Friday, January 25, 2008

Alternate Histories

One of the most famous alternate history writers is the Sci Fi guru Harry Turtledove. I'm currently reading (listening to) the first in his series, How Few Remain. In this, a key point during the Civil War changed - Lee's Special Order 191 wasn't lost as happened in the 'real' war, but was found before the Union Army could recover it. As a result, the South won the war and succeeded from the Union creating 2 countries; The Untied States of America and the Confederate States of America.

I think it's fascinating to read these changes, and to hear Mr. Turtledove's take on what could've happened. It has also had the effect of making me question what I know about history, and spend several hours looking up what really happened to key characters in the aftermath of the war, and what was going on 'here' in this timeline.

If you get the chance, give How Few Remain a try, or at least skim through it.

The year is 1881:

  • Abraham Lincoln wasn't assassinated and is a for-the-workers speaker with leanings towards Marx and socialism. He's widely reviled by the north for losing the war.
  • Stonewall Jackson lived to become the General-in-Chief of the Confederate Army. He's widely hated by the north for being such an excellent general, his reputation well deserved.
  • General J.E.B. Stuart is now stationed in El Paso and commands a large garrison to protect the west and newly acquired Mexican territories bought from Emperor Maximilian.
  • Colonel George A. Custer, is a cavalryman serving on the Great Plains far from Dakota Territory.
  • Theodore Roosevelt is a young, brash Montana Rancher who formed Roosevelt's Unauthorized Regiment in response to a 2nd war between the north and south.
  • Fredrick Douglass travels throughout the country witnessing the ongoing plight of the negro in the north and hoping to bring attention to the even worse plight of the slave in the south.
  • Colonel Alfred Graf von Schlieffen is the military attache to the German Ambassador to the United States.
  • Samuel Clemens is a newspaper editor in San Francisco.
  • General Grant is a homeless drunkard who wanders the USA but is friends with Frederick Douglass.
  • James G. Blane is now the president of the USA, while James Longstreet is president of the CSA.
  • Germany supports the USA, while England and France are allied with the CSA.


Susan Macatee said...

Fascinating blog, Christine!

I love to reflect on what might have been. It's why I like paranormal and sci-fi so much!

Jennifer Ross said...

I agree with Susan. So fascinating to think all of this might have come about with only ONE small but crucial change.