31 December 2013

Królestwo Zachodnim Afganistanie - AAR part 1

I have a tendency when playing Victoria II to release odd nations from larger powers and play them. For example Australia from the UK, the Cherokee form the USA, Java from the Netherlands. This time I played Poland, releasing it from Russia.

Poland was difficult to play. It was surrounded by three great powers and had no access to the sea. My favorite part of the game, the colonization of Africa, would most likely be missed by my weak, land-locked nation.

I looked for areas to conquer. I had to look far. With military access granted by Russia I moved the entire army of Poland to conquer Khiva. My conquests of central Asia had begun. After a number of successful campaigns and expanding Polish Asia I decided to release my conquests as a new nation; The Kingdom of Western Afghanistan.

1807: Duchy of Warsaw is created thanks in part to the help of Polish on the side of France against the Russians and Austrians during the Napoleonic Wars.

1815: Congress of Vienna brings about an end to the Duchy of Waraw.

29 November 1830: Beginning of November Uprising in Poland. (Divergence Point for this universe is during this uprising)

1 January 1836: Poland is given independence from the Russian Empire.

1836 to 1868: Poland gets permission from the Russian Empire to send most of its army through Russia's territory. They begin to conquer areas of central Asia. Khiva was the first to fall to the Polish army whose leadership was filled with minor nobles attempting to gain influence and favor in the new Polish monarchy.

Afghanistan was conquered during a pair of wars. These wars were long and brutal. The Polish forces were cautious and used the terrain to their advantage and allowed their superior weaponry to decimate the Afghan forces. Rebels will occur on a regular basis for years.

Finally, with the collapse of central authority in the Chinese Empire a friendless and isolated Xinjiang was easily annexed.

17 May 1868: Królestwo Zachodnim Afganistanie is given independence from Poland. With the size of the colonial territory and the growing troubles in Europe it became more efficient to create this new nation in central Asia.

Królestwo Zachodnim Afganistanie at its birth

1868 to 1890: MORE WARS!

The military culture that gave birth to this new nation pushed it to expand towards the sea. Seven wars would be fouth over the next 22 years:
1) Conquest of Kalat - march to the sea
2) Conquest of Makran - coastal territory on the Arabian Sea annexed
3) Sneak attack by Persia - The low number of KZA troops recovering form fighting two wars and charged with defending a large area of land are attacked by the vastly larger Persian army. Defensive fighting in the mountainous terrain and superior weaponry allow for eventual white peace with Persia.
4) War with Oman to annex Mogadishu
5) War with Ethiopia to conquer the southern half of that country
6) Conquest of Mongolia with the aid of the Russian and Ottoman Empires.
7) Aiding Russian Empire in its war with the Ottoman Empire - victory for Russians as they seize some Ottoman territory along the Black Sea

1890: With Mongolia added to its territory the KZA is a major player in Asian politics. It ignores Europe as it strengthens ties with Japan and Guangxi in order to keep expected Chinese agression in check. It is expected that within the next five years China will westernize and with its huge poplulation it will be a powerful rival of the KZA.

KZA and its neighbors in 1890

Future expansion in Asia looks less and less likely. Withe the growing power of China, British influence in India, and ever-increaseing spheres of influence of the Great Powers future expansion may be limited to the Middle-East. Possible future conqusts that would make the most sense in that scenarios are Yemen and Oman, that would allow the entire Kingdom to be better untied geographically.

Access to the coastal areas of the far east would be nice, but very difficult to acquire. Revolution in Manchuria which destorys its existing alliances might provide an opportunity for invasion. An alliance with Japan to take more territory from China could provide some high-value territory as well. It would be nice to have expansions into China be contiguous with my existing territory, but the oceans will make any separte coastal area easily accessible via a navy I'll have to get around to re-building.

08 November 2013

Friday Flag - Travaillis Republique Democratique

This is the flag of the Travaillis Republique Democratique. France fell to communism in 1926 and adopted this flag shortly thereafter. The flag was in use until the collapse of that government in 1953.

01 November 2013

Friday Flag - Królestwo Zachodnim Afganistanie

After recently finishing an online college class I took some time off and played Victoria II. One of my favorite things to do is to pick a major power and then release a smaller nation from them. This time around I released Poland from Russia. Surrounded by three great powers and having diminishing hopes of getting access to the sea and then being able to colonize Africa I took my entire army, got military access from Russia, and then conquered Khiva. Afghanistan followed a few years later, and upon seeing that the Chinese Empire fell to revolution I added Xingjiang to my growing territories.

I now controlled so much territory my colonial power score was in the red - I don't know if that has any affect on the game or not. When I was looking at ways to lower my infamy rating I noticed that one of the options for releasable nations was 'The Kingdom of Western Afghanistan.' That territory included all of my central Asian territory and would become civilized when formed. Not sure where else to take the game, I released the Kingdom and began playing as it - a country released from land released from another. 17 May 1868 is independence day in Królestwo Zachodnim Afganistanie, and they have been expanding since then, including a toe-hold on Africa.

Not liking the default flag Victoria II gave my new land I designed my own. It includes influences form the Polish, Afghani, and Khivan flags.

Do you play Victoria II? If so what sort of strange nations have you seen emerge from the game?

31 October 2013

USS Shenandoah (FA-1)

United States of America Airship
Name:USS Shenandoah (FA-1)
Ordered:7 February 1919
Laid down:14 April 1919
Launched:7 May 1920
Commissioned:18 October 1920
In service:Destroyed 24 June 1922
Homeport:Trenton, New Jersey
General Characteristics
Class:Shenandoah class rigid airship
Tonnage:77,500 lb (25,200kg)
Length:680 ft (207.25 m)
Beam:78 ft 9 in (24.0 m)
Height:93 ft 2 in (28.4 m)
Propulsion:300 hp (220 kW) eight-cylinder gasoline engine
Speed:60 knots(69 mph / 110 km/h)
Range:5,000 miles (4,300 nmi, 8,000 km)/td>
Capacity:useful lift of 51,600 lb (23,405 kg); Nominal gas volume 2,100,000 ft
Complement:Ship's company: 25; Air wing: 2
Armament:6 x0.30 in (7.62mm) Lewis machine guns; 8 x 500 lb bombs
Aircraft carried:2 aircraft

The USS Shenandoah was the first rigid airship constructed by the US Navy. It was constructed at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in 1920 and was deployed to Russia after its shakedown in 1921.

The vessel was intended for long-range recon and limited bombing operation. Hooks for a pair of aircraft were added part way through the construction process to enhance the craft's capabilities. On her final voyage the Shenandoah was carrying a pair of Thomas-Morse MB-3 biplanes. During the shakedown cruise the functionality of the aircraft docking hooks was proven. The vessel then crossed North America testing endurance.

After all tests and related missions were completed, and with America's entry into the Red War, the Shenandoah was deployed to the Russian Far East. The trip across the Pacific took several days longer than expected due to weather conditions, but the ship performed exceptionally. It was attached to the American Expeditionary Force in Vladivostok.

Final Mission In June 1922 the Shenandoah was assigned to a extremely long range scouting/bombing mission. They were to verify and destroy an important Bolshevik supply depot far from any allied lines. Later reports indicated success in this mission, but shortly thereafter, on 24 June 1922, the ship was destroyed well over enemy lines by air turbulence. Possibly unknown damage from prior enemy action may have contributed to the destruction.

The image of the vessel above is of the real-world USS Shenandoah. The image and some of the information above was taken and modified from the related Wikipedia article.

30 August 2013

Friday Flag - Admiral Kolchak

Personal flag of Admiral Kolchak

In 1918 Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak became leader of the Provisional Siberian Government. He worked with the British and Americans during the Red War but his personality alienated many of his real and potential allies. This would cause him great trouble as the war progressed.

This flag was his personal standard during the conflict. It would fly under the Russian flag at his headquarters and in the field.

26 August 2013

The Red War - Part One: Origins


The disaster known today as The Red War had its origins in another conflict. That other conflict being the Russo-German War (1914 to 1917).

