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Interviewing the AH Community: Matt Mitrovich of 'The Alternate Historian'

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
I got in because of Sliders, and I get the feeling that an entire generation it's either Turtledove or Sliders
 
I got into Roman alternative history via a leap of the imagination after regularly reading the UK children's magazine 'Look And Learn's sci-fi comic strip 'The Trigan Empire' at primary school, aged 9-10, which was not actually alt hist but featured an alien civilization which mixed up elements of Roman and Greek civilizations with the space age. But extending this to considerations of alt hist in post-Roman times came from reading Kingsley Amis' alt hist novel of 1976, 'The Alteration' - in which the Catholic Church and its European continental allies suppressed the Reformation in England in a 'Crusade' c. 1520-5 by deposing Henry VIII in favour of a fictional superseded son of his elder brother Arthur and his (then Henry's) wife Catherine of Aragon, 'Stephen II'.

This version of history had an authoritarian one-party state rule of Europe by the Vatican as a sort of Soviet-style 'empire' with a totalitarian bureaucracy and its attendant secret police, and with its cardinals including alternative versions of Beria and Himmler - aided by British 'quislings' like ' Benn', reflecting right-wing Amis' view of Tony Benn and the then left wing of the 1970s Labour Party. The Pope was a bluff, cynical and devious Yorkshireman, said to be a mixture of then PM Harold Wilson and one of Amis' literary opponents (John Braine??), and the only region not run by Catholics was 'New England', ie the US, where the Protestants had taken refuge; the old pre-1789 monarchy of France and the pre-1917 Czarist Russia were still in place, as Vatican proteges, and there was a 'cold war' with the continuing Ottoman Sultanate. The premise was startling and gave me all sorts of ideas, though the book was weak in places- and the view of the 'secret police state' Catholic Church and its sinister cardinals there was similar to the approach of Philip Pullman with his 'Magisterium'. I wonder if Pullman read this almost-forgotten book? You don't usually think of KA as an alt hist author, but I understand there were a few similar books earlier - one collection of essays on a Catholic post-Tudor England called 'Pavane', around in the mid-1970s, comes to mind.
 

Coiler

Connoisseur of the Miscellaneous
Published by SLP
Location
Nu Yawk
Pronouns
He/Him
"I got into this due to Turtledove" seems to come up a lot!
As I've said before (partially cause I got into AH at pretty much the moment things were shifting due to the internet), it was easier for Turtledove to be the "bottom rung" when the method consisted of "see Turtledove AH book in sci-fi section of bookstore, get intrigued." Now one can look at High Castle or the other AH shows, or just look up "alternate history".

One newer bottom rung I have seen, at least in purely online AH, is Paradox (and similar) strategy video games. It's actually interesting because some of the flaws themselves and the justification for their own works are almost totally different. With Turtledove (and similar mass-market AH writers) it's excessive parallelism, which is understandable because they're writing for a less knowledgeable audience who needs something to relate to. With video games like that, it's excessive divergences, which is understandable because that's what makes for a better actual game.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
With video games like that, it's excessive divergences, which is understandable because that's what makes for a better actual game.
People definitely aren't fondly remembering the Red Alerts and Curry going "SPAAAAYYSSS!" because of their grounded plausibility
 

Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
People definitely aren't fondly remembering the Red Alerts and Curry going "SPAAAAYYSSS!" because of their grounded plausibility
The people who got into AH because of Red Alert are generally people like me who hate it when people associate the series with the terrible third game and the Tim Curry meme. The first game is certainly more grounded in at least 'TV AH' levels of plausibility.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
The first game is certainly more grounded in at least 'TV AH' levels of plausibility.
I am more curious about the world than canon can probably manage that in the cutscene vids of game 1, the Allied supreme commander is a German and his 2IC is Greek, no Brits or Americans (though I understand an American shows up in expansion packs)
 

Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
I am more curious about the world than canon can probably manage that in the cutscene vids of game 1, the Allied supreme commander is a German and his 2IC is Greek, no Brits or Americans (though I understand an American shows up in expansion packs)
The original listed faction options for the Allies in skirmish mode were "England", France and Germany. The remake has added Spain and Greece, reflecting the personnel we see in story. The manual notes the Allies operate as a 'modified military junta' perhaps signifying something about regimes like Spain and Greece - it might be a military coup in the Weimar Republic as well. America is conspicuous by its absence, except in the accents of the ordinary soldiers who might well be international volunteers (and Red Alert 2, tonally different as it is in many ways, does clearly say the US doesn't join the Allies till the end or after the end of the war).
 
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