31 December 2014

Book Review - A Gray Tide In the East

(image from Amazon.com)

Book by Andrew J. Heller

The Kaiser decides not to appear as the aggressor in the upcoming war. At the last moment he scraps the Schlieffen plan and decides to focus on the Russian Empire first. At that point everything changes. The French come to Russia's aid, but they end up attacking Germany along a short and well fortified border - and they fail to break through.

The story then follows various point of view characters as they reveal and react to the events in this divergent World War. Not too much focus is given to the men in the field, but a good overview of the war is revealed. Not to spoil things too much, but the Germans do extraordinarily well. They still introduce some horrific weapons and make steady progress against the German Empire.

They only real problem I had was with how the Germans caught all the lucky breaks. It seems to me with the changed scenario some French or Russian officer would have pulled a fast one on the Germans and given them some setbacks.

A few minor powers take on different roles than in the OTL. Japan occupies French Indochina supposedly to help the French keep the peace... they end up staying and keeping the colony for themselves.

Rounding out the book are a couple of Afterword essays, Counterfactually Speaking and The War That Was and the War That Was Not. This is a way for the author to give some of his views and reasoning about his work. It includes footnotes and references making it a welcome addition to the book.

There were numerous characters involved in the story. I won't go into too much detail of them here since none of them were vital to the plot of the story. They all helped give the reader the information on the war itself, none of them were in a position to really change the outcome.

Adolf Hitler made a brief guest appearance.

I liked this book. The First World War is on of the areas I like reading alternate and real history about. While it could have used a few set backs for the Germans and an unexpected twist or two it did give me some of what I expect from an alternate history story. While character development is nice, not all stories need such a thing. Sometimes in alternate history the most important character is the new timeline itself.

Overall it was interested, it's relatively short length worked for it - another 200 pages would not have necessarily made the book better without major changes in the way the story was being told. Short and interesting is good, which is reflected in my rating; at the time I was also slugging my way through the last couple of books in Harry Turtledove's War That Came Early series and was getting a little tired of the limited viewpoint and overly long story which A Gray Tide in the East was a nice contrast to at the time.

4 out of 5 stars.

Publisher: Strict Publishing International
Page Count: approx. 165
Genre: Alternate History
ISBN: 0857792873

19 December 2014

Friday Flag - New Belize (2002-2013)

Finally getting back in the swing of things. Starting off a bit on the silly side with this week's flag; an alternate Belize where things didn't work out so well:

In 1987 the Coca-Cola corporation formed a subsidiary called Coke Belize Enterprises, Ltd. This new entity was responsible for developing the supplies of raw materials for Coke products. It started with a 500,000 acres of land for citrus development. Over the years activities would expand in the small Central American nation.

1990: Coke Belize Enterprises expands operations into sugar production. Large amounts of land are purchased from the state and local farmers. Wages in the country are steadily increasing with the increasing number of jobs on the farms and in construction.

1994: NAFTA gives an incentive to further developments in Belize.

1999: To combat negative press about operation in Belize there are further investments and increased wages of workers. High inflation is now gripping the nation. Corporate influence in national politics gives Coke Belize Enterprises de facto control over the government.

2000: The Caribbean Highway is completed. It allows for easy transport of product to port. Late in the year an agreement is reached with Guatemala to allow them low tariffs to use the highway.

2002: A new national flag is introduced (see image above). It is nearly universally despised. Hyper-inflation, corporate control of their country, and massive immigration is causing long term residents to become increasingly angry.

2004: Rebels begin missions to disrupt and destroy Coke Belize Enterprises operations. The military seems unwilling to combat the rebels. Foreign mercenaries are brought in towards the end of the year to spearhead the counter-insurgency.

2008: Violence begins to increase in Belize as the economy begins to suffer more. It becomes clear to some that central planning for a nation by a corporation is little better than central planning by a communist dictator. Coke Belize Enterprises is attempting to find a way to cut their increasing losses and end the violence. They turn to the United States for help.

2010: After the mid-term elections in the US the President tries to boost his sagging poll numbers by working on a plan to eventually bring Belize into the United States as a new state. When details of this plan are leaked there is general outrage, particularly from the UK. There is also a spike of violence in Belize.

2013: US Troops and counter-terrorism assets arrive in Belize for peacekeeping operations. Operation: No Deposit, No Return begins; it includes drone strikes on insurgency bases in Guatemala. Towards the end of the year a vote his held to determine the fate of the country. With a large number of citizens unable to vote due to 'terrorist ties' and other irregularities, Belize 'chooses' to become a territory of the USA. The territorial flag is changed back to the original flag of Belize.

11 November 2014

Kazakhian War - Overview

During Maius 2595 AUC the land of Kazakhia, a Chinese vassal at the time, fell into rebellion. The native Kazaks were unhappy with Chinese domination and desired more freedom. Violence steadily escalated during the month until 26 Maius when Chinese advisors opened fire on a large protest in the Kazakhian capital.

Open rebellion resulted from the violence. Kazakhia had long ties with China as well as regular contact with Rome. As a vassal of China driving deep into central Asia Roman governments considered it a potential threat. By late Iunius 2595 AUC the Fourth Roman Republic recognized Kazakhian independence and began mobilizing legions to be sent to support them. The Kazakhian War was the result of this escalation. The two powers had been living in relative peace with each other for decades, only minor border skirmishes on occasion. Now they were at war.

Despite two global powers with long common borders being at war the conflict itself remained mostly confined to Kazakhia itself. Neither side wanted to escalate to a broader, global war. A few naval skirmishes across the world’s oceans were the only exception.

When the war started firearms had been in service of both sides for some time including revolvers and bolt action rifles. However new developments at the beginning and during the conflict brought more deadly weapons to the field. This was the first large scale industrial war.

Machine guns were of major importance. In a fortified position they could keep large enemy forces at bay. Mortars, poison gas, and aeroplanes were other innovations taking the field of battle for the first time.

One of the main challenges in the war was keeping the large armies supplied. Rome had more developed railroads in the region so had an advantage in this regard. China had a more difficult time getting supplies and munitions to its troops.

Kazakhia was 25,661,000 concentrated mostly in the southern portions of the 3,500,000 square kilometer nation. The armies and support forces from both major powers during the four years of the war added, on average, 6.5 million additional people, at any one time, to the region. This stressed the local infrastructure.

At times troops would spend more time building roads, trenches, and extending rail lines than they did in combat zones. The costs of supplying these forces and paying for the construction projects were a major drain on the budgets of the Fourth Roman Republic and Chinese Empire.

Most combat took place around major population centers or strategic terrain. Large armies had difficulty crossing the unfortified steppe of central Kazakhia. The semi-arid conditions of the steppe made it impossible to easily supply large marching armies with water.

In the first six-months of the war Rome quickly captured a number of border cities, including Oral-Chogan, Tobolnay, Samarkand, and Karakalpak.

In 2596 AUC reinforcements by the Chinese lead to the sieges and major bloodlettings of Simkent, Ak-Mechet, Semey, and Pavlodar. Semey was still in Chinese hands at the end of 2596.

2497 AUC saw major offensives by both sides as many cities change hands multiple times. This year also saw the worst consequences for native civilians with famine and disease sweeping the lands killing several million.

The last years of the war were a bloody grinding as Rome again pushed from settlement to settlement forcing Chinese forces back to their border. The high costs in both blood and treasury caused the Chinese to finally withdraw.

15 Aprilis 2599 AUC saw an end to the conflict as the Chinese government was on the verge of collapsing. Kazakhia would host Roman legions who were there supposedly to ensure the peace and to guarantee repayments of debts owed to Rome. On 1 Augustus 2601 AUC Kazakhia was made a Roman province. Isolated rebel groups would be contained and eliminated over the next 40 years.

