Alternative History

Sensible people don't give much thought to what the world would be like if history had gone a little differently.     Here we consider the alternatives.

Sensible people don't give
much thought to what the
world would be like if
history had gone a little
differently.    
Here we consider the alternatives.

 
 
NB: This is John Reilly's Alternative History book review collection page. Links will be added as they are re-posted.

When I first encountered Alternative History (also known as Alternate History, or Althis, or AH), it was an obscure interest, scarcely a recognized genre. Now it threatens to engulf science fiction, and indeed historical fiction. You should have no trouble finding resources online. Let me now just suggest a few:

If you want Christian Celtic AH from a Canadian perspective (and who doesn't?), try Rick Sutcliffe's Histalt page. Meanwhile, the Romanian Perspective can no longer be neglected.

The Wikipedia page is good and getting better. There is an Alternative History Forum. Persons who need to be informed daily of what did not happen will appreciate Today in Alternate History.

Inevitably, there is also an Alternate History Wiki. Do not neglect the the Alternative History Web Ring, of which this site is a member. The menu for that is below.

Why do I prefer "Alternative History" to "Alternate History"? Because the latter suggests just two possibilities, as in "alternating current." "Alternative History" is also sometimes used to mean "Revisionist History." This practice should be ruthlessly suppressed.

 

Airships often appear in Alternative History.
This is because they are a Fortean technology that signifies a timeline
is diverging from the Main Sequence, as we saw in the first half of our own 20th century.

 

Year dates refer to the time of publication or posting. They are all in the Gregorian reckoning: no fooling around.

2010

The Red Napoleon
(Floyd Gibbons describes the near conquest of the world by the Reds.)

2009

Hitler's War
(Harry Turtledove tells what would have happened had the Munich Conference failed.)    

Count Your Blessings
(An Alternative New Year's Day for 2009.)

2008

Toward the Court of the Crimson King
(A macrohistorical meditation on At the Courts of the Crimson Kings, the second volume of S. M. Stirling's AH neo-pulp series, this time on Mars.)    

President John McCain
(That's "President John McCain: January 2001 to January 2009.")    

The Sky People
(S. M. Stirling brings neo-pulp AH to Venus.)

There was no 2007. It's a long story.

2006

The Gray Havens
(No, The Lord of the Rings is not history, but it lends itself to alternative-history treatment nonetheless. This is my own fan fiction.)    

The World Hitler Never Made
(Gavriel D. Rosenfeld does a remarkably comprehensive survey of the allohistory about Hitler and the Third Reich.)

2005

The Years of Rice and Salt
[Kim Stanley Robinson imagines the post-medieval world without the West: possibly the best AH in OTL.]  

Something Rotten
[This is a Thursday Next novel, by the oddly frictive Jasper Fforde. The time travel is the least of it.]    

2004

The Plot Against America
[Philip Roth's apocalyptic account of a counterfactual Lindbergh Administration.]

2003

In the Presence of Mine Enemies
(Harry Turtledove presents a Soviet-style crisis for the Third Reich.)

For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga
(Robert Sobel comes as close as anyone has to writing counterfactual history that looks like the real thing.)

2002

The Man in the High Castle
(The Iliad and the Odyssey of Alternative History.)    

The Domination
(So, you wanted a sustainable world, did you?)

2001

The Great Disappointment of 1844
(Do not expect too much of the end of the world.)    

C.S. Lewis
(An Alternative Obituary.)

2000

Virtual History
(This collection of "Alternatives and Counterfactuals," edited by Niall Ferguson, is the real deal when it comes to serious alternative history.)

1999

The Pity of War
(A review of Niall Ferguson's wrong-headed but fascinating study of the First World War and the possible historical alternatives.)    

What If the Second Temple Had Survived AD 70? 
(The answer is that there would be no Israel in the 20th century. It's a long story.)

1998

Cthuluism and the Cold War
(A Halloween piece.)    

The Xin Dynasty of 1916?
(An ambitious general tried to establish a new dynasty in China after the Revolution of 1911. Here I consider what would have happened if he had succeeded.)

1997

Altscript
(This started as an alternative history of English spelling in the 20th century, but it shows every sign of getting out of hand. A disclaimer is in order: I am a member of an organization called the Simplified Spelling Society . The SSS really does promote spelling reform, but they are not to blame for Altscript.)

Time on My Hands
(A review of a novel by Peter Delacorte that shows how wonderful life would be if Ronald Reagan had never been president.)

Anno Dracula
(A review of Kim Newman's novel, based on the premise that Dracula had married the widowed Queen Victoria. This book makes it unnecessary to ever read another vampire story.)

If the Loyalists Had Won the Spanish Civil War....

If the July 20 Plot had Succeeded....

1996

The Irish Empire

World War III in 1957

President H.P. Lovecraft

World Constitution

If Jesus Had Never Been Born....

If Germany Won World War I....