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Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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-3 votes
1 answer
186 views

time machine and paradox problem [closed]

After doing more research on the earlier question. I have rewritten my question in order to change the framing so that it is not about characters but more about my factions and their use of the time ...
18 votes
3 answers
5k views

What would the Soviet Union have looked like if Trotsky was in power, not Stalin?

During the final days of Lenin, it was time for the bolshevik party to pick his replacement. because of the way Stalin used his position as secretary to put his followers in power, Stalin was allowed ...
9 votes
12 answers
2k views

Which invention from the last fifty years could have the biggest impact on history? [closed]

Similar to the Three Body Problem, humanity has learned it will soon be attacked by an advanced alien civilization. Humanity as it currently stands does not have the technology to withstand them. They ...
1 vote
1 answer
102 views

Would a flipped Northern Hemisphere still have huge deserts in the Sahara and Siberia?

I am making alternate history timelines where Earth has radically different geographies. I noticed one day that a huge chunk of Earth's land area is near the Arctic Circle. Canada, Siberia, Alaska, ...
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

How many people can China geographically support?

I'm writing an Alternate History Timeline. In that timeline, the Self-Strengthening Movement implemented by the Qing Dynasty actually works. As a result, the Qing Dynasty is able to modernize, fight ...
13 votes
10 answers
4k views

Preventing the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire

In this alternative reality Constantine the Great never embraces the Christianity and the Roman Empire remains polytheistic. So I would like to know what realistic change(s) could have prevented the ...
8 votes
10 answers
3k views

Can a device that causes memory loss be created with near-modern technology?

I am creating an alternate history world that leads to modern Earth having many different nations & cultures than it has in real life. One country is big on funding many extreme experiments to ...
26 votes
24 answers
8k views

What would be the next logical step after crossbows?

In this world I'm making, I'm trying to avoid firearms (to keep things like melee weapons more balanced), but also be more industrial. I'm justifying it by the simple idea of 'we never discovered ...
3 votes
1 answer
90 views

Would Earlier Knowledge of Rubber Vulcanization have been a Game Changer?

I was working on an alternate history world where the Americas are not heavily colonized and I became aware of how some people in the Yucatan were vulcanizing rubber long before Goodyear. Assuming ...
31 votes
12 answers
3k views

If clock and calendar was reinvented with today's knowledge, what could they look like?

Our notion of recording and communicating time and date is based on very old concepts, many of them being built upon flawed assumptions (that the Sun should be at exact south at noon, that a year ...
1 vote
5 answers
258 views

How would a CIA program to investigate the truth of religion work? [closed]

I'm developing a story in which the CIA has investigated the truth of religion. In real life, during the Cold War the CIA investigated things like aliens, psychic powers, etc. That’s because if ...
2 votes
1 answer
60 views

Earliest possible time for hydrothermal carbonization

Assuming that some lucky (and very wealthy) alchemist was on the right track, what is the earliest time that the hydrothermal carbonization process can be both discovered and implemented on a large ...
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

what essential material or ingredients in modern gunpowder that if changed to be expensive or rare, can ruin the evolution of advance/modern gun?

as the title, what materials or ingredients in modern gunpowder that if change to be expensive or rare to get, can ruin the evolution of advance gun or can turn modern gun obsolete or undesirable ? i ...
3 votes
6 answers
607 views

How early can the concept of "evolution" come to be? Can it come earlier than religions? [closed]

To this day, some "primitive" tribes still don't have any concept of god or religion. When presented with the idea of a divine being, they will call you a liar or a fool the moment you say &...
0 votes
1 answer
164 views

Steampunk-inspired constructed world tips? [closed]

Nothing too complicated but what are some tips and tricks to consider when creating a steampunk-inspired conworld and the like?
1 vote
2 answers
255 views

Radio, but earlier

Let start with a current history tech-levels. Suppose, a relevant scientist in a mid-tier Great Power in 1850s receives a mysterious package. To be concrete, let's say a mid-tier Great Power is maybe ...
5 votes
2 answers
655 views

Is it at all possible to have a populous, formerly colonial nation in the Indian Ocean?

The temperate latitudes of the Indian Ocean and adjacent regions are essentially empty- only the extreme Southwest of Australia and extreme South of Africa dip into the temperate belt. What if there ...
12 votes
6 answers
3k views

Is this diesel gun concept feasible?

