is an Alternate History
continuity by Harry Turtledove
about an Alien Invasion
during World War II
The Race are a proud species of reptilian
aliens with tens of thousands of years of culture, bringing an invasion fleet to the primitive world of Tosev 3 (locally called Earth) to bring it into the Empire and the light of civilization. They expect a fairly easy conquest given the locals' lack of sophistication. Their probe mission, just eight hundred local years ago—certainly nowhere near enough time to advance technologically at all
—found sword-swinging savages riding on animals. Then, to their discomfort, they discover that the planet is emitting radio transmissions
. Arriving late in the local year 1941, they find the primitive industrial civilization of the Tosevites confusing, implausible, and an affront to the Race's rigid doctrines. Worse, if the Tosevites have advanced that much, it throws the certainty of the conquest in doubt. However, Fleetlord Atvar decides he could go down in history as one of three leaders to conquer an alien world, or the first to turn tail and flee without even having tasted combat. They go ahead with the conquest exactly as planned.
This is a mistake.
They land squarely in the middle of World War II
, to the absolute confusion of everyone involved. Through the eyes of Loads and Loads of Characters
, of all nationalities, human and alien, we read about the humans desperately trying to survive, and the aliens desperately trying to win. The Race is forced to become more like humans, making hasty decisions and breaking protocol. It also turns out that ginger (the spice) is a powerful and highly addictive narcotic for the Race, which further strains their normal way of life. This takes up the four books of the Balance
series (the original Worldwar
series) and ends with a stalemate and truce between the Race and the human governments that managed to resist their invasion (the USA, the Greater German Reich
, the Soviet Union
, the United Kingdom
and Imperial Japan
Next comes Colonization
, a trilogy that picks up twenty years after the end of Worldwar
. The Race's colonization fleet arrives on Earth expecting a subdued planet, only to find that barely more than half the planet's surface is under the control of the Race. This creates intense friction between the troops of the invasion fleet, who have been significantly changed by their interaction with humans, and the much more conservative and strait-laced colonists. Even more tension comes from the just-short-of-shots-fired
relationships between the USA, the USSR, Germany, and the Race: All of the major human powers are hostile towards each other, and often trying to manipulate or cast blame on each other, but they're much more
hostile towards the Race, threatening nuclear war in defense of an almost-enemy if the Race makes any aggressive moves. Making matters worse for the Race, it is discovered that on top of its narcotic effects to the Race, ginger causes females to go into estrus out of season, something undiscovered by the all-male conquest fleet. This has devastating effects on the Race's mating cycles, and introduces them to some totally alien concepts like sex for pleasure, prostitution, and monogamy.
Finally, a standalone book, Homeward Bound
, was added to the series. A whole bunch of humans get on a human-made starship and head towards the Race's homeworld, in an effort to negotiate a lasting peace between humans and the Race. The Race, for its part, is still contemplating the possibility of utterly destroying Earth to end the threat to the Empire, even though it would mean killing hundreds of millions of their own colonists. But in the end, they discover that it's already far too late to contain the humans, and they need to begin adapting to compete.
These books provides examples of:
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
- A.K.A.-47: A lot of the Race's hardware sounds like it came out of Russian armories after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- Affably Evil: Skorzeny spends so much time being incredibly likeable and fun to be around that most people have to continually remind themselves that he is an unrepentant Nazi. After he has gotten one of the primary characters imprisoned by the SS, many other officers - unaware that he was behind the arrest - actually use his example as motivation to break their superior out of custody.
- The Alliance: Nazi Germany, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the British Empire, the United States of America and Imperial Japan put aside their differences in order to kick alien ass during World War II.
- However, it's also subverted. Instead of uniting as one or working together, each power pretty much fights their own separate war against the Race. It's less of an Alliance and more an agreement to not get in each others' way.
- Alternate History: Aliens invade during World War II.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated:
- Some members of the Race have taken to baseball, and it is noted that the Race like Leni Riefenstahl's film-making techniques.
- After his defection, Straha (who has been considered by other members of the Race to be more like Humans than one of the Race) notes that he doesn't care for a lot of human art and music. He is somewhat fond of Bach, however.
- By the time of Colonization, the next human generation (including Sam Yeager's teenage son) have grown up with the presence of the Race and think the trappings of their culture are pretty cool, shaving their heads and wearing body paint. They do not say "cool", though; like the Race's biology they prefer "hot".
- Homeward Bound reveals some of the Race have taken to wearing clothes and wigs.
- The same novel also reveals that, decades after the Admiral Peary has left Earth, full frontal nudity (or, at least, going topless) has become commonplace in American culture and is completely acceptable on TV, and not all even bother covering themselves up with bodypaint. Karen, some of whose friends also used to go topless back in the 60s, is still outraged at this.
- Alien Catnip: Ginger has a powerful and instantly addictive narcotic effect on the Race, and once the colony ships arrive it even turns out to send their females into heat, quickly resulting in some enterprising Race females inventing prostitutes who take money to snort some ginger and have sex.
- Alien Invasion
- Aliens Made Them Do It: The Race abducts humans to test their Bizarre Alien Biology and see that everyone can mate with everyone all year round. Inverted in Colonization, where ginger puts Race females into heat out of season.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Because of this trope, human psychologists are stumped when trying to analyse the Race. They have no sexual thoughts outside of the mating season, so Freud doesn't apply.
- Allohistorical Allusion:
- Being interrogated by the Japanese, Race soldier Teerts wishes that a nuclear bomb would fall upon the city. The city is Nagasaki.
- After being able to destroy several Race landcruisers (albeit with heavy losses) with the help of the newly developed Tiger tanks, one of Jäger's men wonders if the next type of tank they'll develop will be a Tiger mounting a long-barreled gun and sloped armor. That was precisely what the tank that succeeded the Tiger had.
- In Colonization the Race and Nazi Germany go to war; due to the Race's ability to knock down the majority of German missiles, the Nazis are defeated and most of their major cities destroyed: Flensburg, on the Danish border, ends up as the capital. It was also the capital of Germany from 1 May to 23 May 1945 in our own timeline - Karl Donitz led the German government from there after Hitler's suicide.
- In Second Contact: One member of The Race says to another, after dealing with Nazi ambassadors, that the city of Nuremberg is a trial. The Nuremberg Trials were war crime tribunals that tried the real Nazis after WWII was over.
- When Johannes Drucker comments on the suicide of the president of the United States, he thinks such a thing would never occur in the German Reich, and Hitler would sooner take up a mauser himself and fight until death. He is, of course, entirely wrong.
- For that matter, after President Earl Warren's suicide, several of the Race's experts on humans gather to discuss the reasons behind this act. They unofficially call this gathering the "Warren Commission". In Real Life, the Warren Commission was the unofficial name for the committee that investigated John F. Kennedy's assassination, named so after the presiding Chief Justice Earl Warren.
- General Patton criticizes the Race for getting bogged down in street fighting at Chicago, saying that unlike the Germans the Race are slow to learn from their mistakes and the Germans would not have tried to take Stalingrad house by house if they had reached it. In reality, they did, and it was a complete disaster.
- Even better, he just surrounded a Race army using the SAME STRATEGY the Red Army used to surround the Germans at Stalingrad and destroy them, and the aliens had actually done better, as they managed to pull out part of the troops.
