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Let's discuss France Fights On a.k.a. the Fantasque Time Line

Hendryk

Asperginger
Published by SLP
Location
France
#1
Some of us here are also members of the FTL board, and for the last few years I have been a contributor to that project, covering the Chinese theater. It's the most successful example to date of serious AH in the French language, spawning two books and a graphic novel trilogy. It has a non-canon Anglophone offshoot, born of a split by an Australian contributor who wanted to focus more on big naval battles (and to tweak the TL in favor of the British empire), but it's the canon version I'd like to discuss.

A reminder: the POD takes place on 6 June 1940, when Hélène de Portes, mistress of Paul Reynaud, dies in a traffic accident (in OTL she died of the same cause three weeks later). Without her pro-armistice and pro-Pétain influence, Reynaud proceeds with his original plan of relocating the French civilian and military apparatus in North Africa, under the energetic guidance of his undersecretary for war Charles de Gaulle. By early August 1940 the Germans have conquered all of Metropolitan France, but the French government is firmly entrenched in Algiers. From there things begin to diverge more and more from OTL: the Italians are evicted from Lybia before they can be reinforced by the Germans; Barbarossa is pushed back to May 1942; and in September 1943 a massive operation to liberate France begins.

Since I was given pretty much free rein with China, I took advantage of it to kill Mao (after a six-month buildup because I didn't want it to come out of the blue).

The graphic novel has a couple of bloopers that WW2 buffs will notice, if not necessarily the general readership, like these Sherman tanks showing up too early:

 

Japhy

S.M. Stirling Hates Him!
Published by SLP
Location
Troy, New York
#2
I think it's all a bit too quaint with its PoD but it's clearly a finely done project never the less. And I totally get how in France there's still going to be mountains of myth and counter myth about what happened or how it could be avoided. In that regard I think it's a lot like a lot of "The Confederacy Wins but gets better" work which is so common in American AH.
 

Hendryk

Asperginger
Published by SLP
Location
France
#4
And I totally get how in France there's still going to be mountains of myth and counter myth about what happened or how it could be avoided.
The authors are indeed quite explicit in their intention of writing an alternate history of WW2 France as it ought to have been. They're very careful to avoid best-case scenarios (for example it takes the Wehrmacht less than two months after the POD to reach the Mediterranean), but there's a cathartic aspect to depicting France continuing the fight instead of cravenly resigning itself to defeat. And of course there's a lot of admiration for De Gaulle.

One quirk of the authors that I have personally called the Huntziger Principle is that certain historical figures get to die on the same date and in the same fashion as in OTL, even though that's not really justified (thus General Huntziger dies on 11 November 1941 in a plane crash even though it's a different plane and a different route), but I take it in stride.
 

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
Published by SLP
Location
Paris
#7
I mean obviously yes, but it is rather good - I get a hint of Tintin in a way, a sort of slightly surreal or distance which I can't really describe properly but really like
A bit too glossy for my taste. If we're going realistic in depictions of people rather than cartoony, I lean towards the Giraud school of drawing and colours.
 

Redolegna

Champagne Socialist
Published by SLP
Location
Paris
#12
You can buy all three albums here.

Not sure if they'll be translated. I know that the TL authors would also like for an English version of the books to be published as well, but I don't think they've found anyone to do it yet.
As in, they haven't found a translator or a publishing house that will be interested?
 

Hendryk

Asperginger
Published by SLP
Location
France
#13
As in, they haven't found a translator or a publishing house that will be interested?
As I understand it, they're still looking for someone with enough time on their hands to translate the books. Not sure how much they're willing to pay for it, but if anyone here is interested, do get in touch with them at the FTL board.

By the way, I'm not sure why Mark Bailey thinks that Britain keeping its colonial empire is such a desirable goal that it warrants rewriting the TL altogether, but the canon version definitely doesn't intend for France to keep its colonies any longer than necessary. Indochina is set to become independent the minute Japan has surrendered, the mandate on the Levant is being quietly buried, and with the reforms of 1940-1941 in Algeria there are going to be so many full-fledged Arab citizens that they'll be able to outvote the Pieds-Noirs, hopefully resulting in a peaceful transition to independence.
 

Artaxerxes

What about second Brexit?
#16
As I understand it, they're still looking for someone with enough time on their hands to translate the books. Not sure how much they're willing to pay for it, but if anyone here is interested, do get in touch with them at the FTL board.

By the way, I'm not sure why Mark Bailey thinks that Britain keeping its colonial empire is such a desirable goal that it warrants rewriting the TL altogether, but the canon version definitely doesn't intend for France to keep its colonies any longer than necessary. Indochina is set to become independent the minute Japan has surrendered, the mandate on the Levant is being quietly buried, and with the reforms of 1940-1941 in Algeria there are going to be so many full-fledged Arab citizens that they'll be able to outvote the Pieds-Noirs, hopefully resulting in a peaceful transition to independence.

Algeria is interesting in this in that it might be able to go full department and get some legislators into office. Certainly French attitude to colonial subjects should evolve differently.
 

Burton K Wheeler

Itinerant Frontier Hobo
Location
garbage can
#17
My issue with it is that it tends to converge too closely with actual WWII and not actually explore what would have happened differently. That makes sense given what the story was written for, but it keeps me from being terribly interested.
 

Juan Vogel

Libel or Slander, the Goose to your Gander
#18
I read a lot of the Australian split back in the day but it got a little war gamey for me (although that isn't necessarily a bad thing).
 

Japhy

S.M. Stirling Hates Him!
Published by SLP
Location
Troy, New York
#20
The authors are indeed quite explicit in their intention of writing an alternate history of WW2 France as it ought to have been. They're very careful to avoid best-case scenarios (for example it takes the Wehrmacht less than two months after the POD to reach the Mediterranean), but there's a cathartic aspect to depicting France continuing the fight instead of cravenly resigning itself to defeat. And of course there's a lot of admiration for De Gaulle.
The thing is I don't think thats particularly plausible. One can't simply handwave away a rotten out political and cultural system just by having one woman die. Nor in doing so magically provide a will to keep fighting, especially if it means the government has to go into exile.