The Eastern Shore Writers' Association.

Eric Flint, one of my favorite authors. Snippets of his work can be found here, along with work from David Drake and David Weber, who are two totally different guys, I swear.

• A shout-out to Austin S. Camacho for his help and advice.

• For the past few years, this site, and particularly the ongoing analysis of the Left Behind series, has served as sort of a free online tutorial on How Not to Write.

Some of my favorite AlternateHistory timelines

Lands of Red and Gold” by Jared

Point of Divergence: unknown prehistory

As anyone who’s ever read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel knows, the emergence of civilization depends on the existence of “founder crops” — plants which hunter-gatherers can domesticate almost by accident, allowing them to make the transition to full-time agriculture. In this timeline, a mutation in an Australian wild yam turns it into just such a plant. A civilization rises in the Murray River basin, based on the cultivation of “red yams,” wattleseeds and other local edibles.
“Lands of Red and Gold” tells the story not only of this civilization, but its successors throughout southern Australia. Their beliefs, their traditions, their wars and plagues, triumphs and disasters are all presented in the style of the best history books you’ve ever read. (You’ll probably find yourself wanting to visit the places he describes.) Then the story is taken to the next level when the continent is “discovered” — first by the Maori, then by the Dutch…

The Realm of Millions of Years: The World of an Atenist Egypt” by NikoZNate

Point of Divergence: Either 1374 or 1377 B.C.

Long, long ago, in the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt, the pharaoh Akhenaten (also known as Amenhotep IV) attempted something so extraordinary that historians still have no explanation for it. He developed a new and monotheistic religion, replacing the hodgepodge of gods with the one Sole God he called “the Aten,” and tried to lead all Egypt to worship this god. It didn’t take. But what if it had?
This timeline explores a world in which Akhenaten had a little help. It’s still fairly new, but has attracted a lot of attention for the quality of its writing. (The hymns to the Aten are particularly beautiful. If NikoZNate isn’t careful, he’ll convert us all by accident.)

Now Blooms the Tudor Rose” by Space Oddity

Point of Divergence: 1533 A.D.

This timeline is based on a very simple idea: Anne Boleyn gives birth to a son instead of a daughter.
Of all the timelines on this board, this is the most character-driven. Its all-star cast includes the bold young king Henry IX, the equally bold young Mary Queen of Scots, the wise reformist Pope Pius IV (Cardinal Ippolito d’Este), the dithering King of France and his Huguenot son, the ugly but clever Prince Charles of Spain, the adventuress Catherine Howard, the merciless warrior-poet Thomas Duke of Norfolk, and so many more. Excellent reading.
(But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a sample — This year's Twelfth Night celebration at Greenwich Palace sees a wonderous thing. Mary Tudor, former princess of the realm, appears before her father and stepmother, formally renounces her titles and acknowledges Henry and Anne's marriage. She then bows before her half-siblings, and kisses Prince Henry's hand. Mary has spent the last several months living in fear of execution, until she recieved a suggestion that it might be possible to make it all go away, if she would just acknowledge the new order. Even Mary's stubbornness has limits, especially in the face of hideous death, and she finally caved. Much of the (rather ambiguous and vague) evidence against her was dismissed, while the few hard pieces were recanted, the men and women who gave them swearing that they were acting under orders of the Pope to bring Mary Tudor's name into it. Henry is of course, furious at the papal plot to make him kill his own daughter. Anne on the other hand, is relieved that Henry was successfully walked back from Really Bad Idea #1849. Though this does leave the question of how Mary is going to be handled open. After all, how do you solve a problem like Mary Tudor?)

Look to the West” by Thande

Point of Divergence: 1727

At the coronation of George II of England, the King stumbles and his son, Prince Frederick, lets a chuckle escape his lips. Big mistake, Fred. The King declares him “Lord Deputy of the Colonies” and sends him to Virginia. Our prince makes the best of a bad situation, gaining both wealth and influence in North America. Then the King dies unexpectedly early…
This story is told in the form of reports submitted by a team of crosstime investigators. Although these investigators reveal curiously little of the world’s “present” state, it is clear that it is a very strange world indeed — and not at all safe to explore. (The above link takes you to the beginning of the second thread. The finished parts of this timeline are here.)