- As the result of being hit by the Dora cannon, a Race starship explodes. By chance, this ship holds the majority of the fleet's nuclear ordnance, The bombs do not go off, but they do spread radioactive contamination across a wide area in the Ukraine. When a joint Soviet-German mission captures some of the uranium, two of them are running close to an abandoned village. The German officer asks what the village is called; the Soviet partisan replies it is Chernobyl.
- Anyone Can Die: Sometimes (though rarely) to the point that a viewpoint character barely gets two narration sequences before dying.
- Asteroid Miners: The purpose of the Lewis and Clark is to, basically, be glorified prospectors. The crew is to spend the rest of their lives going from asteroid to asteroid in the Belt and scan it for useful minerals, so that future miners know where to dig. Why do they need to spend the rest of their lives there instead of having crews operate in shifts? Because someone high up decided it was a good idea.
- It's later explained that, since the US only has one such spacecraft, having it shuttle back and forth every few months wouldn't make much sense. Even after the better-designed Columbus arrives with a fresh crew, one of the original crewmembers mentions that this still means a life sentence for both crews until many more such ships are built, and some can be dedicated to shuttling people between Earth and the Belt.
- And also that the crew spent so much time in microgravity conditions that it's no longer safe for them to reenter Earth's gravitational field; doing so would kill them.
- Badass: Otto Skorzeny, very much so. Basically his entire schtick is Refuge in Audacity. Once, he walks into a Race stronghold with a bag of ginger, intending to try and buy a tank's laser sight. He drives out with an entire tank.
- Badass Bookworm: Jens Larssen manages to travel his way across war-torn America on a bicycle, fights as a competent infantryman in Patton's army and repeatedly shows himself to be tough, resourceful and determined despite the fact he is simply a nuclear physicist with no combat training. Rare case of a badass also being a Butt Monkey.
- Also Heinrich Jager: Skorzeny enlisted him for the raid in Split as much for his training in Archeology (The Race were based in Diocletian's Palace, and Jager finds the underground passage in) as for his military experience.
- Beardless Protection Program: Moishe's escape from the ghetto.
- BFG: The biggest gun ever built in Real Life, a German 80 cm K (E) railway siege gun, makes an appearance. The Germans use it to blast a couple of Race spaceships. It is named Dora.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Race mates in seasons, gets stoned off of ginger and uses far less water than humanity (with resulting "toiletry differences" - see Nobody Poops). Averted with food: other than liking things saltier and needing less water, the Race can eat human foods and vice versa. Inverted from the Race's perspective: the biology of the "Big Uglies" is weird to them; that they (we) can mate all year round, are always influenced by this, and the crucial role this plays in shaping human society is deeply bizarre and pretty disgusting to them.
- As revealed in Second Contact, the Race's reproductive organs are located in the same orifice they use to expel solid waste (they don't produce liquid waste). A male's organ will come out from his cloaca (yes, he screws with something covered in poop) and insert into the female's cloaca (apparently, all Race females do anal). After a few minutes, the male orgasms, bringing intense pleasure to both partners. Some time later, the female lays eggs from the same orifice... and then poops on the nest to ward off predators and other females.
- Not so bizarre, actually—many species on Earth do exactly the same thing with the same orifices, including common chickens.
- Bizarre Alien Senses: The Lizards can see a few colors in the infrared spectrum.
- Blood Knight: Skorzeny does not appear to care who he fights, or for what reason, just as long as he gets to fight. The child-like enthusiasm he displays, including when he is using weapons of mass destruction, before, during and after said fights is both disturbing and more than a little funny.
- Break the Haughty: Flight Leader Teerts gets put through the wringer. Also, the entire series could count as one Break the Haughty moment for the Race.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Otto Skorzeny of course, it is one of his chief characteristics that he enthusiastically enjoys everything he does.
- Butt Monkey:
- Jens Larssen. The guy loses his job and marriage, gets stuck behind enemy lines, gets press-ganged into fighting on the front lines on more than one occasion despite being a mere scientist, gets sent on a Snipe Hunt, gets the clap, etc... Really, his only purpose in the story seems to be to have one humiliation after another piled onto him.
- Ussmak appears to be the Race's equivalent of a Butt Monkey. Butt Beffel, perhaps? He is a tank (or "landcruiser" to use the Race's terminology) driver whose first commanding officer gets killed in his very first engagement by sniper fire; his replacement commander is a Grade A Idiot; his best friend, the tank gunner, gets killed shortly later; his tank gets blown up when Skorzeny, of all people, rams a satchel charge between the turret and the chassis; when Ussmak bails out he lands in a particularly radioactive patch of mud which gets him a lovely stay in a hospital ship and to add insult to injury one of the orderlies there gets him addicted to ginger. Then he gets assigned to a new crew and gets to play cat and mouse with Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS troops and armor in France; then he takes part in the invasion of Britain where he gets introduced to a new type of warfare, Chemical Warfare; then he gets sent to Siberia, when the Race can not stand even mildly cold weather, where his second crew gets killed. Afterward, Ussmak finally snaps and leads a mutiny at his base and then defects to the Big Uglies. Unfortunately, the humans he defects to are Stalin's USSR complete with Beria's NKVD, so you can guess that doesn't exactly end well for poor Ussmak.
- But We Used a Condom: Generally averted, as women only seem to get pregnant when condoms are not used, and even a few times when condoms weren't used nobody got pregnant. Completely played straight with Kassquit in Homeward Bound who uses condoms during her sexual relationship with Major Coffey. The latter asks how to say "broken rubber" in the language of the Race. Kassquit is initially upset to have her opinion on substandard human quality control confirmed but decides to keep the baby. Coffey leaves her as his duties demand but convinces his superiors to let him return.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Humans tend to use the Race's names (or translations thereof) for inventions they arrived at first. Nuclear weapons are "explosive-metal bombs"; the LASER is "skelkwank", and so CDs and DVDs being called "skelkwank discs". The Race call their tanks "landcruisers" and their fighter planes "killercraft".
- A variation with animals from Home brought by the Colonization Fleet. For some, humans try to find analogues among human animals. For example, the Race's equivalent of cows look very much like dinosaurs with turreted eyes, except it's pointed out that they don't graze like cows and eat every blade of grass in the vicinity (making the area barren). The lizards also have two kinds of pets (also lizard-like). The befflem (plural of "beffel"), for example are friendly like dogs but are independent like cats. On the other hand, tsiongyu (plural of "tsiongi") are larger than befflem and must be kept on a leash (like dogs) but are not as playful as dogs and are a little reminiscent of cats in their interactions with their owners.
- Canada, Eh?: When the United Kingdom falls more and more under the sway of the Greater German Reich, David Goldfarb and his family emigrate to Canada where, they hope, the immediate presence of the United States will allow the country to resist Nazi influences better than Britain.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Liu Han is a major point-of-view character in the Worldwar and Colonization series. In Homeward Bound, she gets one mention by Ttomalss remembering how Liu Han had him kidnapped back during the events of Worldwar. Neither Liu Han's nor her daughter Liu Mei's fate is known, and nobody appears to care. It can't even be considered to be of the Dropped a Bridge on Him variety, as they aren't stated to be dead (although, given that most of the novel takes place in the 21st century, Liu Han is likely dead).
- Colony Drop: After the Columbus arrives to join the Lewis and Clark in the Asteroid Belt, one of the tasks the astronauts perform is strap rockets to asteroids in order to, potentially, use them to bombard territories belonging to the Race on Earth. They successfully test one of these by slamming it into Mars. Atvar is not pleased.
