Profile of Harry Turtledove

SciFi Wire – John Joseph Adams profiles Harry Turtledove:

 
 

Atlantis Comes To Life

Alternate-history author Harry Turtledove told SCI FI Wire that his new novel, Opening Atlantis, takes place on the legendary island and required him to imagine a continent without mammals.

“[Trying to imagine that] was a lot of fun, as was trying to conceive of the birds and reptiles and insects that might fill the niches mammals hold in most of the world,” Turtledove said in an interview.

Turtledove reads books about the geology and ecology of New Zealand for fun and thought that it might be interesting to produce an isolated ecology of his own.

“Atlantis was the neatest possibility that came to mind, so I wrote it,” Turtledove said, adding: “You just never know where you’ll find something that generates a story.”

Among the fanciful creatures he created are the Honkers, moa-like birds that are descended from geese. “Coming up with strange birds was particularly enjoyable, because I am a birder,” Turtledove said. “Oversized katydids fill the mouse niche. Not many flowering plants in Atlantis, either: The roles are taken by conifers and ferns and cycads.”

Opening Atlantis is an alternate history that explores the discovery and settlement of Atlantis over the course of several centuries. “Atlantis is conceived to be the eastern U.S.A., say from halfway between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, and the Maritimes south of the St. Lawrence, which in this universe rifted away from the rest of North America about 85 million years ago and is not quite a thousand miles closer to Europe than our East Coast really is,” Turtledove said.

Although this is Turteldove’s first novel set in the mythical continent, Atlantis has been the setting for two of his novellas: “Audubon in Atlantis” and “The Scarlet Band.” They appeared in Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine. —John Joseph Adams

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