Alternate History Travel Guides: an AH gazeteer

Greetings and salutations.

As some may have noted, I have been doing a number of maps based on the "Alternate history travel guides" yahoo group and website.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ahtg/
http://www.ahtg.net/

I have also been writing up descriptions of the timelines mentioned, as a source for ideas for maps, etc. A number of these desciptions are largely mine, since the on-site description of the world is very sketchy, but some were described in more detail, and I have made only middling additions and amendations (often in the direction of plausibility, as I saw it).

I have about a hundred or so TL descriptions running from a paragraph to several pages, and I will be posting some of the more complete ones on this thread to amuse and perhaps give ideas to people. To disclaim: these are the creations of the folks at Alternate History Travel Guides, including Jonathan Edelstein, Marty Busse, John H. Reiher Jr., Alan Lothian, Gavin Weaire, David Johnson, Sean Rodgers, RF (Randy) McDonald, Ray Speer, James Crabtree, "Kedamono", Michael Davis, Gareth Perkins, Stephen Voss, Thomas R. Keith, Victori Adams, David K. Tormsen, and various others, and have been modified and embroidered upon by yours truly.

Bruce
 
1.) Marketplace – An ultra-capitalist, rich but severely unequal world. Russia managed to negotiate a withdrawal from this world’s WWI-equivalent, which essentially dragged on until both Germany and France collapsed in revolution and Austria disintegrated, with the US joining the UK and Russia in restoring order, negotiating a peace between the “legitimate” French and German governments, and squashing Red rebellion. This led to the formation of a unified post-war Europe with Russia, France and the UK guaranteeing order: there was no WWII, and with no great victories to point to, the Germans were far less interested in trying for round two. (In any event, the Germans and Italians were too worn down and too scared of revolution to try again). US economic dominance was established earlier, and the worn-out British were quicker to let their Empire go. The OTL reversal of globalization did not take place, and the economic unification of Europe came decades earlier.

Nowadays, the USA is virtually anarcho-capitalist (the President an almost ceremonial position), Russia (which still has a Czar, albeit a figurehead) is an oligarchy, and China is so corrupt and dominated by corporations and Triads (often not very clearly distinguishable) that the Forbidden City was bought by a corporate groups and turned into a resort. (National heritage, shmashional heritage). Japan is run by an alliance of giant Zaibatsu, and a number of states – including quite a bit of sub-Saharan Africa - are run by corporations or are effectively private property. The one thing that is regulated is finance – the corporate giants recall how the Crash of ’47 nearly led to a resurgence of socialism in much of the industrialized world, a menace which took decades to beat back and still plagues much of Mediterranean Europe.

Cities are bigger – there are a billion more people than OTL, and its more urbanized - stuffed with huge skyscrapers, and often so polluted that breathing masks are a necessity some days. Much of the world has a cyberpunk air to it, omnipresent electronics, dazzling towers and squalid slums, weird drugs, severe pollution and cities beset with thick smog, mega-corporations and near earth space filled with orbiting automated factory modules and privately owned spy satellites and broadcasting agencies. China is probably the world’s largest economy, but just try and get some accurate statistics, gwailo.

Colonialism of the old sort is passé, with the British withdrawing from India as early as 1937. A lot of islands and such are still run from the Metropoles, but generally former colonies are either independent or run by corporate mega-blocks, depending on profits to be made and the expense of controlling these places – if there’s no profit to be made or if the natives resist too violently, out the door. In a world where there truly Is No Alternative, India and other socialist basketcases of OTL have generally not done too badly out of the capitalist game, although India has developed more by growing its own internal markets rather than by exporting cheap crap. The Ottoman Empire chugs along on the strength of a sea of oil. Liberia, larger and more closely tied to the US than OTL, is a low-end first world nation, and a major positive influence on the economies of its neighbors. There are in fact several African economic success stories (fortunately, AIDs has not yet become a major epidemic), and not just the states run by corporations. South Africa, alas, has had a bloody revolution (still ongoing): nobody wanted their government to have the power to say who can buy and sell to who (well, nobody important).

The world is a bit old-fashioned in some ways, with a 19th century utilitarian outlook and a fanatical devotion to hard work and Getting Ahead, and an amazingly large number of private and religious Self-Improvement societies. On the other hand, it is also a lot easier-going than our world about things like pornography, prostitution (legal if regulated in most countries), selling spare organs, and drug use (admittedly, cocaine is banned in some countries, including Japan, as being detrimental to workforce efficiency). It is also a NRA member’s wet-dream: few countries regulate the private ownership of weapons, and between security concerns in a cyberpunk world and ideas of personal autonomy, most of the world’s population is armed, one way or another. (Pacifists favor tasers and disabling gasses). Race is less important than OTL: “money whitens”, and in the US there are less old civil-war based resentments (the civil war, with Virginia on the northern side, only lasted about a year).

The world’s most powerful organization, the International Chamber of Commerce, which coordinates between the “three dozen” – the world’s largest mega-corporations – pushes hard for development and increases in the standard of living in the third world, since profits depend on increasing the number of consumers. (From the point of view of this world’s corporate and government leaders, the economists and corporate management of our world are fucking insane). The biggest problems currently facing Marketplace are global warming, pollution, and the impending oil shortage, all further along than in our world. Corporate research is working hard to develop profitable solutions, but there is an increasing sense that BIG money may be needed to overcome these difficulties: and Marketplace’s generally weak governments don’t really have the power to raise the money or direct it to the right places.

The long-repressed Baudists (the equivalent of Marxists OTL) are finally getting some notice outside the “Bottom 25%“ with their message of strong government, more taxes on the ultra-rich, and preventing the death of billions (perhaps including… you!). Meanwhile, people are looking with interest at the one country with a truly powerful government machine, the Federated German Republics, which just managed to switch its power consumption to 100% solar and nuclear…


2.) Roman Republic – a world in which Rome never entirely fell, and the Second Republic was established in the 1600’s after a “warring states” period. Rome rules Europe west of Gothonia (OTL Poland and the Ukraine), plus North Africa, Anatolia, and the Levant (not Egypt, though) and Australia and New Zealand. It is a rich, lush society, with fairly modern technology (atom bombs and TV, but airplanes are still using propellers). Slavery is legal, but no longer hereditary (unlike some parts of India and Africa) and is generally a result of crime or serious debt.

The Republic is even more liberal about sexual matters than Marketplace, with state licensed prostitution and uncensored pornography, although this is not in fact a carryover from ancient Rome – indeed, Rome underwent a period of prudery after it first converted to Mirthraism (albeit a Mirthraism which absorbed a lot of pagan rites and Gods, and a high tolerant form - Jews have been legally equal for a long time, and they were allowed to resettle in Palestine from the 7th century on, where they are now a majority). The gladiatorial games continue, and in spite of modern medicine are still frequently lethal, although contestants are volunteer-only nowadays (a slave must be freed to participate). Ballooning and hang-gliding are popular sports.

