Alternate History Books by Canadians
If you’re looking for a fascinating read for Canada Book Day, consider the often overlooked category of alternate history books by Canadians. Alternate history – also called alternative history – is a genre of speculative fiction that explores what might have come to pass if particular historical events had happened differently. Alternate history involves a point of divergence from actual history: a moment at which the fictional timeline departs from the historical record. Alternate history books explore questions of “what if,” or what might have been. Canadians are among the most prominent writers in the genre.
Alternate history books by Canadian authors
This list is intended to be a starter, rather than exhaustive. It includes a sample of alternate history books by Canadians published in English within the last four decades. It leaves out many alternate histories by Canadians that fall more into the science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, or time travel categories, as well as books intended primarily for children and teenagers, and books published in French. Some of the authors on the list might surprise you, either because you didn’t realize they were Canadian, or because you’re used to seeing their names in another context.
The Draka Series by S.M. Stirling (1988-2000)
What if British Loyalists escaped to South Africa after the American Revolution, rather than to Canada?
The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (1990)
What if Charles Babbage perfected his Analytical Engine during the Industrial Revolution and the computer age arrived a century ahead of its time?
The Years of Longdirk Trilogy by Dave Duncan writing under the name of Ken Hood (1995-1997)
What if Ogedai Khan did not die in 1241 and the Mongols continued their advance into and conquest of Europe?
Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson (1998)
What if Europe and parts of Asia and Africa were suddenly replaced by a vast alien wilderness in 1912?
Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas edited by Mark Shainblum and John Dupuis (1998)
An anthology of Canadian “what-ifs.”
The Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer (2002-2003)
What if Neanderthals became the dominant branch of humanity on Earth in a parallel universe?
Conquistador by S.M. Stirling (2003)
What if the Europeans never conquered the Americas?
The Small Change Series by Jo Walton (2006-2008)
What if Britain made peace with Adolf Hitler in 1941?
War Plan Crimson by Michael Cnudde (2011)
What if an attempt by a group of Wall Street power brokers to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 had succeeded?
Faultline 49 by Joe MacKinnon writing under the name of David Danson (2012)
What if the September 11, 2001 bombings happened in Edmonton with American perpetrators?
Napoleon in America by Shannon Selin (2014)
What if Napoleon escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States in 1821?
My Real Children by Jo Walton (2014)
What if John F. Kennedy was killed by a bomb in 1963? Or what if he chose not to run in 1964 after an escalated Cuban Missile Crisis led to the nuclear obliteration of Miami and Kiev?
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (2017)
What if the invention of a unlimited-energy producing system in the 1960s led to very rapid technological advancement?
Agency by William Gibson (2018)
What if Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in 2016, and Britain voted “remain” in the EU referendum?
Tales from the Black Chamber Series by S.M. Stirling (2018-2022)
What if Theodore Roosevelt became president of the United States in 1912?
The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer (2020)
What if physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the team of scientists behind the Manhattan Project had to direct their nuclear weapon expertise towards protecting Earth from the sun?
The Good German: A Novel by Dennis Bock (2020)
What if German anti-fascist Georg Elser succeeded in assassinating Adolf Hitler in November 1939?
Billy (the Kid) by Peter Meech (2020)
What if Sheriff Pat Garrett hadn’t shot and killed William Bonney in 1881?
The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield (2021)
What if there had been an Apollo 18 moon mission in 1973?
Other Covenants: Alternate Histories of the Jewish People edited by Andrea D. Lobel and Mark Shainblum (listed for 2020, but apparently still forthcoming)
The first-ever anthology of Jewish alternate history fiction.
I invite readers to add other alternate history books by Canadians in the comments.
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We must confess that fate, which sports with man, makes merry work with the affairs of this world.