Call for Papers

Sideways in Time: Alternate History and Counterfactual Narratives

Essay Collection

Following a highly successful two day international conference on alternate history held at the University of Liverpool and organised in conjunction with Lancaster University, the conference organisers are now seeking to supplement extended conference papers with other work in order to publish an essay collection which represents the diversity and depth of alternate history and counterfactual narrative scholarship.

Applicants should submit 500 word abstracts, a 100 word bionote, and a CV (no more than two pages in length). Please also include a list of any images you may require for your publication; it will be the author’s responsibility to secure appropriate copyright permissions for any materials included.

Final papers will be approximately 6000 words in length, although proposals for papers which are both shorter and longer will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Successful applicants will be used as part of a book proposal to an academic publisher with the intention of being included in the final collection, edited by the conference organisers Glyn Morgan (University of Liverpool) and Charul Patel (Lancaster University).

Whilst any paper on the topic of alternate history and/or counterfactual narratives will be considered, the organisers are particularly interested in abstracts for papers on the following:

  • The history of, or historical, alternate histories
  • Alternate history from outside of Britain and the USA, particularly non-English speaking cultures
  • Alternate histories by, or about, non-cisgender communities or individuals
  • Alternate histories by female authors and/or ones which engage with feminist issues
  • Papers which otherwise connect, or challenge a connection of, alternate history to another literary genre, social issue, literary theory, ideology, or discipline.
  • Alternate history outside of the novel: tv, film, graphic novels, short fiction, etc…

Deadline for abstracts: September 1st 2015, at which point a book proposal will be submitted with the aim of receiving full papers in early 2016 and publishing the collection later that year following a blind peer-review process.

Please submit abstracts and queries to

Post-Conference Musings

Posted: April 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

I think I can humbly say that the conference was a great success! Thank you to all of our speakers and our amazing keynotes. We appreciate your enthusiasm and it was great to be part of such a friendly group.

We’ve had lots of requests from people who were unable to attend to make the conference accessible to the public. While we were unable to record the event, many of you are aware that we are planning on an edited book collection (watch this space for the CFP). In the meanwhile, it would be great if our presenters can add themselves to the Facebook page (if you haven’t done so already and if you have Facebook, I think it will be easier for people to find you through the Sideways page in order to discuss your paper.

Final few plugs: CFP for the Fantastika conference is accessible at . Deadlines for abstracts are extended until the end of the weekend. You can also find details for CRSF at . While we can’t promise another Sideways conference any time soon, we hope you can make it to these other events that we are organizing!

Once again, thank you all for an amazing few days. It was great to meet all of you, and I am so happy we put on this event. Keep in touch!!

Best Wishes,

Chuckie (Charul) Patel and Glyn Morgan

Announcing the Sideways in Time Schedule!

Click on the panel links below to access abstracts for the panels.

And just a reminder that registration is still open here.


Sunday, March 29

5.00pm                       Free Pre-Conference Social: Stephen Baxter and Adam Roberts discuss their fiction at Waterstones Liverpool One


Monday, March 30

8:30am – 9:30am      Registration

9:30am – 10:30am    Keynote: Karen Hellekson, “Agency and Contingency in Televisual Alternate History Texts”

10:30am – 12:00pm  Panel 1 – Examining Female Perspectives of Alternate History

12:00pm – 1:00pm    Panel 2 – Responses to the Enlightenment

1:00pm – 1:45pm      Lunch

1:45pm – 2:45pm      Keynote: Stephen Baxter, “Alternate Cosmologies”

2:45pm – 4:15pm      Panel 3 – Moments and People of Power

4:15pm – 4:30pm      Break

4:30pm – 6:00pm      Panel 4 – Alternate History in Europe


Tuesday, March 31

8:30am – 9:00am      Registration

9:00am – 10:30am    Panel 5 – Examining the Place of Alternate History

10:30am – 12:00pm Panel 6 – Blurring the Boundaries of Alternate History

12:00pm – 1:00pm    Keynote: Adam Roberts, “Geoffroy, Tolstoy and the Fragile Solidity of History”

1:00pm – 1:45pm      Lunch

1:45pm – 2:45pm      Panel 7 – Different Landscapes

2:45pm – 3:45pm      Panel 8 – Alternate History after 9/11

3:45pm – 4:00pm      Break

4:00pm – 5:30pm      Panel 9 – How Do We Know?

5:30pm – 6:30pm      Wine Reception


The wine reception will be followed by a post-conference meal, details tbc.


