With what Makemakean's said, I always feel this is the biggest problem people have with prequels in general - you know it can't work out for the best, because then the later plot won't happen, but that doesn't gel with narrative convention. This is a distinct but related issue with foreshadowing, though I didn't get the same feeling from it Makemakean seems to have.
 
That makes sense.
After the victorious, but costly Unification War, the German leadership seems to favour non-military measures (WeltFest) in order to gain prestige and security, even when it is not a wise decision like in this case.



The Scandinavian control over the Skagerrak makes the creation of the canal a necessity for Germany.
As for the alternate placement, there are other Baltic outlets for the canal available.
Hmm. I think the best bet after Kiel would be an Eider-Schlei canal, which could presumably be called the Schleswig Canal.
 
While it's not all that similar, I slightly stole this from our old member GBW in his thread here. I've actually always wanted to do a similar scenario myself, though I wouldn't want to tread on his toes.
Well it's a very good concept if you ask me. I'm actually a bit jealous that I've never thought of it. :p I'm a bit amazed that the notion of underwater civilization and empires have been so poorly explored in OTL. The only thing sort of similarly I can think of is... erm... an old Donald Duck cartoon by Carl Barks.

I believe it has been done but typically not in great detail (the Californian demo was obviously a set-piece thing where it was meant to stand up to daylight scrutiny). More usually it's just things like running a U-boat on the surface with appropriate lights so it looks like a merchantman from a distance: worked better in the days when submarines looked more similar to surface ships than modern ones do, as in the case of these early U-boats from OTL.
Wait, those things are submarines?
 
Well, I think early submarines tended to be more "ships that can temporarily submerge" than "ships that go underwater instead of over" (though even now they're more like that than we tend to think, aren't they?).
 
Well it's a very good concept if you ask me. I'm actually a bit jealous that I've never thought of it. :p I'm a bit amazed that the notion of underwater civilization and empires have been so poorly explored in OTL. The only thing sort of similarly I can think of is... erm... an old Donald Duck cartoon by Carl Barks.
Early Sub-Mariner comics come close ... except they're from Namor's point of view ... and instead of the two warring surface nations uniting against the common enemy, Namor ends up joining one of them against the other. So not actually that similar after all, really, I suppose.
 

Thande

Donor
That makes sense.
After the victorious, but costly Unification War, the German leadership seems to favour non-military measures (WeltFest) in order to gain prestige and security, even when it is not a wise decision like in this case.
Yes, exactly. It's slightly like how in OTL Bismarckian diplomacy isolated France, though that's a very vague comparison: unified Germany suddenly appearing on the scene has scared a lot of people so the government is generally trying more of a softly-softly approach for the present to stop another Isolationsgebiet, and one with bigger teeth, forming against it.

Grand Prince Paul II said:
The Scandinavian control over the Skagerrak makes the creation of the canal a necessity for Germany.
As for the alternate placement, there are other Baltic outlets for the canal available.
Hmm. I think the best bet after Kiel would be an Eider-Schlei canal, which could presumably be called the Schleswig Canal.
Thanks for the input you two.

Well it's a very good concept if you ask me. I'm actually a bit jealous that I've never thought of it. :p I'm a bit amazed that the notion of underwater civilization and empires have been so poorly explored in OTL. The only thing sort of similarly I can think of is... erm... an old Donald Duck cartoon by Carl Barks.
Underwater empires have been done, but usually as a self-contained adventure rather than 'cut to them invading human countries on land'.

Makemakean said:
Wait, those things are submarines?
Well, I think early submarines tended to be more "ships that can temporarily submerge" than "ships that go underwater instead of over" (though even now they're more like that than we tend to think, aren't they?).
It surprised me as well when I first saw pictures of them from that era. As Owen says, they were more treated as boats that can temporarily submerge in many ways. Many of the U-boat attacks on merchant shipping were done while the boat was surfaced, using its deck gun rather than torpedoes (which is why the whole Q-ship concept worked).
 
I really liked the notion of a War of the Worlds-style novel but with an underwater civilization as the enemy rather than an extraterrestrial one.
So basically like Karel Chapek's War with the Newts?

(Admittedly, that one is humans finding a bunch of underwater creatures that are especially useful as workers - the titular newts - and proceeding to use them as such, and essentially breed them for such. Then the underwater civilizations and invasions of land countries start. But when it gets to that part, it's a surprisingly similar story.)
 
But though the Mentians claimed to reject many of the negatives of the latter, they shared one important point—constant discussions over irrelevancies, often centri ng around whose father had supported which Schmidtist faction in the Popular Wars.
Extra space.

Sorry to nitpick.

Edit: A more substantial segment.

On Computers: A few observations.