Much of N. America is a loose federation, a mixed native-American-Viking culture, which has largely converted to Mirthraism and is vaguely a Roman ally/vassal. The Mexican Gulf coast, most of the Caribbean, and the lower Mississippi are parts of a former Roman colony from a more expansionist time, now self-governing and culturally a really mixed bag of Roman, Amerindian, Chinese, and Germanic influences (Saturnalia in the capital, near OTL New Orleans, should not be missed). West of the Mississippi is an independent and fairly formidable Chinese settler state, while OTL Mexico and Central America is politically fragmented into a number of squabbling republics and kingdoms.

More purely native (and backward) states exist in the Andes, while the eastern half of South America is ruled by the great Bantu Empire, Rome’s major geopolitical rival since the 17th century. Said Empire, which also rules Africa from OTL Senegal to Angola, is currently in a bit of a mess after five decades of Soterist Socialism (Soterism is the major African religion, a syncretism of Christian and local elements: the revolutionary movement than overthrew the last King-above-all-Kings was as much religious as communistic and populist), and the economy is only slowly picking up.

Other states include Turko-Slavic and Buddhist Russia (a cordial neighbor of Rome for all that: Romans think of their faith as contiguous with their state, and didn’t put too much violent effort into spreading it, even before the secular modern era), the Third Persian Empire (Nestorian (more or less) Christians, and colonizers of S. and East Africa, now independent), Abyssinia, the backward but still powerful Chinese empire, Greater Korea and its restive Japanese subjects, and the multiple Indian kingdoms, wracked by caste violence as a new religious movement preaches the redemption of the lower castes and the downfall of the Brahmins, while the agonies of modernization imposed from above by the Rajahs inflames the situation.

Rome, with 28 million inhabitants, is a sight to be seen. A lot of old monuments have been long ago replaced, but the 19th century “glass and columns” style is impressive enough, and the monumental statues are in some cases wildly monumental. (The statue to the “second Alexander”, the Emperor “barbarian crusher” Gaius, erected to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Republic, is nearly 200 meters high). Organized crime is powerful and extensive, but fairly discrete.


3.) Appeasement – a world in which Halifax’s UK made a negotiated peace with Germany, and the Germans bled themselves white fighting the Soviets from 1941-1947. Today the British Empire is still around, but in crisis since the Great Indian Uprising of 2001 began, after the policy of buying off Indian Elites ceased to buy time: sympathetic rebellions are breaking out in their African and Middle Eastern territories, although SE Asia remains quiet. The UK is rather more heavily industrialized than OTL, and still the world’s most important center of high finance, although frankly the Americans left them behind in high-tech a decade ago. Technology is a bit ahead of OTL in some fields: the Germans have got into the habit of cloning their more successful citizens, which kinda squicks out a lot of foreigners.

The German Reich still exists, but it has largely pulled out of depopulated and third-world poor W. Russia, and is fairly democratic nowadays – it has even cancelled the Nuremberg laws, although no sane Jew will live anywhere near Greater Germany. However, it will not allow any other powers on the continent to develop nuclear weapons or ally with a nation that has them: the best the French have been able to do is slowly move to a position of disarmed neutrality, still in the Reich’s shadow. (They are also firmly opposed to any reunification of Siberia with the European Slavic territories).

The most powerful global block is the Chinese- US alliance: along with the Siberians and the (unified, capitalist) Koreans, they keep the Nazis out of Asia and dominate the Pacific, although the relationship is turning a bit sour as capitalist China is increasingly willing to make deals with the German regime, and a younger generation is increasingly critical of the role the US played in the 1947-1958 struggle to squash the Maoists. China is another Great Power, having started moving towards capitalism from the 50’s on, albeit with some problems due to a world with fewer open markets. It’s richer than our China, if still essentially third-world, with horrifically large and polluted cities and horrendous social disparities, a corrupt if semi-democratic government (see Mexico OTL) and a number of nukes pointed at Japan, a one-party leftist state roughly as rich per capita as OTL Korea.

Race relations are, understandably, poor. The US finally got around to giving its black population full civil rights in the 1980s, (although Asians were accepted as equals much earlier. The Philippines in this world eventually became US states 51-53) but Africans under British or German rule are still treated as sub-human, and books along the lines of OTL’s “The Bell Curve” are popular. In Europe, the French are something of an exception: after the Germans pulled out in the early 90’s, in an effort to fully reject their Petain-ist past, the French have jettisoned anything that smells of official racism, and any refugees from Colonial Africa is assured a warm welcome (in fact, there are less Africans in France than OTL, due to the German’s desire to keep Europe lily-white).

Society is generally more conservative, with German women under heavy social pressures to have large families (although they’re no longer in danger of being knocked up by SS thugs if they don’t have children by 30). The US has stiff anti-pornography laws and a lot of things worn by the youth of OTL would lead to an indecent exposure charge. OTOH, the jazz and big band music is pretty smooth.

Bruce
 
4.) Empires – a world where much of the world is still ruled by colonial Empires, only now beginning to crumble. The US broke up into Slave and Free states early in its history, and a series of internecine wars left it in fragments. Nowadays the French, Prussian, Japanese, Brazilian and Habsburg Empires dominate the globe. Former greats Britain (nowadays the British-Dutch union) and Russia have fallen on hard times. The British Empire lost effective control over much of its territory in the 70’s and 80’s, and the crisis was worsened by the refusal of the British Government to allow other powers to take over to stabilize the spreading chaos. War between the British and the other Great Powers was only avoided by a coup and the monarch stepping down to be replaced by his Dutch cousin: much of the Empire was snapped up by the other Powers as they “restored stability.”

The Russians had a civil war with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the late 90’s, in which some 20 million Russians and 80 million non-Russians perished. Russia has lost pretty much all of its colonial territories (Russia proper is now even smaller than OTL), although it is still loosely federated with the Ukraine. Georgia and Armenia are independent, as are such unlikely states as Tatarstan and Chechnya. The area of OTL Central Asia (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Soviet Central Asia) is such a chaos that nobody wants to stick their nose in lest it be bitten off, although a Turkish warlord has recently managed to restore stability between Merv and Frunze.

Ethnic nationalism is positively a dirty word among the ruling classes of this world: being able to rule over and protect the peace between many different peoples is the true mark of a genuinely civilized state, and only a barbarian would insist on living in a country consisting of (and being ruled by) only his or her own kind. (Oddly, it’s never the ruling classes who have to deal with the “minor imposition” of being ruled by members of an alien culture).

At the peak of the Imperial system, pretty much all of the globe was under the thumb of one or the other 7 Powers. The Empires vary from very integration-happy France (again under a Napoleon), which after 60-odd years of forced-march industrialization in Africa and elsewhere rules a genuine federal empire with large African and Indochinese middle classes (something Parisians sometimes doubt the utility of as they note that their capital is now 1/3 non-French) to very racist Prussia, whose African and Asian territories are run purely for the profit of German citizens. The Habsburgs are almost as liberal as the French (most of their subjects being European helps), while the Japanese, Brazilians, and British in between. The British are rather more pushy and aggressive than those of OTL, and the whole “muscular Christianity” ideal remains strong.

