"Power Without Knowledge...": President Haig and the Era of Bad Feelings

Just for fun: What's a better name for the Gestaltgeist iteration of the Cosmintern?

  • Cosmicist Interstellar (Cosminstel)

  • Cosmicist Intersidereal (Cosminside)

  • Keep it the same! They're still nations even if they're on another planet!

Results are only viewable after voting.
Heartland: Demimonde
Having given some more thought to my original Heartland ideas I had the idle thought to combine it with my The King in Yellow scenario, so as of now Heartland in-universe would roughly consist of a combination of these three posts:

(Click the post to see them)

I'm also mulling over changes to the in-universe title of Sutter's novel 🤔
Since I'm all over the place have some more extraneous details for the setting 😅
Tangentially related to the broader King in Yellow project, I've been giving some idle thought to an altered list of presidents for Demimonde, the science fantasy story-within-a-story version of this TL for my Power Without Knowledge timeline/Oubliette novel. As a quick refresher, Aleister Crowley discovers industrialized goetia, there's fearsome critters and human subspecies running around, and the 2CoC is fought against an earlier Franco-British Empire. Without further ado:
  • William McKinley (National Union, 1897-1905)
    • The point of divergence with the main timeline is in 1904, when Crowley moves to the US and parleys some family money into a business venture and sets the world onto a path of occult climate change.
  • Charles Fairbanks (National Union, 1905-09)
  • William Jennings Bryan (Populist, 1909-17)
    • The Populists are a bit more manic at this point in the TL, with the nature of the new industrial revolution really riling up their Christian fundamentalist wing.
  • Beekman Winthrop (Independence, 1917-25)
    • William Randolph Hearst is his vice president and has turned into a fire breathing lion creature. It's surprisingly less of an issue than you might think, though he loses his own bid for the presidency.
  • Warren G. Harding (National Union, 1925-33)
  • Howard Philips Lovecraft (Independence, 1933-53)
    • The new "sciences" are able to treat his cancer, so he remains president and wins another term, with Clark Ashton Smith as his veep throughout. Among other things he founds the reborn Knights of the Golden Circle (standing in for the Church of Starry Wisdom here), leads America through the Second Clash of Civilizations as per usual and devotes his postwar presidency to establishing relations with the tzitzimime and addressing the issue of goetic contamination, and eventually dies in 1960.
  • Earl Long (Populist, 1953-58)
  • William Dudley Pelley (American Workingmen's Party, 1958-61)
    • Pelley is just the straight up leader of the token esoteric racist party here rather than an author and was chosen as part of a coalition against the Independence Party, only for a different version of Long's assassination to put him in the Oval. America's in for a rough couple of years.
  • Robert E. Howard (Independence, 1961-6X)
As I'm currently conceiving of it my protagonist in the past portion of Oubliette will spend a chapter early on in a dream taking place in ~1947 in this scenario, serving as the inciting incident for his arc throughout the book. Meanwhile the "novel" would exist in a finished form in the future portion, a nice pulpy urban fantasy spy thing set during the apocalyptic 1960 election.
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Mountains of Madness: Refining Zoranism
I know you're all likely sick of the fact that I actively adjust the canon of the TL as I work through it but I've had some further thoughts on Zoranism I thought I'd lay out here. Originally I was going to tack on a new version of my metaphysics map of meaning here as well as a sort of visual distillation of Esocosmicist foundational principles* but my Zoranism updates have unfolded in such a way that my map of meaning will get a post all its own when I finish.

First off, I'm tweaking William Dyer's history to better tie him in to the prequel short story I'm trying to get included in the SLP Antarctica anthology. Rather than a Regressive activist having his vision quest in the early 2000s he'll instead be a journalist having one while reporting on the Antarctic theater of the Anglo-Argentine War in 1983/84. Rather than Meditations Under the Southern Cross his book would instead be titled the far more provocative Christ on a Southern Cross, though it would still be a blend of science fiction and Theosophy rather than an overtly Christian denomination.

Dyer's work would remain relatively obscure throughout the first century or so after his revelation, only gaining large numbers of adherents in the religious melting pot of East Antarctica. The combination of early proto-Zoranism with the Nasrist strain of Regression concentrated in the future Leng RC/Symzonia Territory and a resurgent Yiguandao** in the future Xanadu would shape the faith into its current form, with the rise of the first High Priest Not To Be Described and the basic structure of the Nameless Priests in their monasteries and the Gyrovague wandering priests-errant.

