A Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Written by Alternate Historian

Quick Links

Blog Roll
Changing the Times
Everything Is History
This Day in AH
Voice Christian Worker
Editor's Recommendations
Althistory Wiki
Editor's Postbag
Lets Talk About History
Selected Threads
Reader's Favourites
Top 100 Ranked Stories
Site Construction
Archive Navigator
Clean DB
Get Blogs
Newsfeed Update

Selected threads

Guest Historian Andrew Beane
 Andrews Posts
Guest Historian Chris Oakley
 Apollo 1  Arnold Hiller
 Axis Spain  Baltimore Colts
 Barbaro 2006  Barbarossa 41
 Battle Alaska  Belgium 1940
 Biti Letter  Blackpool 40
 British X Files  Ceaucescu 90
 Chance Encounter  Charles Barkley
 Chicago19  Cimino
 Cleopatra  CSI
 Cuba '62  Curt Flood
 D.B. Cooper  Dead Serious
 Double Jeopardy  Eternal City
 Falklands  France 44
 Francis Urquhart  Giant Surprise
 God Save Queen  Grey Cup
 GZ Murmansk  Hirohito@100
 Houston 57  Ice Bowl
 Ill Wind  Iraq NEO Impact
 Jamaica Bay  Japan45
 Jay Sebring  Johnny Damon
 Kirk Prime  Korea 53
 Koufax 35  Last Broadcast
 Lusitania '15  McCain 09
 Middle East 67  Moore 911
 Necessary Evil  New York Knights
 O Tempora, ..  Omega Man
 Oswald63  Parley
 Roswell '47  Salems Lot
 Shirers WW2  Shock
 SL Rangers  Surprise Attack
 The Devourer  Titanic 13
 Tom Brady  Tommies
 Tommy Rich  Trek49
 Valkyrie  Weebls
 Worlds Collide
Guest Historian David Atwell
 Action Jackson  Hells Doors
 Hell on Earth  House Cromwell
Guest Historian David Cryan
 Swine Flu
Guest Historian Dirk Puehl
 Dirks Blog
Guest Historian Eric Lipps
 49th State  Bonaparte 2
 Cuba War  Da Vinci Engine
 Ford Killed  Gore Wins
 JFK Impeached  Liberty Fails
 Lifeterm  Linebacker
 NoChappaquiddick  Whig Revolution
Guest Historian Eric Oppen
 AuH20  Malcolm X
 No Tolkien  Trotsky's War
Guest Historian Gerry Shannon
 CSA Today  Godfather IV
 Hero Oswald  JFK Lives
 Seinfeld Movie
Guest Historian Jackie Rose
 Happy Endings
Guest Historian Jeff Provine
 Jeff Provine Blog
Guest Historian John J. Reilly
 John Reilly Blog
Guest Historian Jackie Speel
 Bosworth 1486  Conjoined Crisis
Guest Historian Kwame Dallas
 African Holocaust
Guest Historian Mike Stone
 WJ Bryan
Guest Historian Raymond Speer
 Cuba War 62  Fall of Britain
 Fascist Flight
 Gettysburg Prayer
 Pacific and Dixie
Alternate Historian Robbie Taylor
 2nd Coming  Canadian Rev
 Chdo Democracy  King Arthur II
 Lucifer Falls  Pete Best Story
 Protocols  Reagan 1976
 Richard Tolman  Sockless
 Soviet America  Speakers Line
 The Sheridans  The Baron
 The Claw  Warp
 Welsh Wizards
Guest Historian Scott Palter
 WW2 Alt
Todayinah Editor Todayinah Ed.
 1850 Compromise  1860 Crisis
 20c Rome  Alt WW2
 American Heroes  Anschluss
 Bomber Harris  British Empire +
 Business Plot  Canadian Heroes
 China 4ever  Communist GB
 Communist Israel  Comrade Hiller
 Comrade Stalin  Co presidency
 Deepwater  Fed Lost Cause
 Flugzeugtrager  Glorious45
 Good Old Willie  Gor Smugglers
 Happy Hitler  Hitler Waxwork
 Intrepid  Iron Mare
 Islamic America  Israel's 60th
 Jewish Hitler  Kaiser Victory
 Liberty Beacon  Lloyd George
 LOTR  Madagscar Plan
 Manhattan '46  McBush
 Midshipman GW  Moonbase
 No Apollo 1 Fire  NY City State
 Obama  Oliver Stanley
 Peace City One  POTUS TedK
 POTUS Nathaniel  Puritan World
 Resource War  Sitka
 Southern Cross  Texan Republic
 The Miracles  Traitor
 Tudor B*stards  Tyrants
 Ukraine 1920  US is Born Again
 US mini-states  US Heroes
 Victory Disease  War on Terror +
 WhiteHouse Wimp  Wolfes Legacy
Guest Historian Zach Timmons
 Alt Indiana Jones
 Brett as 007  The Duke

Archive Navigator

January February March
April May June
July August September
October November December

