Alternate Generals III
by Harry Turtledove
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0743498976
Date: 01 April, 2005 List Price $24.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
An old clich? says the third time?s a charm. But what if the first two were pretty good themselves? There is the dilemma. This is the perfect problem to have when you are talking about books. Alternate Generals III once again allows readers to journey to different realms of possibility. It is edited by Harry Turtledove, one of the masters of alternate history, who has enthralled readers with his alternate Civil War histories, Videssos cycles, and Alien Invasion series.
Pivotal leaders who have influenced thought and history are the focus of the thirteen stories in this collection. One choice can lead to a new future. One slip can cause the end of an empire. Give an author a chance, and they?ll create a new world of possibilities.
Some stories just defy easy classification. In the first story of this collection by A.M. Dellamonica, ?A Key to the Illuminated Heretic?, you can follow the maid and keep the fires burning. Roland Green presents a wonderful tale of the War of 1812 through one family?s fictional letters in ?It Isn?t Every Day of the Week?. The Great Khan converts to Judaism in Judith Tarr?s ?Measureless to Man?.
On the American History front, one of alternate history?s favorite subjects, Robert E. Lee, returns in Lee Alfred?s ?East of Appomattox?, where the unmatched general faces his final challenge - justifying the South?s peculiar institution. If you like Ike, Doolittle, Patton, and MacArthur then you?ll enjoy, ?I Shall Return?, by John Mina. Get another dose of MacArthur in William Sanders? ?Not Fade Away?. Viet Nam was a turning point in American History and in ?Murdering Uncle Ho? some of that era?s greatest names all get involved in the plot to kill Ho Chi Minh.
Rome is at the heart of three of these stories. In ?The Road to Endless Sleep?, Jim Fiscus tells of a different ending to the love of Antony and Cleopatra. Turtledove?s ?Shock and Awe? tells of Roman subjugation of rebellious Jews. Any soldier knows that you shouldn?t draw the attention of your superiors, Hannibal least of all, Esther Friesner describes the fate of one such unfortunate in ?First, Catch your Elephant?.
Sometimes people like to pick on the British. Mike Resnick?s ?The Burning Spear of Twilight? shows what would have happened to the British in Kenya if they got bad press. In ?A Good Bag?, Brad Linaweaver details the problems of peace between Germany and England. The Scottish defeat the Duke of Cumberland?s forces at Culloden Moor and force the Duke to escape in an odd way in ?Over the Sea from Skye?, by Lillian Stewart Carl.
Some people prefer a full-fledged book at all times. I love slipping a short story collection in every so often. I enjoy something that I can finish in a short period of time while commuting to work on the bus and train. I am a huge Harry Turtledove fan. I have enjoyed many of his books and some of his other short story collections. Alternate History is most easily enjoyed when you know the history of the era. I admit to being unfamiliar with the true timeline in a couple of stories, but it didn?t take away from the collection or my enjoyment. The easiest to follow stories are those whose characters are well known such as Robert E. Lee.
If only I had taken a right turn in Albuquerque. Most of us have had some of those moments in our past. It is natural to look back and wonder what might have been. One thing I won?t do is look back and wish I hadn?t read this book.