Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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7
votes
3answers
145 views

Maintaining a Moon Suit

The Apollo-era A7L Extravehicular Mobility Units were used for less than eight hours at a time, within a few days, with a maximum of three moonwalks per mission. Assume a fictional moonbase with ...
4
votes
2answers
255 views

Demon Empire annexs North America. How would the world react in 1972? [closed]

I had an urge to make an alternate history, which is an alien space bats scenario. Here some worldbuilding that I made. In another dimension, a planet is divided by 4 space filling empires. Theis ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

Alternate history where Italy finds oil [closed]

One of the most important resources in the world in the modern era has been oil, but arguably at no time more than during WW2 where many of the Axis' plans revolved around the procurement of a steady ...
-1
votes
8answers
349 views

Aborting Abrahamism [closed]

Let's imagine that some powerful evil eldritch abomination decided to hijack Roman Republic 45 BC, saving Caesar in the last moment and fashion itself as Mercurius (Hermes), who was sent by Olympus as ...
2
votes
4answers
217 views

Helping the Roman Empire with chemistry and metallurgy [closed]

You are a modern chemist and metallurgist and unexpectedly get sent back in time to the era of Caesar Octavius Augustus. After spending a couple years learning ancient Latin, what changes or ...
1
vote
1answer
121 views

The Industrialization of Earth and the Effect on Magic [closed]

I am currently writing a story that takes place after what we would call World War Three, in a post-war setting. In this setting, magic exists along with creatures created by radiation from WW3 and ...
3
votes
6answers
606 views

Steampunk helicopter [closed]

In an alternate reality scenario that takes place during the renaissance, how can the world create a helicopter? Aside from the obvious need for machines, factories, and aviation knowledge, what other ...
14
votes
4answers
383 views

Moving the US capital to the Midwest before 1900?

A few years ago, an old map started circulating around the internet from 1850 with a proposed Western District of Columbia located in western Kentucky, across from the real Illinois town, named in a ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Could a large enough semi isolated population keep up with Eurasia in technology? [closed]

Could a semi-isolated country island about 3,000,000 square miles and 1000 miles south of India avoid becoming a colony and develop into a rich and strong modern state today? They have about the ...
1
vote
4answers
120 views

Technological Turning Points [closed]

OK so in my roleplaying game (inspired by AAW’s Future’s Past but using Savage Worlds in my homebrew universe) the big bad is a time travelling AI which the party will be chasing back in time. The AI ...
8
votes
3answers
156 views

Preserving the mammoth steppe

During much of the Late Pleistocene stage, the world's most widespread biome was the so-called "mammoth steppe" - a cold, dry grassland which spanned eastward all the way from Spain to Canada. It was ...
6
votes
1answer
88 views

Could a split cycle intercooled flamelicker have been a viable power source?

Flame lickers work by sucking hot air into a cylinder and then relying on the cooling of the air by the cylinder wall to create a partial vacuum to pull the piston back. see video In an alternate ...
3
votes
2answers
118 views

Handmade metallic cartridges [closed]

Could a group of survivors resupply metallic cartridges with hand-operated tools to be used on small arms in their shelter? What would those tools be and how usable are these handmade cartridges? ...
9
votes
2answers
135 views

Could Xenarthrans Be Ferried Outside South America?

Right from the beginning, the xenarthrans--armadillos, sloths and anteaters--have been at a disadvantage. For the longest time, their home was an island continent, which made them extremely ...
-6
votes
1answer
121 views

Bolt-action rifle in the 15th-17th century [duplicate]

Lets say a nation around this timeline was making research and advancements in firearms. Other than a flintlock or breech-loader, is it possible for them to produce a repeating bolt-action rifle? ...
0
votes
0answers
48 views

Could a steamship be built somewhere during the 14th-17th century? [duplicate]

Could an earlier and simple variation of the steamship be built around the 14th-17th century? If not, are there alternatives to having a ship not powered by sails?
-1
votes
2answers
107 views

Would a medieval-type castle still arise in an alternate history? [closed]

