Thanks for your comments and praise Cynric, I will fix that footnote typo when I get a chance. On the matter of rugby and American football, remember that rugby was only invented in the 19th century, supposedly thanks to a chance incident at Rugby public school when someone picked up the ball during a football match (hence the name). If you look back at the update 'Fun and Games' from the last volume, I briefly discuss ball games in LTTW (though it's certainly not my area of expertise) and "H-ball" is the closest analogue to rugby or American football in this setting. In the last update I think I brought up the fact that H-ball is becoming popular in the Novamund as opposed to Authority Football (similar to association football/soccer in OTL), so in that respect there is a similar divide to OTL between gridiron and 'conventional' football, but it applies to both the Americas embracing gridiron rather than just Anglophone North America.

I'm working on another update now, I hope to post it tomorrow to coincide with Volume 1 of LTTW being released on Sea Lion Press!
Thanks for your comments and praise Cynric, I will fix that footnote typo when I get a chance. On the matter of rugby and American football, remember that rugby was only invented in the 19th century, supposedly thanks to a chance incident at Rugby public school when someone picked up the ball during a football match (hence the name). If you look back at the update 'Fun and Games' from the last volume, I briefly discuss ball games in LTTW (though it's certainly not my area of expertise) and "H-ball" is the closest analogue to rugby or American football in this setting. In the last update I think I brought up the fact that H-ball is becoming popular in the Novamund as opposed to Authority Football (similar to association football/soccer in OTL), so in that respect there is a similar divide to OTL between gridiron and 'conventional' football, but it applies to both the Americas embracing gridiron rather than just Anglophone North America.
I find different codes of football quite interesting for some strange reason. I came up with a version that is essentially a cross between Rugby League and American Football (with elements of Canadian Football thrown in).

I'm working on another update now, I hope to post it tomorrow to coincide with Volume 1 of LTTW being released on Sea Lion Press!
I will definitely have to get that.


Part #215: A Girdle ‘Round The World In Forty Minutes

“Mary—don’t forget to send a mobile out for me to the Angel at about one-thirty in the morning. You know what the editor of the Evening Herald is like with his parties and the Prez is hell bent on this sweet-talking offensive to get him on side. I’m not risking the Vitrai at that hour, I want to get the newspapers on side, not appear in them as a victim. Thanks.”

—From the Correspondence of Bes. David Batten-Hale (New Doradist Party--Croydon Urban)​


From “Great Lives” by Patricia Daniels (1979)—

The Great World Race is today often portrayed through means tainted with the bitter hindsight of partisanship, as a proxy contest of enemy nations ready to take up arms against one another at the drop of a hat. There was some truth to this at the beginning of the Race, but by its end it had only succeeded in bringing those nations together in amity.

In 1875 an article by the British academic Professor Andrew Whistler argued that, with increasingly faster steamships coupled to the growth of new railway links such as the Trans-American Railway and the Plate-Lima Trunk, it should now be possible to circumnavigate the world in less than 90 days.[2] This idea spread around the world far more rapidly than 90 days thanks to Lectel: the first transatlantic Lectel submarine cable had come on-stream only the year before and was still filling the news on both sides of the ocean.[3] While relations had already begun to thaw between the ENA and UPSA following events such as the Santa Eufemia Huracán, the two countries remained highly competitive. This was illustrated by the fact that the UPSA rushed out a transatlantic Lectel cable of its own between Recife and Ponta Negra only months later (a much shorter distance to bridge), despite the fact that at present this was a communications link looking for a purpose.[4] Whistler’s idea was widely discussed as a parlour exercise in Europe but seized upon in the Novamund as a new ‘continuation of war by other means’ by the more bloodthirsty members of society both north and south of the equator. The challenge was organised jointly by the Fredericksburg Cornubian newspaper and a Meridian counterpart, La Lupa de Córdoba. Both called for a champion to represent their respective nations and race around the world, trying to both fulfil Whistler’s challenge and defeat their rival.

Many came forward to meet the task and were winnowed down by the newspapers’ editors. Eventually it was decided that the Empire’s champion would be Thomas Jefferson Ryker, a Virginian whose sunburnt skin bore tribute to his past exploring his home Confederation’s namesake on the Antipodean continent. The United Provinces, on the other hand, selected Miguel DeSoto, a Platinean of equal pedigree who had both adventured deep into the former Brazilian jungles and brought authority to the Patagonian lands—which still suffered from the occasional rogue raid from Mapuches who had not accepted the NFL-brokered treaty with the Meridians. Somewhat to the annoyance of both papers’ editors, the two men clearly had a regard for each other from the start.

The original plan had been for Ryker to take a route using the Trans-American Railway across the ENA while DeSoto used the Plate-Lima Trunk. However, this would either require a start and finish point outside the Americas or the precise time of their arrival back at start to be tracked separately, which neither side was willing to concede, even with observers. Therefore it was decided that both men would follow the same general route. As a publicity stunt, at a diplomatic meeting in Havana between Lord President Braithwaite and President-General Araníbar the two leaders gravely drew a single hand of five-card bluff[5] to decide whose country would play host. Braithwaite, even then concealing the cancer that would claim his life within a year, won the hand with a full house, queens and tens—defeating Araníbar’s two pair, aces and sevens. The American papers gushed over the ‘triumph’, which rather helpfully for Braithwaite and the Liberals rather overshadowed the fact that he had been outmanoeuvred by Araníbar into accepting the Meridians’ One Cuba proposal. But few besides the occasionaly Supremacist warmonger cared that the President had signed away American territory (while his opposite number had contented himself with signing away Carolinian territory, without asking the Carolinians). Far more importantly, there was a race on!

