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"What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Old 12-11-09, 10:29 PM
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"What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

So I'm looking for a book to read now that the semester is over. I'd like to read a "what if" kind of sci-fi or fantasy book. For example, what if aliens came to earth and this and that happened. Or, what if X event in history didn't happen, this would happen.

If any of you are familiar with "elseworlds" in comic book series, that's kind of what I'm looking for.

Also, a friend recommended the Legend of Drizzt trilogy from R.A Salvatore. Is that any good?

Thanks!
Old 12-12-09, 10:31 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

I recommend Ken Grimwood's Replay. It features a "what if" you were to live your life over again, only to change a few things, and then replay it over and over. This is one of the books that I find myself coming back to every other year just because it makes me think about the choices that I make in my own life every day.

I haven't read the Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, but it features an alternate history where the Allies lost WW2. Supposedly, it's one of Dick's best sci/fi stories.
Old 12-12-09, 11:47 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Sounds like this might be what you're looking for:

Worldwar:In The Balance by Harry Turtledove
Old 12-12-09, 11:54 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?



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Old 12-12-09, 12:37 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

I second Replay, one of a few books I've read more than once.

Some of the stories are dated, but I'm reading Midas World by Fred Pohl which is a series of loosely connected short stories about what happens to Earth and Man if someone came up with an unlimited, free energy source.
Old 12-12-09, 11:21 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Yeah almost anything by Turtledove would fit the bill. Or do a search for "alternate history novel" - there's a whole little subgenre on this. If you mean a more general "what if" scenario than just alternate history ... well that's pretty much all science fiction.
Old 01-15-10, 07:08 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

What-if alternate history stories are a staple of SF. I'd say every major SF writer has tried their hand at it with some, like Turtledove, specializing in it.

It's gotten so "popular" that even non-SF writers have gotten into the act. In the past few years the have been several collections of what-if, alternate history "stories" (more like dry essays) written by real historians.

For some reason, a lot of writers are fixated on the U.S. Civil War. Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore is a SF Civil War classic with a sort of "twist."

If you like alternate history stories that are a bit more swashbuckling, try some of L. Neil Smith's early work like The Probability Broach and its sequel The Venus Belt.
Old 01-17-10, 05:56 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

I'm reminded of a story I read in one of the sci-fi digest magazines once. This guy works for one of the record companies. He travels to alternate realities and goes to record stores looking for music that doesn't exist in our reality, ie: Hendrix didn't die, Beatles lasted till 1979, etc. He can't bring anything back with him from the alt. reality, so he has a compact cassette recorder and makes copies to bring back. Then the record companies in our reality release it. All the record labels are in competition, whoever finds what first gets it.
Old 01-17-10, 09:16 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Check out both the Nantucket and Emberverse series from S.M. Stirling and the Destroyermen series from Taylor Anderson. I got on a similar kick a while back and discovered these. Highly recommended.
Old 01-28-10, 12:36 PM
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I'll suggest the Belisarius series by Eric Flint and David Drake:

An Oblique Approach
In the Heart of Darkness
Destiny's Shield
Fortune's Stroke
The Tide of Victory
The Dance of Time


These novels are set in sixth century India, the Middle East, northern Africa, and the Byzantine Empire. I'll crib the capsule description from Wikipedia:
"An epic scope alternate history series in which a Crystalline based intelligence is sent back in time to defeat a plot headed up by a computer based AI sent by disgruntled humans (political losers in the far future) intent on the molding of humanity through a ruthless merciless eugenics program, making themselves the winners in the new time line of altered history. The series features a lot of historical characters brought to life by the authors, most notably, the General Belisarius, who the authors present as possibly the best general to ever walk the earth."

Lots of (revised) history, military tactics and strategy, and culture from an area of the world I was mostly unfamiliar with. The writing isn't the greatest some of the descriptions get a bit repetitive but I found the characters compelling and the action entertaining. Some of the female characters in later books were fun, especially Belisarius's formidable wife Antonina, Irene the spymaster, and Princess Shakuntala of one of the overrun Indian kingdoms.

Flint has other alternate history novels, for example the 1632 series, but I haven't read them.
Old 03-03-10, 09:31 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Are there any alternate history books about what might've happened if Columbus hadn't discovered America... because it wasn't there! Like what if the North and South American continents didn't exist. How would world history have played out.
Old 03-03-10, 11:48 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Turtledove has a story about discovering Atlantis. It's not exactly what you're describing, but somewhat in that vein. The idea is that there's a small continent between Europe and North America that gets discovered earlier, and how that might have changed things.

