What If?

Darren Blair | Shop the Insanity

Believe it or not, it’s hypothetically possible that this column could have simply never happened. There was a chain of events that led to it existing, and had even one link in the chain been removed, things could have ended very, very differently. 
For example, well before I even considered pitching this column, I tried my luck with a website known for producing “listicles”, articles that are focused on creating lists of related items. I became a member of their forums, and in time earned access to the writers’ area where listicles could be proposed and comments could be left on other proposals. In due time, however, I discovered the hard way that when it came to certain political and social issues, there was a party line in place. I ran afoul of it on too many instances by providing a few too many pieces of contradictory evidence and a few too many inconvenient facts, and so was ultimately shown the door. 
Would this column, or the movie reviews, still have happened had I been successful in becoming a listicle author? Maybe. Maybe not. It would have depended upon such factors as how many listicles I was able to sell and what work I was able to get elsewhere because of it. The piece-rate *was* generous for the time, however, such that given how minimal (compared to nowadays) my personal expenses were back then I probably could have made a full living off of one a week. All I know is that a few months ago I learned that the website’s party line was finally coming back to haunt it; they eventually got so super into pushing the narrative that they alienated readers until the readership dropped dramatically enough to result in mass layoffs. 
Still though, there is the whole “what might have been?” question afoot here. “What might have been?” is in fact pretty common, as people often contemplate their own personal history as well as the larger history of the world around them. While it’s debatable whether or not wondering about one’s personal “what might have been?” is a good thing, when it comes to wondering about what might have happened on a much larger scale, well, that’s a whole different story. 
You see, in the world of fiction, there’s a rather popular genre known as “Alternate History”, wherein writers posit what might have happened had certain events in history happened differently; Wikipedia has an entire article dedicated to the concept (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternate_history  ). In these works, writers take a look at a historical event, and ponder how things might have been different had something changed. The scope of these works varies greatly, with the change being anything from a simple alteration to space aliens reshaping the course of history.
For example, consider the Titanic, the famed, doomed passenger liner. Some years back it was discovered that the rivets used in the ship were of a lower quality than specified (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/did-weak-rivets-help-do-in-the-titanic/  ). Could the use of the specified rivets have kept the ship from going down? Cue the speculation… and a potential bit for an alternate history piece. 
That’s all there is to it, really. Think of an event, ask what might have changed had something else happened, and go from there. Sounds interesting, eh? If so, check your local library to see if they have any such works you can look at, possibly as an inspiration for your own work. 
Update: The live-action “Battle Angel Alita” adaptation has been pushed back to December, as per The Hollywod Reporter: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/fox-dates-murder-orient-express-s...

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