“Dominion of Southern America” by Glen

Point of Divergence: 1766

A simple reassignment of colonial governors in British America leads to a very different outcome for the American Revolution — the colonials prevail in the north, the British in the south. Side by side, the United States of America and British Southern America (which in time becomes the titular Dominion) progress and expand westward.
Unlike the dangerous world of “Look to the West,” the DSA is another place you’ll find yourself wishing you could take a vacation in. See here, here, here and here for the finished parts.

The Stars at Night: A Texas TL” by Sicarius

Point of Divergence: 1841

Enthralling, strangely believable and yet funny as all hell, “The Stars at Night” tells the story of one of the strangest partnerships ever conceived — the alliance between France and the Republic of Texas.
A taste: Over the years, Texas had become something of a melting pot. Admittedly, it was rather like that melting pot you bought in college and used once before stuffing it into the closet with congealed cheese all over it, but it was a melting pot nonetheless. In addition to the slaves, indians, and Americans, Texas was now home to significant minorities of French, Germans, and an expanded population of Tejanos (and smaller but still notable groups of Czechs, Poles, and others).
German immigration to Texas had met with initial encouragement on most sides, starting with their early forays in the 1830s. Texians liked having more white people around, even if they insisted on gurgling in some foreign devil language. The Germans liked having cheap land they could own themselves, and they considered “moderate to low” an acceptable scalping probability. (Germans and indians actually got along decently well, and Fredericksburg actually signed a treaty with the Comanches that was adhered to by both sides). The German nobles supported it, both because they moved whole communities over to Texas in order to capitalize on the new frontier, and because it was a good escape valve for local crazies. Adelsverein, a noble-backed group to encourage emigration, accomplished the former. The latter accomplished itself.

The Union Forever” by Mac Gregor

Point of Divergence: 1862

If you want to read a timeline that’s mostly completed (apart from a few details) here is one. It diverges from our own history in the middle of the Civil War, when General McClellan falls off his horse and breaks his spine.

Fight and be Right” by EdT

Point of Divergence: 1872

Everyone has heard of Winston Churchill, but not many have heard of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill. In “Fight and be Right” the scandal that aborted the senior Churchill’s career is itself prevented. As Churchill fights Irish terrorism and reshapes the British Empire, a battle for the future of Africa emerges between his ally Cecil Rhodes and King Leopold II of Belgium.

A Shift in Priorities” by rast

Point of Divergence: 1917

After three years of the worst war the world has ever seen to this date, the German army introduces a new weapon which forces an end to the war before the Americans can join it. But Germany itself has been pushed to the breaking point… (Fair warning — this is the War and Peace of We’re talking over four hundred pages here, and it’s nowhere near done.)

“The Anglo-American/Nazi War” by CalBear

Point of Divergence: 1941

A completed timeline. In 1941, Hitler abandoned Mussolini’s army in Africa, choosing to concentrate on defeating the Soviet Union. In this, he succeeded — Moscow fell and Stalin’s successor Molotov fled beyond the Urals. But the Nazis couldn’t save their Japanese allies from conquest by the United States. Now, in the 1950s, the fascist bloc and the world’s last democracies Armageddon ready for the final showdown.

“A World of Laughter, A World of Tears” by statichaos

Point of Divergence: 1952

During the primary campaign, Eisenhower suffers a minor heart attack which convinces him to withdraw from the race. Desparate for a replacement, the Republicans start thinking outside the box. Way outside the box. So begins one of the strangest and darkest chapters in American history — the presidency of Walt Disney…

“The Fountainhead Filibuster: Tales from Objectivist Katanga” by Linkwerk

Point of Divergence: 1957

Ayn Rand. In Central Africa. With mercenaries. How could this go wrong? Let Linkwerk count the ways…

Fear, Loathing and Gumbo on the Campaign Trail ‘72” by drew

Point of Divergence: 1971

History changes when John Julian McKeithen, the moderate Democratic governor of Louisiana, decides to run for President. After he wins the nomination, both he and Nixon employ every dirty trick they know. The election ends up in the U.S. House of Representatives. And then things get… complicated…

“Protect and Survive” by Macragge1

Point of Divergence: 1983

Easily the most horrifying of all the timelines presented here, “Protect and Survive” explores the ghastly possibility of a global thermonuclear war in the early 1980s, focusing mainly on Britain. (It turns out to be a lot more complicated than “bombs fall everybody dies the end.”)

“A Giant Sucking Sound: A President Perot TL” by MaskedPickle

Point of Divergence: 1992

Exactly What It Says On the Tin, as the gang at TV Tropes would say.

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