Conclusion: Infinite Worlds
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Twentieth-century works of alternate history demonstrate the coalescence of counterfactual historical narratives and science-fictional presentations of infinite historical variations. Stories by Borges and Philip K. Dick’s novel, The Man in the High Castle (1962), exemplify the latter tendency, while counterfactual speculations by historians on the bicentennial anniversary of Waterloo are examples of the former. Works of alternate history in the nineteenth century differed in their combination of the timescales of literary formats—for instance the historical romance and the lost-world narrative, evolutionary theory , and journalistic reportage—with the new chronologies of emergent disciplines of knowledge and techniques of writing. These “untimely meditations” in the nineteenth century explored the disjuncture of these older and newer timescales, and illuminate the way writers in the nineteenth century encountered the past.