Worldwar series

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Not to be confused with World Wars.
Map of the World Colonization.png
The extent of the Race's conquests on Earth
Author Harry Turtledove
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Alternate history
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)

The Worldwar series is the fan name given to a series of alternate history science fiction novels by Harry Turtledove. Its premise is an alien invasion of Earth during World War II, and includes Turtledove's Worldwar tetralogy; as well as the Colonization trilogy; and the novel Homeward Bound. The series' time-span ranges from 1942–2031.

Series premise[edit]

Worldwar deals with a military invasion which begins on or around May 30, 1942, by a force of aliens who call themselves the Race, a reptilian species. They had reached Earth orbit in December 1941, but delayed their attack for various reasons.

Although the Race has the advantage of superior technology, their information on humanity had been collected by robotic probe during the 12th century AD. The invaders are surprised to find that humanity has progressed far more rapidly than any other species with which they had previously studied and conquered. Contrary to their expectations, at the time of invasion, the Race's technology is only marginally more advanced than the contemporaneous 20th century Earth technology. Their commander hesitates, and considers turning back without revealing their presence to the humans, but finally decides that course of action would be too much of a disgrace.

The narrative follows the intersecting fortunes of a large number of human and alien characters. Notably, the series depicts how the Axis and Allied powers must cooperate to fight the alien menace fearlessly.

Literary theme[edit]

Turtledove approaches the novels' science fiction scenario with less of a focus on the technological and fantasy elements typically associated with the genre and shows greater concern for the role of more mundane affairs such as the political repercussions of an alliance between the Allied and Axis powers; the impact the presence of alien creatures has on human society; and the ways in which warfare is paradoxically a hindrance to civilization and—simultaneously—a catalyst for the progress of civilization.


The Worldwar series is made up of four volumes. These volumes are:

Interplanetary war[edit]

The saga opens with a conquest fleet of aliens arriving on Earth at the time of World War II. These aliens have planned invasion for centuries, based on the findings of a probe that examined Earth at the time of the Middle Ages. "The Race" expected to find life and technology on Earth (to them known as Tosev 3) the same as when their probe found it, as the Race themselves develop very slowly. The first series deals with the war, diplomatic negotiations, and the establishment of Race control over most of the world.

Uneasy peace[edit]

The second series of novels, set in the 1960s, deals with the interaction between surviving humans and the Race. It opens with the arrival of the colonization fleet. The series ends with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the establishment of a permanently manned U.S. space-station in the asteroid belt. Part of this series focused on the Reich-Race War of the mid-60s, when the Greater German Reich and the Race fought a nuclear war. The Germans lost, and were forced to allow France to become an independent nation again under a new Fourth Republic.


The final novel in the saga deals with humanity reaching the Race's homeworld, "Home" (Tau Ceti II).

List of characters[edit]

The following is a list of some major characters from the series.


  • Mordechai Anielewicz (historical): Anielewicz, together with other Polish Jews, is liberated from Nazi occupation by the Race. In the wake of salvation, Anielewicz is faced with the agonizing dilemma between siding with the Race against Nazi Germany, or fighting against the Race, an act which would make them Nazi allies.
  • Flight Lieutenant George Bagnall: A flight engineer in the Royal Air Force. Bagnall's Lancaster is the site of one of Turtledove's rare inaccuracies: the author describes it as having a ball turret, which no Lancaster ever carried but was used on the American B-17 Flying Fortress.
  • David Goldfarb: A radar operator in the Royal Air Force.
  • Colonel Leslie Groves (historical): Head of America's atomic bomb development.
  • Colonel Heinrich Jäger: A tank commander in the German Sixth Army advancing on Stalingrad when the alien invasion begins. He is depicted as a good and somewhat charismatic officer.
  • Jens Larssen: A physicist at the University of Chicago. He is sent on a cross-country trip to alert the U.S. federal government of the importance of the atomic bomb project.
  • Vyacheslav Molotov (historical): Head of the Soviet Union's Foreign Ministry. Molotov is among the first humans to orbit the Earth. He is instrumental in negotiating the Peace of Cairo with the Race.
  • Moishe Russie: A student in medicine in Poland when the Germans invaded in 1939.
  • Otto Skorzeny (historical): SS Hauptsturmführer, Skorzeny is a Waffen-SS commando known for his unconventional thinking. He becomes a particularly feared human to the Race.
  • Sam Yeager: A minor league ball player with the Decatur Commodores when the invasion takes place. Like many young men, he tried to enlist in the Army in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941.
  • Liu Han: A Chinese housewife whose innocuous village was raided by the Race and Japanese forces almost simultaneously. She becomes connected with the Communist guerrillas in China, and eventually joins the Party, rising through the ranks to become a leader in the revolutionary movement.
  • Yi Min: A Chinese apothecary abducted with Liu Han when the Race raided his village.

The Race[edit]

  • Fleetlord Atvar: The commander of the Race's Conquest Fleet.
  • Flight Leader Teerts: A killercraft pilot from the Conquest Fleet. His is among the jet fighters that rapidly neutralize human air power in the opening days of the invasion.
  • Straha: Shiplord (that is, ship captain) who vocally opposes Atvar's strategies.
  • Ussmak: A driver for the crew of a landcruiser in the Conquest Fleet. He is one of the Lizard "Everyman" viewpoint characters.

Historical characters[edit]

Some historical characters also appear for brief cameos:

In the Balance
Tilting the Balance
  • Eric Blair: BBC talks producer, Indian Section, London. Better known by pen name George Orwell.
  • Enrico Fermi: Nuclear physicist with the Metallurgical Laboratory
  • Leó Szilárd: Nuclear physicist with the Metallurgical Laboratory
Upsetting the Balance
Striking the Balance


External links[edit]