Friday, August 4, 2017

Alternate Alternate HIstory Shows

It seems alternate history shows are the latest rage.  First there was Amazon's Man in the High Castle based on the Philip K Dick novel where the Axis wins WWII and splits America between the Nazis and Japanese.  I watched Season 2 recently and have a review of it posting in a couple of weeks.

Then came word that the creators of Game of Thrones were producing a show called Confederate about if the South hadn't lost the Civil War.  And then Amazon announced they were going to have a show where freed slaves were given their own chunk of the country for themselves.

So since this a trend, I thought I'd propose some other alternate history shows:

The Yiddish Policeman's Union:  This novel by Michael Chabon is based on a real idea during WWII.  Instead of creating Israel there was an idea to give Jews a chunk of Alaska called the Sitka.  The book takes place years later and involves a murder mystery of sorts.  The end of the book features something some Trumpsters would like, which is to start a war in the Middle East to set off Armageddon.  But really because most of it is like a noir-type mystery it'd make a good series for one of the pay cable or streaming networks.

The Years of Rice and Salt:  This novel by Kim Stanley Robinson deals with the what if:  what if the Black Death had wiped out nearly all of Europe?  Instead of Columbus, etc discovering the "New World" it's explorers from China and India.  Though the obvious problem would be finding a way to cast all white people in a show where white people are all dead.

The Plot Against America:  This novel by Philip Roth is similar to Man in the High Castle only in this case instead of the Nazis taking over America, America reaches an "understanding" with Berlin when Charles Lindbergh and his "America First" campaign (no, Donald Trump did not invent that) beat FDR in 1940.  The story focuses mostly on a Jewish family facing the rising fascism.  This would be another great series because it already has a fairly narrow focus so you wouldn't need a huge budget.

Marvel 1602:  Marvel is bringing out a host of TV shows but if they want to get into the alternate history game this graphic novel by Neil Gaiman would be a good way to go.  It reimagines the Marvel Universe in Elizabethan times.  Dr. Strange is an advisor to the queen and Nick Fury a spy for her.  Bruce Banner and Peter Parker are there too, though not in superhero guise yet.  The Fantastic Four and I think the X-Men are also around.  But it all revolves around Captain America in the New World.

Superman: Red Son:  Since we have one for Marvel, why not one for DC?  This graphic novel by Mark Millar imagines what if Superman's capsule had landed in the Soviet Union?  Instead of Truth, Justice, and the American Way, Superman is an agent of Stalin who later takes over the Soviet Union and then most of the world while Lex Luthor becomes president of a second-rate America.  Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern also appear.

Pirate Utopia:  This book by Bruce Sterling is actually pretty lame, but the title and basic premise would be a good starting place for a series.  Basically this imagines a world where Hitler died in WWI and a group of pirates with airships have their own refuge by Italy.  The book really ended before it got to much of a point, but I'm sure a good TV writer could think of something.

Anything by Harry Turtledove.  I mean that's pretty much all he does, so just pick one at random.

And really why not do a Sliders reboot series?  Seems like the perfect time for the original TV series about alternate histories to come back.


  1. I would take some alternate history over all the reboots and sequels we have. Since people tend to want what they're already familiar with, it makes sense too. Building on what people already know with a twist.

  2. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed "Sliders" when it was on. It was really thought provoking.

  3. Marvel 1602 and Superman Red Son are such amazing stories!
    Can't say I've read all the others, though...



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