Colonialism spread, sans the US presence, to the Americas: much of the poorer, weaker bits of Latin America ended up as protectorates or outright colonies of one of the bigger powers, (Mexico is still ruled by the descendants of a Habsburg count) and even the multiple US states are generally the satellites of one big power or another – indeed, part of the Old Northwest voluntarily joined up with Canada. (New England, which has both energetic industries and some African territories, is a bit of an exception). Ecuador was British for a while, and the French re-conquered Haiti and grabbed S. Florida when the Virginian Alliance tried to grab Cuba in the early 80s.

Russia, Prussia, and Japan were all a bit outside the world system: they were not members of the Euro-Atlantic Economic Union, to which the other four empires and most American states belong to, (Russia and Prussia had their own alliance, and “Asiatic” Japan has always been a bit isolated)and generally are considered a bit “uncivilized” by the other powers. Japan took over Russian China, and is having problems digesting it. Prussia rules Poland and the Baltic states, France extends to the Rhine and splits OTL Belgium with the Netherlands, and Catalonia is independent. Catholic south Germany is integrated with the Habsburg domains.

The world is more developed than OTL, and like Marketplace suffers from the ills of resource depletion and global warming: unlike Marketplace, much stronger governments are launching vigorous assaults on the problem. Nationalism is rather weak, and the Empires have often traded territories as part of the process of political negotiation and compromise. The Congress of Strasbourg, established as a permanent body after the negotiated peace of the Great European War of the 1870’s, serves as an UN-equivalent. Now it meets in furious debate: after the terrible events of the 80s and 90s, the colonial system clearly is in need of reform, and such protectorates and puppets as Mexico and Venezuela and Texas and French China have gained non-voting membership in the Congress, as have the British Dominions: further reforms are in the offing, but are being held up by foot-dragging from the Japanese and Prussians. The American Union (Mexico, and much of Central America and the Caribbean) is beginning to flex its muscles and push for a renegotiation of its association with its French sponsor and protector, and the call of Italian Unification is once again strongly heard.


5.)Estates-General – a politically somewhat old-fashioned – if prosperous and cultural advanced – world. The leading power, the Kingdom of America, is a rather loose, multi-lingual association of 72 states (roughly as autonomous as Swiss cantons) under a Bourbon-descended (the French did rather better here in their 18th century contest with the UK) monarchy which chooses successors by adoption rather than birth and which still maintains some genuine power, if not so much as an OTL US President, and has no less than three administrative houses. The member states include former French, British, Spanish, and Swedish colonies, a couple Native American states, and some states (such as Swiss New Basel) founded in the interior as deliberately nationalist projects. It includes all of North America north of Central America and a lot of the Caribbean. It is a rather more “European” state than the OTL US, with respect to sexual morals, public healthcare, pro-city tax policies, etc.

Technology is roughly OTL, although for some reason this world was slower to embrace the car: road systems in North America and Europe are inferior to OTL, and the American railroad system is vastly superior to OTL. Biotech is actually more advanced than OTL, and contributes to a remarkably developed science of farming that feeds this world – slightly more populous than ours - rather better than OTL. It is a sophisticated and civilized world, perhaps even a bit over civilized from an OTL viewpoint, a bit decadent and overly florid.

Latin America is divided up a bit differently than OTL, and is sadly full of oligarchies and military dictatorships, although the Brazilian Empire is fairly democratic and Argentina is both a democracy and a first-world country, one of the worlds’ richest (and has absorbed OTL Uruguay). Colonialism never took over all of Africa in this TL, and most African states have a monarch, (the Kingdom of Egypt, the Federation of Mali, Ethiopia, Ashantee) albeit for show in many countries where the Army or the Party actually runs things. (A large chunk of the Congo basin is ruled by a dynasty founded by a European adventurer, which has slowly “blackened” through intermarriage with the locals over the last three generations). The Habsburgs reign as Holy Roman Emperors, but don’t actually rule all that much through most of the German Empire, which is an amorphous sprawling federation including parts of OTL Italy and Poland (there was no Napoleon in this world’s version of the French Revolution, the Holy Roman Empire was never abolished, and the French Monarchy was restored earlier with fewer Grand Coalitions tramping all over the place).

The Ottoman Empire has reconstituted itself as a federal monarchy (it lost its Arab regions in a series of early 20th century revolts backed by the Kingdom of Egypt, but still includes quite a bit of the Balkans) while Arabia still ended up under the rule of those F***ers, the Saudis, but Iran is a republic (Islamic, theoretically, but actually pretty liberal. The current president is of the female persuasion). A fairly civilized (albeit with some rather sexist Modesty Laws in force through many of the component provinces) Jewish-Arab federation occupies what OTL would be Israel, Jordan, and the Occupied Territories, and there is currently talk of the Lebanese (a smaller and more Christian state than OTL) joining. The relationship between Christian and Islamic nations is generally fairly cordial: there was less of a scramble for Middle Eastern colonies than OTL, and combined with more successful modernization there is more respect on one side and less humiliation on the other.

China is still ruled by an emperor, and is about as developed as OTL Indonesia. India is a Federal Republic – which includes some still-existing princely states. There is a purely Jewish state in East Africa, in the high country SE of Lake Victoria. The British Empire is a loose federation of monarchies under the (nominal) rule of the King of England – the membership of the South African federation, a mess of Boers, British, and native states (no Apartheid, fortunately) being particularly nominal. Russia is currently divided into six states, down one from last month; General Roumyantsev claims to see “light at the end of the tunnel”; Japan rules Korea and the Philippines, having picked them up from Spain in a war a while back.


6.) Deccan Traps – in which an asteroid impact in 1972 wiped out a third of Australia, left a 16-mile wide crater, and set off volcanism world-wide, but especially along the mid-Atlantic ridge. Japan, Indonesia, and the US west coast were devastated when half of Hawaii collapsed into the sea, creating massive tidal waves. The Atlantic current has been interrupted, making much of the Northern Hemisphere a lot frostier. The climate change has killed an estimated billion people so far, and a billion more are starving.

The US (which in this TL includes much of OTL West Canada) is _managing_: it’s rich enough to buy food from the southern hemisphere states, build much warmer housing, and grow massive amounts of food in greenhouses and indoor hydroponic plants. Still, it’s substantially poorer than OTL, due to the expense of all this, the massive damage to the west coast, the health coast of all the ash falling along the east coast, and the collapse of much international trade. Canada has done worse, and has been substantially depopulated in a major move south.

