Harry Turtledove

Harry Norman Turtledove (born June 14, 1949) is an American novelist, best known for his work in the genres of alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction and mystery.

Harry Turtledove
Turtledove at the 2005 Worldcon
Born (1949-06-14) June 14, 1949
Los Angeles, California, United States
Pen nameDan Chernenko, Eric G. Iverson, Mark Gordian, H. N. Turteltaub
OccupationNovelist, short story author, essayist, historian
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology (dropped out)
University of California, Los Angeles
GenreScience fiction, fantasy, alternate history, historical fiction, history
Notable worksSouthern Victory
Crosstime Traffic
The Guns of the South
The Two Georges

Early life

Turtledove was born in Los Angeles, California on June 14, 1949, and grew up in Gardena, California. His paternal grandparents, who were Romanian Jews, had first emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, before moving to the U.S. and California.[1][2] He was educated in local public schools in early life.

After dropping out during his freshman year at Caltech, Turtledove attended UCLA, completing his undergraduate degree and receiving a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977. His dissertation was titled The Immediate Successors of Justinian: A Study of the Persian Problem and of Continuity and Change in Internal Secular Affairs in the Later Roman Empire During the Reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (AD 565–582).[3][4]


In 1979, Turtledove published his first two novels, Wereblood and Werenight, under the pseudonym "Eric G. Iverson." Turtledove later explained that his editor at Belmont Tower did not think people would believe the author's real name was "Turtledove" and came up with something more Nordic.[5] He continued to use the "Iverson" name until 1985. Another early pseudonym was "Mark Gordian."

That year he published Herbig-Haro and And So to Bed under his real name. Turtledove has recently begun publishing historical novels under the pseudonym "H.N. Turteltaub" (Turteltaube means turtle dove in German).[6] He published three books as Dan Chernenko (the Scepter of Mercy series).

He has written several works in collaboration, including The Two Georges with Richard Dreyfuss, "Death in Vesunna" with his first wife, Betty Turtledove (pen-name, Elaine O'Byrne); Household Gods with Judith Tarr; and others with Susan Shwartz, S.M. Stirling, and Kevin R. Sandes.

Turtledove won the Homer Award for Short Story in 1990 for "Designated Hitter," the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction in 1993 for The Guns of the South, and the Hugo Award for Novella in 1994 for "Down in the Bottomlands." Must and Shall was nominated for the 1996 Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novelette; it received an honorable mention for the 1995 Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The Two Georges also received an honorable mention for the 1995 Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

His Worldwar series received a Sidewise Award for Alternate History Honorable Mention in 1996. In 1998, his novel, How Few Remain, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He won his second Sidewise Award in 2003 for his novel Ruled Britannia.[7] He won his third Sidewise Award for his short story "Zigeuner."[8]

On August 1, 1998, Turtledove was named honorary Kentucky Colonel while Guest of Honor at Rivercon XXIII in Louisville, Kentucky. His The Gladiator was the co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award.

Turtledove served as the toastmaster for Chicon 2000, the 58th World Science Fiction Convention.[9]

He is married to mystery and science fiction writer Laura Frankos. His brother-in-law is fantasy author Steven Frankos.

Publisher's Weekly dubbed Turtledove "The Master of Alternate History".[10] Within that genre, he is known for creating original alternate history scenarios, such as survival of the Byzantine Empire or an alien invasion in the middle of the Second World War. In addition, he has been credited with giving original treatment to alternate themes previously dealt with by many others, such as the victory of the South in the American Civil War or the victory of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream.[11]


Writing as Eric Iverson


  • Wereblood (1979)
  • Werenight (1979, revised in 1994 to include Wereblood)
  • Prince of the North (1994) (as by Harry Turtledove)
  • King of the North (1996) (as by Harry Turtledove)
  • Fox and Empire (1998) (as by Harry Turtledove)
    • Wisdom of the Fox (1999, collects the revised Werenight and Prince of the North) (as by Harry Turtledove)
    • Tale of the Fox (2000, collects King of the North and Fox and Empire) (as by Harry Turtledove)

Writing as H.N. Turteltaub

Hellenic Traders

Historical fiction about two cousins, traveling merchants in the 4th-century BC Mediterranean.