The Assassination
The catalyst for the start of the Russo-German War was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, Inspector-General of the Austro-Hungarian Army and Heir to the Throne of the Empire. Ferdinand died in Sarajevo after being shot by a Serb national on 28 June 1914.

Calm Before the Storm
On the 5th of July the German Empire issued Austria-Hungary a "blank check" in dealing with Serbia. Austria-Hungary issued a harsh ultimatum to Serbia on the 23rd of July that was designed to be refused by the Serbs. That refusal came days later and it looked as if all of Europe could possibly be dragged into war.

28 July 1914 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Two days later Austria-Hungary mobilized its military. on the 31st Russia did the same. The Russian mobilization led to a flurry of diplomatic activity between Germany and France. Germany convinced France to stay neutral in the conflict since their agreement with the Russians was to come to Russia's aid if it was attacked first - but their mobilization against Austria-Hungary could be categorized as an offensive action releasing France of its obligations.

4 August 1914 the German Empire declares war on Russia to defend their Austrian allies.

The War The Germans made quick gains into Russia in the first few months of the war. Their planned advance up the Baltic coast was delayed by the unexpectedly fast and powerful Russian attack on Austria-Hungary. The poor organization of the Austrian forces led to them being pushed back by the Russians and fighting a terrible winter war across the Carpathians from November 1914 to spring 1915. German plans were placed on hold so they could support their allies.

Serbia managed to hold out against the Austrian forces for over a year. They finally collapsed in October 1915 when Bulgaria joined the war on the side of Germany and aided in the conquest. This should have freed up a large force of Austrian troops to be used against Russia, but the terribly administrative skills of the Austrians made it clear that they would be lucky to be available for the Russian front by the spring of 1916.

Chief of the German General Staff von Moltke did not want to send a large force to decimate the Russian Carpathian armies and save Austria. "Saint Petersburg is to the north, bumbling fools to the south. We march North and to victory!" The summer of 1915 saw the German Baltic campaign against Russia.

The Baltic Campaign
At first German advances up along the Baltic coast met little resistance. Reports of major fortifications being constructed around Saint Petersburg including multiple rings of trenches were received. However without confirmation von Moltke was cautious.

Battle of Tannenberg
September 1915 the bulk of the German invasion force was entering Estonia when Russian General Alexander Samsonov struck. The bulk of Russian forces were not protecting St. Petersburg, but were in the Ukraine. When German supply lines were stretched Samsonov launched his attack through the weak German defensive screen and into Germany itself at the Tannenberg forest.

The Germany Navy controlled the Baltic and could get basic supplies to the German invasion force, but the supplies coming by land were needed for any serious offensive towards the Russian capital. Instead von Moltke sent half of his army back towards home in hopes of trapping the Russian army. The rest of the German invasion force would remain in the Baltic and consolidate its gains.

Back in Germany General Samsonov made some impressive gains and inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. However in mid-October he came across the newly constructed German trenches and was stopped. Samsonov did not dig in himself knowing that a German army was approaching his rear; instead he fled south to used his forces against the Austrians, and hopefully commit the Germans to sending more forces south themselves.

Erich von Falkenhayn
After the setback at Tannenberg, von Moltke began having major health problems. In November 1915 he was replaced by Erich von Falkenhayn. Over the winter Falkenhayn worked closely with his Austrian counterparts and helped to bring both Romania and the Ottoman Empire into the war in the spring.

In 1916 with the new front opened against Russia by the Ottoman Empire and Falkenhayn's decision to bail out Austria first before making the final push against Russia. Germany and her allies made great gains in the south but a number of things began to concern Falkenhayn. The Russians seemed to willing to trade land for time. There were also rumors about the capital being moved to Moscow, a much more difficult target.

The harsh Russian winters, the seemingly unlimited troops, and the drain on the German economy by the war were adding pressure to finish it quickly..... but the Russians were playing to drag it out as long as possible. It would would take a number of years before the Kaiser could dictate terms to his foe.

Enter, Lenin
The only way Germany could get a quick victory would be for the Russian people to rebel against their Tsar. It would not be possible unless some new element was added to Russia. That element was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. The political chaos Lenin could unleash on Russia could help end the war in Germany's favor.

In October 1916 Lenin was smuggled into Russia. His revolutionary activities as well as a major German offensive in the spring of 1917 caused a collapse of the Tsar's government by June 1917. Not long after that would be the Russian Revolution and the beginning of The Red War.

02 August 2013

Friday Flag - Thycena

A neighboring city-state of Strumicvar on the north-eastern coast of Novo Skopje (on the coast of Brazil on our world). The two cities don't have the most peaceful of relations but still manage regular trade in the post-apocalyptic world that they inhabit.

This was a quickly made flag back when I was running a GURPS Infinite Worlds game. Strumvicar's flag was a new design but I based this one off the real world flag of Aruba.

01 August 2013

Hyderabad War

cover of the October 25, 1948 issue of TIME Magazine

Kali's Reign
by Reginald Mitchell

The State of Hyderabad was the largest and most prosperous of the princely states in India. Covering over 200,000 square kilometers and containing over 16 million people. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII decided to keep the territory independent of India and Pakistan when the British left the local rulers of such states the choice of joining the new dominions of India or Pakistan, or of remaining independent.

On the 24th of August 1948 Hyderabad requested that the Secretary General of the United Nations have its Security Council consider the grave dispute it was having with India. Under Article 32 of the United Nations Charter. On the 4th of September Mir Laiq Ali, the Prime Minister of the Hyderabad State, announced to that nation's assembly that a delegation headed by Moin Nawaz Jung was being sent to United States.

Additional attempts to gain support for independence were made to the Labour Government of the United Kingdom as well as to the King. Hyderabad wanting garauntees of the British promises of independence. The attempts were unsuccessful despite some vocal support from Winston Churchill. These multiple attempts to secure their independence have angered the Indian government which is worried that Hyderabad will eventually join with Pakistan. Military preparations in Hyderabad caused similar preparations in India.

With ever increasing tensions it was known that war would soon arrive. In the pre-dawn hours of the 13th of September the Indian Army invaded Hyderabad. Troops were reported crossing into Hyderabad from every direction. The first battle was fought at Fort Naldurg on the Solapur Secundarabad Highway. The First Hyderabad Infantry and the attacking force of the 7th Brigade battling the 2nd Sikh Infantry.

Within a few days of the invasion the situation escalated. After a failed attempt by a Hyderabadi Razakars (an irregular, private militia with Moslem tendencies) to destroy one of the invading Indian armies the some survivors of the Razakars melted into the countryside and began terrorizing Hindu civilians. After 200 civilians were massacred in a local village an outraged Indian government escalated its military involvement.

On September 17th Pakistani militia fighters were intercepted trying to smuggle themselves and additional weapons into Hyderabad by Indian forces. A skirmish developed that has drawn official condemnation from Pakistani authorities. Additional Indian troops have now begun reinforcing the borders with West and East Pakistan dramatically increasing tensions.

The bloodshed was increased later that by a tragic accident when a Spitfire of the Royal Indian Air Force attacking Hyderabad positions was disabled and crashed in a densely populated area of city of Aurangabad killing over a hundred and injuring hundreds of others in the resulting destruction and fires.

On September 18th the Hyderabad State Congress was dissolved and the Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen party has established a new legislature. Support of the inhabitants for their government is collapsing as the mostly Hinu population wishes to join with India. Despite the superior Indian military forces and their occupation of the region the Nizam of Hyderabad escaped his palace and has declared his lands part of Pakistan. Given the situation the government of Pakistan has not acknowledge this declaration, but it has drawn additional volunteers into the region to fight for the Nizam from Pakistan.

Aurangabad fell to Indian forces on the 19th. At that point a majority of the the Hyderabad military surrendered.

Sporadic guerrilla warfare continues in Hyderabad and the increasing violence along the border with Pakistan threaten to throw the entire sub-continent into civil war.

