Alternate History – so much better than the real thing

For those of you out there bored with real history there is a solution – try alternate history. Basically alternate history takes a (usually well known) point in time and then rewrites what happened from then on. Its much more fun than the real thing.

For example, its well documented that the US ‘rescued’ German scientists at the end of WWII (Operation Paperclip), who were working on Nazi vengence weapons. These scientists, most famously Wernher von Braun, went on to build the backbone of the American space programme. But…what if the British had got there first?!

Space flight on a budget   

Ministry of Space is a graphic novel by Warren Ellis describing what could have happened if the British had taken the lead in the Space Race. It focuses on the role of one man, John Dashwood, as he ploughs through diplomacy, the Establishment and everything else to conquer space. The story doesn’t depart completely from reality – Churchill has a cameo for example:

The story runs from the end of WWII up to the beginning of the 21st Century, mirroring the real conquest of space by the Americans up until the 1970’s, but then progressing things a lot more quickly (eg Britain develops a big space fleet and colonizes Mars).

Yeah right.

The artwork is quite good – it kind of keeps a retro feel throughout – as if the British managed to do more with less – the machines and technology always look a bit rough and ready even though people can zip around in the air in Central London in the 1960s!

1960s London – no really it was like this

But the story is not all Dan Dare. For a start where did the British get the money from to run this programme? Also a telling shot at the end of the book suggests that this golden age came at a price. But at least we colonized Mars!

Even on Mars recycling was a priority

2 thoughts on “Alternate History – so much better than the real thing

  1. I just read Keith Richard’s biography and, just after his birth, the family had to leave the Thames estuary area as it was being pasted by bombs from von Braun and his colleagues. Keith’s mother was terrified, rightly as, just after they left, a bomb hit their house.

    Von Braun then went to the US and became, of all things, a great Rolling Stones fan. Ironic that he nearly killed one of them.

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