Twelve Alternate Histories That Inspired Tyger

By SF Said

Twelve Alternate Histories That Inspired Tyger

By SF Said


SF Said and Dave McKean

£12.99 £12.34

My new book Tyger is set in London, in the present day, but in a strange alternate world where history has gone very differently. In this world, the British Empire has never ended, slavery has never been abolished, and huge numbers of animals have been hunted to extinction. But it's in this world that a boy called Adam and a girl called Zadie find a mysterious, mythical, magical animal in a rubbish dump in London. Here are some of my favourite alternate histories, all inspirations for Tyger, and all highly recommended.

The Man in the High Castle

Philip K. Dick

£9.99 £9.49

This is the first alternate history novel I can remember reading. "What if the Axis Powers had won the Second World War?" is a what-if at the heart of many such stories, but no-one did it better than Dick. It's one of the most fully-imagined alternate histories, and one of the most human, its intimate details as persuasive as its huge scope.

His Dark Materials: Gift Edition including all three novels: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass

Philip Pullman

£25.00 £23.75

Philip Pullman's great trilogy was one of my lodestars when I was writing Tyger and thinking about alternate worlds. I first read it long ago, when it was originally published, and have re-read it every so often ever since. It remains one of my biggest inspirations as a children's writer, showing that children's books are really books for everyone; books that can do absolutely anything.

Rollercoasters: Noughts and Crosses


Malorie Blackman's Noughts & Crosses sequence was my other great lodestar for Tyger. Again, I first read it long ago, and I could never have written Tyger without its inspiration. It's one of the most profound alternate histories I know; it really can change the way you see the world. It's also a total page-turner, like all of Malorie Blackman's books!

Bring The Jubilee

Ward Moore

£8.49 £8.06

As I started writing Tyger, back in 2013, I began researching the history of alternate histories. I discovered that Philip K Dick was far from the first to write such a book. He had been inspired by Ward Moore's Bring The Jubilee, which deals with the question: "What if the South had won the American Civil War?" This is worked out through a story that's both wryly humourous and heart-breaking.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Joan Aiken

£7.99 £7.59

My research into alternate histories led me to read a lot of early but now sadly out-of-print science fiction, such as Jack Williamson's The Legion of Time, one of the very first alternate history books. But it also led me back into the history of children's literature, to re-read classics like The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase, which has one of the most lightly-drawn yet haunting alternate worlds of all.

Charmed Life

Diana Wynne Jones

£7.99 £7.59

All seven books in the Chrestomansi sequence deal with alternate worlds. The first two, Charmed Life and The Lives Of Christopher Chant, remain my favourites. Diana Wynne-Jones was unique in her energy, humour and invention. I only discovered her work in the middle of writing Tyger, but I devoured this entire sequence in one great gulp: one of the most satisfying reading experiences of my life!

Flash of Two Worlds Deluxe Edition

Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino


I've always loved comics, and I still read as many comics as I do novels. I was delighted to discover that The Flash Of Two Worlds is considered to be the first story to draw on Hugh Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, shortly after it was published in the mid-1950s. It's a little dated now, but remains massively inspiring.

Agent of Byzantium

Harry Turtledove

£19.95 £18.95

Some of my favourite alternate histories are by writers better known for other work, like Martin Cruz Smith's The Indians Won and Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years Of Rice And Salt – both wonderful books that need to come back into print. But Harry Turtledove is best known for his alternate histories, and I particularly love Agent of Byzantium. It's a lot of fun, but it's also full of deep research into Byzantine history.

The Plot Against America

Philip Roth

£9.99 £9.49

I read this towards the end of writing Tyger. The moral seriousness of Roth's project is inspiring; his vision of a fascist America has lost none of its power. You just can't put it down, but this alternate history casts a very troubling light on our own history. It challenged me to make Tyger the most powerfully resonant story I could make it, as well as the most compulsively readable.

We use cookies and similar methods to recognize visitors and remember their preferences. We also use them to help detect unauthorized access or activity that violate our terms of service, as well as to analyze site traffic and performance for our own site improvement efforts. To learn more about these methods, including how to disable them view our Cookie Policy.