In elementary school, social studies was my favorite subject. By the time I was 10 years old, I had also discovered science fiction.
My introduction to science fiction was a book by Robert Heinlein called Have Spacesuit Will Travel, and then to what I consider as soft science fiction - the Barsoom series of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
It was love at first read.
Contrary to popular opinion, science fiction isn't just about space travel and interacting with alien races. It is said that science fiction is the literature of change. It is certainly the literature of ideas.
Somewhere along the line, I discovered a book called The Man in the High Castle, by Phillip K. Dick, and was introduced to two new genres - dystopian literature, and alternate history.
In The Man in the High Castle, Phillip K. Dick imagined an alternate world which diverged from ours when Franklin Roosevelt was assassinated in 1933. In our world, Roosevelt survived that assassination attempt but the Mayor of Chicago was killed.
In that alternate world, where Roosevelt died, the Allies lost World War II. The Nazis and the Japanese conquered the United States, and divided it up between themselves. Now, it is the 1960's and.... (Note: if you've seen the Amazon.com series, be aware that it differs from the book in many ways). So, alternate history works simply - imagine something happens that didn't happen in our timeline. Then what happens? It's lots of fun.
Even Stephen King has written in a genre that could be related to alternate history - a book called 11/22/63, a strange type of historical novel with strong elements of time travel.
Anyway - as I blogged about earlier this week, my local library gave me a Valentine's Day gift - a book by Harry Turtledove, who is a prolific writer of alternate history.
My favorites of his? A series called Worldwar. If I told you the plot, you might run - but please don't. It's 1942, we are fighting World War II, and alien lizard like creatures invade Earth. Yes, really. It works, especially because of the detailed research Turtledove obviously undertook.
While researching something for my blog, I found a free story by Turtledove posted online. So now, here is a gift for you, my reader: a short story by Harry Turtledove. You can call it a soft introduction to alternate history. I caught onto it pretty quickly, but I still enjoyed its depiction of an elderly woman, one who lives in a world just slightly different than ours.
And that made all the difference.
Do you read/enjoy alternate history? What books are your favorites?