• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

Least favorite alt-history story?

Some of the cultural ones on AH could get a bit "here's how the guy I didn't like sucks more/the stuff I like could happen earlier and be EVEN BETTER". That got a bit too fannish, less an alternate history and more like forum essays about How I Would Fix Spider-Man - and sometimes I'd like an essay like that, so I'm not criticising the approach, just that calling it an alternate history & not If I Did A Blakes' 7 Series 5 rubs me the wrong way.

In "this person got paid for that" territory, there's Dominic Sandbrooks' "what if" essays in the Mail and New Statesman. Where he twice has it that if former Pilot Officer Tony Benn was Labour leader after the Falklands, he'd show up at the bloody Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday wearing CND badges and an Argentine flag one. What.

And in book form, Turtledove's Ruled Britannia is a book I half-enjoyed but you could surely cut a quarter from it. The fake Shakespeare plays that use slightly rewritten real Shakespeare quotes is a gimmick you have to do if you're doing an AH Shakespeare, you're not going to try making a whole new one up and pretending you're the bard, but it did get a bit wonky at times.

I enjoy pseudo-textbooks- EdT's Fight and Be Right is a fine example of the form.

Something about World War II timelines, though, does tend to bring out the inner spreadsheet fetishist in many writers.
The unsuspecting reader enters the thread thinking they're going to be hearing about the wider social and political ramifications of a POD, or at least enjoy a good yarn. Then the doors slam shut and you realise you're trapped in a metaphorical basement with a captor who wants nothing more than to spend hours describing the cannon diameter of the second turret on a Japanese cruiser and all your fellow hostages have strong opinions on this too.
The much missed Carlos Ezquerra once joked about getting a huge amount of period tank details to draw from Garth Ennis and having to gently remind him "I don't know what half this is, Garth."
 

Tovarich

a sinking dumpling
I really enjoyed AANW. I usually find AH military history impenetrable, because I don't have the appropriate background knowledge, but that one was a real page-turner for me.
I could even forget the butterfly-murders allowing the RAF V-Bombers to exist (warplanes being the only relevant area where I have some slight knowledge) precisely because that helped accessibility.

Although thinking about it, I read that WWIII by Hackett in one go when it first came out, and I wouldn't have expected to enjoy that at all.

Heh, maybe it's more that I am an outlier rather than either of those books.
 

Japhy

En bref, un trou du cul
Published by SLP
Location
Virginia-ish
whatever, all the "cult" by members around what amounted to a dry and boring story was rather annoying. A lot of it related to the author status as forum founder and moderator - some kind of rampant servility... sickening. And the author did nothing against that of course.
No one ever said he was a forum founder, being as he wasn't. And plenty of other tinelines by many other, less prominent members at the Other Place have had overly-devoted fanbases.
 

Coiler

Connoisseur of the Miscellaneous
AANW to me is not nearly as good as some of the more enthusiastic fans have claimed it-but, more importantly, it's not nearly as bad as some of the detractors have put it.

To me, it's just a dry TL that's still no worse on the prose front than any other pseduo-historical TL. Its initial (and published) installment is accurate enough in general terms but has unquestionable contrivances and iffy parts (and the author has admitted a lot of this)-but again, no worse than the middle of the pack. I'd say the worst part in general is how, postwar, it devolved a lot-but still, it's far from the only TL that had that happen to it.
 

Hendryk

Literally off his meds
Published by SLP
Location
France
To me, it's just a dry TL that's still no worse on the prose front than any other pseduo-historical TL. Its initial (and published) installment is accurate enough in general terms but has unquestionable contrivances and iffy parts (and the author has admitted a lot of this)-but again, no worse than the middle of the pack.
He should have left it at that and moved on, instead of adding stuff to his TL post-publication that I am not sure he intends to be canon or not, and which show a disappointing tendency to engage in dystopia for dystopia's sake. I've always assumed that Cal knows what he's talking about when it comes to the military stuff--in fact I have relied on his advice on several occasions--but when he veers into speculative geopolitics, a number of plausibility issues come up.
 

Archibald

Well-known member
Patreon supporter
As an aviation buff it somewhat bothered me that the exact same planes as OTL show up in 1954. Yes, of course, its pretty cool to see jets fighting where P-51s fought a decade before. It helps the reader, the author and the story altogether. A convenient trick, if not a little forced.

In a more realistic story, however, a different WWII might have distributed the cards differently among U.S aviation shops. Even more in the jet age. Some would argue that physics and aerodynamics would remain unchanged, and the dominant giants in aviation were already there by 1943-44 (hint, Boeing). Yet there was a dozen of major companies infighting for fighter jets, and Convair could have very well kicked Boeing ass for large bombers. Oh well.
 
Last edited:

Tovarich

a sinking dumpling
Does anyone remember that immortal masterpiece, Enoch's National Front by Cumbria?
You never forget your first time, including the first TL where you have to pick your jaw up off the floor.
People who read NDCR that way are like little babies.

What was especially surprising to me, having only just started interacting with other AH fans at the time, was how reasonable Cumbria seemed in polchat before writing his masterwork, quite Old Labour.

Though upon reflection, that just means there is Even Older Labour than I, and "Enoch's dockers" were actually a thing.
 

Tovarich

a sinking dumpling
The real horror is reading the responses to that timeline.
Although the very earliest comments are forgivable, people not realising what the author's motivation was.

I just went for a look and our own @Fletch was first on the ball with a "Wait.......you're serious about this? It's your manifesto?!" post.

And thank gods for his perspicacity, meaning I only had to look through the first five pages of shite & can keep my morning coffee down.
 

Coiler

Connoisseur of the Miscellaneous
If technothrillers count as AH, Clancy's Executive Orders is so bad that it's made me more forgiving of other iffy books in the genre made later. It's basically "if the technothrillers king sank this low, can you really blame the imitators for following him?"

(And the bear and the dragon is probably even worse but I haven't read it and don't want to)
 

Jared

Voldemort Junior
Location
Over the rainbow
If technothrillers count as AH, Clancy's Executive Orders is so bad that it's made me more forgiving of other iffy books in the genre made later. It's basically "if the technothrillers king sank this low, can you really blame the imitators for following him?"

(And the bear and the dragon is probably even worse but I haven't read it and don't want to)
The Bear and the Dragon manages the special achievement of making Executive Orders look good in comparison.
 

Elektronaut

No Twink Is Better Than A Bad Twink
This is a generalised trends in AH thing, not a specific criticism, but I've lost count of the number of times where I've got into a work, sometimes with reservations, thought 'Hey this is quite plausible/fresh/whatever' and then there's suddenly a massive excursion into ludicrousness and colossal implausibility.

I feel like it may be literally just a phenomenon which torments me specifically, a kind of Veej's sod's law of alternate history. But I've lost count of the number of times when I've felt 'Yeah this is worth giving a hearing to, they have a really good understanding of the political context of this period and they're keeping it quite taught' and then the author suddenly writes for fuck knows what reason 'And then, President Cheney killed Harry Potter' and then I just hate my life.