1) I think the most interesting aspect of these alternate computers is that they are made before the theory as opposed to OTL where Turing published his Work in 1936 (and Churchill was there a little earlier), in TTL computers are built (apparently) well before there is an equivalent general theory of computation. It's hard to tell since I can't remember a recent post on mathematics (sorry if there was one and I forgot), I don't think there's an equivalent of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem or the Entscheidungsproblem or even an equivalent of Hilbert's Second Problem, and it's hard to see anything like Turing's Work without them. So whatever mathematical tools are being built to attack computing are likely to look very very different then ours (both Churchill's Lambda Calculus and Turing's Machine are very strange theoretical models and are very unlikely to ever be thought of by someone with an actual machine in front of them, particularly Turing's). Certainly you can build computer's without this knowledge (Zuse did in OTL!), but all of our computers today are descended from the team at UPenn, who (through Von Neuman) were intimately aware of the theoretical foundations of C.S. I'd be curious what kind of theory comes to predominate on computers in TTL. I also don't think people would even phrase the question like we do, where there are "Turing-Complete" machines and ones where there aren't, I suspect people would only distinguish between machines that do one sort of calculation and those that are programmable (which are usually Turing Complete, but may not be) to do several, so I wonder if your text is back projecting later theoretical ideas.

This will also be quite different in that the culture of early computing will not be the academic (particularly mathematical - most early CS people actually came from math departments, not from EE departments) culture that has so predominated in OTL, particularly since Unix took over the world in the 1970s. I suspect this will mean it will take much longer for C.S. to become an academic department, and will severely retard networking (most early computer networks were military or academic). I strongly suspect there will be nothing at all like the internet, the pull of closed systems is too strong for most commercial enterprises, and without academics interest in global collaboration, I suspect that (at best) every country will end with somewhat separate networks with different protocols. It's hard to overstate how different this has made CS in contrast to other engineering disciplines (which I am made painfully aware of every day now having changed departments), along with the culture of self-taught individuals, which will be much harder due to...

2) I've been thinking about how good mechanical computers could be, and it's hard since I'm not a Mech. E. It all really depends on how it;s built. To my mind the biggest problem is memory: It would be incredibly slow to actually use physical punch cards to store very much memory (OTL computers used them as input/output, but actual memory inside the machine was quite different) since to retrieve a piece of memory somewhere would require traversing large amounts of physical space, which with paper I can't imagine being able to do faster then maybe 0.01s. So the best I've got is something like electro-mechanical or maybe all mechanical relay's like Zuse's, which will have to exist in LTTW if only for telecommunications and Lectel. Still, that's quite slow.

I strongly suspect that computers can't be built as fast, small, or with such memories with purely mechanical components. I have to guess that ypologetics in LTTW is quite retarded in comparison to OTL, certainly they haven't been much mentioned in the stuff we have from the present (we're always reading books not online documents for one thing). Which is nice! Most TL's make everything better than OTL tech wise.
 
Last edited:
Also, another thought, what's the state of Engineering as a discipline in LTTW? There was a long struggle to make it a "Profession" in OTL in the late 19th century, which took off most strongly in the USA and Germany, Britain always lagged behind.

Oh, more generally, what languages are scientists and engineer's mostly publishing in OTL by the 19th century (as you know) English, French, and (most importantly) german dominated academia, everything else was a bit second rate. Is that true here? Actually, what's leading economic growth in LTTW? I know we're well into the industrial revolution, but since you're a Chemist I'm hoping we'll get a nice post on where the chemical industry really gets going, I'll be curious to see if it remains as German an affair as it was in OTL.

We aren't likely to get a post about math, are we?
 
Also, another thought, what's the state of Engineering as a discipline in LTTW? There was a long struggle to make it a "Profession" in OTL in the late 19th century, which took off most strongly in the USA and Germany, Britain always lagged behind.

Oh, more generally, what languages are scientists and engineer's mostly publishing in OTL by the 19th century (as you know) English, French, and (most importantly) german dominated academia, everything else was a bit second rate. Is that true here? Actually, what's leading economic growth in LTTW? I know we're well into the industrial revolution, but since you're a Chemist I'm hoping we'll get a nice post on where the chemical industry really gets going, I'll be curious to see if it remains as German an affair as it was in OTL.

We aren't likely to get a post about math, are we?
I'd assume that as well as English and French (where quite possibly Optel journals are entirely written in French), Spanish has gained top ranking thanks to the UPSA, possibly displacing German to some extent, though the latter might still be quite prominent.
 

