ALTERNATE NOTIONS (Miscellaneous Thread for ‘Books and Media’

Should there be a ‘Miscellaneous’ thread for this forum?

  • Yes please!

    Votes: 20 90.9%
  • No thank you

    Votes: 2 9.1%

  • Total voters
Here’s another Turtledove thought - it might be interesting to depict technology in the future of the UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS series as a compromise between the light Steampunk of THE TWO GEORGES and technology as we know it, if only because the Dominion of Ontario and the United States of Atlantis are a perfect excuse for all those NAU/USA crossovers fellow fans of the novel may have been pondering.

Bonus points if the Dominion of Ontario still uses a red ensign as late as the 21st Century (in the same way Australia & New Zealand remain deeply attached to their respective Blue Ensigns), all the better to show off how very Anglo-America they are.

“What’s an American?”

A life form from another world, my good fellow.
Having just finished re-reading FATHERLAND, it seems only reasonable to share my opinion on this particular classic of the genre.

It is, in fact, Really Good; even after further decades of scholarship on the Third Reich have cast doubt on some of it's conclusions, it's depiction of a Third Reich Triumphant at least feels remarkably plausible - and it helps that the core tragedy still works like gangbusters, even if the core mystery remains decent, rather than Great.

(Also, if nothing else, this feels like a story with more than one story to tell; as mentioned elsewhere I'm fascinated by the storytelling potential of a British Empire/Commonwealth of Nations obliged to deal with a Crown in Exile (not to mention a pretender on the throne in Great Britain itself), but the Long War between a US-backed Russia and the Third Reich has likely produced more than it's fair share of memorable tales (Especially if one factors in the likely tension between Russians & Americans).

That's not even going into how complicated the situation in the colonies of various occupied European powers is likely to become ...
If nothing else, one can easily imagine the account of 'Charlie' Maguire's escape to (escape from?) Switzerland, followed by the struggle to get her findings published (exacerbated by the Kennedy Administration's being obliged to spin like a Warhawk's propellor or see it's detente with the Third Reich become a nail in their coffin rather than the jewel in their crown) is likely to be interesting in it's own right - especially if the Third Reich is able to throw out spoilers (perhaps even demanding Miss Maguire's extradition for the murder of "Alfred Stark" or something equally devious).

Oh, and I'm fairly confident the Third Reich's propaganda department will spare no expense to paint the late Xavier March as an officer who suffered a psychotic break - taking advantage of his holding Jaeger at gunpoint, then going on a joy ride to avoid the awkward question of how he managed to escape the Gestapo by claiming he was never actually in their hands (Unless, of course, the authorities decide to punish Jaeger for his failure by claiming that the latter managed to spring his old chum).
I have a vague notion for some Timeline 191 analogue of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (I’ve mooted the notion of an episode from such a series where CS & US troops of 1941 find themselves bumping into soldiers from a timeline more like our own* but while ‘Border State’ suggests itself as a working title for the episode, I’m not sure what to call the series.

In any case this episode would probably take have been made in AD 1961 and might well be themed around the notion of “Two nations divided by a common language” (and still further divided by the confusions arising from two very different histories).

The only other notion for this episode that occurs to me is that it involves a (non-fatal) friendly fire incident that sees two sentries in a remote post on a dark night Very Urgently trying to clarify whether they ought to be shooting at each other - and having a deeply odd conversation after each identifies themself as a soldier in the US Army (despite one soldier having a uniform entirely unlike that of the other).

Ah! What if these soldiers are played by actors who happen to be full brothers or twins?

*i.e. One where the US won the War of Secession, but not quite our own history; think in terms of KAISERREICH imagining FUHRERREICH.
Have just read THE ALTERATION by Mr Kingsley Amis and was very favourably impressed; it's a very human (sometimes painfully human) tale from a setting that feels as if it could support rather more than just one story* - and I'd bet that the fallout from the 'Grand Crusade' mooted in one of the last chapters, then bloodily concluded at some point before the book's epilogue offers a very fertile field for such tales.

*I have become convinced that the acid test of a really good Alternate History timeline is whether it feels more like a world rich with dramas rather than a single-story scenario.
I have also just finished Mr Philip K. Dick's THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (and am giving thought to watching the television series of the same name); it's definitely an interesting read, though in some respects it feels more like a slice of life from a specific portion of Hell than a single story per se (It's also intriguing to note that the story concludes with the idea that this horrible, horrible timeline is a painful illusion to be shaken off on the path to enlightenment - which is interesting, given how very High Concept/implausible the basic scenario was).

It's rather good, as I'm sure we all know, though not wholly to my taste.
THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS makes me wonder all the more intensely what actor Mr Sam Raimi might have been thinking of when Doctor Strange was name-dropped on SPIDER-MAN 2.