The economic and social consequences of the war shattered the Chinese Empire. Eventually five major independent regions would evolve. It would take nearly a century and a half for the various regions to reunite.

The global depression that started in 2604 AUC can be traced back to the war. The spending and distortion of markets by military production led to a drop in industrial production. The returning soldiers reentering the workforce needed jobs and many needed specialized medical care for wounds. Such infrastructure did not exist at the time. The disintegration of central Chinese authority also caused major disruptions to international trade and crippled numerous supply chains, adding to the forces driving the depression.

The Republic’s economy would be stagnant for over a decade. Interestingly some of the now independent regions of China actually had vast economic growth during the same time period.

17 October 2014

Friday Flag - Confederation of Europe 1972

With the victory of the Central Powers in the Great War (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Italy, Bulgaria) Germany dominated European politics. Over the next half-century Europe, and the world, went through a series of great changes. By 1972 Germany was able to forge a new Confederation of European States to maintain peace and stability in Europe.

The initial members of the Confederation were: Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luxembourg. Each member state was represented by a star on the new flag. The Confederation would continue to gain members, welcoming its 24th member in 1999.

05 September 2014

Friday Flag - United State of the Ionian Islands

Flag of the United State of the Ionian Islands 1815

During the Congress of Vienna the United Kingdom wanted to gain rights to 'protect' the United State of the Ionian Islands. This group of seven islands off the coast of Greece had a number of ports that could be of use by the British. The Austrian Empire was not thrilled at the prospect of continued British expansion into the Mediterranean so they unexpectedly pushed for more rights there themselves.

With the numerous more important issues to be handled at the Congress, it was quickly decided that the British and Austrians would form a condominium over the islands. It quickly became apparent that the two powers would be unable to cooperate. This allowed the Ionians to exert much more control over their own territory. In late 1815 Ioannis Kapodistrias became President of the United State of the Ionian Islands. He became adept at playing the two powers against each other and advancing his own ends as they squabbled or ignored the islands.

While many inhabitants preferred British laws to Habsburg they desired their own freedom as well. Taking the best each culture had to offer and taking inspirations from ancient Greek city-states and modern American political innovations the tiny new nation tried to create its own identity.

In 1864 the British pushed to have the Ionian Islands annexed into the Kingdom of Greece. Luckily a half-century of relative independence allowed them to resist annexation. With Habsburg involvement now almost non-existent the Ionians turned to Imperial Russia for help. Turning to the Tsar to ensure their freedom was bizarre, but worked. By allowing Russian access to some of their ports they were able to get the Tsar to support their independence.

Again the United Kingdom had other more important interests to deal with and eventually let the matter drop.

04 September 2014

Great War 1912 - Mobilization

The Chairman of Council of Ministers of the Russian Empire, Pyotr Stolypin, having survived an assassination attempt in 1911 continued his duties. He would attempt to steer his nation away from war in November 1912 but fail.

The Balkan War was in full swing. Bulgaria was leading Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro on successful campaigns against the Ottoman Empire. Germany and Austria-Hungary were remaining relatively uninvolved in the conflict. The Kaiser was still upset over the overthrow of his friend, Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1909. Germany would follow a policy of "free fight and no favor", allowing the conflict to play itself out. Despite Serbian gains in the area, including gaining access to the Adriatic were threats to Austrian power in the region the Austro-Hungarians did not mobilize and enter the fight.

Seeing the lack of Austrian involvement as weakness, Russian Minister of War Vladimir Sukhomlinov saw an opportunity to move against the Turks and have a chance at finally seizing Constantinople. Russia could not afford to allow the city to fall into Bulgaria's hands. On 22 November 1912 Sukhomlinov prepared plans for a 'partial' mobilization of Russian forces from Warsaw through Kiev and all the way to Odessa. They could move into the Balkans and either 'aid' the Bulgarian faction and claiming Constantinople for Russia, or they could crush the Balkan armies and seize the city anyway.

The next day, 23 November, the Tsar called an emergency meeting of his most important ministers. There were to discuss Sukhomlinov's plan and other options available. Chairman Stolypin warned against the mobilization. He felt that the Austrians would see it as a direct threat and mobilize themselves. At that point war with the Turks, Austria, and even Germany would be a real possibility.

While a number of other ministers were in agreement with Stolypin's position he was growing increasingly unpopular due to continued pushes for reforms. The same unpopularity that led to the attempt on his life a year earlier kept enough ministers from siding with him to defeat the Minister of War's plan. In a narrow decision the Tsar and his ministers decided on a partial mobilization against the Ottoman Empire and possibly Bulgaria.

Russian mobilization began 24 November (7 December 1912 Gregorian Calendar). The Austrians would react. Mobilizing their military forces to deploy against the Bulgarian alliance and to reinforce border regions with Russia, in particular Przemyśl Fortress. It would not take long for war to spread.

Information on the historical figures can be found on Wikipedia or by using Google, Bing, or whatever search engines you like. I used a couple books as reference when plugging away at this timeline:

1) The Russian Origins of the First World War by Sean McMeekin
2) Blood on the Snow by Graydon A. Tunstall

22 August 2014

Friday Flag - Hussite Army 1437

On 6 July 1415 Jan Hus was murdered at the Council of Constance, King Sigismund of Luxembourg the ruler of Kingdom of Hungary having betrayed him with promises of protection. Hus was a religious man but saw faults with the Catholic Church. He attempted reforms from within only to be excommunicated. After his martyrdom the rising nationalism in Bohemia combined with religious unrest led to rebellion.

The Hussites were a very effective fighting force. Many new tactics were developed including war wagons. These helped play an important part in winning an independent Czech kingdom after numerous crusades against them. Finally a decisive victory at the Battle of Lipany in 1434 allowed them to finally get peace with King Sigismund in 1436.

The five failed crusades against the Hussites helped to spread their message of reform across Europe. The Church ended overt attempts to destroy them and changed their strategy to isolate the new Czech Kingdom and minimize the spread of what they considered the Hussite Heresy.

The flag above became the official flag of the Hussite armies after the end of the wars. It combined elements from a number of popular flags during the wars.

08 August 2014

Friday Flag - Amikejo

In 1816 a quirk in decisions during the Congress of Vienna created Neutral Moresnet. This area was about 1 square mile and contained a zinc mine neither the Netherlands nor Prussia wanted the other to control. For nearly a century the small territory survived the turmoil around it never being attacked or invaded. Even after the zinc mine went dry the town continued to boom as new enterprises grew.

Refugees, exiles, and adventurers from across Europe, and from as far as the United States and China, arrived in the territory boosting the population. This growth and new ideas helped to expand the economy of Neutral Moresnet. A lack of central authority and the option to use several different law systems to settle disputes also added to the uniqueness of the land.

In 1908 the territory had become a gathering point of speakers of Esperanto. Soon the territory declared its independence as Amikejo, a word in Esperanto meaning 'place of friendship'. The World Congress of Esperanto that met in Dresden declared the settlement the world capital of Esperanto.

Its neighbors were unsure what to do with this territory since both Belgium and Germany neglected for decades their obligation to oversee it. Neither wanted to cause a diplomatic situation on the others border. By 1920 with the German Empire more concerned with monitoring wars in the Balkans and failing Ottoman Empire paid less attention to its borders with Belgium and France. This allowed Amikejo to continue to prosper as a free trade city and through smuggling.

Amikejo would eventually gain recognition by other nations. Once this happened it became a small free state not much larger than Monaco.