From there the spread of Cosmicism provoked the first major schism in the new Zoranist Movement, with the majority embracing Sutter's vision as the best way to pursue their ecological and social goals while the minority cleaved to Regression, retreated into Symzonia and reformed into the Tsalal Hetmanates. By the current stage a rapprochement between the two seems to be in the cards since the Tsalal have toned down their insurgency, though an outright reunification of the faith seems unlikely. The Esocosmicists are the other major schism, but they're not actively resisting the government or the Lengite heart of Orthodox Zoranism so they get overlooked most of the time.

I've decided the core Zoranist cosmogony revolves around a concept I'm calling Solid-State Panentheism. , something best encapsulated by the common Zoranist salutation "Was, is, will be", though whether it's a greeting or a farewell, a blessing or a curse, depends on context. SSP can be broken down into two primary tenets:
  1. God is the universe and the divine infinite, everything that was/is/will be and was not/is not/will not be. God in the Zoranist conception is conflated with Ultima Ayesha*** and is associated with both Shakti and Wusheng Laomu. Whether she's an actual deity, some sort of universal consciousness or a metaphor to be considered in daily life depends on the practitioner, though the understanding is that every person, object and process is simply a small part of a single vast multidimensional cosmic organism regardless of how self-aware it actually is.
  2. God is fixed, always. Spacetime is a solid and cannot be changed, period. Our inability to truly perceive God gives the illusion of free will, but that's all it is at the end of the day. The implications of this are open to interpretation, with schools of thought concerning themselves with whether the illusion of time is "flowing" in both directions simultaneously (even though we're only conscious of one) or if alternate universes exist but are just as fixed as we are, and clearly not the universe we as we perceive ourselves are currently inhabiting.
Zoranism believes in reincarnation owing to the illusion of free will and the suppression of the Three Poisons, though whether every individual is distinct or the same conscious facet of the universe filling every role across time and space simultaneously is an open question. Here's where we get to the supernatural. Zoranists prefer the term "transmundane" to "supernatural", since in their thinking nothing could possibly be beyond nature, but events and actors of this type are considered "resonances" in the divine crystalline structure of the solid-state universe organism, radiating backwards/forward/sideways in time and lacking physical presence but not existence. This handily explains both the Zoranist root races without any need for archeological evidence and any visions or the like experienced by the faithful, since all things are part of the illusion of the flow of the universe and nothing has a concrete existence outside of the illusion anyway.

The core Zoranist symbol is still Zoran's Equation (representing the illusion of perfect knowledge of the divine infinite) and I'm retconning the Tsalal Vajra symbol to be a secondary symbol of the faith proper, representing Solid-State Panentheism as a doctrine as the intersection of insurmountable solidity, irresistable power, and the illusion of self symbolized by the vril symbol in the sigil. Currently Zoranism is the largest single religious tradition in Antarctica, smaller than the irreligious/nondenominational population but still far larger than (in order) Yiguandao, a strain of Antarctic Shaktism, Liberation Christianity, and a school of ecological Islam. Various ethnoreligions and new religious movements have a smattering of followers throughout the continent, but none are large enough to break out of the "Other" category on a pie chart of Antarctic religions.

*It'll be a triptych, incidentally, and hopefully simultaneously symbolically dense but easier to parse. When it's done the post will include an in-universe analysis of its components to help it all tie together better.

**The transition of the Second Republic of China into the Neoconfucian Third Republic saw a continued resurgence in Chinese new religious movements, with the new form of Yiguandao serving as an overtly feminist counterbalance to the patriarchal Neoconfucianism. It's part of the reason so many of them ended up in Antarctica in the first place, though it did end up introducing the Three Suns among other things to the Zoranist philosophy.

***As the personification of the Antarctic people and the global precariat more generally it feeds into the "Maitreya as collective egregore" concept embraced most fully by the Esocosmicists.
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Since the SLP anthology got pushed back I'm going to do a third draft hinting more broadly to this project and resubmit it over the next few days. Fingers crossed it gets picked up!
More notes on future faiths
One benefit of the uchronian genre (especially future history stories) is the opportunity to explore divergent religious movements, though like divergent ideologies it's unfortunately an underexplored avenue*. From the earliest concept of this TL I wanted to include some strain of revolutionary religious weirdness, and an evolution of Theosophy seemed like the natural choice. Aside from allowing me to have a new religious movement become the dominant faith in a global superpower the ability to claim that all religions contain versions of the truth nicely complements the Cosmicist emphasis on a vast and universal wealth of human knowledge to draw on. It also gives me the opportunity to have a massive triple goddess statue combining Ultima Ayesha, Shakti and Wusheng Laomu in the center of the High Monastery of Leng. I saw it in a dream and had to bring it into the timeline but my process is at least partially based on very strange dreams so it works.

