side" veers away from big set battles and turns into a behind enemy lines adventure featuring the brave men and women of "Cascade" squad preventing terror weapons of the Empire of Evil. The fourth book continued the trend with murky espionage and leggy brunettes. Where are my giant tank battles I cried? Where? For there were none. *Weeps*


Valeri Bolshakov - Law of the Sword. Three book series. Oleg Suhov, a contemporary of ours, part time Medieval historical re-enactor, and amateur blacksmithing enthusiast meets up with his pal and recent med school graduate Shurka Ponchik. Freak temporal experiment sends them to 9th century Russia, where the ruling Vikings (Rurik dynasty) immediately dub them them Russian slaves and enslave them. Vikings are a fun bunch, raiding Paris and London, and what have you, while using Suhov to blacksmith and Ponchik to nurse them back to live. Suhov gets fed up with their bullshit, revolts, and creates a Russian Empire. But alas, Russia is not ready for it. Many die. Things go horribly wrong. And Suhov decides that if he can't serve Russia, then he can at least serve the Byzantines. There, he gets a sweet gig as the special forces soldier of the Emperor, and is very good at ferreting out conspiracies.

Highlight: second book "Swordcarrier" where our main hero realizes he and his buddy just can't two-handedly create that which aught not to exist and bid goodbye to their native Russia.

Lowlight: Um, I don't mean to spoil things here, but lets just say that I was a fan of Suhov and Ponchik adventures, not Suhov adventures.


Anton Ptiburdukov (editor) - First Strike (collection). Just a great collection of alternate history short stories displaying the full majesty of Russian language and literature. Too many highlights to list, and nary a lowlight, save for some comedy that does not work (Russian poet Pushkin is a samurai and writes his stuff in haikus, zuh?). The one I enjoyed the most was Trotsky beating Stalin for the leadership of the Soviet Union and things turning out much, much worse for everyone involved, but mostly for the West as Trotsky led Red Army, combined with his acumen and sh*t-stirring ability lead to a C&C Red Alert type scenario.

All the writers returned for a second volume which I sadly can't locate right now, that did an AH version of famous literature. This included:

1) an AH "Nutcracker" where the Mouse King wins the battle against Gingerbread Soldiers, despite the efforts of Nutcracker or Clara. Written as
an after-action-report by the regimental military historian of the mice, breaking down and analyzing what went right for the Mouse King, while explaining the lunacy of Nutcracker's army tactics.

2) An AH "Captain's Daughter" where the Russian peasant Pugachev overthrows the monarchy, and chaos ensues.

3) an AH "War and Peace" set in a world where Napoleon uses the promise of freeing the Russian serfs to stir up trouble, that backfires horrendously for him, when the Russian serfs choose their own Tsar (noted Russian historical anti-French partisan leader and hussar) and throw out both the Russian monarchists and the French. Russia goes weird, and Russian emigres in France plot the assassination of Napoleon that does absolutely nothing to change the messed up world, but does give them a measure of revenge.

4) an AH "Captain Blood" who got sent not to New World for his part in the Monmouth Rebellion, but to Russia, where he quickly becomes a dashing pirate on the Volga (although with much more disastrous results for himself).

5) And a short story that got spun out into three not very good books called D'Artagnan - Cardinal's Guard. Where our plucky Musketeer is not a Musketeer, but having found the Musketeers uncouth and unfriendly to the raw youth from Gascony on a very ugly horse, throws in his lot with Cardinal Richelieu, who manipulates him into becoming his chief enforcer.

That is all for now. If you guys and gals want to hear more, I will scour the interwebs for it.
 

Thande

Donor
Thanks for that. Always interesting to see AH in other nations, and I particularly like the idea of those stories focusing on how an existing piece of literature would be different in a different timeline. Unfortunately not much chance of any of these making it into English I suspect, considering that it seems all Russian books published in the UK are translated by the same one guy!
 
Andrei Bondarenko's Grand Duke trilogy sounds creative and fun.

I also like the two collections mentioned at the end of your post.

If they were available, I'd definitely give them a try.
 