Ryker and DeSoto scandalised many parts of society by both insisting on bringing their wives with them on the trip. Both men had married unconventional women who they had met on their travels and could most assuredly take care of themselves. Ryker’s wife Marthe, née Poisson, was a Frenchwoman (or, to be more accurate, a Pérousien) whom he had met in Antipodea. She was the granddaughter of a political prisoner whom Lisieux had exiled there in 1801 and had spent her girlhood on the frontier, sometimes holding off raiding Indiens with her father’s old musket while her brother frantically tried to reload their family’s ‘appropriated’ Cugnot gun with grapeshot. The conventional story said that she had been rescued from Javanese slavers by her future husband, though there were some rumours that it had been the other way around.

DeSoto on the other hand had married Lorenza Huaracina, a lady of the Tahuantinsuya whose family had been important in the resistance against rule by the Kingdom of Peru before the Meridian government had forced King Gabriel to halt his persecutions in the 1830s. No less than Marthe Ryker, she had fought foes herself: no matter how relaxed the increasingly irrelevant Peruvian government was about the Tahuantinsuya these days, there remained individual Peruvians or other outsiders who would try to trespass on Tahuantinsuya land to steal and destroy. Not a few of them had met their end thanks to Lorenza’s keen shot with a Hermanos Santos ’48 rifle. She had become involved with the aforementioned NFL-brokered treaty negotiations between Meridian settlers and the Mapuche and other indigenous peoples of Patagonia, and had met DeSoto when he was defending some of those settlers from attack. Initially at loggerheads and owing their loyalties to opposing groups, the two had been brought together when they had together unmasked a conspiracy by elements of both settlers and natives to spark an all-out war for short-term political gain. They had saved one another’s lives in the process, and love had blossomed soon afterwards.

Regardless of how many inky wars were fought in the letters pages between Cythereans and Domumites over these decisions, on February 23rd 1875 the rival pairs were ready to set off from Cornubia Square in Fredericksburg. Lord President Braithwaite, visibly leaning on Foreign Secretary Michael Chamberlain for support in the asimcons published in the papers, wished them good fortune. “May the best man win!” he declared, a phrase which seemed incongruous given the nature of the expedition. In any case, Braithwaite would not live to see their return.

It did not take long for foul play to rear its ugly head: not from the champions themselves, but from the people of Fredericksburg, who managed to slow down DeSoto’s attempt to catch the train to Norfolk, the very first leg of the journey. DeSoto and Lorenza arrived at the station to find the train had left—and that Ryker and Marthe were patiently waiting on the platform for them, having deliberately missed the train themselves. “I must apologise for my countrymen,” was all Ryker would say. Two hours later, the quartet was bound for Norfolk.

One thing which the architects of the challenge had not foreseen was that, by following the same route and being subject to the same limitations of a fixed schedule of steamships, trains and so on, they had effectively forced the two teams to share the same vehicle for most of the voyage. Fortunately, as was already apparent, the four got on very well and generally regarded the patriotic competitive element of their challenge to be rather absurd. They even shared the stage at brief events in London, Paris and Vienna as the great and the good of those cities gathered to observe the spectacle.

The planned route brought them from Liverpool via train to London, then by boat across the English Channel to Calais. Liverpool remained a great metropolis, having boomed both off the eighteenth-century slave trade and then again in the years of the Marleburgensian regime thanks to the Pool of London being at first unusable. Even then, in those days when even the word Diversitarianism had yet to be written, the city rejoiced in its diversity—and occasionally battled over it. The days when the most exotic groups in Liverpool were Irish Catholics and the odd freed slave were past: by the mid-1870s, Liverpool enjoyed representation from peoples such as the Bengalis, the various Guinean tribes, the Matetwa of Natal, Chinese visitors from Feng China or the Formosan Republic, and even a few Howden Indians and Antipodean Indiens. This did not mean that divisions in the city had shifted over purely to racial enmity: the old Protestant vs. Catholic sectarian battle lines remained, their flames fanned by the city’s two rival Authority Football teams of Liverpool City and the ironically-named Liverpool United. In fact the sectarian divide was becoming as much about football as about actual religion—to the extent that Muslim Bengalis or pagan Chinese were seamlessly integrated into one side or the other, depending on whereabouts in the city they lived and what team they supported. Neighbouring towns such as Garston and Bootle were on the verge of absorption.

The landing of the two husband and wife teams in Liverpool is today commemorated with a statue on the docks—though, typically, moved from where they actually landed to the place where the City Commission of the day thought it would look nicest. The statue also rather inaccurately portrays the two as in fierce competition, the leading Ryker looking back at the following DeSoto. This is due to the popular notion that the two men were initially bitter rivals and only came to respect each other over the course of shared adventures—a misconception propagated by most film retellings of the tale. It does make a good story, but real life is rarely so neat, and the incident with the train in Fredericksburg illustrates how the two had regard for one another from the start.

The London/Liverpool train line, then called the Great Northwestern Railway, was one of the most significant trunks started in the Marleburgensian era and then completed in the great railway-building frenzy under Populism. Despite endless desperate tourism-attracting apocrypha perpetrated by gift shops at Birmingham Central Station, the two couples did not leave their train at that great city but pushed straight on to London.

