The world of Harry Turtledove's Atlantis.

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Ok this thread is cool. It's been a decade and some since I read these books. But if I remember correctly Atlantis was united by the end of the second book and the third was an ACW analogy with the cousins of the main POV family fighting over slavery.

From what I remember they were vague over what happened on Terra Nova. Also with just what amounts to the geologic east coast the United states of Atlantis will not be and parallel to our USA resource wise.
 
Having at last completed my first read-through of the series (one prompted by this very thread), it seems only fair to lay out my key thoughts on the ATLANTIS novels:-

- Starting from the top, it is fair to say that this is one of Professor Turtledove's better contributions to the genre; it suggests Big Ideas (What if the USA was also an Island Continent? What if Europe discovered the New World early? What if the Slaves freed themselves? and so forth), it offers a broad and often colourful picture of a readily-comprehensible yet not wholly familiar world (rebel archers, man-eating eagles, PIRATE KINGS, George Washington with Thomas Jefferson problems, Frederick Douglass as George Washington of the 19th Century, honkers!) without allowing the narration to become so hydra-headed the series can only be told at tedious length & outstay its welcome.

If it sometimes gives the impression that Professor Turtledove writes with more industry than enthusiasm, it's only fair to remind those who would have enjoyed a deeper dive into local details or a slightly less archetypical plot & characters that the Dean of Alternate History is writing to make a living & support a family rather than make a point; while his work may lack a certain passion, I find it to be consistently inoffensive & competently-drafted (with a happy tendency to leave quite enough room for fans to come up with their own answers to the questions that suggest themselves throughout this trilogy).


- Concerning the books themselves, LIBERATING ATLANTIS is my favourite but OPENING ATLANTIS is probably the best of them; THE UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS is most definitely the weakest of this trilogy, having shackled itself to Victor Radcliff's single point of view (a decision which seems all the more peculiar given the character himself was introduced in a chapter of OPENING ATLANTIS that works very effectively as a two-sided exploration of the local Seven Years War, told from the duelling perspectives of Mr Radcliff and the late Siegneur de Kersauzon and is downright bizarre given the novel's sequel offers an equally multi-sided view of the Great Insurrection), which leaves his opponents looking downright lazy, crazy and (worst of all) boring - given we never get a chance to get inside their heads & find out how much Mr Radcliff doesn't know (a few more insights would have allowed us a much stronger sense of a duel between equals, which would have lent an extra sense of drama), it's difficult to take much of an interest in his operations against the Loyalist Forces.

While the fidelity with which Professor Turtledove follows the course of the American Revolution (a little simplified & sped-up) makes it transparently clear that the King's Men won't be winning this one, he could at least have made the journey towards that inevitable conclusion a more interesting one; in all honesty, were Professor Turtledove to insist on maintaining only a since perspective throughout he might have done better to focus on a Loyalist, rather than on the lead Patriot (building this novel as the tragedy of a good man reduced to villainy inch by inch as victory slips out of his grasp and defeat looms closer & larger all the while - rather than the steady process towards Victory of a competent professional, whose very professionalism renders his fears for the cause less genuine doubt and more nagging concern, leaving his adventures against a fairly flat opposition even less thrilling by comparison).

Either that or have the nerve to kill off Radcliff in the very hour of his triumph and use that twist to show how important George Washington was to the American Revolution not only in war but in peace.


OPENING ATLANTIS, by contrast, is a nice little dance across the centuries - a variety of perspectives allowing us a wider and more interesting picture of the unknown continent and its history opening up before us; my only quibble is that Professor Turtledove could (and perhaps should) have gone further with his 'early' settlement of Atlantis, showing the local United States gets its start through the tectonic convulsions unleashed across the Realms of Charles the First by the War between King & Parliament (a logical extension of the Cromwellian Commonwealth's creation and quite possibly a budding democratic opposition to the Lord Protector).

LIBERATING ATLANTIS, as mentioned above, is my personal favourite: seeing the Atlantean slave population seize freedom with their own two hands and a certain amount of luck offers a lovely twist on the American Civil War of our own timeline, while leaving the Island USA with an ending that serves as an excellent hook for further storytelling - and what more can one ask from an Alternate History than that?


(BY THE WAY) Of the unstated questions posed by the books, the ones that interest me most are:

(1) How did the abrupt & distant demise of Richard, Earl of Warwick affect the Wars of the Roses, at a point when the heir of Henry VI was still alive, well and safely beyond the reach of Edward IV?

(2) Just how did the English colonies in Atlantis hold off the Spanish, as they rampaged across the New World and turned hostile eyes on Old England?

(3) Were the Atlanteans for Crown or Parliament during the Civil Wars of Charles the First?

(4) How does the government in the Atlantean US actually work? (My guess is that it's a very, very Parliamentary system where the legislative has a clear ascendancy over the executive; hence the protracted absence of Consul Stafford & Consul Newton having so little impact on day-to-day governance, a vacuum difficult to imagine the United States of America taking so casually).

(5) Does the United States of Atlantis attempt to rival the Royal Navy of that other great Island Nation throughout the nineteenth century or does it content itself with watching the Atlantean coast and not much more? (How does the United States of Atlantis suffer from the lack of legroom & extra resources it would have enjoyed as a part of the 'Terranovan' mainland?).

(6) Just how rough is the post-Insurrection reconstruction going to be? (Is there room for a National Park that will do its best to protect, preserve and defend the steadily-vanishing Atlantean ecology?).

(7) Just what does Terranova North look like and what's been going on there while Atlantis stumbled along half slave & half free?
 
Having completed the series through the acquisition of ATLANTIS & OTHER PLACES, one can safely say that while I'm not very keen on Professor Turtledove's idea of Doctor Watson (ahem, Doctor Walton) his attempt at a Holmesian adventure is quite an enjoyable way to take a last look at the United States of Atlantis, with an absolutely HILARIOUS final scene (not least because it comes as a total surprise, Mr Helms having been archetypically Holmesian right up until he takes turn for the Roger Moore).

One did think it a trifle odd that Atlanteans are so gun-happy, given the lack of really dangerous predators or local rivals on the Island Continent, but given THE SCARLET BAND takes place only a decade or two after the Great Insurrection there's an easy explanation for the United States' alarming fondness for heavy firepower.


AUDOBON IN ATLANTIS, on the other hand, was less a romp and more a melancholy evocation of the ancient island slowly receding into legend as the modern world gnaws away at it; it's also interesting as our only real glimpse of the Terranovan mainland, especially since there's the suggestion that New Orleans has been acquired by an English-speaking power which cannot be the United States of Atlantis - one can only wonder if Great Britain has acquired the local equivalent to Louisiana or if some English-speaking state was erected as a buffer between British Terranova & Mexico (doubtless with the additional purpose of acting as a safety valve for the sort of settlers who rather loathed the Abolition of the Slave Trade, compensation or no compensation).
 
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