A meeting in Geneva next week will hopefully be able to resolve this developing situation without any further bloodshed. A representative of Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII will be in attendance to negotiate terms. Continuing coverage of the conflict and results of the conference will be in our next issue.

The image for this post is a modified version of the 27 October 1947 Time Magazine cover. The original illustration was created by Boris Artzybasheff. According to Wikipedia the cover is in the public domain. I modified the original to fit this alternate timeline.

Info on the Royal Indian Air Force during this period.

Reginald Mitchell is a fictional reporter for Time in 1947. He is from the UK and spent a portion of his life in Colonial India.
Even in this timeline Hyderabad is destined to become part of an Indian union. Too many of the population will want to be Indian. It will have been a bloodier fight, would that blood have made the future Indo-Pakistani wars more severe? Could a small group of routed irregulars have killed 200 innocent people in an isolated village to start the escalation?

02 July 2013

A Misfiring Gun at Gettysburg

Patrick O'Rorke was born in County Cavan, Ireland 25 march 1837. When just one year old his parents emigrated to America. By 1842 he was living in Rochester, New York. He was an intelligent man, being awarded a scholarship to the University of Rochester when he was 16. He turned down that scholarship in order to help support his mother and the rest of his family.

In 1857 he would become a cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point. He graduated first in his class and was commissioned to the Corps of Engineers in June 1861.

The Civil War
In September 1862 he was appointed colonel of the 140th New York Infantry which was composed mostly of volunteers from Rochester. He led the 140th at the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

During the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg O'Rorke led his men to the defense of Little Round Top which was in danger of falling into rebel hands. Despite heavy casualties they helped hold the ground. During the fighting O'Rorke caught up his regimental colors and, mounting a rock he urged his men to continue the fight. They pushed back the 4th and 5th Texas. Thirty-Six of their men were killed, 78 wounded, and 18 were missing.

Colonel O'Rorke continued to lead his men for the rest of the war. Two of the more costly battles they fought in were the The Battle of the Wilderness and the Battle of Cold Harbor. At Five Forks, Virginia one of O'Rorke's men, First Sergeant Robert F. Shipley, captured the flag of the 9th Virginia Infantry in hand-to-hand combat. Shipley would be awarded the Congressional Medal or Honor.

New York Assembly
After leaving the Army in late 1869 O'Rorke returned to Rochester with his wife and three children. He was a hero in Rochester and turned that popularity into a successful campaign for New York State Assembly. He ran as a Republican defeating Democrat George D. Lord in the November 1870 election.

In 1874 during the 97th New York State Legislature session he met and befriended fellow Republican Assemblyman, Hamilton Fish II. Fish's father was the U.S. Secretary of State for President Grant's administration.

O'Rorke did not run for re-election in 1876. He had received an offer to help Hamilton Fish, Sr. on an important project in Washington.

US Department of State
Patrick O'Rorke's excellent military record, knowledge of engineering, and connections with Hamilton Fish and President Grant gave him a post with Secretary of State. They wanted his help with negotiations and planning for an inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Negotiations were successfully completed in late March 1877 with O'Rorke's contributions. It was at this point the new President, Rutherford B. Hayes, came into office and created his own cabinet. Hamilton Fish was replaced. Patrick O'Rorke was kept on and placed in charge of the Nicaraguan Canal project.

Nicaraguan Canal Company
After moving his family down to Washington, DC O'Rorke worked full time on the canal project. He would have to spend more than half of his time in Nicaragua surveying sites and overseeing local operations. It was estimated that the project would take fifteen to twenty years to complete. Unlike all estimates it ended up being optimistic – the project took nearly thirty years and cost considerably more blood and treasure than was imagined.

None of the near catastrophic problems with the construction of the canal can be blamed on Patrick O'Rorke however. Unfortunately he died in 1879 of malaria at the age of 42. He left behind his wife, Clara as well has three children – his son Neil, and daughters Mary and Eileen. His body was returned to Rochester and buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetary.

It has been wondered by many how the Nicaraguan Canal project would have turned out if Patrick's life had not been cut short. Would he have had the intelligence and strength of character to keep the worst problems from being as severe.
Lt. Colonel O'Rorke was killed on 2 July 1863 defending Little Round Top at Gettysburg. He was still young (26 years old) and intelligent. It was 150 years ago today that he died. This is an alternate history to honor one of my hometown's Civil War heroes.

*Patrick O'Rorke over at Wikipedia (a portion of this post is taken from the entry on O'Rorke and the 140th.
*Robert F. Shipley
*140th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
The images are also from Wikipedia. Both are public domain due to their age.

01 July 2013

Review - We Could Do Worse

Life's gotten a bit busy! It's been over a week since my last update. Sorry about that. Here's a brief book review until I can finish a couple of meatier posts I'm working on:
(image from Amazon.com)

Here is a collection of alternate histories that includes some big names. Brief descriptions follow... very brief since I wanted to avoid spoilers.

1) A Massachusetts Yankee in King Arthur's Court: by Harry Turtledove. JFK is sent back through time and space to Camelot. He meets and has a fling with Queen Guinevere. No real point to the story. Just makes JFK and the Queen look like jerks. Just involves time travel - not really alternate history.

2) Ike and the Mike: by Howard Waldrop. Instead of becoming generals Eisenhower and Patton are jazz musicians! Good story; not very believable but its not bad.

3) Looking for the Fountain: by Robert Silverberg. The story of one of the survivors of Ponce de León's expedition to search for the Fountain of Youth. A really good story about a lost civilization they discovered instead. Great idea - but there is no follow up, no indication of how history was altered.

4) The Return of William Proxmire: by Larry Niven. An interesting story of what happens to a man who travels back in time to change history and the consequences he suffers. Not one of those ironic Twilight Zone consequences, but a interesting take on what might happen to a time traveler.

5) The Arrival of Truth: by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The best of the collection of this book. Tells a story from the point of view of a slave in the American south when a slave uprising begins. The most interesting characters in the entire anthology.

6) Goddard's People: by Allen Steele. In a world where America and the Third Reich are in a race involving rocketry. The Nazis want to create an ICBM and the US wants to create something to shoot it down. Interesting, but I'm not sure things would have turned out differently.

7) Over There: by Mike Resnick. I've read this one in other anthologies. Teddy Roosevelt assembles his Rough Riders to fight in the Great War. The old and new worlds collide in this fine story.

8) Bloodstained Ground: by Brian Thomsen. Failed novelist Sam Clemens vs. the legacy of newly deceased President George Armstrong Custer. One of the better stories in this anthology. Even if he failed as a novelist, Clemens would have excelled in whatever else he chose to do.

9) We Could Do Worse: by Gregory Benford. A short piece set in a world where McCarthy became president of the US.

Over all I'd give this book 3 stars. Maybe the low end of 3. While most anthologies end up netting out to about a 3 I had higher hopes for this one. Oh well, better luck next time.

20 June 2013

Greater Canada


A land of vast distances and rich natural resources. Russian Alaska was added in 1856 at the end of the Crimean War. Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically, the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across the world's longest unfortified border. In 1962 Canada absorbed the West Indies Federation into its territory. In 1971 Belize also joined Canada. Canada faces the political challenges of meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care, education, social services, and economic competitiveness, as well as responding to the particular concerns of predominantly francophone Quebec. Canada also aims to develop its diverse energy resources while maintaining its commitment to the environment.
Location: North America
Area: 11,745,729 sq km (10,617,691 land, 1,129,038 water)
Coastline: 216,086 km

Climate: varies from tundra to tropical
People & Society
Nationality: Canadian

Languages: English, French, Spanish

Population: 41,388,622 (December 2012)

Population Growth Rate: 0.84%

Life Expectancy at Birth: 77.91 years male; 83.24 years female
Capital: Ottawa
Administrative Districts: 13 provinces and 3 territories(*); Alaska, Alberta, Belize, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Northwest Territories*, Nova Scotia, Nunavut*, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, West Indies Federation, Yukon*

Independence: 1 July 1867 (union of British North American colonies); 11 December 1931 (recognized by UK)
National Holiday: Canada Day – 1 July (1867)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General David Johnston (since 1 October 2010)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Stephen Joseph Harper (since 6 February 2006)
cabinet: Federal Ministry chosen by the prime minister usually from among the members of his own party sitting in Parliament elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister for a five-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Commons generally designated by the governor general.

