The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century
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The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  446 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Explore fascinating, often chilling "what if" accounts of the world that could have existed–and still might yet . . .

Science fiction’s most illustrious and visionary authors hold forth the ultimate alternate history collection. Here you’ll experience mind-bending tales that challenge your views of the past, present, and future, including:

• "The Lucky Strike": When The Luc...more
Paperback, 415 pages
Published October 2nd 2001 by Del Rey (first published 2001)
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This is a collection of short stories by different authors so I've decided to review each story separately as I read them.

The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson:(4 stars) I liked how the author got inside the head of the bomber as he realized the ramifications of his actions and tried to find a way out of dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. I would have liked it better if the story had explored the results of his actions on the future of our country instead of just alluding to them in passi...more
This book should have had a short paragraph about each story telling something about the time frame or person or history involved. I gave up on most of the stories because I did not have the patience to figure out what alternative histories to which the authors were referring. I bought the book for one story, "Bring the Jubilee," which was an alternative history of the Civil War. This story was a first person account very well written which I would rate 5 stars on its own.
While some of the stories were a bit refreshing exploring paths not often tread by the authors of alternative history, e.g. the potential clash of Islam and Western Christianity in the Balkans in 8th century AD or some aspects of the colonization of North America by the Vikings, others were pretty much bland, with the short story of Shakespeare coming to Roanoke colony and the utterly inspired memories of Goebbels and yet another exploration of CSA winning the civil war.

The anthology is just too...more
Mark Brown
Fun book if you enjoy alternative history!
Jun 17, 2008 Becca rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: alternate history fanss
Not a bad collection, but not great, and not "the best." Some of these stories were really good, especially Bring the Jubilee (the long, civil war based one mid book) and many were fun including Mozart in Mirror Shades (colonizing the past) and Undiscovered (Shakespeare's life among the American Indians) and a few were at least interesting (Philip K. Dick's story). In all, worth picking up, but not transporting or fantastic. A good complete alternate history is a hard thing to keep short, but so...more
If these were the best alternative histories stories of the 20th century, I really don’t want to read the worst stories. There were a few stories that were quite good, with Harry Turtledove’s Islands in the Sea by far the best. However, the majority of the stories did not really fit into the premise of the volume, being more properly science fiction. This is not to say that all science fiction stories would not be appropriate in this volume. Rather, the science fiction stories only dealt with al...more
Some statistics about the 14 stories in this book:

Stories by men: 13
Stories by Caucasians: 13
Stories with male protagonists: 14
Stories with Caucasian protagonists: 11
Stories using a war as their major point of historical divergence: 8

I don't advocate collection by quota, and one of the pieces I would definitely count among the best alt. hist I've read (although three would count among the worst). But extreme homogeneity of authors and stories makes everything run together and robs the book of re...more
Chris - ISB
Like they say, don't judge a book by it's cover. Unfortunately, I succumbed to that and was clearly interested in the cover due to two famous historical figures with opposite meanings behind them. Hitler is apparently the leader of the confederacy and Lincoln is communist. The first story of the book seemed to hook me in as it was about the different outcome of the Pacific War. After that, the stories became very dull. Characters were not as important and you really had to know history before yo...more
Sohail Keegan
Alternate histories are a fairly recent favourite genre of mine, and this anthology is far and away a great place to start. I especially loved the one about Shakespeare. Four stars because there were a couple stories where I really couldn't see the alternate history connection.
I thoroughly enjoy alternate history fiction - especially variations around the US Civil War, World War II, and overlap of 'quantum timelines.' This book doesn't disappoint - a collection of short stories from a myriad of sources, this has something that any fan of alternate history would enjoy.

My personal favorite in the collection was 'Moon of Ice' - a version of what the world would look like it Nazi Germany was not defeated - and what the ultimate endpoint of Nazism could be. But others, suc...more
As with any collection of short stories and novellas, there is the hit and miss factor. Some of the stories resonate with me more than others, but there is still much to make this a worthwhile read.
For the most part, I liked these stories. "Lucky Strike" took a while to get moving, "Islands in the Sea" was enjoyable..."Bring the Jubilee" seemed disproportionately long, though I did like it. Still, I'm wondering why the Union would be in such a terrible state even if they did lose the Civil War (excuse me, War of Southron Independence) - it was much more industrialized in the nineteenth century. "Death of Captain Future" was interesting, if not strictly alternate history. Though I liked "Eu...more
I enjoyed some of the stories, but not all, thus I don't quite feel like it's the best. I am a huge fan of alternative history, but was kind of disappointed with some of these stories. The novella ("Bring the Jubilee" by Ward Moore) I felt could have been better off as a standalone book rather than put right in the middle of this anthology (where it takes up more than a quarter of the book). I personally disliked that story, as it seemed to drag on without much to bring you in.

