Mr. Laser Beam wrote:
Okay then - if something is that different, just put it in an alternate universe (not alternate timeline). That should be enough.
Why bother? In that case, if you're treating it as something entirely separate, why not just accept that it's a different work of fiction and leave it at that? The only benefit of an alternate-timeline interpretation is to pretend it's still part of the same greater reality somehow. If you're acknowledging that it's not part of the same reality, why bother with the handwave? What purpose does it serve? Why not just let it be a story?