Well, that's what we get for having AH move into the pop-culture section ;)
Seriously, in a typical "SF/fantasy" shelf at just about any Moscow bookstore, something like 30+ percent is AH (and that is a lower estimate... admittenly that's if one counts the egregious fantasy types, like that book where a bunch of Dark Elves just randomly arrived at WWII's Eastern Front and proceeded to help the USSR. Or that series* where a bunch of people from some sort of Time Patrol try to set various timelines on a path that isn't too far off - while constantly bumping into various mythical and/or folklore personages... at least that one is actually good at times).
And yes, the "Connecticut Yankee/Lest Darkness Fall" subgenre is alive and well in Russia... unfortunately, 90% of those involve WWII (or at least the Nazis) in some way. :(


*) For the record: that would be Vladimir Sverzhin's Institut Eksperimental'noy Istorii (Institute of Experimental History).
 

Thande

Donor
Well, that's what we get for having AH move into the pop-culture section ;)
Seriously, in a typical "SF/fantasy" shelf at just about any Moscow bookstore, something like 30+ percent is AH (and that is a lower estimate... admittenly that's if one counts the egregious fantasy types, like that book where a bunch of Dark Elves just randomly arrived at WWII's Eastern Front and proceeded to help the USSR. Or that series* where a bunch of people from some sort of Time Patrol try to set various timelines on a path that isn't too far off - while constantly bumping into various mythical and/or folklore personages... at least that one is actually good at times).
And yes, the "Connecticut Yankee/Lest Darkness Fall" subgenre is alive and well in Russia... unfortunately, 90% of those involve WWII (or at least the Nazis) in some way. :(


*) For the record: that would be Vladimir Sverzhin's Institut Eksperimental'noy Istorii (Institute of Experimental History).
Mainstream AH's WW2 Obsession: crosses all national, linguistic and cultural borders.
 
I was in Germany for a while, but because my grasp on the language wasn't the best, I avoided the bookstores. I wonder what the Germans have got in the alternate history field?
 

Thande

Donor
I was in Germany for a while, but because my grasp on the language wasn't the best, I avoided the bookstores. I wonder what the Germans have got in the alternate history field?
There's a member here called something like "posbi" (not quite sure) who's reviewed a few AH books in German, as well as published one himself.
 
Having chummed the waters, I now returned with more. Some good. Some "Lest Darkness Fall" models till going strong (very, very strong). And an ISOT to make you wish you could stop people from writing.


Andrei Erpelev. "Mirror Universe: Mirror Twins."

Action takes place along two parallel universes set in present day: in one, the Soviet Union never fell and continues to creak along at its own pace; in the other, the Russian Empire never fell and continues to creak along at its own pace. The two heroes are the same man born in each of their respective universes and both are cops. Each man stumbles into the other when hunting down criminals who travel between two alternate realities, transporting drugs (which are easier to obtain in the crumbling Soviet Union with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan growing vast opium fields as the Soviet bureaucracy looks the other way and Soviet officials cite that drug addiction is a Western vice and as such cannot exist in the bastion of Communism) in exchange for gold (the Russian Empire never got off the gold standard, and although gold coins have a relatively high purchase power in the Empire they are non-existent in the Soviet Union where dealing in gold can get you executed by the KGB).

The travel takes place by a door in a basement of an old house in a small town in a central Russian/Soviet province that is quaint and provincial in both realities, but increasingly becomes the focus of their respective governments.

The heroes get over the shock and unreality of meeting each other and begin to cooperate, not out of any love or mutual admiration, but because they each have to survive in alternating hostile worlds not of their choosing. Both men have strange dreams where they think they are the other and remember other alternate realities where neither man is alive and one where one of them is the Emperor of Russia.

Complicating things further are two ruthless criminals, each with political protection in their own reality. In the Russian Empire, it is the black sheep of an aristocratic family who styles himself a bit of a Moriarty, but is just a sociopath thug with good taste in clothes, women and wine. Despite being more safe in the Russian Empire reality, he craves the adventures of the Soviet zone, finding their laws quaint and their criminal underclass provincial (he is delighted when three local thieves try to box him in on the street and steer him into a dark alley to rob him, allows himself to get caught, giddy with anticipation, and is so disappointed by their crude attempts to threaten him with ordinary street violence that lacks all panache - he decapitates them with his sword-cane).