However, some of...more
I thought I would enjoy this book, but after reading it, no one story really caught my attention with a totally unexpected ending. Was rather disappointed.
Feb 21, 2014 Brentman99 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who like alternative history
Overall, not a bad collection of stories. Those who like alternative history will like the book.
Seriously in need of re-packaging. I believe this book's rating will go up at least 0.5 points if it is re-edited with proper intro to individual story; the original editors may have elected not to be pedantic, but history - by its very nature, is quite immense and varied, few know all the real history storylines before the alternative versions presented in this collection.

-islands in the sea

(really thought provoking for those interested in religions - what if the king of the still-pagan folk (...more
Margaret Sankey
Talking to a colleague about counter-factual history reminded me to check if the Fargo library had any anthologies I didn't, which led me to this one with a couple of new-to-me stories, since this collection skews to time travel and hard science. "Lucky Strike" assigns the bombing of Hiroshima to an alternate bomber crew with dramatic results, Shakespeare is stranded in 17th century America and writes Hamlet for the Powhatan, a ferry plying a space-time rift poses special stresses for the boat c...more
as with many anthologies, some of the stories were great and some weren't. my main issue was that a lot of the stories didn't seem like "alternate history" but just plain sci-fi. i'd read a couple of them before, i think in The Way It Wasn't: Great Science Fiction Stories of Alternate History. luckily they were some of the good ones!
Some really good stories. Others, not so much.
Betsy Dion
I read almost all of this book about a year ago, and it has been sitting on my "currently reading" shelf for a long time because there is still one of the short stories that I haven't read yet. That particular story is fairly long, and it didn't grab my attention. I don't know if I will ever get around to reading it, so I am just going to move this book to my "read" shelf. Some of the stories in this anthology are good, and some are just okay.
A couple of the stories in here were simply spectacular. "The Winterberries" was surprising and sad. "The Undiscovered" was smart and funny, and made me want to read more of the author's work. Most of the stories were okay (I liked Kim Stanley Robinson's "Lucky Strike"), and there were only two stories that I didn't care for. I'm looking forward to seeking out additional work from the authors I enjoyed most!
Interest in topic
Too many of the stories had to do with odd time travel that I couldn't really follow. I preferred the few stories that took a part of history and branched off to the opposite of what really happened. The Lucky Strike is an example of one of those stories, but there weren't too many of them. I haven't read too many alternate history stories, but I'm not sure if I would call all of these the "best".
While many of the shorter stories in this collection left me wanting more time spent on developing the cultural and historical consequences of whatever changed event drove the story, and less time on the protagonists' internal emotional lives, the center piece novella, "Bring the Jubilee", was a quite satisfying balance of fleshed-out worldbuilding and engaging characters.
A collection of... oh, go read the title yourself.

In addition to alternate history, it features some futuristic and sci-fi stories, but a decent percentage of them are pretty good - sufficiently so that the whole thing is worth reading.

Some are pretty politically incorrect, but that's life for ya.
Craig Stratton
If this is the Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century, I'd hate to read the Worst Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century. Not only was this book bad, but I kept falling asleep while reading it, causing me to get it back to the library late resulting in a $0.15 fine.
Really enjoyed this although a couple of the entries are heartbreaking and one made me cry. I've reviewed each entry individually at my blog which is - here
Dan Hennessey
haven't finished all the stories yet but the few i have read are interesting takes on how history could have been different. You may not like all of the stories in this book but they aren't terribly long so even if you don't like them you won't feel to let down.
Jan 30, 2013 tinabot is currently reading it
I haven't read all the stories in this collection yet, but the one that really hit me so far was the story "Lucky Strike". When I got to the end, I felt choked up, because reality of actually happened is so horrible compared to the alternate history in this story.
Fun, if not enlightening. Similar to reading pulp scifi books.
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Dr Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced a sizeable number of works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Harry Turtledove attended UCLA, where he received a Ph.D. in Byzantine history in 1977.

Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternate History". Within this genre he is known both for creating original sce...more
More about Harry Turtledove...
The Guns of the South In the Balance (Worldwar, #1) How Few Remain (Timeline-191, #1) Tilting the Balance (Worldwar, #2) Striking the Balance (Worldwar, #4)

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