Writing as Harry Turtledove


Set in a world analogous to the Byzantine Empire.

  • The Videssos cycle: One of Julius Caesar's legions is transported to a world that resembles the then-future Byzantine Empire but with magic.
    • The Misplaced Legion (1987)
    • An Emperor for the Legion (1987)
    • The Legion of Videssos (1987)
    • Swords of the Legion (1987)
  • The Tale of Krispos series
    • Krispos Rising (1991)
    • Krispos of Videssos (1991)
    • Krispos the Emperor (1994)
  • The Time of Troubles series
    • The Stolen Throne (1995)
    • Hammer and Anvil (1996)
    • The Thousand Cities (1997)
    • Videssos Besieged (1998)
  • The Bridge of the Separator (2005)

Worldwar / Colonization

Incorporates elements of both science fiction and alternate history. In Worldwar, aliens invade during World War II in 1941. The Colonization trilogy deals with the course of history a generation after the initial series, as the humans and aliens work to share Earth. Homeward Bound follows a human spaceship which brings a delegation to the alien homeworld.

Southern Victory

Order 191 is never found by Union troops during the Maryland Campaign and therefore Antietam never occurs, instead the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee march into Pennsylvania and crush George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac at Camp Hill before proceeding to capture the city of Philadelphia. As a result, the Confederacy wins the War of Secession in 1862 with official recognition as an independent nation from Britain and France. Another popular moniker for this series is Timeline-191.

Darkness / Derlavai

A fantasy series about global war in a world related to medieval Europe, where magic exists. Many plot elements are analogous to elements of World War II, with kingdoms and sorceries that are comparable to the historical nations and technologies.

War Between the Provinces

This fantasy series is based heavily on the American Civil War, except magic exists, the geography of the North and South have been reversed, and blond-haired serfs are featured rather than black slaves.

Crosstime Traffic

Travel between parallel timelines, for the purpose of harvesting resources, has become possible in the late 21st century. This is a young adult fiction series, so the racial slurs, profanity and sex are considerably muted compared to Turtledove's other work.

Days of Infamy

The Japanese gain the initiative in the Pacific War by invading and occupying Hawaii immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor.


A trilogy which describes a world where the American eastern coast from the tip of Florida to Nova Scotia breaks away from the mainland around 85 million years ago and has an island biota similar to New Zealand's. It was discovered in 1452 by a Breton fisherman named François Kersauzon and named Atlantis. This seventh continent becomes a focal point in a gradually diverging timeline. Two short stories, "Audubon in Atlantis" and "The Scarlet Band", have been set in this milieu.

Opening Atlantis was nominated for the 2009 Prometheus Award.[12]

Opening of the World

A trilogy describing a fantasy world in which inhabitants of an Iron Age empire (but with Pleistocene wildlife) explore a land uncovered by a receding glacier and discover a threat to their national security.

The War That Came Early

A hexalogy describing an alternate World War II which begins in 1938 over Czechoslovakia. The first volume, Hitler's War, was released in hardcover in 2009 without a series title.


A trilogy where the Yellowstone Caldera erupts at some unspecified point in the future, and covers the decade following the Eruption.

  • Supervolcano: Eruption (2011)
  • Supervolcano: All Fall Down (2012)
  • Supervolcano: Things Fall Apart (2013)[16]

The Hot War

Point of divergence: 1950. The Korean War escalates into World War III after Harry Truman allows Douglas MacArthur to use atomic bombs as he had wanted to, leading to a chain reaction of nuclear bomb attacks throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

  • Bombs Away (2015)
  • Fallout (2016)
  • Armistice (2017)

State of Jefferson Stories

Published in short order between May and June 2016 and in January 2019, these stories are light alternate history tales set in a world where Sasquatches, Yetis and other related cryptids are real. However, unlike common popular depictions of such creatures as less evolved primates, here, they are essentially human beings, and have been integrated into society.

Moreover, in 1919, several counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon seceded, forming the new U.S State of Jefferson. This is the relevant Point of Divergence, as the discovery of cryptids did not affect the broader strokes of world history. Even after 1919, history does not differ appreciably from real history; the lives of a few historical individuals seem to be the only things altered in this timeline.