In the Soviet Union, the criminal is a vaguely ethnic drug dealer who can't believe his own good luck when stumbling into a Russian Empire world where cops operate under Sunday School rules, the criminals are all dandies with delusions of grandeur, and easy money could be made conning everyone around him (he still kills his victims for shits and giggles though).

Very well written tale, with three increasingly deteriorating sequels (all by the same author). The AH element is how the two worlds came to exist, with Soviet Union prolonging its life, and Russian Empire stifling all unrest. The biggest plus is how apolitical it all is. I mean it. Considering how much Russian AH is "wouldn't it all be better if..." revenge fantasies, it was refreshing to read good AH where the point of the story was the story.

Russian Empire is depicted as a place of institutionalized discrimination, horrid and rigid class standards, and zero respect for civil rights or any notion such a thing is possible. Standard of living is high for those who can afford it and screw the rest. Obscurantism is unevenly applied, and everyone is filled with the notion that something went wrong and this could be better, but instead of trying to meaningfully address it, the wealthy deal with their guilt by joining a growing numbers of religious sects (one of which is running the drug trade out of the provincial town the Russian cop is sent to investigate, but he can't do it formally because a growing number of people in the sect are aristocrats and are thus above the law).

Soviet Union is described as a squalid shithole living past its natural expiration date, with corrupt cops who shake down ethnic dealers in coins, drugs, or anything of value. Jails where criminals who testify against each other are put in the same cell because the inept guards didn't want to take each man to separate cell and thus get a different set of keys. Hospitals where one is as likely to die from wounds as neglect. And the overall dullness and grayness of knowing you are a place propped up by bullshit and atomic weapons.


And now for something no good.

Please keep in mind I am not getting the lunatic fringe AH, I am sampling mainstream AH that is in the top 100 of AH read books on mainstream book trading torrent sites and is ranked by view hits.

Anatoly Loginov "USSR: Counterstrike" 1953, March. Stalin lies dying. USSR is mighty and powerful and good (no, seriously, the author thinks Stalinism was the best thing ever and hates Khrushchev with hot molten lava passion). But then, something happens. And the whole country -all of it - is displaced in time to June, 1941 on the eve of WW2. (The author boasts that he has no idea how this could have happened in the notes, and says he did no research into Nazi Germany). Armed with knowledge of the future and kickass awesome nuclear powers in 1941, the Soviets blast the living sht out of the Nazis and those no-good Americans! Turning White House into a mushroom cloud. F*ck yeah! The End.

Highlights: Learning that Soviet Union's greatest folly was using 7.62 mm cartridges for their firearms. Apparently the use of this no-good, bad, terrible ammo led to many difficulties. I had never, ever, heard of this being a problem before. And was amused and enlightened.

Lowlights: Genocide. Revanchism. Racism. Learning Stalinism was awesome. Having to read reviews that favorably compared the author's work to Tom Clancy and how they wished it had happened like this instead of the OTL.

You want to take a shower after reading the book, and during it. This author will either end up in jail or in a publicly elected office. Moving on.


Sergei Artuykhin "Through the Tear in Time! Russian Special Forces Against Hitllerites." No, seriously, that is the title of the book.
As you can then imagine, the book is about a group of present day special forces lads who - wait for it - tear ass through time and land during - wait for it - WW2, and go about killing some SS squads. Lots and lots of killing.

Highlight: lest you think it is all about killing, it's... well, yeah, its all about killing, but according to the publisher it is also about a top secret plan that is the reason the brave lads of special forces went back in time. Some technobabble is thrown in, but it's really about the killing.

Lowlight: the killing is shockingly uncreative and having read "Liquidators of Time: The Hunt For Reischfuhrer of SS," I was disappointed by how ungraphic the murders are. Even SS aren't evil-evil, just run of the mill evil. I expected more.