- After the Commodore Perry arrives to Home, and the Race is confronted by Gunboat Diplomacy, they warn humans that, while the Race lacks FTL drives, their ships are able to go to a fairly high (50%) percentage of the speed of light. Should Home be threatened, the Race may send ships to slam into Earth at half the speed of light (or even more, given that they wouldn't be worrying about decelerating in time and can use all fuel for acceleration), likely starting a new Ice Age. Even with FTL, it would impossible to intercept all of them, given how big space is.
- Conflict Ball: Not once do Major Samuel Yeager or Lieutenant Colonel Glen Johnson receive official cease-and-desist orders through the proper chain of command. Their superiors instead go straight to intimidation, high-rank blustering, and murder, whereas the characters themselves state that a simple explanation of "Sorry, that's classified" would have taken care of the whole thing.
- Possibly foreshadowing of the fact that given that the US is guilty, they have every reason not to leave a paper trail.
- Except that Johnson wasn't looking for who attacked the Race. He wanted to know the truth about the space station.
- Colonel Badass: Heinrich Jaeger. Skorzeny's SS rank was Obersturmbannfuhrer, which is the equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel.
- Les Collaborateurs: The Polish Jews flip-flop between helping the Alien Invaders fight the Nazis and helping the Nazis fight the invaders. The truth is, they don't want either side to win: the Nazis are out to exterminate the Jews, but the Race wants perpetual slavery for all mankind. If either wins, the Jews lose, even if the Race would make them the favorite group of slaves.
- Completely Different Title: The books were renamed for the Russian translation.
- In the Balance became Invasion Fleet (Флот вторжения).
- Tilting the Balance became Retaliation (Ответный удар).
- Upsetting the Balance became Eye for an Eye (Око за око).
- Striking the Balance became The Great Turning Point (Великий перелом).
- Ditto for the Italian version:
- In the Balance - Invasion Year Zero (Invasione anno zero)
- Tilting the Balance - Invasion Act Two (Invasione atto secondo)
- Upsetting the Balance - Invasion Act Three (Invasione atto terzo)
- Striking the Balance - Invasion Final Act (Invasione atto finale)
- The Colonization series and Homeward Bound are all named Colonization Phase <number> (Colonizzazione fase <numero>).
- Covers Always Lie:
- Colonization: Aftershocks shows a bunch of German soldiers with a jet fighter and an explosion on the cover. This is the only American cover which is honest (by way of being generic). Every single other cover, from In the Balance to Homeward Bound depict scenes that never take place anywhere in any of the novels. Colonization: Down to Earth has John F. Kennedy using a PC that looks like it was from the 90s, Nikita Khrushchev holding a shoe, and a NASA space shuttle. None of this is relevant to this series at all.
- The British covers in particular miss off the Race's chameleon-like eye turrets (something which is mentioned every third paragraph) and consistently gives them a dragon-like insignia as a symbol, when the books specifically point out that the Race have no concept of national symbols because they have been united for so long that they have no 'Other' to define themselves against.
- The Russian covers show the Race as raptors. See here◊.
- The covers for the various books in the series were probably done by different people, as the Race looks completely different from book to book. See all four book covers: first◊, second◊, third◊, and fourth◊.
- Plus, the second to last one is also the cover picture of "Hell's Faire," (by John Ringo), and the last one appears to show a human at an advanced computer console, when the book in question takes place at the end of WWII.
- It's actually not uncommon for Russian cover artists to simply "borrow" all or parts of covers from foreign books, even if they don't quite (or at all) fit the plot. After all, the cover is there just to sell the book.
- The audiobook cover appears to show a lizard killercraft (which is grey and has a delta-wing shape) taking down a B-17 bomber◊. While they have indeed taken down many B-17s, especially in the early days of the invasion, the cover shows them firing some sort of laser (sorry, skelkwank) beams instead of regular autocannon rounds. There are no energy weapons in the series. Additionally, the killercraft appears to be right on top of the bomber, whereas the lizards usually try to stay outside their turret range, especially given their radar-lock advantage.
- Crazy Cultural Comparison: Occurs frequently between humans and the Race, in matters both big and small:
- On the macro level, the fact that the reptilian Race have a mating season makes them see the "perpetually aroused" humans as bizarre. They also conclude that this causes competition that may be the driving force behind humanity's warlike nature and related rapid progress.
- On the micro level, there's an amusing illustration when British engineers first try to understand captured Race technology. The Race uses screws, just like we do. It's a very efficient fastener technology, so this case of parallel development isn't terribly surprising. But an arbitrary difference in standards does cause the boffins immense frustration until someone figures out the cause: Race screws are the opposite of ours, turned clockwise to go in, counter-clockwise to go out.
- Crazy-Prepared: The Race expected humanity would be nothing but sword-wielding primitives. They still arm their Conquest Fleet with tanks, attack choppers, fighter aircrafts, and nuclear weapons. Lots and lots of all of them. They were, however, completely unprepared when the humans engaged in chemical warfare, not even having the concept, but they press on anyway. The crazy preparedness is brought up when Shiplord Straha is asked why they bothered bringing so much hardware (including air-to-air ordnance, that should have been superfluous and useless against medieval armies) to fight a bunch of primitives. Straha looks at the person asking like he's "egg-addled" (i.e. crazy) and explains that when you go to war you must prepare for war. Simple as that.
- Dead Guy Junior: There are two children named Heinrich in the Colonization series, both carrying on the legacy of Heinrich Jager and the example he set. That these two children are the sons of both a Wehrmacht officer and a Jewish milita leader speaks to the quality of the man himself.
- And Adolf, the little brother of the German Heinrich. Although apparently he doesn't like the Nazi government because they want to take his mother for her Jewish roots.
- Deadly Gas: When the Race invades the British isles, mustard gas is used against the invaders. We even get a description of its effects (they are not very nice.)
- From time to time, the Nazis use nerve gas, the description of which is horrifying in an entirely different manner.
- Deal with the Devil: The Lodz ghetto Jews make one with the Race, knowing that it probably is going to be bad, but they figure anything is better than Those Wacky Nazis.
- Deconstruction: Of the entire alien invasion genre.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: One of the biggest problems between the Race and humanity is that they just do not get one another, and can not grasp what is "right" or "wrong" to each other.
- When a Race pilot is captured in Japan, he assumes that he will be treated as a POW, only for his captor (who speaks Race) to tell him that the Japanese see allowing oneself to be captured as dishonorable. Therefore, abiding by the articles on the treatment of POWs goes against Bushido, which means the Japanese are free to do whatever they want with him. The lizard is understandably confused and horrified, as the Race treats POWs in a civilized manner, as do many Earth nations.
- In a smaller example, the race kidnaps dozens of human males and females from all around the planet, and forces them to have sex with each other, or else they don't get fed. All in a scientific experiment to prove that humans can mate at any time of the year, with anyone. They don't even have a concept of why this is wrong. Or of monogamy. Or of rape. One of their subjects explains to them that she started to like a man when he didn't simply rape her and leave.
- Homeward Bound demonstrates this in a human-on-human example when the human cast returns to Earth at the end over a generation after they left. Johnathan and Karen Yeager go see a movie which is described as a standard Monster Mash-type film, except that the female lead does things with the monster that you would only see in a certain type of movie back in their time.
- And Matt Damon is in the supporting role as an old archaeologist.
