The writer of alternate history asks “what if?” What if one historical event were different, what would the world look like today? In a similar way, the postmodern philosopher of history suggests that history is literature, or that if we read certain historical details differently we would get a distinctly different interpretation of past events. While the science fiction alternate history means to illuminate the past, to increase our understanding of past events, however, the postmodern approach to history typically suggests that such understanding is impossible. To the postmodern philosopher, history is like literature in that it does not offer the reader access to the past, but only an interesting story. Building on criticism that suggests personal psychological reasons for this obscuring the past, and using a literary theory of readership, this book challenges the postmodern approach to history. It channels the speculative power of science fiction to read the works of postmodern philosophy of history as alternate histories themselves, and to map the limits and pathology of their forgetful reading of the past.
Some heavy stuff in that summary, hopefully I will be able to understand it all when I crack this book open.
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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.