London greeted the adventurers with open arms and displayed a less combative attitude towards the Meridian team than elsewhere. As has been pointed out, this may simply be because the people of the city were beginning to feel less kinship with the increasingly bullish ENA, foreshadowing what was to come. The 1861 WorldFest had served to recover some of London’s confidence, the Crystal Dome had been redeveloped into a concert hall that was the wonder of the world, and the last scars of the Inglorious Revolution had faded into memory. Even then, Dr Oakley was sitting in his office at the New Guildhall sketching his first idle plans for the Levitrain, though it would be another decade before the Joint Commission for London would declare the system open. The new hygiene laws passed on the insistence of the New Populists as junior coalition partner in Parliament meant that the Thames was cleaner than it had been in years. Many ships remained, but the business of the Port of London had moved downriver, as the Standard Crate and superior steam engines meant that freighters grew bigger and bigger. Street parades, cheers and public enthusiasm greeted both couples as they arrived. Ryker had to diplomatically extricate them from a programme of public events that would have kept them in the city a week and rather missed the point of the exercise. They contented themselves with a single dinner at New St. James’ hosted by King-Emperor Frederick II and Queen Elizabeth themselves. The King, who had been born in the year that Le Diamant had been gunned down in Paris and ignited the Jacobin Wars, had just turned 80 and most of his hosting duties had to be transferred to President Fairbanks instead, himself still a little worse for wear following his kidnapping the year before. The King’s second son Prince George, Duke of York, sent his apologies as he was engaged in a tour of Glasgow, smoothing ruffled feathers after the riots the year before. His older brother, the Prince of Wales, had been visiting the interior Confederations of the ENA for two years already.

Despite attempts by clingy politicians to hold them back, the two couples were soon crossing the Channel. Marthe Ryker recorded in her journal her wonder and sadness at seeing the decaying remnants of the Channel Skybridge balloons, killed by the Lectel cables now snaking insidiously across that body of water that to Caesar and William the Conqueror had seemed so vast. Europe was shrinking.

Paris was quite a contrast to London. Though the Mayor and the Parlement de la Cité[6] did their best to put a good face on the city, Paris at the time was still suffering from the riots of a month before in which youths of the Sauvage subculture had clashed with the police. Les Sauvages were the ultimate result of a movement which had began with the publication of Savages and Civilised Men by Henri Comeau in 1816, in which the explorer had unfavourably contrasted revolution-ravaged France with the Mauré ‘savages’ of Autiaraux. As French contact with the Mauré had become less intermittent and more regular (largely through Pérousie) and Mauré had even visited Paris, the ‘noble savages’ had become unintentional role models for French youth dissatisfied with modern civilisation and seeking a return to a ‘simpler, more natural’ (and more violent) way of life. While les Sauvages had been temporarily cowed by the time the Great Racers arrived, the battered city had other problems too.

The New Needle, so optimistically unveiled in the WorldFest of fifteen years before, had proved to be a rush job too reliant on seventy-year-old architecture from an era in which Lisieux’s Utilitarian philosophies had wanted all buildings to have a natural lifespan and to degrade when that had passed. At the time of the Great Racers’ flying visit, the New Needle was drunkenly reeling over, prompting many unfavourable comments in the Italian press about seeking to steal the Tower of Pisa’s thunder. Furthermore, the Telegraph Wars were being won by Lectel, even in France—the birthplace of Optel, where defending and using the older form of communication was a patriotic duty and both companies and the State had tried hard to preserve it. While even modern France retains a small legacy Optel network precisely for this reason, the main battlefield was being lost to Lectel, and thus the Needle’s original purpose as a central city Optel tower was rendered obsolete. Two years later, the leaning Needle would be demolished, and in 1891 would finally be replaced by La Tour Sans Fin (the Tower Without End), 240 metres[7]of brick, glass and steel sprawling across much of the Île de la Cité. The fine Tower was the first true Novamundine-style ‘cloudtoucher’ [skyscraper] building in the Old World, innovations in its foundations alone breaking new ground in what was considered possible, and was designed primarily as a residential and office centre rather than to support communications. (Ironically, by the time the tower was unveiled, the potential of Christian Ilsted’s Photel had become obvious, and in the words of the architect Yves Bruant, its profile was promptly ‘spoilt’ by the addition of Photel masts).

L’Aiguille was not the only poisonous architectural legacy Lisieux had left Paris. As planned at the time, his wide avenues and Utilitarian boxes were falling into decay. Though parts of Revolutionary Paris had been replaced over time, this had not been accomplished with sufficient urgency and now both the Grand-Parlement and its city counterpart were scrambling to legislative to fix problems as they arose. One opportunity this did afford was to lay down tram tracks for a new city transport system called the Paris Metropolitan Railway, or Metro for short. From the 1880s, this would face rivalry from the Paris Subterranean Railway, which exploited the city’s existing underground catacombs dating from its mining past. Paris has never seriously considered an above-ground railway system like London’s Levitrain, however.[8]

At the time the Great Racers visited, there was already ongoing work to institute new buildings in the burgeoning style later called Naissancist (short for La naissance du XXe siècle, though in fact it predated the birth of the twentieth century by over twenty years).[9] However, this only meant that where the city wasn’t falling into ruin, it was a building site instead. King Louis XVIII and Prime Minister Bouchez did their best, but the incident was a considerable embarrassment for France and led to some soul-searching, as well as probably being partly responsible for the election victory of the opposition Verts in 1878.