(For more information on Neutral Moresnet see Peter C. Earle's short book A Century of Anarchy: Neutral Moresnet through the Revisionist Lens.)

02 August 2014

Book Review - Napoleon in America

(image from Amazon.com)

Napoleon in America was written by Shannon Selin

The story was great. Jean Lafitte rescues Napoleon from Saint Helena and takes him to New Orleans in the United States. After recovering from his exile Napoleon tours the United States claiming a desire to live in peace. It is clear that he is less than honest in his claims. North America appears ripe with opportunities for the little dictator. Canada, Texas, the west, Europe, and even the United States itself could possibly become the object of his desires.

Once he determines his target, Napoleon gets to work at attempting to accomplish his goal. There are plenty of French exiles, American mercenaries, and people with questionable motives available for a new army. They are gathered together and thankfully some time is spent training the mixed force. There are still plenty of surprises during the campaign; North America is not Europe, there are plenty of things to catch Napoleon off guard.

The ending was satisfactory, and the outcome was in question until the end. While I felt the possibility of a sequel the story was self contained and doesn't need a sequel to be complete.

Well, the most important character is Napoleon himself. A large supporting cast made up of a great many historical figures helps round things out.

In the back of the book is a summary of the cast of characters, at least the ones that were based off actual historical figures. And there are a lot of them! The Napoleonic era was never one of my strong points so I didn't recognize many of the characters but knowledge of them all wasn't necessary to enjoy the story.

This is an excellent book. The only real complaint I had was that things seemed to flash back to Europe a little too often. I was anxious to see what Napoleon would do. I do realize the European reaction to Napoleon's escape is an important part of the story, but a little more insight into what the American government's reaction to Napoleon's betrayal of their hospitality and protection would have been nice.

Despite my limited knowledge of the source material the book was obviously well researched. When the battles finally took place they were well detailed and not glossed over. I've tried to avoid spoilers. Napoleon does raise an army in America but I left out the target. While he may or may not have been successful there is a good end point for the story and the reader isn't left disappointed.

Anyone who likes alternate history should find something to enjoy in this story. Unless you just have a general dislike of the Napoleonic era there should be something of value for you to find within.
One final note - I noticed the use of &c. for etc. I had never seen that before, and honestly thought it was a glitch in the Kindle version of the book at first. However that is a legitimate, but uncommon, way to abbreviate etcetera. Now I plan on springing that on my writing group the next time I have to use etc. in a short story.

4 out of 5 stars.

Publisher: Dry Wall Puublishing
Page Count: 312
Genre: Alternate History
ISBN: 978-0992127503

25 July 2014

Friday Flag - Confederation of the Rio Grande and Texas

During the Battle of San Jacinto on 21 April 1836 Antonio López de Santa Anna was killed during the fighting. The war for Texan independence continued but the Mexicans suffered major setbacks after that battle. In 1837 another collection of Mexican states declared independence as the Republic of the Rio Grande. The battered Mexican Army gained made renewed attacks into the rebellious territory, but intervention by Sam Houston and his Texan forces secured the independence of the sister republic.

Having fought together against a common foe and facing an uncertain future together the two new republics formed the Confederation of the Rio Grande and Texas as a means to mutual defense and cooperation.

The flag of the Confederation has four stars - one for each of the states: Texas, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas.

21 July 2014

Money Monday #4 - Certificado de Mercadoria (1970)

After the devastation of the Third World War the northern hemisphere was in ruins and the global weather patterns had shifted. The global economy suffered a catastrophic collapse leaving the surviving nations in chaos. Brazil made major changes in an attempt to avoid its own collapse. Surviving elements of the United States Navy would regularly use Brazilian ports in the years after the war. Since most currencies had collapsed the Americans had to pay for Brazilian help by helping their hosts maintain order.

As the turmoil began to slowly decline there was need of a stable currency to boost the sluggish economy. The Brazilain Real was experiencing extreme inflation and a loss of confidence. Local communities attempted to create their own currencies, some fiat, others based off labor. One of the more successful ones was the Certificado de Mercadoria (CM).

The CM was backed by the value of commodities that were supposed to be held in warehouses near major population centers. The certificates could be exchanged for the commodities listed on them at any time from these warehouses. This gave the certificates value and helped to counter the affects of inflation on the other currencies.

Every four to eight months a new series of certificates was issued. The new issue would have different exchange rates for commodities and some of the items listed on prior certificates would be removed while others added depending on supply. When a new issue was made older certificates were still good. This would lead to some confusion in exchanges but nobody wanted a currency that was only good for less than a year.

The Certificado de Mercadoria pictured above is from the second issuance of 1970.

The CM program was wrought with corruption, shortages of commodities, and other problems. However, it was still the most successful currency during in Brazil during the aftermath of the war. The last series for the CM was issued in 1981 and all outstanding certificates had to be redeemed by 1985 after the economy of South America recovered to a point where more traditional monies would function.

The text on the certificate reads: This Certificate of Merchandise allows access of commodities from the São Paulo storage facility as listed below. The exchange rate for this series (1970B) is based off ten-thousand (10,000) units.
Wheat 7,600 kg
Rice 7,250 kg
Sugar 2,000 kg
Coffee 120 kg
Corn 8,200 kg
Cotton 450 kg
Cement 17,000 kg
Copper 150 kg
Iron 8,000 kg
Aluminum 120 kg
Wool 80 kg
Peanuts 375 kg

This particular 1,000 CM certificate was exchanged in São Paulo during July 1974 by a construction company for 1,700 kg of cement.

The inspiration for this certificate comes from the Exeter Constant. Some information on that can be found at The History of Local Currency and in an article at Mother Earth News, The Causes of Inflation and a Commodity-Based Currency.

I designed a more colorful note and created it for a post-WWIII Brazil that was attempting to survive the collapse of the global economy. I used bits of an old one silver dollar bill from the US, as well as a $1,000 and $100 bill for elements of this design. I also copied a portion of a Brazilian bill for the top logo. Some color changes and other tweaks completed the design.

18 July 2014

Friday Flag - People's Republic of Sweden

Sweden suffered greatly during the Great War. A British blockade and Russian invasion devastated the country to such a point that the government collapsed towards the end of the conflict in April 1896.

By the end of 1896 Sweden was proclaimed a People's Republic. The German Empire did not like having a communist country so close to it so they supported an Danish conquest of Ostlandet in a war from 30 January 1899 to 31 May 1899. During those few months Germany and Norway helped Denmark annex a portion of Swedish territory.

Germany and Norway again invaded the People's Republic of Sweden on 1 June 1904 to add a stretch of Swedish territory to Norway. Having never recovered fully from the Great War much less the Danish Conquest of Ostlandet, the Swedes were forced to surrender on 3 July 1905 with the loss of additional territory. The territory gained by Norway included Nord-Noreg and Trøndelag.

12 July 2014

Uzay Savaşi Character Profile - Lokmaka

In the 1977 film, Uzay Savaşi, not much was revealed about the Kirmizitavşanan smuggler, Lokmaka. He never spoke Turkish, always communicating in his native language which sounded more like a rat squeaking than a fierce warrior. Despite this, his alien appearance, skill at fighting, and action figures make the big red bunny-man popular with fans of the film.

Much of the original history and background for the character was reveled in the novelization of the film. He grew up on the planet Kir'Kirmiz to one of the equatorial tribes. His larger size and strength allowed him to maintain some freedom in the harsh lands of his people, but he never felt the desire to become the chieftain. He was also intelligent and did not see the point of becoming the ruler of his trim when all the tribes of Kir'Kirmiz were slaves of the İmparatorluğun.

