Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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What language would the Anglo-French Empire use?

In the backstory for my world, the British and French royal families married into one another in the early-mid 18th Century. By the early 20th Century, what would the main language be for official (...
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6answers
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Ancient tanks of war

I plan to go back in time and help Asterix and Obelix to turn the tide of Gallic wars against the romans. To achive this i will build ancient versions of our most dreaded land weapon: Tanks ! The ...
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Could the Troubles in Northern Ireland and England have ended in reunification?

I am trying to plot the background of an alternate history story revolving around an Irish-British teenager living in a post-Troubles London where tensions are much higher. Unlike our timeline, the ...
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What would happen if Napoleon had won the battle of Waterloo

Okay, so the Napoleonic wars are raging. Many men are dying in Waterloo. It appeared as if the Duke of Wellington and his allied army would prevail, but Napoleon rallied his troops at the last ...
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7answers
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The Rollercoasters of Ancient Egypt

Suppose that Khufu, pharaoh of Egypt and builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, was introduced to the idea of an amusement park. More specifically, suppose that he was visited by a time traveler and ...
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6answers
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What events could keep Zeppelins in the air today?

The Hindenburg was a massive failure in blimps, it practically banished them from the skies, it didn't matter that events such as the Hindenburg disaster were not as common as plane crashes today or ...
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What prosthetics would be suitable for a rural aristocrat in history?

What kind of prosthetic technology would be available to a wealthy but rural aristocratic person without a leg and how would it affect their social standing? The time era is sort of pre-Elizabethan, ...
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4answers
270 views

What would our knowledge of physics look like without astronomical observations?

I always feel like "hypothetical history of science" questions are kind of impossible, but here's a go anyway: Imagine that, for the entirety of human history, EM radiation from anything beyond the ...
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4answers
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How can I lightly irradiate 30,000 km² for just 3 generations?

In the book i'm currently working on, the main protagonist has a special (yet unknown himself) mutation because his ancestors have been involved in nuclear disasters while their mother was pregnant. ...
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617 views

Romans in the air

We know that the Romans invented or used simple machinery like waterwheels, crank mechanisms and even simple steam and atmospheric engines, as well as what we would recognize today as clockwork, but ...
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3answers
545 views

Alternate History: How much area do I need for viable dinosaurs to be found thriving in Antarctica

To narrow this down, I'm looking only for climactic specifications. Not cultural responses, etc. During Ernest Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic continent, he found a huge canyon/crevasse ...
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What would it have taken for navies to control air forces historically?

So the idea of space navies is extremely common in science fiction, with the navy as the branch that is more or less dominant. Generally speaking they have marines under them and there is rarely an ...
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Could a Time Traveller prevent the Civil War in the United States?

A sequel to Could a Time Traveller Prevent the Black Plague? Todd the time traveler's a cool dude and has decided to use his powers for good, more specifically he wants to stop the American Civil War ...
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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., ...
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Leg powered propeller for boat in Punic war time

Galley was a widely used type of ship in the Mediterranean sea. It was propelled by rowers and sails. Supposing the ship builders at the time of the Punic wars got the right "inspiration" (how they ...
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Fantasy and the germ theory

When developing a medival fantasy realm, especially one with no known healing and restoration magic, one may need to develop the people's understanding of science and medicine. A unique example of ...
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Could people of the 14th century create an inline engine for use in aircraft and vehicles?

If an expert of some kind travels back in time to the 14th or 15th century with modern tools and machines that don't require power to work and if he were to past on the knowledge of modern technology ...
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3answers
953 views

How would a drug cartel claim legitimacy as a government entity?

Scenario America's issues with the Mid East are less pronounced due to a series of events, allowing it to focus on domestic issues. The Setting 1982 - Ronald Reagan declares his own intensification of ...
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How to defeat the two-party system?

This would happen post-WW2 (probably late 50's-early 60's). An activist thinks things in the USA have to change but knows (or is firmly convinced) that as long as only the Republican or Democratic ...
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4answers
589 views

How to bring Vikings to South Africa?

I want to explain large Viking kingdom that keeps the worship of the Norse Gods (Odin, Thor, Loki) not the Christian nonsense of the Normans. So I was thinking of bringing a Viking fleet to South ...
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4answers
234 views

Why would China and UK peacefully agree Hong Kong to be returned to UK?

At mid-night 1 July 1997, UK returned HK to China. Call my imaginary China's handover to UK "Patriation" - it must happen after 1 July 1997. As we know from real world 2019 protests, some ...
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If America could not annex Hawaii, what nation (if any) most likely would?

The primary reason that Hawaii was annexed as a territory of America is that they believed (and rightfully so) that if they didn't annex it, some other nation would, but which nation? There are a ...
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What would a Christian calendar look like?

After the adoption of Christianity as the one official religion in late Ancient Rome, the new role of pope inherited some duties of previous leaders, among them he’s responsible for the calendar. The ...
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what could be used for flexible piping in the 1780s

How and out of what could flexible, thin air-tight tubes be made of at around 1780? These tubes need to be around a centimeter wide, with a 7.5 mm tube going through it. It must also be heat resistant ...
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897 views

What if the asteroid never hit? [closed]

Science fiction and fantasy stories are full of alternate worlds populated by races of beings that look mostly human but kind of different. But is that at all realistic? When the dominant life forms ...
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906 views

Could a 19th century setting support purely mechanical orbital satellite and manned orbital launches?