And now for something just slightly different.


Valeri Bolshakov. He of "Law of the Sword" fame wrote another series: "Rome." Four modern day ex-special forces lads and ancient martial art pankration enthusiasts get into a tumble with a couple of ethnic drug dealers, things look pretty bleak, but our heroes manage to get away and - wait for it - stumble into the past. Ancient Rome. Gladiator battles. Love affairs with local ladies. Evil brown people from the Middle East (why yes there is a shaman who zombifes people and turns them into terrorists, why do you ask?). Lots and lots of battles. And Russians decide that if they can't make a Russia, they'll Russify the shit out of ancient Rome and kick some ass.

Highlight: our heroes are constantly despised by the locals and have this martyr mentality of doing things for the greater good of civilization despite no one thanking them for making stuff good. You can learn a lot about contemporary Russian gov't approved national mentality of Russian culture by reading these books.

Lowlight: the Egyptian shaman. The books were goofily written and had enough action adventure to keep me attentive, but then came the evil brown people, brain washed by the most brownest and evilst guy out there who turned them into terrorists and wants to unleash his demented belief system on the world. As I said, you can learn a lot about contemporary Russian gov't approved national mentality of Russian culture by reading these books.

And now for something completely different.


Anatoly Drozdov. "The Company of His Highness."

Present day. Brave ex-special forces lad is melancholy. His girlfriend (medical student) was killed by a junkie. The junkie is a daughter of a local authority figure and the courts let her walk. Unable to bring about justice, our hero falls into a sulk and goes to visit his uncle in the countryside to get away from it all. His uncle is an odd man, vaguely secretive about what he does, but not sinister about it. One day, our hero notices strange coins on the kitchen counter. His uncle intercepts, makes up a bullshit excuse, sweats a lot and moves on.

Our hero explores the house. Finds odd stuff in the basement that seems to be warehoused goods of various make and manufacture, and then stumbles upon a portal of sorts to another dimension. The place is seemingly Russia, and all speak Russian language, but there are orcs, elves, and the clothes are very odd - blending Russian Civil War with WW2 era jokes and linguistic quirks. Not sure if this is a dream, strange thought experiment, or what, our hero decides to keep his mouth shut and find a way back, but is to his shock immediately recognized as coming from the Old World. He is not the first visitor they've had from our present day Earth and they eagerly await goods, services or gossip about the other side. His uncle is something of a merchant trading things between this dimension and OTL and in addition to business on the side, brings books, medicine and helps around.

What makes this AH and not a total fantasy Tolkien-lite is that there were two big sets of visitors from the Old World before our hero's uncle even figured out how to get here or what's what. In 1920, an unknown number of monarchists and anti-Bolsheviks losing the Russian Civil War arrived here in shock and confusion. They came at a moment of crisis in the New World, when the elven kingdoms was under heavy assault from the barbarian hordes of tribal orcs. Quickly seizing a chance to save some sort of civilization, the Russian emigres founded "New Russia" as a Russian Empire analogue. Beat back the orcs with firearms, and inaugurated a messy, weird, and completely inefficient monarchy of elves (pointy ears) over the barbaric orcs (human ears) they dubbed New Russia.

The 1920s newcomers were welcomed with open arms... until they started marrying the local elven women and horror of horrors, their children were also born with pointy elven ears. Society was scandalized, as any orc-elf offspring (unwanted and always called a product of rape, even if it is consensual - for good elven women do not debase themselves with orcs) have orcish rounded ears. With no way to tell who was elf and who was human newcomer, a series of decrees was passed to prove blood purity and thus preserve good elf order, until one genius doctor uncovered a shocking truth: the skin connecting the shaft and head of the penis of the newcomers is ordinary, and in elves it is thicker or "doubled."

Our hero is told all of this by a grinning medical expert who immediately examines him at the behest of the local authorities. "Don't you realize the implications!" exclaims the elven medical expert. Our hero does not. Expert patiently explains how now elven men can prove their racial purity and no doubt can be had. Orderly penises = orderly society.

