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Least favorite alt-history story?

Japhy

S.M. Stirling Hates Him!
Published by SLP
Location
Troy, New York
The Black and the Gray. Yeah. That was a gold standard AH web scenario in 2004.

Robert Perkins was an interesting guy in that I never got the feeling he was racist, he just really really loved the South and the Lost Cause myth. I think he would have liked the idea of a Deep South Republic of New Afrika provided you put a little magnolia on it. He was so in love with his romantic mythical CSA that it completely overshadowed the basic facts of the subject.

I've never read anything from any other CSA enthusiast that gave me the same impression.
I disagree Perkins at the other place and on his own site was aggressive in wiping away the issues of the Confederacy in a way that always came across to me as him being annoyed we'd ever moved past the old Hollywood vision of things from Gone with the Wind or Santa Fe Trail. He didn't say the quite parts loud ever though so he got away with it but a basic reading of what he said covers a lot of the really terrible parts.
 

Space Oddity

Yes, It's Me Again. Plain To See Again.
To join in on this discussion a bit late--it was striking how many British Columbians you had/have in the Trent Cabal, even if, when you thought about it, it made a sort of sense...
 

SenatorChickpea

The Most Kiwi Aussie of them all
Patreon supporter
I vaguely sketched out a scenario once where Britain and America tumble into a brief war in the mid 1870s where the British 'win'- read: America is distracted by massive civil unrest once the great strikes take a turn for the worse, Britain gets an apology and some nominal reparations.

It was really difficult to find a way to make even vaguely plausible, but I've always thought it would be interesting to do a Britwank where all those late Victorian war scares turn into real conflicts won by the Royal Navy sailors with Hearts of Oak (TM). You know, they go to war with the Tsar in the seventies and the Russians don't get Constantinople, and so forth. Right up until reality catches up, because in actual history even the mightiest superpower can't go on an unbroken victory spree without eventually facing severe consequences.

Sort of like doing a TL where the US isn't betrayed at home and just commits everything to winning Vietnam, up to invading and occupying the north. China doesn't intervene for some reason, and the dominoes stop falling. Because that's what would happen, obviously.(I know! I know!)

And then you ask- alright, what the hell happens next? How many people died? How much strain was the economy and society put under? How awful is the victory disease going to be? What was done to secure that victory and what do America's allies think? How long will that United Vietnam possibly last once America leaves, and would any President be mad enough to go back? Does this heal the Sino-Soviet split?

But no, any time there's a thread on America winning Vietnam it's all sunshine and apple pie.
 

Heavy

Go ahead. Make my day.
Did anybody ever read the Ussuri River War Saga on othertimelines.com? The premise is that USSR and PRC go to war over the Ussuri River region in the 60s. A Chinese nuclear weapon is used on Los Angeles, Lyndon Johnson remains as president for 10 years, the USSR allies with America and immediately liberalises (I believe there was something about Brezhnev and Andropov being publicly baptised to mark the restoration of the Orthodox church), the Democrats and Republicans swap the White House a few times but there's no tangible difference in America's government despite using politicians who had very different views and motivations, there's a bit where the Israelis form an alliance against Egypt with every other Arab state, one part where Margaret Thatcher oversees the unification of Ireland and Ian Paisley is talked down from kicking things off, I remember there was something about Ronald Reagan announcing his candidacy for the presidency... in 1992.

It's pretty bizarre inasmuch as it presents a world almost completely bereft of conflict after a certain point and the result is predictably boring. In retrospect, it read like a teenager read The End of History and the Last Man and got really, really, really into it.
 

Avalanches

darkly horny
Location
Tampa, FL
There's a guy on AH.com (can't remember the name, sorry) who had a super detailed alternate civil war scenario but it was about Phil Kearny surviving and being the big hero of the war and it was actually less about the details of the war and more about the postwar political situation. The interesting thing about the U.S. Civil War is how it shaped U.S. politics and society in the rest of the 19th century, not the war itself, which was basically a foregone conclusion.

