Though our history might represent a nearly endless treasure trove of stories to uncover about people and places alike, there is one major flaw in it which we can’t seem to overcome: it’s set in stone.
No matter how many times we read about certain historical events, the way they went down will never change, and neither will their consequences on the world.
Artists, however, especially writers, are the kind of people who are rarely satisfied with a single version of events… in essence, they can’t help but ask themselves: “what if?”. While our real history might never be changed, in the realm of fiction it becomes subservient to us, and not the other way around for a change.
Ever since the idea of alternate history fiction arose, writers have been flocking to it, seeing the opportunity to rewrite the past on their own terms, even if only in an imaginary world.
Ultimately, this gave rise to a wave in literature still popular to this day, where authors simply love to explore the alternate routes our history might have taken had certain events turned out differently.
In this zone we’re going to be taking a look at some alternate history novels which I believe offer some truly unique and interesting ideas, rather than simply being an author’s personal fantasy.
I think novels in this genre are at their best when they take a grounded and intelligent approach and they’re the ones I want to keep my focus on.
Rachel Caine (pen name of Roxanne Longstreet Conrad) is no stranger to rewriting history in her many book series, and with Ink and Bone she does so once again, marking the beginning of The Great Library series.
Taking us to a world where the Great Library of Alexandria survived the test of time, we follow a young man who witnesses the unravelling of a world ruled by knowledge, considered by some to be more valuable than human lives.
Philip Roth has likely won more awards in his lifetime than most of us knew even existed, and even after his passing his brilliant works still find their ways onto our bookshelves, as is the case with The Plot Against America, written back in 2004 published posthumously.
Taking us into an alternate timeline, Roth tells the story of an America where Franklin Roosevelt loses the election to Charles Lindbergh in 1940, who begins to make tentative arrangements in Adolf Hitler.