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Alternate Generals III edited by Harry Turtledove

Cover art by Jeff Easley

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

In the third of Harry Turtledove's series of alternate history anthologies, thirteen writers serve up a variety of fascinating stories about what might have been. Some are deeply thoughtful, such as Mike Resnick's contribution, "The Burning Spear at Twilight," in which he speculates what might have happened had Jomo Kenyatta been able to turn the Mau Mau rebellion from an explosion of violence into something more cruelly subtle, playing on the West's growing discomfort with its previous assumptions about the propriety of its policies in the Third World.

Others are simply outrageous, such as Esther M. Friesner's "First, Catch Your Elephant," a humorous look at the Punic Wars, and specifically Hannibal's campaigh through the Alps. In it she plays upon certain modern ethnic stereotypes, yet the temporal distance of translating them into the peoples who occupied those areas in that era drains them of their sting. Fans of The Godfather will find the ending particularly appropriate.

Harry Turtledove's own contribution, "Shock and Awe," takes a middle approach. On the surface it seems to be a straightforward speculation about what might have happened had Jesus and his disciples taken a more militant approach, rather than resolutely refusing to take political sides. On a closer reading, one notices just how much the Roman legionaires sound like present-day American soldiers. Is there more to this story than meets the eye?

Table of Contents

  • "A Key to the Illuminated Heretic" by A. M. Dellamonica
  • "The Road to Endless Sleep" by Jim Fiscus
  • "Not Fade Away" by William Sanders
  • "I Shall Return" by John Mina
  • "Shock and Awe" by Harry Turtledove
  • "A Good Bag" by Brad Linaweaver
  • "The Burning Spear at Twilight" by Mike Resnick
  • "It Isn't Every Day of the Week" by Roland J. Green
  • "Measureless to Man" by Judith Tar
  • "Over the Sea from Skye" by Lillian Stewart Carl
  • "First, Catch Your Elephant" by Esther M. Friesner
  • "East of Appomattox" by Lee Allred
  • "Murdering Uncle Ho" by Chris Bunch