Questions tagged [alternate-history]

For questions that ask what might have happened if history had taken a different path.

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What should the Australian government do in the event of a sudden greening of the Outback? [closed]

Sometime in an alternate 2005, a handwavium science event creates a situation where excessive rainfall occurs throughout much of Australia. This event, now referred to as "the great rainfall"...
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  • 1,684
-1 votes
1 answer
78 views

need help designing platonic school of magic [closed]

in the historical fantasy setting currently being worldbuilding for, I'm considering adding a subschool of magic heavily linked to Platonic Philosophy and its theory of forms. essentially, it involves ...
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1 vote
5 answers
217 views

How to make pagan religions popular again [closed]

In my medieval fantasy world, Christianity, or at least it's parallel universe equivalent, is the most dominant religion. However, later in my world, pagan beliefs start to become popular again and ...
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4 votes
1 answer
119 views

Suggestions for Hermetic occult/magical schools in historical fantasy setting?

Not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I’m currently working on a historical fantasy setting with a magic system based on real world practices and beliefs, and I need some ideas for new ...
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2 votes
5 answers
176 views

How can an interlocking system of portals fail to prevent the splitting of the Roman empire?

The first and the greatest of Rome's emperors, Julius Caesar, had conquered vast swaths of territory for the empire, making it rich beyond measure and extending its reach across various continents, ...
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4 votes
2 answers
202 views

What year would technology be advanced enough to spot advanced aliens a dozen light years away from us

I'm planning to write a story and I was wondering if it would be possible to find aliens of interplanetary levels of technology at most a dozen light years away. I know that the first exoplanet was ...
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  • 43
4 votes
1 answer
234 views

Geopolitical ramifications of a faked Apollo 11 Moon landing being exposed?

Imagine it's an alternate July 20th, 1969. The American people and anybody with a television set watch as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin step out of the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle and become the first ...
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  • 1,455
4 votes
5 answers
282 views

When is the earliest possible opportunity for earth to create an absolute unit of measure?

Throughout history we have used units of measure that were defined by arbitrary standards; things that were conveniently around when whichever government needed something measured. “How much tax does ...
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  • 5,864
5 votes
5 answers
275 views

What would it have taken for the world to skip fossil fuels?

I'm looking for a plausible way that humanity could have discovered, developed and then adopted renewable energy + storage instead of fossil fuels as the catalyst for industrialisation. To be clear ...
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  • 388
0 votes
2 answers
229 views

Why would my central bank suddenly increase the interest rates to over 20%?

Question: My plotline is an alternate history of the US and requires the Federal Reserve bank to increase the prime interest rate to an unheard-of 20% for one full year. The political environment is ...
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0 votes
2 answers
76 views

Ideas from the future changing the past [closed]

There is a thesis that I rather support, claiming that most inventions where done when done not because of lack of creativity, but because the technology or society were not ready for them. But I ...
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5 votes
4 answers
261 views

Could a hypothetical planet composed of a neon-oxygen or argon-oxygen atmosphere with Earth-like pressure levels sustain life?

I'm trying to create a hypothetical planet scenario, where there is a planet that has a similar atmospheric pressure to that of Earth, but in this case, it has a gas different than that of nitrogen. ...
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5 votes
1 answer
112 views

How would a fictional Slavic country in modern times survive the Soviet Union with their monarchy existing into modern times?

Basically, the story I'm working on is Princess Diaries (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Princess_Diaries_(film) with a bit more murder and the country is called Belzova which is a Slavic country ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
115 views

time travel strategy: A How-to Manual on Rewriting the history of Invention [closed]

The Context: Imagine every current man made problem in the world got worse. Dystopia arrives. Then a time travel device is invented. However, just as soon as the research is completed, a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
121 views

What would be some social welfare systems of a first world developed nation with a GINI Index of 32.56? [closed]

GINI is a term that is used to measure income inequality (See here for examples https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality) and is a good indication on to what kind of society ...
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  • 362
1 vote
2 answers
133 views

Can the cryptographic algorithm DES be implemented in a electromechanical machine with the technology of the early 20th century (1900-1938)?

Can the cryptographic algorithm DES be implemented in a electromechanical machine with the technology of the early 20th century (1900-1919)? The machine must have the following requeriments: Must no ...
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  • 65
3 votes
1 answer
91 views

Can trolls create chimeras with their renegeration ability?

TL:DR = trolls exist, troll cells are universal stem cells on steroids, specifically bred trolls are more powerfull and used to fuse different animals together with their regenerative properties. In ...
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  • 374
7 votes
4 answers
828 views

What if large pterosaurs like Quetzalcoatlus had survived as isolates in New Zealand and ended up domesticated by the Maori?

