Sunday, 28 June 2015

Conquistador, Prologue, 1946

A man who fought for the US in World War II had a grandfather who fought against the US in the American Civil War. Family and history indeed. I cannot help wanting a time travel story to link these two Wars but already know that this novel goes further, and also sideways, in time.

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.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, Harry Turtledove writes alternate history SF of the (i). The example which comes most clearly to my mind being his WORLDWAR books, where history diverged drastically from the time line we knew when alien invaders from another star attack in 1942. All of a sudden the whole war, never mind the war, was turned upside down and inside out as old enemies suddenly found themselves allies fighting a common enemy.

I enjoyed Turtledove's first four or five WORLDWAR books but I eventually became dissatisfied with them. But I have no doubt other readers still do. And, by and large, I favor Stirling's versions more than I do Turtledove's.