Thande

Donor
Thanks for the feedback Atom, that's interesting stuff. I am slightly aware of the Engineering struggle through my knowledge of Josiah Willard Gibbs from my day job so I may need to address that. As far as computing and maths are concerned, I'm a bit out of my depth (except in specific areas) so I'm trying to avoid addressing them beyond the level required to explain other ongoing events in the TL, at least unless I get consultation from some experts.

I hope to do a couple more updates for LTTW fairly soon - as some of you may know, I have spent the last couple of weeks writing the Not An English Word timeline in my signature, which you may want to check out if you enjoy bizarre political cults resurrecting Victorian Prime Ministers.
 
Yeah, maths is pretty hard to write about. I've never seen a Math TL, actually, probably because it would be way too much unless you had an actual PhD in Math. Ah well!

You're silence on chemistry intrigues me, as always we must wait for more updates.

As long as you're done before you die you'll beat Robert Jordan!
 
Yeah, maths is pretty hard to write about. I've never seen a Math TL, actually, probably because it would be way too much unless you had an actual PhD in Math. Ah well!

You're silence on chemistry intrigues me, as always we must wait for more updates.

As long as you're done before you die you'll beat Robert Jordan!
Eh, my secondary school education is probably enough till the 1800s or so.
Speaking of which, Galois's life was so ridiculously unlikely and affected by French politics it'd be very different TTL if he was born at all?
 

Thande

Donor
Part #218: Enter the Dragon

“James – just heard from Doug and Samantha that the IndyMerc is running that sh-, that stuff from the Croydon Uncovered Motext board; we need a plausible denial NOW, get a third party to quist Col. Davies and get him to issue a statement he was in Wales that weekend or something. We cannot let this get traction or we’re in deep – we’re done.”

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

*

(Dr. David Wostyn)

I believe that is all the material from ’12 Inventions’ that would be of use at present, though I will bring the remainder of the physical book back with me. Here are a final few segments from that other final book of Mr Batten-Hale’s, and then it will be time for Lt. Tindale to reopen the Portal...

*

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

Martin Hiedler is one of many names of western origin which today are ineluctably associated with China. However, this need not have been inevitable. He was one of many grandsons of Michael Hiedler, the great and controversial leader of the Bavarian Kleinkrieg, the Kleinkrieg which gave its name to resistance movements across the world forever after. When Hiedler the elder died shortly before the outbreak of the Popular Wars, he left behind a large and disputed number of children by his second wife Petra Schickelgruber. The assassination of Francis II of Austria and the escalation of the Popular Wars in Germany was in part due to the conflict between factions of Kleinkriegers led by these potential heirs jockeying for position (the ‘Hiedlerkampf’), although it is important to realise that the Kleinkriegers were no more respectful of the hereditary principle than the Jacobins they had fought for many years. A few of Hiedler’s children were respected in their own right, but Martin’s own father Emil was a younger son, still in his teens when the patriarch died, and played no real role in the ensuing struggle. It was not the case that the Hiedler name alone would be enough for some ambitious Kleinkrieger warlord to use a boy such as Emil as a puppet figurehead for his own faction—as is sometimes suggested by popular depictions of the Hiedlerkampf.

Emil Hiedler was one of several of the Hiedler sons to be successfully brought on side by King Victor Felix, latterly of Sardinia, when he was made King of Bavaria by the Congress of Brussels. Victor Felix was not himself necessarily the most gifted of men but brought peace to Bavaria by a combination of selecting able lieutenants, delegating appropriately to them, and a private paranoia that the loss of his previous kingdom would be repeated if he dared take his eye off the ball. Victor Felix surprised European public opinion by transforming Bavaria from a wartorn hellhole into a country that became a byword for peaceful neutrality in Europe and, under his son Amadeus, the headquarters of many international organisations. Emil Hiedler was never particularly ambitious, the antithesis of his father and his brash older brothers, and spent his time quietly as an administrator with a meaningful name, ending his career as Mayor of Passau on the border with Danubia.[1]

The blastic theorists[2] would doubtless claim that ambition is one of those blastic traits that skips a generation. Emil’s second son Martin had the fire of his grandfather, but it was purer, less brooding and self-destructive. Born in 1846, from an early age Martin was fascinated by the idea of seeing the world, once getting into trouble for stealing a globe from a merchant’s office in Munich. He would pore over the (often wildly exaggerated) accounts of distant climes in florin bloodies and popular magazines, which had boomed as Savoyard stability brought a return of literacy and education to the war-wracked Bavarian people. Bavaria itself was about as far as one could get from a place connected to the wider world, with its only contact being on the end of a very long line of trade that stretched to ports such as Antwerp, Konstanza and Venice.[3] Yet distant though those contacts were, they represented an important link. The young Martin avariciously read cyclopaediae that informed him that chocolate, that delicious foodstuff whose preparation was so synonymous with Bavarian culture, in fact originated from the New World and not so many centuries before had been entirely unknown in Europe. It was under the Savoyards that the chocolate trade returned to Bavaria after so many lean years of miserable occupation by first the Jacobins and then the Hapsburgs, and some commentators seriously suggested that it was this coup which led to such an unexpected outgrowth of public support for Victor Felix in the first place. Soon once again Bavaria became associated in European discourse with delicious cakes rather than bloody murder.