The fact that the embryonic global European media had covered the Race in such detail meant that London had had a positive exposure and Paris a negative one. As the prosperity of the Long Peace in Europe was producing increasing numbers of middle-class people who could afford foreign holidays, this had a visible impact on the cities’ economic fortunes. Some did not have to wait for this long-term evidence to guess the impact: DeSoto had to firmly decline repeated offers from the German Ambassador in Paris, Wolf Adalbert von Baudissin, to alter his route in order to swing through Dresden (whose citizens were probably frantically polishing every available surface in the city in an attempt to show up Paris). The Great Racers stuck firmly to their plans and exploited the fact that their chosen route used a single rail gauge with no changes necessary—a legacy of the fact that the Swabians had built their railways to help trade with France, while the Bavarians and Austrians had built theirs some years after most of Europe and thus had been able to select the French gauge as the most popular and one for which it was easiest to purchase rolling stock for.

The Great Racers therefore travelled to Strasbourg, capital of the French province of Lorraine,[10] and then on to Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and Ulm in Swabia before crossing the border at Augsburg and then spending the night in Munich. The capital of Bavaria had changed beyond all recognition since the bloody days of the Kleinkrieg, with fine new buildings and a large statue of Michael Hiedler standing in the Marienplatz before the Mariensäule (a column erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation of the city during the Thirty Years’ War). The new statue similarly celebrated an end to Austrian occupation, yet the governance of Victor Felix and his son Amadeus had perhaps surprisingly calmed the waters, and Austrians (or rather Danubians) traded easily enough in the city providing they did not enter the wrong bars. The Great Racers were wished on their way by King Amadeus himself, something widely reported in the papers (constantly updated through Lectel). Unsurprisingly, after they had travelled through Salzburg and arrived in Vienna, Archking Rudolf III (now aged fifty-three, far from the boy king he had once been) proceeded to one-up this by greeting them in person and give them yet another state banquet. “Everyone told me to beware of the bloodthirsty Arabs or the heathen Chinee,” Ryker wryly remarked to DeSoto, “but I fear our guts will be burst by the smothering Europeans before we ever get near them”.

Having extricated themselves from Hapsburg hospitality, the Great Races then proceeded to exploit the new railway that symbolised in so many ways how Europe had changed. The route from Vienna to Budapest and then on to Bucharest was straightforward enough: all cities of the Hapsburg Danubian Confederation, coexisting with periodic friction through Rudolf’s system of non-geographic nationhood. But the so-called Rumelian Gate then speared southwards over the Danube, plunged down through the Bulgar vilayets of the Ottoman Empire, and reached Constantinople itself. Built by an Danubian company under Ottoman auspices, the new conduit would have been an absurdity only a few decades before. Yet pragmatisme had driven Danubia and the Ottomans together: both saw Russia as a common enemy, both faced problems with internal minorities and sought to pacify them with new forms of governance. With the Ottomans finally having settled on a reforming Sultan (Murad VIII) and Grand Vizier (Mehmed Ibrahim Pasha) who could hold power longer than a few months at a time, the Empire was swiftly modernising, by its own definition of modernisation. Railways were a big part of that: they tied together lands as far apart as reconquered Algiers, Baghdad and the Yemen. Furthermore, Murad was ambitious and sought to push Ottoman influence further down into Africa, which was at the time beginning to loom up as an issue in European and Novamundine eyes.

Constantinople was, as always, an intoxicating mix of the ancient and modern. Lorenza DeSoto wrote in her surprise that cheap, easily available asimcon cameras had reached the city (about ten years after most European capitals) and ‘everyone from the richly-clothed bey to the street boy in rags wants an asimcon with the conquering heroes’. Ottoman public opinion at the time was mildly anglophobic for various reasons, and for the first time it was the Meridians who felt more welcome. But soon they were travelling south through the Levant Railway (built by the Scandinavians, and of a different and incompatible gauge) to take ship through the Sinai Canal, which had opened two years previously. Dug by the Belgian engineer Cornelisz van der Bilt (with a little help from thirty thousand Egyptian forced labourers), the canal was already revolutionising global trade.

The sea journey south through the Red Sea on the Greek-flagged steam clipper Dionysus included such adventures as stops in the Russian port of Zapadny Benyovsk (formerly Massawa), the Scandinavian base at Aden, the Free City of Bombay (at least, free so long as it did what the director of a certain Meridian company said so) and French Trivandrum. Even in the 1870s, much of the Indian interior was considered by European public a desolate place in which civilisation had been destroyed (which ironically led to late nineteenth century Europeans romanticising Indian civilisation in contrast to how their forefathers had treated it). Although the Great Racers themselves did not go beyond the Indian coast, media attention on their trip meant that more stories trickled down to reveal that the Great Jihad had burnt itself out to a degree not suspected by many—and that adventurers from companies not under national auspices had been exploiting the natives to an extent scarcely dreamed of in European capitals, though the coastal India Board national companies had long warned of it. This would have significant consequences in the late 1870s and 1880s, culminating in the Scramble for India.

