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The Draka Series in Hindsight

Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
Good idea for an article. I remember when I first joined AHcom in 2005, the Draka were still the go-to "high-concept" AH work for many people, despite its problems. I believe @Jared has said that Decades of Darkness began as an attempt to do Stirling's core concept of 'evil (emphasised) America' without having to have his cake and eat it by having two Americas on different continents at once.
 

Jared

fatal softener
Published by SLP
Location
Over the rainbow
Good idea for an article. I remember when I first joined AHcom in 2005, the Draka were still the go-to "high-concept" AH work for many people, despite its problems. I believe @Jared has said that Decades of Darkness began as an attempt to do Stirling's core concept of 'evil (emphasised) America' without having to have his cake and eat it by having two Americas on different continents at once.
Decades of Darkness began in response to a challenge by (IIRC) Noel Maurer back on soc.history.what-if about creating a plausible Draka. His challenge was to the effect that if looking to create a plausible Draka, rather than having a "mirror" United States, why not start with the actual United States. Using the actual United States as a basis would deal with many of the more challenging implausibilities of the Draka premise (how to attract mass immigration, perpetual conquest from a small population, ignoring tropical diseases, mass logistics, No Fat Draka, etc), since the USA already a large base population, existing desire for expansion, better logistics and natural resources, and the tropical diseases were less bad (though certainly still in existence) in the Americas. The challenge was essentially to have the United States go Draka over much of the New World.

With DoD, I thus had that as the general challenge. The other concept I had in mind was "what if the worst aspects of the American Revolution come to the fore, rather than the best ones." Noel deemed the challenge completed in the chapters when Alvar O'Brien started dealing with occupied British Columbia.

More generally, it is quite true that the Draka were still a major source of discussion in online AH during soc.history.what-if days, which flowed into the earlier era of AH.com. I put this down to being simply one of the few major works of published AH at the time, plus the interesting premise (if poor execution) of a villain superpower emerging in a different part of the world. I mean, really, in terms of big commercial AH at that point, there were two authors: Harry Turtledove and SM Stirling. Robert Conroy had only one AH book out until 2006, and while there were other authors who had written successful AH works (Fatherland, The Man in the High Castle, a few others), that wasn't their main focus. Really, there wasn't that much else out there. SM Stirling was also a regular contributor to online AH discussion forums too, which helped to raise the Draka books' profile.
 
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Makemakean

Mr Makemean
Pronouns
Logical, unlike those in German
With DoD, I thus had that as the general challenge. The other concept I had in mind was "what if the worst aspects of the American Revolution come to the fore, rather than the best ones." Noel deemed the challenge completed in the chapters when Alvar O'Brien started dealing with occupied British Columbia.
Oh, that's why it stopped where it stopped?

Personally, when I read it through back in the day, I just felt that the point at which you ended it was a very neat, natural ending.

Did you have any idea of where things would have continued to go if you had kept going up until the present?
 

Jared

fatal softener
Published by SLP
Location
Over the rainbow
Oh, that's why it stopped where it stopped?

Personally, when I read it through back in the day, I just felt that the point at which you ended it was a very neat, natural ending.

Did you have any idea of where things would have continued to go if you had kept going up until the present?
The Alvar O'Brien chapters I was referring to were set in the late 1900 decade/early 1910s (I forget the exact years without looking it up). That was the point where the challenge was deemed fulfilled, but it wasn't where the timeline ended.

The timeline ended in approximately 1934 because, as you note, that just seemed a natural point to end. And, admittedly, by that time the timeline was sprawling so much, and covered so much of the world (though not all) that writing further on from that point would have been an extremely difficult challenge. So I figured that it was best to end things there and then let readers decide for themselves how things would turn out. There were a couple of loose ends that I wish had been tied up (mostly the fate of Canada which was the subject of guest posts which never quite finished), but on the whole I thought that made a good endpoint.

I do have a pretty good idea of how things would go up until the early 1980s. I didn't plan things out further than that at the time.

It's still possible that I will try to clean up DoD and try to get it published (via SLP if it's accepted, or elsewhere if not). But that's a big chunk of work since if rewriting it, I'd need to clean up some of the retcons in the timeline (which were made partway through, so the second half of the timeline has some changes from the first which aren't explained). The writing could also stand a good polishing; while I don't think it's horribly written, I've certainly gained in writing experience since then. I also will make some other changes to parts of the timeline which I now think stretch plausibility too far. (The settlement patterns of North America, the fate of Canada, the fate of France, some aspects of early Europe such as how the Netherlands related to the rest of TTL's Germany, and various others).

But that won't happen for a good while, because I have the rest of LoRaG to clean up and publish first, as well as various other non-AH writing projects I've been plugging away at.
 
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Thande

Directly Elected Mayor of the Western Hemisphere
Published by SLP
It's still possible that I will try to clean up DoD and try to get it published (via SLP if it's accepted, or elsewhere if not).
It's cute that you think @Meadow would actually say no to the most iconic work of early web-produced AH in existence.

I do get what you mean about it being a substantial amount of work to clean up and I understand that you'd prefer to focus on LORAG for the present - based on my recent experience prepping LTTW volume 4, however, I'd advise not to let the scale of the task grow in your mind and lead you to put it off, because when you come to do it you'll find it's not as big as you feared.
 

Jared

fatal softener
Published by SLP
Location
Over the rainbow
It's cute that you think @Meadow would actually say no to the most iconic work of early web-produced AH in existence.

I do get what you mean about it being a substantial amount of work to clean up and I understand that you'd prefer to focus on LORAG for the present - based on my recent experience prepping LTTW volume 4, however, I'd advise not to let the scale of the task grow in your mind and lead you to put it off, because when you come to do it you'll find it's not as big as you feared.
It's more a question of focus than of concern over volume of work required. I find it easier to focus on one big project at a time, rather than having two big projects on the go at once. Smaller projects at once are fine - I've written a couple of dozen short stories in the time I've been prepping LoRaG for publication, not to mention editing the Alternate Australias anthology. But doing two big projects at once, on top of a more than full-time day job, isn't very attractive.

I'll get LoRaG to at least the end of volume 3 (possibly volume 4) before I turn to DoD or other major writing projects.
 
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