What if the Nazis had won the Second World War (Fatherland – Robert Harris, The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick) or England had remained Catholic (Pavane – Keith Roberts, The Alteration – Kingsley Amis)? Or perhaps if Roosevelt had lost the 1940 election and right-wing Charles Lindbergh had become US president (The Plot Against America – Philip Roth)?
And the big one for 1066... Suppose William's ships had foundered, or Harold hadn't been forced to go north against Harald Hardrada, or a third party had intervened or William or Harold had died before the invasion?
A new time line, diverging from the one we now live in, will have a opened up with new possibilities and consequences. Who knows what will happen next?
Called alternate, or alternative, history this type of fiction lets us explore these "what if" scenarios through our stories. Alison Morton writes exclusively in the alternative history framework and introduces us to the conventions of this genre. Read on...