South America, on the other hand, has done rather better as the larder of the world, and the refuge of choice of millions of talented and often wealthy refugees from Canada, Europe, etc. Unfortunately, much of it is run by fairly nasty dictatorships which have used their “food wealth” to extract all sorts of concessions, from the Falkland Islands to their own nuclear arsenal. Venezuela is South America’s “bastion of democracy” and a close US ally.

New Zealand, largely swamped by tidal waves, has been repopulated by European refugees, and converted from sheep-farming to a massive truck farm: although not so entirely swamped, Australia is largely run by refugees, and the Federal Government is weak compared to various state governments dominated by expatriates of one European nation or another. Japan is largely non-existent, after tidal waves and sympathetic volcanic eruptions on the island proper: a few still hold out in Okinawa and the southernmost island, but most Japanese still alive are refugees. Indonesia has fragmented, and is still pretty chaotic (Krakatoa going off again didn’t help), but at least the mass famines have ceased, now that populations have dropped enough for subsistence farming to suffice.

The USSR is not doing that great. Although Bukharin won over Stalin and there was no Hitler in this TL (the German military junta still had eyes bigger than their stomach and pissed off too many people when they conquered all of Poland rather than just grabbing the corridor) and the place was never as nasty as OTL, they have been hit hard by global cooling and have moved south to the Black sea coasts and into Iran and Afghanistan, which they have pacified with a level of brutality that makes OTL occupation of Afghanistan look tame. They have recently moved east into the fragmented mess that is “former Pakistan”. The US doesn’t give a shit – as long as they don’t go west and threaten the oil, the US will avoid pushing them into a corner. Much of Northern Russia and most of Siberia is a write-off, and only a massive national effort to grow food plants in every possible building and irrigate the heck out of South Asia (involving the world’s largest canal-building project, a task of frankly Barsooomian magnitude) has prevented mass famine.

SE Asia is more or less surviving, if struggling with the masses of refugees and rebellions, but the famines in China were pretty apocalyptic, and the north is so depopulated that N. Korea occupied Manchuria (alas, so cold and grows so little grain that the Koreans are mostly eating a nutritious goo developed by the Soviets, made by processing tree trunks). There has been a revival of civilization in the deep south, growing now climatically more appropriate millet and rye rather than rice, but the Union of People’s Cooperatives is barely post-18th century. India is fragmented, and the fragments vary from “getting along” to “failed state with cannibals thrown in.” The Middle East is either doing poorly or doing ok thanks to oil revenue: there was no Holocaust and therefore no Israel in this world, and Egypt hasn’t cooled so badly that they can’t still grow crops, although things are rather worse in the mountainous interior of what used to be Turkey, or those parts of NW Africa where cooling has also brought drought. Libya, which has oil, is doing OK, and has in fact taken over quite a bit of what formerly was Tunisia.

Europe is depopulating: it’s a lot colder, and save close to the Mediterranean, any food must be grown indoors, at great expense in power, or bought from abroad. The French have moved south to the Mediterranean, (the Italians have been hampered by the volcanic eruptions in Sicily): Scandinavians, Brits, Swiss, Germans, and Poles, with less choice, have been leaving en masse for South America, Australia-NZ, and S. Africa. (Although quite a few Brits are toughing it out with lots of “layering” and building new houses underground. Stiff upper lip, don’t you know). Quite a lot of the French are also moving to their tropical possessions (Guyana, etc.), which are getting fairly crowded. As for Sub-Saharan Africa, outside Greater South Africa (much “whiter” nowadays than OTL, thanks to lots of white refugees and with a “shoot on sight” policy re dusky-colored refugees) – well, don’t ask.

Technology is generally behind OTL, especially in computer tech, but ahead in fields relating to food production and plant genetics and synthetic organic molecules. (Both the US and USSR reached the moon in 1970, but nobody went into space again until the Brazilians orbited their first astronaut in 2001). There is some international cooperation – peacekeepers and such – trying to maintain or restore order in SE Asia, former India, even the utter hellholes of Interior China and Africa. Being thin is considered not just fashionable, but moral: being overweight is considered insensitive in a world of mass famine, where even Americans are on ration cards.


Bruce
 
As they come up...actually, I'm thinking of getting a DeviantArt account to put all my maps together in one place.

Bruce
I approve heartily! Your scenarios and treatments thereof are entertainment and inspiration to me - nobody does a map quite like you.
 
I was a ridiculous teenager when I was contributing there, and as such my contributions are vaguely embarrassing to be honest. But it was a really good group back in the day.
 

Keenir

Banned
I was a ridiculous teenager when I was contributing there, and as such my contributions are vaguely embarrassing to be honest. But it was a really good group back in the day.
I second that. I had great fun there.


(Galapagos Earth is my contribution to the travel guides)
 

Thande

Donor
I approve heartily! Your scenarios and treatments thereof are entertainment and inspiration to me - nobody does a map quite like you.
It's true. I was actually considering making a thread in NPC the other day "Unsung AH.commers", with Bruce's maps being one of the examples.
 
7.) Venetian – a world where the most influential political organization in the world is the International Guild of Courtesans. Varying from the most skilled of prostitutes to the most learned (and hands-off) of Geisha, the many interlinked Courtesan houses are a vital part of the politics and diplomacy in this world, providing wives, advisors, and confidants, and providing a vital link between the ruling houses of this world. The world is much more internationalist than OTL at a similar level of development, with the common language of Italian spoken by anyone of any learning whatsoever. Movement between states is likewise free and easy, and a liberalized (especially on sexual matters) Catholic church still unifies most of non-Orthodox Christianity outside the oddball Protestantism of the Empire of Scandinavia and its colonies (roughly OTL Canada). Parliaments are generally more powerful than kings or emperors, and wars are generally small, and over local issues, or fought against non-Christian states.

Technology is generally on an 1850’s level – there has been an industrial revolution, but it has been a slower and more drawn-out process than OTL, and railways and steamships have spread over much of the Christian realms. (Even the Emperor of China has sent delegations to try to hire European “iron horse road” makers). Interestingly, and perhaps contributing from the divergence from OTL, people have known how to make a safe and effective contraceptive from a herbal recipe since the Middle Ages. There is also a solid knowledge of the germ theory of disease and contagion, and diagnostic medicine is quite advanced. Women have had the vote and equal rights in most of Europe and N. America (outside Scandinavia, again) for some decades, although male and female roles in society are quite distinct, as is the (rather gorgeous) costuming.

In Europe and much of the Americas, it is a flourishing era of culture and art and the sciences, and trade and commerce boom. To a visitor from another TL it might seem as if the Renaissance never ended, and the art and architecture, especially in Italy, France, and some of the more prosperous German states (the horrors of the Thirty Years War were avoided) are perhaps almost _too_ elaborate for OTL tastes. Sex (with whom, how often, etc.) is considered nobody’s business but the participants, although homosexuality is generally considered something highly gauche to flaunt. Population densities are lower than OTL, both in Europe and in Asia, where contraceptive methods have spread. Single motherhood is not uncommon among the Courtesan class, and perhaps in compensation for female influence, masculinity tends towards the flamboyant, full-mustachioed, swashbuckling form.

