is currently the internet's largest Alternate History site
since the collapse of Soc.history.what-if
. Revolves around a discussion forum that has been in existence since 2000 and in its current form since 2004. Has produced a great deal of AH fiction output; a full list of timelines with links can be found here
on the site's wiki
AH.com has also produced some AH, science fiction and fantasy stories in the form of prose, which can be found here
However, the forum's Off Topic section is also notable for having developed its own subculture over the years, filled with Running Gags
and Memetic Mutation
. All of this has found its expression in AH.com: The Series
, a satirical comedy-cum-drama (Depending on the Writer
) series parodying both common Alternate History
settings and tropes, and more generically the futuristic sci-fi setting of the titular crosstime ship. The crew and most of the guest cast is made up of fictionalized forms of the Board's own members. If it can be categorized as a Self-Insert Fic
, we can only conclude that most AH.commers are raving sadomasochists, given what usually happens to the crew.
In addition to the main Series, there have been several other similar productions, such as Luaky Commer
and AH.com Wars
(parodies of Harry Potter
and Star Wars
starring the characters from the Series), the Spin-Off AH Dot Com The Next Generation
, and others.
As a disclaimer, however, much of the content, including the Future History, ASB and Off Topic sections, on the forum is accessible only to logged in members. The main logic behind it (according to the moderators) is so that it would encourage people to sign up for the more "serious" discussion threads, with the rest available afterwards (with a Writers' Block section sensibly restricted for copyright reasons).
It also has a Shared Worlds
section divided up into Shared Worlds, Moderated Games, Nation Games, and Map Games.
In addition to their main wiki, they have also created their own variation on TV Tropes
, titled (of course) AH Tropes
. It's currently in its infancy, so Wiki Magic
Works from this website referenced here:
Note that many of these timelines and scenarios (whether fully finished or not) are quite grand examples of Archive Panic
. You have been warned...
AH.commers who are also tropers include:
Tropes appearing in AH.com board culture include:
- 419 Scam: Often referenced due to similar scams being attempted by spambots invading the forum occasionally. The name 'Charles Akawele' for an archetypal Nigerian spammer is a Running Gag.
- Alien Space Bats: The Trope Namer is soc.history.what-if, of which AH.com is a spiritual descendant.
- The American Civil War: One of the most overused counterfactual settings, especially during a certain period in the board's late-2000s history. The frequency of ACW scenarios has declined since then.
- The Apartheid Era: AH.commers are commonly annoyed by the notion of big name published AH authors, that every single South African character in alternate history has to be A Nazi by Any Other Name Afrikaner who opresses blacks or does stuff just For the Evulz. Unsurprisingly, the South African members of the board take offence at the quanitity of the cliché in published AH literature.
- Argentina Is Naziland: Averted. The board has long deemed this an overblown cliché, whether in AH works or real life (the idea of Nazi emigrees setting up a Fourth Reich in South America is ridiculed in particular).
- As You Know: This overly obvious mode of infodump tends to be frowned upon by the AH community as bad form, but can't always be avoided.
- Bad Writing: Several pages on the board's wiki focus on advice to starting and seasoned writers of AH works on how to avoid this trope. Including a page that lists the most frequently reoccuring or notorious clichés that have been done to death in AH narratives.
- Ban on Politics: Averted. American Gun Politics was a recurring topic of heated debates, though by mid-2009 it had tended to be superseded by same-sex marriage and especially universal health care.
- Berserk Button:
- Brain Bleach / Screaming At Squick: AH.com's version is to scream and call for "THE FORKS! THE FORKS!"
- The British Empire: Another popular theme for scenarios (which usually portray it in a positive and sympathetic light - though there is also quite a few deliberate deconstructions of this sentiment.)
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Justified Trope, given the Alternate History settings the board's authors create and tackle. Here's the specific wiki page that lovingly maps the whole phenomennon.
- Eagleland: When "Ameriwank" scenarios come up, generally their authors have flavour #1 in mind and everyone else is pointedly reminded of flavour #2.
- El Spanish O: A Running Gag on the site, started by member Thermopylae, who refers to map updates to his timelines as "El Mappo!", and later used by the Heterosexual Reconquista.
- Everything's Better with Plushies: Several years ago, the site started the "Sealion World Tour". This joke project is still on-going in 2011. The members send a plush sealion named Sealion from one member to another, who'll take pictures and post them on the forum. Sealion has been to four continents so far and has last been seen in Brazil. The reason they used a sealion ? It's an ironic mascot of the site, referencing a surprisingly popular yet horribly implausible AH scenario. Read the Berserk Button entry above.
- It gets better when you find out the person who is supposed to receive said stuffed animal in the end is nicknamed on the forum..."The Overlord".
- Different World, Different Movies: Naturally, alternate popculture is a frequent feature of many of the board's AH stories and projects. Pages compiling some discussions on these topics can be found here and here.
- Fallen Creator:
- The board has grown tired and irritated of most of Harry Turtledove's newer AH novels.
- S. M. Stirling was once a member of the board, but revealed himself to be quite a jerk and got banned for it. Opinion of him has mostly lowered throughout the board since then (in addition to most people being critical of some of his AH works to begin with).
- Fake Movie Real Trailer: This thread.
- Fan Sequel and Fix Fic: Many published works of alternate history have received this experimental treatment over the years in various scenarios posted on the board. These unofficial re-imaginings and continuations are usually of high quality. Her Diamond Heart is one of the re-imaginings of S.M. Stirling's The Peshawar Lancers. Decades of Darkness was explicitly created as as an attempt to make a realistic timeline with an evil empire in the vein of The Draka, making it an Inspired By re-imagining of sorts. There's even an unofficial continuation of Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series.