  • "Visitor from the East" (May 2016)
  • "Peace is Better" (May 2016)
  • "Typecasting" (published on-line) (June 2016)
  • "Three Men and a Sasquatch" (January 2019)

Turtledove has also announced that there will be three additional stories in the series published in the future: "Something Fishy", "Always Something New", and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon".

Standalone books

  • Agent of Byzantium (1987): Imperial Byzantine special agent Basil Argyros is sent on various missions in a world where Muhammad became a Christian saint and consequently Islam never existed and the Byzantine Empire never declined.
  • A Different Flesh (1988): A related set of short stories spanning the 17th to 20th centuries set in a universe where the ancestors of the Native Americans never crossed into the New World, only Homo erectus, who become known as "sims" to the colonists of English descent. Suggested by Turtledove's reading of Stephen Jay Gould, the novel's main theme is what effect the proximity of a closely related but significantly different species would have on how humans view themselves, each other, and the great chain of life.
  • Noninterference (1988): A human interstellar survey team violates a directive to avoid interference with alien civilizations, with disastrous long-term consequences. Re-published in the collection 3xT.
  • Kaleidoscope (1990): A short story collection, including "The Road Not Taken" Re-published in the collection 3xT.
  • A World of Difference (1990): In this alternative history story, the 4th planet of our solar system is larger and named Minerva instead of Mars. The Viking space probe of the 1970s sends back one picture—that of an alien creature swinging a stick—before losing contact. A U.S. mission and a Soviet mission are sent to explore the planet; these two missions back rival primitive groups in a tribal war.
  • Earthgrip (1991): A woman whose desire is to teach a university course in Middle English Science Fiction joins a trader ship's crew, just to get something different on her curriculum vitae. Re-published in the collection 3xT.
  • The Guns of the South (1992) science fiction/alternate history: The Confederate army is supplied with AK-47s by time traveling members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging from the year 2014 and win the Civil War in 1864.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump (1993): EPA agent David Fisher battles displaced magical powers in a very creative sorcerous equivalent to late-20th century Los Angeles. He follows the evidence to a toxic spell dump, where dangerous remnants of industrial sorcery are stored.
  • Departures (1993): A short story collection
  • Down in the Bottomlands (1993, reprinted in 2015 in We Install and Other Stories): At the end of the Miocene period, the Mediterranean Sea stays dry to the present day. The dry sea basin is a large canyon containing a national park, and a strongbrow who works as a park ranger must race to stop terrorists from letting in the Atlantic and flooding the area.
  • The Two Georges (1995) alternate history/mystery, co-authored with Richard Dreyfuss: Set in the year 1995 in a world where the American Revolution was peacefully avoided. The painting that symbolizes the union between North America and the United Kingdom is stolen by the terrorist group known as the Sons of Liberty, who want independence from the British Empire. Officers of the Royal American Mounted Police must find it before it is destroyed.
  • Thessalonica (1997): Early Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica deal with barbarian invaders on both physical and metaphysical levels (the book was inspired by the Medieval Miracles of Saint Demetrius).
  • Between the Rivers (1998): Taking place in a fantasy realm equivalent to ancient Mesopotamia, city-states ruled by different gods fight for dominance.
  • Justinian (1998): Fictionalized account (with some speculation involved) of the life of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II—using H. N. Turteltaub pseudonym.
  • Household Gods (1999); co-written with Judith Tarr; science fiction/alternate history: A modern California lawyer finds herself in the Roman Empire of Marcus Aurelius.
  • Counting Up, Counting Down (2002): A short story collection.
  • The Daimon (2002): A novella included in the alternate history collections Worlds That Weren't and Atlantis and Other Places. It describes a world where the philosopher Socrates aids the Athenian general Alcibiades in defeating the Sicilians and Spartans, allowing him to unite the city-states of ancient Greece and contemplate war on the Persian Empire about 80 or 90 years before it happened in our history.