Yet it was in this increasingly peaceful and prosperous land of careful neutrality that the young Martin Hiedler found himself bored. He craved adventure and contact with the exotic, the unknown. It is likely something would have happened one way or the other regardless, but in the end his fate was decided when (after one youthful escapade too many) his father firmly packed him off to study law at the University of Frankfurt in 1864. At the time this was still a young institution, founded in 1839 in the aftermath of the Popular Wars by a committee which included many of the more academically-minded Schmidtists disappointed by the lukewarm achievements of the conflict in progress towards liberty and unity. The University had already become established as a home of freethinkers and radicals in both political and scientific theory when Germany was turned upside down by the Unification War. As attempted central control by Dresden became the norm for many institutions in the allegedly Federal Empire, the University became home to an academic cultural conflict between its radical core identity and the more conservative Saxon influence being stretched out by the forces loyal to the Bundeskaiser. If anything, this only made the University an even more intellectually invigorating place as factions of both sides clashed in debates which sometimes escalated into pub brawls. This was a fascinating time to be a student and unsurprisingly gave birth to some of the most influential men of the late nineteenth century. From Germany itself and the wider German-speaking lands we can easily name the asimconist Joseph Bruch, the astronomer Ludwig Wepper and the politician Gustaf Schefer as contemporaries of Martin Hiedler. Nor indeed need we stop there, for the University of Frankfurt’s groundbreaking reputation attracted both academics and students from across Europe: during his time there Hiedler might have encountered such future luminaries as David Grant, René Budet and Giacomo Bellincioni.

But it was not to be. The intellectual conflict of Frankfurt was not the kind that attracted a man like Hiedler. As he pranked his fellow students and casually switched sides in the ideological beer garden brawls based on which option looked most exciting, Hiedler was frustrated by the sense of armchair philosophers arguing over the world’s problems without ever going out to look upon that world. An apocryphal quote of his repeated by his contemporary Rudolph Neumann sums up his view: “When a man has climbed the highest mountain in the world, swum to the bottom of the deepest trench in the world, and eaten a meal at the table of every nation in the world—then he can consider the best way to govern any part of it. Until that time, life is too short to waste on such trifles.”

It was this attitude which has probably rendered Hiedler an enduringly popular figure with the young to this day, sustained by repeated film adaptations of his life cheerfully prone to exaggeration which the man himself would doubtless approve of. What he would likely not regard positively are the periodic attempts by various Apatheticist movements to use him as a figurehead for their attempts to ‘move past’ the Diversitarian-Societist dichotomy by simply dismissing the debate. As Hiedler displayed in later life, regardless of what frivolous dismissals he might make, when actually faced with the problem of governance, he put far more thought into the question than one might expect from these youthful beginnings. Besides, given what came towards the end of his life, it seems questionable at best (though perhaps possessing a certain symmetry) to use him as a way of ending the Diversitarian-Societism conflict...

Predictably, Hiedler was expelled from the University after a particularly unforgiveable incident including a firecracker and the famously humourless Professor Franz Riemann. Unwilling to return home to Bavaria, Hiedler left Grand Hesse with his wits and a small pot of savings largely based on gambling winnings. He took ship from the Belgian port of Antwerp with few specific goals in mind beyond a desire to see the world.

We need not concern ourselves too much with his early adventures, which in many ways can be considered redundant with those of many other adventurers in the Long Peace era. Hiedler was not the sort of man to make detailed accounts or diaries of his escapades and what we do know is largely garbled third-hand accounts made after the fact. Hiedler was no Liam Wesley, to deliberately profit off writings of what he got up to. In order to meaningfully benefit from these he would have to return to Europe, and that he had no intention of doing. It is known that he spent some time in Guinea and possibly briefly in the UPSA. He certainly took up a position with the euphemistically named Special Observation Force commissioned by President-General Valera, whose goal was to quietly enforce the Meridian economic tentacles being slowly extended throughout the formerly Dutch and Portuguese-influenced parts of southern Africa. Hiedler likely had a narrow escape in not being assigned to the Congo region given the proxy conflicts there really began to kick off in the late 1860s, to say nothing of the enduring problems of disease. Instead he was one of many soldiers (often non-Meridian in this unofficial foreign legion) to enforce the will of the Silver Torch and Golden Sun in the veldt.[4]

