7 votes

What do you think of alternate history?

I tend to watch AlternateHistoryHub, WhatIfAlthist and occasionally Monsieur Z (but less so since the guy somehow got a far-right audience) so I've always been interested in the idea of alternate history.

However, there's more than that. There are books and writers (I.E Harry turtledove), 3 subreddits (r/historywhatif, r/historicalwhatif and r/alternatehistory), many games (HOI I, II, III and IV, civ 1-6, Vicky 1-3, etc), a forum and according to Wikipedia, people have been speculating about history since before the year 0.

So what do you think of it?

10 comments

  1. [3]
    mrbig
    Link
    I think alternate history is great for fiction. For serious purposes, the premise is too flimsy to provide any kind of intelectual satisfaction for me.

    I think alternate history is great for fiction. For serious purposes, the premise is too flimsy to provide any kind of intelectual satisfaction for me.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy
      Link Parent
      Define "serious purposes".

      For serious purposes, the premise is too flimsy to provide any kind of intelectual satisfaction for me.

      Define "serious purposes".

      4 votes
      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Anything that is not fiction.

        Anything that is not fiction.

        2 votes
  2. skybrian
    Link
    I'm somewhat more into time travel stories, but there is overlap. Charles Stross's merchant princes series is pretty good, and William Gibson is doing a sort of time travel these days. I think...

    I'm somewhat more into time travel stories, but there is overlap. Charles Stross's merchant princes series is pretty good, and William Gibson is doing a sort of time travel these days.

    I think there are many genuine turning points in history where things might have gone unpredictability different, and once enough examples sink in, you will be skeptical of people predicting an inevitable future based on large, impersonal forces.

    3 votes
  3. synergy-unsterile
    Link
    A lot of people from alternatehistory.com migrated to Sufficient Velocity. I find the maps most intriguing. Like this thread for the World Dream Bank Planetcopia alternate Earths and weird...

    A lot of people from alternatehistory.com migrated to Sufficient Velocity.

    I find the maps most intriguing. Like this thread for the World Dream Bank Planetcopia alternate Earths and weird habitable planets.

    2 votes
  4. patience_limited
    Link
    It's just me, but I find both alternate history and time travel plots deeply frustrating on a number of levels. First, the outcome of the posited change isn't always plausible in the way the...

    It's just me, but I find both alternate history and time travel plots deeply frustrating on a number of levels.

    First, the outcome of the posited change isn't always plausible in the way the author wants you to accept. Take, for instance, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling's The Difference Engine, the seminal steampunk novel which proposed a world where Charles Babbage's mechanical calculating device could perform the same operations as modern general purpose integrated circuit electronic devices. They assume Britain would have maintained world domination by virtue of having the machinery to control its empire indefinitely, when we know (especially by virtue of the current U.S. example) that it's more complicated than that.

    Second, there are alternate history themes which have been chewed to pieces by over-iteration. I can't read any more "What if Hitler..." stories ever again.

    Third, there are alternate histories which are too emotionally wrenching because we're living in the horrible timeline that actually happened, but it could be worse. Nisi Shawl's Everfair, Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, Harry Turtledove's Shtetl Days, Phillip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, Alan Moore's Watchmen, Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union, and Lavie Tidhar's The Violent Century are all brilliant, heartbreaking stories that don't attempt to claim alternate histories are perfect worlds. I just don't want to read any more right now.

    Fourth, there's plenty of alternate history which is too transparently wish fulfillment. The Netflix show Hollywood is a case in point. I'd love too much to have seen that world, it's too perfect a happy ending, and that brings me back to the ache of point three above.

    2 votes
  5. Amarok
    Link
    I'm pretty neutral on the subject. It's not something I generally care for one way or the other. I will say however that one of my all time favorite role playing games, Deadlands, uses an...

    I'm pretty neutral on the subject. It's not something I generally care for one way or the other. I will say however that one of my all time favorite role playing games, Deadlands, uses an alternate history that is wonderful and quite compelling. That'd have to be my favorite example of an alternative history done well.

    1 vote
  6. parsley
    Link
    I have a couple of alt history books in the queue but I tend to prefer scifi for what-if scenarios. I'm not too big a fan on historical fiction in general, even when i otherwise like historical...

    I have a couple of alt history books in the queue but I tend to prefer scifi for what-if scenarios. I'm not too big a fan on historical fiction in general, even when i otherwise like historical non-fiction stuff.

    As the theme for a video game I love it. Have a lot of fun playing ahistorically with world maps or historical scenarios in civilization games or alt history mods like kaiserreich.

    1 vote
  7. [2]
    imperialismus
    Link
    As a literary genre, I like it. I don’t watch alternate history youtubers. Also, there appears to be some text missing in the OP. It cuts off in the middle of a word.

    As a literary genre, I like it. I don’t watch alternate history youtubers.

    Also, there appears to be some text missing in the OP. It cuts off in the middle of a word.

    1. Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      I accidentally touched the upload button early. Should be good now.

      I accidentally touched the upload button early. Should be good now.