Legislative branch
Bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (113 seats; members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister and serve until 75 years of age) and the House of Commons or Chambre des Communes (365 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve a maximum of four-year terms)
elections: House of Commons - last held on 2 May 2011 (next to be held no later than 19 October 2015)
election results: House of Commons - seats by party - Conservative Party 174, NDP 112, Liberal Party 41, PNP 9, JLP 8, Carribean 8, Bloc Quebecois 4, Greens 3, Alaskan 3, UDP 2, PUP 1

Judicial branch
Supreme Court of Canada (judges are appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister); Federal Court of Canada; Federal Court of Appeal; Tax Court of Canada; Provincial/Territorial Courts (these are named variously Court of Appeal, Court of Queen's Bench, Superior Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Justice)
Overview: An affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class. Canada has a diverse economy with many similarities to the United States

GDP: $1,800 billion (in 2012 US$)
GDP Per Capita: $43,500 (2012)
GDP Growth Rate: 1.6%

Government Revenues: $793.6 billion
Government Expenditures: $868.4 billion
Public Debt: 88.2% GDP
Inflation Rate: 1.9%

Agriculture Products: wheat, barley, oilseed, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fish, forest products, bananas, cacao, citrus, sugar, shrimp, coffee, yams, ackees, poultry, goats, shellfish, flowers
Industries: transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas, garment production, tourism, construction, bauxite/alumina, rum

Currency: Canadian Dollar (CAD)
Electricity Production: 631.92 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity Consumption: 581.76 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity by Source: Hydroelectric 57.2%, Fossil Fuels: 28.8%, Nuclear: 10.1%, Renewable: 3.9%

Crude Oil Production: 4.371 million bbl/day (2011 est.)
Crude Oil - Proved Reserves: 205.936 billion bbl (2010 est.)
Natural Gas Production: 225.6 billion cu m (2010 est.)
Natural Gas - Proved Reserves: 3.834 trillion cu m (2011)
Telephones - Main Lines in Use: 12.639 million (2011)
Telephones - Mobile Cellular: 26.922 million (2011)
Internet Country Code: .ca
Internet Hosts: 9.282 million(2012)
Internet Users: 30.67 million (2012)
Airports: 1,828 (2012), 662 have paved runways
Heliports: 34 (2012)
Railways: 51,552 km standard gauge
Roadways: 1,107,748 km of which 522,548 km are paved

Ports & Terminals: Anchorage, Belize City, Big Creek, Cayman Brac, Discovery Bay (Port Rhoades), Fraser River Port, George Town, Halifax, Hamilton, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kingston, Montego Bay, Montreal, Port-Cartier, Port Esquivel, Port Fortin, Port Kaiser, Port Lisas, Port Spain, Quebec City, Rocky Point, Saint John (New Brunswick), Scarborough, Sept-Isles, Sitka, Skagway, Vancouver
Canadian Forces: Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canada Command (homeland security)

Military Expenditures as portion of GDP: 1.3%
Transnational Issues
US works closely with Canada to intensify security measures for monitoring and controlling legal and illegal movement of people, transport, and commodities across the international border; sovereignty dispute with Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Ellesmere Island and Greenland; commencing the collection of technical evidence for submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in support of claims for continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from its declared baselines in the Arctic, as stipulated in Article 76, paragraph 8, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Guatemala persists in its territorial claim to half of Belize, but agrees to the Line of Adjacency to keep Guatemalan squatters out of Belize's forested interior; both countries agreed in April 2012 to hold simultaneous referenda, scheduled for 6 October 2013, to decide whether to refer the dispute to the ICJ for binding resolution; Belize and Mexico are working to solve minor border demarcation discrepancies arising from inaccuracies in the 1898 border treaty

Illicit drugs
illicit producer of cannabis for the domestic drug market and export to US; use of hydroponics technology permits growers to plant large quantities of high-quality marijuana indoors; increasing ecstasy production, some of which is destined for the US; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering because of its mature financial services sector

transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe; illicit cultivation and consumption of cannabis; government has an active manual cannabis eradication program; corruption is a major concern; substantial money-laundering activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions

1) The CIA World Factbook was an ideal reference when coming up with this post.
2) The Wikipedia article on the West Indies Federation was also of help.
3) The map image is a modified version of the Canadian one on Wikipedia.
4) The flag is a combination of the flags of the West Indies Federation and Canada.

19 June 2013

Kingdom of Alaska

I was going to post a couple of things this weekend but something came up. That something was a computer game called Victoria II. I installed it Friday night and spent most of the weekend playing around with it to learn tactics. First I tried it as the Zulu and after conquering the Orange Free State and nearly completing my conquest of the Transvaal the UK declared war on me. I abandoned that game.

My second attempt was playing as The Kingdom of Alaska. In order to play that nation I had to start as Russia, I released all of the 15 nations they could release. I released The Kingdom of Alaska last and opted to play it. Needless to say it was a somewhat boring game. I started with a population of less than two thousand and never got much above 5 thousand. Thus I had no military. It did give me a chance to learn how the technology developments worked even if I could not exploit them. I also had fun watching the AI nations fight with each other. Here is a brief report of the state of the world in 1936:

Over the century of game time I more than tripled my land area ---- however it was all just more tundra. Despite various plagues over the years decimating me I ended up having a higher population (thanks to the territorial additions). I started with 6,390 people (of who 1,590 were able bodied men) and ended with 22,270 people (5,560 able bodied men).

I also managed to hold an overall ranking among nations of 17th place at the end. At one point I was as high as 11th, that allowed me to colonize the rest of the tundra around me.

Since that experimental game I've tried a few other nation:
*New England: going with my theme of breaking a small nation off a great power to start. Put this one on pause after reaching Great Power status and accidentally getting into a war with France.
*Afghanistan: conquered two additional nations and took Zanzibar from Oman. Promptly lost Zanzibar to Portugal (and let me tell you those guys lost a lot of troops invading coastal Afghanistan and fighting my allies and myself before they won). Lots of rebel uprisings and government changes - Modernization looks impossible.
*Russia: Started by focusing on North America. Conquered Haiti as a staging ground to invade Mexico. Got numerous territories in southern Mexico and the Panama canal zone. When African colonization opened up I got over half the available territory! This game is on pause as I consider invading the USA!
*Zulu (second attempt): another underdog game. I conquered the Orange Free State and Transvaal having to free one of my starting territories to reduce infamy. Took Zanzibar from Oman. Just modernized --- after all of the rest of Africa has been colonized. Now seeking weak, friendless nations to conquer. (I'm having some weird bug in this game where my entire military completely vanishes despite full funding. Weird.)

That's a lot of game time - but it is a new game for me so I have a lot to explore. Still, I'll have to cut back on it a bit the next few weeks. I have a lot of projects I want to get done this summer.

In any case Victoria II overall seems like a great game. Looks like it has great re-play value. Well worth the money it cost.

14 June 2013

Friday Flag - UN Battle Flag

This week I've got a pretty straightforward flag. This is for a world where the United Nations has a lot more power, including having its own armed forced. Instead of using the normal, light blue UN flag their forces use this red flag. This is to help them differentiate between their civilian and military bases.

