Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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0answers
35 views

Creating a coalition of powerful corporations - what could go wrong? [closed]

This is an alternative Earth-like world, inhabited by humans. For hundreds of years most of the world's known territories used to belong to a huge empire (imagine a hybrid of Roman and British Empires ...
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2answers
135 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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7answers
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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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1answer
97 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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4answers
447 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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3answers
148 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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23answers
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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6answers
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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10answers
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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1answer
88 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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10answers
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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7answers
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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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4answers
602 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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1answer
138 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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1answer
117 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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2answers
180 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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12answers
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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9answers
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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1answer
112 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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7answers
2k 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 ...
4
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1answer
145 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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9answers
458 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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4answers
172 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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7answers
260 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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2answers
199 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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1answer
166 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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5answers
383 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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5answers
275 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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3answers
180 views

Are there any tools that people use to generate borders during alternate histories?

I personally think that this question is only slightly more suited for Worldbuilding Main rather than the Worldbuilding Meta, but I'm not sure where else to ask. Is there a website that I could use ...
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13answers
6k views

Why would the first manned Mars mission have a huge crew?

In 1948, Wernher von Braun wrote The Mars Project, in which he outlined a scientific expedition to Mars involving 70 crew members who would stay for around a year before returning to Earth. Since then,...
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4answers
247 views

Lowest tech to generate electricity with mirror solar thermal tower

I'm thinking of a story where one country gets very technologically advanced compared to its neighbours, and I figured the best way to do that is with one of those towers that create steam by ...
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7answers
643 views

What would an Industrial Revolution that never exploited fossil fuels look like? [closed]

Clarification: Oil, coal and natural gas still exist but have never been exploited. And the Industrial Revolution is capitalized to emphasize on the massive episode in human history spanning from ...
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3answers
305 views

How Would Freshwater Reefbuilders Differ from Saltwater Reefbuilders?

Here's the context: Even back home, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum was not a good time to be a marine organism. Equatorial seas spiked up to 36 degrees Centigrade, or 97 Fahrenheit! And the ...
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1answer
190 views

Can ferrets substitute for cats as mousers?

House cats are among the oldest domestic animals on Earth. They basically followed domestication of cereals in the Middle East; mice infiltrated human habitation to eat the stored grain, and cats came ...
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0answers
54 views

How different, geographically, would Western North America look if the ice ages lasted 14 million years rather than two-and-a-half?

If such iconic landscapes as the Great Lakes, the Mississippi Basin and New York Harbor are proof of anything, it's that the North America we know has been shaped by ice ages coming and going and ...
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14answers
2k views

What point of departure would incite the medieval peoples to develop The Industrial Revolution at an earlier date than back home?

In our timeline, the Industrial Revolution spanned from 1760 to 1820...or 1840, depending on which source we're talking about. Bottom line is, this period in modern history was a pretty big deal, ...
3
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1answer
236 views

What Point of Departure Would I Need to Turn The World's Largest Cities Into Kowloons?

In 2018 estimates by the United Nations, 81 cities around the world have been categorized as metropolitan areas with a minimum human population of five million. Tokyo stands out on top, with a ...
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1answer
142 views

Speedrunning medicinal science

Many believe that being incredibly rich equals to being god on earth and in artificial situations, yes it would make sense... except it never happened. All Kings and Queens got fooled, betrayed, ...
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5answers
850 views

Inventions that could have come earlier [closed]

There are some technical ideas that could have been developed much earlier, changing the ancient or medieval world. A sterling example is the hot-air balloon. It was actually invented at the close of ...
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4answers
217 views

What would have been required for rockets to have dominated instead of cannons?

What would have been required for rockets to have dominated historically instead of cannons as the standard artillery weapon? There was enough of an overlap that this feels like it could have been ...
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1answer
283 views

What impact would it have had if BFCs had been adopted instead of CFCs?

In the late 1920s, Thomas Midgley, Jr. improved the process of synthesis and led the effort to use chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs, as refrigerants: to replace ammonia (NH3), chloromethane (CH3Cl), and ...
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3answers
122 views

The Marine Invasion Had Come in Full Force, But How Would They Adapt to the Challenges of Terrestrial Living?

Related to my previous question. 252 million years ago, in an alternate timeline, a gamma ray burst wiped out 96% of all terrestrial species and only 70% of all marine species. The ozone layer, the ...
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1answer
168 views

Who on Land Will Survive The Inverse Great Dying?

Long ago, I asked a question on what would create an inverse Great Dying. Allow me to clarify on what I meant: 252 million years ago, the worst event in the history of life on Earth occurred. 70% of ...
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1answer
103 views

Effects of a sudden change in magnetic poles

In my verse the Magnetic Poles of the planet underwent a sudden shift due to the construction of a great tower imbued with great amounts of Magic. This shift made it so that the poles shifted to the ...
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1answer
107 views

If people had different views on biology/nature since the 1600s, would scientific and technological development be different or would it be the same? [closed]

I was reading this article, https://aeon.co/essays/can-animals-be-usefully-described-as-clockwork-machines, and was wondering if people kept viewing animals as machine like would technology and ...
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2answers
248 views

How to Build the Fictional Continents Using Our Real Continents

Presented here is a map of Earth with the fictional continents resurfaced, by the Redditor "Stagman1111": Source From left to right, the presented additional continents are Mu, Atlantis and ...
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2answers
123 views

What POD Would I Need For Earth's Lost Worlds to Exist Today?

This is a map of Earth as depicted by the DeviantArtist ToonHolt: As you can see, many new landmasses have been added, from lost worlds like Sundaland, Zealandia and Kerguelen, to fictional worlds ...
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4answers
381 views

Could one make decent armour based on a jaguar pelt?

I have always loved the fursuit uniform of the Aztec Ocelotl warrior: But, to my great disappointment, it turns out that in reality the suit was not made out of an actual jaguar pelt: the helmets ...
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0answers
70 views

What if California Had Trisected in 1855? [closed]

In 1855, the California State Assembly passed a plan to trisect the state. All of the southern counties as far north as Monterey, Merced, and part of Mariposa, then sparsely populated but today ...
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0answers
83 views

What if WW1 never happened? [closed]

After learning more about the assassination of Franz Ferdinand I wondered, what would have happened, if he never had been shot. Similar to the man in the high castle, I want to explore an alternative ...

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