EDIT:
A Glorious Union: America, The New Sparta by TheKnightIrish
https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/a-glorious-union-or-america-the-new-sparta.237525/
See, this is the problem I have with some of the timelines on AH.com - it looks really interesting and I would like to read it, but I do not have the time to keep up with one hundred updates and seven-years worth of writing.
 

The Red

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Did anybody ever read the Ussuri River War Saga on othertimelines.com? The premise is that USSR and PRC go to war over the Ussuri River region in the 60s. A Chinese nuclear weapon is used on Los Angeles, Lyndon Johnson remains as president for 10 years, the USSR allies with America and immediately liberalises
What puzzled me about it was how powerful the PRC was throughout the TL, going toe to toe with both superpowers simultaneously in a conventional war for years in a way that I'm not sure present day China could manage, let alone the China of the late Sixties. At the time I'm fairly sure PLA doctrine for any large-scale war was focused ultimately on resorting to guerilla resistance based both on what had worked against the Japanese and expediency due to the sheer lack of equipment. Granted the politburo's sudden thirst for conquering Siberia is also out of step with reality but it's interesting that the villain power that's clearly being set up as a fall guy was given the ability to pack such a punch. I guess the Americans and the Soviets had to earn their mutual transistion into cuddly Social Democracies.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
To pivot off of @Burton K Wheeler's point - let's pretend the crisis somehow escalates to war. The boring reality is that Britain then pastes the U.S. fleet and skirmishes a bit in Canada and Lincoln goes "can we give you reparations and like, part of Minnesota" and Palmerston goes "great, we won, you got this Lee, bye" because a) Lincoln doesn't even want Canada and doesn't have time for this b) come on, Palmerston is canny enough to treat the CSA as useful idiots and nothing more
Going back to his point that the outcome of the war is more interesting than the real one, this seems a bit more interesting long term than "CSA wins/Canada is eaten" - what's the cultural and political effects in the 19th and 20th century from the British Empire sticking its oar in for a bit and killing Union sailors during a major US crisis? What are US-UK and US-Canadian relations like, how do people view the other countries, do British novels have a hard time selling in the US because Remember The Maine et al?
 

napoleon IV

Jacob REEEEEEEs-Mogg
AIUI they sent a substantial fleet to New York OTL and had sealed orders sent to everyone in case war broke out.
How effective their military would be is of course another question, but it seems like that would be a factor in what went on.
The Russians probably wouldn't be super effective. Their navy forces would not be able to compete with Britain, and as the Crimean War had just demonstrated the Russian army was not that great either. Plus getting troops to America would be difficult, particularly since Britain would probably blockade the Baltic and Russian battleships were banned from sailing the Black Sea by the Treaty of Paris (obviously Russia would annul this treaty, but they also couldn't sail through the Bosporus without war with Turkey).

However Russian intervention on top of British intervention would internationalize the conflict. IOTL the Poles revolted in 1863 with a goal of reestablishing the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Britain and France considered getting involved, but didn't. However if Britain and Russia were fighting on opposite sides of the ACW the British might change their mind. And if Russia does decided to annul the Treaty of Paris that could lead to fighting with Turkey.
 
As far as I can tell, most ACW stories/threads back in the day served the same purpose as the old Map Games i.e. dominate the thread ASAP so that it looks like everyone agrees that your side is academically superior.
Actually, I've yet to read an ACW TL where Siberia is replaced by a giant picture of Dimebag Darrell and thus they, and all other AH, wither by comparison.
 

Aznavour

Well-known member
Published by SLP
There were no good timelines at othertimelines. @Matt and I would know, we were there.

Though the community did have Statichaos in it so you know, eventually it produced AWOLAWOT.
And to think the Ussuri River one was the closest to a "good" AH there.

Wasn't the writer Chris Oakley, who moved over to another site (the one with the e zine, I think) and turned out to be nearly as prolific writing AH as the other Chris was at writting Heinleinian Baen Space Opera?
 

