Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Top 5 Posts from September 2014

What were the most popular articles of last month? Check it out:

1) Comic Review: Pariah, Missouri #1 by Andres Salazar by Matt Mitrovich.

2) Map Monday: Maps of the Change by Matt Mitrovich.

3) Weekly Update #160 by Matt Mitrovich.

4) What if Wednesday: The German-American War of 1902 by Matt Mitrovich.

5) What If Wednesday: NATO Did Not Expand Into Eastern Europe by Matt Mitrovich.

Everything is coming up Mitro!

My Thoughts on Irish Alternative History in the Modern Era

Guest post by Mark Lynch.
British Government contingency plan for the re-partition of Northern Ireland, 1972 (credit BBC News)
“This society believed it was looking towards a new future, yet we consistently find ourselves being dragged backwards.” The late David Ervine, Ulster Loyalist politician

Alternative history in the Irish context appears to be a neglected area of literature. There are exceptions of course, notably the fascinating book by Diarmaid Ferriter, entitled What If? Alternative Views of Twentieth Century Ireland. This compilation of intriguing scenarios was a follow on to a short RTE radio series of the same name. Other than this work there has been little written, although there are some interesting online forums focusing on various periods of Irish history. I personally find it strange that more works have not been written, as there are certainly many potential points of divergence during the 20th century alone.

World War Two – multiple PODs

World War Two offers up several intriguing scenarios, most revolving around a possible breach of Eire’s neutrality. Churchill famously made a clandestine offer to Eamonn DeValera during the dark days of 1940. The British PM put forward the tantalising prospect of Irish Unity in exchange for Eire’s entry into the war on the Allied side. DeValera rejected the offer as he did not trust Britain’s commitment to following through on the promise after the war was over, and because the Northern Ireland government had not been consulted.

The potential for a German invasion of Ireland seemed like a real possibility during 1940-41. The Wehrmacht had a plan in place for such an operation and likewise both the Irish and British governments prepared for such a scenario. Interestingly enough, a joint plan was drafted between the two military commands, raising the prospect of Anglo-Irish co-operation in the event of a German landing. Eire’s stance during the war can largely be defined as pro-Allied, however, her wartime history was often ambiguous. For example, in late 1941 the US Ambassador to Ireland, David Gray, privately asked DeValera what he would do if German paratroopers ‘liberated’ the City of Derry. Dev is said to have remained silent for some time before eventually providing a non-committed answer of; ‘I don’t know’. Food for thought indeed...

The Northern Irish Troubles 

The most recent ‘Troubles’ of 1969 – 1998 are almost entirely neglected in published alternative history writings. I have some thoughts as to why this is. I think many local historians and authors are put off writing such alternative scenarios when there remain so many unresolved issues within our present-day society. The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 but the legacy left by three decades of political violence lingers on, and Northern Irish society is still largely divided, both socially and politically.

At the time of writing this post, the NI power sharing government is on the verge of collapse due to a failure to agree on a budget. Furthermore, the recent Scottish Independence Referendum has led to renewed calls from nationalists and republicans for a Border Poll (i.e. a vote on Northern Ireland leaving the UK and joining up with the Irish Republic). Perhaps for these reasons, alternative history works from the ‘Troubles’ era are rare, but there are several intriguing possible points of divergence. Most of the potential PODs haven’t been fully developed, but there are some interesting (albeit mostly grim) scenarios to consider:

1969 – Irish Army intervention

I recall reading an interesting article in the History Ireland magazine some years ago. The writer imagined an ‘alternative Battle of the Bogside’ which could potentially have taken place in August of 1969. This scenario considered the prospect of an Irish Army intervention during the violence in Derry of that summer (an operation which was briefly considered by Jack Lynch’s government of the time). The article concluded that the more professional Irish Army would defeat the ‘B’ Specials (the pro-Unionist militia of the period) but would have little prospect of success if faced by a regular British Army unit. As it transpired, the Irish Army stayed on their side of the border, and British forces were deployed to Derry and Belfast from the 14th – 15th of August. The rest, as they say, is history...

