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Alternate History General Discussion

Coiler

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I've said this before, but I really want to see a Person ISOT where the person knows what's going to happen but is a miserable failure anyway because being an AH nerd is terrible training for leading a nation.
Kirov actually is sort of like this with Volkov, the closest it has to a non-historical villain. Becomes leader of a carved out warlord state, builds weapons with foreknowledge...

...and brings the ire of both the Allies and Axis due to his reach exceeding his grasp. Definitely the best subplot in the WW2 arc.
 

Walpurgisnacht

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I've said this before, but I really want to see a Person ISOT where the person knows what's going to happen but is a miserable failure anyway because being an AH nerd is terrible training for leading a nation.
Mazda's aforementioned TL comes pretty close, in that our protagonist has barely any idea about NI politics, but I haven't read enough to work out of he fails completely at everything or just the early stuff.
 

ChrisNuttall

Active member
I've always wanted to, in a setting with time/dimensional travel make one where an ISOT munchkin and his empire are the villains of the piece. (And yes, I know Guns of the South kind of already did this)
I tried that once. It wasn't easy to have the bad guys be likable, but bad, if you kept them as POV characters.

Chris
 

Gary Oswald

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I tried that once. It wasn't easy to have the bad guys be likable, but bad, if you kept them as POV characters.

Chris
Hasn't that been like the number 1 goal of prestige television for the last 30 years? To make someone believably both appalling yet appealing enough to want to follow?

I'll always call it the Londo Mollari effect but the Walter White effect or the Fleabag effect is much the same I guess.
 

Alexander Rooksmoor

Active member
I’m surprised there aren’t more 80s timelines etc. Which aren’t one of these three ‘Pop Culture’, ‘Fuldapoclyse’ or ‘And Then Benn wins!’

Like late 80s political times don’t seem to be much of a presence. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.
I have often reflected on why we see certain genres tied to certain time periods. The 'Thirty-Nine Steps' of the 1910s managed to continue into the 1930s, but by the 1950s, it was all 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' and action novels tended to relocated to Africa or Asia. My view was that it was because in Europe the world had become 'locked down'. There was little room for the kind of individual action that would change anything in the way it might have been possible for Richard Hannay. Instead the individual hero is a cynical tool in the hands of the superpowers. As the assassination of John Kennedy had already shown, even taking out a leader is unlikely to lead to massive change and that is probably doubly the case in the 1980s. This situation is why I think there are limited options for stories set in the 1980s, and indeed much of the 1970s and certainly the 1990s. There is too little 'room to manoeuvre' unless the point of divergence is set much earlier and people are living in a world without a Cold War, perhaps without the USA or without gunpowder. Thus if keeping most of the trappings of the actual 1980s, either you have to go big with a Third World War or you have to keep it small with pop culture or altering the success of certain politicians. Environmental or technological alternatives are still open for debate, but even then the heavy hand of the international state system deadens many impacts. I think it is not only the 1980s but many successive decades that will prove quite barren ground for AH writing unless you are happy to go with a disaster epic narrative or keep to small modifications.
 

Elektronaut

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This work comes pretty close to such, I think.
L. Sprague de Camp - Writes a story about modern technology being introduced to the past, which also involves the Byzantines getting fucked over?

A man very much after my own heart, but who also clearly knew fuck-all about his audience.
 
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ChrisNuttall

Active member
Hasn't that been like the number 1 goal of prestige television for the last 30 years? To make someone believably both appalling yet appealing enough to want to follow?

I'll always call it the Londo Mollari effect but the Walter White effect or the Fleabag effect is much the same I guess.
Yep, but Londo is introduced as a likable character. He doesn't go downhill until we have grown to like him. (G'Kar seems more the bad guy, at first.)

Trying to make Nazis the heroes, for example, isn't going to work well. They might not know any better, if they grew up in a Nazi Victory TL, but still ...


Chris
 

Coiler

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This situation is why I think there are limited options for stories set in the 1980s, and indeed much of the 1970s and certainly the 1990s.
Great point.

For Fuldapocalypses specifically, they're dominated by the 1980s, for, IMO, the following reasons.

-A not unreasonable belief that beforehand, with nukes handwaved away, the Soviets would just easily win.
-The weapons/formations involved not having a historical precedent outside the Gulf War squash, whereas earlier eras had the Vietnam/Arab-Israeli wars with those taking center stage.
-Just following the precedent of the genre trendsetters, which were written in the 1980s.

