Sunday, January 9, 2011

Counting Up, Counting Down by Harry Turtledove

A fairly nice collection containing mostly different sorts of alternative reality tales. Some stories were excellent, some really didn't have any real point, except something was different compared with the “real” world.

Forty, Counting Down • (1999) • novella by Harry Turtledove
”Other half” of the story which concludes this collection (and which I have already read). A forty years old man returns in time to mend his relationship with a girlfriend he had when he was twenty. Later the same girl was his wife, still later she became his ex-wife. I think I prefer the viewpoint of the young man. The forties version is so irritatingly clueless about most things. Well written, very entertaining story. ****
Must and Shall • (1995) • novelette by Harry Turtledove
Lincoln was killed in a battle. The North won the civil war, but treated the Confederacy as a conquered nation. 100 years later there are still very high tensions between the former enemies, there is guerrilla fighting on the mountains, and general hostility against damnyankees. Fairly good story, not as good as the first in the book. ***½
Ready for the Fatherland • (1991) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
The second world war ended in a stalemate. Nazis control Serbia, the Serbs rule and persecute the Croats. British spies have a mission on Serbia. Ok story, feels more like a scene in a larger story. ***
The Phantom Tolbukhin • (1998) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
Another story with drawn out Second World War. A Russian squadron raids the Nazi occupied east-Europe. A battle description, not much else. ***-
Deconstruction Gang • (1992) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
An academic who has trouble finding a teaching job joins a deconstruction crew. Nice word-play, a one-joke story. **1/2
The Green Buffalo • (1991) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
Triceratops in the wild west. There is no really any other point. **+
The Maltese Elephant • (1995) • novelette by Harry Turtledove
Maltese Falcon retold. The Mccuffin is a Maltese elephant,a real one. They didn't die out in this reality. I didn't really get what was the point of the story, the plot is pretty much the same. A well written story, but fairly pointless. ***-
Vermin • (1993) • novelette by Harry Turtledove
A religious colony lives on a planet which is infested with lice. They especially love a local intelligent species. A woman asks for a scientist living on a research base to get rid of the lice. They do, but very predictable results. Extremely clueless scientists, otherwise pretty good story. ****-
Ils Ne Passeront Pas • (1998) • novelette by Harry Turtledove
Trench warfare of the first World War is interrupted by something strange. Alien invasion? Lot is left open in this short segment-like story. A writing and story-telling are fine, but this seems like the first chapter of a novel. ***+
In This Season • (1992) • novelette by Harry Turtledove
Jewish families in WW2 Poland meet a golem and a Chanukah miracle. A pretty good, but somewhat oversentimental story. ***½
Honeymouth • (1990) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
Unicorns would be the ultimate mounts on the battleground, if there wouldn't be one obvious flaw. Battleready troops usually aren't virgins. But why one man, who goes from one whorehouse to another, and enjoys considerable popularity among wenches, is able to ride an unicorn? The tittle is an obvious clue, something I got immediately. Nice story anyway. ***½
Myth Manners' Guide to Greek Missology #1: Andromeda and Perseus • (1999) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
Some ironic word play and parody contrasting Greek myths and some modern day people and phenomenon. Left me pretty lukewarm, but I probably didn't get all references. **½
Goddess for a Day • (1995) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
A girl in ancient Greek plays Pallas Athene to help a returning tyrant to get back to power. There is a slight fantasy event in the end. There isn't much to it.   ***+
After the Last Elf is Dead • (1988) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
The dark Lord has won, the last elf has been killed and last pieces of resistance are being wiped out. A very good story with expected but logical outcome. ****-
The Decoy Duck • (1992) • novelette by Harry Turtledove
Some sort of high fantasy happenings. I couldn't get on to it at all, as there was practically no exposition at all.**-
The Seventh Chapter • (1997) • shortstory by Harry Turtledove
The rules of a monk brotherhood clearly states “”No brother shall be permitted to entertain women”. How it is possible that in one branch the relationships between local women and the brothers seem to bit fairly “warm”, and the abbot denies any wrongdoings even under a truth potion. Pretty nice story, even though I got the twist early on. ***½
Twenty-One, Counting Up • (1999) • novella by Harry Turtledove
A “mirror image” of the first story. The same plot, seem from the viewpoint of the young man. I prefer this version, but the difference is pretty small. Pretty good pair of stories. ****+

416 pp

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