  • Uncle Alf (2002, now readable on line): A novella included in the collections Alternate Generals volume 2 and Atlantis and other places. The German Empire has won World War I when Alfred von Schlieffen lived to see his Schlieffen Plan executed successfully and Germany occupies France and Belgium. In 1929, Feldgendarmerie Sergeant Adolf Hitler is sent to occupied France to hunt down Jacques Doriot, an agitator against the German occupation of France.
  • Ruled Britannia (2002) alternate history: The Spanish Armada conquers England and forces Shakespeare to write a play about Philip II. At the same time, he is secretly writing a play for the English underground resistance about Boudica's rebellion, with Boudica meant to be analogous to the imprisoned Elizabeth I.
  • In the Presence of Mine Enemies (2003) alternate history: Follows the struggles of a family of secret Jews in Berlin, nearly 70 years after a Nazi victory in World War II. The events in the story follow a common theme of Turtledove's work, transplanting one set of historical events into another setting (the most prominent example being Southern Victory Series moving European history onto the American continent). In this case, the decline of the Soviet Union in the 1990s is translated to the Third Reich in the 21st century (and the secret Jews' way of life is reminiscent of Marranos in Spain).
  • Conan of Venarium (2003): An authorized prequel to Robert E. Howard's tales of Conan the Barbarian, depicting a 14-year-old Conan's resistance to the imperialist legions who occupy his village.
  • Every Inch a King (ISFiC Press) (2005): An acrobat becomes king of a small country. Although set in a fantasy world, it is analogous to the real world, this time in the Balkans, between the first and second Balkan War. Shqiperi is modeled on Albania, and the story itself is modeled on the story of Otto Witte.
  • Fort Pillow (2006): A historical novel detailing the Battle of Fort Pillow.
  • "Under Saint Peter's" (2007): Short story found in The Secret History of Vampires (Edited by Darrell Schweitzer) and We Install and Other Stories. This is Turtledove's rare concession to the secret history genre, which he professes to have little interest in writing. In 2005, viewpoint character Pope Benedict XVI (unnamed but recognizable) is led by an eccentric priest to a secret bunker under the Vatican for a little-known initiation undertaken by each new pontiff since the days of Saint Peter.
  • The Man with the Iron Heart (2008): Reinhard Heydrich survives an assassination attempt in Czechoslovakia by partisans and later goes on to lead an insurgent movement against the Allied occupation of Germany. Turtledove mixes information gleaned from authentic German documents and intentions with another historical transplant, in this case the Iraqi insurgency of 2003 transplanted to mid-1940s Germany.
  • After the Downfall (2008): A Wehrmacht officer is transported into a fantasy world during the Fall of Berlin at the end of World War II. The story resembles the formula of Edgar Rice Burroughs and L. Sprague de Camp, mixed with Turtledove's usual allegorism as the central character sees parallels between the politics and notions of his new world and those of the world he just left.
  • Reincarnations (2009): A limited edition hardcover containing eight stories, including six never before reprinted and one original story.
  • Give Me Back My Legions! (2009): A historical novel detailing the events leading up to the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, as well as the battle itself.
  • Joe Steele (2015): Expanded from the short story of the same name, this alternative history deals with Joseph Stalin (whose Americanized name is the title character) having been born and raised in America. When the life of New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt is ended by a fire at the New York State Executive Mansion, the Democratic Party has little choice but to nominate the upcoming Steele as their candidate for the 1932 Presidential election. The novel mirrors Stalin's real world acts with actions taken by Steele through the depression, the lead up to World War II, and the ensuing Cold War through the eyes of President with the soul of a tyrant.
  • The House of Daniel (2016). Historical fantasy: during the Great Depression, a young "Okie" joins the roving church-sponsored baseball team of the title. As the team travels to play against the home teams of various western American towns, the young man learns about the culture of the towns they visit, and has passing encounters with vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other magical beings.
  • Through Darkest Europe (2018): Set in modern times where Islam developed science, technology and enlightenment while Western Europe remained a hotbed of Christian fundamentalism. The working title for the book was God Wills It.


  • The Chronicle of Theophanes, Harry Turtledove editor and translator, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. A translation of an important Byzantine historical text, completed soon after Harry Turtledove's PhD studies.