Japhy

S.M. Stirling Hates Him!
Published by SLP
Location
Troy, New York
And to think the Ussuri River one was the closest to a "good" AH there.

Wasn't the writer Chris Oakley, who moved over to another site (the one with the e zine, I think) and turned out to be nearly as prolific writing AH as the other Chris was at writting Heinleinian Baen Space Opera?
Si
 

napoleon IV

Jacob REEEEEEEs-Mogg
Trent War TLs are like Wehraboo TLs in that they are trying to prove a point rather than telling a story. As a result, there is little interest in making the story interesting or trying to balance things (@zaffre's point that almost no Trent War TL features the author's favorite side losing applies to Wehraboo TLs as well). This makes it so that unless you are a partisan for the author's side the TLs are dreadfully dull.

Speaking of Wehraboo TLs, one of the worst is Hitler's Zweites Buch Rewrite. It features an invincible Germany that magically increases its production of everything and is able to build the greatest army, navy, and air force (which the author funds by having Germany produce and export an insane amount of coal). Thankfully it was forced into the Writers' Forum before it got to the war, which I imagine would have featured Germany defeating everyone in the space of 2 weeks.
 
Did anybody ever read the Ussuri River War Saga on othertimelines.com? The premise is that USSR and PRC go to war over the Ussuri River region in the 60s. A Chinese nuclear weapon is used on Los Angeles, Lyndon Johnson remains as president for 10 years, the USSR allies with America and immediately liberalises (I believe there was something about Brezhnev and Andropov being publicly baptised to mark the restoration of the Orthodox church), the Democrats and Republicans swap the White House a few times but there's no tangible difference in America's government despite using politicians who had very different views and motivations, there's a bit where the Israelis form an alliance against Egypt with every other Arab state, one part where Margaret Thatcher oversees the unification of Ireland and Ian Paisley is talked down from kicking things off, I remember there was something about Ronald Reagan announcing his candidacy for the presidency... in 1992.

It's pretty bizarre inasmuch as it presents a world almost completely bereft of conflict after a certain point and the result is predictably boring. In retrospect, it read like a teenager read The End of History and the Last Man and got really, really, really into it.
I haven't read that specific one (My only true AH forum experience before this was alternatehistory.com), but from the events described it sounds pretty unrealistic, especially in the war itself, which I assume is the focal point of the TL. Sorry if this is considered as nitpicking, but this is pretty general, and I have a huge amount of interest in a Ussuri-caused Sino-Soviet War, and I might make my own take on it if I have the time and the interest.

1. In a potential Sino-Soviet War, the US would either stay staunchly neutral and watch from the sidelines or lean towards the Chinese - Nixon to China was a few years away. If the nuking of LA was a Pearl Harbor type attack, China would have the two most powerful nations in the world united against it, which would be bad.

2. When the Ussuri River Crisis occurred, Nixon was already president. He was inagurated in January 1969, and the crisis started in March. Besides, Johnson died of a heart attack in 1973, and with a nuking of LA, that would probably be hastened.

For a much better Ussuri timeline, check out this one. This was actually the TL that introduced me to the various AH forums. It does kind of derail after the war ends, but the war itself is very exciting yet terrifying at the same time, especially as the Chinese get more and more desperate against the Soviets. It does not end well for the CCP.
 

Aznavour

Well-known member
Published by SLP
Oh, yeah, Onkel Willie, the other Chris Oakley, although not as prolific IIRC. (OW had quantity, but CO could do 5 AHs at once over at Changing-the-Times, and those updates were longer)

I'm surprised he wasn't banned, for reasons Burton might remember.
 

Elektronaut

Cobs? 3? Yes we do.
Most AH offerings of any stripe and in any genre are tendentious and riddled with author biases tbh, I'm not sure if military timelines are any more predisposed to it or whether there's just been more long-form types of those over the years in comparison to other genres, so they are more memorable to people. Robert Conroy-style stuff is also the stuff that sells.
 
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