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.
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
#1. A-Audio Legacy Noise Cancelling Headphones with 3-Stage Technology The A-Audio Legacy Headphones are the Boing Boing Store’s best seller this month, and it’s easy to see why. With 40mm drivers, powerful circuitry, and memory foam padded circumaural ear cups, these are clearly super high-quality headphones. Plus, the patented 3-Stage Technology lets you toggle between passive […]
Vaping is getting more mainstream by the day, which means there’s been an influx of quality yet affordable vaporizers on the market. We’re particularly excited about the APX Wax Vaporizer Kit, which is an easy-to-use, high-quality vape that works with both dry herbs and waxy concentrates.If you’re a beginner trying to get into vaping, the APX […]
When you’ve had a long day and it’s time to unwind, there’s a lot you can do to relax: drink some tea, take a shower or even read a book. But there’s one thing that’s essential to a comfortable night’s rest—and that’s investing in some really good sheets. Enter Bamboo Bed Sheets. These quality sheets retail for $120, but […]