The question. Let's say a pterosaur like Q. Northropi survived as an isolate and thrived as apex predator in New Zealand for millions of years. Without much evolutionary pressure its species remained ...
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  • 777
3 votes
1 answer
90 views

Foucault pendulum before Foucault: how do they explain it?

Foucault pendulum is a good experiment to prove Earth rotation The Foucault pendulum or Foucault's pendulum is a simple device named after French physicist Léon Foucault and conceived as an ...
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  • 237k
1 vote
2 answers
274 views

What weest sole change would have actualized High Speed Rail in Canada?

I was startled that Canada is the only G7 country without a high-speed rail system, and this in spite of the fact that the huge distances between cities make it a worthwhile endeavour. Your high speed ...
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-3 votes
3 answers
99 views

A Unified, Global Bronze Age, How It Would Affect America [closed]

Here are the points of departure to this scenario: China, not Southwestern Asia, began the Bronze Age in 3300 BCE Either China or the nearby steppes of Central Asia, not Eastern Europe, was the ...
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11 votes
8 answers
5k views

How might nuclear power have never been developed?

I've been thinking about a world in which nuclear power and nuclear weapons were never developed. What kind of mechanism would allow this to be possible? Nuclear weapons seem the easiest option, with ...
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44 votes
18 answers
13k views

The USA breaks up. Who gets the nukes?

When the USSR broke up into fifteen independent states, it's well known that Russia inherited the nuclear arsenal of the dissolving state. I don't know exactly how this was decided: if it was just &...
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  • 1,630
-2 votes
2 answers
179 views

What would the internet/web look like if the Soviet Union had won the Cold War? [closed]

Supposing the capitalist bloc collapsed in 1990 instead. The end of the cold War (actually) coincided with the beginning of the internet, with the Soviet Union being assigned a TLD (https://en....
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9 votes
7 answers
3k views

If Christopher Columbus hadn't reached the Americas, when would they have been (re)discovered, with wide, international trade networks? [closed]

To my understanding, Christopher Columbus's plan to sail around the world and reach Asia was widely considered a doomed journey (not because most educated people thought the earth was flat, but ...
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  • 5,349
2 votes
1 answer
121 views

Explaining Dragons: Arthopods

What if dragons didn't evolve from reptiles? Okay, bear with me. I'm not sure if anyone else has thought of this. Way, way back in Earth's history, when the first primitive lifeforms developed in ...
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5 votes
4 answers
488 views

Is there any reason why gladiatorial arenas couldn’t have survived into the modern era?

And I mean honest-to-god Spartacus-style bloodletting, man vs. man and man vs. animal in a grand arena with cheering crowds. Real bloodsport, not the sort of halfway comparisons a lot of people often ...
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  • 1,005
-1 votes
3 answers
158 views

What are the minimum historical changes that would permit the use of Tanks at the beginning of World War I? (Central Powers)

What are the minimum historical changes that would permit the use of Tanks at the beginning of World War I for the central powers, so that they accomplish the following requisites: It should be ...
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13 votes
23 answers
6k views

Reasons why a high tech species does not have space travel

I am writing a story where humanity has advanced technology, but I want to give a justification for why they are still on their planet. Here humanity has advanced ai, superconductors, laser weapons ...
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  • 169
4 votes
6 answers
1k views

What are the minimum historical changes that would permit the use of paratroopers at the beginning of World War I? [closed]

What are the minimum historical changes that would permit the use of paratroopers at the beginning of World War I, so that they accomplish the following requisites: It should be maintained a heavy ...
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7 votes
10 answers
2k views

What single change would have given the best chance for the Central Powers to win World War 1?

A common topic in alternate history fiction works is what would have happened if a major war had been won by the other side. These usually focus on the events after the war, and the change itself is ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
99 views

What would be the consequences of a world where 25 years old is the age of majority? [closed]

The human brain becomes fully developed at the age of 25 years old. In my story, the voting age was formerly at 21 years old, after 18 years old, now it is 25 years old. Also, all drugs (ethanol, ...
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24 votes
10 answers
5k views

Nuclear weapons with 1850s technology

Let's say a group of people in the 1850's had access to all modern knowledge of nuclear physics, but nothing else from modern technology. They have at their disposal resources equivalent to those of ...
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  • 1,049
29 votes
7 answers
7k views

Would rubber carriage wheels significantly improve the efficiency of horse-drawn carriage travel?