More notes on religious weirdness:
  • Given settlement patterns and early history the most religious section of the ARC from the transportation period to the "present" is (as previously mentioned) in the Indic portion** of East Antarctica. There's some minor concern in the more secular regions that Zoranism has coopted Ultima Ayesha for their own use (and that the ARC uses a central symbol of the movement in its flag), but even as a secularized philosophical movement Zoranism is still common in the rest of the continent, the figure of Ultima Ayesha predates her adoption by the faith, and the symbol is used as a metaphorical aspiration for the state's fervent pursuit of knowledge (and space expansion).
  • Among their many doctrinal differences with the pure faith the Tsalal do not have Nameless Priests or monasteries, with their priestly caste composed entirely of Gyrovagues, but also ones with vastly more temporal authority (within Symzonia) than their counterparts enjoy in the wider continent. This suits the semi-nomadic nature of the Hetmanates.
  • The dominant strain of Antarctic Hinduism is a Shaktist analogue of Nayaa Rasta as a little nod to the excellent Clive-Less World TL, though it lacks its inspiration's focus on not treating illnesses (in the original version a bid to ensure karmic reward and punishment, I guess?) and favors a broad social welfare system. There's also a high degree of syncretism in Indic Greater Antarctica in general, with plenty of Zoranist, Nayaa Rasta and Yiguandao believers also subscribing at least in part to one or both of the other major faiths.
  • The Abrahamic faiths would get little if any focus in the novel proper, if only for the sake of being overutilized, though it would suit the Kyriarchy's perception that the Cosmicists are all evil lunatics*** if the dominant Christian tradition was something like the Church of Lucifer from the Lucifer's Star series, i.e. a Gnostic sort of faith that regarded Jesus as a reformed and redeemed Lucifer making up for his sins and fall from grace. It would give me an excuse to have a Christian denomination where my fan favorite Infancy Gospel of Thomas could be an integral part of the canon and I could probably fold in some Yazidist flavor in the bargain since Antarctica becomes a homeland for all sorts of persecuted and dispossessed groups trickling down from the blasted and bigoted north 🤔
  • Public preaching is allowed if you have a permit and stick to designated spaces, churches and other religious buildings are subject to the same tax regimen as every other business, and denominational school/government prayer is verboten (though most schools have a small window blocked out for private prayer and meditation).

*Shout out to @Napoleon53 and the AFC! It's unleashed hell on earth but it's a fascinating addition to the genre nonetheless 😂

**Basically the continent is divided into three major geographic partitions: Lesser Antarctica (the Antarctic Archipelago of New Nantucket, Caprona and Dakkar) and Greater Antarctica (divided in turn into Atlantic and Indic halves based on the ocean they border). Dakkar is considered an outlier in its region and is closer to its Indic neighbors in rates of religiosity. In the Protonga RC it varies based on which island you're on.

***They're intense, sure, but most of the stuff actively meant to seem threatening is rooted in deliberate praxis of psyops to unsettle their enemies. Ironically the Church of Christ, Lightbearer is not that, being a sincere expression of religious faith with a lot of misconceptions in the broader world.
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Writing on the Wall: An Antarctic Syllabus
Student: Douglas Amundsen, Academic Year 12184
Antarctic University of New Nantucket
Course Materials for History and Political Theory 210- Rise and Fall of the American Commonwealth Party
Professor- Vivian Borchgrevink

I: Course Outline
You are all well aware of the aborted Second American Revolution and the impact of the meteoric rise and bloody suppression of the American Commonwealth Party as a crucial link in the chain of modern Antarctic history. It was, after all, the exiled remnants of the party that would first import Cosmicism to the Antarctic Economic Territories and found the Antarctic Cosmicist Party that would form the nucleus of our own revolution. This is a matter of historiography distorted by nearly 150 years of intervening history and geopolitical shifts. It is crucial to understand that the Commonwealth Party was not founded as a revolutionary vanguard, or even as a wholly Cosmicist project, regardless of how the group is commonly portrayed in the popular consciousness. Through this course you will be familiarized with the electoral contours of the Era of Bad Feelings in the rapidly decaying United States, the gradual evolution of Commonwealth Party platform, and its inevitable betrayal and suppression, and will come away with a more nuanced and better informed picture of the Antarctic foundational myth.

