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Alternate history forum - introduction
So, what is this place anyway?
#1
Welcome to the Alternate History forum! Some of you might not be familiar with alternate history, so I've started this thread as a quick primer. 

First of all: what is "alternate history"? Basically, it's a genre of fiction consisting of stories in which some historical event happens differently from how it happened in the real world (for example, the winner of a war is changed; the war occurs earlier or later; or the war doesn't take place at all). Similar to alternate history is "counterfactual history", which also deals with these same "what-if" questions, but uses them as a subject of debate rather than as a literary device. These kinds of reasoned discussions also belong within this forum, alongside the "alternate history" timelines and stories. 

Now, here's an overview of some of the terms and abbreviations which are likely to occur frequently within this forum: 
  • Our Timeline (OTL): The events of real-world history, in the world in which we actually live. (Typically used when contrasting an alternate timeline's events with those of the real world; in this context, the alternate history being discussed would be referred to as the "Alternate Timeline", or "ATL"). 

  • Point of Divergence (POD): The first event in an alternate timeline which differs from OTL (see above).

  • Alien Space Bats (ASB): Used pejoratively, to describe a POD which is considered highly implausible (e.g. "couldn't happen without the intervention of Alien Space Bats").

  • Plausibility Check (PC): A discussion of whether or not a particular POD is plausible. Someone might have an idea in mind for an alternate timeline, but choose to create one of these before starting work on the timeline itself, so that their work doesn't end up being consigned to ASB territory from the beginning.

  • Alternate History Challenge (AHC): One user challenges others to create a plausible alternate timeline in which a specific event happens. Often, there will be constraints on when the POD can take place; for example, "with a (non-ASB) POD no earlier than 1930, prevent World War II from happening".

  • Double-blind What If (DBWI): Essentially, an alternate history within an alternate history. The author outlines an alternate universe in which a certain event goes differently from reality - and then, a character living in this universe wonders what might have happened had that event gone as it did in OTL. For example, an alternate history might be set in a universe where the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 succeeded in establishing democracy in China - and a character living in this democratic China might wonder, from their alternate-universe perspective, what might have happened had those protests failed (as they did in OTL).
So, that should give you a good overview of the kinds of discussions that can go on in here: all of the above would belong in this forum :P . Furthermore, there's quite a wide range of fields which can be covered in this forum: for example, one can write an alternate history of sporting events, or alternate timelines of technological history had a particular scientific breakthrough been made at a different time). So, if you want to write an alternate timeline of the history of a specific field which interests you, go ahead :)

There's really only one restriction in terms of subject matter. Alternate-history timelines can be made on the history of just about anything - but it must still be history of some kind: discussions of events which are still current (or expected to occur in the future) do not belong here. For example, if an election is won by Candidate X, then a discussion of "What if Candidate Y won?" shouldn't be started on the day after the election. At that point, the defining events of Candidate X's presidency won't have happened yet, so we won't be able to have a meaningful discussion of how Candidate Y would have handled them (or whether they would have taken place under Candidate Y). As a general rule, the POD for any timeline discussed in this forum should be at least one year in the past, and any real-world events covered in the timeline should have been out of the news for at least a month

If you've got any questions, then feel free to ask them here. Otherwise, enjoy the forum :) !
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