L.A. native Harry Turtledove talked with SciFi about his latest alternative-history novel, “Opening Atlantis” (ROC), which explores the discovery and settlement of Atlantis over the course of several centuries. Turtledove said that he envisioned Atlantis as an isolated ecology like New Zealand.
“[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.”
Among the animals are Honkers, moa-like birds 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.”
In the novel, Atlantis is actually the East Cost of the United States, which separated from the North American continent some 85 million years before.