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Worlds that Weren't

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Four flawlessly executed novellas by the masters of alternate history...

In this collection of original novellas, four award-winning masters of alternate history turn back time, twisting the facts with four brilliant excursions into what might have been.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Roc (first published 2002)
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3.62  · 
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 ·  530 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Mathew Whitney
Worlds That Weren't is a collection of four alternate history stories, each written by a different author known in part for their own work in the genre. Each story diverges from history as we know it at a different point, with some going much further than others. The stories by S.M. Stirling and Mary Gentle are related to novels they previously published. One interesting feature of this collection is that each author includes a short essay/epilogue/afterward discussing the turning point in histo ...more
Lee Battersby
Mar 24, 2013 rated it liked it
A genuine curate's egg, with something at all levels:

'The Daimon' exhibits Harry Turtledove's talent for research alongside his inability to devolve it into his staid, plodding narrative style as anything other than hard, indigestible lumps of infodump. The story is readable as long as you gear back your expectations to the ones you had when you were first discovering SF in your early teens, but shows little sophistication or style. Readable, but nothing more.

SM Stirling's 'Shikari in Galveston
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book had me scratching my head quite a bit. Harry Turtledove is one of my favorite writers is almost any genre, but his contribution here seemed to be his way of saying, "Let me show you just how many Greek words I know that you dont." The Stirling and Gentle stories were pretty good, enjoyable, but not great. The only one that really had me wanting more was "The Last Ride of German Freddie" from Walter Jon Williams, which puts Nietzsche in Tombstone.
Billy Roper
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Most of the short stories included here are better than anything Turtledove, P.C. maven that he is, would have written himself, but his heavy hand of selection is evident in them, as well. Apparently the only good turn from our reality is one to the left.
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you love SF and have not read this, you are missing out on the best in alternate worlds.
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a collection of alternate history tales, and as there's only four of them, they're of novella length. In one, Socrates goes to war with an old friend and ends up changing his mind. In another, over a century after a major meteor shower in 1878 radically realigns the world and puts the brakes on progress, an aristocrat from India (now the center of what was once the British Empire) goes hunting in the wilds of Texas. In another, a group of mercenaries get into conflict with a religious or ...more
Rebecca Hill
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Four short stories taking a journey through four historical points in a time and what the possible out comes could have been. The first about historical Greece and what would have happened if Socrates had died before his time. Great development by the Author, even with limited knowledge of the period in time it was set, I was able to follow the story and understand the implications. The second story was centered around a world change which plunged Northern Hemisphere into the dark ages, letting ...more
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
I bought this book for the Mary Gentle story. Unfortunately, I'd already read it, in her short story collection, "Cartomancy." That's an excellent collection; go read it! I was pretty disappointed that it wasn't a new-to-me story, though. "The Logistics of Carthage" is in the same setting as her 'Ash' books, which are actually the only books by her I haven't yet read. I own them, though, and plan on reading them soon!

I really didn't much care for the other 3 stories in this book.

The first is Har
These four kind of have to be evaluated on their own merits, even though you're stuck with all of them.

Turtledove's novella requires a solid brushing up on your classical history to appreciate, but is clever, well-written, and well-researched.

Stirling's tale contains all of the flaws of his Peshawar Lancers, with none of the redeeming qualities. His afterword compounds the problem. Both sexist and racist, his narrative thinks that it's faking the sexism and racism of the society while rising abo
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really liked the Stirling and the Williams novellas.

The Stirling one was a return to his "Peshawar Lancers" world, but here in North America. I thought it was exciting and well-thought-out.

Williams takes on Tombstone and the whole "OK Corral" thing. I'm not really a Western fan, but adding Nietzsche to the mix was intriguing.

I didn't care for the other two as much. Gentle's seemed sporadic, like a series of vignettes rather than a narrative; that's not a style of writing I care for, so to me i
Nathan Miller
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The more I read alternate history, the more fascinating it becomes. This collection feature four novellas by a few of the better-known AH writers. Each one looks at a particular bit of history, or history as it could have been, through different sets of eyes. What I appreciated most was that each author included a couple of pages sharing the real historical background of their work, as well as some of their philosophy with respect to the flow of history. On a personal note, it isn't easy to read ...more
Couldn't really get into this one. This is mostly due to the fact that I know little to nothing about the time periods in these stories. The one about the Carthage soldiers was mildly interesting, due to the impossible situation they've gotten themselves in. But I couldn't tell you how divergent this was from the historical fact. Half of the fun of a good alternate-history book is to see how the story compares with the real history, and to see how the author follows one or two changes into an al ...more
Ruby Hollyberry
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Worth buying, reading, and five stars just for S. M. Stirling's contribution - a novella prequel to hisThe Peshawar Lancers, one of my very favorites of his books. I didn't expect much of the others, and didn't really appreciate them. The last story set in the Wild West would probably appeal to someone else who had more interest in that time and place. On the other hand if Stirling writes something, I read it. He could make North Florida or the Canadian prairies interesting.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I got the book for 'Shikari in Galveston' by S. M. Stirling, a story in the universe of The Peshawar Lancers. Four stars
'The Daimon' by Harry Turtledove has a different 'Alexander' emerging in Greece.
'The Logistics of Carthage' by Mary Gentle is a prequel to her Ash series of which I am not familiar (worth checking out though).
'The Last Ride of German Freddie' by Walter Jon Williams puts Friedrich Nietzsche at the OK Corral.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
Instead of the typical alternate history of a different victor in a war, or a prevention of an assassination, these stories highlighted gradual and subtle changes in history. I especially liked the stories "Shikari in Galveston" featuring an alternate America still within the British Empire and "German Freddy Rides Again" featuring Nietzche at the OK Corral. Finally, I liked the afterwords to each story which explained how history really happened.
John Love IV
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked the first two stories. They got shorter as the book went along. I did like the last two but have never read anything by either of those authors so I wasn't as familiar with their worlds. The Stirling story happened prior to the Penshar Lancers to two of the characters in that book. It is actually mentioned without any details in the Penshar Lancers.

Definitely more interested to those who like alternative history. :)
Eric Smith
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Somewhat uneven, given the radically different styles of the authors. The Turtledove story was good, and better-written than most of his novels. The Stirling story made me want to rush out and buy "Peshawar Lancers". The Gentle story was a little dull. And the Williams story was very odd but very entertaining.
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
I love alternate history fiction; done right, it helps you learn history, and it's fun to see what you know is "alternate" vs. actual history. Of four stories, one was good, two were ok and the fourth I couldn't finish. I'm getting better at not wasting my time on stuff that isn't worth it.
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Four stories of alternate history from Turtledove, S.M. Stirling, Mary Gentle and yes, Walter Jon Williams. William’s story “The Last Ride of German Freddie” is absolute genius, a completely perfect short story.
I just finished the first story and felt it's enough. The idea is quite amusing, but the story-telling don't really appeal to me.
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Just couldn't get into this one. Managed the Turtledove story without enthusiasm, then started each of the other three, gave up after a few pages into each.
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
A hard book to rate, since it's four novellas by four different authors. The last one was definitely my favorite, though.
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This is four novellas of alternate history. I think this book convinced me that I am not really interested in this genre. I think the pieces were well-written but I still struggled with it.
Jake Kline
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
An excellent collection of short stories in the alternate history genre, which is one of my favorites.
Steven Raszewski
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good stuff
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love reading alternate history especially stuff by Harry Turtledove. This is a collection of long short stories and the best one is the last one about the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
James Barnett
rated it liked it
Oct 09, 2012
Joe Collier
rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2011
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Oct 18, 2007
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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