• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

Drake's Drum

Thande

Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
#2
I enjoyed the book a lot, in particular the anachronic order with unexpected twists--it looks like it's setting up WW2 with a stronger Britain (albeit with some attempt to launch Sealion) but then you cut to Attlee signing a surrender, even if it's largely meaningless. I do think you're probably a bit too negative in your portrayal of Attlee, though I imagine you're reacting against the more unalloyed hagiographic portrayals. As a general question (you mention this story began as a forum thread) when did you settle on the POD of the dodgy shells being discovered earlier? This is certainly a good POD, but the fact that much of the leadup to WW2 goes as OTL makes me wonder if you started with later changes and then brought this in. I only ask because I had the same issue myself with LTTW--I've had critiques that the mid 18th century is too similar to OTL, which ultimately stems from because I had originally planned for an effective 1750s POD and it only got rewound back to 1727 in later planning.
 

Nick Sumner

What am I? Hip?
Published by SLP
Location
Halifax, Canada
#3
Thande, I'm glad you enjoyed the book. You may remember it started out some years ago as a story called 'The Dark Colossus' on the Alternate History message board and you (as well as many others) did much to improve the story with your input, leading to the completely re-written and greatly expanded version that is this book. Attlee does get a bit of a rough deal in TTL, he finds himself in a number of extremely difficult positions and has little room for manoeuvre.

I settled on the shells right after reading 'Riddle of the Shells' by Iain McCallum published in Warship annual in three parts between 2002 and 2005, though I didn't get round to reading it till 2007/8 IIRC. The shell crisis of 1915 is well known, but I felt the ante needed to be upped slightly in TTL to give the UK an industrial kick in the pants. In DD, its not just that the UK can't build enough shells for the Army, but the fact they've provided ineffective shells for the Navy as well! These two issues are understood simultaneously and this concentrates minds. In OTL, volume for the Army was addressed by 1916, quality for the Navy by 1918. In TTL the issues have to be addressed simultaneously. The effects of this will be felt much more in part 3, but in TTL its an important turning point in Britain's industrial and economic development. Technical military developments, as they relate to the build up for 1939, are similar in TTL; the largest differences being with regards to the way the world's navies evolve.

Forgive my ignorance, but I'm not 100% sure what LTTW is?
 

Thande

Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
#4
Thande, I'm glad you enjoyed the book. You may remember it started out some years ago as a story called 'The Dark Colossus' on the Alternate History message board and you (as well as many others) did much to improve the story with your input, leading to the completely re-written and greatly expanded version that is this book. Attlee does get a bit of a rough deal in TTL, he finds himself in a number of extremely difficult positions and has little room for manoeuvre.
I actually don't remember this - but there have been a lot of TLs over the years! I'm glad you were able to eventually turned this one into a published book.

I settled on the shells right after reading 'Riddle of the Shells' by Iain McCallum published in Warship annual in three parts between 2002 and 2005, though I didn't get round to reading it till 2007/8 IIRC. The shell crisis of 1915 is well known, but I felt the ante needed to be upped slightly in TTL to give the UK an industrial kick in the pants. In DD, its not just that the UK can't build enough shells for the Army, but the fact they've provided ineffective shells for the Navy as well! These two issues are understood simultaneously and this concentrates minds. In OTL, volume for the Army was addressed by 1916, quality for the Navy by 1918. In TTL the issues have to be addressed simultaneously. The effects of this will be felt much more in part 3, but in TTL its an important turning point in Britain's industrial and economic development. Technical military developments, as they relate to the build up for 1939, are similar in TTL; the largest differences being with regards to the way the world's navies evolve.
I was kind of commenting on the idea that one might expect more immediate impact from a decisive German defeat at Jutland (i.e. Germany might make different decisions in the last two years of the war which would impact on who lives and who dies etc.)...but this depends very much on how fundamentalist you want to be about butterflies, and (as said above) I am quite happy to ignore or scale down this factor myself for the sake of a good story.
Forgive my ignorance, but I'm not 100% sure what LTTW is?
Look to the West.
 

