Harry Turtledove

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Many things are possible. Few things are certain.

Harry Norman Turtledove (born 14 June 1949) is an American novelist, best known for his works in several genres, including that of alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction.




  • I see people who write characters who are loonies and make them convincing and believable, and I envy them tremendously. I don’t really understand them. It’s funny, because I’ve created my own monster. In the ‘Great War’ and ‘American Empire’ books, I’m writing the person who is the functional equivalent of Adolf Hitler. I’m inside his head — and that’s a very strange place for somebody who thinks of himself as a fairly rational fellow to be. That’s alarming
  • I suspect S.F. has an individualistic, antiauthoritarian trend to it not least because so many of the people who read and write it (not all by any means, but quite a few) are innerdirected introverts who make neither good leaders nor good followers. Am I talking about myself? Well, now that you mention it, yes. But I ain’t the only one, not even close.

Ruled Britannia (2002)[edit]

  • Dying Boudicca managed a feeble nod, and sent her last words out to a breathlessly silent Theatre:
"E'en so; 'Tis true. Oh!- I feel the poison!
We Britons never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when we do first help to wound ourselves,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them. Naught shall make us rue,
If Britons to themselves do rest but true."

She fell back and lay dead. Shakespeare strode forward, to the very front of the stage. Into more silence, punctuated only by sobs, he said,

"No epilogue here, unless you make it;
If you want your freedom, go and take it."
  • p. 375
  • And then, to Shakespeare's amazement and dismay, Burbage and Will Kemp tramped forward together, both of them plainly intent on marching on the Tower of London, too. Shakespeare seized Burbage's arm. "Hold, Dick!" he said urgently. "Let not this wild madness infect your wit. Can a swarm of rude mechanicals pull down those gray stone walls? The soldiers on 'em'll work a fearful slaughter. Throw not your life away." Before Burbage could answer, Will Kemp did: "The soldiery on the walls may work a fearful slaughter, ay, an they have the stomach for't. But think you 'twill be so? A plot that stretcheth to the Theatre surely shall not fall short of the tower."
    • p. 376
  • But no line of ferocious, lean-faced, swarthy Spaniards appeared. Shouts and cries and the harsh snarl of gunfire suggested the dons were busy, desperately busy, elsewhere in London. When chance swept Shakespeare and Richard Burbage together for a moment, the player said, "Belike they'll make a stand at the tower." "Likely so," Shakespeare agreed unhappily. Those frowning walls had been made to hold back an army, and this... thing he was a part of was anything but. Up Tower Hill, where he'd watched the auto de fe almost a year before. A great roar, a roar full of triumph, rose from the men in front of him as they passed the crest of the hill and swept on towards the Tower Ditch and the walls beyond. And when Shakespeare crested the hill himself, he looked ahead and roared too, in joy and amazement and suddenly flaring hope. Will Kemp had been right, right and more than right. All the gates to the Tower of London stood open.
    • p. 379
  • Someone bumped into Shakespeare: Will Kemp. The clown made a leg- a cramped leg, in the crush- at him. "Give you good den, gallowsbait," he said cheerfully. "Go to!" Shakespeare said. "Meseems we are well begun here." "Well begun, ay. And belike, soon we shall be well ended, too." Kemp jerked his head to one side, made his eyes bulge, and stuck out his tongue as if newly hanged. With a shudder, Shakespeare said, "If your wind of wit sit in that quarter, why stand you here and not with the Spaniards?" "Why?" Kemp kissed him on the cheek. "Think you're the only mother's son born a fool in England?"
    • p. 394
  • For the Spanish Armada to have conquered England in 1588 would not have been easy. King Philip's fleet would have needed several pieces of good fortune it did not get: a friendlier wind at Calais, perhaps, one that might have kept the English from launching their fireships against the Armada; and a falling-out between the Dutch and English that could have let the Duke of Parma put to sea from Dunkirk and join his army to the Duke of Medina Sidonia's fleet for the invasion of England. Getting Spanish soldiers across the Channel would have been the hard part. Had it been accomplished, the Spanish infantry, the best in the world at the time and commanded by a most able officer, very probably could have beaten Elizabeth's forces on land.
    • Historical Note, p. 457

American Empire: The Victorious Opposition (2003)[edit]

  • Manicheism, n., The ancient Persian doctrine of an incessant warfare between Good and Evil. When Good gave up the fight the Persians joined the victorious Opposition.
    • Ambrose Pierce, The Devil's Dictionary
  • Clarence Potter walked through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, like a man caught in a city occupied by the enemy. That was exactly how he felt. It was March 5, 1934- a Monday. The day before, Jake Featherston of the Freedom Party had taken the oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America. "I've known that son of a bitch was a son of a bitch longer than anybody," Potter muttered.
    • p. 1
  • "I'm Jake Featherston, and I'm here to tell you the truth."
    • p. 274
  • Jake jerked a thumb at the door. "Al right. Get the hell out of here, and take all your pictures of naked women with you." "Yes, sir." Chuckling, Potter scooped up the folder of reconnaissance photos and started out. He paused with his hand on the doorknob. "Good luck," he said. "You've done everything you could to get us ready, but we'll still need it." "I'll put in a fresh requisition with the Quartermaster Corps," Jake said. Potter nodded and left. Jake shook his head in bemusement. He might have made stupid jokes like that with Ferd Koenig and a couple of other old-time Party buddies, but not with anybody else. So why make them with Potter? But he didn't need long to find the answer. He'd known Potter longer than he'd known Koenig or any of the other Party men. They'd both hung tough when the Army of Northern Virginia was falling to pieces all around them. If the president of the greatest country in North America- no, in the world!- couldn't joke around with the one man who'd known him when he was just a sergeant, with whom could he joke? Nobody. Nobody at all.
    • p. 533
  • Lulu made most of his telephone calls. He made this one himself, on a special line that didn't pass through her desk. It went straight from his office to the War Department. Men checked twice a day to make sure the damnyankees didn't tap it. It rang only once before the Chief of the General Staff picked it up. "Forrest speaking." "Featherston," Jake said, and then, "Blackbeard." He hung up. There. It was done. The die was cast. Whatever was going to happen would happen... starting tomorrow morning, early tomorrow morning. Summer had just come in. Jake worked through the rest of June 21. He ate supper, then went right on working through the night. Lulu brought him cup after cup of coffee. After a while, yawning, she went home to bed. He worked on, behind blackout curtains that kept light from leaking out of the Gray House and showing where it was from the air. June 21 passed through to June 22. All that coffee made Jake's eart thud and soured his stomach. He gulped a Bromo-Seltzer and went on. At a quarter past three, the drone of airplane engines and the thunder of distant artillery- not distant enough; damn those Yankee robbers!- made him whoop for sheer glee. He'd waited so long. Now his day was here.
    • p. 534.

The United State of Atlantis (2008)[edit]

  • A horsefly can't do a horse much real damage, but it can drive it wild anyhow.
    • p. 127
  • People you don't like are pigheaded. Your friends are stubborn, or hold to their purpose.
    • p. 184

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