The sub genre that is Alternate History has – naturally – an illustrious history! But what is it? I’ll quote the wiki entry on the definition:
“The Collins English Dictionary defines alternative history as “a genre of fiction in which the author speculates on how the course of history might have been altered if a particular historical event had had a different outcome.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history)
So it is the ultimate “What If?” fiction. The earliest fiction in the genre – sometime around 9BC – was Livy, wondering on the outcome of Rome fighting Alexander the Great (spoiler alert: Rome won). The stories continued during the Middle Ages with authors speculating on the ability of God to change events, to epic romances set in the Crusades.
But it wasn’t until the development of science fiction in the late 1800’s that the genre really took off, with some famous authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne dabbling in the genre. H.G. Wells was almost a certainty to write something, and the “Men Like Gods” brings in the concept of alternate universes. Even Winston Churchill gave us the short story “If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg.”
The 20th century provided a wealth of topics for the genre. World wars, dictators, science and warfare inventions – all these are hearty fare for the What If questioners. It was during this time that the genre broadened to include parallel or alternate universes and time travel. Robert Heinlein covered these in “The Number of the Beast” and “The Cat Who Walked Through Walls.” Modern authors Harry Turtledove, L. Sprague de Camp, Phillip K. Dick, and Harry Harrison continue to expand the genre into new realms.
But to be a decent read, a story needs more than a What If?
“According to Steven H Silver, an American science fiction editor, alternate history requires three things:
- a point of diverergence from the history of our world prior to the time at which the author is writing,
- a change that would alter history as it is known,
- and an examination of the ramifications of that change.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history)
It is an area of interest to me, as Druid’s Portal: The Second Journey explores alternate history and the consequences of choice. As a teaser, my What If? was: What would happen if a man who knew the past could change it all? An action packed adventure in Celtic Britain, where Rome suffered a catastrophic early defeat. It is due to be published next year!
So – champing at the bit to read some alternate history? Of course you are! This is your lucky day.
I am pleased to be part of the successor to the Sidewise Award winning Tales From Alternate Earths anthology.
Step into the worlds that might have been, the worlds of alternate history where
– climate change plunges the Earth into a frozen landscape,
– the Moon landings may not have happened the way they did in our world,
– a 10th century polymath invents the glider and changes the world,
– Jacques Cousteau’s successors create an undersea city,
– Soviet astronauts are feted as heroes as they lead the way in space,
– time travel runs wild,
– fairy beings tiptoe into reality.
All this and more. There are Americas of a different tilt, an alternate path steering away from world war, and nations where the most dangerous thing is knowledge.
Authors Jessica Holmes, Daniel M. Bensen, Rob Edwards, Leo McBride, Christopher Edwards, Gideon Marcus, Casia Courtier, Jeff Provine, Cindy Tomamichel, Brent A. Harris and Bonnie Milani show us the world that might have been – if the world had taken a different path.
This is the seventh anthology from Inklings Press, dedicated to opening the door into different worlds, with a foreword by Sidewise Award winner Daniel M. Bensen.
The universal link for the anthology is: mybook.to/AlternateEarths2
My story “The Dust in the King’s Library” involves time travel, parallel universes and the rare ability to make a good cup of tea. You can read an excerpt from it (and a teaser from the story by Brent A. Harris) here:
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For those that have not read Druid’s Portal yet, here is a link to the first chapter DruidsPortal
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2 thoughts on “Twisted History”
You piqued my curiosity so much after reading the excerpts on the workingtitleblogspot that I jumped onto Amazon and bought the anthology. Can’t wait to read it!
Thanks Catherine – much appreciated, and I hope you enjoy it.
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