Nick Sumner

What am I? Hip?
Published by SLP
Location
Halifax, Canada
#5
I was kind of commenting on the idea that one might expect more immediate impact from a decisive German defeat at Jutland (i.e. Germany might make different decisions in the last two years of the war which would impact on who lives and who dies etc.)...but this depends very much on how fundamentalist you want to be about butterflies, and (as said above) I am quite happy to ignore or scale down this factor myself for the sake of a good story.
The immediate impact is the more rapid failure of the U-boat campaign of 1917-18 because the RN can commit all its light forces to convoy escort duties rather than escorting the Grand Fleet. As to the situation elsewhere, I see the impact of a more clear cut British victory as being minimal. In OTL the outcome of Jutland merely confirmed the status quo, this doesn't do much more than that in strategic terms though the tactical success is very welcome for the Allies.

Look to the West.
Of course! Where's my brain?
 
#6
The immediate impact is the more rapid failure of the U-boat campaign of 1917-18 because the RN can commit all its light forces to convoy escort duties rather than escorting the Grand Fleet. As to the situation elsewhere, I see the impact of a more clear cut British victory as being minimal. In OTL the outcome of Jutland merely confirmed the status quo, this doesn't do much more than that in strategic terms though the tactical success is very welcome for the Allies.
The one area where there might be the prospect of a significant change is that if there is overwhelming RN supremacy in the North Sea, along with a stalemate along the Western Front, then consideration might be given to trying to turn that line with a landing somewhere. Maybe long term, maybe a series of brief lodgements.

The argument that could be made would be that Britain could choose where and when to strike, while the Germans have to defend against all options all the time. Troops guarding the North Sea coast aren't in the trenches. Troops landed can be supplied and supported, or taken off as required.
 

Skinny87

It Has Been ZERO Days Since I Mentioned John Major
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
#7
The one area where there might be the prospect of a significant change is that if there is overwhelming RN supremacy in the North Sea, along with a stalemate along the Western Front, then consideration might be given to trying to turn that line with a landing somewhere. Maybe long term, maybe a series of brief lodgements.

The argument that could be made would be that Britain could choose where and when to strike, while the Germans have to defend against all options all the time. Troops guarding the North Sea coast aren't in the trenches. Troops landed can be supplied and supported, or taken off as required.
Such as, to take a completely random idea, the Frisian Islands?
 

Nick Sumner

What am I? Hip?
Published by SLP
Location
Halifax, Canada
#8
David Flin, There were evolving ideas for landings on the Belgian coast throughout the war OTL. They are discussed in some detail in The Dover Patrol by Reginald Bacon and an article called The Great Landing 1917 which is here

www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/236037.pdf

The RN weren't unduly worried about an intervention by the HSF, in fact they would have welcomed the opportunity.

Skinny87, That's a really juicy idea, but they were probably fortified as comprehensively as Heligoland.
 
#9
David Flin, There were evolving ideas for landings on the Belgian coast throughout the war OTL. They are discussed in some detail in The Dover Patrol by Reginald Bacon and an article called The Great Landing 1917 which is here

www.vliz.be/imisdocs/publications/236037.pdf

The RN weren't unduly worried about an intervention by the HSF, in fact they would have welcomed the opportunity.
Arguably, in Drake's Drum, these arguments would have been even stronger than in OTL. Potentially to the extent that one would need a strong argument why they weren't tried.

If they are tried, then that has knock-on implications for British experience in amphibious warfare.

As for the Frisian Islands, as of the start of the war, not a lot had been done. Germany preferred to put money into capital ships than to fixed defences which, they feared, could be bombarded from a distance by mobile forces. I don't have information on how much work was done between 1914 and 1916.
 

Japhy

Harry Turtledove thinks I'm funny
Published by SLP
#10
Just finished it. Fantastic job. The Oblong Box has long been one of my all time favorite short stories, regardless of genre so it was a real pleasure to read it again as the opening.

As thade notes the twists and turns are wonderful.

The scene where the US cruiser comes upon the Madagascar Transport was chilling and marvelously written, especially the way the skipper explains it all later.

Really all the narrative scenes were fantastic, really wonderful examples of the heights one can produce in the genre.
 

