What if HT was actually a good writer??

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Doraemon, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. Doraemon From the 22nd Century

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    So, Harry Turtledove is probably the best known (though not best liked) writer of AH history. So what would this genre look like if he had continued to write pretty good stories such as The Guns of the South and The Lost Legion of Videssos?

    Or maybe this belongs in ASB:D
     
  2. Umbric Man Umbric Manned

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    The flip side would be overly obsessive, possessive fanboys, drooling over his every whim and acting arrogant on it and as if he's a genius, and believe me even that will be too much for this place.

    I know some will say that there could be some now, but the I haven't seen any such people here yet.
     
  3. Sergio Van Lukenstein Well-Known Member

    He's not far from being a great writer. Personally, I think there are two things that have stopped him from being really good.

    First, he shouldn't have based TL-191 off of European history so much. You pretty much know what's going to happen overall once you find out that he's basing the conflict between the USA and CSA on actual European history.

    However, I'm still willing to read TL-191 despite that. I only just finished reading The Center Cannot Hold last week, and I want to read more. That's because the characters are actually interesting. It's the micro-level stuff that makes the books interesting, not the macro-level world history. Still, I wish his inspiration had deviated somewhat from actual history so that the overall events would be a surprise.

    Oh, and the second thing is obvious... the awkward sex scenes. TONE THEM DOWN OR GET RID OF THEM ENTIRELY!
     
  4. Doraemon From the 22nd Century

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    Ah, you haven't gotten to the later books eh? They'll make you want to throw up. Seriously.

    The American Empire series was still fine, through the point of this thread is that if HT made AA to AAA books to this day.
     
  5. Sergio Van Lukenstein Well-Known Member

    Well, I'll still read Settling Accounts. At the very least, it struck enough of a chord with people that they made mods for Civilization and Hearts of Iron 2 based on it.

    I haven't read any of the Videssos books. I suppose I should. Guns of the South was great... except for the awkward sex scenes!

    I thought Ruled Britannia was really well-executed, too. I think it actually lacked awkward sex scenes!

    Oh, and I just realized I forgot a third thing that I hate about Turtledove... for whatever reason, it really freaks me out when he uses the phrase "in a family way" to describe someone who's pregnant. It's just a really weird phrase.

    Anyway, my point is that he's very close to being a great writer, but he has to stop doing the three things that I mentioned.

    By the way, what other HT books are actually worth reading? I've read all of Worldwar. Should I bother with Colonization, or would it be more satisfying just to read a plot summary of it.
     
  6. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    Occupied Sequoyah, CSA (Okla)
    How good? "Literature good" (Bradbury or Orwell)? Serviceable pulp SF? I will assume the latter:

    HT writes the following AH novels pretty much as we have them:

    Guns of the South
    A Different Flesh
    A World of Difference
    How Few Remain


    The following are written, but differ in content or editing from those we know

    "In the Presence of My Enemies" (they don't play Bridge and the furher is not Kurt Waldheim)
    The Two Pearl Harbor novels are collapsed into one book with about 1/2 the characters


    The Entire Great War/American Empire/WW2 series is paired down to 3 books, each dealing with one of the three main time frames. Each are entirely standalone in that the do not continue from the moment the previous one ends and they do not track all the same characters. Only Featherston remains as a constant and maybe one or two other in each side.

    The World War series is also paired down to 2 or 3 books, but overall many fewer changes than the Great War et al series.
     
  7. Sergio Van Lukenstein Well-Known Member

    Have him take out the Samuel Clemens sex scene from How Few Remain. That was really weird and surreal to read.
     
  8. rcduggan 大元帅

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    I never understood why HT wrote sex scenes in his books. Is it because he is a pervert who just likes writing that? Does he think it makes him seem to be a better writer? who the hell knows.

    aside from the random and pointless sex scenes, his books are semi-alright. not the best things out by far, but IMO still readable.
     
  9. Trotsky Trotsky

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    Mar 12, 2004
    Because even fictional Americans and Confederates need sex.

    I've always loved the Tales of Krispos trilogy. That was a good read if I may say so. Agent of Byzantium, too.
     
  10. MrP Enemy of the people

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    Sex scenes can be as good as any other scene when written well. However, if done badly, they can end up boring. Try watching Nine Songs - it's an attempt to tell the story of a relationship with the sex, which usually is ignored in film. It's an interesting idea, but as a reviewer said, in the execution the director achieved the unusual* feat of making sex boring.

    * Obviously, this depends on one's experiences of sex. It can definitely be dull.
     
  11. Trotsky Trotsky

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    Mar 12, 2004
    I was never bothered by the sex scenes. Some of the dialogue was much worse.
     
  12. Sergio Van Lukenstein Well-Known Member

    You know, I try to tell myself that, but whenever I get to a sex scene in one of HT's novels, I just...

    I don't know. I feel dirty. And not in a good way.
     
  13. Trotsky Trotsky

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    I've been curious about what a Featherston sex scene would be like.
     
  14. Fenwick Uncrowned ruler of Hippies Donor

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    I am somewhat tired of people speaking out against HT so much. I shall admit he is repetitive, has his TL's mirror OTL somewhat often, and needs an editor. Yet I started reading AH because of him, so I have to defend the man for some reason.

    The truth is, the guy writes good stories, we whine, we yell, we say he sucks, yet we keep reading them. If people read one book and stopped, that is one thing, but for the most part many pick up his books. Now I will soon get the "Well Fenwick I only stopped reading after Breakthroughs," yet I would like to point out, that the people who say this know the books well. You mention Moss, Featherstone, or Dowling and they know who you are talking about.

    That to me says in terms of AH he is an average writer, but in terms of character he is a good one. So please do not yell at the man who introduced many of us to AH, unless you yourself can write something better. And if you can why on earth have you not published? :D
     
  15. MrP Enemy of the people

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    He has written enjoyable books. I enjoyed The Guns of the South. Many others enjoyed his work on Byzantium. His short stories seem popular.

    However, his TL191 stuff is unreadable, to be blunt. I don't need to be a published author to be incapable of reading something. He's less bad than Dan "Da Vinci Code" Brown, but that says little.
     
  16. Admiral Canaris Banned

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    I wouldn't say unreadable... just implausible, easily predicted and somewhat tired after the first three-four instalments... OK, they're not that great, but there are worse...
     
  17. Sergio Van Lukenstein Well-Known Member

    I bet you're actually the HT in disguise that everyone is looking for! :D

    (Just kidding!)

    Anyway, that was pretty much what I tried to say before. Even though I already know that Featherston is going to do some very nasty things to the blacks in the CSA, and the CSA is going to lose WWII in a really bad way, I'm still eager to read the rest of TL-191. I want to see what happens to Dowling, Colleton, Scipio, McGregor, Pinkard, et al. They all have their own interesting personal stories, and it's these personal stories that really make the books.

    And yes, I believe that his characters and their personal stories make up for the overuse of OTL analogues, the awkward sex scenes, and the use of the phrase "in a family way".

    So, even though I'm doing a little bit of trash talking in this thread, I'm with you, Fenwick.
     
  18. Dean_the_Young Uppity Bad Spellar

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    I just find it annoying beyond belief when people complain unendingly about the books, and then proceed to buy and read all of them, painstakingly taking notes of every last deficiency, and then claim they do it "because they don't like to quit." It's a bad excuse, IMO.
     
  19. Admiral Canaris Banned

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    Is it just me who's being weird, or is it actually easier to sympathise with most of the Confederates than with the Americans?
     
  20. MrP Enemy of the people

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    Good news, everybody! I complain about them secondhand, since I haven't managed to read the three or so I bought once upon a time. ;)