ALTERNATE NOTIONS (Miscellaneous Thread for ‘Books and Media’

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

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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.