Sunday, 28 June 2015
Conquistador, Prologue, 1946
Do Harry Turtledove and SM Stirling write only alternative history fiction? It is certainly a different direction for science fiction, neither interplanetary nor interstellar but inter-historical. And, of course, it has generated a new kind of interplanetary fiction, retro-Venus and -Mars.
There are two kinds of alternative timeline:
(i) familiar history diverged at a precise moment, the most obvious example being German victory in World War II;
(ii) all the rules are different - myth is history, magic works etc.
Turtledove and Stirling write (i). Anderson wrote four novels based on (ii). Anderson's treatment of (i) is more in the Time Patrol series where divergent histories are discussed, prevented and, less frequently, experienced:
Carthage won the Second Punic War;
medieval theocracy or autocracy prevented the Reformation, political, scientific and industrial revolutions, social progress and democracy.
I now embark on my third Stirlingian alternative history.