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Alien space bats

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Title: Alien space bats  
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Subject: Alternate history, Operation Sea Lion, MacGuffin, Alderson disk, ASB, Jonbar Hinge, List of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction
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Alien space bats

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

Definition

"Alien space bats" originally was used as a sarcastic attack on poorly written alternate histories due to lack of plausibility. These attacks are usually phrased as the need for alien space bats or by saying the alternate history has gone into "ASB territory". This original definition was used by one critic to criticize Harry Harrison's Stars and Stripes trilogy.[1] The term eventually evolved into a reference to deus ex machina to create an impossible point of divergences.[2] 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 the latter is Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series.[3]

History

The term "alien space bats" was first coined, then popularized in the usenet group

S. M. Stirling credited Brooks with creating the term in the acknowledgments section of Dies the Fire[6] and also used the plot device to send Nantucket back in time in Island in the Sea of Time and change the laws of nature in Dies the Fire.[7][8] One character throughout Dies the Fire and its sequels believes the change to the laws of nature was done by an advanced alien race because the changes were finely tailored and refers to this race as alien space bats.[9][10] In a review of Dies the Fire, Dale Cozort addressed the perceived 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.'"[11] Paul Di Filippo uses the term often when reviewing the series.[8][12] The term also appeared in John Birmingham's 2008 novel Without Warning.[13]

Alien space bats in popular culture

See also

Novels portal

References

External links

Interactive sites

  • Alien Space Bats and Other Magic on the Alternate History Discussion Board.
  • Alternate History Wiki
  • Alien Space Bats Yahoo Group
  • The Ark: Counter-Factual.Net Discussion Forums

Non-interactive sites

  • Alternate History Books
  • The Original Alien Space Bats - Irony and Steal—a fictional story featuring alien space bats by Alison Brooks
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