|"The Emperor's Return"|
|First Appearance||Weird Tales|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy, science fiction|
|Publication date||Spring, 1990|
"The Emperor's Return" is a short story by Harry Turtledove, published in Weird Tales, Spring 1990. It is a conventional fantasy story with elements of secret history. The story begins on 29 May 1453, as Constantinople falls to the Turks. The historical Constantine XI Palaiologos, the last Byzantine Emperor, announces his intention to fight on, and then vanishes in a blaze of light, thus accounting for his body's actual disappearance in real history, and giving birth to the legend of the "Marble Emperor".
The story then cuts to the year 2003, the then-future, as recently-socialist Greece succeeds in taking back Istanbul from Turkey with the aid of the USSR in a bloody war. Constantine XI suddenly appears in the Hagia Sophia, just as the legend of the Marble Emperor predicted, to the shock and confusion of the soldiers present.
However, when Constantine decides to re-assert his rule, the soldiers realize he cannot be allowed to live.
- "After the Last Elf is Dead," Turtledove's other Weird Tales story.
- "Gilgamesh and the Homeboys", another story in which a legendary monarch (Gilgamesh) appears in modern times, and proves unequal to modern weapons.
- "Ils ne passeront pas," in which 1st-century demons make a fruitless charge against World War I machine guns.