In retrospect it seems almost too neat that Hiedler would always be at the centre of proxy conflict between the Meridians and Americans, even in the times of peace following the Seventies Thaw. But that remained in the future when he was helping guard the Cape Dutch who, together with Boertrekker guides, sought to exploit the newly discovered gold and diamond mines in the interior of the Cape. This was the time of the great Cape Goldrush and Diamond Craze, a time when the Belgian Ostend Company bitterly discovered that they had successfully managed to lay claim to the only part of the former Dutch Cape Colony which lacked either commodity.[5] For many years the claim line between the Cape Republic and Anglo-American Natal had been allowed to be rather diffuse and fluxional. Who cared about those territories anyway? They were good farmland, but who would risk using them as such given the ever-present possibility of raids by the powerful and politically astute Matetwa Empire?[6]

According to the lines drawn on the map, Natal laid claim to what turned out to be the majority of the gold and diamond deposits as well as the coalfields, which were increasingly important for great powers seeking to run globe-spanning war and merchant fleets of steamships. While Natal’s coal industry aimed at supporting the Royal and Imperial Navies, the Cape Dutch initially sold to the highest bidder, but with the increasing Meridian influence there as with all the former Dutch colonial remnants, the Meridian Armada achieved an unofficial monopoly. What with Platinea’s own lack of many coal deposits and increasingly hungry industry, some enterprising captains even achieved a small but consistent profit margin by bringing a hold full of excess Cape Coal back up the River Plate when they returned. Soon enough, the Meridian hunger for gold and carbon in both its forms led to increasing encroachment on the unofficial border (which, as with African and Indian conflict both before and since, continued regardless of the moves towards peace closer to home under Araníbar and Braithwaite). Both sides ruthlessly preyed upon the other through unofficial intermediaries, whether it be the Meridian Special Observation Force and their Anglo-American counterparts, the Natal Rangers, or by paying off Matetwa and Bechuana factions to raid one another’s mining camps.

The Bloody Diamond Fields made a few men rich, but too many of those were the writers who used it as a setting in their best-selling florin bloodies. First and foremost the conflict was always a state-backed affair, in which the Natalese should theoretically have had the advantage but were repeatedly hamstrung by internal arguments. During the long period of Marleburgensian and then Populist rule in Great Britain, the Americans had increasingly risen to take a more proactive and guiding role in what had once been called the British Empire. Now several factors had come to undermine that: Britain was electing governments more engaged in foreign affairs once again, America was more consumed by the immediate threat closer to home of Carolina and her Meridian imperial overlord, and the Great Jihad in India led to both countries blaming one another for incompetence in colonial administration. The whole affair poisoned the atmosphere in Port Natal between the British and American administrators and allowed a power vacuum into which increasingly ambitious Cape Dutch and Meridian operators sought to establish mining concerns deep inside what was titularly Natalese territory.

The whole affair would not be settled until the close of the 1880s, and it is easy to see how it could have been a catalyst for an earlier war—the whole world can seem a powder keg of them at times and an observer may marvel that it took as long as it did for the Pandoric War to break out. Nonetheless, Hiedler was once again bored. If he had hoped that his role in the SOF would put him in a position where he could stumble across a hoard of diamonds or gold for his own use, he was mistaken. There was a lot of hard, miserable work and not a lot to show for it. His youthful fantasies had not focused on these barren continental interiors (as he saw them, uncaring of shooting exotic animals as some of his contemporaries loved) but on exotic and mysterious cities. At some point in 1868 Hiedler switched sides, possibly over a botched attempt to betray a Boertrekker diamond miner he was meant to be guarding. He served in the Natal Rangers for about one more year but found the Anglo-American service no more conducive towards his aims, eventually making just enough from his wages and the odd palmed gold nugget to pay for his passage on from Port Natal.

A rare fragment of a letter surviving from this time suggests that Hiedler’s goal remained vague and he considered either India or China as a possible destination. It is certainly interesting, though fundamentally fruitless, to speculate on how history may have turned out differently if he had opted for the former. A widely-repeated but apparently foundationless story suggests that Hiedler was put off the Indian option after an altercation with one of the many Natalese Bengalis in Port Natal. This appears to date only from a German silent film of Hiedler’s life shown in 1918, Der Krieghetzer, and it is likely the director put the scene in as much to fix it in a recognisable time period as for any other reason.

