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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > August 2017 > HISTORY but not as you know it…

HISTORY but not as you know it…

Rewrite history, literally, with guidance from Alex Davis

In other articles in these pages we’ve often explored the idea of science-fiction being the fiction of the future, the fiction of dreaming what might yet happen, being either bold predictions or stark warnings of what the future might hold for humanity. While that still holds true for much science-fiction, there is another, lively branch of the genre that eschews looking into the future for a look into the past – and rather than thinking what might be, it considers things that might have been had things worked out differently in the past.

It’s a type of fiction that takes the same amount of imagination as any far-future SF, as well as often requiring a fair amount of research to get historical details and setting correct. It also – arguably – can have a wider appeal than much sciencefiction, often having a substantial interest among the large readership of historical fiction. The blending of fact and fiction can certainly result in a potent effect. Of course I’m talking about the world of alternative history, which has a number of high-profile authors who happily acknowledge the debt to the subgenre, as well as some who get their work classified elsewhere. But before we get lost in that endless marketing debate, we’re going to explore how you can write great alternative history – wherever you might fancy it sitting in a bookshop…

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