Originally Posted by Andrew H.
That distinction isn't always easy to draw (I'm not sure where I would put 1632, really), but I think it is meaningful for GotS.
1632 is really political commentary at heart.
But I see it as SF because:
1- Time travel is essential to the story
2- the impact of technology upon society is a key element to most of the stories in the series
And I agree that Guns of the South and 163x are very much in the same vein as LEST DARKNESS FALL which nobody has ever doubted was SF. So is the Conrad Stargard series. And Axis of time. Time travel plus tech impact on society are both common SF tropes and I see no reason why the society being impacted by the technology disruption *has* to be either alien or a future society.
Put another way: Heinlein said that there were four ways to build a SF story, and one of them was "what if". So why shouldn't SF encompass a story that says: "What if you transplanted 20th century tech and political thought to 17th century central europe?"
A lot of time travel stories deal with the question of whether or not you can change the past. Well, alternate histories built around time travel explore that same concept but in full detail. They say; "Yes you can and if you could, this might happen."
SF stories can take place in any time period: present, future, or past.
(Because they always *have*.)
And, when you get down to it, they *all* take place in alternate histories.