The Doomsday Scenario & Re-Partition

In recent years a number of previously restricted British government documents have been released to the public under the ‘thirty years rule’. In 1972, the most violent year of the Troubles, a strategy document and accompanying map were developed for consideration in case of a total societal breakdown and civil war. At the time Whitehall considered a re-partition of Northern Ireland into 100% Protestant and 100% Catholic districts...a terrifying prospect for all persons living within the province. Nor was this the end of the matter. Further British government documents were released in 2011 and revealed that Margaret Thatcher considered transferring certain majority Catholic / Nationalist areas to the Republic’s jurisdiction.

The grim prospect of re-partition remained on the cards for years to come and possible plans were even drawn up by leading academics at various times (most notably by Liam Kennedy, author of the 1986 dissertation "Two Ulsters; A Case for Repartition"). As late as 1994 a sinister document was produced by the loyalist paramilitary group, the UDA. This plan called for Catholics living in Protestant districts to be ‘expelled, interned, or nullified’. Thankfully, the IRA and Loyalist ceasefires were declared shortly after this.

1974 – The Year of potential PODs

1974 was a violent but eventful year for Northern Ireland. In the previous year Harold Wilson’s government had brought the moderates on both sides together for peace talks. The result was the Sunningdale Agreement, leading to a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, with a consultation role for Dublin. Regrettably, the new shared government was short-lived as hard-line Unionists and Loyalists brought the country to a standstill during the Ulster Workers Strike of 1974. These momentous events bring up some interesting possible divergences. Nearly 25 years later, the SDLP politician Seamus Mallon, described the Good Friday Agreement as ‘Sunningdale for slow learners’. One wonders what would have happened if the power sharing government of 1974 had survived and gained more popular support. Would we have enjoyed peace 25 years sooner?

The other alternatives of this year are far less positive. Wilson took the fall of Sunningdale particularly badly and is reported to have considered withdrawing from Northern Ireland altogether. He backed down from this position when it became clear that a British military withdrawal would likely result in a full-scale civil war and loss of life on an unprecedented scale. The Unionist rebellion against Wilson’s government raises yet another interesting possibility. Fringe loyalist factions of the time considered proclaiming a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in response to Westminster’s continued interference.The UDI enthusiasts hoped to follow the example of Ian Smith’s Rhodesia (and probably an independent Northern Ireland would have been as unsuccessful as Smith’s ill-fated Rhodesian experiment). For their part, the Provisional IRA’s propagandists prematurely declared 1974 as ‘The Year of Victory’, although their Army Council secretly prepared a plan for the defence of Catholic districts in case of a Loyalist uprising.

A radical departure?

All of the above scenarios are dependent on a ‘point of divergence’ occurring within Northern Ireland itself, but it is interesting to imagine how dramatic changes on the international stage could have indirectly impacted on Irish society. I find this a particularly intriguing question and I believe it can be beneficial to explore such avenues. I believe the nature of the Northern Irish conflict has tended to make our people insular in their thinking. Sometimes it is tempting to stay within our own ‘bubble’ and to believe that Ireland will be protected from the wider global events, given our own unique historical problems and our geographical position on the periphery of Europe.

For this reason I was inspired to explore the possibility of an Ireland directly impacted by the Cold War. I theorised a POD which would result in a Soviet takeover of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a US protection pact with the Irish Republic, and a militarised Cold War boundary inside Ireland itself. This scenario raises several fascinating ‘what if’ questions. How would the Irish republicans respond to the demise of their traditional British enemy? How would the historical division within Northern Irish society be impacted under the auspices of a totalitarian communist regime (particularly intriguing when one considers the Communist Party’s policies towards ethnic and religious factions within the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia)? And how would the Irish people as a whole react to being pulled into an international conflict not of their own making? I have explored these and other questions in my novel, The War of Zero Sum, the first book in a planned trilogy.

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Mark Lynch, who has lived in Northern Ireland all his life, studied History & Politics at Queen's University Belfast and maintains a keen interest in both of these subjects. He currently works as an office administrator in Belfast city centre and writes fiction in his spare time. His first two novels, ‘Veritas Dawn’ and ‘The War of Zero-Sum’ are available through Amazon. His third novel, entitled American Nemesis, is due for release shortly...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Releases 9/30/14

You can support The Update by clicking the banner to your right or the links below if you are purchasing through Amazon!

