Honorary AH

At what point does Science Fiction become AH, or does it at all? For example, could the film and book 2001 count as AH at this point? Would books by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells count as AH? Discuss.
 
This is a question that's been asked many times here and yes, technically they would, although as they weren't meant with AH in mind most wouldn't think of them that way.
 
Maybe I'm a hardliner on this, but I don't think SF ever becomes AH, just retro-SF. Verne and Wells come closest since they're so old, but they're more proto-steampunk than alternate history.

I might make an exception for a near-future SF series that was overtaken by present-day events and through further releases and/or retcons attached itself more strongly to real history and current events, but even that's iffy, because thats quite close to just regular fiction. Also, I can't think of any examples.

Maybe the closest would be what I call "alternate future" fiction: stories with PoDs in the past that take place mostly in the future. Zum beispiel, if I wrote a story set in the 2050s but put the narrative's PoD on 9/11. This is useful because it gives the author some cover--"I wasn't wrong, the differences between this future and what really happened are because of the PoD!" Of course, the changes will probably be enough to make the PoD ASB. Heh, acronyms...

The human impulse to categorize, as much as I love and embrace it, is fundamentally incorrect about reality--everything's some spectrum or other. So I'd say in the meta-genre of Romance or speculative fiction, there's a continuum roughly from AH (How Few Remain)-->Steampunk (The Difference Engine)-->Proto-steampunk (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)-->Alternate future fiction (any examples? I get this vibe from some animes, like Cowboy Bebop and Gundam Wing)-->Retro social SF (1984) Retro hard SF (2001)-->Current social SF-->Current hard SF-->Space opera.

Roughly. This needs some refining.
 

Glen

Moderator
At what point does Science Fiction become AH, or does it at all? For example, could the film and book 2001 count as AH at this point? Would books by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells count as AH? Discuss.
Depends how you look at it. On the one hand, all fiction in some sense is AH as fictional characters don't exist in OTL.

However, the history is usually very paralllel or convergent even up until the point of the writing of the story.

It can all be analysed as alternate history, especially those fictional works where the story impacts on world events, or world events are depicted. Speculation about the future, even the near future, is a 'what if' about history similar to OTL.

OTOH, it isn't very retrospective like AH is. All of that SciFi is looking at what could happen, not what did happen. AH usually is looking at what did happen and in some ways analyzing why it did and how much it had to or how much it could have gone another way.

So all fiction is AH, or only that which changes history that occured before the writing of the story is. Depends on what you want.:D
 
Simple and efficient answer : No

As MRig say, it's the intention of the author which "makes" and characterises the genre, and in the meta-genre of SF (in a Hugo Prize sense, SF + Fantasy)
Meta-genre because an SF work could be an adventure book, an introspective one, thriller etc.

Maybe we can imagine this process like this

What is the genre of the work? -> What is the external apparence of it?

I know no author of SF who made a SF book/Movie/etc. wihtout, at the beggining the form of it

Jules Verne didn't want to make "a book with impossible or future things with adventure stuff to expose they" but "an adventure book with credible and even studied things"

Clarke didn't want to say "yooohooo, i have recieved a vision of what 2001 will be, hurry, let's make a book with plot pretext to share my prediction"

SF it's an excuse to say "no but in this universe/timeline/the future, the story is plausible"

For future AH, a good other exemple is Fallout timeline, with a 1950's PoD and introducing 2300's consequences, it's clearly AH
 

Glen

Moderator
Simple and efficient answer : No

As MRig say, it's the intention of the author which "makes" and characterises the genre, and in the meta-genre of SF (in a Hugo Prize sense, SF + Fantasy)
Meta-genre because an SF work could be an adventure book, an introspective one, thriller etc.

Maybe we can imagine this process like this

What is the genre of the work? -> What is the external apparence of it?

I know no author of SF who made a SF book/Movie/etc. wihtout, at the beggining the form of it

Jules Verne didn't want to make "a book with impossible or future things with adventure stuff to expose they" but "an adventure book with credible and even studied things"

Clarke didn't want to say "yooohooo, i have recieved a vision of what 2001 will be, hurry, let's make a book with plot pretext to share my prediction"

SF it's an excuse to say "no but in this universe/timeline/the future, the story is plausible"

For future AH, a good other exemple is Fallout timeline, with a 1950's PoD and introducing 2300's consequences, it's clearly AH
I wouldn't call that future AH, I'd call that Sci-Fi AH.:D
 
Well, if we count the author's intention, of course SF never becomes AH.

