A couple of weeks ago, I posted an idea “up for adoption,” of an ice planet. The next idea I’ve come to doubt I’ll ever use, that I thus would like to see some other author put to good use, is a framework—incompatible with the one I plan to use—for a series of alternate history stories.
As with ideas I’ve previously “put up for adoption,” feel free to take this and further develop it yourself however you see fit. If you do I would like to know about it, and credit in your acknowledgements page or equivalent would be nice, but as ideas are not copyrightable in the United States you don’t have to tell me.
The premise of these stories would be that there is a way that history is “supposed” to go, and that there are outside observers—time travelers, aliens, or some other group—that can intervene when events aren’t going they way they “should.” The perspective of this group would constitute a framing story, if you (or whoever decided to develop this idea) decided to use one.
When I initially had this idea, I came up with two possibilities for the premises of the various stories. Each depends on the idea that there have been several, or many, points throughout history where events at least tried to deviate from the way they were “supposed” to go. The first possibility is that the stories describe what would have happened had these outsiders not intervened; the second possibility is that there were supposed to be interventions, but they failed to arrive, or failed to exert any significant influence on events, and the stories describe what would have happened had the interventions actually occurred.
Some alternate history authors focus on their “point of divergence” and its immediate aftermath, while others focus on the long-term effects. (Many, such as Aubrey Hansen in her Peter’s Angel Saga, don’t show the actual point of divergence “on camera” and focus on subsequent events that are near-term but not quite immediate. And then there are the authors that multiply their points of divergence instead of limiting them. But that’s beside the point.) When I first came up with this idea, as a teenager or preteen, I thought that each story would combine these approaches, starting with the “intervention” (or absence of intervention, if it went with the first approach above) and tracing its effects to the present day. I now realize that this is neither feasible nor necessarily desirable, so I won’t prescribe any particular approach.
And while I have at various times had many ideas for alternate histories I’d like to explore, as a reader or as a writer, this framework idea could enclose any divergent alternate history, and has never (unless my memory and few records deceive me) been associated with a particular story idea.
If you’d like to borrow and develop this idea, or any facet of it, feel free.