Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dieselpunk Lexicon: Part 1 Alternate History

This is the first of a series exploring some of the core dieselpunk concepts.

What if Hitler had died in the gas attack on his trenches of World War 1? What if FDR had died from polio, like so many did at the time, rather than lived? What if Lord Halifax had not stepped down and had signed a peace treaty with Hitler?

Alternate history, also known as counterfactual history, are common in the dieselpunk genre.

According to Jeremy Black and Donald M. MacRaild, in their book Studying History, counterfactual history is, "at the very root, the idea of conjecturing on what did not happen, or what might have happened, in order to understand what did happen."

Dieselpunk novel "Man in the High Castle" written by Philip K Dick, now an award winning series on Amazon Prime
Sometimes the world resulting from counterfactual history are very similar to ours while others are dramatically different. According to William R Forstchen, in his introduction to the classic If the Allies Had Fallen the counterfactual timeline that creates an alternative world (known as a ‘uchronia’), "enables us to seriously contemplates how, at times, the decision of but one person can change the world, impacting our lives for the better or worse - if indeed we would have a world at all."

Click here for an interesting blog dedicated to counterfactual history.

Click here for an online list of novels based on counterfactual history

Click here for the web site of the The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History, which awards the best counterfactual history

Do you want to write a counterfactual history story? Here’s a good article on what to avoid


JazzFeathers said...

Can't wait to read the rest of this series.
This is actually what I love of speculative fiction in general: by handling what never was in a way tha might have been, we see things in our reality that might never really see in any other way.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Thanks, Sarah.