Alternative Histories of the West
Alternate history is a genre that blends elements of science fiction, fantasy and history into a 'what if' scenario that explores the implications of a different outcome in a particular historical event. The stories asks questions like, "where would we be if Germany had won the second world war?" Or perhaps, "what would the world be like now if electricity had not been discovered and we relied on steam power for all our needs?" Over the last couple of decades this genre has come into its own gaining new fans and attacting some excellent writers. In the last few years, the Old West has become the subject of focus for some very unusual alternative history stories.
In Territory, World Fantasy-finalist Emma Bull portrays the historic gunfight at the OK corral as a struggle for magical dominance between the Earps and the Clanton gang.
Buntline Special by Hugo winner Mike Resnick is a steampunk take on the same event rife with zombies, cyborgs, vampires, magic and exotic mechanisms sprinkled with generous doses of humor.
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus is the story of May Dodd, one of a group of white women sent west by the U. S. government in 1875 to intermarry with the Cheyenne Indians in an effort to assimilate them and avoid more bloodshed.
The Spirit of Thunder by Kurt Giambastiani is second of a series about the Battle of the Little Big Horn. It asks, what if Custer had won the battle and gone on the become President of the United States. And what if his son, George Armstrong Custer Jr., decided to side with the Cheyenne and became their war chief and fight against the encroaching white culture?
Black Hills by Dan Simmons is not an alternate history per se. Rather it is more of an historical novel with a supernatural twist. Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior counts coup on Custer as he lays dying on the battlefied at Little Big Horn and becomes inhabited by his ghost which he carries with him for the next six decades.
And with the upcoming movie "Cowboys and Aliens" we may see a lot of fresh interest is the alterntive history of the West!