Thande

Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares
Published by SLP
#11
The scene where the US cruiser comes upon the Madagascar Transport was chilling and marvelously written, especially the way the skipper explains it all later.
This deserves repeating as you're quite right. It felt 'real' because it's not obviously based on something from OTL but feels just as vividly horrific--and also shows the underlying dark reality of the occasional trope in written AH of "but if the Nazis just sent the Jews to Madagascar instead then that'd be less evil and then I can portray them as better than the Soviets, right?" No, no it wouldn't be.
 

Nick Sumner

What am I? Hip?
Published by SLP
Location
Halifax, Canada
#12
David Flin, Good point, that issue is a bit undercooked in Drake's Drum: The Peace of Amiens. I guess a possible route to explain why it wasn't tried would be that David Lloyd George was reluctant to commit men to the Western Front as he was in OTL. IIRC there was a serious dispute with Haig in 1917 for the same reasons. With the experience of Gallipoli, DLG would be unenthusiastic about amphibious landings.
 
#14
David Flin, Good point, that issue is a bit undercooked in Drake's Drum: The Peace of Amiens. I guess a possible route to explain why it wasn't tried would be that David Lloyd George was reluctant to commit men to the Western Front as he was in OTL. IIRC there was a serious dispute with Haig in 1917 for the same reasons. With the experience of Gallipoli, DLG would be unenthusiastic about amphibious landings.
It's certainly an explanation that holds water. I think it's one of those situations where, provided there is an explanation, that's fine, but it's one of those questions that lies hanging there, and needs that explanation, if that makes sense.

It gives plenty of scope for post-war memoir squabbles, and perhaps brings in a third camp: Westerners, Easterners, and now Wetlanders.
 

Coiler

Connoisseur of the Miscellaneous
Location
Nu Yawk
#17
All right, ready to give my thoughts.

  • First, I have to get the biggest criticism out of the way. I didn't get as much out of the character scenes as some other people in the thread did, and I felt the shift back and forth between them and the "pseudo-history" was a little jarring. I do want to emphasize that I can understand why it was done and that it's just a matter of personal taste.
  • Second, I could see a few contrivances for the sake of the plot/setup and some "non-butterflies" (namely in one of my personal pet peeves, American political candidates).
That being said....

  • A lot of the history is good. I don't know if "like" is the right word to describe an atrocity-in-the-making, but illustrating the Madagascar Plan in all its horror was well-written.
  • And, this just feels like a better-done version of AANW. I'm sort of equating it (don't know if you'd appreciate the comparison or not) because the premise is similar (Germany is ahistorically successful and makes Britain and the USSR throw in the towel. Then it simmers for a bit until coming into conflict with the US). It's just the details around it are better researched and more thought-out. The best example I can give is the SS getting the far more realistic result of being a purge target once the dust settles instead of supplanting the Wehrmacht like they did in AANW.

I hope I don't sound more critical than I actually am, I tend to be critical even about things I like. This was a good, well-thought-out and well-made piece of alternate history.
 

Japhy

Harry Turtledove thinks I'm funny
Published by SLP
#18
I do have to agree about some of the contrevence. Mostly just that Truman was not in a position to run on his own without the war. But I did like the PoV pieces.

I'll also say I really did like your take on what happens to the SS. As Coiler noted in AANW Himmler wins in Nazi politics to the point of insanity and in most TLs he makes it comfortably. Getting purged was both narratively unusual but very logical.
 

Nick Sumner

What am I? Hip?
Published by SLP
Location
Halifax, Canada
#19
Coiler, Japhy, thank you for your thoughts. I wrestled with the US President issue. :)

As I understand it, in OTL FDR's anointed successor was Henry Wallace, who I see as a bit of a mooncalf. Scion of a political dynasty, sometime journalist, sometime farmer, initially a supporter of the Soviet Union before reversing his position during the Korean War, perhaps I'm wrong but he strikes me as a dilettante. I didn't see him as a war leader. Truman on the other hand, did a good job in OTL WW2 and Korea.

My other choice was to have Dewey win it. Now that might make sense and I considered using public horror at the TTL Ware-Wolves Scandal as a lever to have the Democrats defeated despite the chaotic Willkie administration. Dewey could have shaved his mustache as well. I just liked Truman for the job. I also thought he would be the best choice to continue the Civil Rights progress started by Willkie as I want US Civil Rights reforms to move more rapidly in TTL.