- Demoted to Extra: Ludmila, one of the point-of-view characters in the Worldwar series, gets only two appearances in the first book of the Colonization series, neither of which last more than two pages and both through the eyes of Mordechai. Still, she gets off better than Heinrich. George Bagnall is actually a character of relevance in Colonization, but only for one single scene when he helps David Goldfarb emigrate to Canada.
- Dirty Communists: Part of The Alliance, along with Nazi Germany, and therefore the good guys.
- Which doesn't stop them from trying to screw over their allies, but then, that doesn't stop any of the major human powers.
- Distracted from Death: Mutt doesn't notice that Miss Lucille, the medic he was trying to romance, was killed by an artillery barrage they were ducking from until Mutt tries to talk afterwards and gets no response.
- Ditto Aliens: Over the course of the series, which takes place over nearly a century, neither humans or the alien Lizards ever quite get the hang of even telling each other's genders apart.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The first book was written in 1994 and the Race's war technology seems to be based on that used by the coalition in the Gulf War.
- And the the Lizards are defeated by technologically inferior indigenous, who exploit their knowledge of the territory and many times perform guerrilla actions. They became drug addicts, and the use of which is spreading quickly among the ranks. Vietnam anyone?
- Dogged Nice Guy: Mutt is just a sweet old man whose fervent pursuit eventually makes Miss Lucille warm up to him. Even though she's a lesbian who's never had a man. But if she had one, it would be Mutt.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Heinrich Jager died in the intermediary between the two series, supposedly from complications due to the nerve-gas he breathes during his final confrontation with Skorzeny, and this is mentioned as an aside when Mordechai is talking to Ludmila about their own lingering pains. Mutt Daniels gets an even larger bridge, with absolutely no details (although given Mutt was in his seventies, probably just simple old age) and only a single reference, when Sam Yeager discovers his obituary while thumbing through a baseball magazine.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Two examples involving the Race's Emperor in the first book - firstly an offhand reference to how the Emperor is hereditary and must be male, which is never actually contradicted but does not mesh at all well with the Race's characteristic of parents not knowing who their children are (being raised communally) and not discriminating on grounds of gender; secondly that Atvar doesn't even have a concept of impericide when Molotov tells him that the Russians killed their emperor, yet a later book has Atvar thinking that this has happened in the distant past of the Race and the perpetrator's name was expunged from history.
- The "Emperor is hereditary" thing was later explained that the females who the emperor mated with were carefully tracked and their eggs gathered, ensuring that they do know who the offspring are, and thus who the future Emperor is.
- Earth Is a Battlefield
- Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Subverted. On the one hand, the Race expected to confront spearmen and armored knights on horseback only to end up confronting World War II-era Earth. On the the other hand, despite the reduced technological gap it still remains a hard struggle.
- The Empire: The Race's version of government. Before they encountered humans they thought it was the only version of government. The best word they can come up with to describe any system of government that is not a hereditary autocracy is "not-empire". The Race describe the not-empires thusly: "The not-empires fall into three categories. Those which have one man with the power of an emperor, but who is not one (Germany, Soviet Union), those which have emperors, but whose emperors have no real power (Britain, Japan) and those who engage in 'snout-counting' (USA, Canada)." They're actually so firmly entrenched in this idea that when Molotov brags to Atvar that in the Bolshevik Revolution the Emperor of Russia was murdered, Atvar shudders inwardly and marvels at the barbarism of the act, something which the Race didn't even have a concept for prior to that.
- Enemy Mine: Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan allying with the United States of America and Great Britain against the Race. Even the Jewish Resistance fighters, or at least some of them, work with the Nazis because they are not willing to see the entire world become occupied territory.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Not really evil so much as morally gray, but Jager and the Race are both shocked and horrified at stories of Nazi concentration camps. Particularly the Race, for whom the idea of industrialized mass murder is something they've never imagined.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Shiplord, Fleetlord, etc. Few of the Race's titles and ranks leave anything to the imagination. Possibly thanks to liberal translation.
- Exposed Extraterrestrials: The Race never wears clothes, except for (sometimes) anti-ballistic vests. Their idea of proper attire is to cover themselves with body paint. They are utterly unprepared for Earth's far chillier climate, and suffer greatly in their campaigns in the USSR and America during the winter months, being forced to scavenge clothing to keep from freezing.
- Face-Heel Turn: Jens Larsen starts as one of the viewpoint characters who volunteers for dangerous missions for the good of America, but slowly loses his sanity and turns against humanity after becoming the Butt Monkey.
- Fantastic Racism: The Race seems to be made of this, regarding any species that's not them as inferior. The humans learn pretty quickly, and while they don't exactly look down on The Race—hard to do when someone can kick your ass—it doesn't stop them from having a strong dislike of the "Lizards."
- Fantastic Slurs: "Lizards" for the Race (or "Little Scaly Devils" in China), "Big Uglies" for the humans.
- Flat "What.":
- Atvar has a mental one of these while talking with the Soviet diplomat while asking him to surrender. Upon asking him how the USSR coped without an emperor, Molotov promptly replies that they murdered him, upsetting both Atvar and his interpreter.
- He has another when Molotov demands Atvar's surrender, while Soviet forces are being hammered by the Race.
- Freudian Trio: the three most senior members of the alien Race's conquest fleet exemplify the parts of the human psyche, in the context of a generally very conservative and cautious species-society:
- Id: Straha, third in the hierarchy, is so aggressive, radical, adaptable and short-term oriented his superior compares him to humans (not a compliment). After the conquest suffers setbacks, he tries to overthrow his commander and take over the fleet. When that fails, he takes refuge with humanity, only to later regret his choice.
- Ego: Atvar, the fleetlord, tries to balance tradition and change, caution and initiative, and play off the other two against each other.
- Superego: Kirel, the second-in-command, is focused on not making any mistakes, and never deviating from the path laid down, almost regardless of price or consequence. His attitude is very common among the junior members of the fleet, but he represents it at the very top.
- Future Slang: Well, Alternate 60s Slang. By Colonization, human teenagers who grew up with the Race being a fact of life, learn stock phrases in their language such as "I greet you" and "It shall be done" and treat them as slang. Additionally, American teens adopt the word "hot" to have the same connotation as modern-day "cool". Note that their "hot" is different from modern-day "hot" (which means "sexy").
- Game Show: In Homeward Bound, the human ambassadors learn that Donald, a naturalized American Lizard, is the host of a game show called You'd Better Believe It. The show is somewhat similar to Fox's The Chamber, where contestants answer questions while strapped into a human gyroscope and harassed with airjets, water sprays and mild electric shocks. It also has a beautiful assistant named Rita who goes topless, which is a common (Race-influenced) style for women of the time.
- Gay Bravado: Skorzeny often flirt with Jager, who did not seem to mind and even replied to accordingly.
- Genre Savvy: Sam Yeager, an avid reader of Astounding Science-Fiction, becomes one of humanity's greatest experts on the Race (as well as being held in high regard by the Race itself) because he is able to think beyond the normal human perspective.
- Go Through Me: In Homeward Bound, when the new ship Commodore Perry arrives at Home, they are given explicit instructions not to allow Sam Yeager to come back to Earth. The people who came with him sign a petition saying "If he stays, so do we," which results in the Perry's crew (very) grudgingly allowing Yeager to return with them.
- Grammar Nazi: Barbara Yeager becomes this by the Colonization trilogy, forcing her husband and son to use proper English in her presense, having a background in English Literature. Naturally, neither Sam nor Jonathan bother doing this when she's not around. In fact, Sam, who was born and raised on a farm, does this deliberately as a form of rebellion.
