History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

The “What-Ifs?” of Alternate History and Historical Fantasy

Cover art for Unfixed TimelinesWhile I don’t often write the traditional sort of alternate history that posits a major change in the timestream (like a different outcome in a war or election), even within the alternate history and historical fantasy that I do write, there are often “what if” moments. The big difference is that my “what ifs” tend to insert some paranormal or supernatural element into established history to explain or expand reality.

In some stories, the history itself is so weird that it begs to be explained another way. For example, “Veli tis Artemidos” began with me trying to sort out the truly ludicrous details of the murder of a small town sheriff in territorial Oklahoma. There might be a rational real-world explanation, but having witchcraft and gods in play made it much more interesting to me.

In other stories, the history might not be particularly weird, but injecting a weird element can make it interesting. When I was writing “Tarnish,” I found no evidence that otherworldly entities were involved in an annual beauty pageant–there’s plenty of history of the rise of pageantry in that era with non-supernatural explanations. But there was also nothing saying that there couldn’t be something stranger going on behind the scenes. So I wrote the story to fill in that behind the scenes possibility.

If this sounds like your sort of alternate history or historical fantasy, you can find both “Veli tis Artemidos” and “Tarnish,” along with three other short stories and brief essays about the real history of all five stories, inĀ Unfixed Timelines!

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