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Alternate history

genre of speculative fiction

Alternate history is a subgenre of speculative fiction (or science fiction) and historical fiction that is set in a world in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world.


  • Plausibility, as the necessary brake and control element, has been our most essential guide.
  • It is easy to argue persuasively the truism that the lessons of history are best derived from what actually happened, rather than from what nearly happened. It should be added, however, that what happened becomes more fully comprehensible in the light of the contending forces that existed at moments of decision. Understanding of the total historical setting is bound to contribute to a clearer view of the actual course of affairs.
    • Harold C. Deutsch, introduction to What If? Strategic Alternatives of WWII.
  • We look at this as the best of all possible worlds, but the French know it isn't, because most people speak English.

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