6 Terrifying Alternate Nerd Histories


?They say those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. So what’s that say about nerds who ponder the possibilities of alternate histories, where things happen slightly differently on the Earth we currently reside on? Well, we’re pretty sure those people are in good shape, and at the very least, won’t be repeating anything inappropriate.

Although alternate histories are generally the domain of nerds, these nerds still manage to always be looking at boring things, like “What if the South had won the Civil War” and “What if the Nazis developed the Atomic Bomb?” So boring. So we thought we’d take a look at the alternate histories that should be interesting nerds — that is, how nerdery might have been irrevocably changed if a few close calls had gone the other way. Here are six instances where history could have gone terribly wrong in relation to things nerds like. It might be disturbing, it might be illuminating, but at the very least it should make you incredibly appreciative things turned out the way they did.

6) Bungie Doesn’t Get Bought By Microsoft in 2000


?Imagine a world where the first Halo game was a Mac and Windows game only. That was exactly what it was supposed to be before Microsoft swooped in, bought Bungie, and used their in-development first person shooter as an exclusive their new Xbox game console. Halo: Combat Evolved was first announced at the MacWorld expo in 1999, when Bungie, known for the Mac classics of Marathon and Myth showed it off as a Mac and PC game. Its development at the time had it as a third-person shooter. The graphics at the time of their later demo in 2000 were certainly impressive; however, if it had stayed as it was and the Xbox went along without it, well we can certainly see that it probably would not have been as successful, for the virtue of not being the pack-in game for the Xbox. Further, Halo proved to be one of the reasons people bought Xboxes in the first place, so the fortunes of the Xbox console would certainly have been worse. We might never have gotten an Xbox 360, and the modern gaming networks like Xbox Live and PSN that are so intrinsic to the modern gaming experience. In 2001 of this timeline, Bungie could be completely out of business, with perhaps Sony dominating the gaming consoles with tyrannical authority.

5) Superman Lives Gets Made in 1997


?Okay, so the Tim Burton-directed Superman Lives almost got made in 1997, . It was so close to getting made — $30 million was put into the production before the plug was pulled. Bits and pieces of what this movie might have been exist — certainly the picture above should give you frightened pause. For one thing, the art design aimed to make things that would make great toys, regardless of how ridiculous that might seem. Kevin Smith famously recalls his personal experience with the script (which was later re-written) and producer Jon Peters, who wanted Superman to not have a cape and to fight a giant spider. Even if the script had been perfect and the studio interference intelligent, can one say that Tim Burton is the right one to make a Superman film? I just have this feeling it would have been like Mars Attacks, except with Superman in it as Nicolas Cage. No, that’s not a typo. How could Nic Cage be anyone but Nic Cage? The man is (or at least can be) and immensely talented actor, but he couldn’t play mild-mannered Clark Kent with a gun to his head. Nor could he ever be as inspiring as Superman needs to be. As Patton Oswalt said, “Finally, the whiny, moody Superman we’ve always wanted.”

4) Stephen King Dies of His Injuries After Being Hit by a Minivan in 1999


?As much as people may debate the end of The Dark Tower series as being good, bad or “whaaa?” there is a far worse ending for The Dark Tower — never getting finished. Somewhere there’s a universe where, on a June afternoon, while taking a walk by the side of the road, King is struck by the minivan that hit him in our reality and dies in 1999. The Dark Tower series would end at Wizard and Glass and be unresolved. Further, anything Stephen wrote after that point does not exist. You may not like anything he wrote over the past 11 years, but just imagine that you have to imagine what he wrote over the past 11 years, like Cell, From a Buick 8, and Faithful, in which King relates his giddy experience in watching the Boston Red Sox finally win a World Series. If there were anything for King himself to want to exist in our universe for, it would be that.

3) The American Doctor Who TV Movie Gets Made into a Series in 1996


?The 2005 revival of Doctor Who on the BBC has thus far been wildly successful. If you ever had a Whovian bone in your body, the sudden re-appearance of Daleks, Cybermen and Sonic Screwdrivers to your television screens on a regular basis must make your two hearts jump in glee. The interesting thing is that the series almost came back in 1996 with a TV movie on Fox. It wasn’t very good. It was filled with some very strange moments, like Paul McGann screaming “WHO-AM-IIIIIIII?” while half-naked in a room full of mirrors, and Eric Roberts glamming it up. Had this somehow made it to a series, there’s a good chance that we could have seen more Doctor Who-ness like this, with perhaps glittery Daleks with spider legs. Even if it had gone well, it was co-produced by Fox, which would have meant they would have killed it before it got a chance to get better. Ultimately we have the risk that Doctor Who would have been off the air indefinitely. Also, without Russell T. Davies helming Doctor Who, no Torchwood.

2) Nintendo Fails to Launch the NES in 1985


?It’s hard to believe, but the Nintendo Entertainment System almost didn’t get released, with the absolute domination of the console market of the 1980s to follow. Nintendo already had the Nintendo Family Computer system (or Famicom) released in Japan in 1983, and looked to expand to the United States. The only problem was that the bottom completely fell out of the home videogaming market in the U.S. in 1983, making a new videogame console like Kryptonite to retailers. It was only due to a very aggressive and risky marketing campaign by Nintendo that the system got released at all; one aspect even had them giving consoles to retailers for free with the option to only pay them if they sold consoles. So, it’s quite likely that the Nintendo Entertainment System could have never been released, or or at least released to the success it had. The 1980s of videogaming would have beencompletely redefined. Surely, there would have been a want for home videogaming at the time, but it may have taken a long time for retailers to warm up to it. Likely gamers would have continued to play Atari, up until 1989 when very likely the Sega Genesis got released. That would have been quite the stunning jump from, uh, whatever Atari would have had at the time,making bleep bleep noises, to Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega could have had absolute dominance of the console market for the 1990s. More notably, there wouldn’t be any Mario, Zelda or Samus in our lives, at all. They wouldn’t exist, nor would their many sequels. Life seems a whole hell of lot less fun in this world, right?

1) The Paramount Television Service Launches in 1977, Leading to Star Trek: Phase II


?A sequel to the original Star Trek television series almost launched in 1978 as part of the Paramount Television Service (a sort of a forerunner to UPN). Sets were built, scripts were in place, Shatner and DeForrest Kelley were signed to be on board, and it was decided after the success of movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to instead make a full-on movie. It’s not known if this series would have been successful. What is likely is that Star Trek: The Next Generation would not have happened especially considering characters and scripts of Phase II were repurposed for it. For instance, Commander “Will” Decker and the telepath Ilia were inspirations for Will Riker and Troi. So, not having Star Trek: The Next Generation would have sucked. Most importantly though — the cancellation of the series lead to the production of the first Star Trek movie, which more importantly, led to the second. In some alternate history, can you imagine where there was a crappy 1970s series instead of The Wrath of Khan? Imagine screaming “Khaaaaaaan!” and people looking at you like you were crazy but not getting the reference? Imagine the quote “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one” only being known by literary nerds? The mind recoils from such a horror.