The Great Racers took a local steamship, the Hanuman, from Trivandrum to Calcutta, crossing the Taprobane Strait between Ceylon and India and passing through the islands which the Hindus believe are the remains of the bridge that Hanuman himself had built in the Ramayana.[11] Calcutta was by now known as the greatest city in India, albeit partly because of the devastation of the Jihad had wrought on many of the others. The legacy of Nurul Huq was everywhere: new sanitation systems transforming the lives of millions, new modern buildings coexisting with ancient ones, more wealth in the hands of ordinary people, modern technology such as steam carriages and railways. The city was a beacon of civilisation that challenged the bloodsoaked view of India at the time in European eyes, all the more so because it was by now in part a native beacon of civilisation: the Privatisation of Bengal meant that now only a plurality of shares remained in British and American government hands, with the remainder taken up by both private investors in those countries (and others) but also wealthy Bengalis themselves. Some of the latter, and one or two of the local Company administrators, were altruistic enough to follow Nurul Huq’s vision and use their wealth and influence as shareholders to secure more representation for the ordinary people of Calcutta and Bengal in the Governing Council.

Despite a hair-raising encounter with a monsoon hyperstorm (which fortuitously mostly blew itself out before reaching Calcutta), the Great Racers pressed on in the BEIC ship John Pitt, traversing the Straits of Malacca. Most of the Malay Peninsula was now part of the Siamese Empire (albeit under the theoretical authority of a token ‘United Malay Sultanate’ whose Sultan was subject to the King of Siam). The exception was the reduced Sultanate of Johor, which was kept alive by support from an informal joint commission of European powers under the elsewhere largely obsolete authority of the International Counter-Piracy Agency (ICPA). Similar to the India Board, disagreements in Europe meant little in the Straits, with the United Belgian Company and the French East India Company the major allies in the project—the British, Americans and Scandinavians were minor partners, with a Feng Chinese observer from 1870 onwards. The Johor enterprise was faced not only by Siam, but by its ally the Batavian Republic, by now a firm part of the Hermandad and half under Meridian authority. The UPSA, both the state and private companies, was also investing heavily in Siam and building a railway for the King. This meant that there were few places in the world where opposition between Meridians and Americans was sharper, and the adventurers had some close shaves in Singapore, European capital within Johor.[12] Lorenza DeSoto was taken hostage and freed only by an ingenious rescue operation in which her husband and both Rykers teamed up with the visiting Russo-Lithuanian Pacific Company officer Sasha Shushkevich. It transpired that her captors were not anti-Meridian Malays or ICPA officers, as expected, but unscrupulous Sumatra slavers aligned with the Batavian Republic. The scandal that a female Meridian citizen had almost been taken by slavers (tenuously) connected to Meridian government policy would explode in the UPSA a few weeks later: Lectel cables had not quite extended that far yet.

Somewhat rattled, the Great Racers proceeded to take the China steamer Michel Ouais to the Feng Chinese capital of Guangzhou and then on to the brand-new city of Jianggang (i.e. Port Jiangsu), which had been built at the mouth of the Yangtze to facilitate European trade (without letting Europeans anywhere near interior cities).[13] Marthe Ryker wrote extensively of the contrast between the two cities, the ancient, decadent glory of ‘Canton’ (as many Europeans still named it) versus the exciting but often shambolic modernity of Jianggang, in which construction was never-ending and cutthroat opportunity was such that a man of any race could win or lose a fortune within a day. The picture of Jianggang Marthe captured symbolised the city, and by extension Feng China itself, in the eyes of many Europeans for years: chaotically, uncontrollably, on the rise.

The two couples then took the American-flagged steamer General Trevor William Jones on to Yapon. The potential awkwardness of riding a ship named for a general who had fought Meridians was soon forgotten to the DeSotos when they witnessed events in their destination. The days of Benyovsky or even Pozharsky were gone. The new Tsar Paul II did not have his father’s judgement, and viewed the distant islands not as a delicate opportunity but a suitable place to exile embarrrassments – such as Prince Sergei Dolgorukov, recently humiliated by Liam Wesley. Though Dolgorukov had only recently arrived in Yapon, the Great Racers recorded how his misrule was already causing controversy both among RPLC officials and the natives. His latest outrage was in renaming Edo [Tokyo], the ancient capital of Yapon—though it was now administered from Fyodorsk [Niigata]. With none of the tact that his predecessors had displayed, Dolgorukov did not look the other way if the natives continued to use the old name, but insisted they use the Russian one even among themselves: Vostochny Pavlovsk, Eastern Paul’s Town, named for the Tsar. The fact that Russia already had so many Pavlovsks that this one required a cardinal direction attached was a further insult to those Yapontsi who understood the Russian language and such subtleties—and by this point there were many.

It would be another three years before Dolgorukov would be slain and the Hanran rebellion exploded, but public feeling against ‘barbarians’ was such among the Yapontsi that the Great Racers had a few narrow scrapes when they dared venture beyond those streets patrolled by RPLC soldiers or Chinese and Corean-recruited mercenaries. Fortunately, they assessed the situation quickly enough not to be in serious danger—something disappointing to makers of film adaptations, who invariably insert a long, invented sequence in which DeSoto and Ryker have to fight off an army of nindzhyas hurling entire constellations’ worth of shyuriken throwing stars.

