Conquistador Revisited

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Strategos' Risk, Sep 8, 2005.

  1. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    I just re-read Conquistador by S.M. Stirling lately. On second thought, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.

    * I still dislike the characters, but it doesn’t really detract from the book itself. The archetypes there… were not the archetypes I prefer. Also, I’m really annoyed by the whole New Virginian mentality. I guess I’m a world-ist. The Othersiders are as alien and similar to me as the Combine from Half Life 2.

    * Like in 1632, the characters know way too much about history. The thing that annoys me more, though, is how they all know about alternate history. Alternate history is still a niche genre in present day, and I hardly think there will be many films by 2009. It simply feels unrealistic that everyday people will be familiar with alternate history, much less Nordic ubermensch or Confederate-descended superheroines.

    * The book didn’t bore me. I liked the world-building. The thing that detracts the most was the small type and the lack of a map to follow the action.

    * I was actually sad when the book ended. For a >400 page book with tiny font, it seemed like it was over too quickly. After all, the heroes have only been in New Virginia for what, two weeks? I would have liked to know more about the world, and its inhabitants perceptions.

    Now, my last two ideas for building on existing series failed utterly, but I'm still thinking of ways of expanding Conquistador. Suppose the ending wasn't as dramatic as it was, and everything went to normal. What would have happened in Stirling's version of the future? If there was an Indian-Pakistani War, or a Sino-Taiwanese War, do you think the Rolfes would allow highly educated, wealthy Asians into New Virginia?
     
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  2. Tyr air in space

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    I liked it.

    In 1632 they knew too much about history? I thought they knew too little. They let a lot of common sense things any holywood film could have told you slip.


    For alternate history- well they have discovered proof alternate history isn't entirely fiction but it does have a major basis in reality. That would garner a lot of interest. Did dislike the name checking of other authors though. Could have used something like: 'Oh and Stirling' 'Oh I love him' 'He's great, very attractive too' 'Oh yeah I'm not gay but with a man like that'....

    The lack of a map was bad. For someone used to California fine but I had very little idea about most of the mentioned places.

    Who is to say things won't go on normally? They could make some modifcations to the gate and open it to one of the alternate timelines that diverged when NV was cut off.
     
  3. Count Dearborn Headmaster of St. Trinians

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    The town in 1632 had a couple of libraries, and weren't there a few history buffs in the town also.

    I think the Rolfes would have let anybody in who had enough money.
     
  4. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    Eh. My comments are the same as last time. Pretty bad.
     
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  5. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    No, they specifically say they don't want to let blacks or Asians in.

    But, it's a feudal state set up by a man nostalgic for the antebellum south, so no loss anyway.
     
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  6. NFR Kanadskiy Namestnik

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    And here is the old thread, if anybody's interested.

    I disliked the whole set up so much I consider giving a gate to the Soviet Union of 1984 to be a great improvement. I will also pay a thousand dollars to see the face of the Rolfites as they realize that the Aztects getting Marxist ideas would be the least of their worries.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2005
  7. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    Actually, they specifically say they don't want to let blacks in. The book says that there are few enough Asians beyond the Gate to make them stand out, but there never is any distinct anti-Asian sentiment.

    And, again, think about how white-washed prosperous and industrious much of modern East Asians are, and the growing South Asian middle class. I'd think Old Man Rolfe would accept a few motherboard-making families if there is a sudden influx of refugees from an Asian war. It would put the whole set up into a dilemna, though.

    Also, I wonder how they would react if Obama was elected president in 2012.
     
  8. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

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    True. But it's a society based on a nostalgic america founded by men who tortured Japs on Okinawa.

    Mind, the entire history on the other side is really screwed up. A Ind-European China? The Germans overran the Celts? Persian civilization obliterated?
     
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  9. G.Bone lurks

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    I actually read the book. It felt as if the writer was trying to make a "kinder" KKK. As a novel it was kind of....cheap.
     
  10. FirstCitizen1 Member

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    (Chuckles To Himself)

    I wonder, if you did a survey of ATLs in published fiction, how many would have ones in which it was equal or better for minorities to live in, and how many would be worse for minorities to live in. I haven't read the book, so I'm not commenting on it. But dang, can't the 'mud races' ever catch a break? ;)
     
  11. Ivan Druzhkov Aspiring Apparatchik

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    There's the Insh'Allah duology, but that's mostly a satire.
     
  12. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    Isn't anyone interested in what might have happened after Conquistador if the Gate was still the same? Would New Virginia never be discovered? Will the natives never advance in civilization? I think the whole set-up has dystopian undertones- after all, totalitarian states like in 1984 andBrave New World are meant to be perpetual motion-like, never being able to be compromised. The New Virginian attempt to keep the natives dumb forever attempts to be perpetual, as well. And that's eerie.