Web publishing

  • Winter of Our Discontent: The Impeachment and Trial of John F. Kennedy (2007), fragment of a novel, co-written with T.V. series creator Bryce Zabel. After John Kennedy survives the attack at Dealey Plaza unharmed, the resulting investigation sets events in motion that tear apart his administration. Zabel eventually published the final work as a solo project entitled Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Had Survived Dallas? in 2013.
  • Turtledove, Harry (2009). "The House That George Built". Babe Ruth remains a minor league player for most of his career, until he retires and opens a Baltimore pub. In 1941, Ruth reminisces about what could have been with a skeptical H. L. Mencken.
  • Vilcabamba (February 3, 2010), After an alien race known as the Krolp subjugates most of the world in the 22nd Century, a rump United States and Canada that runs along the Rocky Mountains and the Wasatch Range must decide how to respond to the aliens' plans to violate the treaty that guarantees the country's sovereignty. The story is told from the perspective of U.S. President and Canadian Prime Minister Harris Moffatt III, and parallels the treatment of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. The title is a reference to the city of Vilcabamba in Peru, the site of the last Inca resistance to Spanish colonization.[17]
  • Turtledove, Harry (April 14, 2011). "Shtetl Days". Tor Books. Macmillan. After a Nazi victory in the Second World War, Aryan historical reenactors portray the prewar lifestyle of the exterminated Jews at a tourist attraction. However, many of the actors come to identify more with the Jews than with their German heritage.
  • Lee at the Alamo (September 7, 2011), When Texas secedes from the Union in 1861, Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, acting commander of the Department of Texas, decides to defend U.S. munitions at the Alamo, launching the first battle of a slightly different American Civil War.[18]
  • Turtledove, Harry (January 8, 2014). "The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging". Tor Books. Macmillan. Retrieved January 28, 2014. In 2013, an elderly Jewish woman shares stories of her life with a group of eighth-graders.
  • Hail! Hail! (2018), Shortly after the release of their film Duck Soup in mid-1934, the Marx Brothers visit Nacogdoches, Texas, where all four of them are struck by lightning and are transported back in time to December 15, 1826 and arrive in the same town and interfere with the Fredonian Rebellion.[19]


  1. Something About the Author: Volume 176. Thomson-Gale (Ktav Publishing House). April 2007. p. 212. ISBN 0-7876-8800-2.
  2. "Harry's War of the Worlds". Sfsite.com. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  3. The immediate successors of Justinian : a study of the Persian problem and of continuity and change in internal secular affairs in the later Roman empire during the reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (A.D. 565-582); Harry Norman Turtledove, Thesis (Ph.D.), UCLA, 1977. Reproduction: University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1979
  4. "The immediate successors of Justinian : a study of the Persian problem and of continuity and change in internal secular affairs in the later Roman empire during the reigns of Justin II and Tiberius II Constantine (A.D. 565-582) in SearchWorks". Searchworks.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  5. "Interviews". Barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  6. Richter, Frank. "turtledove : Dictionary / Wörterbuch (BEOLINGUS, TU Chemnitz)". Dict.tu-chemnitz.de. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  7. "Sidewise: Past Winners and Finalists". Uchronia.net. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  8. "2017 Sidewise Award Finalists". Locus. 2018-08-20. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  9. "Chicon 2000, Guests of Honor". 2000-07-23. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  10. Hall, Melissa Mia (April 7, 2008). "Master of Alternate History". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  11. Graeme Blundell (2008-10-18). "On lowbrow street". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  12. "Prometheus Finalists". Science Fiction Awards Watch. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  13. Turtledove, Harry (27 July 2010). "The War That Came Early: West and East". Del Rey. Retrieved 12 April 2017 via Amazon.
  14. Turtledove, Harry (19 July 2011). "The Big Switch: The War That Came Early". Del Rey. Retrieved 12 April 2017 via Amazon.
  15. "Last Orders (The War That Came Early, Book Six): Harry Turtledove: 9780345524713: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  16. "Supervolcano: Things Fall Apart (Supervolcano, #3) by Harry Turtledove". Risingshadow.net. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
  17. "www.tor.com".
  18. "www.tor.com".
  19. "www.fantasticfiction.com".
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