He fled his home planet and acquired his own small transport ship. He become a smuggler, bringing weapons or forbidden luxury items to the desperate people of İmparatorluğun space. During these years is when he first encountered and befriended Berkant, a member of the Blue Stars. He also obtained his favorite weapon, a battle glaive with a built-in laser gun.

Lokmaka's portrayal in the other two films of the series was not much different than in Uzay Savaşi, a loyal friend with no major character developments on screen. The lack of ability to speak so so the audience could understand him was the main factor leading to the shallowness of his character. Where he failed as a character in the films he thrived in comic books and novels, remaining a favorite of many fans.

11 July 2014

Friday Flag - Republic of Bangladesh

I sifted through my old notes for tabletop role-playing games I have run in the past looking for any flags I may have designed. I found an old version of this one, the Republic of Bangladesh. The world it come from is totally ASB. It was a game where the players were super-powered villains with various nefarious plans. In the mid-1990s China and the US went to war leaving them both, and western Europe, nearly totally destroyed. The Russian Federation became the anchor for civilization for a number of years.

During this time Bangladesh had more than its fair share of super-inventors. They could take scrap out of a junkyard and turn it into wondrous technological devices. It did not take long for them to dominate southern Asia and eventually northern Africa.

04 July 2014

Friday Flag - USA

Welcome to this week's alternate history flag. Given that it is Independence Day here in the USA I decided to create an alternate flag for America. At first I considered one with an additional stripe and star for a timeline where Quebec was successfully added to the new nation, but instead I went with the theme of just changing the layout of the original flag.

Upon completion I found it bears a striking resemblance to a flag designed by John Shaw, his having eight-pointed stars instead of my five-pointed. Shaw's flag also had different dimensions, being a bit longer than most standard flags.

I hope all my readers, no matter which country they live in, have a great day and an even more awesome weekend!

01 July 2014

June 2014 Activity

Thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the blog's stats for the last month.

1) Book Review - Afrika Reich
2) Roman Conquest of Arabia Felix
3) Assassination in Sarajevo
4) Top Flag Championship 2014 Round Two
5) Friday Flag - Union of Arab Republics
6) Friday Flag - Sino-Soviet Alliance
7) Kingdom of Alaska
8) All History is Alternate History
9) Friday Flag - UN Battle Flag

1) United States
2) Ukraine
3) Germany
4) France
5) United Kingdom
6) Canada
7) Denmark
8) Turkey
9) Russia

I'm planning to do some more book reviews this summer. I'm making notes as I re-read portions of alternate history fiction I've read over the years.

I have a few more timelines to develop. It's taking a little longer than normal because I'm doing some extra research to make them a little more believable.

My new cartography software has a bit of a learning curve. Hopefully I'll be able to make some nice maps later this year.

Also, I want to further develop existing timeines I've created here. Are there any that you find particularly interesting? If so leave a comment and I'll consider pushing them up the list of things to do.

29 June 2014

This Week in Alternate Histories - June 23 to June 29

Alt-Timeline: Travaillis Republique Democratique
Year: 2014
The Brittany region of France finally achieves independence. Since the end of the war over sixty years ago Brittany had recovered more quickly and was more open to working with the UK & USA. On June 23 the Grand Alliance of Europe recognizes Brittany as an independent nation over French protests.

Alt-Timeline: Alexander's Earth
Year: 2151 native calendar (AD 1820)
Nearly fifteen years after the Unknown War devastated the Earth, the inhabitants of Almazangrad emerge from their underground city and begin to explore the desolate area around their settlement. Initial explorations show only slightly elevated background radiation in the area around the city giving hope to the survivors of expansion and accumulation of desperately needed resources.

Alt-Timeline: Alternate Great Lakes
Year: 1788
Virginia becomes the 9th state to ratify the US Constitution. Saint Lawrence has refused to join the new union.

Alt-Timeline: Sino-Soviet Alliance
Year: 1945
The United Nations charter is signed. A controversial section of the charter allows for a formation of a UN military which would cause trouble when the Soviet Union fails to utilize its veto power at the start of the Korean War. In the future this would be seen as the primary weakness of the new organization and the rise of a more powerful international communist organization in the '50s.

Alt-Timeline: British North America
Year: 1768
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix is signed between the British and the Iroquois Confederacy. It establishes the borders of Iroquois territory and creates provisions for the British to enforce violations by colonists.

Alt-Timeline: Campi Flegrei
Year: 1955
A major Nazi air attack with most of their jet fighters breaks the back of the Red Army at the start of the Battle of Radom. This battle marked the limit of the Russian advance into Germany territory.

Alt-Timeline: World War III
Year: 1963
An agreement is finalized with President João Goulart of Brazil and elements of the US Navy to use Brazilian ports for resupply in the aftermath of the nuclear exchange sparked by the Cuban Missile Crisis. The chaos of the global war and shifting weather patterns is causing problems worldwide, but the presence of the Navy vessels helps stabilize the ports and stimulates economic activity.

28 June 2014

Assassination in Sarajevo

On 28 June 1914, in the city of Sarajevo, a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip found himself in a position to assassinate the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He took the chance, firing two shots at Archduke Ferdinand.

The first bullet missed the Archduke and struck Ferdinand's wife, Sophie. It was a gut shot that did severe damage to her. The heat of the first bullet speeding down the barrel of Pricncip's gun caused the slightest warping of the metal. His second shot became stuck at the end of the barrel of the weapon, sending it flying form his hand. The assassin was quickly subdued after this.

Realizing the severity of his wife's wounds Ferdinand ordered the car taken immediately to hospital. They were too late, however, Sophie died shortly after getting inside.

The worldwide outcry of the assassination hurt Serbia's standing in international affairs. The stronger calls for vengeance in the Austrian court were countered by Archduke Ferdinand himself. He claimed full right to determine what would be done since it was his wife that had been murdered. He had several heated arguments with Emperor Franz Joseph over the situation. The Emperor finally gave in to Ferdinand. Serbia was to face no violent retribution, even when their connections to the assassin was confirmed. Instead Serbia was diplomatically isolated and even lost some of its traditional support from the Russian Empire.

On 17 December 1916 Franz Joseph died of natural causes and Ferdinand ascended to the throne. With his wife dead and his son unable to inherit the throne the new Emperor was able to devote all of his energies and political capital in reforms. He worked tirelessly to strengthen other ethnic groups in the Empire to cut down on nationalistic feelings that could threaten the Empire. He also used these newly empowered groups to counter growing Hungarian influence in the court. A stronger Slavic element in the Imperial government was designed to counter both Hungary and Slavic nationalist groups outside the borders of the Empire. With improving conditions for Slavs in the Empire nations like Serbia had an increasingly difficult time causing trouble.

In 1924 he would proclaim the Triple Monarchy. The Triple Monarchy would not last long. Hungarian rebellion, an 11th Russo-Turkish war, and numerous other conflicts growing in the Balkans threatened the stability of the region. The 1920s & 1930s would be an age of chaos for south-east Europe as well as the collapsing Ottoman Empire.


One of his other achievements as Emperor was the commissioning of a new dreadnaught for the Imperial Navy, the Duchess of Hohenberg, in honor of his wife.

Of course in the original timeline both Archduke Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated. That spark eventually led to the First World War.
In this timeline the war drums beating a little less and a strong-willed man worked to keep his nation out of war. Ferdinand was strong willed. He married a lesser noble for love in defiance of the Emperor and at the cost of having his children ever reaching high titles. He is a man who would fight for what he wants.