Now came the penultimate leg of the journey. The General Jones voyaged across the northern Pacific Ocean, at one point blundering into a hunt by some Nantucket whalers (which, again, did not accidentally fire their harpoons at DeSoto as they do in some of the film adaptations). Finally Noochaland was sighted and the ship came into port at Washington in the Confederation of Drakesland. Now it was time for the Trans-American Railway. This was the most anxious part of all, for the adventurers were running close to the ninety-day time limit, and any of the still-common faults in the railway could doom their attempt. But they seemed to live charmed lives, and there were no rum-sozzled signalmen, warped rails or rogue Superior Republic raiders to disturb their journey. The worst that happened was the need to change engines at Fort Monroe in the Confederation of Michigan, but this was swiftly accomplished.

Then, at Plumbum, disaster struck. Miguel DeSoto fell ill: something usually attributed in films to dastardly poisons in his food by bitter locals trying to sabotage him, but likely just unfortunate chance. His wife remained to nurse him, and the Rykers had to make a decision: stay, and fail to beat the ninety-day limit, or go on and be feted as ‘winners’ in the petty way they had grown to despise. Ryker in the end decided he had to stay, once again, just as he had at the beginning. Fortunately DeSoto recovered within a day and they travelled onwards to Chichago, at which point they were joined to the more reliable railway network of the eastern Confederations.

The final leg of the journey was an anticlimax, riding the same humdrum trains in which they had begun, almost ninety days before. Lorenza DeSoto records that fellow passengers did not react harshly to her husband and herself, but treated both them and the Rykers as though they were hallucinations, even poking them to see if they were real: the Great Race had taken on such mythic proportions in the minds of the public that the idea that its heroic protagonists could be passengers in an ordinary Eastern train seemed inconceivable.

Chichago became Erieport, then Pittsburgh, and finally the train was pulling up in Fredericksburg Westgate station. The adventurers pushed their way through surprised crowds to finally reach their starting and finish line in Cornubia Square. They had missed the deadline by just one hour, as Ryker dejectedly reflected, staring at his watch.

All four adventurers insisted to their deathbed that they had failed to round the world in ninety days, and that the conditions of the original agreement had implicitly stated that it would be ninety days of time from the point of view of the travellers, not of a fixed point on the Earth. But both politicians and ordinary people were immune to such niceties. For the people of Fredericksburg, the sun had risen and set just 89 times, not 90. Only 89 days had passed on the calendar of the Lord President in Fredericksburg, and therefore only 89 days had passed. The challenge had been won. Controversy over the affair would eventually lead to greater public awareness of the idea of time zones and in 1880 the Global Date Line would be formally agreed at an international conference in Manila.

Only 89 days had passed on the calendar of the Lord President in Fredericksburg, but on one of those days the Lord President had passed with it. The DeSotos and the Rykers found themselves welcomed back not by the late President Braithwaite but by his successor, Michael Chamberlain. To their surprise, he was accompanied by both President-General Araníbar of the UPSA and the Prince of Wales, Prince Henry Frederick—but he was introduced as King-Emperor Henry X. His father Frederick II too had passed away not many days after the adventurers had left Great Britain, and all the English-speaking world save Carolina was in mourning. The DeSotos and the Rykers refused to race to Cornubia Square but walked into it hand in hand and paid their respects to the three great men. The people of the city were shocked, and some appalled, but the Emperor and the two Presidents were glad. They all gave powerful speeches calling upon the people of ‘our two great American nations’ (as President-General Mateováron had named them before the coining of the term ‘Novamundine’) to set aside their differences and work together to build peace and prosperity. The Seventies Thaw had truly arrived, and public approval was belatedly given when Chamberlain defeated an attempt by former Supremacist Lord President Joseph Fletcher to return to power in 1877, despite the Cuba scandal.

The scene had been set for the twenty remaining years of the Long Peace before the Pandoric War. The ENA and UPSA would generally work together, with only occasional moments of rivalry. Meridian companies might build a railway in Siam and American ones build a ‘rival’ one in Feng China, but they were careful to agree a common gauge beforehand so that one day they might be linked up. Cross-border trade resumed between the ENA and Carolina, and between the Hermandad and the Kingdom of Venezuela. Tensions remained, but for the present, it was truly the Golden Age of which the poets boasted.

And, down in the UPSA, Raúl Caraíbas and many more Societists mocked the chest-thumping mock patriotism of those who had cheered on DeSoto and publicly prayed that Ryker would drown, only to be flummoxed by the friendship between the two when they returned and the ensuing outbreak of peace. What more could be better calculated to show the self-evident truth of Sanchez’s teachings that conflict was an arbitrary, infantile disease?

In the ultimate irony, then, that peace sowed the seeds of its own destruction.

[1] Batten-Hale is referring to The Angel, Islington, an inn immortalised on the Monopoly board which has existed under that name since the early seventeenth century—though occupying a succession of new buildings in both OTL and TTL.

[2] Why ten days longer than the OTL challenge made fictitiously by Verne’s Phileas Fogg and then in reality by Nellie Bly? TTL India, divided in the first place between multiple powers and then ravaged by the Great Jihad, does not have a trans-continental railway yet and thus the route has to round the subcontinent by sea, adding more days to the itinery.

[3] Compare to OTL, where the first submarine telegraph cable came into operation in 1858, failed after only a month, and was replaced in 1866 following the American Civil War. In TTL, electric telegraphy is a later invention thanks to delayed breakthroughs in electricity (and takes longer to catch on due to the Telegraph Wars and the powerful Optel cartels) but on the other hand they got the cable right first time.

