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Turtledove published his first two novels, Wereblood and Werenight, in 1979 under the pseudonym "Eric G. Iverson." He later explained that his editor at Belmont Tower did not think that people would believe the author's real name was "Turtledove" and came up with something more Nordic. He continued to use "Iverson" 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). He published three books as "Dan Chernenko" (the Scepter of Mercy series).
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 and 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.
The series incorporates elements of both science fiction and alternate history. In Worldwar, aliens invade during 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 spaceship that brings a delegation to the alien homeworld.
The fantasy series is about a global war that occurs in a world related to medievalEurope in which 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.
The fantasy series is based heavily on the American Civil War except that magic exists, the geography of the North and South have been reversed, and blond-haired serfs are featured rather than black slaves.
Travel between parallel timelines, for the purpose of harvesting resources, has become possible in the late 21st century. It is a young adult fiction series and so racial slurs, profanity, and sex are considerably muted, compared to Turtledove's other work.
The trilogy describes a world in which the American East Coast, from the tip of Florida to Nova Scotia, broke away from the mainland around 85 million years ago and has an island biota that is similar to New Zealand's. It was discovered in 1452 by a Breton fisherman, François Kersauzon, it was named Atlantis. The 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 the milieu.
The trilogy describes a fantasy world in which inhabitants of an empire that is of the Iron Age but has Pleistocene wildlife explore a land uncovered by a receding glacier and then discover a threat to their national security.
First published in May 2016, the stories are set in a world in which Sasquatch, Yeti, Indonesian Hobbits, merfolk, and other cryptids are real or not extinct. Unlike common popular depictions of such creatures as less evolved primates, they are integrated into a world designed for ordinary humans ("little people"). Like other ethnic minorities cryptids experience cultural assimilation and racial stereotyping, become less familiar with ancestral customs and languages, and interbreed with the majority.
Most stories depict Governor Bill Williamson, Jefferson's second Sasquatch leader, who during the late 1970s and early 1980s meets Charles Kuralt, Jerry Turner, Nobuo Fujita and a Yeti Dalai Lama. From the state capital of Yreka he promotes his small, rural, and obscure state to the nation and world as an example of how different species can peacefully cooperate.
Agent of Byzantium (1987): Imperial Byzantine special agent Basil Argyros is sent on various missions in a world in which Muhammad became a Christian saint and so Islam never existed and the Byzantine Empire never declined.
A Different Flesh (1988): A related set of short stories spanning the 17th to 20th centuries set in a universe in which the ancestors of the Native Americans never crossed into the New World, and only Homo erectus, who become known as "sims" to the colonists of English descent, did so. Suggested by Turtledove's reading of Stephen Jay Gould, the novel's main theme is what effect the proximity of a closely-related but significantly-different species would have on how humans view themselves, one another, and the great chain of life.
Noninterference (1988): A human interstellar survey team violates a directive to avoid interference with alien civilizations, with disastrous long-term consequences. Republished in the collection 3xT.
A World of Difference (1990): In this alternative history story, the fourth planet of our solar system is larger, and named Minerva instead of Mars. The Viking space probe of the 1970s sends back one picture--that of an alien creature swinging a stick--before losing contact. A U.S. mission and a Soviet mission are sent to explore the planet; both missions back rival primitive groups in a tribal war.
Earthgrip (1991): A woman whose desire is to teach a university course in Middle English Science Fiction joins a trader ship's crew, just to get something different on her curriculum vitae. Re-published in the collection 3xT.
The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump (1993): EPA agent David Fisher battles displaced magical powers in a very creative sorcerous equivalent to late-20th century Los Angeles. He follows the evidence to a toxic spell dump, where dangerous remnants of industrial sorcery are stored.
Down in the Bottomlands (1993, reprinted in 2015 in We Install and Other Stories): At the end of the Miocene period, the Mediterranean Seastays dry to the present day. The dry sea basin is a large canyon containing a national park, and a strongbrow who works as a park ranger must race to stop terrorists from letting in the Atlantic and flooding the area.
Thessalonica (1997): Early Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica deal with barbarian invaders on both physical and metaphysical levels (the book was inspired by the Medieval Miracles of Saint Demetrius).
Between the Rivers (1998): Taking place in a fantasy realm equivalent to ancient Mesopotamia, city-states ruled by different gods fight for dominance.
Justinian (1998): Fictionalized account (with some speculation involved) of the life of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian II--using H. N. Turteltaub pseudonym.
In the Presence of Mine Enemies (2003) alternate history: Follows the struggles of a family of secret Jews in Berlin, nearly 70 years after a Nazi victory in World War II. The events in the story follow a common theme of Turtledove's work by transplanting one set of historical events into another setting (the most prominent example being Southern Victory Series moving European history onto the American continent). In this case, the decline of the Soviet Union in the 1990s is translated to the Third Reich in the 21st century, and the secret Jews' way of life is reminiscent of that of Marranos in Spain.
Conan of Venarium (2003): An authorized prequel to Robert E. Howard's tales of Conan the Barbarian depicts a 14-year-old Conan's resistance to the imperialist legions who occupy his village.
Every Inch a King (ISFiC Press) (2005): An acrobat becomes king of a small country. Although set in a fantasy world, it is analogous to the real-world, this time in the Balkans between the First and the Second Balkan Wars. Shqiperi is modeled on Albania, and the story itself is modeled on the story of Otto Witte.
"Under Saint Peter's" (2007): Short story found in The Secret History of Vampires (Edited by Darrell Schweitzer) and We Install and Other Stories. This is Turtledove's rare concession to the secret history genre, which he professes to have little interest in writing. In 2005, viewpoint character Pope Benedict XVI (unnamed but recognizable) is led by an eccentric priest to a secret bunker under the Vatican for a little-known initiation that is undertaken by each new pontiff since the days of Saint Peter.
The House of Daniel (2016). Historical fantasy: during the Great Depression, a young "Okie" joins the roving church-sponsored baseball team of the title. As the team travels to play against the home teams of various western American towns, the young man learns about the culture of the towns they visit and has passing encounters with vampires, werewolves, zombies, and other magical beings.
Through Darkest Europe (2018): Set in modern times in which Islam developed science, technology, and enlightenment, but Western Europe remained a hotbed of Christian fundamentalism. The working title for the book was God Wills It.
Alpha and Omega (2019): A depiction of the End of Days, based on Judeo-Christian legend.
The Chronicle of Theophanes, Harry Turtledove editor and translator, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. A translation of an important Byzantine historical text, completed soon after Harry Turtledove's PhD studies.
Winter of Our Discontent: The Impeachment and Trial of John F. Kennedy (2007), fragment of a novel, co-written with the television series creator Bryce Zabel. After John Kennedy survives the attack at Dealey Plaza unharmed, the resulting investigation sets events in motion that tear apart his administration. Zabel eventually published the final work as a solo project entitled Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Had Survived Dallas? in 2013.
^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); Harry Norman Turtledove, Thesis (Ph.D.), UCLA, 1977. Reproduction: University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1979