So, to set the background a bit. I'm writing a story that is an alternate history basically diverging midway through the 1st century BC: the roman empire falls. Here I am looking at a Germanic people ...
3
votes
0answers
125 views

Is it possible for industrial revolution to happen without colonialism? [closed]

As we all know, with Christopher Columbus re-"discovering" America in 1492, the wondrous Age of Discovery began - and with it new dreams of conquest and wealth, that became realized in the way of ...
0
votes
2answers
131 views

What are the logistics of wiping out the current world to the point a “new” generation of humans would not be able to find it? [closed]

Backstory I have a race of biologically advanced aliens that develop by fighting, adapting, and growing immune to the current highest standards of technology a species has to offer. By doing this they'...
2
votes
1answer
133 views

Last name earning system [closed]

I just had an idea for a story based on Islamic Spain and Barbary pirates. But after doing some research I found some kind of chaos and randomness in last names. The people's last names are either: ...
9
votes
1answer
148 views

Minimum tech level to invent core memory

Magnetic core memory was a critical innovation in the development of computers. Per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic-core_memory it was the most advanced form of memory from about the mid-...
4
votes
2answers
154 views

Atmospheric pressure engine train in the 15th-16th century

With the knowledge and tools required, could an atmospheric pressure engine train be built in the 15th-16th century? If so how effective would it be and what change would it bring to the world in that ...
3
votes
5answers
301 views

Missile strike detection (but it's not actually a missile)

I'm writing a story to be set around the late 1980s or early 1990s. The story opens with a spaceship crashing to Earth, hitting and destroying a large part of central London. The idea is that, before ...
40
votes
12answers
16k views

What steps are necessary to read a Modern SSD in Medieval Europe?

So the main team of characters is traveling back in time from "modern day" to medieval Europe, arriving around the 1300s. Assumptions: They Know they are going, they have space and time to prepare, ...
8
votes
4answers
325 views

A Permanent Norse Presence in America, Part II: How Would Europe React to This?

Previously, I had asked a question on what point of departure I would need to make the Norse's presence in North America permanent. Perhaps the best answer I got was summarized right here: If one ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

A Permanent Norse Presence in America

Since the discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in 1960, the picture began to emerge that the Norse (I hesitate to say "viking" because that is a verb, not a noun) beat Christopher Columbus ...
-2
votes
1answer
138 views

Steam-Assisted Victorian Engineers - Why the secrecy? [closed]

Background Isambard Kingdom Brunel FRS 9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859, was an English mechanical and civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in ...
2
votes
2answers
257 views

Bayonets in a world without the city of Bayonne [closed]

Supposedly, the bladed or spiked weapon which fits on the end of a firearm derives its name from the French city of Bayonne. In a world (described in modern English) with no link or knowledge of the ...
6
votes
5answers
439 views

What is the earliest time a pulsejet could be built?

Let's assume that some wealthy characters somehow find the plans for a valveless pulsejet. How is not important. Maybe there was a time travel incident, or some Atlantean book was unearthed, or ...
5
votes
1answer
158 views

How can I ensure that Roman state religion dominates christianity? [duplicate]

I am Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, emperor of Rome and the last of my line in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. History remembers me as one of the greatest leaders of the ancient world, far ...
19
votes
8answers
4k views

Aliens englobed the Solar System: will we notice?

Around 100 million years ago, the Solar System was instantaneously encased in a massless, magical sphere centered about the Sun. The boundary is about 10,000 AU (.158 ly) in radius and behaves ...
31
votes
12answers
10k views

In the late 1940’s to early 1950’s what technology was available that could melt a LOT of ice?

In my story I’ve devised lore where Greenland becomes a US territory, and they begin populating the region. It initially just served as the hub for numerous military bases and airbases, but eventually ...
5
votes
3answers
768 views

Gaining more land by draining wetlands

I’m building a country located in today’s Argentina. It is as developed as Canada or Australia, and has several times bigger population than today’s Argentina. Which brings us to the problem: ...
13
votes
9answers
640 views

Alternate timeline nomenclature [closed]

Let's say through some unexplained (and largely irrelevant) phenomena, an alternate timeline has suddenly "collided" with ours. The specifics don't really matter besides the idea that the two ...
-1
votes
2answers
173 views

Alternate aircraft configurations - would any of them be valid substitutes for conventional tailplanes?