Hardcovers

Black Hat Jack by Joe R. Lansdale

The story of African-Americans in the West has been confined to the dusty, bottom shelf of recorded history and American literature. But in the vein of the old dime novels containing stories about such heroes as Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and Jesse James, comes the true story of one of those ten-cent novel heroes, Deadwood Dick, disguised in those novels as a white champion of justice and adventure, but in reality a black cowboy, buffalo soldier, Indian fighter, and general hell raiser.

Here, Nat Love, the one and only Deadwood Dick, writes down his version of certain events, straightening out numerous misconceptions raised in the popular and sanitized dime novels. Though his version varies considerably from the numerous volumes of adventures attributed to him, his true story, with perhaps a bit of exaggeration, is no less fascinating or exciting.

Nat was one of those Old West characters who seemed to be everywhere and met everyone that was anyone at some point in his life. ''Black Hat Jack'' details Nat's version of the events of the now famous Second Battle of Adobe Walls, where he and a handful of buffalo hunters, primarily his good friend, Black Hat Jack, were pitted against hundreds of Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa warriors.

Heroics abound. Curse words fly. Humor flows as free as blood, and there's even a spot of romance. And with all that real life bravado, there might even be a few lies.

Joe R. Lansdale's stories about Nat Love are based loosely on the real Nat Love, who may have told a few windies about his time in the West, but at the same time revealed that African-Americans of that era were not all cooks and custodians. In fact, a full third of the cowboys of the Wild West days were African-American, Hispanic, or of mixed blood. This is a tribute to the real deal, as well as to the great mythology of the Old West.

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond

In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Caroline Tung Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II.

It's been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dreams of the free America she's only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the Führer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she's spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis.

In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, Zara must decide just how far she'll go for freedom.

Paperbacks

Burdens of the Dead by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer

Sequel to Much Fall of Blood, book 4 in the Heirs of Alexandria series. Civilization at the crossroads. In an alternate Renaissance where magic works, a captain of Italian forces must deal with gods, goddesses and warfare in order to save his daughter at the siege of Constantinople—and prevent a new dark age.

In an alternate 15th century where magic still is part of life, the Holy Roman Empire rules Europe. Constantinople is under siege by the Venetians and their allies. Hekate, Goddess of Crossroads, presides over the conflict and carnage as alternate visions of civilization collide. And since Constantinople is the crossroad city of east and west, and it is here that Italian captain Benito Valdosta must deal with the powerful magical manifestation of the Weeping Woman, a disguised Hekate,  in order to save his daughter and to destroy the fleets of the Chernobog assembling in the Black Sea before they can cut into the soft underbelly of Europe.

With land battles, naval action, cunning assassinations, and heartbreak aplenty—not to mention the ongoing conflict between Lord of the Dead and Benito for the love of a woman, civilization is at the crossroads and choices must be made that will bring victory and freedom for centuries to come—or a new Dark Age.

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

They call it Company Town – a Family-owned city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes.

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats – seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability – serial killer? Or something much, much worse..?

Dangerous Women #1 edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

Commissioned by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, these tales of dangerous women by the most stellar names in fiction are available for the first time in three-volume paperback. George R.R. Martin is the bestselling author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the inspiration for HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. This first volume features an original 35,000 word novella by George R.R. Martin.'The Princess and the Queen' reveals the origins of the civil war in Westeros (before the events in A Game of Thrones), which is known as the Dance of the Dragons, pitting Targaryen against Targaryen and dragon against dragon. Other authors in this volume of warriors, bad girls and dragonriders include worldwide bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson, Lawrence Block and Nancy Kress. DANGEROUS WOMEN 1 Gardner Dozois's introduction George R. R. Martin, 'The Princess and the Queen' Carrie Vaughn, 'Raisa Stepanova' Nancy Kress,'"Second Arabesque, Very Slowly' Lawrence Block, 'I Know How to Pick 'Em' Megan Abbott, 'My Heart Is Either Broken' Joe R. Lansdale, 'Wrestling Jesus' Brandon Sanderson, 'Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell'

