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Author Topic: Over the Top: Alternative Histories of the Great War  (Read 874 times)
Zorro
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« on: 11 January 2021, 02:27:04 PM »

Figuratively  just dipped my toes into this book.

Has anyone else read this?  If using the five pillars of alternative history writing, do any of these ideas work well as possibilities?
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Fantasy Zorro
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« Reply #1 on: 11 January 2021, 02:50:29 PM »

. . . If using the five pillars of alternative history writing . . .

The whut?
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Zorro
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« Reply #2 on: 11 January 2021, 02:55:24 PM »

The whut?

Start here while I search for the list.
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Fantasy Zorro
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Zorro
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« Reply #3 on: 11 January 2021, 03:00:57 PM »

This (partial answer) is from the book I asked about.

To describe these new directions, the arts of the historian and storyteller must be given full play. Writing alternate history (more accurately ‘alternative history’) must follow rigorous rules to create plausible scenarios. Author, historian, strategist and soldier Ralph Peters has described the ‘Five Pillars of alternative history’, in Frontline’s recent Disaster at Stalingrad: An Alternate History. They are worth summarising here for there is no more perceptive analysis in the requirements of writing for this new genre.2 Good alternate history must have: A compelling, convincing vision. ‘If the alternative-history does not grip us with logic – the recognition that this could have happened – the entire structure falls flat … We have to be captured by the recognition that, yes, but for a few matters of happenstance, the author’s vision might have come to pass, changing history.’
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Fantasy Zorro
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Zorro
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« Reply #4 on: 11 January 2021, 03:03:12 PM »

Historical and technical knowledge. The writer must know ‘what has happened down to the “sub-atomic” details’. He must also grasp ‘why things happened and how slight alterations in events or personal relations might have led to very different outcomes’. He must also ‘know what soldiers can do and won’t do’ and also know ‘not only what political leaders are supposed to do, but what they actually end up doing’.

Grasp of character. ‘Alternative history doesn’t work if the author doesn’t understand the actual personalities of the figures he enlivens on the page – or human complexity in general … [T]he actions men make and the actions they take must be grounded in their actual psychology and mundane circumstances.’ Characters must ‘make credible decisions based on the different developments confronting them’.

Writing ability. ‘In alternative history, the focus should be on events and characters presented in transparent prose that never calls attention to itself. The writing should be so clean and clear that it disappears, leaving only the author’s vision … Even when’ addressing ‘infernally complex situations or arcane technical details, the writing is a spotless window that lures the reader to look deeper inside’. Storytelling ability. ‘Writing ability and storytelling are often confused with one another, but while related involve separate talents and skill-sets … The novelist/storyteller … is a literary Dr. Frankenstein, struggling bravely to create not only a living being, but an entire living world …’, choosing ‘from an infinite number of possibilities, the unique combination of body parts that will spring to life for the reader. The non-fiction writer declares, “It’s a fact.” The novelist cries, “It’s alive!”’

From the following page.
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Fantasy Zorro
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« Reply #5 on: 11 January 2021, 03:08:07 PM »

The only alternative history of the Great War I find credible is the one where Martian capsules hit the sandpit on Horsell Common in July 1914 the others are more fantastical than I can believe.
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ianrs54
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« Reply #6 on: 11 January 2021, 03:15:58 PM »

Alternative history can be fun so long as you don't take it seriously. May have that on my Kindle but do have several of the early 20th century ones and several WWII ones, such as "The Whale Has Wings". Note that lots of these were written to poke the govt to take action. Particularly the pre WWI stuff, Asquith's liberals were seen as wet by the preess barons such as Northcliffe (Daily Mail -"We want and we won;t wait" is his).
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Lord Kermit of Birkenhead
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Zorro
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« Reply #7 on: 11 January 2021, 03:27:25 PM »

The only alternative history of the Great War I find credible is the one where Martian capsules hit the sandpit on Horsell Common in July 1914 the others are more fantastical than I can believe.

So you have read the book?
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Fantasy Zorro
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Zorro
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« Reply #8 on: 11 January 2021, 03:29:41 PM »

Alternative history can be fun so long as you don't take it seriously. May have that on my Kindle but do have several of the early 20th century ones and several WWII ones, such as "The Whale Has Wings". Note that lots of these were written to poke the govt to take action. Particularly the pre WWI stuff, Asquith's liberals were seen as wet by the preess barons such as Northcliffe (Daily Mail -"We want and we won;t wait" is his).