There is an English-speaking US-equivalent in North America, but it is even more loosely unified than the Estate-General version, and is prosperous but inoffensive (well, except to the slaves in the southern parts. For all their civilized qualities, Europe and America in this world still accept slavery and the fundamental inferiority of black and brown people). Latin America is a bunch of principalities and dukedoms and such very theoretically under the rule of Spain, which is a weak constitutional monarchy, as are France and England. (Scotland, for some reason, is independent). Much of Europe is small-to-middling republics, the most important of which is Venice – the heartland of the Courtesan tradition - , roughly N. Italy plus Greece, Albania and the eastern shore of the Adriatic.

The rest of the world is still only lightly Europeanized. Turkey, although expelled from Europe by a Hungarian-Venetian-Russian alliance, still holds much of the Middle East and an Egypt whose slumbers were never interfered with by Napoleon, although Spain, France, and Venice control some bits of North African coastline. Interior Africa, where Arab and Swahili slavers have been busy state-building in the last 150 years, remains largely unknown to Europeans, and Australia proper un-colonized, although Tasmania is French and Nieu Zeeland is Dutch. French and English posts and puppet states dot the coasts of India, although the interior remains dominated by a large Hindu empire and some smaller Islamic states. The area from Malaysia to the Spice Islands is a mess of multiple European claims, and Vietnam recently converted to Catholicism. China is under an energetic new post-Manchu imperial clan, and Japan is quite open to the European world and something of a Spanish protectorate thanks to Spanish meddling in the collapse of the by then thoroughly corrupt Shogunate in the mid-1900s.

Currently the Courtesans are busy doing their thing to try and stave off a confrontation between Catholic Europe and the colossal Russian Empire, which has annexed Persia, the Black Sea Straits, a chunk of the Balkans, Manchuria, Korea, and a few other bits. It is currently having trouble holding this all together (and only with great difficulty managed to fight off an effort by the new Chinese dynasty to take back Manchuria), but if Czar Ivan’s plans for a massive rail-building program succeed, the Czars will rule over the world’s largest integrated empire: although backward by European standards, Russia has a vastly larger population than any single European state, and there are already books with titles like “the coming Russian conquest” and “what to do when the Slav comes” being widely published. There are those that fear that although much of the Imperial court is wrapped around the little fingers of members of the Guild, it won’t be enough to stop a Russia which feels ITS DAY HAS COME, and there is talk of some sort of pan-European organization to deter Russian expansion, say, some sort of…European Community, maybe…


8.) Celto-Romanic – this world is dominated by three great powers: the Romans, which in this world managed to maintain republicanism (kinda) but expanded rather more slowly than OTL; the Chinese; and the Celts, which managed to fight off the Germanic expansion and went on to colonize the new world. It is a backward world, with its most advanced technology being on roughly a 1700 level (with the exception of agriculture, which in the case of the Celts is about as advanced as possible without machinery – think England and the Low Countries right before mass-manufacturing of fertilizer and farm equipment came around – and medicine, which again in the Celtic case is late-19th century: they even have an equivalent of Germ theory, although it involves tiny demons and prayer as a necessary part of antisepsis). Celtic women have a pretty liberated status in the Celtic lands, and often rather scarily aggressive sexually. (They have some fairly effective contraceptive methods, for one thing…)

The Celts do not have a truly unified state, forming a loose trans-Atlantic federation under the theoretical rule of a High King, but they are the most technologically advanced and well-educated people on the planet, and their numerous flintlock-armed militia can generally handle the crude bombards, cannon and crossbows of the Roman armies. (Celts receive weapons training as a basic part of their education, and every adult male can be called up in an emergency). Not that there is much need for fighting the Romans: the Celtic Union of a Hundred Kingdoms (a metaphor: there are actually 157, some actually Germanic or Native American) and the Unified Roman Republics (citizenship was extended to all by the 600s) haven’t fought a serious war in centuries. The Celts do fight the non-assimilated and backward Eastern Germans (here pushed east into OTL Poland and W. Russia, and then pushed mostly into N. Russia by horse-nomad invasions) and the Native American states that have consolidated under their influence on the western border: the Romans have their own problems with the Empire set up by their colonists in S. America, and the powerful neo-Zoroastrian “Persiac” empire east of Roman Babylonia and extending into N. India.

In Europe, the Romans control OTL Roman territory in Africa and the Middle East, plus the N. coast of the Black Sea, Mesopotamia, Ethiopia, and the Sahel (conquered after the arrival of the camel), while in non-Italian Europe they hold only the southern third of OTL Gaul and Iberia and the Balkans (overrun by Slavs fleeing Germans and steppe horsemen a while back, but mostly Latinized by now) up to what would be Hungary OTL. The Celts occupy the British Isles and from Gaul to ~OTL eastern Polish border, plus N. America almost to the Mississippi. The Celts follow a complex polytheism which has picked up savior-elements and a holy martyred Irish prophet along the way, while the Romans mostly follow a kinda Judaism (which an oft-persecuted minority claim is a blasphemous betrayal of God’s special pact with the Children of Abraham). India south and east of the Persian holdings is politically fragmented, and much of OTL Mexico and Central America – plus some parts of the Caribbean – are ruled by a Mayan Empire closely tied to the Celts through trade and some Celtic settlement in the area. The Andes are ruled by a really fucking weird theocracy with ritual cocaine consumption and the preserved bodies of ancestors leering at you from unexpected spots.

The third great power is China: with a well-organized gunpowder army and a bureaucracy rather more extensive than OTLs Qing, it rules over more of Asia than it ever did OTL and also over colonies on the W. Coast of North America. It is currently only dimly aware of the other two: Roman embassies and traders show up fairly often since Romans started sailing directly from Egypt to S. China, but most in the Imperial Bureaucracy don’t consider them worth much attention. (Celtic traders, which come by way of S. Africa to avoid high tolls at the Roman Suez-equivalent, generally don’t bother to visit the Inner City). But as the Celts push west in North America, a collision is likely: Celtic society, in spite of the whole thrall thing, is generally a lot freer than the Chinese, and generally healthier and more prosperous, as well, and does not take well to being treated as “barbarians.”

Roman society is also more democratic than the Chinese, although even more densely administered (Romans have made good use of the printing press and paper, which travelled west along the Silk Road), and rather conservative: the Republic has been around for nearly two and a half millennia, and their certainty in the superiority of their way of doing things is a perennial favorite for parody at Celtic Bardic shows and contests. Of course, things have changed over time: the state has shrunk and expanded over the centuries, and for a bit was entirely confined to N. Africa, the Levant, and the boot-heel of Italy; in various eras the Republic was effectively an oligarchy or even an elective dictatorship of sorts; the old Gods are long gone; the bureaucracy has expanded enormously; slavery has been replaced by serfdom which is being replaced by sharecropping, etc. The Republic probably has less in common with the Republic at the time of the Carthaginian Wars than the Qing China of OTL had with the Han – but if you ask the Romans, the Republic is still the Republic, and they know the _right_ way of doing things.


