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A World of Difference Mass Market Paperback – August 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345360761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345360762
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

When the Viking lander on the planet Minerva was destroyed, sending back one last photo of a strange alien being, scientists on Earth were flabbergasted. And so a joint investigation was launched by the United States and the Soviet Union, the first long-distance manned space mission, and a symbol of the new peace between the two great rivals.

Humankind's first close encounter with extraterrestrials would be history in the making, and the two teams were schooled in diplomacy as well as in science. But nothing prepared them for alien war -- especially when the Americans and the Soviets found themselves on opposite sides...

More About the Author

Harry Turtledove is the award-winning author of the alternate-history works The Man with the Iron Heart; The Guns of the South; How Few Remain (winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Novel); the Worldwar saga: In the Balance, Tilting the Balance, Upsetting the Balance, and Striking the Balance; the Colonization books: Second Contact, Down to Earth, and Aftershocks; the Great War epics: American Front, Walk in Hell, and Breakthroughs; the American Empire novels: Blood & Iron, The Center Cannot Hold, and Victorious Opposition; and the Settling Accounts series: Return Engagement, Drive to the East, The Grapple, and In at the Death. Turtledove is married to fellow novelist Laura Frankos. They have three daughters: Alison, Rachel, and Rebecca.

Customer Reviews

This book is proof that Harry Trutledoveis one of the masters of Sci-fi/Alternate History.
Amazon Customer
Moreover, too many of the characters are underdeveloped, sometimes leaving them indistinguishable from one another.
MarkK
Still, he manages to convey their alien sensibilities in a credible, believable and understandable manner.
John A Lee III

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By shsilver@ameritech.net on March 19, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Mars is boring. Turns out it's too damn small. But what if it weren't. . . " That is speculation which begins Harry Turtledove's novel A World of Difference. Turtledove, therefore replaces Mars with Minerva, a planet similar to Mars except for the existence of water, atmosphere and life. Upon arriving on Minerva, the Viking lander transmits tantalizing pictures back to earth, ending abruptly after sending the image of an alien's limb. A joint American-Soviet manned mission is launched to explore the strange world.
Of course, everything goes wrong when the American and the Soviet spaceships land on opposite sides of a deep trench. Physically cut off from each other, each team makes contact with a difference group of Minervans. The Minervans are radially symmetrical on an hexagonal model and are perhaps Turtledove's most successful attempt at alien construction. Unlike humans, Minervans have little sense of the individual. Minervans discovery of the individual forms a major plot point of the novel.
An important aspect of Minervan physiognomy is that female Minervans always die of blood loss when giving birth. Naturally, this fact affects their society in very basic ways. The ruler of the Minervans befriended by the Americans, Reatur, has recently impregnated his favorite wife and looks to his American friends to help find a way to save his wife.
A World of Difference is much more than a story of the discovery of a new race. In addition to seeing both Americans and Soviets deal with the Minervans, Turtledove also shows, in detail, the two political enemies working together and against each other throughout the novel as political and environmental changes occur.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 8, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I absoluetly loved this book. So very realistic and compelling. The characters, both human and minervan, are engaging and well devloped. The story could very easily be considered both alternate history or straight sci-fi. This book has been overlooked by many sci-fi fans by Turtledove's more well-known books. That to me is a shame. I would love to see a sequel to this book to see how Earth and Minerva grow together and how each affects the other's societies.
Read this book once and then read it again. You will enjoy it from cover to cover. This book is proof that Harry Trutledoveis one of the masters of Sci-fi/Alternate History.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jvstin VINE VOICE on March 17, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While Harry Turtledove is far better known for his fantasy novels (eg. The Videssos novels) and his alternate histories (see the WorldWar books), included in his canon is this what-if with a subtler premise--what if Mars had, when it was formed, coalesced into a larger planet--called Minerva in this history, and supported life, including intelligent life. Add in rival Soviet and American missions to the large fourth planet, not to mention the interesting biology of the aliens themselves, and you have A World of Difference. Even though the Soviet-American "cold-war" relations may seem dated in this era of Yeltsin, the premise still holds up rather well. Even better are the aliens themselves...technologically inferior to their visitors, their attempts to manipulate their new friends into sharing their power and technology (most especially weapons) are all too reminiscent of the history of third world peoples on our own planet who tried the same to their European visitors.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John A Lee III on November 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Alternate Histories" can by be fascinating and nobody does it better than Harry Turtledove but most suffer from a seemingly insoluble problem. From the point of departure from "recognized" history, the stories of necessity diverge more and more. In this book Turtledove gets around this problem in a novel way. He moves it off planet.

In this story, earth history is just like we all know right up until the Viking lander. In this universe, though, Mars is not our planet. It is more massive, it has an atmosphere and intelligent life. It is also called Minerva. The last photos taken by the Viking lander on Minerva are of a native Minervan attacking it. This naturally spurs all sorts of efforts to send a manned mission. Since the period is the 70s, the cold war is in full swing and the Soviets and Americans are determined to beat each other. They land at different but nearby sites and befriend tribes antagonistic towards each other. The cold war has moved to the red planet.

The story is interesting enough but Turtledove's real talent is to present ideas in new and differing ways. The Minervans of this story are utterly strange and different from humans. Still, he manages to convey their alien sensibilities in a credible, believable and understandable manner. He also makes us laugh at ourselves.

This is an excellent story and lots of fun.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MarkK VINE VOICE on April 21, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a book that I read both because of its author and its premise. With dozens of alternate history novels, novellas, and short stories to his credit, Harry Turtledove is the acknowledged master of the genre, and I have enjoyed many of his works. The description of the story also had much to offer, moving away from the standard Civil War/World War II setting of far too many alternate histories to pose a much more refreshing one - what if the fourth planet from our sun was capable of sustaining life?

Much of what Turtledove does with this is imaginative. No longer the "red planet" we know, he bestows upon it a different name - "Minerva" rather than Mars. To make it habitable, then planet is larger, though its distance from the sun means that it is still a cold place. He also devises an ecology based around entirely different premises, imagining evolution producing radial rather than symmetrical species with their own cycles and habits. After this life is discovered by an American probe in 1976, the two superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union race to send manned missions to Minerva to explore it for themselves, with the story itself being a tale of the two missions' simultaneous arrival on the planet.

Yet as I read this book, I was struck by how conventional it was. Once the premise is outlined, the plot quickly develops along the lines of the American-versus-Soviet space contests typical of many sci-fi novels produced during the Cold War. Propping up the story with an alternate-history setting allows Turtledove to get away with this, but it gives the entire book a prematurely dated feel. Moreover, too many of the characters are underdeveloped, sometimes leaving them indistinguishable from one another.
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