Of course he could just of easily have decided to wipe Serbia off the face of the map after having his wife die in his arms that day. We may have ended up with nearly the same conflict we had in the OTL. It would depend on how he dealt with his conflicting duties to his nation and to avenging his wife's death.

The photo of Sophie above is another public domain image borrowed from Wikipedia.

27 June 2014

Friday Flag - Almazangrad

The nation of Almazangrad was created out of a surviving city after a high-tech nuclear war in year 2136 of the Empire (AD 1805). How it survived the world-devastating war was its unique construction. Before Almazangrad was built a vast, open-pit diamond mine was dug over the period of five decades. The mine was located in Tungusic lands in the tundra of Asia.

After the mine was depleted a use for the vast open pit was found. A city was built along the inside of the bowl, a park in the bottom, and a vast roof over the opening designed to allow sunlight into the depths while also harnessing solar power and melting winter snows into fresh water. Over 100,000 people inhabited the new city of Ulmazangrad for several decades.

Then the Unknown War hit. The survivors were never sure who had started it or who the possible enemy was. Most surviving settlements were thrown back into the dark age in the shadow of ultra technology of their ancestors. Almazangrad survived better than most, retaining most of its technology. It managed to survive the harsh winters of the aftermath as well. More knowledge survived in this city than anywhere else on the surface of the Earth.

However, Ulmazagrad had no heavy industry. While machines could be repaired and machine shops could create some parts, major replacements of technology were impossible. Over several generations technology did regress, but the depleted survivors were able to spread out from their hole when the harsh winters ended.

The flag represents the city's heritage as a diamond mining settlement.


This week's flag was inspired by the real world Mir Mine, the flag of the city of Mirny, and by some rather ambitious plans to turn it into a city. In order to get a cool high-tech city the Empire was one created by Alexander or some Greek state back a few hundred years BC.

25 June 2014

All History is Alternate History

Back in March The Guardian had an article by Richard J. Evans entitled 'What If' is a waste of time. Of course the speculations are unprovable. There are also countless variables that would change with every alteration to a timeline that the counter-factual writer wouldn't be able to consider. They are unprovable and in most cases if it was possible to go back and make the changes in certain divergence points the results are unlikely be be anything the creator made.

Counter-factuals, alternative history, what ifs?, and such do have value however. From basic entertainment to developing a better understanding that actions have consequences. It is even possible to develop a better understanding of 'real' history since it is needed to develop a better appreciation of alternates. For example I read a book on alternate sports history - a few of the more famous athletes I knew and the alternate history was comprehensible to me. For many of the other alternate sports stories I had no knowledge at all of the original event so the alternate was lost on me.

Now one thing that isn't mentioned in the article on the low value of counter-factuals is that all history is in some way an alternative history! What do I mean by that? We live in an era where history is constantly being re-written, tweaked, and modified. Many times the changes to the historical record are made due to better information, the elimination of old biases, and other legitimate reasons. On other occasions history is changed to fit the politics of the day and are far more dangerous than any counter-factual could be. I remember in my youth the many jokes about the Soviet Union changing history and claiming credit for anything good in the world. While the Soviet Union is gone there are still individuals and groups that make questionable arguments about the past.

A century from now more changes - both legitimate and illegitimate - will give our descendants a different understanding of history than we have. That means that the history we know is an alternate history to what our grandchildren will know or our grandparents have known.

Given the number of newspapers and government reports that can go into some historical research it is amazing we have as clear an image of the past as we do. Newspapers lie, especially during wartime. Editors decide what information gets published and may not print stories and bias could affect what gets printed. Pressure from governments to suppress or alter a story are also possible. Government agents can file faulty reports that are examined years later by historians. Individuals involved in important events may lie in their memoirs to make themselves look more favorable than they may have a right to be.

Then there are holes in the historical record that are filled by those, who may be very intelligent, but were not directly involved in the events. A historians own cultural and personal biases may also affect the product of their research, even unintentionally.

Finally there is the simple fact that we don't know what historical figures were thinking. Why did they do everything they did. Some may have left memoirs explaining their actions, but such accounts may be twisted for the author to save face. In recent years I've read numerous books on war guilt for the Great War. Of course Germany gets blamed in many, but I've seen Russia blamed, Austria-Hungary, and even the British Empire being blamed for turning it into a global war. While I'm happy to put most of the blame on Germany... their ultimatum to France was left no choice but war, they had reasons to want war and from Sean McMeekin's The Russian Origins of the First World War I see that it may have come even it the Kaiser was reasonable when dealing with the French.

The only thing that is certain is that there was a war and the Central Powers lost. The whats are usually pretty easy to determine, its the whys that cause the problems.

I do agree with Richard J. Evans on his fear of regression to the 'great man' view of history. One of the fun things with alternate history is seeing how a famous person is different in the new timeline. However, depending on the divergence point, most of them would have never been born or would have had uneventful lives. I guess it depends on how big the butterflies would truly be. In recent research in changing more modern American history I've noticed that in most cases it really doesn't matter who the President is, the mass of the established American political body has momentum taking it into a certain direction. Perhaps I should explore something other than famous people and wars in future divergent timelines. Perhaps focusing more on economics, culture, and science. That might make for some interesting posts.

The most important thing to take away from alternate history is to be open to other ideas and to look at situations from different points of view. When we are hip deep in our day-to-day lives we sometimes ignore the forest because of the trees right in front of us.

Enough of my rambling, I'm just throwing out some ideas. Of course I'm biased myself.... I need to justify the value of counter-factuals since that is the focus of this blog. Any thoughts?

20 June 2014

Friday Flag - City-State of Kerma

Egyptian forces under Tuthmosis I launched many campaigns against the Nubian lands to the south. Nubia was eventually annexed in c.1500 BC. Despite the conquests there was one city that refused to bend to the Pharaoh's will. That city was Kerma.

Kerma maintained it's independence from Egypt for approximately 400 years, until the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period. With the decline of Egypt's power in the south the Kingdom of Kush filled in the void and annexed Kerma in the process.

Nubian grave goods during this period included cattle skulls, which is where the image on the banner originated from. The significance of the four gold diamonds along the top is unknown. They could have represented the four corners of the city, had some sort of religious or cultural significance, or just been chosen for aesthetic reasons.

17 June 2014

Book Review - Afrika Reich

(image from Amazon.com)

I really liked Afrika Reich. It had a few problems, but none that destroyed it for me…. But one problem came pretty close.

Dunkirk was a total disaster for the British. Most of their troops were killed or captured. Winston Churchill quickly lost his still new position as Prime Minster and the UK negotiated a peace with the Third Reich. Without a western front to worry about the Germans then turned their full attention to the Soviets.

The story starts in 1952. A large portion of Africa is under Nazi domination. They have spent a decade remolding it based off their twisted imaginations. Burton Cole is a mercenary who decides to do one last mission to assassinate his old nemesis, Hochburg. Hochburg controls the Afrika Reich and has plans to move against some additional African territory.

Things quickly turn south for the team and they are scattered across Africa fleeing a variety of German troops, police, and spies. The British government, who they think they are working for, refuses to aid them and closes the Sudanese border to keep them from escaping Reich territory. Now with no friends, no supplies, and a horde of Nazis pursuing them they have non-stop action in their attempt to escape the continent.

There is also a sub-plot that ties into the main story involving an African woman named Neliah. She works with the Portuguese military in the portion of Angola still held by Portugal. She is not taken seriously as a warrior by the white men so she is out to prove herself. Her determination and skill helps to uncover a dangerous plot that is unfolding.