9.) European Community – in this world, the US and the Europeans parted ways early on after the US nearly started WWIII over Korea, and the world suffered through an essentially three-way cold war between a leftist EC, the USSR, and a right-wing US. The USSR is still around, although it has slowly been pulling out of Eastern Europe for a while (Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia are currently neutral buffer states, and East Germany is now in the EC), and the economy is only just ticking over. Although the EC is much more militarized than OTL, it is also more leftist and Scandinavian-liberal (whether this has anything to do with the fact that Italy has so far avoided negative population growth is hard to say). Terrorism and proxy wars are common throughout the third world, although relations have improved between the US and the EC since the election of a moderate US president like McCain, while the USSR is slowly shuffling towards capitalism while keeping the screws in tight and continuing to keep its hand in meddling in the Third World, if only to dispel the notion the USSR is no longer a first-tier power. (One thing that makes this USSR less likely to fall apart is that it has worked a lot harder at Russification than OTL: all the Baltic States and OTL Kazakhstan have Russian-speaking majorities nowadays).

South Africa is still an Apartheid state (and suffers from serious internal turmoil) backed by the US, and Arab-cleansed Israel is even more messed up than OTL. (The Third World is more messed up than OTL generally, although a few African countries are doing OK as European Community Associated States – Morocco, Libya, Senegal, Cape Verde – and Tunisia and Gabon are actually member states). Due to instability and terrorism in the Middle East, and even more immigration from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Americas than OTL, anti-Islamic bigotry was probably higher than OTL before 2001, but we’ve left them in the dust since then. Afghanistan is run by a hard-left Soviet-allied government, and Pakistan (which suffered a Soviet attack as retaliation for Mujahideen support) is a Sharia-law Islamic dictatorship. Yugoslavia is still around, fairly prosperous, and has moved far enough along towards democracy that it may soon be looking to join the EC.

Bruce
 
Ok - hopefully now we'll get a link on my posts to where the DeviantArt account is...still in the process of putting up my maps...

Bruce
 
5.)Estates-General – a politically somewhat old-fashioned – if prosperous and cultural advanced – world. The leading power, the Kingdom of America, is a rather loose, multi-lingual association of 72 states (roughly as autonomous as Swiss cantons) under a Bourbon-descended (the French did rather better here in their 18th century contest with the UK) monarchy which chooses successors by adoption rather than birth and which still maintains some genuine power, if not so much as an OTL US President, and has no less than three administrative houses. The member states include former French, British, Spanish, and Swedish colonies, a couple Native American states, and some states (such as Swiss New Basel) founded in the interior as deliberately nationalist projects. It includes all of North America north of Central America and a lot of the Caribbean. It is a rather more “European” state than the OTL US, with respect to sexual morals, public healthcare, pro-city tax policies, etc.

Technology is roughly OTL, although for some reason this world was slower to embrace the car: road systems in North America and Europe are inferior to OTL, and the American railroad system is vastly superior to OTL. Biotech is actually more advanced than OTL, and contributes to a remarkably developed science of farming that feeds this world – slightly more populous than ours - rather better than OTL. It is a sophisticated and civilized world, perhaps even a bit over civilized from an OTL viewpoint, a bit decadent and overly florid.

Latin America is divided up a bit differently than OTL, and is sadly full of oligarchies and military dictatorships, although the Brazilian Empire is fairly democratic and Argentina is both a democracy and a first-world country, one of the worlds’ richest (and has absorbed OTL Uruguay). Colonialism never took over all of Africa in this TL, and most African states have a monarch, (the Kingdom of Egypt, the Federation of Mali, Ethiopia, Ashantee) albeit for show in many countries where the Army or the Party actually runs things. (A large chunk of the Congo basin is ruled by a dynasty founded by a European adventurer, which has slowly “blackened” through intermarriage with the locals over the last three generations). The Habsburgs reign as Holy Roman Emperors, but don’t actually rule all that much through most of the German Empire, which is an amorphous sprawling federation including parts of OTL Italy and Poland (there was no Napoleon in this world’s version of the French Revolution, the Holy Roman Empire was never abolished, and the French Monarchy was restored earlier with fewer Grand Coalitions tramping all over the place).

The Ottoman Empire has reconstituted itself as a federal monarchy (it lost its Arab regions in a series of early 20th century revolts backed by the Kingdom of Egypt, but still includes quite a bit of the Balkans) while Arabia still ended up under the rule of those F***ers, the Saudis, but Iran is a republic (Islamic, theoretically, but actually pretty liberal. The current president is of the female persuasion). A fairly civilized (albeit with some rather sexist Modesty Laws in force through many of the component provinces) Jewish-Arab federation occupies what OTL would be Israel, Jordan, and the Occupied Territories, and there is currently talk of the Lebanese (a smaller and more Christian state than OTL) joining. The relationship between Christian and Islamic nations is generally fairly cordial: there was less of a scramble for Middle Eastern colonies than OTL, and combined with more successful modernization there is more respect on one side and less humiliation on the other.

China is still ruled by an emperor, and is about as developed as OTL Indonesia. India is a Federal Republic – which includes some still-existing princely states. There is a purely Jewish state in East Africa, in the high country SE of Lake Victoria. The British Empire is a loose federation of monarchies under the (nominal) rule of the King of England – the membership of the South African federation, a mess of Boers, British, and native states (no Apartheid, fortunately) being particularly nominal. Russia is currently divided into six states, down one from last month; General Roumyantsev claims to see “light at the end of the tunnel”; Japan rules Korea and the Philippines, having picked them up from Spain in a war a while back.
Ok, when did you break into my house and steal my TL notes?
:mad:
;)
:D
 
10.) Communaute Globale – an aggressively democratic, revolutionary-republican world where the French revolution did rather better (although the original POD substantially pre-dates 1789). Rich and high-tech, it also suffers from sharp political divisions and a tradition of revolutionary violence. The world is dominated by the “Communaute Globale”, an alliance of democracies headed by the United States of Europe, a French-led socialist-democratic confederation stretching from Portugal and still Gaelic-speaking Ireland to the Polish-Russian border, descending from a successful democratic uprising against a Napoleon-equivalent.

Other member states include much of Latin America, some territories in Africa, Australia-NZ, as OTL settled by the British, and, of course, almost all of America north of the Rio Grande. There is no US in Communaute N. America: there is a Greater New England stretching through upstate NY to Wisconsin and Illinois, an independent New Netherlands in OTL southern NY and New Jersey (remember that early POD), an independent Confederacy (here known as Virginia), an independent Greater Texas including much of the West, a French Kingdom of Canada including much of the Northern Plains, and a Spanglish-speaking independent California, not to mention more generously proportioned Indian reservations than OTL. The Pacific NW belongs to the Japanese.