12 June 2013

The Richelieu (R91)

French Aircraft Carrier
Name:Richelieu (R91)
Ordered:3 February 1986
Laid down:14 April 1989
Launched:7 May 1994
Commissioned:18 May 2001
In service:Still in service as of 2013
Homeport:Toulon, France
General Characteristics
Class:Unique aircraft carrier
Displacement:37,085 tonnes (42,000 tonnes full load)
Length:261.4m (858 ft)
Beam:64.36m (211.2 ft)
Draught:9.43m (30.9 ft)
Propulsion:2 x K15 pressurized water reactors (PWR), 150 MW each.
4x diesel-electric.
Speed:27 knots (50 km/h)
Range:unlimited distance; 20-25 years
Endurance:45 days of food
Capacity:800 commandos, 500 tonnes of ammunition
Complement:Ship's company: 1,350; Air wing: 600
Armament:4x8 cell A-43 Sylvester launchers carrying the MBDA Aster 15 surface to air missile.
2x6 cell Sadral launchers carrying Mistral short range missiles.
8xGiat 20F2 20mm cannons
Aircraft carried:28-40 aircraft

The flagship of the French Navy. The Richelieu is the first French nuclear powered aircraft carrier. The Charles de Gaulle has been under construction since 2007 and will become the second once it completes its shakedown by 2015.

Link 16
On 11 October 2001, the frigate Cassard, four (4) AWACS aircraft and the Richelieu were involved in the successful trial of the Link 16 high-bandwith secure data network.

11/9 and the War on Terror
After the terrorist attack on Paris on 11 September 2001 the Richelieu was deployed to the Indian Ocean as part of Operation Eternal Justice. The ship was made the centerpiece of the NATO fleet in the Arabian Sea allowing France to control many operations in the conflict. American forces took the French lead but were never under French command. Contre-Amiral François Cluzel was theoretically in command of the entire NATO fleet, but American forces were independent.

Air battle over Arabian Sea
On 9 July 2004 eight (8) Pakistani fighter jets (all F-7PGs) flew out of Pakistani air space over Arabian Sea. They were making a line for the French task force at top speed. Four French Super Étendard intercepted them before the fleet launched missiles. All of the Pakistani fighters were destroyed and one of the French jets went down after suffering damage. The French aircrew and two of the Pakistani pilots were pulled from the waters.

President Pervez Musharraf claimed that the air group was a rogue element not operating under authority of the government of Pakistan. This incident is seen as the primary cause of Musharraf leaving office in 2005.

Invasion of Libya
In 2005, after the tracking of additional terror attacks in France to Muammar Gaddafi, Operation Harmattan begins with a massive NATO air campaign on Libya prior to 100,000 American, French, and British troops making a massive amphibious invasion (the amphibious assault portion under American command as Operation Shores of Tripoli).

The Richelieu coordinated the air campaign during the ten day bombing campaign. Afterwards her aircraft were responsible for covering the French and British transports making the assault on the beaches. During this campaign four aircraft from the Richelieu were shot down by anti-aircraft.

In December 2007 the Richelieu's first major overhaul began. Numerous improvements were made including new propellers which increased her speed. New weapon systems and fighters were added as well. The refit was completed in January 2009.

Mediterranean Operation
From March 2009 to May 2012 The Richelieu stayed in the Mediterranean Sea. Its mission was to support NATO operations in North Africa. The United States had by this point taken over fleet operations in the Arabian Sea.

The divergence point for this universe is 1985. The Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, was not destroyed by the French who decided it might be too politically dangerous to do so. Prime Minister Laurent Fabius does not have to give a statement on the incident which is one of a number of events that hurt his career as Prime Minister. Without the Rainbow Warrior incident he may have held on to his position long enough so that the Richelieu's name would not be changed to the Charles de Gaulle. At least that is the concept, given my very limited knowledge of French politics.

Beyond that a more aggressive French military would be required for the other changes. Perhaps the change of the Prime Ministers would lead to the French having a much more active role in Desert Storm in 1991. Then al-Qaeda would have to determine that attacking France on September 11 would be of greater benefit than attacking the United States.... not a very likely outcome no matter what France did in Desert Storm and beyond. Perhaps this timeline requires a second point of departure.

This ship is known as the Charles de Gaulle in the real world. The source of the image for the ship is the Wikipedia article on the Charles de Gaulle. That article was used as the inspiration and basis for this post.

31 May 2013

Friday Flag - Pan-America

A flag I designed for Pan-America from Edgar Rich Burrough's novel Beyond 30 (aka The Lost Continent). The basis of the story is that the western hemisphere, united under the USA, isolated itself from the rest of the world at the outbreak of World War I. All contact is lost with the outside world for over 200 years.

I used the symbol off the flag of the Virgin Islands as the basis of this flag.

29 May 2013

Croatian Empire

A little over a week ago I joined the Alternative History Wiki. Instead of starting a whole new timeline I browsed the orphans looking for one to adopt for my first project. The Croatian Empire was just one page. A list of about four dozen events in chronological order, a few with dates. It had a number of things I liked: a non-standard dominant civilization, a nuclear war, and colonies on Mars.

Some of the bizarre things I liked about the potential of this timeline also make it considered ASB (Alien Space Bats) on the wiki. Things like unrealistic randomness, alien interventions, or a bias for a particular country that defies reality can earn an ASB label.

As I've looked closer I've noticed it has four ASBs against it. Three biased (Croatia becoming a super-power, Australian aborigines having more control over their continent, and a large group of African nations uniting to wage war on a Croatian superpower during the chaos of a nuclear winter) each of which was very, very unlikely. The fourth is the technology. After two large-scale nuclear wars and the world's population being reduced to 1.5 billion I have trouble believing humanity could successfully create a Mars colony.

Be that as it may, I have decided to devote up to six months of regular additions to this timeline to see if I can reduce some of the ASB factors or at least give it an internal consistency that is entertaining, or even entertaining to the althistory work of others. There are so many things I could expand on I'm having trouble deciding what to focus on next. There are a number of wars to give details on, there is the aftermath of World War III to explore, there are the conditions and society on the Mars colonies, and numerous other topics I could expand on. Taking things slow, one or two posts a day for six months should leave me with something that ends up being pretty cool.

Now I have to see how the Map Games they have on the wiki work and consider experimenting with that. There is also their centerpiece timeline, Doomsday: 1983, which looks like it could be fun to contribute to.... just a lot of information to absorb on that one.

Check the wiki out and see what interesting things you can find.

26 May 2013

Travaillis Republique Democratique

1852: Foundation of the Second French Empire.
1856: French victory in the Crimean War. Napoleon III expands his military further after this war. He institutes training of new troops by the experienced soldiers from this conflict.
1859: French victory over Austria in the Second Italian War for Independence. France begins to modernize its army and increase its size for coming conflicts.
1861: French invade Mexico. They have a long string of victories. In order to gain the time needed to consolidate their gains they secretly being to fund the Confederate States of America and smuggle modern weapons to them.
1863: Second Mexican Empire is declared, allied with France.
August 1865: The American Civil War ends with a northern victory. America turns its sights on the French intervention in Mexico.
1867: While in a better position to resist America invading Mexico, Napoleon III decides to withdraw his forces form North America. While he believes his forces could defeat the Americans who knew the price his troops would pay fighting battle-hardened Union and ex-Confederate armies would be too high.
With the growth in strength of the Prussians the French also didn't want to deplete their military with major operations in North America. His agents in America note the speed American troops can be moved across railroads. Napoleon III orders the expansion of rail lines in France to facilitate the movement of his own troops at home.
19 July 1870: Beginning of the Franco-Prussian War.
18 August 1870: After a number of German victories or stalemates in the war the Battle of Gravelotte takes place. The enhanced French rail network, improved artillery, and additional troops give the French an overwhelming victory. The Germans suffer 25,237 killed, 35,000 wounded and have their army routed. Over twenty-thousand German troops are captured.
1871: French forces cross the frontier into Germany. Bismark begins to loose control of the various German states and chaos begins to overtake the German military command. This leads to a French victory in the Franco-Prussian War.
1921: General War in Europe begins. France and Austria unite to divide Europe. Russia, Britain, and the various German states oppose them.
1923: The Ottoman Empire joins Austria and France in the war in order to counter aggressive Russian moves towards Constantinople. Benito Mussolini is assassinated during this period.
1924: The United States joins with Britain and its allies against the French menace. Italy, seeing an opportunity to regain Italian lands held by Austria also joins the allied cause.
1926: General War ends with an Allied victory and French loss. France looses Alsace and Lorraine. France is also thrown into chaos and falls to Communist revolution, forming the Travaillis Republique Democratique.
1930: German Confederation forms.
1936: Spanish Civil War begins. Communists from France intervene.
1937: Start of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
1939: Red victory in Spanish Civil War.
1940: Spain joins the Travaillis Republique Democratique.
1941: After civil unrest across Belgium, it too joins the TRD. The Japanese Empire attacks the United States of America, bombing Pearl Harbor.
1942: The TRD annexes Alsace and Lorraine form the German Confederation. The international community doesn't see it being worth fighting over.
The Communist Party grows in Italy.
1943: American advances against Japan. Russia invades Japanese-held Korea.
1944: Japan negotiates an end to the war with Russia and America.
Communist uprisings begin in Italy.
Ethnic unrest in Russia.
1947: Increasing violence in Italy as various Communist and Socialist organizations increase in power and have increasing conflicts with the government.
1949: TRD troops enter Italy after a major riot. European powers threaten the TRD.
Giacomo Matteotti leads the Italian Communists.
Serbia expands its territory by seizing some Italian ports on the eastern shore of the Adriatic.
By the end of the year the Red War begins.