Burton Cole: Pretty standard set up. A mercenary who has given up the life to start a farm back home. He wants to marry his sweetheart who is pregnant with his child. Money is tight and things will be difficult, but the future looks bright. Then he decides to take that one last job into the heart of the Afrika Reich. The leader of Nazi Africa, Hochburg, happens to be the man Cole blames for the death of his mother. In addition there is a large sum of money involved, enough to be set for life. Of course giving into his greed and thirst for vengeance mean things won’t be as simple as explained by his contact.

Patrick: A close friend of Burton's most of the time. They served on many mercenary missions in Africa back in the early years of Nazi occupation. His main goal is to get back to the United States to be reunited with his daughter. He suffers a stigma from being an American, they are seen as inherently cowardly since they did not get involved in the Second World War. He also has his lucky pipe.

Hochburg: Burton’s arch-nemesis and the reason he agreed to go to Africa one last time. Hochburg is your typical Hollywood Nazi, totally evil no redeeming qualities. He does have a background that ties in with Burton’s and the two men actually both seem equally stubborn.

Neliah: An African woman in Portuguese Angola. She leads a small group of warrior women and wants to avenge her dead parents who were killed when the Nazis conquered southern Angola. She has to deal with being looked down upon because of her race and gender so eventually goes off to fight on her own as the Portuguese flee to protect the capital.

Despite a few of the problems with the story it read like an old pulp adventure. I also appreciate an alternate outcome World War II where the action doesn’t focus on Europe or North America. I’ve read Soldier of Fortune on-again-off-again over the years as well has reading most of the memoirs of Mike Hoare, so reading about these mercenaries fighting their way across Africa brought back some additional memories.

Still, Nazi Germany clearing out all of the natives in the Congo in just a decade? They would have focused their limited man-power on Eastern Europe to clear out the natives there to allow for German expansion – that would have left limited resources for a major project covering over half the second largest continent in the world. The mountains and jungles are quite a bit different than the plains of Eastern Europe. It is impossible for the situation scenario in the book to have happened the way it did.

Also, I know there are really tough people out there. Still, some of the punishment that Cole went through on a regular basis was starting to border on unbelievable. But then again any movie with Schwarzenegger or Stallone has the same problem so it can be overlooked given the style of the story.

Overall I give this one 4 out of 5 stars given my bias. If you go in ready to accept a couple of improbable things and focus on the action it should be enjoyable.

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Page Count: 433
Genre: Alternate History
ISBN: 978-1-444-71064-9

13 June 2014

Friday Flag - Israeli People's Army

During the early years of the 20th century a new state of Israel was established in the region of Uganda. By 1924 it had become independent of the British Crown. The new nation hit many bumps in its development.

A large number of Israeli soldiers served with Allied armies during World War II. After the war a number of soldiers continued their careers in regional conflicts across Africa from the 1950s to 1980s. Many efforts were not entirely successful. For example the breakaway region of the Congo know as Katanga was not able to win full independence but was able to gain much greater autonomy in the home state.

At home continuing racial unrest, which increased with the strategic alliance with South Africa until the early '80s, as well as a widening wealth gap. This led to elements of various Israeli and Ugandan communist groups to merge and form the Israeli People's Army. This was a terrorist group that operated in the isolated jungle regions of Israel and were usually active with bomb attacks and assassination attempts during what they called 'military adventurism' by the government. The Soviet Union supplied them with weapons, seeing them as a useful group to combat Israeli attacks on Soviet interests on the continent.

Political and economic reforms of the 1980s, the great reduction in commando operations in foreign lands, as well as the ending of the alliance with South Africa all lead to the eventual decay of this militant organization in 1988.

11 June 2014

Roman Conquest of Arabia Felix

In the Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Taurus (26 BC/728 AUC) Aelius Gallus (Second Praefect of Aegyptus) was sent on an expedition to Arabia Felix. The expedition would experience some early treachery and then grow into a campaign to add a new and strategic province to the new Roman Empire.

Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Taurus (26 BC/728 AUC): Aelius Gallus lands his forces in Arabia Felix. After some early disasters such as lack of water and supplies it is discovered that Syllaeus, a Nabataean guide, has betrayed the expedition. After some reorganization and aid from allies in the Kingdom of Aksum, the expedition continues. The Himyarite Kingdom caused some problems for the expedition and then refused Roman 'friendship.' By the end of the year the Himyarites fell to Roman might.

Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Silanus (25 BC/729 AUC): Reinforcements arrive from Aegyptus. It is decided to conquer all of Arabia Felix and turn it into a new province for the empire. Aelius Gallus continues pushing his armies to the east. In this year Qataban and Saba fall to Roman forces.

Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Flaccus (24 BC/730 AUC): The Roman forces spend a large portion of this year consolidating their gains and setting the early basis for the province government in Aden. This pause in conquest gives their next opponent more time to prepare.

Year of the Consulship of Augustus and Varro (23 BC/731 AUC): The invasion of Hadhramaut begins. They put up a strong resistance against the Roman forces and their Aksum auxiliaries. A land and naval attack on the city of Qana eventually succeeds but fighting continues.

Year of the Consulship of Marcellus and Arruntius (22 BC/732 AUC): The remainder of Hadramaut is conquered. It takes several months to destroy the last scattered resistance.

Year of the Consulship of Lollius and Lepidus (21 BC/733 AUC): Parthian forces aid the inhabitants of he eastern portion of the peninsula, what is now being called Arabia Ulterior (Oman in the OTL). Fighting starts out fierce. An additional Legion is sent to reinforce the Roman expedition.

Year of the Consulship of Appuleius and Nerva (20 BC/734 AUC): As the Parthian Empire continues to harass Roman forces in Arabia additional legions are deployed along the existing border between the two empires. The Parthians back down with the treat of a large-scale war and the remainder of the desired territory is annexed into the new province of Arabia Felix.

The location of stronger Roman land and naval forces in Arabia allow them to enhance their existing trade routes with India and regions beyond. It also gives them a great flanking position against the Parthian Empire, a gladius at the soft underbelly of their rival.

I've wanted to create the divergence point for my Rome survives timeline for awhile. I got some inspiration from an article in Vol. VII, Issue 5 of Ancient Warfare. The article was "Legionaries in the Sea of Hercules" by J. Albert Morales. The reference to the disastrous expedition in 26 BC as well as the future importance of the region, especially in regards to trade with kingdoms in India, made the idea of a successful conquest and development of Arabia Felix appealing.

I'm planning on moving forward from this point to flesh out an outline of the rest of the history of the First Roman Empire. I'm using the Year of the Consulship of... dates since they were used instead of the AUC dates (I do plan to have the Second Roman Republic officially adopt the AUC system because the Consulship year reckoning can be a pain. However it can be useful in reminding me that the Consulship will change as the timeline changes).

Any suggestions or comments would be appreciated as I move things forward. I now have the bookends of this timeline - a successful campaign in Arabia on one end and a catastrophic nuclear war with Zhōngguó in 2766 AUC. Now I get to fill in the gaps :).

Wikipedia: Aelius Gallus, Himyarite Kingdom

06 June 2014

Friday Flag - Union of Arab Republics

The United Arab Republic formed in 1958 with a political union between Egypt and Syria. It was an early attempt to create a more powerful Arab political entity. It was counter-balanced by the Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan. Yemen quickly joined in with Egypt and Syria adding to the Union. The United Arab Republic barely survived the aftermath of the Nine-Day War in 1967. By 1970 Muammar Gaddafi had Libya join the floundering organization. It was renamed the Union of Arab Republics (اتحاد الجمهوريات العربية).

This is the flag of the Union from 1970 until the mid-1980s when the they grew again picking up the pieces left after the Iran-Iraq War.