For this was the time when the Bengalis of Natal, who had been transported to Africa beginning in the late 1810s primarily to serve on the sugar plantations established there, began agitating for civil rights. By this point some Natalese Bengalis were third generation immigrants and had escaped their original lowly origins. Many had fled the plantations to try their own hand at diamond or gold mining and a few had made fortunes that way; some used their wealth to return to India, but others remained in Natal and became uncomfortably important men for the white establishment’s tastes. Of course, we should not ignore the fact that the vast majority of these Bengalis (like their white counterparts) came back from the veldt with nothing but broken dreams, if they came back at all. Certainly contact between the Bengalis and the Matetwa must be responsible for the still unclear emergence of Islam among the Matetwa in the 1870s, a division of faith (when Xhosa and Bechuana were mostly if erratically and syncretically becoming Christians) which would impact upon Cape politics for decades to come.

With Nurul Huq’s example back home in Bengal and periodic contact between the communities, led by those who had won big in their diamond gambles, the Natalese Bengalis began fighting for equal rights. They would not obtain those for many years to come, but their activities nonetheless transformed the relationship between the races in Natal. It is worth pointing out that many historians believe the Natalese Bengalis had actually moved overconfidently and bitten off more than they could chew, and if the white Anglo-American ruling classes had moved decisively and with unity, the strike action by the Bengali dockers could have been suppressed at the start. But with continuing suspicion between Americans and Britons, this was not the case...

So regardless of his reasons, Hiedler instead went to China. The early 1870s were an exciting time to be alive in China, which is not necessarily a good thing. The Second Riverine War between the two Chinas had ended with a Feng victory, leading to many commentators confidently predicting that it was only a matter of time before the crippled Beiqing northern dynasty collapsed in on itself. They would have a long time waiting, not least because the Second Riverine War was immediately followed by the Second Sino-Siamese War in which the Feng suffered a minor but embarrassing defeat. It would be greatly aesthetically pleasing (in an admittedly detached sort of way) if Hiedler had been present during the latter conflict given his later career, but in 1871 he was still gambling away the last of his African money in the White Dragon Casino in Shantou—or rather in the westernised suburb of Queshi, a large and bustling town whose formal title of ‘Outsiders’ Village’ now seemed increasingly farcical. It was while Hiedler was engaged in this determined attempt to render himself a flat-broke irrelevant footnote to history that he had an unlikely encounter with Hao Xingjian which changed the course of his life forever.

In some ways Hao Xingjian’s background resembled that of Martin Hiedler. Like Hiedler, he was descended from a great man who had made history at the turn of the nineteenth century (Hao Jicai, one of the ‘Phoenix Men’ who had founded the Feng Dynasty) but also like Hiedler, he was a distant relative (a great-nephew in his case) among so many others that he could trade little on his name alone. Hao was a colonel in the Anbei Emperor’s army and received patronage from his uncle Hao Yantuo, who was a significant political figure in the inner court though he held little in the way of titular offices—for now.[7] Having been trained in European military technology and tactics by the modernised Feng army (a process completed by the two recent wars), Hao was incessantly curious about Europeans and often sneaked into the Outsiders’ Villages in disguise to better observe them when they let their guard down. This was almost his downfall. Dressed as a common labourer, he was attacked in the street outside the White Dragon casino by a footpad and rescued by the passing, penniless Hiedler. It was the decision of a moment from the Bavarian: under other circumstances he might easily have shrugged and left Hao to his fate. Once again, it is difficult for any student of history not to dwell on such what-ifs when considering Hiedler’s life.

But Hiedler did save Hao, and the two became fast friends. Hiedler was cynically amused by the perfect symmetry that Hao regarded China as a dull place and dreamed of visiting the exotic lands of Europe. They shared tales of each others’ homelands over bottles of miiju and Hao revealed he was looking for experienced mercenaries to help bulk out a military expedition his uncle was planning. The elder Hao was looking to gain political advantage from the number of Chinese soldiers being demobbed as the army scaled down operations from the two major wars it had just fought. He had a plan. Hiedler had not casually exaggerated his experience in vain. A year later later, the private ‘Anxi Army’ set out from its depot in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, with the goal in mind of reclaiming the west of China unambiguously for the Anbei Emperor. While provinces such as Gansu and Huijiang had been ceded by the Beiqing at the end of the Second Riverine War, pacification continued and Hao Yantuo’s original hope was to win glory with his private troops in doing so. Initially this plan turned out to be a damp squib. The people of the northwestern provinces seemed disappointingly eager to welcome the Feng as liberators, not least due to the relaxation of the often oppressive Beiqing tax regime (being perhaps over-optimistic about what the Feng would replace it with). Another of Hiedler’s rarely surviving letters from 1874 records that at least he had moved some way towards his goal of ‘eating a meal from every table in the world’. His biographer Rupprecht Baumgartner suggests that this may have been a euphemism, and certainly there are claims of a trail of children with rather European features left in a string of towns and villages in Gansu and Huijiang.