Editor's Postbag     |     Feed

All Postbag Items
Reader's Favourites
Janowska Escape
President Boone
Dessalines Lives
Ike's Epiphany
Bolingbroke executed
Aztec Invasion
Freeman's Farm
Camp David
POTUS Scoop Jackson
Gusmao Fails
Dutch Courage Part 8
Duke's Dedication
Katanga Recognized
Cabral makes landfall
Cheap Shots, Redux
Warp Speed
The All-American Boys
Nixon dies
Brother Sacha
Cheap Shots
Tragedy at Coburg
Gleiwitz incident
Baldwin as Batman
Bismarck Denied
Austrian Throne Empty
Down in Flames 5
War in New Guinea
Arrests at Central Cafe
Nieuw Zwolle
Death of President William King
White Ghost
Hibernian Union
L'architecte de la victoire
Electric Nightmares 3
British San Juan
Bay of Pigs, Redux
Dubcek Back Channel
Birth of Julius Dubcek
Toledo Rebellion
Telegraph Part 13
Happy Endings 46
RMS Titanic
Yamasee War
Tokhtamysh Victorious
Happy Endings 3
King Oliver
Battle of Barnet
Night of Terror
Art of War
Sir Thomas Jefferson
Margaret Thatcher
President Bill Davis
Vienna Vanquished
Cosmonaut Leonov
Toast of Fascist China
FDR Suffers Minor Stroke
Mary Follows William in Death
Down in Flames 4
Pacific War Redux
Korean War widens
Mistress Boleyn
Mount Tambora Merely Burps
Fifth Beatle
London Uprising, Part 2
Down in Flames 3
Shaken, Not Stirred 11
Off the Bench
American Guerillas
Bacons Invention
Edward IV Survives

Site Meter

November 9

In 1916, in the midst of trench fever, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, signals officer with the Lancashire Fusiliers, began hallucinations that would forever change him.

JRR Tolkien Hallucinates in the Trenches He was meant to have been invalided the day before, but he chose to stay behind to let another, sicker soldier take his place. Still in the miserable conditions of the trenches, Tolkien relapsed the next day into a high fever, crippling muscle soreness in his legs, and stabbing pain in his eyes. Others went to fetch a medic while he remained propped in the dark of a supply tent, near an unused machine gun. He had listened to the thunderous blasts of machine gun fire often in training in Staffordshire and later in combat during the Somme offensive.

This time, however, the noise was only in his mind, which translated the mechanical pattering into a language. He thought he could just about translate the words, a series of taps as if a living telegraph key, reassuring him that the gun would fight on just as a fellow soldier would. When medics arrived to take him away from the front, he told them, "The gun. It shall fight on".

Tolkien returned to England and to his wife, Edith, whom he had married three years before after five years of waiting due to his guardian's refusal they see one another before Tolkien was 21. He would spend the rest of the war alternately in hospitals or on light guard duty since he was too ill with recurrent fever to participate other than stints in camps on the home front, but honor kept him in the service until the end of the war. While recovering, Tolkien would begin writing fanciful stories, mixing the worlds of myth he had always studied with his new ideas of animated machines. He devoured science romances of Jules Verne and the like, but the use of machines as tools carried too little personification. Instead, Tolkien created machines that were as human as men, with personalities and special skills, just as the dwarves or elf creatures in Northern European myth. One of his first stories, "Fall of Gondolin" told of a city made of machines, each working its duty to create a glorious world, and its betrayal and destruction by the armies of an industrial behemoth monster called Morgoth ("Black Foe of the World" in Klindirin, a clicking language he invented for his machines).

Tolkien was not the only fiction-writer fascinated with intelligent machines. Just after the turn of the century, Frank L. Baum wrote about Tik-tok, a living clockwork being. The idea was taken further in 1921 by the Czech playwright Karel Capek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), first coining the term "robot" for a humanlike automaton built to do work. Films would soon have their own robots with Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927 giving a robot indistinguishable from the human Maria. In all of these, the machines were written to emulate humans, but Tolkien's stories went further, creating a world complete with history, language, and culture with different races of machines, not metal emulations of humanity. His studies of myth, particularly Beowulf, turned him to a sense of social tribalism and competition over resources. In 1936, Tolkien published The Robbit about a portly, quiet machine chosen by a magical Tinkerer to join a quest to liberate a coal mine from Smaug, an ancient predatory machine. This and the following Bearing trilogy would inspire the next generation of science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.

While he would continue to write during his free time, Tolkien's professional life kept him busy. He worked for the Oxford English Dictionary, became the youngest professor at the University of Leeds, and finally settled at Oxford first at Pembroke College and then Merton, becoming chair of English Language and Literature. Tolkien often ate with fellow writers in a club nicknamed "The Inklings", including C.S. Lewis, the unquestioned Father of Modern Fantasy with his Wardrobe tales. In World War II, Tolkien served his country again as a code-breaker (though was notoriously vocal about his anti-war sentiments) and worked alongside men such as Alan Turing, who would be inspired by Tolkien's ideas on machine communication. While Tolkien never officially worked on computer development projects, he and Turing kept close correspondence, even through Turing's indecency debacle in the early ?50s. Shortly before Tolkien's death in 1973, Turing's Beren system came online, creating the first vocal command interface and allowing man and machine to talk just as Tolkien dreamed. Mankind would far surpass Arthur C. Clarke's description of a "HAL 9000" by its fictional birth date in 1997 for his 2001: A Space Odyssey.

© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.