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Point of Divergence

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Point of Divergence or POD, also known as point of departure, break-point, or several other synonyms, is a part of alternate history fiction. It is the moment when the fictional world's history stops following the same course of events as our timeline.

Many alternate history stories use an important battle as a Point of Divergence. In the Southern Victory series, the POD occurs on September 10, 1862, when important military orders lost by a Confederate courier are immediately recovered by Confederate troops. In our timeline, the orders were discovered by Union forces. The consequence of that change is that the Confederate States win the American Civil War.

A Point of Divergence can also be a natural event not related to the acts of human beings, and might be in the distant past. For example, in the Atlantis series the POD is related to tectonic forces working differently than in OTL, 85 million years in the past, causing a subcontinent to break off from North America and drift into the mid-Atlantic; in A World of Difference the POD is related to planet-forming forces creating, in the fourth orbit outwards from the Sun, a planet substantially different from our Mars.

Some stories have an initial POD and a relevant POD. In Joe Steele, which focuses on an alternate American history, the initial POD comes in 1878 when the Djugashvili family emigrate from Russia to America. Their son Iosif thus grows up as an American named Joe Steele rather than the Soviet figure Joseph Stalin he became in OTL. However, this does not affect American history until the relevant POD in 1932, which happens when Steele uses brutal tactics to secure the Democratic nomination for the presidential election. In A World of Difference, the initial POD comes millions of years ago when the development of Mars is altered, as noted above, but the relevant POD comes only in 1976 when NASA space probes discover Minervans.

Story Relevant Point of Divergence Year of Publication
Agent of Byzantium 610 1988
Atlantis* 1452 2005-2009
But It Does Move 1633 2009
Cayos in the Stream 1942 2013
Counting Potsherds 480 BCE 1989
Curious Notions 1914 2004
The Daimon 415 BCE 2002
Days of Infamy 1941 2004-2005
A Different Flesh* 1492 1988
The Disunited States of America 1787 2006
The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging 1944 2014
The Gladiator 1962 2007
Gunpowder Empire 12 BCE 2003
The Guns of the South 1864 1992
Hindsight 1949 1984
The Hot War 1950 2015-
The House That George Built 1914 2009
In High Places 1348 2006
In the Presence of Mine Enemies 1940 1992-2003
Islands in the Sea 717 1989
Joe Steele* 1932 2003-2015
The Last Article 1940 1988
Lee at the Alamo 1860 2011
The Man With the Iron Heart 1945 2008
The More it Changes 1666 2014
Must and Shall 1864 1995
News From the Front 1941 2007
The Phantom Tolbukhin 1937 1998
Ready for the Fatherland 1943 1991
Report of the Special Committee on the Quality of Life 1491 1980
Ruled Britannia 1588 2003
Shock and Awe 717 1989
Shtetl Days 1940 2011
Southern Victory 1862 1997-2007
The Two Georges 1763 1995
Uncle Alf 1914 2002
The Valley-Westside War* 1967 2008
The War That Came Early* 1938 2009-2014
A World of Difference* 1976 1990
Worldwar 1942 1994-2004

A * indicates that the relevant POD is not the initial POD.

Sometimes Turtledove specifies the date of the POD within the story, e.g. "Must and Shall" and "Ready for the Fatherland" pinpoint their PODs as July 12, 1864 and February 19, 1943, respectively. At other times, the POD is only referenced generally, e.g. most of his Nazis-win-World War II stories have PODs vague enough to be either in 1940 or 1941, and The Two Georges puts its POD anywhere between 1763 and 1768. In these and other cases, the above list uses the most reasonable estimate.

See AlsoEdit

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