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures edited by Sean Wallace

From the editor of The Mammoth Book of Steampunk, this anthology of steam-powered short stories, dirigibles aloft, retro-tech wonders, and astounding adventure will set clockwork-loving hearts hammering with delight. Longtime steampunk fans: prepare to gleefully grab your goggles to read these remarkable stories! Newcomers: prepare to become fans of this popular genre involving both the past and present—entertainingly and provocatively re-thought, re-invented, and re-evaluated. With stories by K.W. Jeter, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Ken Liu, Cherie Priest, Carrie Vaughn, and many others.

Full list of contributors: Christopher Barzak; Tobias Buckell; C. S. E. Cooney; Aliette de Bodard; Lisa L. Hannett; Samantha Henderson; K. W. Jeter; Caitlin R. Kiernan; Jay Lake; Ken Liu; Alex Dally MacFarlane; Tony Pi; Cherie Priest; Cat Rambo; Chris Roberson; Margaret Ronald; Sofia Samatar; Gord Sellar; Nisi Shawl; Benjanun Sriduangkaew; E. Caterine Tobler; Genevieve Valentine; Carrie Vaughn; AC Wise; Jonathan Wood.

To fans, authors and publishers...

Is your story going to be published in time for the next New Releases? Contact us at ahwupdate at gmail dot com.  We are looking for works of alternate history, counterfactual history, steampunk, historical fantasy, time travel or anything that warps history beyond our understanding.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Map Monday: The Partition of France by Xibalba

For all of those who get tired of seeing Poland partitioned again and again in every timeline, here is this week's map titled "The Partition of France" by Xibalba of AlternateHistory.com:
This is one of those situations where you have a really nice looking map, but a poor scenario. If you click on the link above you will see that this map comes from a timeline where the Commonwealth of England survived and allied itself with Germany against a France still ruled by a monarchy. A war later erupted after Franz Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo.

Considering that we are dealing with a point of divergence in the 17th century, truly a lot of things still had to happen to not only get a man named Franz to take a trip to Bosnia that ends in a major war, but also to have Belgium exist, which was an invention of the 19th century and could have easily been butterflied away. Still I can sort of forgive the poorly thought out scenario based one just the nice-looking map above. Perhaps someone else out there can come up with a better scenario?

No honorable mentions this week.  If you want to submit a map for the next Map Monday, email me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com with your map attached and a brief description in the body of the email.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Weekly Update #162

Editor's Note

My paper on the history of the alternate history fandom is progressing nicely. I finished Evans' Altered Pasts, which I will be reviewing on Amazing Stories tomorrow, and I am wrapping up an interview with Ian Montgomerie. That's right, I will be posting an interview with Ian the Admin, founder of AlternateHistory.com, in the near future so stay tuned.

Also please check Daniel Bensen's podcast on alternate history. Yours truly was the guest and I had a great time speculating with Dan on wide range of topics.

And now the news...

What's Next for Scotland and America's Secessionists?

So Scotland's bid for independent failed, but the debate is far from over. There is the big question on what the British government is going to offer Scotland now that they stayed in the UK, which is being called the "devo-max" option, and how this will effect the rest of the country (consider what happens when England begins demanding their very own regional parliament). As British politicians prepare for future headaches, across the pond, American secessionists have not lost hope that the referendum could kickstart their own bids for independence.

A few days ago I started an informal poll in Alternate History Online asking members which American state or region they thought was the best candidate for independence. As I write this on Sunday night, Texas is in the lead with Hawaii in second and tied for third we have California and New England. Texas being the favorite isn't that far fetched as Annie Lowrey of Slate backs that up in her article on secession. That being said, perhaps we shouldn't be looking at the big states to bring down the Union, but instead focus on smaller states like New Hampshire according to Jason Sorens, founder of Free State Project, said in The Washington Post.

Truth be told, secession in the United States remains far-fetched. I will continue to keep an eye on the subject, however, because I know how much alternate historians like to balkanize the USA.

