Alternate Histories


Just came across this on Red's blog. Its a good take on the books which were never written - essentially alternate histories, which he eloquently defines thus -

"Alternate history remains one of my favourite genres of fiction, combining my interests in history, politics, literature and science fiction all at one go. Alternate history basically starts with the premise "What If". As wikipedia says " the subgenre comprises fiction in which a change or point of divergence occurs in the past that causes human society to develop in a way that is distinct from our own." So imagine a Britain ruled by Nazi Germany or an America where slavery is legal or a world where the Mansa Musa of Mali is a dominant power."

Indeed. The genre is something I'm attracted to instantaneously. Philip Roth seems to have a couple which I haven't read, and if I remember correctly, so does Spike Milligan. Can't remember what the book was called though. Google has failed me, for once. Or maybe I'm just being lazy and didn't look harder.

Looking around the discussion boards and things which he mentions, I found some interesting topics of discussion, the best one being suggestions for anti-books, as I'd like to call them. Titles well known today, but due to the vagaries of alternate history, they end up talking about something absolutely different. Red lists some interesting titles, and his own ideas to the pool -

A Passage to India
Military historians study how the Tehran-New Delhi secret railroad helped the Third Reich hoodwink the British Raj

Silence of the Lambs
An account of the trial and execution of noted royalist propagandists Charles and Mary Lamb.

et al.

Aadisht on one of his emails, discussed something on those lines a few weeks ago too -

"It makes me wish somebody would write an alternate history where Tipu won the battle of Seringapattam, and also makes me want to create a scifi alternate future where Temasek is the new East India Company, the Brahmins have been thrown out of India and are the new Parsis, Gujrat has practically seceded from India and is ruled by mad Gujju militias who run concentration camps for non vegetarians, and white people toil in inhuman conditions for below-minimum-wage to produce consumer goods for the Chinese. And I'm not even past the fifth chapter yet."

Quite.

What I'd like to read?

A Clockwork Orange
How a smalltime clockmaker in Brussels converted a fascination for citrus fruits into a powerful dynasty.

The World *is* Flat
The story of Christopher Columbus as documented by the ship behind him as he fell off the planet's edge

Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back
On the insistence of Jen Aniston, Britain mounts attacks against all former colonies to reclaim lost glory and also make sure Brangelina are unable to adopt more children.

*Updates*
(So I had some more time to think about things - I came across the latest Time 100 top list books recently.. here :)

All the King's men
The sordid tales of England's closet homosexual monarchs.

An American Tragedy
The rise of George Bush in contemporary American politics, and a look at the post Iraq, North Korea war dysfunctional society that was once known as the oldest democracy in the world. or something






9 comments:

Scritch said...

Those books sound hilarious. We were given a college project to do like that. You were give 5-6 book titles and have to write a blurb for them and then design book covers representing your blurb. some good shit

iz said...

Had borrowed Clockwork Orange from a friend and kept it with me six months. Never got past the first chapter. Maybe I should just watch the movie!

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@scritch - definitely. a friend of mine once did this book cover for a scandinavian (norwegian? swedish?) book and it was gorgeous.. all she had was the title and an excerpt.. and she came up with this theme of flowers with bees - all purple, yellow, black and transparencies. i'll see if i can put that up someplace..

@iz - haha, you should see the movie. its uh, dysfunctional. to the say the least

Red said...

Re Aadisht's idea, found an interesting book where the Mughals had been pushed out of the Deccan and a maritime Travancori League ruled an empire that stretched from the west coast of Africa to Sumatra and Java. Embarrassingly, the ruler of Travancore was called the Kerala!

hedonistic hobo said...

delightful. what wonderful warped minds would come up with this?

That Armchair Philosopher said...

@red - lol - care to name the book? should make for interesting reading

@hobo - hehehe, warped minds of the highest calibre, i think ;))

Red said...

Actually All the Kings Men is not AH but more likely H. The two non closeted English Kings, were Edward the II (who had a cameo role with his lover in Braveheart) and James I (also known as James VI of Scotland) who made his male favourite the Duke of Buckingham. Queen Anne had a temptuous relationship with Sarah Churchill, ancestress of Sir Winston.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

hmm, interesting. I knew about the French having pubic affairs with male courtiers, but the english side of things is a revelation.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

and thats what i call a Freudian slip (in above comment) heh