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Changing The World - The Geography of Alternate History

AndyC

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Published by SLP
It's an area I never really considered but now seems so obvious that you HAVE to consider it.
And I'm taking notes for thoughts for the next Endeavour book - because the colonists are smart enough to have learned about geographical determinism and have to bear that in mind for where they'll try to establish outposts next, thinking for the long term
 

Kato

Plain with Left Beef
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It's an area I never really considered but now seems so obvious that you HAVE to consider it.
It was my own reading of Stephen Jay Gould's book (as referenced in the article) that first made me draw the link between Geology (as my then academic discipline) and AH as a general more philosophical interest. Evolution and "survival of the fittest" make a lot more sense from the point of view of contingency. There's no inherent "highest" evolutionary state, or end goal (as depicted and implied in a lot of classic iconography - think the line of increasingly upright monkeys), there's just circumstances external and internal that happen to (dis)favour a particular species at a particular point in time.

It seemed only natural to apply the dynamic between natural environment and evobiological history, to that between physical geography and human history.

A lovely selection of accompanying images too - I particularly like the title image as something that looks like it might be a real image from a ATL where the first artificial satellites were launched by a glacial period civilisation.
 

BClick

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Nice work. I've been thinking a lot about geographical determinism lately in regards to the Big AH Project I've picked up again. At the moment I'm kind of caught between "lol let's have the characters believe an independent Oregon Country was inevitable, ironic reversal of manifest destiny lol" and genuinely wondering how the US could be stopped from steamrolling the continent.

Looking forward to the next installment!
 

MAC161

Well-known member
Published by SLP
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WI, USA
A great article all around; can't wait for the next one! The points and questions raised here bring to mind the relatively unexplored (as far as I know) subgenre of AH revolving around geological/geographic divergences; the only two I know of for certain are Turtledove's Down in the Bottomlands (where the Atlantic did not reflood the Mediterranean, leaving the latter as virtually desert) and Atlantis trilogy (where the Eastern Seaboard broke away to form an eighth continent of that name). I'm curious what your thoughts are on this subgenre (and the above books, if you've read them), and if there are any other books or articles you would recommend that build on Gould's work.

I'm also curious as to whether your series will consider the issue of specific resources within geography (Ex: the lack of or abundance of oil, coal, timber, arable soil of various kinds) and how such might play a role in AH. I'm tinkering with a rough story idea along these lines, and any thoughts/suggestions would be welcome: the TL is one where no oil deposits were ever formed, and so human civilization has followed different paths of development around the prolonged use of older resources such as coal, or the discovery of new ones (as yet undetermined).
 
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Geordie

Big Ol' Soviet Deltic
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I don't know whether this is going to be referenced in future articles, but there seem to be opportunities to draw links between geographical determinsim and the longue durée school of historiography. Braudel's Mediterranean and Mediterranean World in the Reign of Phillip II of Spain (sorry Angelo, but I'm not willing to burst your blood vessels by trying to type up the actual title) is probably the poster child for this.
 
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