Harry Turtledove

Harry Turtledove

Turtledove at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Born (1949-06-14) June 14, 1949
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Pen name Dan Chernenko, Eric G. Iverson, Mark Gordian, H.N. Turteltaub
Occupation Novelist, short story author, essayist, historian
Nationality American
Ethnicity Jewish
Genre Science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, historical fiction, history
Notable works Southern Victory series, Worldwar series, Crosstime Traffic, The Guns of the South, and The Two Georges

Harry Norman Turtledove (born June 14, 1949) is an American novelist, best known for alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.

Early life and education

Turtledove was born in Los Angeles, California on June 14, 1949, and grew up in the nearby city of Gardena, California. His paternal grandparents, who were Jewish Romanian immigrants, had first settled in Winnipeg, Canada, before moving to 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]


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.[4] 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).[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

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".[8] 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.[9] He bases his alternate history in scenes of military combat and warfare.[10]


Writing as Eric Iverson


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.


Incorporates elements of both science fiction and alternate history. In Worldwar, aliens invade in the middle of the 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 faster-than-light spaceship that travels to the aliens' home world.

Southern Victory

The Confederacy wins the American Civil War in 1862 with the help of the United Kingdom and France. It still operates as an independent nation in the 20th century. 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 roles of the North and South have been reversed, and blond-haired serfs are featured rather than 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 Francois 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.[11]

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

An 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 supervolcano erupts at some unspecified point in the future, and covers the decade following the Eruption.

The Hot War

The Korean War escalates into World War III after Harry Truman allows Douglas MacArthur to use atomic bombs like he'd wanted to, leading to a chain reaction of nuclear bomb attacks throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

State of Jefferson Stories

Published in short order between May and June 2016, these stories are light alternate history tales set in a world where sasquatches and some 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.

Standalone Books

Web publishing


  1. Thomson Gale (April 2007). Something About The Author: Volume 176. Ktav Publishing House. p. 212. ISBN 0-7876-8800-2.
  2. Harry's War of the Worlds
  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) / by Harry Norman Turtledove, Thesis (Ph.D.), UCLA, 1977. Reproduction: University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1979. http://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/1601866
  4. Barnes & Noble Meet the Writers: Harry Turtledove
  5. http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/dings.cgi?service=deen&opterrors=0&optpro=0&query=turtledove&iservice=
  6. "Sidewise Awards for Alternate History, Past Winners". Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  7. "Chicon 2000, Guests of Honor". 2000-07-23. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  8. Hall, Melissa Mia (April 7, 2008). "Master of Alternate History". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  9. Graeme Blundell (2008-10-18). "On lowbrow street". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
  10. "All the Alternate Histories in "Other Earths"". Book review. io9. March 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
  11. "Prometheus Finalists". Science Fiction Awards Watch. March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  12. Amazon.com
  13. The War That Came Early: The Big Switch
  14. http://www.risingshadow.net/library?action=book&book_id=41294
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