Hostile to the Communaute is the Japanese-Russian alliance: the Japanese Empire is authoritarian, as is the Russian Empire, and although they fought a couple wars in the early 20th century, they are currently allied in the face of the hostility of the democracies to their regulated societies. Japan rules Formosa and NW America including Alaska (Korea was spun off as a mostly independent state under the enlightened despotism of Prince Sato in the 90’s, as a sop to Korean nationalism), while Russia holds roughly the territory of OTL USSR before WWII: between them they have managed to keep China fragmented into a number of warlord states, puppets of one or the other. Russia also holds Mongolia, northern Iran, and Chinese Turkestan.

India (here “Hindustan”: the Muslim NW separated as OTL) is a federation rather looser than OTL’s India, with a number of largely independent princedoms, tribal territories, free cities, etc, but is also rather richer. Due to the problems of getting all of its ducks in a row, India is a strict neutral in foreign affairs. Africa is post-colonial and divided into rather more states than OTL, as is the area of OTL Indonesia and Malaysia. The states into which Europe is divided are mostly smallish republics rather than big ethnic nations (the Federal French Union, which includes the OTL Rhineland, the Walloon parts of Belgium, Catalonia, and part of NW Italy, is an exception, as is the Kingdom of the Netherlands). Scotland and Wales are loosely part of a federal Britain, a republic since the 1907 revolution. The left-wing Republic of Brazil, OTOH, is bigger than OTL, including Argentina and Uruguay.

Although Japan only took light damage, New England and Virginia still haven’t entirely recovered from the Short War of ’67, which involved nuclear weapons and led to the current international regulation of their use and production (which the Communaute nations and the Autocracies are always accusing each other of violating). Political turbulence and violence are common in many places: rump Boer South Africa is plagued by racial strife, the Chinese dictatorships are always having problems, and ethnic and political violence are common in much of Africa. Violent protests, strikes, civil disobedience, etc. are rather more prevalent in the developed democracies than OTL, and “professional stirrer up of shit” is a job description stated with pride. Visitors from other TLs are likely to find the locals rather scarily intense. (Especially the Brazilians)

The Middle East, alas, is a bit of a mess: although not pestered by Israelis, the Arabs are as almost as conflicted about modernity as OTL, and the Autocracies and the Democracies contend for influence. Efforts to unify the Arab lands have generally ended in tears, the last squabble as to which Arab state was to provide the core around which Pan-Arabia would coalesce having ended in a (fortunately quite small-scale) exchange of nuclear weapons. The leader of the Islamic Republic of Egypt is the most internationally well-known Arab politician of this TL – and he’s as whacky as OTL 1980s Ghadaffi.

Technology is quite advanced, and biotech – gene therapy, engineered super-plants, etc. – is well ahead of OTL. Aerospace is also advanced: there are factories and power satellites in orbit, along with some fairly nasty (non-nuclear) orbital weapons which help keep another major war from breaking out. Art is often wildly innovative, and a faith in progress is still largely unsullied in this world. There are also innovations in religion – the revolutionary “cult of the supreme being” of OTL in this world developed into a genuine form of pantheistic religion, and has over fifty million followers (and really bugs the hell out of the numerous and vocal atheists of this world, even more so than the mainstream Christians).


11.) Prime – a civilized, sort-of-Edwardian TL, dominated by a massive British Empire including most of N. America, Africa, India, the Middle East, Japan, etc. Computers run on gears, electronics use vacuum tubes, airships are plentiful, and everyone travels by train. On the other hand, they also have nuclear power, cheap universal electrical public transportation, much more use of solar power than OTL, and advanced medical gene therapy and genetic engineering of food plants. (Babbage was more successful than OTL, and there has been a sort of low-tech “internet” – mechanical computers, telegraph lines, and home teletype – since the 1890s).

Constitutional monarchy is the norm in this world, as is a fussy, old-fashioned attitude that at its best manifests itself as a deep concern for professionalism and warm hospitality, but at its worst can be stiflingly elitist and stuffy. There is little censorship, but no TV studio of importance would have the poor taste to put on what passes for entertainment on OTL television – let alone the strong meat of Marketplace or Roman Republic earth. Keeping up Appearances is very important. Another notable thing about local thinking is an emphasis on style – the notion of “form subordinate to function” is a blasphemy followed only by the crazy Integralists of the Italian dictatorship.

Population world-wide is rather lower than OTL, only about 2.2 billion – effective contraception has been around for quite a while, and British America (~Canada + US east of the Rockies) has only about 120 million people. Indeed, most of the world’s nations have equivalents of the UK “Bureau of Population”, which through subtle propaganda and incentives prevents economically destructive population declines. (North America also includes Arcadia, a mostly French state in OTL Northern Quebec and the land part of OTL Newfoundland).

The world is generally peaceful, although a recent conflict between the empires of Siam and Vietnam over what is Laos OTL was only resolved by international negotiation after a bloody conflict. Mexico, including Central America, California and the Rocky Mountain SW, is more mestizo and Indian than OTL, and has an emperor. OTL Alaska and the Pacific NW is a Russian republic, independent of the Rodinia since the 30’s. South America is mostly republics, and more politically fragmented than OTL: a former plethora of dictatorships have generally turned democratic thanks to Imperial carrots and sticks (the Empire has most of their economies in its pocket). Germany, ruled over by the Habsburgs (also rulers of Hungary), is placid and socialist. (Well, most of Germany. Prussia, a separate state, suffers from considerable tension between Germans and the Poles which make up 40% of the population).

Russia, after an unstable period of coups and military rule, is a shaky constitutional monarchy. France is also still a monarchy, while the Empire of China is perhaps the second most powerful political union on the planet, but is largely uninterested in events taking place outside its bailiwick and international affairs outside of trade. Around 70% of non-Chinese mankind is either part of the British Empire, allied with it, or economically intermeshed with it. A few small African states were never directly incorporated into the Empire, but have been effectively part of it since the late 1800s. Most of the Middle East has been absorbed into the Imperial system, and the Wahabii are just a kooky cult stirring up trouble in the desert interior of the Kingdom of Arabia. Indonesia, oddly, was Italian up until the 1980s.

There have been no major world wars in the last century, aside from a messy 1922 inter-German conflict which ended Prussian influence in Germany proper. Women’s rights are approximately OTL in Europe and N. America, but male and female dress are quite conservative, pre-1920s generally speaking, although it is socially acceptable to wear (loose) trousers for women in professions which make skirts inconvenient. Language is florid, economics are liberal (in the old-fashioned sense) – which is compensated for by an organized working class which in the Empire runs its own massive private insurance program. Environmentalism is a Big Deal, with most countries moving away from polluting fuel sources since the 1960s and energetic efforts to maintain unspoiled wilderness since the early 1900s: even street lights are designed to shine as much of their light down as possible, to minimize star-obscuring city glare. Television is only just starting to catch on, but radio theatre has been popular since the 1930s, and movies have been around almost as long.


12.) Holy Alliance – a world in which the democratic revolutions were crushed and Czarist Russia dominates the world and extends to the Rhine. Some parts of Europe are outside their control (Switzerland is still neutral, and has nice hotels), but everyone, even the British, are very, very polite to the Czar. The Czar rules Saxony, Prussia, and Sweden as well as the territories the OTL Russian Empire, along with Persia and much of the Balkans including Istanbul: is the recognized Holy Roman Emperor: and holds extensive colonial domains and puppet regimes in Africa, India, and the Pacific. (Australia is Russian). The absolutist French, Austrian and Spanish monarchies are also close “little buddies” of the Czarist regime. Of course, Russian dominance had been greatly enhanced by their being first to develop an atomic weapon, in 1956 – and the Russians have made sure to maintain a monopoly. In a particularly egregious case of bullying, the present Czarina’s grandfather “restored” the unity of the Church, compelling the rejoining the Catholic and Orthodox churches. (Protestantism has been more of a problem, since there is no Protestant Pope to bully).

The Czarist Empire is a fairly nasty and autocratic place, in which torture is a normal part of police work (and master torturers are actually celebrities: many of them sign their work). It is considered a sign of weakness if the police don’t shoot protestors. A majority of Russian peasants are still serfs, although now the property of the Czar rather than individual nobles, and rented out to giant nobleman-owned agricultural combines. Hereditary nobility is the political norm. Women do not have the vote – but then, almost nobody does. Oddly, it’s a quite technologically advanced world, with a Russian colonization of Mars under way and human cloning recently perfected, in spite of the fact that most Russian peasants have a standard of living little better than OTL mid-1920s. Healthcare, however, is fairly modern: official policy is to encourage reproduction, to allow flooding border areas with Russians – OTL Manchuria, Mongolia, Tibet, Xianjing, central Asia, and the Baltic States all have solid Russian majorities. Art and architecture tend towards the elaborate and baroque: military uniforms are rather fabulous.

It’s not entirely an evil place, either – the Russian nobility is very racially tolerant, and willing to welcome wealthy Asians or non-Slav Europeans into their ranks, as long as they at least pretend to be Orthodox (and, of course, are male). Ethnic nationalism is considered a noxious idea, and “Russian” is a flexible enough concept to accommodate Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Germans, and even (non-Muslim) Turks and Tatars. Jews are second-class citizens, but a far more confident Czarist regime sees no reason to organize Pogroms. There is also a fair amount of noblesse oblige, and serious efforts are made to avoid famine, relieve victims of natural disasters, etc. (Admittedly, some of the methods involved aren’t very much welcomed by the “beneficiaries”, such as the habit of forcibly moving masses of peasants from overpopulated areas to the frontiers or to colonies far from the Rodina-mat. )

Not that the rest of the world is particularly pleasant. Britain still maintains at least the forms of parliamentary democracy, but censorship is fierce, property qualifications for the vote remain, and the numerous secret police ruthlessly persecute anything which looks like “socialism” among the working classes. (Marx and Engels have their intellectual equivalents in this world: they ended their careers dangling at the end of ropes or “shot while trying to escape”). Austria and Spain are worse, while in France the secret police, closely tied to their Russian counterparts, are considered generally more powerful than the rather easygoing French monarchs.

There is no US: the US revolution was crushed and its leaders hanged. Said colonies successfully revolted on the third try, though (round two had to so with slavery), while the British were busy being defeated by the Russians in the Persian War of 1922-1927, and had to be squashed again by a Russian-led coalition in the 1930s. (The Russians “generously” restored the area to the British). The area of the OTL US is currently divided up between French (Quebec), Russian (Pacific NW and a number of east coast bases and enclaves), British direct rule (California –nabbed from the Spanish in the 19th century -, New England/Jersey/coastal NY area), Mexican/Spanish (the SW, Florida, Louisiana), the Principality of Pennsylvania (ruled by the British Heir Apparent, OTLs Prince of Wales) and two weak, corrupt English-speaking Dukedoms run by local aristocrats centered in the slave-holding (now serf-holding, if rather consistently black serfs) SE. A large part of the center of the continent is given over to Native American reservations: the Czars have often fancied themselves as the protectors of weak and primitive peoples.

Spanish America also followed a path of devolution, but it’s highly conservative elites were less revolt-prone, and so managed to get to where nowadays they are only very theoretically ruled from Spain, being divided into a number of Kingdoms run by a local aristocracy, while Brazil has become the tail that wags the Imperial dog. (Spain still directly rules some outlying areas – Texas, Cuba, and a few other bits). Over the last quarter century, the Americas have become increasingly economically independent of Europe, and don’t pay much attention to the latest rumblings from St. Petersburg: this Has Been Noted, but as long as the Americas remain aristocrat-dominated, the Czar probably won’t add to the huge complications already on his plate. (Religious terrorism, among those who violently disapprove of the re-unification of the Church, is on the rise again).

The Russians sensibly decided that swallowing China whole might be a bit much, so although the Czar rules Manchuria and Korea and Japan, China proper is still ruled by its own emperor, albeit a puppet kept on his throne by close to a million Czarist troops, and Russian missionaries walk carefully. What parts of Africa and Asia are not ruled by the Russians is ruled by the British, the French, and the Spaniards: the Netherlands, having failed to suppress the loud pro-democratic voices in their press and literature, and given refuge to various persons not approved of by the autocracies, ended up under a joint Austrian-Russian thumb, with their colonial possessions carved up. The various states making up the fragmented remnants of the former Ottoman Empire in Asia retain a sort of tenuous independence, as puppets of one power or another (although Russia has annexed Jerusalem and the surrounding area, even the Czar lacks the gall to establish a governor in the Holy Places of Islam).

The ideal of a pure aristocracy of birth ruling the world is more honored in the breach than in reality, since once a merchant or industrialist of lowly birth reaches a certain level of wealth, he is expected to make some princely contributions to the Czarist state and be granted a patent of nobility (if he does not, he can probably expect a visit from the secret police: being rich, powerful, and not a member of the nobility is a status that cannot be allowed for long – one way or another). In other countries things are even more slipshod – in the various principalities of English-speaking North America, the titles established by the conquerors are largely ignored, and the place is full of wealthy oligarchs who don’t even bother to conceal their lowly origin, while in England there is still an actual Parliament, although made (just) tolerable by the fact that it is for Wealthy People Only and is currently packed with regime loyalists. Things are currently a bit unstable: the Czar and his two sons were blown to a fine pink mist by German nationalist terrorists (low on the Okhrana’s priority list up till then) and the Czarina’s position is shaky, especially given her reputation for liberal (say, OTL UK around 1815) thinking.

Bruce
 
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