What if Titanic hadn’t sunk?

*** WARNING: Some videos contain graphic and disturbing images ***

It’s a question that’s been asked for nearly a century. Would the Great War have started? Would the Great Depression have been a mild recession? Would men have landed on the moon? Would we have Blu-ray today?

Admittedly, those are pretty big leaps. But we’re all familiar with the butterfly effect, where chaos theory dictates that a small change in one place or time can have large, and sometimes devastating, consequences in the way of things. Whether you subscribe to this or not, we’ve all imagined how things might have turned out had we made different choices, taken different paths. Does chance govern us? Do the Fates hold sway? Or is everything a result of cause and effect? Regardless of one’s point of view, it’s always entertaining—and often informative—to ask what-if.

Indulge me, won’t you?

Imagine clear skies on the morning of August 9, 1945, over a small Japanese town. In reality, a bombing raid over the neighboring city of Yahata had created obscuring smoke above peaceful Kokura, the primary target for “Fat Man,” the second atomic bomb used in the Second World War. But had the raid on Yahata never occurred—due, perhaps, to a military decision or the vagaries of the weather—the town would have been visible to the Bockscar, the B-29 bomber that was instead given orders to deliver its payload to its secondary target on that fateful day: Nagasaki. Interestingly, Kokura had dodged an even earlier bullet—it had been the secondary target for “Little Boy,” dropped into the clear sky of Hiroshima by the Enola Gay. Flip a coin. The town of Kokura could have been one for the books. Chance?


Imagine if Buddy Holly hadn’t chartered that Beechcraft on that blustery night back in 1959; if only the heater had been working on his tour bus. We might not have the Don McLean classic American Pie, but I’m willing to bet we would have had a string of Holly hits for a couple of decades. The man was influential, from the roots of rock and roll to the Beatles. Fate?


Imagine that the “unsinkablehadn’t sunk. Fast-forward about fifty years. It’s not a stretch to envision a descendant of one of the passengers—a descendant that most likely would not have been born—partying hard, getting behind the wheel and causing a head-on collision in the city of Hamburg, killing four little-known musicians from Liverpool. Cause and effect?

Cause and effect?

(In the James Cameron film, there is a further connection between Titanic and Liverpool—and that’s just too weird for my liking.)

Does the roll of a die determine our future? Are we slaves to fate? Or do seemingly unconnected events lead us unknowingly down a random path, step by step by step?

In my thriller, Velvet Rain, I explore this three-sided coin, offering teasing glimpses into a world that might have been. It was fun to research and even more fun to write. So I’ll leave you with this. What’s your point of view? Digging deeper, if you could change the past—knowing full well the risk—would you do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, my friend.