    Also, the book didn't go into enough detail about the higher civilizations. So the European states around the Mediterranean are the most advanced, and have paper and printing. What else? Do they all have Greek architecture and customs? Do they have feudalism or semi-democracy? What kind of culture?

    Again, I think the New Virginians are rather fascinating, like a civilization frozen in time. As a world-ist, their anti-OTL sentiments make me think of them as the same level as the Covenant or the Combine... hehe.

    But though they're racist, they're not exactly proto-Draka. Yet.
     
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  13. Johnestauffer Member

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    I don't think too much happened in the short period of time the 'hero's' were in New Virginia. There was a lot of background covered in flashbacks and explanations in the text.
    It was an unbalanced society, but as mentioned elsewhere the founders were ex military men. They brought their own attitutes to NV. If certain ethnic groups were not appropriately represented in the 1990's era it was a logical outgrowth of the original founders personnel feelings.
    The primary requiste for membership in NV originally was membership in a specific army unit. Everybody was welcome, warts and all. Heros in war might not necessarily be the best group to establish a new civilization.

    It seemed that the activities necessary to main the facade in our timeline created a lot of the opportunities for criminal behavior.
     
  14. Glen ASB & Left Hand of IAN Moderator

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    Don't know about ATLs in published fiction, but the L-V founded Central African Republic (or the ME version, Republic of Zaire), are pretty darn good places to be non-white.
     
  15. reddie Member

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    The main problem I have with the New Virginian society is its continuing destruction of the Natives. True, the initial die-off was inadvertent (like Rolfe's daughter said, nobody knew about the smallpox etc. in the 1940s) but they're still clearing the continent of them, sixty years later. Its use of the Mesoamericans as cheap-labor is...um, well, maybe I shouldn't bring that up, eh? Close to home or what? Plus their continuing parasitic relationship with the "mainstream" timeline is pretty shitty, too.

    If the timeline Rolfe discovered had no humans (or maybe the Americas had none) then it wouldn't be such a big deal. If David Duke (or Farrakhan)discovers an alternate timeline sans humans and wants an all-white society there, so what, and good riddance. The only plausible objection (and a dubious one, at that) might be the alternate timeline "belongs to all humanity."
     
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  16. reddie Member

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    Heh.

    Upon re-reading my post, I came across a goof: "Farrakhan discovers an ATL and wants an all-white society." Actually, that's an interesting scenario: "Get through the Gate, you cracker devils, the continent belongs to the Nation of Islam."
     
  17. Tyr air in space

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    They aren't clearing the native Americans out though. What of those ones that help them?
    They just occasionally get into fights with violent natives IIRC, they are fine with letting peaceful ones keep to themself.


    The future of the conquistador world- well it seems to me someone would discover how to make these gates before long. In this world they are possible to make and if someone can cobble one together by accident in the 40s and a physicist who is decades out of practice can figure out how it works and replicate it in a day or two can do it then the best scientists on Earth? Certainly.

    I wonder what New Virginias future holds...Will they colonize the new gate world? Is there a finite number of worlds or is there a full on multiverse? Will they try again with the gate for their own world or something close to it?
     
  18. Johnestauffer Member

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    The problem seems to be not in creating the gate but controlling when/where it opens. At the end of the book the Gate had been rebuilt on the NV side but when openned looked into a world with sabertooth tigers if memory serves.
    So much of the Gate seemed to be a fortunate combination of 'things'
    Since the creation was not a controlled action, nobody could really be sure that they were taking exactly the same steps.
    Control of the gate = power.
    I wonder if they were afraid they might open a gate into an truely unfriendly environment and NV would be the victim?
     
  19. Strategos' Risk Oriental Orientalist

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    I'd like to ignore any possibilities of manipulating the Gate. I just want to assume that it didn't get smashed in the end of the book. I did think it was a deux ex machina to have Adrienne race to it, and activate a self-destruct sequence she just happened to have programmed. It would be much simpler if they didn't destroy it.

    So, let's think about Stirling's version of 2009:

    1. There's a national database/stronger anti-terrorist monitoring measures.

    2. The U.S. apparently won both the War in Iraq and the War on Terrorism.

    3. Not sure how Russia is, but it is mentioned that the Central Asian 'Stans are much better.

    4. VR glasses, thin night-vision goggles, Segways in common use. Ugh.

    5. Not really much different.

    So what if it all changed? By this, I suppose there was some sort of settlement that ended the Israel conflict. However, Sol Pearlmutter's family picked up the settlers who left the nation. I think in Stirling's 2009, the world is somehow picking itself up and going back to a 1990s like time.

    However, what if there's a China-Taiwan War, or an Indian-Pakistani one? Again, would New Virginia accept the richest of the emigrants.
     
  20. Tyr air in space

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    It all depends how the universe works in the book though. It could be that a gate made in our world only opens to NV world and a gate opened on NV only opens to that no humans world.