But that's why we're calling it honorary AH.

An SF story generally becomes fantasy, not alternate history with time. We have no red martians or purple venusians, and cannot with the Mars and Venus we actually have, unless you pull an Alien Space Bat intervention on the line of Stirling's 'Lords of Creation" duology.

An SF story can only become "honorary AH", IMHO, if the story becomes something that could have happened if events had taken a different course between the publication date and the purported date of the events in the story. A number of Arthur Clarke's stories would fit - indeed, some of them might yet happen (that short story about the kittens in the spacesuit could easily be rewritten for the 21st century).

(Which leads to another consideration - if a story takes place an indefinite time in the future, and violates no physical laws, it can remain SF rather than alternate history indefinitely).

Verne becomes fantasy: the world is not hollow, and the giant cannon, although capable in theory of hitting the moon, would only deliver a large can of meat paste. Similarly, when "The War of the Worlds" was written, Mars was as it is now - a freezing desert uninhabited except perhaps by underground bacteria or their equivalents.

Bruce
 
What about Star Trek?

As a collaborative franchise of 40-some years it's a bit hard to place as firmly one thing or another. It was originally purely "future history & sci-fi" with details in the "near future" of the late 20th century (1996, the Eugenics Wars). The Wars were still referenced as being "late 20th century" as late as a 2004 episode of Enterprise. Does that episode place itself (and perhaps, by extension, the franchise) in "Alternate History?"

Of course, now we have an alternate history of the regular history of Star Trek with the latest film... but that's still sci-fi and has no bearing on the discussion. And there's the "Secret History" aspects, where all the time-travels are explained as non-consequential and/or reversed (and some novels pin the Eugenics Wars as Secret History, although Enterprise seems to reverse/contradict that).
 
given how much incredibly bad science there is in Star Trek, I'd be tempted to classify it as "fantasy with SF trappings", but until the general level of education rises to the point where the majority of the population finds it as silly as I do, it will remain SF. (Like unicorns, Vulcans can always be located over the next hill).

Bruce
 
I might like to add Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men. The Nazis don't rise to power (at least not as we know it), WW2 doesn't happen and the Soviet Union is wiped out in a German War. The Americans proceed to become the world's assholes and form a "degenerate" World State.
 
I think we could count a few of Verne's works as AH. Around the World in 80 Days certainly fits, while I think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea might also do. I think we could also add 1984, possibly Dan Brown's works and at a push the His Dark Materials trilogy.
 
I think we could count a few of Verne's works as AH. Around the World in 80 Days certainly fits,
while I think 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea might also do.
Well, I have speculated at times on the effects of Prince Dakkar's participation in the Indian revolt. :) But the description Verne gives of the Nautilus' propulsion system isn't very convincing...

I think we could also add 1984, possibly Dan Brown's works and at a push the His Dark Materials trilogy.
1984, sure: various attempts have made to come up with 1984-ish scenarios on this board, but His Dark Materials? Talking bears? Witches? Familiars? :confused:

Bruce
 

Teleology

Banned
I get the original intent of the original post, which is things like cyberpunk novels where the Soviet Union survives into the 21st century.

But all this discussion over whether scifi can qualify as AH baffles me. AH is a sub-genre of SF!
 
But all this discussion over whether scifi can qualify as AH baffles me. AH is a sub-genre of SF!
Tito Livio would be glad to know that :D since he is the earlier recorded author of the genre, writing a few paragraphs on "what if Alexander would have waged war against Rome?"
 
Or Charles Renouvier, the inventor of "Uchronie" word, who have made a long Roman Empire without bloodthrisy christians TL to expose his views of time philosophy :D
 
1984, sure: various attempts have made to come up with 1984-ish scenarios on this board, but His Dark Materials? Talking bears? Witches? Familiars? :confused:

Bruce
There is the point that a large part of it is set in alternate universes to our own. Evolution could certainly give us Talking bears, Deamons could be a sort of metaphorical spirit guide rather than an actual part of the soul, and witches are explainable as well using very boyant wood and some other tricks.
 
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