An online alternate history is typically a series of webpages, or more recently a wiki, or a group project found on the internet. These webpages, wikis and groups either seek to expand one topic in depth or to explore a number of Points-of-Divergence. Some are open to public participation, others, semi-restricted in their membership, and still others holding exclusive creative rein in the hands of one or more author.
Among the more notable projects include Alternate History.com, This Day in Alternate History, Changing The Times, and Ill Bethisad. Those groups that are based on more than one author's work often invoke a peer review process, where comments, questions and critiques are given by other members of the group. A good example of this is the Alternate History Wikia.
Effects of the Internet
Until the Internet age, alternate histories were the sole creation of one author without input of other like-minded individuals, unless this was later published. Once the Internet became ubiquitous, many similarly interested individuals were able to congregate, first in USEnets, and later newsgroups and wikis. This has led to an explosion of creative content in the last decade, giving strength to the literary alternative-history market.
In online alternate history, the timeline is usually referred to by the abbreviation ATL (Alternate Time Line), as contrasted with OTL (Our Time Line) which refers to real history. Others develop their own terminology, Ill Bethisad using the terms *here* and *there* to distinguish between our world and the conworld, respectively.
The following are direct links to specific alternate history scenarios:
- AlternateHistory.com is the largest internet forum for discussing alternate history. Many scenarios have been discussed on this site, and some are archived in the Timelines and Scenarios forum.
- This Day in Alternate History contains over 4000 alternate history timelines, and also hosts a forum for discussion of alternate history.
- Many scenarios can be found on the alternate history ezine Changing the Times.
- soc.history.what-if is a Usenet newsgroup devoted to discussing alternate histories. This newsgroup has spawned a number of interesting alternate timelines, including an online role playing game which has run continuously since 2000 called SHWI-ISOT with a POD in 1800 and in which the characters are based on the players being sent from the 21st century back to an alternate early 19th Century, where they have started altering history. The concept was inspired by S.M. Stirling's "Island on the Sea of Time" books.
- Ill Bethisad is an ongoing, collaborative project with currently ca. 45 participants, originally created by Andrew Smith from New Zealand.
- Bronze Age New World is a collective project started by Doug Muir. Around 500AD the Arawak indians develop a nagivational package similar to that of the Polynesians, leading to faster technological advances across the Americas. When Europeans arrive they find the natives have advanced as far as the bronze age, and a very diffent world results.