Hiedler himself may have played a small role in what came next, though it appears to be mostly Hao the younger’s idea. Frustrated by the failure of his uncle’s scheme, Hao suggested they locate another area to extend the Anbei Emperor’s control over, perhaps a region that had been lost to Chinese control altogether in the nineteenth century. After some brief consideration towards the Kazakh-Dzungar lands beyond the New Great Wall, the Anxi Army instead set out for Tibet, which had been under the sway of the Gorkha Empire since 1810. The Gorkhas themselves had been under Chinese vassalage for almost thirty years before that following their defeat in a Tibetan war by the Daguo Emperor’s forces, but since the Three Emperors’ War they had been lords of all they had surveyed, ruling over the great expanse of Tibet and raiding and oppressing its Buddhist people thanks to their own Hindoo beliefs. The Gorkhas had clashed with European colonial powers in India in the 1810s and eventually been expelled from Oudh by the British, but had staked out a strong position that had meant they were treated with respect by the Europeans in trade.

And, as is often the case, this strong position led to a legacy of complacency and indolence. By the 1850s, the children and grandchildren of those great conquerors were too often not fit to shine their kukris’ blades. Gorkha poets of the day were writing bitterly of the downfall of their culture even before the Great Jihad exploded and hurled Nepal on the back foot with the temporary Jihadi conquest of Oudh and the threatening of everywhere from Mysore to Goa. To their credit, the Gorkhas rallied and fought back, helped by the mountainous terrain of their homeland, and successfully resisted the Great Jihadis. In doing so the descendants perhaps earned the respect of their vanished forefathers. But they had also been fatally weakened. By the time the Great Jihad finally burnt itself out at the start of the 1860s, Nepal was struggling to hold down Tibetan revolts and her treasury had been depleted by the loss of trade with isolated British Bengal. By 1874 Tibet was once again firmly under Gorkha control, helped by the ruthless actions of the Gorkha general Paras Gurung, who would burn entire villages for harbouring one Tibetan Kleinkrieger fugitive. It was, in fact, very much like the Bavaria of Martin Hiedler’s grandfather.

And he loved it.

By 1878, not only had Tibet been freed from Gorkha rule by the Anxi Army, but Nepal itself was forced to accept renewed Chinese vassalage at the Treaty of Kathmandu. Historians point out that while popular histories emphasise the indolence of Nepal in the lazy years of the first half of the nineteenth century, the reality suggests that the Gorkhas fought bravely and well but were fundamentally overcome by the superior training and weaponry of the modernised Chinese force. This did not stop individual Gurkha heroes from being a terror in the night to Anxi troops, and sentries famously refused to stand guard in groups of fewer than three, lest they wake up to find their heads rolling away. Finally we should not ignore the fact that the Gorkhas themselves erupted into a power struggle between the established Shah dynasty and their Basnyat rivals, who saw the defeats in Tibet as an opportunity to seize power. This disunity undoubtedly helped the Anxi a great deal.

Regardless, the reconquest of Tibet and Nepal was seen as a great victory for Feng China, and the private mission was retroactively deemed an Imperial one. Hao Xingjian and Martin Hiedler, both still young men, were feted as heroes in Hanjing and Hao the elder rose to the position of Deputy Foreign Minister at court. In the end, of course, he would be eclipsed by his nephew.

The victory was not merely a military one. By opening passes such as Nathu La to Chinese control, Hao and Hiedler had changed the economic landscape of East Asia beyond all recognition. The Privatisation of Bengal to raise money for British and American government coffers had always been conducted with the understanding that, regardless of lessening direct control over Bengal as a whole, so long as Calcutta and other ports remained under a BEIC monopoly, Britain and America controlled the only possible route for Bengali trade with external markets. That had seemed only more emphatic as the Great Jihad devastated the Indian interior and robbed any partially-independent Bengal of local trading partners. However, suddenly China could trade directly with Bengal through Nepal and Sikkim, and Bengalis had direct access to the vast Chinese market (albeit on Chinese terms) rather than working through the maritime BEIC route. To be sure, the trans-Himalayan trade routes were themselves hardly straightforward and quite hazardous, but China’s ancestral fascination with India as the home of Buddhism ensured there would always be an enduring interest. Indeed, in 1890 the enterprising traders Lao Zhangli and Robert Dujardin founded the Tripitaka Tours Company, claiming to transport wealthy Chinese hoping to display their piety along a slightly wishful-thinking reconstruction of Xuanzang’s seventh-century pilgrimage route.[8] The fact this was possible by this point illustrates how pacified Nepal and its neighbours were by this point by both Chinese and Anglo-American-Bengali forces extending their military and economic power over parts of the Gangetic Plain once again, as was true for the French, Meridians and others elsewhere.

