The beautiful thing about writing alternate history and historical fantasy, in my opinion, is that history itself offers enough crazy, nigh-implausible stuff to do half the job for you. Yet when I wrote my Daedalus trilogy, I kind of felt the weight of that history on my shoulders, even as I played with it, because I felt I had to do it justice. I took the Napoleonic Era naval fiction of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian as a starting point, then transported it into a setting of alchemy-fueled space opera: my Venus has lizard-aliens, my Napoleon has a zombie army. It’s high adventure on the scale of both history and the Solar System.
But it still has to work. Writing any sort of alternate history or historical fantasy is tough, because without a solid foundation of logical extrapolation—chasing down the what-ifs of the changes you’ve made to history—it folds like a house of cards. I’d like to think mine holds up well, but it’s a balancing act, to be sure.