Translate that into American English?  Not a student of English/British history.  Anglophobic ancestors when I was young.
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Fantasy Zorro
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« Reply #9 on: 11 January 2021, 03:47:59 PM »

I stayed with relatives for a long weekend in early 2015 and there was a copy of this lying around. I dipped in and out rather than reading it cover to cover but, as with most "alternative history" I felt it ignored the knock on effects of the changes they proposed. As my late aunt would say when we discussed "what if" history,"If you pull on one thread, sooner rather than later you've unravelled the whole jumper!" Smiley
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ianrs54
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« Reply #10 on: 11 January 2021, 04:11:57 PM »

Translate that into American English?  Not a student of English/British history.  Anglophobic ancestors when I was young.

Fraid I refuse to use the abortion of Enlish that Webster tried to inflict on us.

OK - Northcliffe ran the Daily Mail, a semi tabloid which was popular with lower middle class readers - the slogan "WE want 8" refers to the British naval building program. In roughly 1910 the Admaralty cut back to 4 capital ships, and at the time this appeared to put the Royal Navy behind in the naval arms race. ASquith was the British PM from agin roughly 1910 up to 1916, when he was succeded by Lloyd George. He as Chancellor (minister who runs the economy) had intorduced the Old Age Pension. There are from agian roughly 1908 a series of books postulating a German invasion of the home counties (SArf EaaasT). One that springs to mind is "The Battle of Barking". Unlike "War of the Worlds" the British usually lose. Pretty unlikey - the German forces would be totally isolated by the Royal Navy.

There is one on my Kindle which has the USN beat 7 shades out of the IJN in the early to mid 20's.

There are lots more - they are useful for scenarios but do tend to ignore the realites of warfare.

Finally try this one - in the 1780's Congress voted to make English the offical language by either 2 or 3 votes - second choice was German, so who would the USA haved sided with in WWI and WWII.
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« Reply #11 on: 11 January 2021, 04:26:03 PM »

So here I am trying to learn Dutch and getting confronted by cock ups in English. For those at the back of the class taking great interest in Jackie's arse or flicking ink pellets at Walter:

ALTERNATE - first one, then the other, most commonly encountered in wargaming as ugo-igo.

ALTERNATIVE - a different version of something e.g. what if the July Plot had succeeded.
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« Reply #12 on: 11 January 2021, 04:36:39 PM »

So here I am trying to learn Dutch and getting confronted by cock ups in English. For those at the back of the class taking great interest in Jackie's arse or flicking ink pellets at Walter:

ALTERNATE - first one, then the other, most commonly encountered in wargaming as ugo-igo.

ALTERNATIVE - a different version of something e.g. what if the July Plot had succeeded.

As in, respectively, alternating electrical current, and ' "Ever since I had to wear my wife's nightie to escape from the burning house, I've become fascinated by the alternative lifestyle", said Donald.'
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fsn
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« Reply #13 on: 11 January 2021, 04:48:55 PM »

For those at the back of the class taking great interest in Jackie's arse or flicking ink pellets at Walter:

WWI ... Jackie ... you mean this one?


I'm confused.   At wits' end
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hammurabi70
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« Reply #14 on: 11 January 2021, 07:31:55 PM »

Fraid I refuse to use the abortion of Enlish that Webster tried to inflict on us.

OK - Northcliffe ran the Daily Mail, a semi tabloid which was popular with lower middle class readers - the slogan "WE want 8" refers to the British naval building program. In roughly 1910 the Admaralty cut back to 4 capital ships, and at the time this appeared to put the Royal Navy behind in the naval arms race. ASquith was the British PM from agin roughly 1910 up to 1916, when he was succeded by Lloyd George. He as Chancellor (minister who runs the economy) had intorduced the Old Age Pension. There are from agian roughly 1908 a series of books postulating a German invasion of the home counties (SArf EaaasT). One that springs to mind is "The Battle of Barking". Unlike "War of the Worlds" the British usually lose. Pretty unlikey - the German forces would be totally isolated by the Royal Navy.

Finally try this one - in the 1780's Congress voted to make English the offical language by either 2 or 3 votes - second choice was German, so who would the USA haved sided with in WWI and WWII.

Giving the famous quote that the Admiralty wanted six dreadnoughts, the Treasury four, so they compromised on eight. Invasion scare books started in 1871 with the Battle of Dorking.


German? An urban myth.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhlenberg_legend
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