04 June 2014

Archibald Butt

Archibald Butt was a journalist and soldier turned Presidential Aide. He served under Teddy Roosevelt and then Howard Taft. The stress of the looming primary fight between Roosevelt and Taft caused him to vacation in Europe. He had time to consider the situation and his loyalties to both men.

On 17 April 1912 after arriving back in New York on the Titanic, Archibald quickly got pulled into Republican politics with the upcoming convention. On 18 June 1912 he attempted to mediate between the two men in an attempt to keep things from getting out of hand. Butt's apparent pro-Taft leanings infuriated Roosevelt and he had his delegates abstain in voting. TR was determined to be president, and if the Taft machine would not give him a fair shake he was determined to start a new party to get what he felt was rightfully his.

In August the Bull Moose Party had its own convention and Roosevelt was in the race. Three months later he came in second place to Woodrow Wilson, Taft a distant third. Archibald blamed himself for the disaster as he would later describe in his 1915 book The Election of 1912. He had plenty of extra time to write after Wilson was sworn into office on 3 March 1913, Butt was no longer a Presidential aide.

In 1916 He became one of the aides to Republican Presidential candidate Charles Evans Hughes. He made sure that Hughes kept appointments with officials in California. Butt was determined to make sure that Wilson lost, since he felt that the man should never have won in 1912. In November 1916 Hughes won a tight race 267 electoral votes to Wilson's 264.

With the revelation of the Zimmerman Telegraph and the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare President Hughes went to congress for a declaration of war against the German Empire. Shortly afterwards Archibald Butt re-entered military service and was promoted to colonel. He was placed in charge of overseeing and coordinating the transportation networks in the United States to the amount Congress would allow under the emergency powers that were being drafted.

It was a tremendous, unprecedented task. Archibald performed better than could be expected. He contacted John Thayer, a man he met while on the Titanic in 1912. Thayer was a vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and their close working relationship during the war helped move supplies from across the Great Lakes region to the Atlantic docks.

Despite the massive work required working for the Quartermaster General, Butt still found time to be socially active. He even helped establish an American branch of The Blue Cross organization from the UK. He was concerned with the fate of the multitude of animals being sent to Europe even before America's entry into the war. He had little to do with the organization after it was established, his other wartime duties taking so much time.

With the end of the fighting the long process of the peace talks... or rather meeting to determine what terms would be forced on the Central Powers, Archibald continued his duties supplying the American forces in Europe. In 1920 he contracted the influenza and died several weeks later.

I decided to explore what might happen in my Titanic survives timeline with the survival of one of the people who had died. Of course it is impossible to predict what would have actually happened, and by focusing on just one who would have died I'm ignoring the other 1,516. That is a lot of little butterflies, most of which would likely not have much of an immediate impact on the timeline.... but long term....

Maybe, if this post is popular enough, I'll return and pick some other former Titanic victims and make guesses about how their survival would have affected this timeline.

1) Wikipedia entry for Archibald Butt
2) Image source - United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division
3) Some background on The Blue Cross, aka Our Dumb Friends League. Many animals played important roles duirng the First World War
4) I had Archie responsible for helping to establish an American branch of the Blue Cross since he had written some treatises on the care of animals in the tropics and even disobeyed orders to save the lives of some mules! He was also socially active and was one of the founding members of the Military order of the Carabao. Just seemed like a nice addition to his alternate self.

30 May 2014

Friday Flag - Kingdom of Irondequoit

After a global war between the Fourth Roman Republic and Zhōngguó in 2766 AUC the world was in chaos. Billions died and civilization collapsed. One of the few cities not to be hit during the war was Genesee, a medium-sized city in Irokois Province of the Republic. A change in the jet stream and influence from the Great Lakes kept much of the fallout from the obliteration of nearby cities form killing everyone in Genesee.

After a harsh winter and no contact with Rome or any other authority, the military leaders in Genesee took control and formed the Kingdom of Irondequoit in the spring of 2767 AUC. Having some of the last tanks and military vehicles left functioning on the continent scouts were sent to the shattered remains of nearby provinces, mostly to the south and west, looking for survivors and territories to add to the new Kingdom.

Otetiani Lutatius Validus, the legatus legionis of the Genesee Legion, proclaimed himself dictator of this new nation. He introduced the new flag for his forces to serve under to build loyalty to him and to get them to forget about their former oaths to the old Republic.

The main goal of the Kingdom are to find arable land. The anticipated plagues, famine, and nuclear winters of the next few years are the main hurdle for the survival of the state. The limited supply of hi-tech parts and ammunition will be the the other challenge.

28 May 2014

Free City of Tri-Insula

Name:Free City of Tri-Insula
Independence:September 8, 1861 (from FFA)
Re-Conquest by FFA:November 17, 1861

Physical Characteristics
Land Area:303 square miles (786 km)
Water Area:164 square miles (425 km)
Former NY Counties:Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island

Major Ethnic Groups:American, Irish, German, many others
Languages:Officially English, dozens of others spoken

Government Type:Mayor-Council
Executive:Mayor Fernando Wood
Legislature:Tri-Insula Council

GDP:$358 million
Currency:Tri-Unsula Dollar
Major Industries:Trade, ship building, textiles

After the 1860 US Presidential Election a number of northern states seceded from the United States of America and formed the Federation of Free America. When fighting broke out between the US and the rebels FFA President, Abraham Lincoln, began calling for the states to initiate a draft to raise troops. In August 1861 New York approved a draft that allowed for exemptions by those willing to pay $300 to the State.

The draft, and the general unpopularity of leaving the Union, caused Mayor Fernando Wood to call the city council together along with representatives form local governments of the five county area. He pushed a proposal to form an independent city-state that could easily survive on trade between the warring states alone. After long days of negotiations an agreement was reached. On September 8, 1861 the City State of Tri-Insula was born.

Lincoln was not amused. He felt that the states has the sovereign right to leave the Union, but a city had no legal standing to secede from a state. The need of New York Harbor and the manpower of the city led to an ultimatum being issued to Wood. Armies from New York State and New England were diverted to surround the rebellious city. After about two months of a siege the troops finally moved in. The Tri-Insulan milita was quickly scattered with the deaths of 57 FFA soldiers and 188 rebel militia, over 2,000 in total were wounded from all sides.

When the city was brought back into New York Lincoln was generous with pardons for most of those behind the uprising. Fernando Wood and his closest advisers were imprisoned until the end of the FFA war for independence.

1) Secession in New York
2) Data from US Census Bureau

23 May 2014

Friday Flag - Anglo-Corsican Republic

Corsica declared its independence from the Most Serene Republic of Genoa in November 1755 under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli. With the formation of the new nation came one of the first codified national constitutions in modern history. Democratic reforms spread across the island and women were even allowed to vote.

Not being able to regain control of the secessionist island, the Republic of Genoa sold Corsica to France in 1768. The French, coming off the losses of the Seven Years' War, were desperate to gain some new territories. They quickly invaded to claim the land.

The British were on friendly terms with the Corsicans. When the French began their invasion First Lord of the Admiralty, Edward Hawke, convinced the Grafton Ministry of the value of Corsica at guaranteeing British power in the Mediterranean. The British deployed their fleet and an army to aid their allies against France. The Corsican victory at the Battle of Borgo encouraged the British.

Shortly after the British intervention the French gave up their claim to Corsica. With the independence of the island guaranteed by Britain things stabilized under an Anglo-Corsican Republic. British naval bases sprung up across the island. The Corsica kept its government and diet but also recognized Corsica's fealty to the British Crown. In 1855 the new flag of Corsica was revealed. Many inhabitants did not like the Union Jack being incorporated into the flag, feeling that they traded French masters for English ones.