So, suppose a medieval society knows how to create vulcanized rubber. (As long as they have rubber sap, sulphur, and the recipe, it shouldn't be outside of their capabilities. The process is super ...
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  • 5,349
10 votes
4 answers
694 views

What kind of alternate history would lead to modern China being a federal constitutional monarchy? [closed]

I'm contemplating writing a fiction set in modern China in an alternate universe. I have thought about how it would look like, but I need a plausible alternate history that could lead to such result. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
176 views

What would 17th century warships look like if gunpowder had not been invented?

In our age of sail, more or less every ship used cannons as their primary weapon. However, suppose that gunpowder had not been invented, but sail technology still advanced to the point that massive, ...
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  • 5,349
3 votes
1 answer
142 views

What if the 1993 World Trade Center bombing succeeded?

Considering it's been more than twenty years since that fateful day on September 11th, 2001, a thought came to mind: what do you think would have happened if the failed WTC bombing in 1993 succeeded ...
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  • 1,455
3 votes
2 answers
193 views

A world without horse [closed]

Imagine that in ancient times, long before homo sapiens even exist, a certain, or a chain of certain events caused Equidae (horse family) creatures to go extinct, globally. So since the beginning of ...
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  • 1,740
15 votes
12 answers
3k views

What's needed for a solar powered past?

The person in the story falls through a plot hole into the early 1800 years. Like, steam engines are still new and ineffective, but industrialization is nothing foreign anymore. Light bulb, car & ...
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  • 3,313
16 votes
9 answers
5k views

What would naval warfare look like with ubiquitous railguns?

Let's assume for the moment we're in an alternative history/steampunk sort of setting where oil/coal/explosives are exceedingly rare, but tech around electric generators, motors, and batteries are ...
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  • 5,399
0 votes
1 answer
125 views

Would ‘fractal armor’ be effective against light/energy-based weapons? When paired with a force-field wouldn’t it be the king of the battlefield?

Basically, in my alternate timeline, technology advances a lot more quickly, and in the 16th century, humanity lives among the stars. Energy-based weapons are commonplace, and powerful kinetic weapons ...
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  • 577
7 votes
7 answers
3k views

Would the successful creation of nuclear powered bombers in the 1950s have had any meaningful impact on the Cold War?

As far as I am aware nuclear powered bombers were the first attempt by the USSR and USA (either unintentional or not) at enhanced nuclear deterrence. Intending to place a nuclear reactor in a plane ...
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  • 173
4 votes
1 answer
155 views

What if Homo Florensiensis survived and was taken by Homo Sapiens as a "servant" species? [closed]

First, before we start, let me say that I do not in any way, shape or form support or condone slavery or even ill-paid work. This question rationale is just for the sake of storytelling. Let's say ...
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  • 777
2 votes
9 answers
476 views

How might computers have developed in a Islamic theocracy? [closed]

In this scenario, the first programmers are Muslim scholars living in an Islamic theocracy. They are educated in Arabic and understand the classics of Muslim science and theology. How would their ...
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4 votes
4 answers
178 views

Would ancient accounting records be useful to archaeologists or historians?

I'm creating a story about a team of archaeologists and historians in the present age who discover large library of accounting books from two millennia ago. Those records predates the precursor states ...
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  • 531
2 votes
7 answers
271 views

A big primitive computer in orbit, very big, powerful but old technologies from 80's, V2.0 on-topic revamp

I have to point out, it is an attempt to make this on-topic, all thanks to @JBH, so tell us in the comments how well we did. the old one is history now. 50 years ago my grandfather created humanity's ...
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  • 5,578
-1 votes
2 answers
210 views

How Would Political and Religious Structures Function in a Buddhist Medieval Europe? [closed]

In this alternate history timeline, the Roman Emperor Justinian declared the state religion to not be Christianity, but Buddhism. This wouldn't be too much of a stretch, as Buddhism predated ...
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  • 14.4k
0 votes
1 answer
181 views

If a type of gunpowder is two and a third times more powerful than OTL gunpowder, what kinds of designs would be optimal?

I am currently trying to write an alternate history story. In the story a new type of gunpowder, called 'Greek sand' is developed by an alternate Roman Empire, using the secret recipe of Greek fire ...
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  • 577
2 votes
5 answers
473 views

Could plastic have been made in the medieval period?

So, plastics are made by refining oils. I've been researching the process for a little bit, and while I haven't found a video that really helps me understand exactly what physical devices are needed ...
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  • 5,349
-6 votes
5 answers
293 views

What POD Would I Need to Make the European "Flag Samurais" a Reality? [closed]

In honor of the much-delayed Tokyo Olympics, Japanese artists (I've never found their names) have drawn the flags of all the nations personified as anime warriors. For this question, let's focus on ...
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