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Alternate Generals II cover Alternate Generals II, edited by Harry Turtledove

Cover art by Dru Blair

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Harry Turtledove has established his reputation as the dean of alternate history with numerous successful short stories, novels and series exploring worlds that might have been. Now he turns his hand to assembling anthologies of stories exploring the possibilities of generals in changed circumstances. This is the second in what will probably be a series.

Like many anthologies, the stories vary in tone and style, and to some extent in quality. There are some spectacular successes, like Michael F. Flynn's satirical "Southern Strategy," in which Tricky Dick proves that he won't be kicked around, or the haunting "Twelve Legions of Angels" by R. M. Meluch, in which possibilities of time travel and the remaking of choices are hinted at, but may well be a trick of the Nazi occupiers of England. Turtledove himself weighs in with "Uncle Alf," an exploration of what might have become of a certain notorious individual had the Kaiser's government not fallen at the end of World War I

Some of the stories rest upon more obscure turning points that may not be familiar to the general public, such as Judith Tarr's "Devil's Bargain" or Susan Schwartz's "And the Glory of Them." Then there are a few, like Chris Bunch's "Tarnished Glory: Custer and the Waffen SS," which come across as simply absurd.

Yet on the whole, the good stories outweigh the weak ones. This is an anthology to get.

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Review posted April 9, 2003

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