[4] Ponta Negra is the Portuguese name of Point-Noire (in OTL currently in the Republic of Congo (-Brazzaville)).

[14][5] The name poker is probably derived from the German word for bluff. In TTL a similar card game (derived, among others, from the sixteenth-century English card game Three Card Brag)instead simply has the English name Bluff.

[6] Under Bonaparte the indirectly elected office of Mayor of Paris was introduced. In OTL the mayoralty has come and gone and varied in importance since it was first instated in the Revolution (prior to that the titular office was held by the Provost of the Merchants). The Parlement de la Cité is the administrative council of Paris—so named as to avoid negative association with the old Parlement du Paris of the ancien régime.

[7] France in TTL does not use the metric system, but the units are converted for reader convenience.

[8] In OTL by contrast the Paris Metro is of course the name given primarily to the underground lines in Paris. OTL Paris considered an elevated railway rather than an underground one. Note that ‘tram’ is a French word in origin and (obviously with a slightly different meaning) dates back to the sixteenth century.

[9] Naissancism is somewhat like OTL Art Deco, but less minimalistic and more colourful (being in part a reaction against the plainness of Lisieux’s Utilitarian buildings).

[10] Although the author doesn’t bring it up, note that the city is now spelled the French way, reflecting nineteenth-century linguistic centralisation policies.

[11] In OTL the strait is named Palk for Robert Palk, a governor of the Madras Presidency in the 1750s. By this point in TTL, Madras had become French again. Taprobane is the name that Ceylon/Sri Lanka was known by to the ancient Greeks, and still used on many European-made maps centuries later.

[12] Much like OTL, Singapore has been re-founded by Europeans using the location and revived name of the old Kingdom of Singapura from the thirteenth century. However in TTL it was not re-founded until 1850, a generation or two later than OTL.

[13] Jianggang is OTL Shanghai, and is built at a similar time and for similar reasons—the only difference being that the Chinese are in a rather stronger negotiating position and somewhat desire more trade themselves, rather than acting under European duress. Note that in TTL Nanjing is still called Jiangning.

[14] Rather unfortunately for the Prince of Wales, he was named Henry for Frederick’s father Henry IX, and Frederick for his uncle Frederick George, years before a certain Prussian named Henry Frederick became a huge enemy of the ENA and his father.


Important Announcement!

The post above in part commemorates a very significant event I have alluded to before:

I've always dreamed of seeing LTTW published and now it's finally here. Thanks to Meadow for all his hard work on this, and Roem for the cover. (Click on the orange Amazon links below where it says UK, US, DE etc. to be taken to your country's version of the relevant Amazon page).

What will you find within the covers of Divergence and Conquer?

  • Parts 1-50 of LTTW and all the interludes (duh)
  • Four new excellent maps by Alex Richards which can actually be read on a Kindle screen
  • A Chronology to help one keep track of what on earth is going on
  • Lists of Kings, Prime Ministers, Presidents-General and sundry
  • Edits to fix early problems and a bit of new material here and there. General Pichegru no longer dies twice, and Joseph Ducreux is in it.
  • Acknowledgements in which I mention some of my readers BY NAME. Which ones? Buy the book and find out :p

I want to thank everyone who has read and commented on these threads since their inception in 2007 for your support, praise and awkward questions--the TL would not be where it is today without you.
591 pages, for 50 parts of a TL now 215 parts long. My goodness, really impresses on one the magnitude of this work.

Love the new update, although a couple bits of the backstory seem almost a bit too romantic. :) Sad to hear [1] about "The Scramble for India" - seems India is having a fair run of bad luck in this TL.

[1] Be reminded, actually - I think it's been mentioned before.
Awesome! This work of art is published! I think perhaps more than any volume, I'm going to enthusiastically purchase this one as the racist revolutionary France part was incredibly entertaining.

Sad to head about my homeland facing a "Scramble". First the Mahdi destroys the Taj Mahal, then European powers chop up India...


Thanks for all the support everyone!

Awesome! This work of art is published! I think perhaps more than any volume, I'm going to enthusiastically purchase this one as the racist revolutionary France part was incredibly entertaining.

Sad to head about my homeland facing a "Scramble". First the Mahdi destroys the Taj Mahal, then European powers chop up India...
Didn't realise you were Indian (or of Indian background?). As I commented way back in the first thread, the thing about TLs with a POD in 1727 is that colonialism is pretty much inevitable in India at that point (more or less) but the potential for difference is 'what kind of colonialism'. In Cliveless World it's all France, here it's a complex mixture where no one power ever becomes dominant, etc. Tony Jones (who did Cliveless World) also did a TL about the Mughal Empire modernising and colonialism never kicking off in India, but he had to go back to the 1600s to do it.

(Why am I mentioning Tony Jones so much? Because I just learned he also has a story out in the same batch of Sea Lion Press releases as Diverge and Conquer, and I'm a bit starstruck because he was one of my main inspirations to start LTTW in the first place).
Sad to head about my homeland facing a "Scramble". First the Mahdi destroys the Taj Mahal, then European powers chop up India...
"European"... Think again.