I think it's called Finding Atlantis or Discovering Atlantis or some such. I read it several years ago and it was decent.
Old 03-03-10, 01:54 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Originally Posted by ben12
Are there any alternate history books about what might've happened if Columbus hadn't discovered America... because it wasn't there! Like what if the North and South American continents didn't exist. How would world history have played out.
S.M. Stirling - Conquistador

One adjustment to his radio sends John Rolfe VI, a descendant of the Virginia colonist, from 1946 into a California New World never touched by white men
Old 04-06-10, 08:20 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

One of the best "what if" books I've read was Fatherland by Robert Harris. It's premise is that Germany didn't lose the 2nd world war. It was made into a fairly enjoyable movie starring Rutger Hauer.
Old 04-29-10, 04:50 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

bump!

Originally Posted by ben12
Are there any alternate history books about what might've happened if Columbus hadn't discovered America... because it wasn't there! Like what if the North and South American continents didn't exist. How would world history have played out.
One of my favorite books...Orson Scott Card's The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. The book's story is a little more complicated than that, since it proposes a few other possible timelines...right idea, though.

http://www.amazon.com/Pastwatch-Chri.../dp/0812508645


Last edited by GreenMonkey; 04-29-10 at 04:53 PM.
Old 04-29-10, 07:07 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

I re-read this over and over again in college:



Overall, Harry Turtledove is the man when it comes to alternate histories.

Last edited by The Valeyard; 04-29-10 at 07:13 PM.
Old 05-10-10, 01:40 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Originally Posted by GreenMonkey
bump!



One of my favorite books...Orson Scott Card's The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. The book's story is a little more complicated than that, since it proposes a few other possible timelines...right idea, though.

http://www.amazon.com/Pastwatch-Chri.../dp/0812508645

That sounds really interesting. But from the summaries I've found (ones that aren't too spoilery), it doesn't sound like it's quite it.

Imagine the planet Earth without the North and South American continents. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans are the same, single ocean. Columbus would've sailed straight to Asia as he intended to.

Without any New World hoopla, how might've things turned out?

If this doesn't exist, I'm not surprised. Seems like you'd have to be a master historian to execute this well.
Old 05-10-10, 03:11 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Originally Posted by ben12
That sounds really interesting. But from the summaries I've found (ones that aren't too spoilery), it doesn't sound like it's quite it.

Imagine the planet Earth without the North and South American continents. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans are the same, single ocean. Columbus would've sailed straight to Asia as he intended to.

Without any New World hoopla, how might've things turned out?

If this doesn't exist, I'm not surprised. Seems like you'd have to be a master historian to execute this well.
I'm not a super historian but I am finishing up a B.A. in History.

I would think he would have just made a lot of money on the trade with Asia. IIRC the whole point was to have a route that was:

Trade already existed - it just took forever to go overland, you had to deal with Arabs/Mongols/bandits and weather along the route (which IIRC meant you had to cross the Himalayas). Or the Portuguese route around Africa which was pretty lengthy and kind of locked down by the Portuguese.

Last edited by GreenMonkey; 05-10-10 at 03:13 PM.
Old 05-10-10, 10:51 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Originally Posted by ben12
Imagine the planet Earth without the North and South American continents. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans are the same, single ocean. Columbus would've sailed straight to Asia as he intended to.

Without any New World hoopla, how might've things turned out?

If this doesn't exist, I'm not surprised.
Yes, I think you're officially asking for something waaaaay too specific.
Old 05-13-10, 04:27 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?



Old 05-14-10, 07:28 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Old 05-17-10, 04:12 PM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

What if that big rug you're standing on is actually home to an entire race of beings called the Seerkind who chose to have themselves and their homes woven into that carpet to save their race from destruction?

http://www.amazon.com/Weaveworld-Clive-Barker/dp/0743417356/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274130295&sr=1-1 -kd5-
Old 05-20-10, 02:12 AM
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Re: "What if" sci-fi or fantasy recommendations?

Originally Posted by ben12
That sounds really interesting. But from the summaries I've found (ones that aren't too spoilery), it doesn't sound like it's quite it.

Imagine the planet Earth without the North and South American continents. The Atlantic and Pacific oceans are the same, single ocean. Columbus would've sailed straight to Asia as he intended to.

Without any New World hoopla, how might've things turned out?

If this doesn't exist, I'm not surprised. Seems like you'd have to be a master historian to execute this well.
Try "Two Hawks From Earth" by Philip Jose Farmer. Expanded from a version originally published as the Gate of Time.

It takes place on an Earth with the exact background you describe.

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