Our hero realizes he's not in a fantasy world of his own choosing, and thinks he should get the Hell out of here and go back home. However, there are three problems: one, as his uncle's nephew, it is expected of him to keep the trade and barter going; two, he naturally falls in love with an elven woman; and three, there was another set of visitors.

In 1941, a regiment of Soviet infantry stumbled into New Earth, and indoctrinated by pure Stalinism and hatred for monarchy and Russian emigres, decided to dismantle the piss out of the New Earth and New Russia. They quickly radicalized the orcs and established Union of United Tribes. Civil War raged until stalemate, and even with new technology and faith militant, the Union could not destroy the emigre founded society.

The Union walled itself off. Established concentration camps to bleed and work out the political impurity of the land. Created war academies. And lots and lots of secret police. Unfortunately, their economy was also based on Stalinism and they quickly wiped out their technological superiority.

Periodic wars happen between unreconstructed Stalinist orcs of the Union and dipshit monarchists of New Russia. It goes without saying, our hero's love interest is endangered, and he has to set things right to save things.

Highlight: the whole premise, and the glorious medical examination scene.

Lowlight: sadly, the author writes awkwardly and it is a chore to struggle through the badly mangled prose. Think Forstchen. I know some people here love him, but I can't get over his writing style, and sadly this guy is his Russian cousin.
 

Thande

Donor
That Mirror Universe one sounds fascinating, we've discussed that kind of plot before on here and how it's rather underused--though in our discussions it's normally "OTL vs an ATL", not two different ATLs...the way he does it sounds very interesting.

I know Turtledove's Worldwar books have been translated into Russian, are they well known in the AH community there or not?
 
Thank you very much for sharing these. Some of the less...ahem, bombastic stories sound pretty good. I'd especially like to read the Mirror Universe one.
 
That Mirror Universe one sounds fascinating, we've discussed that kind of plot before on here and how it's rather underused--though in our discussions it's normally "OTL vs an ATL", not two different ATLs...the way he does it sounds very interesting.

I know Turtledove's Worldwar books have been translated into Russian, are they well known in the AH community there or not?
Turtledove's books are well known. The biggest impact is that the presence of Turtledove's books led a sizeable portion of Russian AHers to go out and search other English-language AH translated in Russian, which is how Harrison was discovered and his older books (published in the English speaking world before Turltedove's works) were published in Russia after Turtledove's novels.

By an odd quirk, Harrison's publisher was able to get most of his back catalogue printed in Russia, and Turtledove's did not (long confusing story, but had something to do with dispute and them switching publishers or getting multiple deals with different publishers, as well as a shitty economy). As a result, Harrison swamped the market with translated AH and became by sheer volume the king of what Russian thought English-language AH to be all about.

By the time the dust cleared and Turtledove's Timeline 191 books made it over there, they were seen as an old hat, because Harrison's "Stars and Stripes Forever" was considered to be the big time American Civil War AH.

Now, Russians love ACW because "Gone with the Wind" was one of the most beloved pieces of foreign cinema in the Soviet Union, and was re-shown in the theaters during periodic revivals (the last time was probably 1988ish and major cities in the Soviet republics put it up in their nicest theaters as the prime feature, so these were not discounty second-viewing midnight madness cult favorite showings of "Rocky Horror."). But Russians had their own Civil War, and a lot of AH is written on that as well, so they could not bothered with a second take on ACW.

I have read many works of Russian AH which tip the hat to Harrison. Some of it homage, a lot is straight rip-off, and some is a combination of both, where the author has his hero overhear dialogue between two dinner companions at the cafe "oh my, doesn't this remind you of a scenario we read about from that one chap who writes speculative stories... uh, what's his name" and then give the expy name of the expy version of Harrison.

Turtledove did, however, very much influence one particular subgroup of AHers that mostly write military fiction. You can see a lot of Turtledove in how the battle scenes are crafted and what the characters say, but there is no tip of the hat or name drop or nothing. Not sure why.
 
As much as the Mirror Mirror one sounds cool, I feel a need to read "Through the Tear in Time! Russian Special Forces Against Hitllerites." so much more. I can't resist a title like that.
 
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