10 Mind-Bending Alternate Histories
by Publishers Weekly
Alternative history (noun) 1: fiction that is based on history and that explores what might have happened if certain historical events, figures, etc., had been different. That’s how Merriam-Webster defines the genre, but books are rebellious little things and they’ll test that definition in any way they can. What counts as a historical event? What exactly does “different” mean? Just think of Outlander. There are plenty of historical events in the series, and, as far as I know, there was no time-traveling nurse present at any of them, yet I’m willing to bet many would not describe it as alternate history. It’s not entirely clear that my own book qualifies, either, since all the historical events are real. I just involved fictional characters in them. Perhaps more importantly, books are rarely monolithic. Part of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, for example, fits the definition to a T, but the book is so many other things as well that alt-history may not be the first, second, or third thing that comes to mind when talking about it.
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