Outlander Wraps Up the First Half of Season 1

I am trying not to learn too much about Outlander, because I really want to watch the show and don't want anything spoiled. So here is what I will say: the mid-season finale of Outlander premiered last Saturday (catch a sneak peak here) and the show will return next April. Geek Syndicate and io9 had reviews for episode 7, while Paul Levinson and Geek Syndicate again had reviews for episode 8.

Phew! Really quick recap done and no spoilers.

Videos for Alternate Historians

This week in videos we begin with the First Doctor lecturing us about why we can't rewrite history:
Sorry wasn't paying attention. We follow that up with a history of the Metroid franchise done by the guys at The Game Theorists:
We end with Cinema Sins tearing about Captain America: The Winter Soldier:
Yeah not exactly alternate history, but with Cap having his own wing in the Smithsonian, I thought this may slide in just under the wire.

Links to the Multiverse

Books and Short Fiction


The book I read suddenly had an alternate history by Ghost in the Machine at io9.
Excerpt from Clockwork Secrets: Heavy Fire by Dru Pagliassotti - September 27, 2014 at The Qwillery.
Hilary Mantel hits back at critics of her Thatcher assassination short story by Matthew Weaver at The Guardian.
Mysterious Galaxy reading! Venusian Gambit pre-orders! Plus wikipedia! at Michael J. Martinez.
Review: The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen at Writedge.
Review: The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato at NPR.
Review: The Golden Princess by S.M. Stirling at Bookworm Blues.
Review: Jani and the Greater Game by Eric Brown at Falcata Times.
Science Fiction Excerpt: Caveat Time Traveler at Scientific America.
Steampunk Fiction and the Women Who Write It by Rachel Cordasco at Book Riot.

Comics

REVIEW: Red Baron Vol. 1 at Geek Syndicate.

Counterfactuals, History and News

The 9 biggest alien invasion hoaxes in history by Evan Hoovler at Blastr.
Cowboys and Kalashnikovs: Comparing the Mexican-American War to the Conflict in Ukraine by Zach Dorfman at National Interest.
Denver area students walk out of school in protest by Colleen Slevin at Yahoo.
Life in the multiverse means endless possibilities at New Scientist.
Steampunk & Disability: Why I Find It’s A Better Fit Than Other Fandoms by M. Sally-Rouge Pax at Steampunk Tourist.
Trench Warfare in World War I Was a Smarter Strategy Than You Realize by George Dvorsky at io9.

Films and Television

8 Things That Prove Star Wars Actually Takes Place In Our Galaxy by Rob Bricken at io9.
The Black Widow Movie That Almost Happened by Gwynne Watkins at Yahoo.
Disney Movies In Order Of Their Historical Setting by Gergo Vas at Kotaku.
REVIEW: Doctor Who, S8, E5: Time Heist and E6: The Caretaker at Geek Syndicate.
Time-Travel Movies Are Garbage by Mike Pearl at Vice.

Games

11 things to think about before starting a time travel plot by David Ball at Ongoing Worlds.
There's A New Total War Game Coming, But Hrm by Luke Plunkett at Kotaku.

Interviews

Stefan Bachmann at Tor.
Alan Gratz at Tor.
Cherie Priest at Tor.

Podcasts

Almost Educational - EP 12: Alternate History Lesson at Podcast Garden.
The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 259): A Discussion of Social Science Fiction at SF Signal.
Show 14 – Four Weeks in the Trenches at Twilight Histories.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Flag Friday: Russian Philippines

Guest post by Sam McDonald.
This is the flag of the Petrines, also known as the Russian Philippines. It comes from a world where Russia built up their navy early on. This meant Russia could devote more effort and focus on their colonies in the Americas. Besides further colonizing Alaska, they also colonized what would have been British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California, though not without objections from the Spanish.

Eventually, after a chance discovery of gold, the Russians and Spanish went to war over California. It was ultimately decided that Russia would pull out of California, but in exchange would take some other Spanish land; with the Spanish offering the Philippines. As a result the Russian Philippines was born.

