A few weeks ago I basically wasted a couple days of my life getting sucked into the alternate history wiki. http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.php
(there are two, the one I'm talking about is at this link)
This shit is insane. Basically, it's a board where a bunch of legit history buffs (and probably actual historians) go on about what-if scenarios. What's really cool is that they'll usually discuss a "Point of Divergence" (POD) and then speculate on what butterfly effects this slightly altered event could have over the course of centuries, though rarely stretching to the present day. Sometimes they do "challenges" asking "How could the Australian aborigines have built a powerful civilization before Europeans got there?" or "Could Ancient Egypt have survived longer than it did?" Then, the really successful "timelines" get written out into full, well, timelines, and even full-blown stories that could probably be novellas or something. They even have awards for all this.
What's really amazing is, from reading all this I actually learned quite a bit about the factors that make civilizations rise and fall, particularly what set the balance of power between the continents of the world. From what I gather, a region's place in the world today is hugely affected by two major factors: 1) whatever natural resources were there 10,000 years ago, and 2) whether or not it got invaded by the Mongols in the 13th century.Now Blooms The Tudor Rose
-- What if Elizabeth I had been born male (and thus named Henry IX)? (http://www.alternatehistory.com/discuss ... p?t=276957
Over a 14-year timeline this dude basically wrote an alternate season of The Tudors. Goes into how all the major personalities of the era react and how that in turn affects geopolitics throughout the 16th century.Lands of Red and Gold
-- What if the Australian Yam had mutated into a suitable founder crop for the Aborigines, and thus the foundation for a whole other cradle of civilization? (http://wiki.alternatehistory.com/doku.p ... d_and_gold
Starts way at the beginning in prehistory and lays out basically an entire history of like 4,000 years during which native Australian civilizations rise and fall, eventually forming a patchwork of kingdoms and empires across the continent and Tasmania.Timeline of Ancient Egypt semi-plausibly surviving until 2004 AD.
-- Basically they determined that a big reason the land of the pharaohs fell under other empires is because it simply ran out of gold. (http://www.alternatehistory.com/discuss ... p?t=26778&
) The POD here is that circa 600BC Necho II becomes expansionist into sub-Saharan Africa and discovers a couple mines there. From there this guy writes two and a half thousand years of alternate timeline.Where Hearts Are Entertaining June
-- England colonizes South America (Brazil) instead of North America. (http://toixstory.deviantart.com/art/Whe ... -448569701
)Discussions on how to "buff" Native Americans.http://www.alternatehistory.com/discuss ... p?t=155466http://www.alternatehistory.com/discuss ... hp?t=13010
What originally drew me into this were some pages from deviant artists who actually take these alternate histories and make detailed maps of them.
This is the one that initially blew me away -- http://toixstory.deviantart.com/art/The ... -491432540
POD: 876 AD. Current year: 1894. Make sure you try to read the map as it's displayed on that page. It's written in "English."
Basically, Huang Chao dies in this timeline years before he can commit the Guanzhang Massacre, allowing Islam's influence to spread through China's elite class. Eventually this somehow prevents the Golden Horde from really happening, tossing up the entire history of Europe and the Middle East. The words you read on that map are the result of an England minus the 1066 invasion.
Just go through that whole DA gallery really. It's an Alternate History repository in itself.
A Lands of Red And Gold Tasmania map -- http://marcosceia.deviantart.com/art/La ... -125732563
I'm guessing it's circa 1609.