I've spent the last few days watching the first series of For All Mankind. Yeah, I know it's been out for ages, I was kind of slow jumping on it, as usual. I thought it was an excellent story, a different take on the reality that America was first on the moon. Well-acted and stunning filmography made it a compelling watch. Alternative history done really well.
I've always liked the 'What if' type of story. For someone who loves history, it makes you think what could have been if an event hadn't or had happened. What would the world look like now if we'd have persuaded Hitler to not attack Poland? What if JFK had only been wounded in Dallas? What if Hilary Clinton had won the 2016 election? Would the world be a better place?
I've read many alt-history novels. Voyage by Stephen Baxter, is another novel that deals with 'what if' and NASA. Well written and thoughtful, it paints a different world on top of the one we live in. Like For All Mankind, it's set in the era of the race for the moon. This time it postulates what would have happened if JFK were not killed, but continued the manned space program to Mars.
Writing alt-history can be frustrating, yet rewarding. It needs a lot of research to make it work successfully. It also needs a great vision. Little things might change, that impact on another event. Like the butterfly effect, it spreads so each action causes another. If we'd have stopped Hitler at the beginning, would Europe still be the same? Would the Nazi party still be in power, not just in Germany but across the world? It's an intriguing question.
My own attempts have been underwhelming. I won't stop thinking up 'what ifs' though, even though they may stay confined to my head.