There is some suspicion of Alternate History - the exercise of looking at the past and asking "what if"? - as it can stretch to the most ludicrious situations. Personally I love it, all of it, from serious scholarly counter-factual history to Lizards invading Earth during the Second World War. The possibilities are endless. Just at the moment I'm having a good look at Alternatehistory.com which is contains some very credible attempts to imagine what might have been. Scenarios include:
- If the Confederacy had not invaded Kentucky, they would have been able to survive for much longer in the Eastern conflicts, Lincoln would have lost the election, McClellan would have taken over and peace would have been signed between the two sides.
- Or what about if Alexander discovered a possible conspiracy against him and wasn't poisoned going on to create an empire that ultimately extends from Gaul to India, and which lasts 130 years, and in one form, beyond.
These scenarios generally work on the plausible or likely event. My absolute favourite does not. Guns of the South by the master of Alternate History fiction, Harry Turtledove is a brilliant book where white supremacists deliver the means to make AK47s to the Confederacy and Robert E Lee. As an exercise in plausible implausibility, it cannot be beaten.
So what do you think? From credible counter-factual analysis to wilder flights of fancy is there any historical validity in it all?