Day 1

Panel 1 – Examining Female Perspectives of Alternate History

  • Amanda Dillon, University of East Anglia (UK), “Speaking Unspoken Timelines: Feminist Time Travel and Alternate Histories in Kage Baker’s The Company
  • Rosie M. Lewis, Durham University (UK), “Re-envisioning Female Subjectivity, Aesthetics and Collective Resistance in Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames”
  • Sarah Lohmann, Durham University (UK), “On the Edge of Time: Feminist Utopias, Complexity Theory and Parallel Future Histories”


Panel 2 – Responses to the Enlightenment

  • Alex Broadhead, University of Liverpool (UK), “The Romantics in Alternate History from Hawthorne to Card: Beyond Enlightenment Historiography”
  • Jim Clarke, Coventry University (UK), “Unwriting the Reformation: Anti-Catholic uchronias in Science Fiction”


Panel 3 – Moments and People of Power

  • Francis Gene-Rowe, Birkbeck College (UK), “Blasting Open the Historical Continuum: Antihistoricism in Benjamin, Dick & Le Guin”
  • Fred Smoler, Sarah Lawrence College (USA), “Refiguring the Heroic in Two Alternate Histories: Stephen Vincent Benét and Harry Turtledove”
  • Jonathan Rayner, University of Sheffield (UK), “‘Forever being Yamato’: Alternative Pacific War Histories in Japanese Film and Anime”


Panel 4 – Alternate History in Europe

  • Mikhaylo Nazarenko, Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University (Ukraine), “Post-colonial alternate history: the case of Ukrainian literature”
  • Marzena Sokołowska-Paryż, University of Warsaw (Poland) “Ideological (Mis)Uses of Genre: Dystopian Visions of the ‘Past-Present’ in Daniel Quinn’s and Stephen Fry’s Alternate Histories”
  • Chris Pak, Lancaster University, (UK), “‘It Is One Story’: Writing a Global Alternative History in Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt”


Day 2

Panel 5 – Examining the Place of Alternate History

  • Daniel Dohrn, Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany), “Counterfactuals in Historiography – A Philosophical Assessment”
  • Matt Mitrovich, (USA), “Warping History: An Overview of Fans and Creators of Alternate History in the Internet Age”
  • Ursula Troche, (UK), “Alternate History as re-imagining/re-writing: with particular reference to Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and Evaristo’s ‘Blonde Routes’”


Panel 6 – Blurring the Boundaries of Alternate History

  • Pascal Lemaire (Belgium), “Our world, really ? Techno Thrillers and Alternate History”
  • Andrew M. Butler, Canterbury Christ Church University (UK), “Quest for Love: A Cosy Uchronia?”
  • Leimar Garcia-Siino, University of Liverpool (UK), “Alternate [un]Realities: The Possibility and Impossibility of the Fantasy Alternate History”


Panel 7 – Different Landscapes

  • Alan Gregory and Dawn Stobart, Lancaster University (UK), “The Survival of a President: Rewritten American Histories and the Failed Assassination of John F. Kennedy in Stephen King’s 11/22/63”
  • Laura Ettenfield, Leeds Beckett University (UK), “‘The alternate reality of aquatic space in Victor Hugo’s fiction”


Panel 8 – Alternate History after 9/11

  • Anna McFarlane, University of St. Andrews (UK), “Lavie Tidhar’s Osama (2011) and Alternate History After 9/11”
  • Rachel Mizsei Ward (UK), “Impotent in the face of history – How superhero narratives (didn’t) engage with 9/11”


Panel 9 – How Do We Know?: Subjective Epistemologies

  • Chloe Alexandra Germaine Buckley, Lancaster University (UK), “Cthulhu versus Sherlock Holmes: Shadows over Baker Street, epistemological disruption and the ‘willing surrender of disbelief’ in postmillennial alternative-history Weird fiction”
  • Hellen Giblin-Jowett, (UK), “A ‘whiff of printer’s shrapnel’: HG Wells and the nostrils of divergence”
  • Molly Cobb, University of Liverpool (UK), “‘Time is a private matter’: Identity and the subjective nature of time in Alfred Bester’s ‘The Men Who Murdered Mohammed'”

Website for Registration

Posted: February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

If anyone is having problems with the link below for registration, if you copy/paste the link into a browser, it should work fine (for whatever reason, the link itself is tagged with the wrong url; this should be corrected if the url is entered directly into the browser as text.)

