Alternative history that's not scifi or WW2 related

So re-watching the West Wing I came to the realisation that show is a rare case of alternative history fiction that doesn’t include time travel or Germany winning world war 2. In the show the presidential history of the USA is different after Ronald Reagan and they have their elections on different years too.

I can’t think of any other examples. One could make similar claims of Veep and Madame Secretary, or any show or film with a fictional president, but that IMHO would be overly nitpicky. The West Wing’s past fictional presidents are firmly established in the show’s canon and the characters reference them and their policies. Something other similar shows, to my knowledge, haven’t done.

So anyone got examples of alternative history fiction without scifi or WW2 elements?

Here’s 3,200 of them:

On the comedy side, there’s Yes, Minister and Whoops Apocalypse. Also try A Very British Coup.

Harry Turtledove has a whole series of stories based on the idea that Mohammed, instead of founding Islam, converted to Christianity and became St. Mohammed.

St. Mohamet, wasn’t it?:smiley: He was noted for composing some of the finest hymns in Christendom. “There is no God but God, and Christ is His Son” was one.

There was a movie called Sliding Doors where the story is what happens when the main character catches a train or misses it.

There was a large body of World War III fiction about a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Most of it was written when such a war was regarded as a possible future event rather than alternate history. Good examples would be Red Storm Rising (1986) by Tom Clancy and Team Yankee (1987) by Harold Coyle.

I’d also include General Sir John Hackett’s * The Third World War * (1978) and * The Third World War : The Untold Story * (1982}

What’s your beef with science fiction? Otherwise, I’d nominate Watchmen and the Wild Cards novels by (primarily) George R.R. Martin.

He also wrote a whole series where a specific order got lost near the end of the American Civil War, allowing the Confederates to win. Not to be confused with his Guns of the South, which involved time travel to get to the result of the South winning.

It eventually got into that timeline’s version of WWII, but…obviously, it was way different. (And yet, remarkably the same.) The ‘Axis’ equivalents were (primarily) the CSA (a distinct Nazi equivalent), UK, and France, while Germany was allied with the US. The ‘Axis’ lose there, too.

(Actually, the CSA winning is probably the second most common alt-history premise out there, behind the Nazis winning.)

The Two Georges - Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss (yes, that Richard Dreyfuss.) It postulates a world where George Washington and George III weren’t mortal enemies, and the “USA” is still part of the British Empire.

The Peshawar Lancers - S. M. Sterling. Alternate history meets steampunk on the frontiers of Empire.

I had a summer thread about The Peshawar Lancers.

it’s one of Stirling’s I’d love to see more of.

Ooh, that sounds interesting. Going to check that out.

No beef. I love scifi. Just thought the subject would be interesting.

There’s also the Lord Darcy stories by Randall Garrett, in which the shift in the timeline occurred during the reign of King Richard the Lionhearted; John never ruled and the American colonies never seceded. I believe there is magic in the land, and the world is a lot less technologically advanced.

Just watch Fox News.


James Michener also did a lot of this.

The Years of Rice and Salt – the Black Death kills 99% of Europeans


Annoying minute nitpick herewith: in Turtledove’s “Southern Victory” series referred to here, the business with the “specific order” is an incident which happened in “real history”, in Maryland in September 1862. It concerned the document of Confederate Special Order No. 191, which went astray and fell into Union Army hands; this gave valuable information to the Union side and facilitated their repelling the Confederate advance, at the battle of Antietam.

Turtledove has the doings with Special Order no. 191 as his his point of divergence in timelines – in his alternative history, the document does not get lost by the Confederates and into the other side’s possession. The course of the war thence runs radically differently, culminating in a decisive victory for the Confederacy in late 1862, resulting in an end to the war, with a successful and permanent Confederate breakaway from the USA. (The stand-alone novel Guns of the South – as cited above, a different and unrelated work – has Confederate victory and secession happening much later on, in 1864; with help from the time-travellers making this possible, against all odds, at this late stage by which the South’s situation has become dire.)

Pavane by Keith Roberts is a collection of shorter stories about an England in which Elizabeth I was assassinated & Roman Catholicism remained strong. Then what happened in the following centuries. Subtle & artistic.

Then there’s Michael Kurland’s* The Whenabouts of Burr.* In which I believe we see numerous alternate Americas as Aaron Burr & Alexander Hamilton jockey for position. Have been meaning to check it out. Oh, look! Only 4.99 on Kindle. Will get back with details…

I wonder if any work details Great Britain being conquered by Ireland, beginning the worldwide Gaelic Empire. :eek::smiley: