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Alternate History General Discussion

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
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Double-checking the books, we've got:

- One where the Germans took over Britain but still lose to the Red Army (as backstory)

- Three (two in the same series) where the Germans win on the continent but a few years later, Britain and America go to war again and win

- One where the Nazis have outright won and own America

- One where Britain's occupied in the 50s

- One where they rule Europe

and two Confederate victories, one 19th century and one early 20th. This is a massive difference to what's also on the market. (You're right the vignettes and timelines do it more)
7 almost certainly makes it the single most used scenario as most books have a unique scenario but fair play, thats less than I thought.
 

ChrisNuttall

Active member
Seriously, how many times are people going to say: "What about this neat idea" when I've got a book right there, in print, doing exactly that thing?

I know I'm not the most popular person on this forum (he said, with understatement), but this is starting to get silly.
Just reading it - I was thinking something larger, but never mind.
 

ChrisNuttall

Active member
I will say, if we ever have more Axis Victory stuff I would hope there like It Happened Here, which feels almost like a reaction to those generic ‘And then Hitler did Sealion and WoN’ stories and ends with Britain being liberated by a combined American-Free British-Communist Partisans.
That would be fun - US invasion of Britain in 1943, rather than North Africa, and Europe in 1945? Or nukes ending the war instead?

Chris
 

Gary Oswald

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So re: this larger discussion.

Axis of the Andes by D.G. Valdron has just come out and I bought and read it, as I really liked that timeline. First of all, it's part 1 of a two part series so it isn't a complete story, something that isn't mentioned anywhere and is worth noting.

But I remain taken by the ambition and imagination of the premise (massive war in latin america breaks out in 1940 when the rest of the world is too distracted to do anything about it).

It very much shows the good side to the amateur AH community. Imaginative premises, genuine historical knowledge about more obscure areas of the world and the audacity to create genuinely new things (anyone who remembers the ending of the timeline will know it's not afraid to really mix things up).

And Valdron can write, he creates vivid characters, has a keen eye for dialogue and has a strong narrative voice. He also knows what he's talking about the research is palpable.

But that's kind of the problem. There is a narrative here but it's like 20% of the book, the other 80% is the writer explaining his workings. It reminds me of the worst kind of old school sci-fi where the writer is desperate to get ahead of criticism by spending 10 pages showing how his engine could work and honestly, I'm just happy to assume it does.

There is something just quite weird about a narrative scene, followed by the writer going 'so you may wonder if this is plausible, but given what happened in otl at this date and this date it is', it comes off as insecure frankly, something written by someone who has been nitpicked to death. And thus shows the bad side of these writing communities.

Like around about 40% of this book is just valdron talking about otl south American history, and he's a witty historian, it's interesting, I like reading history books. But you'd wish that he'd tried to get that background into the narrative instead.

It's a narrative story which has no faith in its narrative and constantly falls back to essay writing instead. And again Valdron's a good essay writer as well as a good writer of dialogue but it's a book that's neither one thing or the other, it's not a story and its not really an essay.

It feels like two very good books awkwardly stitched together into a book that's not quite as good as either a full on pulp mens war story about the Ecuadorian army or a full on faux historical book would be.
 

Coiler

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I will say, if we ever have more Axis Victory stuff I would hope there like It Happened Here, which feels almost like a reaction to those generic ‘And then Hitler did Sealion and WoN’ stories and ends with Britain being liberated by a combined American-Free British-Communist Partisans.
I've wanted to do semi serious sims of an American/Canadian/Free British counter-invasion of the British Isles.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
It very much shows the good side to the amateur AH community. Imaginative premises, genuine historical knowledge about more obscure areas of the world and the audacity to create genuinely new things (anyone who remembers the ending of the timeline will know it's not afraid to really mix things up).
That is one of the strengths of AH being a niche-within-niche and full of dorks going "seen it", there's a lot of very odd little stuff nobody else would think about. Like, Three Days in Yangon, "so what about a noir story about tough detectives from the wrong side of town in an alternate 19th century Myanmar that's undergoing industrial reform and also the main religion is Lovecraft"; or Walking Through Dreams, "here's a massive history book where different plants meant the aboriginals had developed a very different civilisation(s) when Europe arrived"; Alternate Tastes of London, "so how does everyone eat in these worlds"; Who Will Speak For England, kitchen-sink lesbian drama and romance for English Parliament staffers with the shadow of the far-right growing like a fungus.
 

Skinny87

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That is one of the strengths of AH being a niche-within-niche and full of dorks going "seen it", there's a lot of very odd little stuff nobody else would think about. Like, Three Days in Yangon, "so what about a noir story about tough detectives from the wrong side of town in an alternate 19th century Myanmar that's undergoing industrial reform and also the main religion is Lovecraft"
wait what

why does no-one tell the resident horror Reviewer these things?
 

Coiler

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I think one of the weaknesses of the "just lists" style is that it makes it hard to distinguish between what is the result of good research and what isn't. I guess my example is a sports one (since those are the absolute most vulnerable to trinketization), where I have a World Cup final and results.

Say the score is Mexico 1 Italy 0, and all you get is a wikibox.

It's basically impossible to tell just from that if the writer went...

"Ok, I want the final between a perennial contender and a country that's a longshot, but not TOO big of one. The former-Italy. The latter, let's see, lets look at past results and futures odds, a-ha, Mexico, who was a 60-1 underdog last time. Now I want the underdog to win without overtime or penalty kicks, but I don't want it to be a blowout, so I'll make the score 1-0 and have the one goal be something of a lucky fluke."

Or:

"Let me look at the wiki entry for the last World Cup, and I'll just grab Mexico and Italy, and make the score 1-0 because that's a common score."

(Hope this makes sense)
 

Creekmench

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I think one of the weaknesses of the "just lists" style is that it makes it hard to distinguish between what is the result of good research and what isn't. I guess my example is a sports one (since those are the absolute most vulnerable to trinketization), where I have a World Cup final and results.

Say the score is Mexico 1 Italy 0, and all you get is a wikibox.

It's basically impossible to tell just from that if the writer went...

"Ok, I want the final between a perennial contender and a country that's a longshot, but not TOO big of one. The former-Italy. The latter, let's see, lets look at past results and futures odds, a-ha, Mexico, who was a 60-1 underdog last time. Now I want the underdog to win without overtime or penalty kicks, but I don't want it to be a blowout, so I'll make the score 1-0 and have the one goal be something of a lucky fluke."

Or:

"Let me look at the wiki entry for the last World Cup, and I'll just grab Mexico and Italy, and make the score 1-0 because that's a common score."

(Hope this makes sense)
Like i don't hate wikiboxes per say but wouldn't an alt sports history thing be better served with like a narrative? like writing about the players in the match or a fan watching it.
 

David Flin

Here we go again. Scalpel time.
Like i don't hate wikiboxes per say but wouldn't an alt sports history thing be better served with like a narrative? like writing about the players in the match or a fan watching it.
The same could be said about a battle, or an election, or a terrorist action.

If one is interested in more than just the bland outcome, then one needs more than a wiki-box.
 

kratostatic

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A wiki-box is essentially a post in 'the story idea thread'. It's a shower thought.

Nothing more or nothing less than that.
Just occasionally you can do a bit more with them. The obvious example is creative use of red links. And one of the more interesting ones I saw was of a "vandalised" wikibox; I can't remember the exact context but it was some sort of insurrection/rebellion/crushed protest and the vandals had put literally every dead person on "their" side in the "Belligerents" section, which was obviously many times longer than the actual wikibox.

But I agree that they're not exactly a "true" story in and of themselves.
 

Von Callay

Kept After Class by Mrs. MacBrayne
Just occasionally you can do a bit more with them. The obvious example is creative use of red links. And one of the more interesting ones I saw was of a "vandalised" wikibox; I can't remember the exact context but it was some sort of insurrection/rebellion/crushed protest and the vandals had put literally every dead person on "their" side in the "Belligerents" section, which was obviously many times longer than the actual wikibox.

But I agree that they're not exactly a "true" story in and of themselves.
The best wikiboxes come with a write-up that explains, elaborates from, or in some way subverts them. It can become something akin to the actual encyclopedia/history book style of AH when done that way, which makes sense since that's what wikipedia is in real life.
 

lerk

TOJO'S HEAD (BALD)
Something I wish that TLs with a recent POD do more to make as many changes as possible to the world. Not only would it be accurate with regards to butterflies but it would also be pretty interesting. Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire is a great example of this, but even TLs with a less dramatic/even more recent POD can do more to make changes in the world. Even with a POD in the early 2010s I think there is a lot of material which makes the world very different by alt-2021. Of course I'm not asking the world to look unrecognizable or dystopic (which may actually be a bit cheesy and implausible) by 2021 but it could look a lot more different. I'm not going to name names but I have noticed some TLs with a recent POD in which there aren't many changes outside of the domestic politics of a few countries.
 
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lerk

TOJO'S HEAD (BALD)
Something I wish that TLs with a recent POD do more to make as many changes as possible to the world. Not only would it be accurate with regards to butterflies but it would also be pretty interesting. Zhirinovsky's Russian Empire is a great example of this, but even TLs with a less dramatic/even more recent POD can do more to make changes in the world. Even with a POD in the early 2010s I think there is a lot of material which makes the world very different by alt-2021. Of course I'm not asking the world to look unrecognizable or dystopic (which may actually be a bit cheesy and implausible) by 2021 but it could look a lot more different. I'm not going to name names but I have noticed some TLs with a recent POD in which there aren't many changes outside of the domestic politics of a few countries.
On that note I think that a lot of "No 9/11" TLs are very limited in scope. That event was a very, very big event, and having it not happen just causes a lot of butterflies to emerge. I think the phenomenon which I think EdT talked about in which the farther you get away from a POD, the more likely you are to write fiction applies to how drastic a POD is. For example a minor POD like some by-election going the other way has you trying to be plausible for the first few decades before you begin to write fiction. But a POD like "Hitler dies in 1930", "No 9/11" and others are PODs with such a drastic change in the timeframe you are writing in that I think you only have to worry about plausibility for a few years before going into writing fiction. A no 9/11 TL really just has to be plausible up to 2005 before you veer into fiction territory, as you have to deal with an aging Saddam, Jihadist groups not coalescing under al-Qaeda as they did IOTL after 9/11, an emerging Russia and China probably having to deal with America a lot differently now that America isn't being embroiled in difficult foreign insurgencies, a lessened financial crisis along with no Iraq WMDs lie which probably has people be a lot more trustful of their government (which means less populism), how the Taliban would function as the years go by etc. Here we can only tell the basics about these topics and what changes could occur as a result but it is hard to know the nitty-gritty of them, and as such you can do whatever you want with it.
 
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