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Alternate history, also known as alternative history, sometimes abbreviated AH, is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which one or more historical events unfolds differently from how it did in reality. It can be variously seen as a subgenre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate history works may use tropes from any or all of these genres. Becoming popular in the late twentieth century, numerous novels and other works have been produced exploring different topics within the genre.
What If? Essays
What If? Is a collection of essays by eminent historians prospecting over how history may have diverged due to a change in time. It was published by Rupert Cohen in 1999.
Michael Stirling is a British author best known for his alternate history scenarios. Stirling's 1993 novel, Short Visits to Different Worlds was acclaimed as one of the genre's first major works, and included such scenarios as:
- Without Westminster - Focusing on a world where the Treaty of Westminster is never signed, and the Empire of Hispania is greatly weakened. The War of the Grand Coalition never happens, and instead the balance of power in Europe fluctuates between many different nations throughout the modern period.
- Henry IV, son of John of Gaunt, doesn’t die heirless. Instead he is succeeded by his son as Henry V, leading to civil war between the so called “House of Lancaster” and the OTL ruling family, the House of York, led by Edward III.
- The Acts of Union of 1425, which in OTL sought to unify the nations of England (and Wales), and the Irish states of Munster and Ulster with the English Royal Crown Dependency of Dublin, are stalled due to the civil war. The civil war also prevents the vassalization of Scotland by the English, and the spread of the Western Church.
- The Norman Rebellions end in a Roman Catholic victory at the Battle of South Hampton, leading to the widespread suppression of the Western Church.
- The nations of Munster and Ulster form the Kingdom of Eire, independent of the Kingdom of England, now unified under the Yorkist claimant to the throne.
- The North Sea Trade Alliance (NSTA) is never founded, due in part to weaker relations with Prussia, the Netherlands, and other OTL allies.
- The Treaty of Westminster is never signed. War would break out between France and England throughout the late fifteenth century, leading to the loss of English Calais, Guyenne, and all other continental possessions, as well as French vassalization of the Duchy of Brittany.
- Habsburg Empire - Discusses the possibility of a strong Habsburg alliance between nations such as Austria and Spain, leading to Austria’s continued growth in Europe. Austria is never fully defeated, and goes on to dominate German politics.
- Great Rhineland War - Discusses the possibility of a Second “Grand Coalition” following the fall of Spain, this time targeting the Empire of France, which managed to seize control over a vast empire in the wake of Hispania’s collapse. Leopold II von Habsburg, King of Westphalia, Lombardy, and the Netherlands emerges as the dominant force in central Europe, after defeating the French and uniting his empire in the Rhineland. Although Austria had fallen to Bavaria and Croatia much earlier, Leopold’s gamble leads to Habsburg dominance once more, and the eventual unification of Germany under Habsburg rule.
Luís Braga is a Brazilian author specializing in alternate history. He is often credited for coining the term "morcegos espaciais alienígenas” (Alien Space Bats), after his 1994 novel, Without Pskov, featured the term in a major alternate history novel or publication.
- Without Pskov (1994) - A series of essays discussing possible collapses of the Pskov Republic, leading in most cases to a stronger Moscow, and subsequent Russia, as well as different outcomes for many of Pskov’s neighbors. The fall of Pskov also leads to slower development of technology, literacy, and science in the east, leaving Russia a European “backwater” until the eighteenth century. Braga structures this novel into a series of different examples, each changing Europe in different ways.
- No Muscovian Crusade - The coalition of the Golden Horde, Scandinavia, and Poland-Lithuania never unites against Moscow. The outcome is Moscow’s eventual dominance of Novgorod diplomatically and the joint conquest of Pskov after a failed rebellion in the early fifteenth century. Due to the lack of “crusade” against Poland, instigated OTL by Prussia and the Teutonic Order, there is less so a feud between Austria and Scandinavia. Austria’s Albert II of Germany is not elected Holy Roman Emperor, however Austria does eventually become one of the dominant states in the empire. Poland and Prussia continue to war throughout the subsequent century, leading to Russia’s eventual destruction of the Poland-Lithuania state, and its growth eastward.
- Rusan the Burned - Pskov is crushed during the 1547 invasion by Moscow, Novgorod, Poland, and others.
