Created By: dragonslip on August 17, 2012 Last Edited By: dragonslip on August 30, 2012

Post alteration stagnation

This is when preventing a major development in another timeline prevents it from developing at all

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Typically in fiction if a major development is prevented in the past you can expect the resultant timeline to stop developing one or more of culturally, ideologically, politically and technologically (the one always being the one that the nature of the development was)

Basically suppose I went back in time to AD 50 murdered Nero before he had time to put an end to the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the results of this action are totally unpredictable but chances are the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the roman empire would have ended some other way eventually. In most alternate history stories however this would likely lead to a Julio-Claudian dynasty ruled Roman Empire still in charge of Italy today

Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • August 17, 2012
    The trope as it is needs a better description. But I think you may have hit an existing time travel concept in fiction.

    Reading this reminded me of an episode of Sabrina The Animated Series that I saw as a child. Sabrina brings a twelve year old Thomas Edison to the present. That causes all tenchnology to slowly revert to an early 20th century state due the ripple effect of Edison's inventions never happening in the past and that lead to their more modern versions not existing either. That doesn't make sense because there were many other inventors at Edison's time and if he hadn't made his discoveries, someone else would have, leading to a similar level of technological progress in the present.

    Could it be something along the lines of having For Want Of A Nail happening when the nature of the "nail" should have made it easy to to replace the "nail" at the time it was lost ? (e.g Edison bein taken out of the early 20th century but having other inventors come up with the same stuff that was invented by Edison from our point of view)
  • August 17, 2012
    This looks like taking the Great Man theory of history to an extreme and assuming that the removal of a key historical person will essentially stop human history from progressing.
  • August 17, 2012
    Oh you know, this reminds me of The Years Of Rice And Salt -the author seems to be trying to avert this by creating an alt history without Europeans and having others come up with say, calculus.

    So this is if the Europeans all died in the plague and therefore no one invents calculus so then the future in which spaceships occur(our timeline) doesn't happen?
  • August 17, 2012
    I'd say this is a trope, but it needs a better title. Derailed Historical Progress? Time Ripple Induced Medieval Stasis?
  • August 18, 2012
  • August 18, 2012
    How about "History can't go on without him"? Though that might restrict the examples to when individuals are "removed". "You stopped history"? "Deadbeat Timeline"?
  • August 18, 2012
    An idea for rewrite (don't have to take it, just happen to love doing this) :

    A major cultural, ideological, political or technological developement in known to have happened in Real Life or at least the In-Univers timeline. At any rate, it was big enough to make History. Someone decides to Time Travel keep that developement from happening and succeeds. The act has long term effects on the time line... maybe a little too long term. Let's forget about the perpetrator risking the Grandfather Paradox and look at the big picture : Murdered Nero in 50 AD before he put an end to the Julio-Claudian dynasty ? Guess what, the Julio-Claudian dynasty is still around in 2012. Ripple effect kept Thomas Edison from being born ? Technology is still in an early 20th century state a few years after the 21st started. Showed up and offered to drive Rosa Parks home ? Segregation laws are still around. In other words, everthing may have marched on, but whatever domain was supposed to advance thanks to the change that didn't happen has stayed in stasis ever since. Never mind that something else may have caused the end of Julio-Claudian dynasty in the meantime, that Edison was coexisting with many other inventors and that many other people were starting to get tired of segregation laws. (not the whole thing, but out of ideas)
  • August 18, 2012
    Carmen Sandiego and Back To The Future featured a world without electricity due to Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment being disrupted (well, only shown explicitely in the second case, Carmen merely had the heroes assuming it due to losing contact with the HQ). Don't know whether these are the only examples.
  • August 26, 2012
    really needs examples
  • August 26, 2012
    • In Bring the Jubilee, the United States is still mired, decades later, in catastrophe of their defeat in the American Civil War. Nothing much has changed. (Inverted example. A time traveler from this era went back and altered Gettysburgh while trying to observe it, and so brought about our era.)
    • In the Lord Darcy stories, while magic has been developed, the Platangent dynasty has ruled serenely on. Except for their becoming the Holy Roman Emperor as well, and taking over the New World, there appears to have been little political change, and little war.
    • In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Delenda Est", scientific progress has been stagnated by the defeat of Rome in the Punic Wars, and the consequent crushing of the Maccabees. A polytheistic world view did not provide the necessary mental infrastructure for the development of science. Unusually well developed, and there has been a lot of political change.

    The obvious reason for it is that to show the effects of a change, you need to not clutter it up with irrevelancies, but those irrevelancies are the pith and essence of history. Suppose Prince Arthur had lived to succeed his father, Henry VII, or long enough to get his wife Catherine pregnant with a son, or even long enough that Henry VII had married off his second son, the future Henry VIII, so that Henry could not have married Catherine. The obvious effect is you've removed the impetus to create the Anglican Church. But what would Prince Arthur, or his son, have been like as king? What would whatever queen Henry VIII has been like? Would they, say, have supported North American exploration? Suppose hemophilia, or a similiar mutation, had popped up in Arthur's descendants, as it did in Queen Victoria? What if Arthur's son had inherited as a minor, and the nobles did many ugly things during his regency? All of these could easily mask the original effect.
  • August 30, 2012
    I think the description needs to be rewritten in light of the discussion.