Hiedler’s fame as one of the victors of the Tibetan War ensured his survival in an era when the Feng were slowly and meticulously pensioning off politically unreliable European officers from the Imperial Army. While he remained close to Hao, though, as the latter’s military and political fortunes waxed and waned through his many ups and downs at court, Hiedler sometimes found himself exiled to the frontiers of China as resident General on Hainan Island or Military Attaché of the Ambassador to the Liaodong Republic. He yearned for another war which would allow him to prove himself in his own element once again, but as the Beiqing dynasty was drawn ever more closely into the disputed embrace of Russia, Corea and France, it seemed unlikely that this would happen...

We really cannot go any further without addressing the peculiarly persistent conspiracy theory that Hiedler was in fact a crossdressing woman (often identified with Dorothea Hiedler, who was in fact his infant sister who died at a young age). The exact origins of this are hard to pin down. Some have suggested that in his youth, prior to the wearing of age and of battle scars, Hiedler had had a lithe frame and delicate facial features for such an oft brutal warrior and it had begun as a taunt by his rivals. Others have pointed to a disputed reference to him having long hair at one point in his early service with Hao, which may simply have been aping the queue pigtail style still worn by many Feng subjects. However, it seems most likely that it began simply as an attack by jealous political and military enemies in China suggesting that he was close enough to Hao to be having an affair. Why the Chinese did not simply accuse them of being sodomites may be explained (according to K. Gordon Arthur in his biography of Hao) by the traditional Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, the crossdressing female soldier, which had just seen a new and popular operatic adaptation in 1870s Hanjing starring the famous soprano Zhen Liqiao. The fact that some other stories linked Hiedler romantically to Zhen might also have played a role. Regardless, the exact origins of this murky myth remain unclear, but no credible historian takes the idea seriously: the nineteenth century had quite enough real examples of crossdressing female soldiers in the Great American and Riverine Wars without inventing new ones.

Barring the odd incident here and there, Hiedler then vanished from history until the year 1896, when he would suddenly and briefly become the most important person in the world...










[1] Note that King Amadeus’ Bavaria is rather smaller than the entity that bears that name today in OTL, and for example does not include places such as Nuremberg or Ingolstadt.

[2] A group who perhaps read too much into the idea of genetically inherited family characteristics. ‘Blastic’ is here used in a similar sense to ‘genetic’ in OTL discourse.

[3] Konstanza is the German form of Constanța, which is an important Danubian city in TTL due to Danubian control over almost the entirety of the titular river. The city is actually formally known as Constantia on official maps due to the Danubians promoting the use of Latin as an official lingua franca, but in practice German remains the language of power and discourse. The population of the city itself is still mostly Vlach but its importance as the chief Danubian port has led to an increased settlement of mostly middle-class Austro-Germans, Hungarians and so on.

[4] As noted below, this is a bit of a romantic stretching of terminology, as the Meridian-influenced Cape Republic-claimed areas only cover a small amount of what could accurately be called ‘the veldt’, which is mostly in Natal.

[5] A slight exaggeration but not much of one. The Belgian-controlled area corresponds to approximately the western halves of the present-day Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa.

[6] Note that as the Boers (or ‘Boertrekkers’) never significantly reached the areas in west-central South Africa associated with them in OTL, the region is not especially in the consciousness of westerners until the discovery of gold and diamonds. The reasons behind this are largely that South Africa never became British in TTL (except Natal) and while some Boertrekkers sought to escape the control of Kaapstad after the Vorderman conflict, this was never as urgent as their trek in OTL.

[7] The Anbei Emperor, who succeeded the Jixu Emperor, took an era name staking out his ambitions – it means ‘to pacify the north’.

[8] Xuanzang was a Tang Dynasty monk who journeyed to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures as those used in China at the time were incomplete. Almost a thousand years later, the true story of his journey formed the basis (with many imaginative embellishments!) of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en.
 
Last edited:
So another Bad Duke, except this one's a Hitler?

Could you please cover some more on the Matetwa Empire? That seems pretty interesting. Also, a Southern Chinese Tibet and Nepal is certainly new.
 
Great... So, there now exists a conspiracy theory about the... erm... Crossdressing Hitler of China.

Well done.

Just, well done.

I believe that is all the material from ’12 Inventions’ that would be of use at present, though I will bring the remainder of the physical book back with me. Here are a final few segments from that other final book of Mr Batten-Hale’s, and then it will be time for Lt. Tindale to reopen the Portal...
Oooh! Looking forward to next chapter, then! :D
 
Top