You can now register for the Sideways in Time conference at the following website:
Tickets will be on sale until the week prior to the conference, so please be sure that you – and anyone who you know that is attending – purchases a ticket, as we will not be collecting registration money at the conference.
As well as food and refreshments on both day of the conference, the ticket also gets you into the pre-conference event at Waterstones on Sunday, March 29th. We are holding meet-and-greet and book-signing with 2 of our keynotes: Stephen Baxter and Adam Roberts. You can access details through the Facebook “Sideways in Time” page or contact us for more details. Note that this event costs £3 for the general public, but is free with the cost of conference registration.
We hope to have the conference schedule released soon, just as soon as we confirm the final few partcipants. Stay tuned for more details!


Posted: November 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

If you’re trying to find us on facebook, here’s the link to the page:!/sidewaysintime

and to the event:!/events/253375011539280/

Now that we have confirmed the keynote speakers, I am posting the final version of the CFP. Please note the change in date from the original version.


Sideways in Time: Alternate History and Counterfactual Narratives:

March 30-31, 2015


Sideways in Time is an Alternate History Conference to be held at the University of Liverpool – in association with Lancaster University. This interdisciplinary conferences will bring together scholarship in science fiction, fantasy, historical and literary fictions, as well as historians and counterfactual thought-experiments, to discuss those fictional narratives that deals with alternate histories and parallel worlds.


We are pleased to announce Karen Hellekson, Adam Roberts, and Stephen Baxter as our keynote speakers. Karen Hellekson is a leading authority on alternate history fiction (The Alternate History: Refiguring Historical Time, 2001). Professor Adam Roberts is a leading science fiction critic and also an award-winning author who employs alternate history elements into some of his fiction (most notably Swiftly, shortlisted for the 2009 Sidewise Award). Stephen Baxter is currently a judge of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, as well as being one of the former winners (“Brigantia’s Angels”, Voyage).


Why Alternate History? 

Alternate History has a long and international pedigree. Whilst most cultures and literary traditions can trace their own heritage of alternate history, Alternate History arguments in the Western Canon can be traced into antiquity with Livy’s meditations on Alexander the Great. In their modern form, they emerged in France in the early 19th century before crossing into English at the latter half of the century. The form also become popular with historians and essayists, a notable early history collection being If It Had Happened Otherwise (1931) edited by John Squire which included counterfactual essays by, among others, Hilaire Belloc, Andre Maurois and Winston Churchill. It was not until H.G. Wells’s late novel Men Like Gods that the form crossed into the territory of science fiction, and was not truly popularised until Murray Leinster’s crucial story “Sidewise in Time” published in Astounding in 1934.


Since 1934, the form has become a staple of science fiction and fantasy story-telling, sometimes including time travel or magic as a means of explaining the cause of the alternate history. However, the form has also been adopted by the literary mainstream with writers who chose not to relate their alternate world to our own, instead taking the lead from conventions of historical fiction. As such, Alternate History has attracted such non-genre writers as Nabakov, Kingsley Amis, Robert Harris, Philip Roth, Michael Chabon and many more.


Despite a long and diverse history, alternate history has attracted surprisingly little scholarship. This conference will attempt to establish lines of communication which will rectify this deficit. It is hoped a selection of the essays presented at the conference will be made available as part of a published collection.


We are interested in papers analysing specific alternate history texts from all mediums including novels, cinema, comics and beyond. We also welcome broader papers on the various periods, subgenres, movements and modes of alternate history including steampunk, retro-futurism and more. Papers can be based on, amongst other things, theory, texts, cultural surveys, philosophy, and media studies.


Please submit a 300 word abstract to along with a 50 word bionote by December 15, 2014.

It is my great pleasure to announce our 3rd keynote speaker, Stephen Baxter! As well as serving as one of the judges of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, Stephen Baxter is also one of the former winners.

Just a reminder that Karen Hellekson, leading authority on alternate history fiction, and Professor Adam Roberts, leading science fiction critic and also an award-winning author, are also our keynote speakers.

3 great keynotes = 1 great conference!

I am pleased to announce Adam Roberts as our second keynote speaker!

Professor Adam Roberts is a leading science fiction critic and also an award-winning author who employs alternate history elements into some of his fiction.

Just a reminder that Karen Hellekson, leading authority on alternate history fiction, is our other keynote speaker. This is sure to be a great conference!

Just a note that we are moving the conference to March 30-31st. We hope that this change doesn’t interfere with anyone’s plans and that all interested parties are still able to attend!