Using the Program Guide of the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, California in August 2018 (to which I will be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. The link is provided below and appears on page 55…
If This, Then What?
What if Hannibal and his elephants had frozen in the Alps, and never made it to Rome? What if the Catholics had never gained a hold on 11th-Century Spain? How can we extrapolate what would have changed, as a result of one of these turning points, or another--not just politically, but in culture, commerce, and daily life? Where do you begin? What do you focus on when constructing an alternate history, and what do you set aside? Also, what (if anything) would stay the same?
Steven Silver: Steven M. Silver, Ph.D., is a psychologist specializing in trauma treatment, fiction and poetry writer, Army psychologist, Marine Officer in Vietnam, consultant to the U.S. military in the area of trauma treatment.
Kaja Foglio: co-creator of webcomic Girl Genius.
Harry Turtledove: Award-winning author of alternate-history works.
Yasser Bahjatt: A technologist & futurist, BS in Computer Engineering.
Kay Kenyon: Award-winning author of over a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels.
I would have also loved to listen in here, though I wouldn’t have dared to ask the first question that comes to mind: Why do outsiders (people who do not interact inside behaviorally Christian communities) automatically wonder what life without Christianity/Catholics/Crusades/the Church would be like?
Do American outsiders realize that in terms of world population, Christianity is a minority religion, slightly more than one third of Humans are Christians? A bit less than a third are Muslim. The rest of Humanity falls into unaffiliated, Hindu, Buddhist, and Other. This Wikipedia article is old, however, the numbers from 2005.
Currently, it appears that the following numbers might hold sway. As of this typing, the World Population is 7.6 billion and climbing.
Christianity: 2.3 billion/7.6 billion = 30.1 %
Islam: 1.8/7.6 = 23.6 %
Unaffiliated and et al = 3.5 billion + 1.8 = 5.3 billion people on Earth are not Christians.
The US is not the “most populous Christian nation on Earth”, there are 66 other countries who have more Christians than any other religion. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_by_country
My point: American perception of their country on the world stage as regards Christianity is…skewed. Blaming Christianity for world ills is strange, maybe even evidence of bias?
At any rate, I would be interested in exploring other questions – what if the Soviet Union had not fallen and opened its doors to Islam?
What if Christianity and Islam had not collided in a mutually holy Jerusalem, the Holy City being solely Medina, rather than a Jerusalem Muhammed visited in a dream? What if the Soviets had hold closer to true communism rather than creating a weird mixture of communism and monarchy – would it still be alive today and colonizing the Moon?
I’m currently reading an alternate history by Edward M. Lerner, “Harry and the Lewises” in the September/October issue of ANALOG Science Fiction & Fact.
I’ve tried my own hand at alternate history in a collection of short stories set in a world in which Greece and Egypt never fell and became super powers in competition. Add to that the vacuum of space replaced with “aether”, breathable out to what we would now call lunar orbit (https://www.amazon.com/Aether-Age-Helios-Christopher-Fletcher/dp/0982725671/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=).
Another attempt for a contest, I ran headfirst into the concept that “One choice changes everything. The right choice changes your world.” (Beverly S. Harless) Literally. I postulated the Aztec Empire survived because smallpox had already swept through the New World rather than traveling from the Old World to the New. Spaniards, the English, Portuguese, and Dutch found a New World with strong governments and instead of overrunning it, were forced to deal with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Aztec-Andes Commonwealth and the Western Association of China. When the Germans had visions of empire, the British fought back, and after a devastating war and Reconstruction Aid from the Confederacy, Commonwealth, & Association – the CCA – a couple of individuals who’d survived the war had visions of their own. Those visions had turned to space where there might be a chance for a reunited Europe to make a name for itself…
At any rate, I enjoy forays into alternate history and I’m working on another one of my own where Christianity and all other religions on Earth are banned, persecuted in the People’s Republic of the Moon, and a Mars controlled by the five main Dome Mayors…
Program Book: https://www.worldcon76.org/images/publications/WC76_PocketProgram_2018_Final_WEB08152018.pdf