This is because the new DOCTOR STRANGE film is so very, Very Good (Quite probably the best superhero film I’ve seen since WONDER WOMAN - and I’ve seen some good ones since).
I have started watching THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE tv series and - like the book - it's rather good; interesting to see how this series does a really good job of evoking (and broadening) the setting, while rather casually rewriting the plot of the book (an applying correspondingly vast changes to the lead characters as a result).

Possibly the greatest single triumph of that first episode was the scene with that highway patrolman - as perfect an avatar of the sheer banality of Evil in this setting as one could ever ask for and all the more chilling for his perfectly sincere helpfulness.
I have, in fact, also just finished watching the FATHERLAND television special from AD 1994 starring the late Rutger Hauer - another adaptation that does credit to the original, while honouring it's source more in the breach than in the observance of strict fidelity (In truth the film might have benefitted from a slightly longer running time, since while the measures taken to compress & simplify the plot are actually quite successful, that still costs the characters a certain degree of high definition - though the performances definitely help to compensate for that*).

*Even if it is downright strange to see a reasonably happy Xavier March before the Big Unveiling (though for my money making him a bit less generally miserable does help give the finale an extra sting, perhaps even more so than the literary original).

If nothing else, this TV special does make me wonder what the FATHERLAND timeline looks like by 1992-1994; easy to imagine an interview with an older Charlie Maguire (looking back on her career as a reporter with a knack for getting herself hip deep in the thick of it) giving us at least a few insights into the future of this particular timeline.
Watching THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, it struck me that the SS-America could very well have worn the grey, rather than the black uniform - as most Foreign SS units did in our own history - with a shield in the national colours and a national symbol in place of the SS rune at their collar (c.f. the British Free Corps).

My mental image - and rather a nasty one - is of a flat topped shield with a blue bar (on which ‘USA’ in white letters) with three stripes red-white-red (a backhanded reference to the ‘Stars & Bars’ quite as much as Old Glory); collar badge probably a corruption of the US army colonel’s rank badge - itself a derivative of the Great Seal of the United States.
I've been thinking a bit about the population figures for Mr Harry Turtledove's UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS circa AD 2022 - specifically the number of residents in the five largest cities on the "Island Subcontinent" - and, having done a bit of mathematics based on the map at the other end of the link below (Identifying the Canadian provinces & US states comprising the territories shown, then totalling the population figures for the aforesaid after rounding them UP if above 500,000 and DOWN if below that figure) arrived at an approximate total of 139,000,000 Atlanteans in this year.

<The map in question>

Based on that figure, I then determined the percentage of total population (US) represented by the 5 most populous cities in the USA as we know it and then applied these percentages to determine the possible populations of their Atlantean equivalents: the problem with this method (and, by extension, the one used to arrive at the total Atlantean population) is that the American figures represent a population with a much larger continent from which to draw on and move around in (in fact arguably TWO whole continents, it being much easier to cross land borders than a body of water).

Geography may not be destiny, but it certainly shapes history, and the UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS is shaped by a geography both subtly & blatantly different from our own.

Anyway, with that caveat, here are the Top 5 (Now I just need to decide which cities to assign these numbers to!):-

(1) 3,753,000

(2) 1,668,000

(3) 1,112,000

(4) 973,000

(5) 695,000

Comparing the Atlantean Top Five with their US equivalents, the Atlantean #1 (Hanover? Avalon?) is slightly behind Los Angeles but a whole million clear of Chicago (#3 USA as of AD 2022): #2 Atlantean (I really love the idea of Freetown being perennial runner-up, given it's tendency to come off second best in the novels but one suspects that city may have a hard time holding onto the "Number 2 with a bullet" slot by the dawn of the 20th century) is larger than Phoenix (US #5), but smaller than Houston (US #4).

The last Atlantean city to equal or surpass a US city in the Top Ten is #3 (which is larger than San Jose, but smaller than Dallas - putting it between US #9 & #10).

Atlantis as a whole outranks Mexico (#10 in the world:127,575,530) but is less populous than the Russian Federation (#9 in the world: 144,373,540).
I’m going to revive this thread with some speculation on how the Soviet and later Russian space program proceeded in Children of Apollo by Mark Whittington.

For the N-1 rocket the third try was the charm,N-1 #6L successfully flying in December 1971 with an LOK model that was designated with a Kosmos number (500?). The spacecraft was recovered after a week in space and a successful mission.

In spring 1972 a Proton would launch the Salyut 1 civilian space station,occupied by the Soyuz 12 and 13 crews (Soyuz 10 and 11 repeated the Soyuz 4/5 mission in the spring of 1971). Almaz 1 (no Salyut cover name) was launched at the end of the year and suffered the OTL fate of Salyut 2. Another LOK model was launched by N-1 #7L and flew around the Moon,designated Zond 9.

1973 and early 1974 saw Salyut 2 repeat Salyut 1’s mission, with the Soyuz 14 crew staying 30 days,Soyuz 15 77 days,and Soyuz 16 112 days. The last crew of this space station contacted the second Skylab (no Goddard Lab here,nosirree) crew for Christmas. Zond 10 repeated Zond 9’s mission and the Mars 6/7 probes successfully landed.