Inspired by this question here regarding the possibility of gasoline firearms. On a world that is equivalent to the Late Victorian Period technologically where smokeless or even black powder was not ...
18 votes
1 answer
4k views

How early could we have had nukes?

Suppose a message was sent to the past with a diagram, description, and use, of the simplest fission weapon. It didn't describe how to mine Uranium, enrich it, or even a description of WHY it works or ...
5 votes
1 answer
252 views

If you had a fusion reactor the size of a suitcase, would it be possible to power a car with it via a steam turbine with 1950's level technology?

The specifics of the reactor are intentionally vague. It would be a form of lattice-confinement, produce very little radiation, and be scaled up or down very easily. I'm working on a Fallout-like ...
0 votes
1 answer
200 views

Help with realism for extended US Civil War [closed]

The US Civil War runs normally until August 1863, when the fictional nation Mexicatan (all of Central America minus the Panama islands) joins the CSA in invading the Western USA. Mexicatan is a puppet ...
12 votes
5 answers
2k views

Zombie perpetual machines - logistics

Linked to Zombie perpetual machines This carriage was devised by Vitrivius as a way to make good use of the Zombies discovered in Roman territory. Question: How many zombies would be needed to ...
11 votes
8 answers
2k 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., ...
5 votes
6 answers
374 views

The Printing Press of Alexandria

"You think we should come up with a faster way to transcribe this stuff in case some guy tries to burn it all down?" Suppose someone at the Royal Library of Alexandria had invented the printing ...
40 votes
11 answers
16k views

How would the indigenous peoples of North America have developed in the absense of the Europeans?

In some alternate history, Europeans never discovered the Americas for one reason or another. Maybe the initial motivations just weren't there, or maybe the visionaries of the day fell ill and died ...
-3 votes
1 answer
129 views

How would you scuttle a nuclear submarine in the 19th century? [closed]

Imagine a nuclear submarine arriving in 19th century Europe. Everyone on board agree the world is not ready for such power, and the ship and especially the nuclear weapons must be destroyed as ...
4 votes
1 answer
260 views

What temperature range would a country north of Spain and west of France have? [closed]

I'm writing an alternate timeline about a new country in Western Europe called Biscay. Biscay has a broadleaf forest biome and has many mountains along its southern border. Biscay is roughly equal to ...
2 votes
3 answers
469 views

What are the most important elements for creating a semi-integrated mythology? [closed]

I am currently in the process of building my fantasy world, specifically the history of the fantastical world. So, I've been contemplating the essential elements used to construct a cohesive and ...
5 votes
4 answers
3k views

What coordinates on Earth would provide the most arable land for a large island?

For my Alternate history story, I want a new ethnic group with their own landmass. Said landmass is a perfectly circular island the size of Egypt (area of 1 million square kilometers). This island ...
33 votes
26 answers
14k views

What is the most reasonable way for non-binary computers to have become standard?

Let us assume planet Earth, with a history similar to ours. Except, the result of the computer revolution is not a computer system based on binary (i.e. 0 and 1), but some other system. This system ...
2 votes
2 answers
264 views

What parts of the human brain can a truth serum modify to prevent lying?

As I mentioned in a previous question, I am writing an alternate history story with many different countries by the time 2023 rolls around. Vitruvia is one such country that runs many experiments and ...
10 votes
5 answers
3k views

How heavy does a "city" for two thousand people need to be?

This question is inspired by Mortal Engines, but I imagine something more feasible. The original question I wanted to ask was "How to keep a city in the air?", but I figured out there is ...
4 votes
6 answers
422 views

How far can a limited group of people advance in technology?

following scenario: a group of people (like 20-30) is brought to a new planet by a higher power. They are granted immortality, but can't reproduce - so they have a lot of time, but a hard limit in ...
9 votes
16 answers
6k views

How do I prevent combat-oriented aircraft from being viable?

The more I compare fictional military vehicles and tactics with real-life ones, the more it seems like aircraft are near-omnipotent in the battlefield (operating word here being near). As such, it's a ...
3 votes
3 answers
288 views

Indian Ocean continent - which humans get there first?

