Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Oblique Commentaries

Works of fiction set in alternative histories obliquely comment on what we regard as real history.

(i) In a British TV play with the premise that the Germans won World War II, a man making a TV drama about the War said, "I can't rewrite history..."

(ii) In Poul Anderson's Operation Luna, cooperation between Einstein and Planck released forces previously regarded as magical. What would have happened if they had continued to work separately?

(iii) In Alan Moore's Watchmen:

when a superhero has won the Vietnam War for the US, someone remarks that, if we had lost this war, we would have gone mad as a nation;

two journalists called Bernstein and Woodward are found dead;

the headline "RR to run for President?" is greeted with the question, "Who wants a cowboy actor in the White House?" Of course the headline refers to Robert Redford.

(iv) In SM Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers (New York, 2003), Warburton remarks that, if the Fall had not thrown back progress, then by 2025 the world would be beyond the possibility of a World War and might even have been united by the British Empire. Yasmini, a clairvoyant who sees alternative realities, stirs, then subsides... "Ask later, [King] thought." (p. 315)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Alternate World Wars II? A fascinating concept! One of the books I have is called HITLER VICTORIOUS, a collection of stories speculating about what might have happened if Hitler had won WW II or been different from the Hitler we saw in our time line.

And, of course, I'm sure you remember that one of my favorite "what ifs" of history is what kind of world might have come from those accursed assassinations in Sarajevo either not happening or being prevented. A possible theme for an alternate WW I collection?

And, as regards your "(iv)" point, I fear Sir Manfred was being too optimistic about the kind of world the people of his timeline might have seen if the Fall had never happened. That's why Yasmini, a clairvoyant with "true dreams," almost spoke up. The visions she had seen included nightmarish scenarios much like our own timeline. Again, I think of the accursed Sarajevo assassinations (perhaps one of Yasmini's visions included OUR timeline showing what happened from 1914?).