After the launch failure of Almaz 2 in spring 1974,the manned portion of Almaz was cancelled and the TKS redirected as a Soyuz replacement.

Unlike the US outsourcing its Shuttle program to commercial entities,the Soviets would develop their own Shuttles by the government. To the end of efficiency,the Soviet space agencies were formally combined in early 1975 as Soyuzkosmos. Boris Chertok became Chief Designer :).
So, given that there is next to nothing canon about the preceding presidential election before Bartlet's first term in the West Wing verse, how do we know there was no strong third party challenger/ Perot analogue?

This internal ponder led me to a soft plot involving a friend of Leo's that he would bring up to Jed during the '98 primary: A fellow Vietnam vet aviator POW who had become a liberal "maverick" congressman in/ around Atlanta, Georgia who left office after personal issues (the congressman flew to florida to get his kids and his ex-wife out of a domestic abuse situation and subsequently punched out the stepfather before flying back to Georgia.) Shortly after this he doesn't run for reelection but a perot expy offers asks him to be his vice and he accepts.

Instead of like Perot's antics, this character instead suddenly drops dead of natural causes and our hero takes the top spot and convinces a northern African American governor or mayor friend of his to run with him.

First and foremost, this dream team won't win. Bartlet/ Hoynes will still win in 1998, there probably wouldn't be any other major characters from the show appearing, and I doubt any major original characters would be implied to appear later, in canon, in the show, save for anything to do with the non-canon 'Isaac and Ishmael;' episode.

This I can promise at least.

So, does it at least sound entertaining?
Tiro you and the rest of the forum have got to read C J Carey`s Widowland and Queen`s Gambit books. There set in an England that has made peace with Nazi Germany and has Edward VIII on the throne. Book 2 has all of the intrigue you want in that Fatherland sequel. But with Eisenhower instead of Kennedy as that is set in 1952.
Awesome thread as well I love your Twilight Zone idea maybe have the ending to that be two shots against a black screen.
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Thank You most kindly to the fellows who added a little something to the thread in my long absence!

At this point I can only apologise for coming back from obscurity with something so shamelessly trivial:

For some time now I’ve been trying to puzzle out how Atlantean English (I.E. English from THE UNITED STATES OF ATLANTIS) ought to differ from American and British English, given that dialect began to diverge in the 15th century, rather than the 17th (Look up the Paxton Letters of you want an idea of what English looked like in the mid-1400s).

Then It struck me that, in any adaptation, the only logical way to represent the local dialect is to split the difference between British and American English - the local dialect would be quite literally Mid Atlantic, like (and the same goes for Atlantean French & Spanish too: split the difference between Old World and New World versions of the language).

Now if only I were a clever enough linguist to know what that would look or sound like!😉
In other language-related speculation, I was interested by CROSSTIME TRAFFIC: GUNPOWDER EMPIRE’s mentions of neoLatin: I’m assuming that a linguist looking to conjure up a vision or a grammar for that language would probably look at the Romance languages and ‘average out’ the changes in those daughter tongues of Old Latin.

Put simply, if both Italian and Romanian show evidence of similar changes, that change should probably be applied to neoLatin.

Now, let’s start puzzling over how much OLD Latin will have changed between the Age of Augustus and the late 21st century!

… also, what calendar does Agrippan Rome use: would there have been a pseudo-Gregorian update to the old Julian reckoning or would locals cry “If it was good enough for the Divine Julius, it’s OK for me!”
I’ve been thinking a bit about A DIFFERENT FLESH - still one of my favourite works by Doctor Turtledove - and have been especially interested in puzzling out the most interesting focus for a story (or more than one story) exploring that world: my best guess was that a National Park somewhere in the Americas (possibly near the border between two or more nations?) would allow maximum flexibility, in terms of permitting one to tell stories focusing on human society, sim bands, the rather prehistoric local wilderness, government, private society, underworld activity and the history (not to mention the intersection) of all the above.

Also, I am absolutely determined that the local California MUST use a sabre-toothed tiger in place of a grizzly on it’s flag (As one of those handy little “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it” moments of visual shorthand).
It has just struck me that the ‘Freedom War’ of Atlantis (Their equivalent to the American War of Independence) could be a nice change of pace for war gamers who want to stick with a more or less historically plausible 18th century, but fancy a change of scene or two (Since you can use much the same models, but would have license to deploy some interesting new paint schemes: also, the rather longer history of settlement in Atlantis would allow you to use scenery from other periods - to represent construction dating back to the time when the Wars of the Roses were still current events).

The only problem would be puzzling out how to represent the Atlantean wilderness (Perhaps one could look out some suitable foliage from sets representing prehistory?).
I wonder if there’s an alternate history story or two depicting a world where the Von Braun paradigm of space exploration took effect , ie a wheel shaped space station,ferry rockets,that cool-ass lunar lander with a spherical crew cabin on top.