50 Following


Currently reading

The Vulcan Academy Murders
Jean Lorrah
Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister
Nicholas Shakespeare
Progress: 103/528 pages
The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia, Volume 1: The Socialist Offensive: The Collectivisation of Soviet Agriculture, 1929-1930
Robert William Davies
Progress: 56/512 pages
The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914
Richard J. Evans
Progress: 219/928 pages
Young Wilhelm: The Kaiser's Early Life, 1859-1888
John C. G. Röhl
Progress: 229/1016 pages

Represents the best of the alternate history genre

Days of Infamy - Harry Turtledove

Over the years Harry Turtledove has come to dominate the burgeoning field of alternate history. Through a steady output of series and stand-alone works his novels have come to set the standard for the genre. Yet the more of his books i have read the more I feel that they are hit-or-miss, with the overall quality of his output declining as he succumbs to the pressure of expectations or bills or whatever and churns out increasingly formulaic works that lack the imagination and effort fo which he is capable. Yet among his works are some good books and even a few first-rate novels that represent the best of what alternate history can be.

Turtledove's "Days of Infamy" duology is among those at the top of his prolific output. Starting from the premise of a decision by the Japanese high command to follow up their attack on Pearl Harbor with an invasion of the island of Oahu, he recounts the subsequent course of events through the lives of a diverse array of characters -- most of them fictional, but with a few historical figures as well. The formula itself isn't new to Turtledove, but here he is firing on all cylinders, with good pacing, engaging and plausible developments, and a variety of different perspectives that provides a real color to events. He conveys a real sense of having thought through what such an occupation would have looked like (I would love to learn what inspiration and research he drew upon to design and inform his speculations, though the text supplies a few hints). It's the sum total of all of this that makes this for me one of the best of Turtledove's oeuvre, as well as one of finest examples of alternate history done right.