- Gunboat Diplomacy: Homeward Bound features two human starships. The first is the Admiral Peary and comes on equal footing as two star-faring races seeking a lasting peace; the second is Commodore Perry and comes with a Faster Than Light Drive, and the willingness to (bleep) things up if the Race doesn't play nice with the humans.
- Gunship Rescue: The Race love their helicopters, but as time goes on they become more and more vulnerable to partisan rocket fire.
- Heel Realization: This happens to Panzer Commander of the Wehrmacht Heinrich Jäger when an old Jewish man shows him the bullet hole in his neck, and tells him the story of how he got it. Heinrich had heard the rumors before then, but he hadn't believed in them. The third book sums it up nicely:
What Skorzeny didn't get and wouldn't get if he lived to be a hundred - not likely, considering how the SS man lived - was that what we were supposed to do
and what our superiors ordered us to do
weren't necessarily the same thing.
Soldiers didn't commonly have to make that distinction. Jäger hadn't worried about it, not until he had found out how the Germans dealt with Jews in the east. Since then, he hadn't been able to look away. He knew what sort of disaster awaited the world if the Lizards
won the war. Like Skorzeny, he was willing to do just about anything to keep that from happening. Unlike the SS man, he wasn't willing to believe that everything he did was fine and virtuous.
That made for another subtle distinction, but he clung to it.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Rather justified given the time period. Miss Lucille, despite Mutt's obvious crush, rebuffs all his advances and explains that she is not interested in any man, not just him. However, while some of the Liu Han/Bobby Fiore or Sam Yeager/Barbara sex-scenes are composed of graphic details, when Mutt asks if she is one of those "lizzies" she merely asks what his reaction would be if she was. It is never expounded upon, and she soon begins to return Mutt's attraction.
- Although this is mostly a comment that if she would have any man, it would be Mutt. Followed very quickly by her unceremonious death in an artillery barrage.
- Higher-Tech Species: Played straight in the novel but subverted in a kind of meta-sense. From the first book on, the lizards are portrayed as owning massively advanced technology which, according to The Race, should take thousands of years to acquire. Then, slowly but surely as the novels progress, what technology they have is made explicit. Such terrifying and futuristic gizmos and concepts as DVDs, laser-guidance systems, helicopters and electronic banking. If they landed in 2011 instead of 1942, they might not have lasted a week. The Race does have holo-projectors and efficient hydrogen-burning engines that really only need water to run, which are still being worked on in real life.
- Humans Advance Swiftly: Having sent probes and observed knights on horseback, the conquest fleet arrived 800 years later expecting basically more of the same. Their first reaction on arrival was basically "why are we picking up radio signals?". It's speculated that this was originally due to Earth having lots of oceans to mess with the pace of progress, while the Race had to plod along on land. Later on, human mating patterns are also blamed; humans are in constant competition, whereas the race mates only once a year (six months, to us). Thus leading to greater competition, and faster advancement.
- Humans Are Divided: It's WWII so naturally.
- Humans Are Special: Kind of. The other two races the Race has conquered were reptilian and similar in nature to themselves, while humans are mammalian. It's hinted this is because those races' star systems lack asteroid belts and therefore there was no equivalent to the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs and allowed mammals to arise on Earth. It's quite possible that the universe is filled with species like us, the Race just hasn't managed to encounter them yet, and we had the luck to be the first.
- Humans by Any Other Name: The Lizards refer to humans as "Tosevites" — derived from Tosev, their name for Sol. When speaking formally, anyway. In casual speech, they're just as likely to refer to humans as "Big Uglies".
- Hypocritical Humor: The Race dismisses all human religions as silly superstitions based entirely on blind faith, and yet they believe in a form of heaven where the dead are united with the spirits of Emperors past. Whenever a human points this out to a member of the Race, their response is almost universally "Yes, except you're wrong and we're right."
- At least theirs is based on individuals who existed without any doubt, and thus one could actually meet, what with even the current emperor being applicable once they die.
- This way of thinking has also resulted in at least one riot in Race-controlled Muslim territories, usually instigated by Ruhollah Khomeini. Apparently, Muslims don't like being told by lizards that Allah is a fictional deity.
- Idiot Ball: Johannes Drucker is blackmailed by Gorppett into helping the Race by threatening to reveal to Drucker's superiors that Drucker knew, and was friends with, notorious Jewish leader Mordechai Anielwicz. This would be a very competent threat against most Nazi officials if Fuhrer Dornberger not only already had this information, but had actually met Anielwicz via teleconference when he and Drucker were talking.
- If It's You, It's Okay: Miss Lucille makes it quite clear that she is not interested in Mutt (Or anybody else) and half admits that she is a "lizzie." However, after Mutt keeps his dogged persistence Lucille admits that, with him, she is closer to giving it a try with a man than she ever has been before. Then she gets killed by Lizard artillery.
- Informed Attribute: The Race keep saying that their language is very logical compared to human ones, but from the few words we see they seem to have a similar number of irregular plural forms to your average human language. The Race themselves are often described as being obedient and subservient by nature, but once the Colonization Fleet arrives it turns out they casually break laws just as often as humans, including several characters who begin tasting ginger despite the already-present (And extremely harsh) regulations against it
- Insane Troll Logic: Molotov, when he meets with Hitler, is repeatedly astounded by how much of the man's thinking revolves around the "fact" that the Jews are trying to cause trouble for humanity. That is not the case, as the Jews have to choose between enslavement by the Race or extermination by the Nazis, and are going with the lesser of two evils while still supporting humanity as much as possible.
- In the second sequence of books, a member of The Race thinks this of a Nazi official she talks to about their status as the "Master Race.".
- Insufficiently Advanced Alien: The Race are spotty with this; if they'd arrived twenty years earlier, the invasion would probably have been a walkover, and if they'd been twenty years later, humanity would have likely walked over them.
- Intelligent Gerbil: The Race are described in the books as 'looking like chameleons with delusions of grandeur.'
- Interrupted Cooldown Hug: After a heated argument, Groves gives Jens the rest of the day off to go home and calm down. On the way home, he is approached by the base commander, who, informed of his leave, calls him a liar and a malingerer and tries to escort him back to Groves to clear things up. This is the last straw for Jens, who kills the colonel and his guard and tries to defect to the Lizards.
- Ironic Echo: The first book opens with Atvar and the flagship's shiplord, Kirel, looking at an image of the enemy they expect to face, a knight on horseback from the Middle Ages and laughing at the prospect of an easy conquest. The last book in the Balance series, the first of the Colonisation series and Homeward Bound opens with them doing this again, somewhat more ruefully. Albeit also as exposition for those who started reading the later books.
- Lady of War: Ludmila Gorbunova and Liu Han both qualify. "The Fair Tatiana," an ice-cold hot blond Russian sniper who begins an affair with Jerome Jones, would apparently need to beat off men with a stick if her skill with a rifle had not already scared them off.
- For good reason, apparently, since she's possessive in the extreme. And more than willing to kill.
- La Résistance
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Harry Turtledove is incredibly fond of doing this. Somewhat justified in that it's how he covers lots of different areas of the war at lots of different levels.
- Mama Bear: Liu Han would like you to know that you are so not going to get away with keeping her baby away from her.