1953: After devastation of parts of central Europe and France the Red War ends. Communism has been defeated and is outlawed in Europe. The decisive factor was the use of an atomic bomb by the British on the French city of Bordeaux.
1970: Grand Alliance of Europe forms. It is a very weak international organization dedicated to ending all wars in Europe.
1976: Australia joins the United States. The American flag now has 56 stars.
2001: Muslim terrorists stage major attacks on Constantinople and Moscow. Russia declares a “War on Terror.”
2008: Russian Empire collapses under the strain of the War on Terror and the growing civil war in its borders.
2013: Sixty year anniversary of the fall of the TRD.

This timeline is a brief introduction to the world that will be the basis of my entry for the Double-Blind What If Writing Contest over at Alternate History Weekly Update. I created it so I could have a better understanding of the point-of-view of the inhabitants of that world as I work on my entry. Thought I would share.

24 May 2013

Friday Flag - Strumicvar

Strumicvar is a city-state founded on the north-eastern coast of Novo Skopje (South America). It was part of a world-spanning Macedonian empire until the early 19th-century AD when the world was devastated by a nuclear attack. Strumicvar and many other regions were now independent of Imperial authority and free to pursue their own goals.

23 May 2013

Book Review - Apacheria

(image from Amazon.com)

A brief review avoiding spoilers:

Naiche and Juh,father and son Apache help to unite his people in a war against the United States. Instead of fighting as an army on the open field he uses guerrilla tactics to show how helpless the occupying forces are. The financial drain on America grows and many Eastern states begin to question funding such an expensive war for such a small area. Eventually the United States gives up and Apacheria is born.

There were a few catches with the peace treaty. Mining of Apache land will continue for a few decades and a rail line will operate through Apacheria - all for royalties to be paid to the new nation. The Apache are now faced with running a new nation and attempting to maintain their old ways.

There are bumps along the way. If there weren't it wouldn't be much of a story. Inter-tribal alliances fray and outside pressures of the modernizing world have their effects on Apacheria. It will be up to Naiche's son, Juh to help his people navigate these challenges and help the land prosper.

They story ends with Apacheria attempting to adapt to the world during the Roaring '20s. Prohibition, gangsters, and Tommy guns herald a new and interesting age for the fledgling nation.

Plenty of interesting characters. A healthy does of real-world characters help to show how things have diverged. Presidents Taft, Teddy Roosevelt, and Wilson make appearances as do others such as Carrie Nation, Al Capone, and J. Edgar Hoover. Then there are the various Apache characters including Geronimo.

Juh is a good character. He lives in two worlds and has both his father's legacy and his homeland to protect. He is intelligent, brave, a good warrior, and is open to new ideas.

Geronimo is awesome too. He becomes the Apacheria ambassador to Washington, DC. He takes to that role well and is a good mentor to Juh.

Over at Goodreads I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. Overall it was well done.

The only problem I had with it was how easily the United States gave up on trying to subdue/conquer the Apache. Sure the drain on money would be annoying but the blood that had been spilled and the perceived stain on America's honor would have it done a lot more to push the US to continue fighting until it could be victorious. Heck after the amount of blood and gold spent in the Civil War and the the money and tens of thousands of lives that would later be wasted in participating in 'The Great War' I don't see a few million dollars and a few hundred dead stopping America from charging in and getting revenge on the Apache.

Beyond that one complaint it was a very entertaining read.

*Author: Jake Page
*Publisher: Del Rey
*ISBN: 0-345-41411-X
*Pages: 342
*Point of Divergence: 1884

21 May 2013

What I'm up to right now!

In the last week or so I've been up to a number of things related to Alternate History.

1) I've been working on a submission for the Double-Blind What If Writing Contest over at Alternate History Weekly Update. I decided on most of the details for the alts, now I'm just working out how I'll be formatting the entry. A double-blind what if is basically writing an alternate history from the point of view of an alternate timeline. I've had some experience doing that in the past since my old GURPS Infinite Worlds campaign started out based in an alternate history.

2) Over at Althistory Wiki I've created an account and have adopted one of the orphan timelines. My user page can be found HERE. Three of four of the abandoned timelines looked interesting to me. I was going to pick one but changed to the 'Croatian Empire' timeline when I thought about it on the drive home from work today. I've claimed the timeline and did some clean-up. Now I have to do some work to expand it and see what I can do with it. Should be fun. The wiki seems pretty cool.

3) I'm continuing to read more alternate history books. I'll have a review for Apacheria posted soon. I'm also listening to an audio book What if the Babe Had Kept His Red Sox?; it's been interesting so far... I'm just not much of a sports fan to begin with so some of the real-world events they describe before the alt-history events are just as strange to me.

4) Over on Amazon Prime I've been streaming episodes of Fringe. Had never even heard of the show a few months ago and now I'm watching as two alternate Earths struggle against each other. Entertaining; the series does seem to drag at times but at others it gets very creative.

So, that's what I've been up to. There will be some new posts soon. I just wish this was the alternate where I won last Saturday's Power Ball drawing, then I'd have no trouble finding the time to really do some cool stuff.

17 May 2013

Friday Flag - Habsburg Hegemony

The flag of the Habsburg Hegemony for a timeline I created a number of years ago. The Habsburg Hegemony; which is made up of the Austro-Spanish Empire (most of Europe), the Mexican Empire, and a confederation of South American states. They also have colonies dominating Africa and Nieuw Holland (Australia in our world).

Other powers include China, Russia, Japan and the Ottoman Empire.

1588 = The Spanish Armada is a success.
1618 to 1648 = Thirty Years War. Habsburgs come up on top and manage to unite many of the fractured German territories.
EARLY 1800s = Increase in power of the Spanish colonies in the new world.
1840s = Industrial Revolution begins in the Mexican Empire.
1880s = Franco-Habsburg war. France is overwhelmed by Spanish and German troops. Within three years it is annexed into the growing Habsburg Hegemony.
1931 = Sino-Japanese war begins. Japanese gain much territory.
1937 = Habsburg intervention in the Sino-Japanese war begins on behalf of the Chinese. Russian forced join with the Japanese, invading China from the north.
1940 = German scientists develop the Atomic Bomb. It is used on Japanese troop concentrations in Manchuria.
1941 = Kyoto is destroyed by an atomic bomb. The Japanese surrender their gains in China and withdraw to the home islands.
1950s = European space exploration begins. First man in space. Chinese uprising against what has become European occupation.
1959 = First man on the moon.
1984 = Bloody uprisings across China against Europe. The Habsburgs withdraw, but institute a strict blockade of the region.
1987 = Moon base completed. Ion drive developed by European scientists to allow cheap & reliable transportation across the inner solar system.
1999 = First Martian habitats constructed. Chinese begin developing their own spaceships and harness the power of the atom thanks to French spies in their employ.
2007 = Asteroid mining becomes a big business. Large expansions on Lunar City and the various Martian colonies.
2010 = Chinese establish independent colony on Mars and various asteroids with the help of Russo-Japanese corporations.
DECEMBER 24, 2011 = Uprisings in the Mexican Empire and South America in an attempt to break from the Habsburgs. Very bloody, and in the end a failure.
2013 = Russia announces the existence of its own atomic arsenal, this helps to delay further expansion of Europe into space and makes the Habsburgs a little less trigger happy up in space as well.

