Saturday, 29 April 2017
Signals And Significances
(i) Simply present a narrative from a pov within the alternative history and let the reader deduce what is happening, e.g., Poul Anderson's "The House of Sorrows." Within this context, Philip Pullman's early reference to a Pope Martin Luther is a convenient shorthand message to the reader that here is an alternative history in which there was no Reformation.
(ii) Physically, someone opens a Gate to an environment untouched by civilization. This happens at the beginning and end of SM Stirling's Conquistador. Again, the sabretooth at the end is a convenient shorthand.
(iii) Mentally, a character accesses perceptions and memories from alternative lives. This happens to a psychic in Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers and to an explorer of Nantucket in Stirling's The Sunrise Lands.
Innsmouth is Lovecraftian fictional geography. "Nantucket" exists in our timeline but has acquired a Changed significance in the Emberverse. Place names can come to mean events: "Hiroshima" in our history; "London" in Alan Moore's Miracleman. Nantucket becomes both an event and a strange place.