Monday, October 15, 2007

Opening Atlantis-Harry Turtledove

Opening Atlantis
Harry Turtledove
Roc, Dec 2007, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451461742

In 1452, English fisherman Edward Radcliffe steers his vessel St. George to Le Croisic in Breton to buy salt before he and his crew including two of his sons Henry and Richard sail into the Atlantic seeking cod; the salt will keep their catch from spoiling. After purchasing quality salt from salt merchant master Abrgall, the Radcliffes stop at a tavern for a drink. They listen to Bretons and Basque argue over what year it is, which leads to them meeting Breton Francois Kersauzon. He tells them a tale about a new continent way past the western most sailing lines in the Atlantic.

The English assumes he is talking about legendary Atlantis, a place so isolated without human contamination that strange unique species developed like the Honkers and the giant eagles that hunt them. When Edward returns to England after a successful fishing venture, he decides Atlantis is his utopia where he and his family can safely live free of the royal wars. However, as rumors spread that Edward plans to colonize Atlantis, many people demand passage with them. Edward and his sons create a colony on Atlantis not aware that future immigrants will demand more of the land while war, as with Europe, seems the norm throughout the decades.

The above paragraphs are the OPENING ATLANTIS New Hastings act of a three era tale that showcases Harry Turtledove’s ability to write a believable alternate historical thriller (the first of an Atlantis based trilogy). Readers need to understand that this is not the New World of Columbus fame, but instead a giant land mass somewhat in between Europe and the Americas; nor is this the advanced technological society of fable. Thus all sorts of differences from climate to international trade to hostilities develop. Although not as deep as some of Mr. Turtledove’s alternate historical sagas, genre fans will appreciate a different take on the legend of Atlantis and its impact on Europe.

Harriet Klausner

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