For online alternate history, I'd argue the third one is the most dominant. While I know the TL as a whole is a fossilized horse skeleton, NDCR's WW3 is an interesting example of that taken to extremes-because I've been in the author's shoes to a degree and know what you'd think a WW3 story would look like if your only sources were Red Storm Rising and online TLs.

The two examples that struck me the most were the invasion of Iceland (which apart from those two is most apparent in wargaming, and I know very well that NDCR's "4 million vs. 3 million! Arab-Israeli alliance pushing into the Caucasus" WWIII wasn't wargamed at all) and the war staying conventional from start to finish, with nukes only being brought up once the Allies were at the gates of Berlin Moscow.

In contrast, most commercial WW3 without a wargaming link or legit plot reasons doesn't have an Icelandic invasion, and RSR is actually somewhat unique in never using nuclear weapons (for the highest-profile contrast, see Hackett's Birmingham-Minsk plotnukes).

(Hope this doesn't sound like too big a digression, I just saw the word Fuldapocalypse and my eyes lit up :p )
 
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Delta Force

Active member
Side note, going back to possible yet handwaveable issues in Paradise Lost: Was uranium really in such short supply in Europe or other OTL areas conquered by Nazi Germany that they would've ended up marching into Central Africa to mine it (presuming these stocks were even known of in the 1940s)?
Uranium isn't actually a rare material, it's just that there aren't that many sites with high concentrations of it. That wasn't a widely accepted fact until sometime in the 1970s, but it's always been true. Historical mining statistics bear that out, with the United States ranking 2nd for total production and Germany ranking 4th (source), despite the fact that both countries have essentially no uranium mining actively taking place now.

The Czech Republic has significant historical production as well, much of that coming from the Jachymov uranium mines. Jachymov was an early source of radium and Marie Curie first discovered radium in samples from the site.
 

Venocara

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After having watched a YouTube video and re-read @Cevolian's list I began to wonder: are there any timelines in which Roosevelt is elected in 1912, the US jump in the war at the beginning and it's all over by Christmas - only for things to go badly wrong later on?
 

David Flin

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are there any timelines in which Roosevelt is elected in 1912, the US jump in the war at the beginning and it's all over by Christmas
If there are, they are very silly timelines. Even assuming that the US jumps in at the start, it's army is tiny. Total size is less than 100K, less than half of what Britain sent in the BEF.

The US Army is scattered - around half was stationed overseas, and would have taken months to organise into an expeditionary force.

For the US Army to have the slightest impact by Christmas 1914, it needs to be preparing to participate in a general European War before the start of 1914, and it's hard to see any pressure for that to take place, even given the Sainted Mastermind Teddy Roosevelt as president.
 

Venocara

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If there are, they are very silly timelines. Even assuming that the US jumps in at the start, it's army is tiny. Total size is less than 100K, less than half of what Britain sent in the BEF.

The US Army is scattered - around half was stationed overseas, and would have taken months to organise into an expeditionary force.

For the US Army to have the slightest impact by Christmas 1914, it needs to be preparing to participate in a general European War before the start of 1914, and it's hard to see any pressure for that to take place, even given the Sainted Mastermind Teddy Roosevelt as president.
I will admit that "by Christmas" was an exaggeration and I wouldn't have thought that any quick Entente victory would be as a result of US participation... but I would have thought that even if the Americans only landed two men at the very end of the war it would have been enough for them to laud it as a great victory.
 

ChrisNuttall

Active member
If there are, they are very silly timelines. Even assuming that the US jumps in at the start, it's army is tiny. Total size is less than 100K, less than half of what Britain sent in the BEF.

The US Army is scattered - around half was stationed overseas, and would have taken months to organise into an expeditionary force.

For the US Army to have the slightest impact by Christmas 1914, it needs to be preparing to participate in a general European War before the start of 1914, and it's hard to see any pressure for that to take place, even given the Sainted Mastermind Teddy Roosevelt as president.
There might be additional troubles in Mexico, leading to the formation of a bigger US army.

Chris
 

MAC161

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Re-reading the "successful Sea Lion" AH Collaborator by Murray Davies, a line from one of the characters made me curious: "The Welsh mining valleys are Reds to a man, but the resistance band up on the Breton Beacons is led by a viscount. They hate each other almost as much as they hate the Germans." Were the politics of both regions anywhere close to these stances in OTL--and, presuming Sea Lion had taken place and led to partisan resistance, how much of a stretch is it that they're depicted as having such?
 
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