- Meaningful Name: America's spacecraft tend to be named for explorers; the first ship to reach the Asteroid Belt is the Lewis and Clark, and the first ship to reach Home is named Admiral Peary. The first FTL-capable ship is named Commodore Perry, after the man who forcibly ended Japan's isolationism. The Race eventually learns the meaning behind these names and is none too pleased.
- Interestingly, the Race's spaceship build to defend Home against the Admiral Peary is not named for an Emperor, like all the others. Instead, it's called the Horned Akiss after a dragon-like beast from the Race's mythology. Of course, it's possible that only starships can be named after Emperors. A mere spaceship doesn't get that honor.
- Mildly Military: Major Samuel Yeager and Lieutenant Colonel Glen Johnson never receive orders from their immediate superior to halt their investigations into the US space station, neither is ever transferred to a different post to reduce their access to information, and neither even has their security clearance revoked. What they do get is a screaming fit from Curtis LeMay who, though a three-star general, has no authority over them due to the chain of command. The one person who gives them orders is not authorized to give them orders
- A Million Is a Statistic: Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tōjō are main characters; along with several of their subordinates who perpetrated Real Life atrocities in World War II. What else needs to be said?
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: For a story about an alien invasion it is a surprising Level 5 hardness (At least, until the Colonization series and Homeward Bound). With the exception of cold sleep, all technology is either equal to or inferior to real life technology. At no point do they bend, break or even bounce the laws of physics.
- Molotov Cocktail - Molotov is one of the main characters, but he never actually touches one. Sam Yeager and Liu Han have them in their sections, though.
- Moral Event Horizon: In an in-universe example, in the Colonization series the colonization fleet is attacked by nuclear weapons. Sam Yeager discovers that America was responsible and tells the Race, who nuke a US city in retaliation. As far as most Americans are concerned, Yeager is a traitor to his country and species for having done so. Yeager insists that he was in the right, because the attack was akin to Pearl Harbor (only worse because it was against civilians); the common response is "They're just Lizards." This has repercussions throughout the series, as seen in Homeward Bound where the government not-so-subtly tells Yeager that going into cryo-stasis is good for his health, and then tries to abandon him on Home.
- Motive Decay: David Nussboym was originally a Lizard collaborator because he felt they were the best hope for Jewish survival in Poland, and because he hated the Nazis enough to override his concern that the entire would would become an outpost of the Race. Mordechai himself admits that David is an honorable and brave man, and that just because they have opposing viewpoints does not make him a greedy and self-serving fool. However, once David is sent to a Soviet gulag he becomes a collaborator solely to support himself, and betrays friends and enemies alike to the head of the camp in order to advance his own agenda. This would normally count as a change in the character because of his surroundings, but his own thoughts and memories now reflect on how he did the same things back in Poland and throughout his life, and his very nature is self-serving.
- Moving the Goalposts: Averted by Mordechai Anielewicz. When his son Heinrich asks for a beffel (a lizard pet), Mordechai's wife Bertha does what a typical parent would do and set a difficult condition for the kid. Of course, Heinrich manages to fulfil the condition and catches a beffel. Just as Bertha is about to invoke the trope (like any parent), Mordechai countermands her and and lets Heinrich keep him, earning Bertha's ire. How dare a parent keep his word to a child? A few days later, the beffel saves their lives by waking up Heinrich during a fire. After that, no one thinks that the little creature should go.
- Mutually Assured Destruction: After the first wave of invasion, this is pretty much the status quo between the human powers and the Race. Working together, the humans could eradicate the lands controlled by the Race, but only at the cost of getting obliterated themselves, and none of the majorr human powers like the others very much. Later, in "Homeward Bound," the Race turns this around on humans: yes, the humans could use their FTL warships to obliterate the the Empire before any given world knew they were under attack. But the Race's slower-than-light ships are capable of being used as relativistic kill vehicles against Earth. The mass of a Race starship impacting the planet at 50% of the speed of light would not just obliterate human civilization, it would probably wipe out virtually all life and begin a new ice age.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: How some German and Russian characters, like Ludmila Gorbunova and Heinrich Jaeger feel. For a while, anyway.
- Nature Versus Nurture: The series features aliens raising humans, and humans raising aliens, in order to see how close they can make each species to their own.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: Humans are called Big Uglies; the Race are called Lizards.
- No Biochemical Barriers: Somewhat touched upon. The Race's biology and biochemistry are similar enough that they can live on Earth and eat some Earth biomatter with pretty much no problems. However, what would be slightly chilly to humans is beastly cold to them (apparently, their home planet is so hot that ice only exists in laboratories) and then there's the thing with the ginger.
- Nobody Ever Complained Before: Members of the Race cannot understand why humans insist on fighting back instead of just placidly accepting their rule. Do not the humans realize that the Race is by definition the most superior species in the universe and thus natural rulers of all life? How dare they think they can resist! And how dare they actually win!
- Nobody Poops: Averted; differences in waste volume are a source of difficulty in the Race space plumbing when humans are aboard. Also, the Race are somewhat shocked that human plumbing is so good, and love hot showers.
- A minor moment of comedy comes when the Race reveals that they have probes that can detect uric acid- a component of urine. They use these to keep track of enemy movements, until one human accidentally pees on it... leading one technician to scream that four billion humans were approaching. This is chalked up to, well, humans having so much more urine than other species thus encountered.
- Nothing Personal: Spoken by Basil Roundbush in Colonization when David Goldfarb calls him out on using the fact that Goldfarb is a Jew and Britain's growing anti-Semitism in order to get Goldfarb to do his bidding. Roundbush keeps insisting that he personally doesn't care that Goldfarb is Jewish but finds it useful to lean on him.
- Nuke 'em: Played with. The Race tries not to use nuclear weapons in order to keep Earth as clean as possible. They do destroy several human cities, including Berlin and Washington, D.C., but their strategy is intimidation and retaliation, since they do not want to go overboard and end up wrecking the entire planet.
- It eventually degenerates into a boxing match of sorts once human powers develop nukes of their own. For each nuke humans detonate, the Race nukes a city in the corresponding "not-empire". Americans, for their part, nuke a number of their own cities that are in lizard claws (and yes, the lizards retaliate accordingly) and even go as far as smuggling a nuke into lizard-held Rome to light it up. The lizards eventually realize that humans would rather waste the whole planet rather than submit to the Race and sue for peace.
- Once the war between the Reich and the Race restarts in Colonization, both sides use nukes heavily. The Nazis nuke most major Polish cities and their spaceships (all armed with nukes) attempt to shoot down Race ships. When Hungary attempts to make peace with the Race, the Reich punishes them by nuking Budapest. By the time the Reich sues for peace, most of it is a radioactive wasteland from lizard bombs. Despite this, in 30 years time, it's back to being a major power.
- Then there's the nuking of Indianapolis as payback for America's attack on the Colonization Fleet.
- Numbered Homeworld: The Race refer to Earth as Tosev 3 and the other worlds in their empire as Rabotev 2 and Halless 1; each planet is named after the star of its stellar system and the position of the planet. However, their homeworld is called simply Home.
- Odd Friendship: Ludmila Gorbunova (Communist Russian Pilot) and Heinrich Jaeger (Nazi Tank Commander)
- Oh, Crap: The Race have quite a few moments of this; especially when it concerns human nuclear weapons programs.
- During the Race's first (and only) encounter with the German Dora cannon, which fires 80-cm shells, they mistakenly assume (by its speed and size on the radar) that it's a missile and attempt to shoot it down with their own. However, the round's tough outer shell shrugs off the missiles, allowing the cannon to take out two ships before the cannon is found and destroyed.
