For this, and any other Wacky Writing Ideas, I happily release them into the wild for anyone to use. If you like the idea and want to write it up, do so with my blessing! If you want to change it or use it for something else, have at it! If you really want to do something nice for me, feel free to acknowledge me and let me know if you’ve used one of them (I’ll link to your creative work from my blog). If you don’t feel like it, no worries. If there’re a few comments with enthusiasm for an idea, I may write it up, so please comment if it sounds like something you’d like to read.
Alternate history novels take a historical event, change it, then speculate how the world might have developed with that change. For example, Philip K. Dick’s “The Man In The High Castle” details what the world would be like 15 years after the Axis, rather than the Allies, won World War 2.
I’ve played around with this idea since my undergraduate days 25 years ago. The idea is, what would the world be like if, rather than Darwinian evolution being correct, Lamarckian evolution was. Darwinian evolution has the idea of survival of the fittest, where genes that are most successful spread through a population. Lamarckian evolution has the idea that stresses an organism face guides its development; for example, giraffes have long necks because they are often reaching for high leaves.
The foundation of this world-building is that the world would become more rigid. Continuing to do things the same way to build on the “genetic investment”. Castes would become popular, grouping people who have faced the same stresses. Gender roles would probably break down since it would be beneficial to have both parents face the same stresses. Eugenics would be trivially easy, just stress the thing you want a population to develop, and would therefore have become widespread.
Technology would have stagnated at the level of the mid 1800’s, with muskets, calvary, and sabres remaining state-of-the art. Each of these would be far more refined than their historical version, but paradigm shifts never happened: human societies just kept refining how they were already doing things.
Countries would have endured, much as they were at this time. The Austrian Empire would have endured, Otto von Bismarck never united the German Empire, etc.
The story world would be a man who was a cross between two well-established castes: governance and army command. He’s viewed as an aberration, but the combination provides unexpected strengths. Rejected from polite society, he has found success as an anarchist and rebel.
The themes would be totalitarianism versus individual freedoms, the value of liberty to society as well as the individual, and the dangers of state control of reproduction.