The Atlantic asks Harry Turtledove, writer of counterfactual histories. He points out that, in fact, the alternatives are written not to be realistic, but to throw interesting dramatic light on the world we do inhabit.
Alternate history isn't really about the world you're creating," he added. "It's about the world in which you live, and gives you and your readers a funhouse mirror in which to see the real world." It's a reflection, he says, that we can't get any other way.
In other words, it's SF. When pressed, his suggestion isn't particularly edifying:
"If the British Empire included all of North America north of the Rio Grande as well as India, it would be incontestably the strongest state in the world," he responded. "The French Revolution wouldn't have happened, both for lack of example and because it began when a political crisis and a famine coincided with a government bankruptcy that sprang from the money the government paid out helping the American colonists gain their independence—and giving perfidious Albion a shot in the eye."
Or perhaps it would merely have been delayed, because the causes of the French Revolution ran deep.
Sans American revolutionary success, my money is that the world would be much as it is now. America would just have become independent anyway, as Canada did, in a slower and less constitutionally dramatic way. How awesome would THE DOMINION OF AMERICA have been? Quite.
Here's one for the mental hopper: a comedy where, the morning after dropping a twinkie wrapper in a new particle accelerator, U.S. President Bill Murray wakes up to find that he is now U.S. Prime Minister Bill Murray, and must navigate his ignorance of the tiny-yet-critical details that have changed--and learn how to restore the reality he's used to.
This would not only be a comedy of errors with broad Transatlatic appeal, but would provide employment for science writers who like to point out the paradoxical absurdities within movies featuring time travel.
Coming after improvements to Firefox and continued unease at Google’s life-pervading insight, this image is outperforming the ███████ ████ Virality Control Group today (via). It got me thinking about all the promises that were made. Here’s the earliest article in Google News to contain “Big browser” in its headline, published by Time Magazine on Nov. […]
The WiFi232 is a traditional old-timey old-schooley Hayes-compatible 300-115200 baud modem, no wider than its own parallel DB25 port. Automatically responds with a customizable busy message when already in a call. The killer app seems to be using it to get internet onto ancient retro portables like the TRS-80 Model 102, but it’s been put […]
Most tech-media takes on the iPhone’s 10th anniversary are bland and self-congratulatory, but I like Tom Warren’s at The Verge. He laments how Apple’s pocket computer killed his inner nerd. As a youngster, he’d be constantly tearing down and building computers, even in the sweltering heat of summer. But now… …All of that tinkering and […]
Web content creators who don’t have a solid SEO strategy should take note of Webtexttool. It’s a service that pulls in anonymous data from their entire user base to offer crowdsourced guidance that increases your search page ranks. By analyzing prior user successes, it helps you better gauge how your posts will perform at a […]
Just because English has become the common global tongue doesn’t mean it’s the easiest language to write—even for native speakers. If you’re looking to improve your written communication skills, especially on your smartphone, take a look at Ginger Page.Ginger is a cross-platform app that offers corrections for phrasing as well as grammar. It’s powered by […]
The current web development landscape is rife with buzzwords and technology that gets abandoned almost as soon as it’s made. If you’ve never written a line of code before, it can be hard to figure out what’s coming, what’s here to stay, or how to get ahead.This Beginner Web Development Bundle is a great place […]