- One World Order: Averted. While humanity at large bands together and set aside its differences to fight the Race, it quickly becomes clear that the notion gets cast aside, no one all that eager to let any particular nation, group or ideology take charge over all mankind. It's telling that even after several decades, Earth is still made of nation-states, albeit dominated by either the leading powers or the Race.
- Outside-Context Villain: One of the most emblematic examples of the trope.
- Pass Fail: When the (Jewish) Mordechai Aneliwicz is traveling in the countryside, he encounters a farmhouse, and attempts to pass as a Polish partisan (A Catholic Pole). He manages to eat the ham they're serving without hesitation, but is caught out when he crosses himself wrong. Fortunately for him, they aren't upset about it.
- Point Defenseless: The Race has anti-missile missiles as their main protection against enemy missiles and rockets. However, they fail to do anything about the Dora rail cannon rounds, as their shells are too thick. They also aren't 100% reliable against much more primitive human rockets, which the Germans and the Americans start using. Other close-in weapon systems are mentioned, but they are stated to be ineffective against rockets and missiles and do little to protect their starships.
- Purely Aesthetic Gender: The Race does not really think about gender all that much unless it is mating season (or artificially in heat from ginger); the only reason their soldiers are all-male instead of mixed is to avoid problems when females enter their season.
- Second Contact also mentions that females are the ones who rear (i.e. civilize) hatchlings. However, they don't care whose hatchlings they are, as family ties are not important.
- Putting on the Reich: Britain, though still an independent and self-governing nation, lost its Empire after the Race invaded and no longer has the martial might or resources of a global superpower. As such, they are becoming more and more reliant on the Greater German Reich which, bestriding most of Europe and only twenty kilometers away, is the source of most of its supplies and protection. Over time Britain begins to adopt more and more of Germany's social and cultural tendencies, and its anti-semitic tendencies are beginning to creep into the society. In 1964, though defeated, there was an official bill before Parliament to legally restrict the rights of Jews living in England, and public sentiment is beginning to shift enough that it might pass the next time it comes up. Britain's situation is similar to the real-world Cold War phenomenon known as "Finlandization".
- Raised by Orcs: A human baby is abducted by the Race, named Kassquit and raised by the scientist Ttomalss as one of them to see if the Tosevites can integrate into the Empire. He does not know what to do when she hits puberty, and the increasing problems of reconciling her human nature with her identity as a member of the Race causes her a lot of anguish. In an inverted example, two Race hatchlings are raised as humans by Sam Yeager, who names them Mickey and Donald. Though they hide it somewhat better than Kassquit, they also experience significant emotional distress at living in the wrong society.
- Liu Han's daughter Liu Mei was Ttomalss's first attempt at this. Then Liu Han joined Mao's Communists and forced the Race to return her daughter. However, even twenty years later, Liu Mei is unable to form facial expressions, as lizards' faces don't move, and the lack of feedback to her smiles as a child meant this response is atrophied. Additionally, Liu Mei's first word was a lizard emphatic cough.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Emperor Risson, whom we finally meet in Homeward Bound, is very level-headed and sensible in his dealings with the humans and with Atvar. This actually stands in stark contrast to many Race authority figures, who tend to start out Lawful Stupid before long, painful education.
- Refuge in Audacity: This is the only reason that Skorzeny gets away with half the shit he pulls. For example, when he is ordered to acquire an infrared range finder for a Race tank Skorzeny actually strolls into a Lizard base with a bunch of ginger and uses it to buy an entire tank! He then proceeds to drive it off the base in broad daylight and past Lizard patrols back to his own lines. And this is not even the most outrageous stunt he pulls.
- The Reptilians: The alien variant that the Race are.
- The Rabotevs and the Halessi, the two races previously conquered and assimilated by the Race, are also this, although they are different variants on the same. For example, the Rabotevs are slightly taller and less scaly than members of the Race, featuring two thumbs on each hand and eye-stalks instead of eye-turrets. The Halessi are small and are initially mistaken for Little Green Men, as they are more humanoid than members of the Race (i.e. more erect and with smaller snouts).
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Race. Played with, however, since in many ways they are more likely to honor agreements and treat their prisoners quite humanely (at least, the ones they do not experiment on).
- The Right of a Superior Species: The Race considers themselves eminently justified in conquering Earth and making humanity a subject race because of what they view as their incomparably superior culture and technology, even though said technology turns out to be not quite that advanced over humankind's.
- Continued in Homeward Bound when the Admiral Peary arrives in orbit of Home, proving that humans (or, at least, the US) are nearly a match for the Race (in fact, humans have surpassed the Race in electronics). Despite this, attempts by Sam Yeager to get the Race to recognize the equality of the US to the Empire are met with astonishment. After all, the Race has such a long history, while the US is a new nation by their standards. Sam responds that it doesn't matter how long they've been at this level, only that they're here. Plus, no member of the Race is willing to admit that their God Emperor is equivalent to a "not-Emperor" chosen every so often by "snout-counting".
- Inverted near the end of Homeward Bound, when an American faster-than-light starship arrives to Home. These "younger" Americans are much more arrogant than those of Sam Yeager's or his son's times, as they know they have surpassed the Race and are proud of it. They are also arrogant towards their "obsolete" countrymen and women.
- Rock Beats Laser: Part of the underlying theme. The Race starts out by detonating nukes in the upper atmosphere to cause electromagnetic pulses to wipe out electronics...only to find that human technology still runs on valves (a.k.a. vacuum tubes) rather than transistors, which are not affected by EMP. Later, they find out that counter-missiles are ineffective against German supergun shells, and that radar is pretty useless when it come to detecting a low-flying plane made of wood and fabric. And so on.
- The Race also, apparently, has no concept of martial arts. When the Japanese capture a Race pilot, his captor, just to teach the lizard a lesson, starts kicking him. The pilot tries to attack the officer with his teeth and claws, but can't get close and is literally beaten into submission. He is very surprised that a kick can hurt so much and that anybody with a gun and a sword would bother with unarmed combat.
- Sanity Slippage: Jens Larssen gets pushed around one too many times, shoots a couple of soldiers and then heads out to tell the Race where the American bomb project is located. He is killed when he finally goes off the deep end when he is hunted down by the cavalry, shoots a woman, hears her shriek, and leaps up, thinking it's his aforementioned wife.
- Seduction-Proof Marriage: In Aftershocks Johannes Drucker has been in space by himself for over a month, and is then caught by aliens. He is presented with a female human who has been raised by them (these are aliens who don't wear clothes), and when she asks if he would mate with her if given the chance, one of the reasons he gives for not wanting to is that he is married. Since the aliens also don't practice marriage, this doesn't really explain much to her.
- Self-Deprecation: In Aftershocks, Monique Dutourd is thinking about a Byzantine historian at the University of Tours, and text goes "which struck even Monique as uselessly arcane". Author Harry Turtledove has a Ph.D. in Byzantine History.
- Serious Business: Most of the stuff the Race does. They do not even allow actors playing the Emperor to put on the appropriate bodypaint because it would be seen as blasphemy.
- Sex Is Evil: Well, not exactly evil. While the Race does find the reproductive process pleasant when they're in heat, they find the idea of always being horny abhorrent and terrifying. They do have a cultural reason for this abhorrence, since during mating season they become so addled by horniness that the resulting orgy pretty much grinds their civilization to a halt for its duration.