16 May 2013

The Confederation needs support

Over at Kickstarter a new web series project is attempting to get some funding. It will be a series set on an alternate Earth where the South won the American Civil War and set a century later during the Confederacy's war in Cuba. The divergence point for the timeline is the Battle of Puebla in Mexico, May 5th 1862.

It's nice having a divergence point not being Gettysburg or some other major battle. Instead a minor battle of the French invasion of Mexico is the event where everything changes. Looks like it will be a fun project.

I'm mentioning this project because it is related to alternate history; I've worked on film projects in the past and know how difficult and expensive they can be; and most importantly I want to see it funded an produced so I'm trying to get the word out. Forty days to raise $50,000 may be a bit optimistic, but I've seen some amazing things happen on Kickstarter over the years.

Updated June 2013
The original Kickstarter project was cancelled and a new one put up in its place. Please support it if you can.

24 April 2013

Alternate Geology

There was a post on the Alternate History Online Facebook group earlier this month on a plan nearly a century ago that would have included the damming of the Congo river to create a pair of large lakes in central Africa. That got me thinking back to a novel by Philip José Farmer, Hadon of Ancient Opar. One of the things in that book was a map of the fictional Africa of that story - showing two giant fresh water lakes in the center of the continent.

I sketched my own version of that map using a map of Africa that included contour lines. I never got around to using it in my old GURPS Alternate Earths role-playing game campaign, but I have since scanned the sketch and colored it a bit. Here is is:

This map is upside-down since it was originally going to be for an ancient Africa, about the same time period as the early dynasties of Egypt. That being the case I put south at the top of the map since water flows down and the source of the Nile was in the south.

This opens up an idea of alternate geology being a trigger for an alternate history. Not only can a different outcome of an important event create a divergent timeline, but a few misplaced mountains, slight change in the speed of continental drift, or other geologic events could have an even greater effect on the course of human history.

Right now I'm going through my old notes for the civilizations I was going to put around those lakes. Some of the names and cultural notes need some updates, but I think I can create some very interesting scenarios.

What other major geological changes do you think would be interesting? How do you think they would change our history?

12 April 2013

Friday Flag - Res Publica Romana IV

This is a very basic flag. The civilian flag of the Fourth Roman Republic. Government, military, and important families have variations on this flag on their standards, usually in silver. Various other tassels and figures are added in these variations but in the 28th century AUC silver is the preferred metal/color. Some of the truly ancient family lines still favor gold trim and emblems on their standards.

I hope to create some short fiction to develop this world in the next week or so.

11 April 2013

Book Review - GURPS Alternate Earths

(image from Amazon.com)

This book covers a lot of territory. In addition to the detailed worlds there are notes on developing a campaign based on travel between alternate worlds.


An alternate world that diverges in 1856 with William Walker successfully conquering Nicaragua. This eventually leads to events that give the Confederacy victory in the American Civil War.

Axis powers win World War II. Diverged from real history in 1933 with the assassination of FDR. By the 1970s Nazi space exploitation is more advanced than anything we have in 2013. It is a dark nasty world, with the addition of more cybernetics it would make an interesting setting for a cyberpunk campaign.

Roma Aeterna
No exact divergence point is given for this world dominated by the Third Roman Empire. It is now 2631 AUC (AD 1878) and Rome dominates the Known World. I say the Known World because many portions of the globe are still covered by 'barbarian darkness'. Unlike many other alternate histories involving the Roman Empire I've seen this one has the technology of the Empire rather backwards and different. All things considered behind what we had in the real world in 1878. A sidebar on scientific advancement in this world telling of the problems they've had is given.

One of my favorite alternate histories. The son of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, survives to ascend to the throne. the Habsburgs never gain dominance over Spain. Changes begin to snowball. The Reformation takes a different course and Jesuits are successful in converting much of Japan.

By 2015 the world has four superpowers. The three nuclear powers are The Swedish Empire (controlling all of Scandinavia, the Baltic states, northern Germany, Poland, Greenland, and parts of what would be northern Canada, New England, and other parts of the north-east US). Next is Christian Japan (which controls India, Australia, southeast Asia, much of China, parts of northeast Asia and an enlarged Alaska). The Empire of Brazil is a slightly larger version of the Brazil of our world (and their government recently collapsed making it a large state where anarchy is practiced). The one non-nuclear world power is France. France is a world power not because of territory but because of their exploitation of space. They don't need nukes when their lunar mass drivers can destroy cities just as well.

Carthage discovered the 'New World' in 508 BC. Over 2,300 years later the Mongol Khaganate dominates most of Eurasia, the Tenochca Empire dominates Central America as well as parts of North and South America. The Songhay Empire controls a chunk of north-west Africa.

This one technically would have diverged with the Big Bang. Science is capable of marvels seen in the old pulp magazines. The more obvious divergence is when Nikola Tesla marries the daughter of J.P. Morgan. By the 1960s the world is rapidly advancing in technology. New inventions are encouraged, the atom isn't feared, and the world appears to be heading towards Utopia. The World Science Council helps guide things along. Mad science and art deco architecture. Loads of fun.

Since I've run alternate Earth campaigns (including one with GURPS using the Shikaku-Mon world as the starting point for a three year campaign) I am a little biased about this book. It has a half-dozen well developed worlds with timelines and notes on cultural differences plus notes on bringing in elements form other GUPRS books into the setting. There are also many other short descriptions of other alternate worlds that follow a similar theme to the ones described here. It is an indispensable resource for an alternate world RPG in any system.

Given the vast utility I received from this book, even glancing at it on a regular basis in the present, I have to give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Perhaps some day I'll have to make a series of posts giving the highlights of that old GURPS Infinite Worlds campaign I ran. Could be interesting, what do you think?

GURPS and this Alternate Earths sourcebook are published by Steve Jackson Games.

Page Count: 128
Authors: Kenneth Hite, Craig Neumeier, and Michael S. Schiffer
Year Published: 1999
ISBN: 1-55634-318-3

10 April 2013

Israel in Africa


Jewish settlement of the Uganda region began in 1904. For the first twenty years of its existence Israel was officially a British colony until it gained independence in 1924. Cultural strife from 1904 to the mid-1930s led to a number of skirmishes with native populations. During the Second World War a large influx of people, money, and a number of scientific minds helped to dramatically improve the living conditions in Israel.

During the 'Cold War' period Israel was involved in many covert military operations for independence minded regions of Africa. Israeli mercenaries fought alongside South African mercenaries in a number of regions. Israel was in support of the nation of Congo being broken up into independent states via self-determination but international forces kept the Congo as one state.

In the 1980s Israel began to distance itself from South Africa and continued to champion many African causes. By this time Israeli and South African mercenaries found themselves on opposing sides in some conflicts.

