Alternative History Wank


(permanent link) added: 2010-05-13 04:54:54 sponsor: SomeSortOfTroper (last reply: 2010-05-13 05:54:33)

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In the parlance of Alternate History Fandom a "Wank" is where a single nation, culture, political theory, or philosophy is singled out and advantaged, typically at the expense of its contemporaries. Perhaps the British Empire has not just kept the American colonies, but expanded into South America as well. Maybe the Greater United States rules our world's Canada and Mexico. Maybe Those Wacky Nazis managed to win it all and now dominate the globe.

In short, the point of divergence that created the alternate history has also created a Mary Sue or Marysuetopia of one sort or another.

There is disagreement on what constitutes a Wank. Is a Greater Romania timeline where Romania controls all the regions it claimed in the early 20th century a Wank, or would Romania have to dominate the whole of the Balkans? But if Romania controls all Europe, the timeline probably is an Alternate History Wank.

The disagreement on this is like the disagreement on what makes a Mary Sue. Some maintain that to be considered an Alternate History Wank, an alternate timeline must be by nature implausible or even invoke Alien Space Bats after the point of divergence. For others, it just has to show favoritism.

Note that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a plausible timeline with a purposefully maximized British Empire can be informative and entertaining, or valuable for some artistic purpose. Sometimes it's just a matter of doing something fun and entertaining.

Also arguably a lot of Truth in Television here: the 15th century was arguably a time of "Hispanowank". The 18th and 19th centuries "Britwank". The 20th century and present day in the midst of "Ameriwank". Arguably also a "Democracywank" and "Capitalismwank", as those two political and financial philosophies have come to dominate most large/powerful nations.


Examples:

  • America, England/France and Poland in Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy mysteries are set in an alternate timeline where most of the Western Hemisphere is divided between two great ruling powers: the Anglo-French Empire, which extends over most of Western Eurpe and the Americas and ruled by the Plantagenets; and the Polish Empire, which has conquered virtually all of Eastern Europe. The timeline splits in 1199, when Richard the Lion-Hearted, doesn't die from the crossbow bolt at the siege of Chalus-Chabrol, but recovers, repairs his ways, and goes on to be a great king.
  • South Africa in Sterling's series on The Draka. The premise is that a colony in OTL's South Africa gains independence from Britain around when the United States of America did in our timeline, upholds horrific ideals within its borders (including slavery), and manages to take over the world by the end of the series. This is handled in such a way that it made the Wallbanger page for literature -- the civilized nations of the world just ignore the threat of a large, slaveholding, militaristic empire until it's too late. Let's just say that one Fix Fic that was intended to make the Draka less of a Villain Suetopia still started in the mid-20th century with them having almost all of Africa and a good chunk of the Middle East...
  • The Roman Empire in the Slaveworld novels. The empire never fell, sparing the world from the dark age, resulting in a Crapsaccharine World free from pollution and social unrest.
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