I have an extreme fascination with alternate history. I would say it’s a natural offshoot of my love for history mixed with my obsessive compulsive disorder. It’s the ability to take part in major decisions that shape world events and to personally control any and all outcomes.
Now my love for alternate history doesn’t mean I simply change an event here, alter an individual there. I do heavy research into any period I want to “redirect”. I try my best to compile a sort of psychological profile on the individuals involved so I can understand their thought processes and how they would react to certain changes. I compare the weapons and tactics of opposing armies. I check the feasibility of economies, the opinions of the population, check up on my political science studies and parallel events that have actually happened to see the most likely outcome of say a Communist victory in the Cold War, what would be the long term feasibility of a successful Napoleonic Empire, the state of European politics if World War I had been averted or simply staved off to a later date.
My early attempts at alternate history began when I was twelve. Those were simple attempts at telling a story. The plot device was always a time machine that allowed me to go back with information to help alter events such as schematics for future weapons, knowledge of military maneuvers/make-up and statistics of opposing forces, assassinating important figures, etc. Of course that got a little boring after awhile as it seemed a tad bit artificial and kept that little voice whispering in my ear about the possibility of a space-time problem for if I altered the future then how could I come back and change the past for I would be an anomaly and all I had to draw on wouldn’t be there to draw on. In fact, how could I be conceived if I changed the events that brought my parents together to have me? So I took an alternate route and started telling stories from the viewpoint of those involved.
Now my research is heavy. I even draw maps for the possible outcome of events. Sometimes I get frustrated if a desired outcome seems impossible. I know, I’m the author of the changing events. Why don’t I simply write the outcome I want. I’m constrained by this literary conscience that does not allow me to stretch possibility into incredulity.
These tales have helped me to fathom a deeper understanding of humanity. One point I’ve learned time after time is that nothing is forever. No matter how monolithic an Empire I create it is always destined to collapse. Humanity lives in a cycle of creation, growth, decline, and disintegration. From the ruins of what once was comes what shall be. Nothing can be forever because the baggage of so many years and experiences are ever growing chains that hold one imprisoned to a single mindset disallowing initiative, ingenuity, and improvisation. Everything is destined to end and man’s actions aren’t to perpetuate himself but his species. We struggle to create stability, to bend Existence to our will and live as gods because we are afraid. Through our works we hope to attain a certain immortality through monuments, institutions, and our children who continue our work.
As to what period draws me most, that would be World War II. That was the clash of eras. This world we live in could only exist because of that war which shattered an old order that had existed for millennia. How many different paths we could have followed due to the myriad minutiae.
My darkest alternate history fiction I wrote when I was fifteen. I imagined traveling back to before the foundation of civilization of forging a lasting empire that lasted millions of years. I dreamt forward to the end of time, the inevitable collapse of the Universe as it drew back from the distant borders to which it had constantly stretched. I saw the end of time discovering that in order to be all-powerful one must take everything from everyone. To strip man of any power is to render him worthless. To hold complete power is to hold none. If one can do anything then what value has it? Value is the weight of effort put into something. If there is no effort there is no value. If there is no value then all is worthless. And if Life is worthless then why bother? So I greeted the end of time because it meant the end of a twisted, perverted, tainted life. That is the end cycle. That is the conclusion.
Death helps to keep man fresh. Man goes from a creator to a black hole. It is corruption. Life…is imperfect.