So I'm incubating a few alternate histories in my head. Many of them will butterfly away the Wright Brothers and many other familiar parts of history, and at least one has aircraft development as a ...
-4
votes
4answers
188 views

Anal Retentiveness in a tribal nomadic society - why would it be advantageous?

Please note: This has no relation to any real persons on this site or elsewhere and should not be taken to be such. In my world there is a human nomadic desert tribe. They have a long-standing custom ...
-3
votes
1answer
192 views

Steam engine in the 14-15th century

If the world then already had the knowledge required, could an earlier variation of the steam engine be made during this timeline? If it could, how effective would it be for use in early locomotive?
3
votes
2answers
523 views

Possibility of an alliance between Rome and China

For plot reasons, I need there to be global-ish peace by the 1700's. Obviously, the easiest and best way to do this, is union under the system of Pax Romana. However, at this particular time (about ...
5
votes
4answers
408 views

Feasibility of this Alternate History scenario (WWII France)

I was wondering about the feasibility of France maintaining a total war against the nazis in WWII following its disastrous military defeats in June 1940. Would it be possible for the bulk of the ...
7
votes
5answers
220 views

Can-and-String Telecommunications Network - Repeaters and Amplifiers

Background We know about the can-and-string telephone. There are various claims about the maximum distance over which this is effective. Let's say 100 feet is possible without too much loss and ...
1
vote
5answers
339 views

how can I replace the center of power in Christendom from Rome to Constantinople?

I, Emperor Lucifer the 1st, am the undisputed ruler of the Byzantine Empire, better known as the True Roman Empire. To secure my dominance, I plan to cement myself as the ruler of all Christendom in ...
8
votes
1answer
395 views

What kind of engine could the 14-15th century world create?

If someone in the 14-15th century world had the knowledge required to build an engine for use in locomotives and ships, what kind of engine could be made using technology that already existed back ...
1
vote
3answers
263 views

Self selective breeding humans [closed]

Many dogs, as well as other animals, were bred to the point of becoming nothing but mere tools or toys. For example, wolves certainly were already strong, fast, or intelligent creatures but some ...
0
votes
5answers
407 views

How could the founding fathers have tackled slavery as an institution while keeping the union together?

America has just recently fought its first major war with the superpower of its day, and was struggling to keep itself together. Many of the colonies, united in their hatred of Britain, now have to ...
1
vote
1answer
145 views

Counteracting Perverse Incentive effects in 1902 Hanoi rat population

A perverse incentive is a reward system that has the opposite effect to the one intended. In Hanoi, under French colonial rule, a program paying people a bounty for each rat tail handed in was ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Is a Selective Breeding Program to Create Enhanced Humans Plausible?

The idea is that the concepts of DNA, inheritance, and micro-organisms were discovered significantly earlier in history. Roughly 50 years after the founding of Alexandria as a city state in 332 B.C., ...
2
votes
2answers
178 views

How Would a Filter-Feeding Marine Turtle Feed?

Back home, many large planktivores have ingenious ways to trap food and not water. For sharks like the basking and the megamouth, that is no problem, as they have modified their gills into rakers to ...
21
votes
10answers
3k views

First innovation for time traveler to low-tech society [closed]

A time traveler goes back in time (one-way trip, and he does not get to choose the exact destination) to a low-tech society, similar to medieval Europe. His objective is to kickstart an industrial ...
-1
votes
2answers
509 views

What could have prevented the decline of the Western Roman Empire, and its fall in AD 476? [closed]

By "decline" I am referring specifically to the loss of political control over territory (shrinking empire). I'm writing a story, and I wonder what are some examples of things that the Roman Empire ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I prevent the Christian schism of 1054 in order to create a more unified church?

Schism of 1054, also called East-West Schism, event that precipitated the final separation between the Eastern Christian churches, led by the patriarch of Constantinople, and the Western church. ...