Alien space bats

Alien space bats

Alien space bats (ASBs) is a term for plot devices sometimes used in alternate history to create a point of divergence that would otherwise be implausible.


The term "alien space bats" was first coined, then popularized in the usenet group [ soc.history.what-if] . The term was originally meant as a sarcastic attack on poor alternate histories due to lack of plausibility. These attacks are usually phrased in terms of the need for “Alien Space Bats” or ASBs as the motive force behind the change. This original definition was used by one critic in a review of Robert Conroy's "1862". [cite web |url= |title=Robert Conroy’s “1862: A Novel”: a Critical Analysis |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author=Bryn Monnery |date= |work= |publisher=] The term eventually evolved into a deus ex machina to create an impossible point of divergences.cite web |url= |title=What are the Alien Space Bats? (soc.history.what-if) |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author=Stas Bekman|date= |work= |] Examples include changes to the physical laws of nature, introducing magic into the world, time travel, and advanced aliens interfering in human affairs. An example of aliens interfering in human affairs to change the direction of history is Harry Turtledove's "Worldwar" series. [cite web |url= |title=Frequently Asked Questions |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author= |date= |work= |publisher=Changing the Times]

Alison Brooks is credited as the creator of the term. [cite web |url= |title=Alien Space Bats: A History |accessdate=2008-10-09 |author=Alison Brooks |date=04/15/1999 |work= |publisher=soc.history.what-if] Brooks regretted the use of the ASBs as a supernatural agency, preferring to restrict them to rhetoric. S. M. Stirling credited Brooks with creating the term in the acknowledgments section of "Dies the Fire" [cite book | last=Stirling | first=S.M. | authorlink=S.M. Stirling | title=Dies the Fire| location=New York | publisher=Roc | pages=496 | date=2004 |id=ISBN 0451459792] and also used the plot device to send Nantucket back in time in "Island in the Sea of Time" and changing the laws of nature in "Dies the Fire". [cite web |url= |title=Alison Brooks |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author=Christopher Nuttall |date= |work= |publisher=Changing the Times] [cite web |url= |title=Off the Shelf: Dies the Fire |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author=Paul Di Filippo |date= |work=Book Review |] One character throughout "Dies the Fire" and its sequels believes the change to the laws of nature were done by an advanced race because the changes were finely tailored and refers to this race as alien space bats. [cite web |url= |title=S.M. Stirling: Turning Points |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author= |date=January 2006 |work=Interview |publisher=Locus Online] [cite web |url= |title="The Protector's War" Chapter 2 |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author=S. M. Stirling |date= |work=Sample Chapter |] In a review of "Dies the Fire", Dale Cozort addressed the implausibility of the novel by saying "Just say to yourself, 'The elder gods or alien space bats took our toys away and that’s all there is to it.'" [cite web |url= |title=Review: Dies The Fire - By Steve Stirling |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author=Dale Cozort |date=2004 |work= |publisher=Dale Cozort's Alternate History Newsletter]

A Strange Horizons reviewer described alien space bats as "everyone’s favourite SF plot McGuffin." In Ken MacLeod's "Learning the World" alien space bats actually appear as characters in the novel as an in-joke. [cite web |url= |title=Two Views: Learning the World by Ken Macleod |accessdate=2008-10-08 |last=Harrison |first=Niall |coauthors=Dan Hartland |date=12/15/2005 |work=Book Review |publisher=Strange Horizons] [cite web |url= |title=Ken MacLeod: Politics & SF |accessdate=2008-10-08 |author= |date=September 2006 |work=Interview |publisher=Locus Online]

ee also

*Assiti Shards effect


External links

* [ Alien Space Bats and Other Magic] on the Alternate History Discussion Board.
* [ "Alien Space Bats" on Alternative History Wikia]
* [ The Original Alien Space Bats - Irony and Steal] - a fictional story featuring alien space bats by Alison Brooks
* [ "Alien Space Bats" on the Alternate History FAQ] page of the [ Alternate History Wiki]
* [ Alien Space Bats Yahoo Group]
* [ Alien Space Bats] on [ Alternate History Books]

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