- Follow the Leader: The premise of board member Big Tex's scenario The United States of Ameriwank is that a stranger from the future came to the Colonial America before the The American Revolution intending to Set Right What Once Went Wrong by giving George Washington an Applied Phlebotinum to help America unite the world in the end. A lot of posters ended up creating stories on similar premise where a stranger from the future to do similar thing except with different nations instead of America. This phenomenon is known as the "Strangerverse" and has received several spinoffs (with the Brits, French, etc.), all connected by the same basic premise.
- For Want of a Nail: Great care is usually taken by writers of counterfactual timelines in the choice of the point of divergence.
- Insane Troll Logic:
- Did you know that atom bombs are a hoax perpetrated by Jewish tribalist uncles who sit inside nuclear reactors rubbing vaseline into potatoes ? Apparently, one (in)famous banned troll virulently believed in this. It became a minor meme on the site after his banning.
- Other bits of famous AH.com troll logic include the idea that graffiting on pavements will cause gay couples to jump off bridges, and something to do with public trees on private land (or possibly private trees on public land). See here for more details.
- Also, this thread, which is the stuff of legends. A ridiculously implausible Polish Alternate History Wank combined with several staggering examples of Artistic License - History. And the troll responsible wasn't even Polish !
- Istanbul Not Constantinople: As with the alternate terminology seen in many timelines, alternate geographic names are equally common.
- Mad Mathematician: Zyzzyva jokingly received this kind of reputation.
- Mass Teleportation: Quite common in scenarios involving Alien Space Bats. The local term is ISOT, a verbed abbreviation derived from the initials of S.M. Stirling's novel Island in the Sea of Time. (E.g. "I'll ISOT myself/country XY/person XY to the year...").
- Middle Eastern Coalition: Routinely spoofed and skewed. Popular joke names include "the Randomid Caliphate", "Implausiblid Caliphate" and "The Obligatory Supercaliphate".
- Misplaced Nationalism: Occurs a lot in the Chat threads.
- Network Decay: Periodically people will rant about the decline of the "History" Channel and other documentary channels that are supposed to focus on history.
- No Name Given: The Sealion World Tour (see above) featured a stuffed toy sealion called... Sealion, because nobody could think of a suitable name. He was eventually dubbed "Silas" by the Brazilians, a Punny Name that only works in Portuguese.
- Patriotic Fervour: Parodied, occasionally played straight.
- Person as Verb: The mapmaking style of member B_Munro (minimalism coupled to snarky annotations) has become so popular that other mapmakers often refer to taking an older map and "B_Munrofying it".
- Play By Post Game: The Shared Worlds section contains a variety of them (map games, Alternate History RPGs, etc.). A good deal of them become complex stories or universes given enough time.
- Podcast: The AH.com Podcast.
- Rollto Dodge: There are two currently running Rollto Dodge games in Shared Worlds.
- Running Gag : In addition to using some mainstream internet memes, AH.com has its own set.
"X needs a warm water port!"
"And a transcontinental railroad to connect them!"
"With blackjack! And hookers!"
- Scrapbook Story: Many of the best works on the site.
- Serious Business:
- The Universal Colour Scheme (UCS) for alternate history maps. Resulting in a feud over a proposed revision to UCS. The Change: Moving Non-Communist Russia from a Gold-tone to a Green, but then, it was Decided By One Vote (well, two votes - 183 to 181), so obviously lots of people argued.
- The more recent "Pony Wars" ended after several members were banned, several more had their posting privileges temporarily revoked, and a moderator being demoted. People still are hesitant to discuss it today.
- Shown Their Work : Because of their love for the genre, the members of the board try to do this as much as possible - even when writing deliberately silly and Rule of Fun scenarios and timelines.
- Single-Issue Wonk: A lot of the banned trolls fall into this category.
- Silly Reason for War: While some of the on-board disputes so far had an amount of seriousness to them, they've been mostly jocular in nature.
- Spell My Name with an S: Nobody can ever agree on how to spell Colonel Gaddafi's name.
- Testosterone Poisoning: At one point a beard-growing contest was held, with the winner being given the title of "Ultimate AH.com Macho Manly Mountain Man In The Height Of His Manliness".
- The Wiki Rule :
- The Other Wiki: Wikipedia has a (not entirely undeserved) reputation on the forum for being subject to bias by nationalist administrators: running gags and Flanderisation focus on Poles and Armenians, but there are plenty from many other countries as well. All this material was used in the AH.com: The Series two-parter "Citation Needed".
- Hence why its nicknames include "Polonopedia" and "The Armenian Genocide", or simply The Genocide.
- There's also an increased awareness of TV Tropes on the forum as well. Though some see it as overflowing with Anime and Ho Yay.
- Trope Decay: In the past few years, the overuse of the term Alien Space Bats to mean "anything that seems implausible or not very probable to this board member" had lead to the erosion of its original meaning. Many senior AH.commers (but newer ones as well) disliked this trend because it had started bordering on complete Natter. They had campaigned to bring the term and acronym back to its roots and stop its overuse as a derogatory shorthand. It seems to have worked, since the overuse/misuse has largely been reversed and had pretty much gradually vanished as a problem during the 2012-2013 season.
- Unknown Rival: Alternia.
- Worthy Opponent: Othertimelines.com, before it went down at least.
- Zeppelins from Another World: Generally seen as a codeword for "this timeline shouldn't be taken entirely seriously." They've been sporked as a cliche, but everyone still admits that they're too cool not to put in somewhere.