Guns and Butter: Violence, Power, and Alternatives in Alternate History

I recently had the privilege of moderating a virtual 'panel discussion' of four alternate history authors (one of whom, Colin Salt, has had work appear on this site) on the role of violence in the alternate history genre.

It can be found in the following:

Part 1

Part 2


  • I'm intrigued! Putting this on my reading list. Thank you for sharing.

  • That was an interesting discussion!

    Two points resonated with me: the first about the prevalence of war in alternate history, the second about how war is portrayed. I think both reflect history writing itself. (Which I know a little about, since I have two history degrees.)

    Up until a few decades ago, a lot of history was focused on wars and conflict. In part because there has been a lot of war and conflict in human history! But there was also a tendency among historians to focus on kings, generals, presidents, strategy, battles. "Big history" if you will. More recent generations of historians have focused on "small history": the lives of ordinary people in the past. So we get less war-focused history, and military history has paid more attention to how war affected ordinary people, including the soldiers.

    My impression is that that change has come to alternate history as well, but with a delay. So it's only in recent years that we've got good alternate histories that either aren't about war or, if they are, make it about more than generals and strategy and lines on a map and more about how it affects the people caught up in it. Which I agree is a good trend, and I hope discussions like these will encourage authors to dive into it.

Sign In or Register to comment.