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5 SciFi Novels That Reimagine the Past

Alternate histories occupy a murky space in science fiction, as they can easily lean more speculative than scientific. Sci-fi loves to ask its audience plenty of “what ifs?”, but we’ve gathered a list of novels that focus on asking how those same scenarios might have played out further back in the timeline. Check it out here!


The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal (Lady Astronauts #3)

The Relentless Moon, the third installment in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronauts series, takes us to the stars. Earth is quickly becoming inhabitable after a disaster-inducing meteor strikes 1950’s America. The only viable solution is to fast-track a spaceflight exodus. Despite impending doom, there are still many threats of sabotage against the space program as humankind’s first Moon colony struggles to find its footing.

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Everfair by Nisi Shawl

From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl, Everfair is a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo. What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have become of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier? Shawl manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history.

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The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

From Annalee Newitz, founding editor of io9, comes a story of time travel, murder, and the lengths we’ll go to protect the ones we love. The Future of Another Timeline weaves together the lives of one punk 90’s teen and a woman intent on fighting back against a small elite group with the power to change the past, present, and future. As war breaks out across the timeline, is it possible for one person’s actions to make a difference? Available in paperback on 10/06!

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A History of What Comes Next by Sylvain Neuvel (A History of What Comes Next #1)

Showing that truth is stranger than fiction, Sylvain Neuvel weaves a sc-fi thriller reminiscent of Blake Crouch and Andy Weir, blending a fast moving, darkly satirical look at 1940’s rocketry with an exploration of the amorality of progress and the nature of violence in A History of What Comes Next. It’s a darkly satirical first contact thriller, as seen through the eyes of the women who make progress possible and the men who are determined to stop them.

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Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis (Noumena #1)

From our friends over at St. Martin’s Press, Axiom’s End is Hugo finalist and video essayist Lindsay Ellis’s debut novel. Set a little over a decade ago in 2007, a U.S. government leak unveils that first contact has already happened. Cora Sabino is intent on becomes the first human interpreter for the alien population.

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4 thoughts on “5 SciFi Novels That Reimagine the Past

    1. Sorry, Keith Roberts – slip of the keyboard.
      Pavane is probably too old, too ‘historical’ and too British to make this cut.

  1. I only recently heard about Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronauts” series from a friend. Very much looking forward to reading it.
    A good, recent alternate history I recently read is “The Oppenheimer Alternative” by Robert Sawyer. Very interesting twist there.
    Of course, Harry Turtledove has any number of alternate histories that are worth reading. Two of my favorites are “The Guns of the South” and “Ruled Britannia”.

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