One man who would hold this dislike for the flag would manage to suppress these feelings in order to take advantage of the opportunities to advance his military and political careers was the son of Carlo Buonaparte. Carlo was one of the personal assistants to Pasquale Paoli. His son was named Napoleone.

19 May 2014

Quantum Flux - Scandinavian Confederation

May 19, 2014

*In 1923 there was an attempt to create a confederation of Scandinavian states.  In part it was meant to be a mutual protection league to secure themselves against Russian aggression.  Political differences kept it from forming, but what if it actual was successfully created?  That's where this alternate history begins.

*The successful creation of the Scandinavian Confederation in 1923 united Norway, Sweden, Finland, Kareliya, Denmark, Iceland, and Greenland.  The Russian skirmishes with Kareliya that plagued the OTL were much reduced by the threat of the intervention of the rest of the Confederation.

*The stronger cooperation and free trade zone between the member states also helped the Confederation become one of the first European nations to emerge from the global depression of 1925-1929.  This improved economic situation kept Kareliya from falling into chaos during communist revolutions in 1927.  There were some uprisings and riots, but they were easily contained.

*The Confederation held strong and would only meet a true test in the 1980s.  The wealth brought in by the growing oil industry began to disrupt the traditional way of life.  Large oil corporations, both Scandinavian and international, were gaining more and more influence.  Not all regions profited and cultural changes were pushing some in Iceland in Finland to call for secession.  The confederation held, concessions given to reduce the chance of secessionists.

*Other troubles during this time period were the large increase of Russian immigrants coming to work the oil fields and platforms.  This added an additional element to the cultural changes of the '80s and '90s.

*By 2000 unrest in the Confederation dies down.  Increased oil production by other nations and a new generation of Scandinavians helped their nations to adapt to the increasingly complicated world.

*In 2014 a more peaceful Russia has helped insure the peace for the Confederation.  The oil reserves are even larger than were estimated in the '80s ensuring the near future of the economy.  However at some point either supply or demand of the oil will die down.  Hopefully when that day comes the Scandinavian Confederation will be prepared.

The Quantum Flux series of posts are from the point of view of an alternate history blogger in an alternate timeline; the Baltic Event timeline to be specific.

16 May 2014

Friday Flag - Deutsch Kuba

In the 1890s the German Empire acquired Cuba as a colony from Spain. Despite protests from the United States and other nations the crisis never evolved into armed conflict. While the Kaiser believed the new colony would aid in economic expansion into Latin America it did not bring much into the imperial coffers. The sporadic rebellions and needed infrastructure upgrades were a drag on the colony's economy.

Germany remained in possession of Cuba until the end of the Great War. After the war Cuba gained its independence.

14 May 2014

Book Review - GURPS Alternate Earths 2

(image from Amazon.com)

This is another great GURPS book. A sequel to GURPS Alternate Earths. It introduces six new timelines and lots of other crunchy bits.

The British keep the French from interfering with the American Revolution. The revolution fails. In the early 19th century Tecumseh forms a confederation that is recognized as a subject nation of the Empire. Changes continue over the decades.

By 1983 the British Empire spans the Cape Colony, St. Louis (this timeline's name for Australia), and large portions of North America, along with scattered islands. They are by far the most powerful nation on Earth. The Russian Empire is doing well for itself as well, having kept Alaska and adding Manchuria and Japan to its territories.

All is not well. Without a successful American Revolution representative government never spread. The various empires and kingdoms spend much time crushing revolutions and their technology is a little behind the OTL in 1983.

The Chinese treasure fleets are never disbanded. The Chinese continue to explore and expand their influence across the seas. Violent encounters with the Portuguese required a demonstration of imperial power. By 1519 one of their fleets arrives in Lisbon, Portugal to deliver an ultimatum.

Growth of the Chinese territory continues. By 1859 well over half the world is controlled by them. All of eastern Asia, all of Australia, eastern and southern Africa, most of Europe (except for Russia), Central America as well as the west coasts of both North and South America.

In 860 the Vikings successfully raid Constantinople. The vast wealth and new technologies they gain allow them to continue expanding their culture across the world. Numerous Viking nations are established as they have the resources to expand and develop colonies in Vinland.

The spread of knowledge of the new world allows others to cross the Atlantic. By the early 12th century Moslems settle in what in our world is Cuba. Within a few hundred years they add much of northern South America to a new Caliphate.

The Mongol invasion of Viking lands in 1237 are not as successful as in the OTL. In fact by the late 14th century the Golden Horde is finally destroyed.

By 1412 the world is a much different place than it is here. A very interesting world to adventure in.

Technological advancement begins earlier in the Middle-East. By the ninth and tenth centuries the Abbasid caliphs have a scientific revolution. Oil replaces coal as a source of power and technology really begins to advance.

By the 13th century Islam is dominating much of the world. A global war between various states is fought in the early 14th century. All throughout this time technological progress marches on. Before the Spanish discovered the Americas in our timeline this one had a man landing on the moon!

Earth develops its first interstellar colony by 1568 and will contact alien life less than a century after that. By 1683 technology has advanced so far a visitor from our world would believe they had been transported to the far future.

William of Orange fails to take the English throne in 1688. The world continues to be controlled by squabbling monarchs. The concepts of liberty and democracy are never popularized until some writings in 1906.

In 1939 a republican uprising in Austria overthrows the Habsburgs (they flee to take control of Russia) and numerous small republics form. They form the Republican Alliance and are at war with Habsburg Russia. The weird bit is that the Republicans then invent combat aircraft, skipping propeller driven craft and going straight to primitive jets.

An even more successful domination of the world by England. By 1902 there is an atomic war and much of the royal family is killed. Succession wars and rebellions send the world into chaos.

After the chaos died down a group called Centrum begins to restore order to the shattered world. With the discover of the ability to travel to alternate worlds they expand their mandate to bring order to other worlds as well.

In 2007 they are involved in what they call the Dimension War with a group calling itself Infinity. This world is a look a the home of the 'bad guys' from the Infinite Worlds setting in GURPS Time Travel. It's nice to have more details on the world they came from.

Another great GURPS supplement. I only wish that there was an Alternate Earths 3 (and 4 and 5 etc.). Some creative worlds with some details for basing a role-playing game around. Each of the Earths has notes on integrating and crossing over other GURPS products to expand and customize the campaigns.

Of course because of my bias in my love of RPGs and having run a GURPS alternate world campaign for three years I have to give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

If you ran an alternate world RPG campaign and used this book in the game please leave some details about it in the comments section. Thanks!

GURPS Alternate Earths 2 was published by Steve Jackson Games
Page Count: 128
Authors: Kenneth Hite, Craig Neumeier, and Michael S. Schiffer
Year Published: 1999
ISBN: 1-55634-399-X

09 May 2014

Friday Flag - Kingdom of Burgundy

The Hundred Years' War went better for England and Burgundy. Philip the Good was less inclined to make peace with King Charles VII of France, blaming the king for the death of Philip's father. Philip had also gotten used to his lifestyle and knew it would be easier for him to maintain as a king than as a Duke under Charles.

The Third Kingdom of Burgundy has problems early on with the Church, there were many in the Church who did not want to see France split. The Holy Roman Empire was also a thorn in its side. Luckily none of the skirmishes between the two became an all-out war. The support of the English became important in such affairs, and this dependence did not please many in Burgundy.

When the 'New World' was discovered Spain and Portugal quickly moved to exploit South America. A diminished France would join them in the south. England and Burgundy became the dominate European powers in North America a century later.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...