- The initial Race invasion is compared to The War of the Worlds by Sam Yeager when he and Mutt Daniels are shot out of their train in the beginning of the Worldwar series.
- A "grey-haired colored fellow" brings some US troops fried chicken in the first book, and Mutt Daniels offends him with some *ahem* Southern terms for blacks, while another kid calls him "Colonel." The black man corrects him by saying his name is Charlie Sanders.
- In the Colonization series, members of the Race refer to "The Red-Headed League."
- Major Samuel Yeager thinks of Thoats, Green Martians and Barsoom and his son speaks of Tarzan.
- The captain of the Commodore Perry is named Nichole Nichols.
- Homeward Bound contains a reference to a movie called Rescuing Private Renfall set during the invasion with James Dean playing the lead.
- The Colonization series features the debut of a band from England whose heads are shaved (teenagers are shaving their heads to imitate the Lizards). The call themselves 'The Beetles' partly because of their shaved heads.
- In Homeward Bound, a minor character is a Inspector Second Grade named Garanpo, who is investigating ginger smuggling. He looks and acts exactly like a Lizard version of Columbo.
- Sleeper Starship: Both the Race and in the final novel humanity use these for interstellar travel. Then humanity invents FTL and makes them obsolete.
- Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Type X due to the presence of alien invaders, but after that initial setup, turns into a hard 1 or 2. Softens somewhat, becoming III or IV by the end.
- Smart Ball: Once David Goldfarb decides to no longer be Roundbush's pawn in the ginger business and emigrates to Canada, he takes every possible proactive step to protect himself and his family. This includes informing the police of all threats and suspicious activity, using the research and development company he works for to develop technology to let him identify his tormentors over the phone, and making specific and detailed reports after each subsequent attempt on his life. This results in the arrest of four armed and dangerous individuals before they manage to make good on their threats, earns him and his company a large revenue stream and gratitude from the local police force, and the incarceration of the one person to actually get close enough to follow through on his threats. All from taking simple and common sense steps to protect himself using publicly and privately available resources.
- Space Age Stasis: The Race has been technologically stagnant for 50,000 years or so. And since they believed that every species advances at their rate they were expecting us to still be in the Dark Ages after just a millennium of preparing for an invasion.
- The Starscream: Straha
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Basil Roundbush in the Worldwar series is charming, friendly, a good sport when it comes to women and, most tellingly, an officer willing to stick up for David Goldfarb and get him an officer's commission, despite Britain's emerging anti-semitism. In his very first scene in the Colonization series he blackmails Goldfarb into working for him by threatening to kill his family. Britain in general has become more and more reliant on the Greater German Reich after it lost its empire, and the nation that once fought Hitler tooth-and-nail is now entertaining formally adopting the Fascist anti-semitic policies.
- Superweapon Surprise: When the Race get ready to invade Britain, Churchill promises to unleash a new weapon the likes of which the Race have not seen before. They think he is bluffing until mustard gas shells start landing on their invasion force. Turns out the Race never developed poison gas; they have no chemical weapons, chemical warfare doctrine or protective gear, and rapidly adapting to new situations and inventing things on the fly are definitely not two of the Race's strong points.
- The Race also gets another rude surprise when they find out that the US has been strapping rockets to asteroids in the Belt in order to use them for Colony Drop purposes should fighting resume.
- Switching P.O.V.: Multiple characters rotate through the chapters, usually at least one from each of the major human countries and the race itself.
- Tank Goodness: The Race's main battle tank, from the in-book descriptions, seems to be a carbon copy of a Russian T-72. The only difference is that the compartments are designed for Race bodies and that the Race version is powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The human forces need to use Zerg Rush tactics (6-10 Panthers/Tigers per race tank, and the Americans count 10:1 as good odds) in order to triumph over the Race's more advanced weaponry. However, to paraphrase the Germans, "They (The Race) are like the Russians: their tanks are good, but their tank skills are scheiße."
- Technology Porn: The descriptions of the Dora supercannon, in the first novel, are a fine example of this.
- Thicker Than Water: Averted with The Race, as they cannot understand why humans put so much emphasis on familial relations. Understandable, since the Race are raised in a communal fashion, with no mothers or fathers, and are more generally 'domesticated' rather than 'raised' as we would think of it. Thus, Race children form no real bonds with any one particular 'parent' individual as they grow up. Friendship, however, is a powerful bond in the world of the Race, since they feel that the people you choose to be close to are much more important than the circumstances of who birthed you.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Yeah, the good guys this time. Sort of.
- Thrown Out the Airlock: Glen Johnson nearly has this happen to him after getting aboard the new US space station using trickery. The guy in charge tells him that, if Johnson wasn't an experienced pilot, this is exactly what would happen to him. When did the US turn into Nazi Germany?
- Time Skip: The series jumps forward twenty years between the end of the Worldwar series and the beginning of the Colonization series. Many characters have died in the interim and new people are introduced to flesh out the roster. Those characters which are returning have changed, turning from low-ranking young soldiers to experienced officers, and some are no longer as pleasant as they were in their youth. Homeward Bound features half a dozen timeskips, starting in 1972 and eventually ending up in 2031, telling the story of how the characters who were on the Admiral Peary got there.
- Unexpected Successor: Secretary of State Cordell Hull assumes the Presidency after Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death.
- Unusual User Interface: While it's only unusual from a human point of view, the Race's controls are geared towards finger-claws rather than fingers. As such, humans need artificial finger-claws in order to operate the Race's machinery. Also, the Race's voice-activated appliances only respond to commands in their own language and have trouble with human accents (the Race have no different accents as everybody tries to speak the same way).
- Vichy Earth: The Race attempt to achieve this, but only partly succeed.
- Villain Ball: The USA. They attack the colonization fleet of the Race with the goal of...actually there is no goal at all. They are perfectly aware that this attack will not drive the Race from Earth, they know that this will not seriously impede the actual colonization since the fleet is so large that only a relatively minuscule number of males and females will actually be killed, and they have no plans to even place the blame on another of the Earth states in order to get their human enemies eliminated. The entire scheme, beginning, middle and end, is simply to kill a lot of members of the Race with no benefit to themselves.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Despite the fact that they are united against a common enemy, the Axis and the Allies do not exactly like each other.
- We Have Reserves: The humans' way of fighting the Race (Well, that and guerilla warfare tactics.) Patton even says he is prepared to lose ten of his tanks to every Lizard tank he kills because that is still a favorable loss-ratio for the Human Alliance. This works in large part because the Race only has what they brought with them before they start capturing human factories and adapting them to their own technology. The Race acknowledges this, particularly in a conversation where Atvar's adjutant says that he had a mental picture of them expending their last missile to take out the last human tank, only for another one to roll over the horizon.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: The Race does not have familial bonds because they view mating as a purely practical matter; the Emperor is the only individual who even keeps track of his kids. Thus they find the notion of romantic love to be confusing and disgusting. The introduction of ginger changes all that for the Race, as members of the Race who were formerly just friends can now have sex upon desire, causing more orthodox Lizards to shun them and treat them as perverts, especially when they express a desire to get married.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Both the Race and humanity have a lack of empathy for the other, and both sides commit atrocities with the explanation that the other side is only human/Lizards. The few characters who oppose such thinking, like Sam Yeager, are condemned by their compatriots.
- When She Smiles: Mordechai Anielewicz finds Bertha Fleishman more attractive when she smiles, usually considering her plain.
- World War II
- Young Future Famous People