The Russians encouraged people from many different nations to help settle their new colony both to provide labor and to prevent the former Spanish colonists (such as they were) from taking over. This would, over the years, lead to a blending of native cultures, colonial settlers and slaves from Russia's African outposts have the archipelago a unique culture like nothing before it. However, they never forgot that it was Mother Russia to whom they all, even if indirectly, were linked.

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Sam McDonald is a college student from Shreveport, LA.  When not involved with his studies he can be found making and posting maps across the web and working on short stories that he hopes to have published in magazines such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and the Escape Artists Podcasts. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What If Wednesday: President Gary Hart

From The CNN Brief.
I think its safe to say that younger generations (and I include myself in this group) have no idea who Gary Hart is. Quick primer: he was an American politician, an almost liberal alternative to the Reagan era, who twice sought the Democratic nomination for President (1984 and 1988) but was brought down by a sex scandal during the 1988 campaign. Matt Bai in The New York Times discussed the whole scandal and lamented the changes to journalism it caused, but the last part of the article, where Hart speculates about what would happen if he was president, is what really perked my attention:

“Well, at the very least, George W. Bush wouldn't have been president,” Hart said ruefully. This sounded a little narcissistic, but it was, in fact, a hard premise to refute. Had Hart bested George H. W. Bush in 1988, as he was well on his way to doing, it’s difficult to imagine that Bush’s aimless eldest son would have somehow ascended from nowhere to become governor of Texas and then president within 12 years’ time.

“And we wouldn't have invaded Iraq,” Hart went on. “And a lot of people would be alive who are dead.” A brief silence surrounded us. Hart sighed loudly, as if literally deflating. “You have to live with that, you know?”

Now Gary Hart presidential alternate histories aren't very popular in the genre. The most famous one has to be "Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, California - October 6, 1976, 7:00 p.m." from Jeff Greenfield's Then Everything Changed (review), which has him winning the presidency in 1980. Still considering how controversial President Reagan was for some Americans, one wonders what would have happened if Hart was elected President sometime between 1980 and 1988...

Well first off, Hart may have needed more than a sex scandal staying buried to be elected president. As many have pointed out, Hart had too many rumors about his infidelity swirling around and his high poll numbers came too early in the 1988 campaign to be very meaningful for a plausible counterfactual. Perhaps his best shot was to get the nomination in 1980 or 1984, although honestly I don't know enough about the era to speculate confidently. I can say that a known womanizer who already had multiple affairs could easily have a sex scandal happen while he was president, causing a Clinton-esque crisis to happen years earlier. Could he have been impeached? Its possible, considering even Clinton's impeachment got to the Senate.

What I really wanted to discuss, however, is the two counterfactual statements made by Gary at the end of the article: that Hart as president would mean no George W. Bush or Iraq War. This belief doesn't seem backed up by any real facts. Even if George H.W. Bush is not elected president (or vice president in a scenario where Hart defeats Reagan) there is no guarantee that George W. or someone with his politics would not be able to reach the White House on their own merit in a post-Hart presidency (in fact if Hart does have a sex scandal while president, it is not unforeseeable that Americans would elect a Republican in the next elections).

It also presumes that somehow Hart would have prevented the circumstances that led to the Iraq War, which as Frank Harvey described in Explaining the Iraq War (review), had little to do with who was in office and more to do with factors that were set in motion decades before. Maybe Hart could have avoided the Iraq War, or even 9/11 since he is given a lot of credit for predicting it would happen, but it is just as likely that something worse could have happened and there is no guarantee President Hart would be as farsighted as Citizen Hart was. As we get far enough away from the initial point of divergence, it becomes harder to assume we will know exactly what will happen without falling into the trap of creating a parallel history.

Perhaps it was a narcissistic thing for Hart to say about himself or, as Gavriel D. Rosenfeld said in his commentary on Bai's article, he is just using a counterfactual in order to give meaning to his life. Hart wants to believe that in the end he is a good person and would have been a great president. Whether he would have is a matter for us alternate historians to decide. What do you think of President Gary Hart? Let us know in the comments.

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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. Check out his short fiction. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.