I guess it shouldn't be surprising that 2015 was a year of milestones. While geeks everywhere celebrated Back to the Future Day on October 21st, alternate historians had other anniversaries to recognize. The editors of AltHistory Wiki celebrated their site's 10th anniversary on January 26th, while the members of AlternateHistory.com celebrated their 15th anniversary on August 30th. Meanwhile, AlternateHistory.com twice broke its record for the most users online at the same time. First it was 4,301 users on February 27th and then they reached 5,752 users on August 29th.
While many communities celebrated another year in existence, other communities sadly announced they were closing their doors. On September 10th, Alex of CounterFactual.net announced that he would be shutting the site down at the end of the year...only to say later that he was creating a new forum and CounterFactual.net would stay open a little while longer to give time for the new site to go up. So the only thing we can say with certainty is that AlternateHistory.com's only real rival is in a state of limbo, but 2016 seems to be the year we will have to say goodbye.
We can, however, say hello to a few new groups and sites for alternate historians. Tom Black and other members of AlternateHistory.com created a new publishing group called "Sea Lion Press", which would publish e-books of web original alternate histories. We also got a new alternate history podcast this year: The World That Wasn't. While I have heard that Sea Lion does plan to publish more books next year, we haven't heard much from The World That Wasn't since August. Here is hoping we get something new next year. As you wait, here are some other sites created in 2015 you can visit: Alternate History Fiction, Other History and AltHistoria.
Outside of the Internet, the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History saw some shake ups. After announcing the winners of the best long and short-form alternate histories of 2014, we also learned that new judges were being brought in to replace Stu Shiffman (who passed away in 2014) and Evelyn Leeper, one of the original three founders of the Sidewise Awards. Former judge Karen Hellekson returned for the 2015 judging period and yours truly was also tapped to be a judge. It was certainly one of coolest things to happen to me in 2015 and I am still honored that the Sidewise judges thought I should be chosen to join their ranks.
Since I did mention an alternate historian who recently left us, we should also take a moment to remember those we lost in 2015. Although he technically passed away in the waning days of 2014, most of us didn't learn that the prolific alternate history writer, Robert Conroy, had died until after the New Year. Beloved fantasy author Terry Pratchett also left us this year, leaving behind his own impact on our favorite genre. Other alternate history authors we lost this year include Suzette Haden Elgin, Tanith Lee, Adrienne Martine-Barnes and Wolfgang Jeschke. AlternateHistory.com also had to say goodbye to board members Sergeant Heretic and Torqumada. Each of these alternate historians contributed to the genre in different ways and will all be missed.
Although I hate to continue to bring people down, we should also discuss some of the conflicts that broke out in our community in the later half of this year. The first was Black October where there was a mass banning on AlternateHistory.com of GamerGate supporters. The bannings even caught the ire of pro-GamerGate sites who criticized Ian's actions. Next month the community was rocked again by the Paris terrorist attacks. AlternateHistory.com experienced what members called the "November Riot" where many members were either banned or kicked for bigotry or advocating genocide. As administrator of the Facebook group, Alternate History Online, I attempted to avoid a similar mass banning by deleting threads that had gotten out of control because of the attacks and putting a week ban on any new threads involving Islam. I was happy to find that their was support for this within the group, although there were a couple of people who complained about censorship. Nevertheless, no one was banned and discussions resumed without incident afterwards.
Lets end on a high note. While 2015 had its up and downs, I think I can say that Jeff Provine of This Day in Alternate History had a pretty great year. Not only did he succeed in creating a scenario for every day of the calendar year for his blog, but his short story "Kiss From a Queen" was chosen as the 2015 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award winner. Congrats to Jeff for a stellar year. You do us alternate historians proud.
It would be arrogant to assume I could summarize all the important events of the year into one blog post. So if I missed something, I apologize, but please share with us the other important events of the year in the comments. With that being said, I hope everyone had a good 2015 and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in 2016.
Update: There is evidence that AlternateHistory.com member, Gurroruo, may not be dead.
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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a blogger on Amazing Stories and a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History judge. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the day when travel between parallel universes becomes a reality. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Learn how you can support his alternate history projects on Patreon.