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Departures: Stories of Alternate History Paperback – October, 1998

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

What if history had taken a different path, made a detour, and deviated just a little bit from the road it chose? Here, Harry Turtledove explores such "what ifs" in twenty alternate-history stories ranging from ancient times to the far, far-different future.
Persia has conquered Greece; Athens is in ruins. Yet even under Persia's rule, the power of the people can never be completely broken. . .
A werewolf boy tears through Cologne's medieval stretts in search of sanctuary from the angry mob. But who will shelter a creature so hated and feared?
A student from the far-off future sets off on a field trip to study Genghis Khan -- and finds him in the twentieth century?
And many more!
"He's one of the finest explorers of alternate histories ever." -- Locus --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover


"ONE OF THE FINEST EXPLORERS OF ALTERNATE HISTORIES EVER."
--Locus
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Mm) (October 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345913248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345913241
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,737,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Merkamp on October 30, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was an excellent book of short stories. Turtledove says alot in just a few pages and I was left me hungering for more. I admit to being a fan of the alternate history/reality genre and Turtledove is a master at making such "potential pasts" believeable. Perhaps my favorite story of the group (and it was not an easy decision) was concerning the arrival of an official of the Persian court to the conquered province of Greece (I believe the story was titled "Counting Potsherds"). This tells a nice compact story of how things can quickly change on a person at the flick of a wrist.
This story is representative of Turtledove's work because he allows the altenate history to be a seemless and natural background to the story, as if this was the real course of events. Some writers make too much of describing the alternate history and do not give enough time to giving life and action to the characters in their stories. Turtledove's worlds are certainly different from our own but the focus is still on people and everything that people do. If the world they're set in seems foreign and unfamiliar to the reader, the humans themselves make up for it by simply being real people which is the real strength of his work. Pick this one up.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeph Gord on July 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Harry Turtledove's name has become almost synonymous with Alternate History. Guns of the South is perhaps the most talked about AH novel of today. Even historical SF novels by other authors sometimes have Turtledove's blurbs on the cover.
In this highly readable anthology, the Grand Master proves that he is perfectly capable of handling other types of fiction. Sure, it contains plenty of AH stories. One particularly interesting example ("Counting Potsherds") involves a world in which Persia conquered the Greek city-states, squelching out democracy. Another ("Islands in the Sea") tells of a lively and informative debate between Chritian and Muslim theologians. The title story, "Departures", is set in the Agent of Byzantium world, telling about the life of St. Mohammed.
The non-AH stories, however, are perhaps more interesting. They reveal many sides of Turtledove that were not apparent before. There is everything from baseball stories (including the tale of a batboy who turns into a bat) to Jewish-themed fiction (including one amusing story which asks whether a genetically engineered cud-chewing pig would be kosher) to fantasy (can a well-meaning werewolf escape a midieval lynch mob?) to hard SF (humans and aliens mingle in a futuristic bar). The tone of the stories is also highly variable, ranging from the dead serious (should humans become involved with the affairs of low-tech aliens?) to the utterly silly (what happens when a confused time traveller from the far future accidentally ends up in a 20th century office building?). These stories have practically nothing in common. Some make you think, some make you laugh, some just make you say "huh?", but all are very enjoyable.
A great choice for Turtledove fans everywhere, and even those who don't enjoy his AH may want to give it a try.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found the stories in this book to be for the most part very well written. The few that I didn't care for were just ones with which I had little interest. The stories give you enough so that when you are finished with one you can continue the story in your own imagination any number of ways. It provides a good variety of stories, from time travel to alternate history and even a little science fiction/fantasy. If you are looking for a book that covers many different areas of science fiction, this is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John K. Wilson on July 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A new paperback shouldn't shed pages on the first reading. My copy did that. But I'll re-read several of these tales and mend the book as I go.
A fun assortment of yarns. Turtledove crafts Short Stories well. These stories give more insights into the Author himself than his novels do.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I began reading Harry's short fiction in the pulps in the '80s, when he first appeared on the science fiction scene. He had a PhD in Byzantine history, so his alternate history yarns with a similar setting were pretty good. Accurate, anyway. In the mid-'90s, having struck gold with the popularity of Guns of the South, though, he began cranking out fat novels in multiple series as fast as possible -- more than fifty in about eighteen years -- more than half of them about alternate world wars set in the 20th century. Frankly, the literary quality of most of those later works is pretty low, and I quit reading them after the first couple.

This was the first published collection of his short work and it's really quite good, the twenty stories being arranged chronologically by setting, from the 2nd century BC to a couple hundred years in our own future. I won't try to summarize all of them, but I'll note that "Designated Hitter," an amusing paean to the author's love of baseball, won several awards. And there's another baseball story, "Batboy," the tongue-in-cheek title of which should give you an idea of the plot.

Also very readable are "Counting Potsherds," about a Persian eunuch's official visit to the Athens conquered by Xerxes three generations before, and "Departures," which sets the background for his Agent of Byzantium stories -- a world in which Mohammed the caravan merchant became an Orthodox Christian and a monk. "Death in Vesunna" is a sort of Time Patrol story, and a somewhat ordinary one. Likewise, "Not All Wolves," set in 12th century Cologne, is a rather lightweight werewolf story. "Clash of Arms," while at root a deal-with-the-devil story, spins its plot around the arcane details of heraldry. (First time I've seen that as a theme.
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