- Liberation of Livonia - In 1610 the Pskov Republic launches an ill-fated invasion of the Duchy of Livonia, and is subsequently defeated by a coalition of German allies, including Hamburg, Austria, and Prussia. Livonia annexes Pskov and flourishes into a major power in eastern Europe.
- Pskovian Aggression - Believed to be the first major example of “morcegos espaciais alienígenas” (Alien Space Bats) in a popular alternate history novel or publication, this scenario explores a world in which the accusations by Iosef Mendeleev against Pskov in his 1908 novel, A Complete History of the Pskovian Aggression, are grounded completely in fact.
Marcos Alo Alba
José Siqueira is a Brazilian novelist and former military officer best known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines set in the twentieth century. Additionally Siqueira has also written numerous novels that fit within the genre of alternate history, mostly exploring the outcomes of different wars and conflicts within the last two centuries.
- The Hunt for Black Havana (1984) - Siqueira's first published novel. ABIN analyst João Gilberto assists in the defection of a respected German naval captain, along with the most advanced ballistic missile submarine of the German fleet.
- Estado Novo (1995) - Pedro I of Brazil dies unexpectedly in 1890, with no surviving male heirs (the future Pedro II and Prince Fernando and Afonso do not survive into adulthood, or are never born).
- With no male heir the throne falls to Pedro's daughter Maria and her husband Gaston d'Valois-Arc.
- Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca (OTL fifth prime minster of Brazil) seizes control of the parliament but is assassinated.
- Pinheiro Machado, leader of the Republican Party, declares the Second Republic (Estado Novo).
- A revolt by the nation's navy (Revolta da Armada) is crushed by Floriano Peixoto, propelling the young conservative into politics, and leading to a weakened Brazilian navy around the turn of the twentieth century.
- The Restoration War begins with the return of Gaston d'Valois-Arc to Brazil, supported by an Emeraldie-based invasion. The Second Brazilian Empire is declared in opposition to Machado's government in Sao Sebastião.
- The ascension of a Frenchman to the Brazilian throne leads to a split in diplomatic relations between Emeraldie and Andea, splitting Hesperia in two.
- Vargas' Theory (1996) - A sequel to the popular Estado Novo timeline, documenting Brazil's actions during World War II, including an invasion of Andea.
- In 1930 Getúlio Vargas is declared dictator of Brazil, during the reign of Pedro II, beginning a period of heavy industrialization and militarization.
- Formal withdraw of Brazil, Emeraldie, Guiana, Reme, and Mexaca from the Second Hesperian League, and the formation of the Western Axis Powers.
- The OTL Brazilian-Spanish Alliance is replaced with an alliance with the Republic of Britannia.
Hilarion Faris is one of the more prolific Roman alternate history authors. Faris is known for his broad field in alternate history, covering a wide field of potential timelines. Faris' first novel, The Third Rome, was published in 1994 and was met with acclaim, despite criticism from far-right nationalists.
- The Third Rome - Instead of Temür-Hachiun's Christian son Theodore succeeding him, his Muslim son Jalal al-Din took the throne instead. Theodore launches a Roman-sponsored rebellion in response, which is swiftly crushed. Angered at Roman involvement in Tartar affairs, Jalal al-Din aligns the Tartary away from the Roman Empire and towards the Ottoman Turks. With the Ottomans in disarray and the Timurids collapsing, nothing is able to prevent Jalal al-Din from bringing the Ottomans into his Empire. Vlachia and Bulgaria fall soon after, and eventually Constantinople is besieged. The city falls, and without the capital, the Roman Empire falls. Jalal al-Din declares himself Roman Emperor of a new Empire centered around the city of Sarai.
- The Icy North -
- The Great Genocide -
Unknown Quechua Author
An Unknown Quechua author wrote a book called The Children of the Mountains, in the mid to late 1500s,which detalied a world in which the Inca Empire collapses at the hand of Spain and flees into the Amazon Rainforest, establishing a new state in the Area known as the Third Inca Empire. The book circulated around Spanish South America and the Inca Empire, serving as a popular read among the upper classes. Many Spanish provinces banned the book, believing it to be used as a rallying call for rebelling against the Spanish Crown. The Author, who remains nameless to this day, is believed to have been executed in Buenos Aires.