South Sudan gained independence in 2002 thanks to Israeli support. Israel is now one of the most developed nations in Africa.
Location: East-Central Africa
Area: 241,038 sq km (197,100 land, 43,938 water)
Coastline: 0 km; Landlocked

Climate: Tropical; mostly rainy with two dry seasons; semiarid in the northeast
Terrain: plateau with a rim of mountains

Natural Resources: copper, cobalt, hydropower, limestone, salt, arable land, gold
Arable Land: 22.9%
People & Society
Nationality: Israeli(s) (noun); Israeli (adjective)

Ethnic Groups: Jewish 21.0% (Eurasian origin), Baganda 14.1%, Banyakole 7.2%, Basoga 7.2%, Bakiga 6.2%, Iteso 5.7%, Langi 4.7%, Acholi 3.8%, Bagisu 3.8%, Lugbara 3.5%, Bunyoro 2.5%, Other 20.3% (2011 census)

Languages: Hebrew (official), English (most common foreign language), Russian, Ganda, Luganda, and other Niger-Congo or Nilo-Saharan languages, Swahili, Arabic

Religons: Jewish 30.2%, Roman Catholic: 20.2%, Protestant: 23.9%, Muslim: 7.4%, Other: 7.2% , None: 1.1% (2011 census)

Population: 38,750,089 (December 2012)

Population Growth Rate: 2.7%

Life Expectancy at Birth: 74.92 years male; 80.21 years female
Capital: Herzliya
Administrative Districts: Toro, Buganda, Bunyoro, Ankole, Arua, Northern, Eastern

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch
Chief-of-State: President Tal Muhangi(since 2007)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Raanan Greenblatt (since 2009)
Elections: president largely a ceremonial role and is elected by the Knesset for a seven-year term (one-term limit); election last held 13 June 2007 (next to be held in 2014 but can be called earlier); following legislative elections, the president, in consultation with party leaders, assigns the task of forming a governing coalition to a Knesset member who he or she determines is most likely to accomplish that task
Legislative Branch
Unicameral Knesset (250 seats; political parties are elected by popular vote and assigned seats for members on a proportional basis; members serve four-year terms)
Judicial Branch
Supreme Court (justices appointed by Judicial Selection Committee - made up of all three branches of the government; mandatory retirement age is 70)
Legal System: mixed legal system of English common law, British Mandate regulations, Jewish laws, and some local customs
Overview: Israel has substantial natural resources, fertile soil, regular rainfall, and mineral deposits. Oil deposits have also been recently discovered in the country and will be developed in the coming years.

GDP: $1,104.377 billion (in 2012 US$)
GDP Per Capita: $28,500 (2012)
GDP Growth Rate: 3.8%

Government Revenues: $251.15 billion
Government Expenditures: $274.00 billion
Public Debt: 68.2% GDP
Inflation Rate: 2.2%

Agriculture Products: coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, cassava (tapioca), potatoes, corn, millet, pulses, cut flowers; beef, goat meat, milk, poultry
Industries: Cotton textiles, cement, steel production, chemicals, plastics, high-technology products (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics)

Currency: Israeli Shekels (ILS) (3.207 per US$ in 2012)
Electricity Production: 187.08 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity Consumption: 170.82 billion kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity Exports: 5 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Electricity by Source: Hydroelectric 38.2%, Fossil Fuels: 32.7%, Nuclear: 25.8%, Renewable: 3.3%

Refined Petroleum Products - Imports: 468,500 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Natural Gas Production: 1.7 billion cu m (2010 est.)
Natural Gas - Proved Reserves: 18.9 billion cu m (2012)
Telephones - Main Lines in Use: 17.338 million (2010)
Telephones - Mobile Cellular: 18.739 million (2011) Internet Country Code: .il
Internet Hosts: 6.401 million(2012)
Internet Users: 16.045 million (2012)
Airports: 50 (2012), 29 have paved runways
Railways: 2,853 km narrow gauge
Roadways: 73,903 km of which 32,850 km are paved
Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel Air Force (IAF)
Men 18 years of age compulsory service for Jews and voluntary for other ethnic groups. Service obligation 24 months
Military Expenditures as portion of GDP: 6.8%
Transnational Issues
Israel has covert military forces involved in many areas of Africa. They are under international pressure to cease assistance to local revolutionary groups in the Congo.

1) I used the CIA World Factbook entries for Israel and Uganda as a basis for this entry
2) Inspiration for this entry came from a short audio program I listened to: Israel in East Africa by Mark Whitaker

05 April 2013

Friday Flag - Russian Federation

I designed this flag many years ago. Basically it's a Romanov crest on a modern Russian flag. I originally designed it for a world where the United States, China, and most of Europe were devastated by a war (in December 1993) that Russia somehow managed to avoid. Russia became one of two dominate powers on Earth after that and nostalgia for the 'good old days' led to the addition of the old crest to the flag.

Not much of an alternate history, but it was for a super-hero role-playing game so realism wasn't that important.

03 April 2013

Review - Warlords of Utopia

(image from Amazon.com)


by Lance Parkin

The story of 1,000 alternate worlds dominated by an eternal Roman Empire go to war with 1,000 worlds where the Nazis won World War II. It doesn't get much more bad-ass than that. Written in the first person from the point of view of Marcus Americanius Scriptor. He describes how he recovered an item that allowed Roma I to travel to alternate Roman worlds and how the discovery of the Nazi dominated worlds led to war.

That's a lot of territory to cover in 180 pages. Throw in entities and mentions of an even bigger conflict (between the Great Houses and Faction Paradox) and the story becomes truly epic.

From an alternate history perspective there are only the occasional mentions of what some of the thousands of alternate worlds are like and how they diverged. The alternate technology of some of the worlds is interesting but at times unrealistic.

It would have been nice to learn a bit more about some of the other worlds. More descriptions of how they interconnect would also have been something I would have liked (they develop a rather haphazard way of mapping the Romes). Given the scope of the story I can understand why details were glossed over.

Marcus Americanius Scriptor is the main character. The book is written as his memoirs. He is not a nice person.

After murdering an old man for a device that would allow him to travel to alternate worlds he builds up a vast business empire revolving around cross-dimension travel. While there is nothing wrong with enriching himself and civilization with this item, he uses it to gather materials to blackmail political opponents. When one opponent to too noble and incorruptible Marcus just murder him.

Also, after page-after-page about hearing form Marcus about how Roma I was a perfect world and the Roman way of life is superior to everything he turns around and betrays his Emperor and starts a war that nearly led to the destruction of everything he held dear.

He is a selfish, narrow-minded, and disloyal man.

He does, however, have many heroic qualities. His strong will and vision help strengthen his family and does bring wealth through trade to many of the Roman worlds. He is also a great warrior and is able to quickly develop new tactics having to integrate new technologies and weapons into his plans.

He also has that single-minded stubbornness of the pulp heroes of old.

As with many books written from the first person point-of-view I found my self trying to read between the lines and figure out what might have really been going on. Anyone writing their memoirs, especially ones involving wartime, are bound to gloss over and change details that show them in an unfavorable light.

The story is well done. It covers a lot of ground and does it efficiently. Despite some of my complaints about the main character mentioned above he is not a bad one to be the viewpoint character. The first two-thirds of the book are solid. The last third - where the Romans and Nazis are at war - just does not seem believable. Of course what is believable in a story of nearly two-thousand alternate worlds at war? It was more of the swords vs. machine guns scenario. I can see times when the more basic weapons of the Romans would come in handy (and they did have some high-powered crossbows as well as catapults with ranges of a mile or more) but in a normal battle I'd bet on the automatic rifles.

The Nazis would also have adapted to the new type of warfare. They also would have made things much more costly for the Romans by using nuclear weapons on a much broader scale. The war would have lasted a century not the decade described.

I also wonder how the Romans, who have been at peace for centuries on many of their worlds, can be such disciplined and good warriors. Just seems a little odd to me.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Faction Paradox is an unofficial spin-off of the Doctor Who Universe. More information can be found at the Faction Paradox Wiki.

22 March 2013

Friday Flag - Sul Aliança

Here is the first in an ongoing series. I've always loved flags, especially ones with great stories behind them. Flags evoke various emotions depending on who views them and what they represent means to that person. This series will focus on flags that never existed in our real world but in alternates.

This first one is for a large nation in South America from a short story I wrote (that story, The Corpse of Mars, can be found on my story blog). In the story I imply some disaster hit the Earth somewhere between 1866 and 2429. Out of the ruins of human civilization came new nations. Sul Aliança was one of the more successful of these new nations.

While Sul Aliança wasn't born until the mid-22nd century at the earliest I had imagined the disaster that struck humanity being a nuclear war in the mid-1980s.

Be sure to check back on future Fridays for more new and interesting symbols of lands that don't exist.
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