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The South did not rise again.

13 April 2011

Last night, I saw a mockumentary called The CSA, about what might have happened if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. It was kind of an ambitious movie, and probably would have pulled it off had it had just a little better acting and a little higher production value. Well, and if it hadn’t ignored the fact that no one in the world would have traded with us if we decided to keep slavery running through the 20th and into the 21st centuries.

Still, that got me thinking about a genre that’s a bit underused these days: alternate history. Some might argue that Steampunk is alternate history, of course, but I’m talking the kind of alternate history where the author has changed one, maybe two elements of the past and then used those as a basis for exploring the present (or another spot in the past). It sounds confusing, but there are a couple of places where it’s done rather well. The graphic novel Watchmen, for example.

My favorite, though, is Philip Roth’s novel “The Plot Against America.” This changes one fact — that Charles Lindbergh had been elected president rather than FDR — and uses that to explore not only the country on a macro level, but even moreso the effect on one Jewish family in New Jersey. It was a fascinating character study, and all around an entertaining and thought-provoking book.

What’s your favorite alternate history out there? It doesn’t have to be anything mainstream, or a book specifically. It can be the Lone Pine Mall, for all I know.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sir Geek permalink
    13 April 2011 0826

    My favorite series is the 1632 series. I like the fact that it encourages people to write their own things (and the better ones get incorporated as cannon).

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