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Worlds That Werent Mass Market Paperback – Jul 5 2005


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Roc (MM); Reprint edition (July 5 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451460545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451460547
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 82 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,411,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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First Sentence
SIMON the shoemaker's shop stood close to the southwestern corner of the Athenian agora, near the boundary stone marking the edge of the market square and across a narrow dirt lane from the Tholos, the round building where the executive committee of the Boule met. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Allright, I've read Nietsche and I've visited the OK Corral. I've got a copy of The Tombstone Epitaph dated October 27, 1881 with the headline "Yesterday's Tragedy--Three Men Hurled Into Eternity In The Duration Of a Moment." so you might be inclined to think that I'd probably give the last novella: " The Last Ride of German Freddy " by Nebula award winner and Kenpo Karate fanatic Walter John Williams the best marks , right?
You're right.
But not for the reasons you might imagine. It really stands out worlds apart (pun intended) from the other three 'alternative history' fantasy stories. Yes, I'm familiar with Greek history, and the catastrophic invasion of Syracuse. When Mark Twain was asked what was the turning point in his life he quipped "When Caesar crossed the Rubicon. "
He was right, of course, it changed Western Civilisation! Had he wanted to risk being a bit more obscure he could have gone further back in time and replied " When Alcibiades was arrested on the way to Syracuse. " If he hadn't, the expedition probably would have succeeded and it would have been The Athenian, not The Roman Empire that conquered the known world. However Harry Turtledove's handling of the story is lame, not because he has--as one reviwer noted--Socrates as an unlikely character aiding Alcibiades (Socrates did in fact fight as an Athenian hoplite, though not at Syracuse) but because the story never gets off the ground. It just doesn't deliver the goods.
Worse still are S.M Stirling and Mary Gentle's offerings. Were they in a hurry?
Ok, so it's er...light summer reading.
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Format: Paperback
Science fiction fans of alternate history settings will want to place Harry Turtledove, et.al.'s Worlds That Weren't anthology high on their reading lists: it provides four novellas by Turtledove, Stirling, Gentle and Williams, each featuring a well-developed alternate world from 1452 Constantinople to a mysterious Old World figure stalking Tombstone. Each makes for a diverse, well-developed alternate to traditional history settings.
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By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 8 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Worlds That Weren't" is a fascinating glimpse at four alternative histories written by writers who are masters of this subgenre of science fiction. Mercifully short is Harry Turtledove's contribution, which recasts the Athenian general Alkibiades as an early precursor to Alexander the Great, aided and abetted by a most unlikely warrior, Sokrates (It may be the least attractive of the four to those unfamiliar with Classical Greek history.). S. M. Stirling's look at an alternative Texas under the sway of a rejuvenated British Empire is set in the same time as his alternative history novel "Peshawar Lancers" and is a fascinating, gripping light piece of entertainment. A more sobering alternative history is presented by Mary Gentle's contribution, set in the same time as her novel "Ash", regarding the aftermath of the conquest of the Byzantine Empire by a non-Moslem Ottoman Turkish empire. Yet the best tale in this brief collection is saved for last, in Walter Jon Williams' delightful look at the famous gunfight at the O. K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, with one Friedrich Nietzsche as a gun-toting gambler.
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Format: Hardcover
Since this is a collection of four unrelated alternative history novellas I first discuss them separately:
The piece about Alkibiades becoming an earlier Alexander of Macedon shows Harry Turtledove at his best: a good idea, credible story but still solid history and (unusual bonus for this author) short.
S. M. Stirling's story about a hunting party in an America after the fall described in his "Peshawar Lancers" universe is a somewhat odd mixture of post-nuclear expedition a la "The Postman", a western revenge movie and gothic horror-story. A good summer read.
Mary Gentle's story is the low point of the book: it gives the distinct impression of something put together from earlier, discarded material just to meet a deadline. It is unclear to the end what the story really is about and as a teaser or introduction into the "Ash" universe it fails miserably.
But the book as a whole is saved by its last piece: William's story about Nietsche in Tombstone is a rare gem. Crazy and funny (imagine: Nietsche as a gunman and gambler!), but still accurate. Just great.
My opinion about the book: the stories have nothing in common beyond the fact that they are all taking place in alternate histories. That wouldn't be a problem in a bigger anthology or in a magazine, but for a hardcover with just four stories it adds up to too expensive. So read it, but don't buy.
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