Trying to develop an ATL in which several 'lost' continents in the Indian Ocean - namely Kerguelen, Broken Ridge and the Mascarene Plateau (just east of Madagascar) - never end up being submerged and ...
4 votes
8 answers
834 views

Does the addition of dominant fantasy races change racism in humans?

Context: This takes place in an alternate reality earth; several fantasy races have existed since the Ladinian era of the break up of Pangea; meaning by the time humans evolved into homo-sapiens, they ...
4 votes
14 answers
5k views

Does magic speed up technology?

In a classic RPG magic system, energy/mana/handwavium points are expended to manipulate reality. The cost increases with the complexity and extent of the alterations being made. Natural talents for ...
2 votes
6 answers
439 views

Is it reasonable that magic would become a subject and magi would become students in military academies in a world with rediscovered magic?

Until twenty years before the time at which my story is set, the world was pretty much as our modern-age world is now. Magic was thought to be nothing more than myth and superstition. Alien worlds ...
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

What would happen if the Panama Isthmus was turned into an island chain?

I understand that the Panama Isthmus is necessary for the Gulf Stream, but what would happen if instead of a solid land bridge, like shown below, it was radically changed into a series of islands ...
5 votes
0 answers
154 views

How much smaller would the industrial revolution been if it had relied on wood/biomass? [closed]

Terra: People burned mostly wood for their heating/fuel needs. Then they figured out steam engines. Their fuel needs exploded. They could have kept burning biomass, and they did a little bit, but the ...
5 votes
3 answers
279 views

Help solving the issue of how the existence of a giant uninhabited continent change the history of my world?

I'm writing a story (not sure if it's speculative fiction or low fantasy or sci-fi) that is set in a fairly realistic world except that there is a parallel dimension which humans colonized in what ...
37 votes
11 answers
7k views

Would the capability for Japan to drop a nuclear bomb on the USA have deterred the USA from dropping a nuclear bomb on Japan?

Would the USA have been deterred from dropping a nuclear bomb on Japan if Japan had the means of retaliating with a nuclear weapon in WW2? Leading on from that, would Japan have used the nuclear ...
15 votes
6 answers
5k views

Would fixed-wing aircraft still exist if helicopters had been invented (and flown) before them?

The current setting i'm working on plays in an alternate timeline to our own in the late 1920's, with one of the key differences being that the helicopter had already been invented in the late 1880's ...
8 votes
7 answers
4k views

What would naval warfare look like if Dreadnoughts never came to be?

I sadly couldn't find any answers to this question, probably because it's quite niche, so i'm posting this as my first question here! The https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Dreadnought_(1906) was ...
2 votes
0 answers
82 views

How would a societies evolve where almost everyone can shapeshift into last person they have touched [closed]

In my world, every individual gains the unique ability to shapeshift into the last person they have touched upon turning 16 years old. Somethings to note is one cannot revert back to their original ...
1 vote
3 answers
321 views

If modern computers evolved a different way, how different might their keyboards look?

I've been sketching up a constructed script, and I've been drawing a computer keyboard to accompany it. Now, I've drawn up keys equivalent to Ctrl and Alt, and a "OS Direct key" (equivalent ...
12 votes
8 answers
2k views

Reasonable Relative Value in Domestication of Kelenken Terror Birds?

I'm working on a pretty detailed alternate history of the ancient America's, and currently I'm focusing upon Mesoamerica in particular. The core difference is that, through several different ...
8 votes
8 answers
2k views

How would civilization differ if silicate glass wasn't so useful? [closed]

(This is a "hard sci-fi" chemistry question.) Silicate glass is malleable when hot, stiff at human-compatible temperatures, transparent, and chemically inert. It's cheap and easy to make, ...
0 votes
1 answer
117 views

Feasability of an OGAS/Cybersyn-style Socialist Internet In An Alternate 1930s

OGAS and Project Cybersyn were both plans in socialist countries for an internet-style system that would be used to coordinate central planning. In this alternate timeline, World War 1 has never ...
24 votes
18 answers
6k views

At what technological level can a mixed-gender military not be at a disadvantage to an all-male one?

In various fantasy settings, female combatants are quite common. There is a history of women in the military in real life but such women were generally rare and often hid their identity. Warfare was ...

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