If the Mahdi discouraged the three Old Imperialist Powers of India—Britain, France and Portugal—from further incursion, the chaos he unleashed only made it easier for the New Imperialist Powers to take their place. There was little if any Russian, Chinese or Corean spoken in India when the Mahdi was born; a century later that would not be the case...
Nice tour of the world. At first I thought it's another 'Great Man' tale which, while cool and fun to read through, doesn't really 'move' the timeline (like I felt was the case of the post about Mr Wesley). This one allowed us to see how some parts of the world have changed since our last detailed visit. So I liked it. ;)

"European"... Think again.
I forgot about that too! :eek: I'm wondering how is Russia going to approach this. Via Japan? Or have they managed to absorb enough of Central Asia?

Unlike some others here, I am actually looking forward to the Scramble for India. I don't know almost anything about India so this is going to simplify things. For me at least. :D

Hmmm... Wondering about Africa right now...

(Why am I mentioning Tony Jones so much? Because I just learned he also has a story out in the same batch of Sea Lion Press releases as Diverge and Conquer, and I'm a bit starstruck because he was one of my main inspirations to start LTTW in the first place).
You're mentioning him because he has some great timelines!

You can download Kindle Apps for computers and many mobile devices. Don't need to buy a Kindle (unless you're posting from a library computer or something).
I'm going to have to look into this as well.
Very grand, and I can picture the sort of films that will have been made about it, plus the nice snippets in there about how it starts shaping events through being the first time people actually see many of these places.
(Why am I mentioning Tony Jones so much? Because I just learned he also has a story out in the same batch of Sea Lion Press releases as Diverge and Conquer, and I'm a bit starstruck because he was one of my main inspirations to start LTTW in the first place).
Ooh, I'll be looking into that.

Versailles 2002. Capital of the French Empire, the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. A mysterious man found murdered in an alley close to the Palace of Versailles, the very heart of Empire, throws doubt on its security and, before long, on the very future of humanity as a species.

Njabulo (‘Jab’) de Voggeveen. Doctor of medicine. Hunter of diseases. Expatriate Zulu. Slightly out of his depth, but nonetheless drafted in by the French government to find the origin of the mystery man and stop those responsible for him from creating more.

Jab must search from the seedy underbelly of Paris, across the climate change-altered landscape of an Earth very different from our own, to the glittering palaces of the great and powerful of the French Empire. On the way he must overcome danger, death and corruption at all levels to fulfil his mission. It will not be easy, but it will be interesting!

Sounds like it's set in Cliveless world...


Just bought the book on Amazon. Looks really amazing, I'm very happy that you guys made this. :)
Thanks. The text is all mine, Alex did the maps, it includes the flags designed by me but executed by SimonBP, Roem did the cover and Meadow handles the actual publishing. Not to mention all the encouragement from the readers of course.
You can download Kindle Apps for computers and many mobile devices. Don't need to buy a Kindle (unless you're posting from a library computer or something).
Thank you kindly for the info, I now have even more reason to be excited at the prospect of finally having the first part of this timeline in official format.
...the first transatlantic Lectel submarine cable had come on-stream only the year before and was still filling the news on both sides of the ocean.... the UPSA rushed out a transatlantic Lectel cable of its own between Recife and Ponta Negra only months later (a much shorter distance to bridge), despite the fact that at present this was a communications link looking for a purpose.[4] ...

[4] Ponta Negra is the Portuguese name of Point-Noire (in OTL currently in the Republic of Congo (-Brazzaville)).

This note started out much longer and more rhetorical. Let me just say this:

From the far northeast capes of Newfoundland to the capes of southwest Ireland is a bit under 28 degrees of Earth's circumference. From Recife to the west capes of Sierra Leone is about the same. If the Meridian cable ran that way, and the north Atlantic one had to run directly to Nova Scotia, and perhaps for some political reason to bypass Ireland and head either for northwest Scotland or the tip of Cornwall, then the northern one would be longer, by 5 or 6 degrees--no more.

But you specify OTL Pointe-Noir as the Recife cable's eastern terminus. How much longer is that? Well, another 20 degrees--47 degrees to be exact.

I will simply put up an image of the parts of the world within 47 degrees of Recife (which is an excellent Novomundian terminus by the way) and within the same distance of a point on the far northeast of Nova Scotia, and then perhaps you can explain how the Meridians can claim their cable is shorter?

And why they couldn't negotiate for any point up on the West African coast close to Sierra Leone, which would give them a cable that has a shot of making that claim, if Ireland to Newfoundland does not quite count.

What a delightful entry.

No, I mean - in history, where war and politics and grimness takes over much of its annals, it's good to see in this world a focus on some of the more wondrous parts of science and technology.

It was fun to see and read all the various stops the two couples traveled through, and delightful to see the Race herald (or at least really bring to light) the Great Thaw.

Only question is, Cuba's all Carolinian now, but what Carolinian land went to America? Hmm... and may Freddie Two be well-remembered. He lived, and went through, a lot. I wonder if there's references to a Frederican age the way there's a Victorian age...
Not if the Zones system is first tested and introduced in the periphery of the UPSA world power.

You forgot the Teutonic Knights.
But considering that we know that Societism rises from the UPSA first, why would they test/implement it in their periphery first? Granted most of these nations are now effectively colonies of the UPSA and likely have little say in the matter, but still.

Aren't the Teutonic knights (or at least head of their order) just another title for the Hapsburg's at this point in OTL, and therefore presumably in TTL as well? I mean sure, they got their start as a hospital in Acre for German pilgrims, but if we are talking an extensive hospital system set up in Bavaria, don't St.John's Knights fit the bill better?

Also, a question for Thande. What bits of Carolina did the ENA receive in return for their half of Cuba?