Counterfactual history and Norway / Columns / The Foreigner

Counterfactual history and Norway. 'If you could change one thing in history, what would you do?' This quotation is effectively the tagline of Ben Elton's novel 'Time and Time Again'. It explores counterfactual history: 'what if' scenarios about the past which would create different presents and futures. A common individual targeted is Adolf Hitler. Stephen Fry's novel 'Making History' details possible consequences of Hitler never being born.

history, time, events, paywall



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Counterfactual history and Norway

Published on Friday, 29th April, 2016 at 21:11 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

'If you could change one thing in history, what would you do?'

Rock carvings near Stavanger
Would you change this history?Rock carvings near Stavanger
Photo: Ilan Kelman


This quotation is effectively the tagline of Ben Elton's novel 'Time and Time Again'. It explores counterfactual history: 'what if' scenarios about the past which would create different presents and futures.

A common individual targeted is Adolf Hitler. Stephen Fry's novel 'Making History' details possible consequences of Hitler never being born.

Most examples highlight humanity-shaping politics, religion, and war. Kim Stanley Robinson's book 'The Years of Rice and Salt' is history after the Black Death wipes out Christians. His short story 'A Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions' develops scenarios surrounding the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.

Does Norwegian history display any humanity-shaping moments? If you could change one thing in Norwegian history, what would you do? What difference would it make for Norway and the world?

Would you provide information to ensure success during the first attempt at sabotaging the Nazis' heavy water plant? Would you alter a national election outcome?

Would you prefer to avert disaster? Would you stop the Scandinavian Star from sailing prior to the 7 April 1990 fires? Would you interfere with the perpetrator to prevent 22 July 2011? Would you mandate education about tsunamis in primary schools in the decades before 26 December 2004?

Would you prefer before the 20th century? How could the repercussions be known of assassinating a Mesolithic leader in Norway?

Perhaps, instead, you would assume that fiction gives a warning. A warning that tampering with history does not necessarily make the present better.

Ilan Kelman is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London. He assumes his current life is his only reality.



Published on Friday, 29th April, 2016 at 21:11 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: history, time, events, paywall.





  
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