The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Friday, March 14, 2003

I love alternate history (although being somewhat oldschool and raised on Marvel Comics, I still prefer the term "alternate reality"). I could write at considerable length on my specific preferences within this subgenre, and what a great intellectual puzzle a well-crafted story can present. But, perhaps another time.

In the meantime, my appreciation for alternate history means that I enjoy when I run into it in unexpected places--like in business reporting, for instance. Or on ZDNet. Charles Cooper indulges in some idle speculation on what might have been if Netscape had won the browser wars with Microsoft.

I'm not going to hold Cooper's ideas up to severe scrutiny, because I'm not sure how developed they are. But they are interesting. I think the challenge to Windows is far-fetched, as is the network PC idea (it was questionable to begin with, and the startling advancements made in hard disk/storage technology is what really sealed its fate).

Note the type of reaction these musings get in the comments. What ifs often inspire strong backlashes. I think a lot of people get squirmy over the prospects of different roads taken, probably because it makes them dwell too much on their own lifepaths and whether or not they made the right decisions. Plus, examination and recollection of history (personal and non-personal) tends to instill a view that the courses were unavoidable, and so suggestions that they weren't so concrete can be, I guess, unsettling.