In my setting, military innovation spurred by the American Civil War (1861-1865) prompts the design and construction of counterweight-driven skyhooks for the delivery of suborbital long-range ...
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What American animals would have been domesticated had they not gone extinct?

Here are some lists of North American and South American megafauna that went extinct during the Quaternary. In Eurasia, many species of large mammal were domesticated, most particularly the 'big 4' ...
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What should a modern human-turned-king do to accelerate medieval society and science to modern standards?

Bob is a thirty year old atheist man from our modern times. One day, he is irreversibly thrown back into medieval France around 1300 C.E. His education consists of a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, ...
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What would the impact of a global and unchallenged empire be on world history?

I'm currently doing some research for my first book which involves a planet with an empire that has had its roots in Antiquity. It's basically a country that formed about 2200 years ago and has ...
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If the gravity on earth were different, how would the human body change?

If the gravity on earth was different, how would our bodies change? For this question, assume that gravity was five time stronger (5G) from the beginning of the Earth. Would a human-like body still ...
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What is the smallest change I can make to history to allow the French Empire not to fall?

Below is an image of the French Empire in 1812: Circled in red are France and its allies before Napoleon's doomed-to-fail campaign on Russia. Outlined in blue is the Confederation of the Rhine. In ...
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460 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 ...
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What would happen if I showed the Vikings advanced technology? [closed]

Today, I answered a question in an essay which related to time travel and what I would do if I could go back to a historical period. This got me thinking, and I came up with a hypothetical scenario in ...
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How does social and cultural change relate to scientific progress?

I'm writing a novel based on an alternative version of Earth, but because of a large change in human history, as well as a more focused transfer of knowledge and the presence of materials unknown to ...
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3answers
299 views

What would be valuable and useable as currency for people traveling between multiple dimensions?

I have a cosmos where FTL travel is via an alternate dimension. The problem is when you return to our universe, you find yourself at the right destination, but a completely different parallel world ...
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1answer
195 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-...
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187 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 ...
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2answers
252 views

Can a star with a large habitable zone have two planets revolving each other as they revolve around their star,?

Just an idea that had me doing a lot of navel gazing. Both planets are habitable to carbon based life forms, but intelligent life on each planet evolves very differently. Eventually, the two life ...
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Humans, except they always find the right solution to the wrong predicament [closed]

Two mothers say a baby is theirs, simple solution, split the baby in two so they bot get half! Lost your family? Find a new one! Your husband cheats on you with your friend? Cheat on him too with your ...
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Time Travellers And The Roman Empire, Part 1: Transport and Control

I am a time traveller from the not so distant future. I have gone into the past to the Roman Empire (specifically the Nerva-Antonine period) and via -handwaving magical mumbo-technobabble- have become ...
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Could the Library of Alexandria have survived until today?

The Royal Library of Alexandria was one of the greatest library of the ancient world. However it was destroyed during the 3rd century after years of decline. Was such a library doomed to ...
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354 views

Uniting The Wild Peoples Of Eow [closed]

Background Story Steve Gwa, a native American serving in U.S. special forces, one day wakes up to find himself in a very unlikely place. He is laying on the ground, near a village that appears to ...
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Survival strategy for a time traveller in the Roman empire [closed]

I would like to know what would be the best strategy to survive and prosper in the roman empire for a time traveller? Let's say that the time traveller is a 30-year-old Italian from the XXI century ...
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Can sanitation spark an industrial revolution

In an Alternate Earth timeline, round about 1200 AD, we have the Great Alchemist and Philosopher Bob. Bob, being from a wealthy family has a handful of older brothers, so he's not likely to be an ...
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723 views

The Catholic Caribbean Viking Kingdom?

Could Viking settlers have established a catholic kingdom in the Caribbean by 1450? What challenges would they face, and be unique to their colonising this region by this time? And if they had, ...
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233 views

Minimum tech for agricultural desalination

I'm trying to figure out a realistic setting that depends heavily on desalinating sea water for desert agriculture. Specifically, I'm trying to figure out exactly how early in the tech tree, this can ...
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536 views

How can a pre-modern culture survive a sustained invasion accompanied by epidemics?

Assume the following situation: A pre-modern culture A exists on continent/island X with no previous contact with culture B (the invaders). Culture B discovers and invades X and the lands of A intend ...
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Capital of British Empire without Britain

It's around 1895 and the British Isles have fallen to a communist uprising. Or sunk underwater. Or invaded by Germany or covered in ice or something. So the government, the Royal Family and a large ...
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Impact of a modern man with a graphing calculator being dropped into WW2?

A question blatantly inspired by my old question here: What would be the impact of a modern programmer and laptop being dropped into World War II, possibly breaking Enigma? I had so much fun with the ...
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What if Germany had atomic bombs in WWII

What if Germany had been first to create atomic bombs in WWII? Assume they had additional scientists and resources so that none of their other research/projects was slowed down, yet they were still ...

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