II: Supplemental Materials
"President Haig and the Era of Bad Feelings", Sarah Williams (12000)
Tainted Victories: Contingent Elections in the Second American Century, Adrian Crean (12150)
The Shatter: 2020 in Review, Peter Mitchell (12022)
Blood on the Streets: Political Paramilitaries in the American Years of Lead, Michael Parsons (12065)
The Cosmicist Manifesto: Precarity in the Cthulhucene, Daniel Sutter (12026)
Platform of the Commonwealth Party, various (12030)
A Plea for Normality, Sarah Williams (12032)
The Insular Territories: Colonization to Kanaloa, Adrian Crean (12157)
Platform of the Commonwealth Party, various (12040)
Platform of the Commonwealth Party, various (12060)
A Dream Deferred: Coup, Crackdown, Exodus, Adrian Crean (12160)
Platform of the Antarctic Cosmicist Party, various (12080)
Embers in the Dark: Cosmicism in the North American Union, Adrian Crean (12176)

III: Lecture Schedule
Lectures Monday and Wednesday from 9 to 11 AM, excluding the month of June and all continental holidays. Office hours Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 2 PM.

IV: Grading
Attendance: 10%
Essays: 60%
Presentations: 30%
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Writing on the Wall: Leviathan Part III
It doesn't assauge @andry2806's critique that I'm too scholastic with my fictional ideology but here's a new development that occured to me out of the blue 😅

Here's some more development* for Cosmicism! This concerns a development I'm calling "deformed states and the degenerated state", and while the terms themselves are lifted from (and loosely inspired by) Trotsky their scope is considerably broader.
  1. Since the defining feature of the Nihilist stage of the Leviathan is that it's the accumulated shambles of all the previous stages, having putrefied so thoroughly that it strangles the natural maturation of the next stage, in my conception the entire stage would be described as a single degenerated state referring to a disjointed world order under the sway of a global kyriarchy rather than Trotsky's focus on individual worker's states under the control of a party elite.
  2. Deformed states, meanwhile, would refer to the point after material or cultural pressures fundamentally alter the course of the prior stages, forcing them down a path where their own contradictions and compromises ensure their inevitable demise and lead to the creation of the following stage. This plays into Trotsky's distinction between the two, where deformed worker's states never reach their ideal form because of internal and external forces. The ideal possible course history avoided would be a hauntology.
In the revised form, the process would flow from the inciting acceleration to the inevitable historical point that mutilates it into a deformed state to the necropolitics left after the inevitable rise and maturation of a new acceleration. As an attempt to hotwire and bootstrap our modern accelerations/hauntologies to escape the Nihilist global death drive the theorists of the Cosmintern believe they've escaped the trap of the deformed state, especially because nothing in their history or strategy is outside the bounds of the founding conditions Sutter expected, though perhaps the rise of the Maximalists itching for total war and Final Victory mean they've finally reached that point. I haven't decided yet, though it would definitely give the period the novel is set in a different tone if they were at the start of an inevitable decline 🤔

Anyway, here are my initial thoughts about the deformed state for each stage of my historical process. Yes, I know they couldn't have helped but become deformed given historical conditions, but that's half the point. Most of these "ideal" hauntologies would have their own baked in flaws, but they could've endured longer and in a nobler and more empowering way such that the actual course of history is a succession of dystopias by comparison.
  • Imperium actually produced two failed states, the European model (where the bourgeoisie ran rampant) and the Chinese one (where the bourgeoisie was overly suppressed but effectively controlled). The former led to the development of the Liberal stage and the latter stifled innovation, left the system vulnerable to outside pressure and was eventually snuffed out. The middle road would've been some form of developed cameralism where an ecosystem of private interests could support the state effectively and raise living standards without supplanting traditional systems of control.
  • Liberalism is relatively simpler, with the conservative reaction to the rise of mass democracy and the failures and blindspots of the progressive movements leaving the achievements of both seen as a historical half measure that couldn't effectively check corporate exploitation or class/race antagonism. The ideal would've been a genuinely mass democracy (without racial or class barriers) that employed Georgist methods to yoke the exploiting class to the popular welfare.
  • Socialism entered its deformed state with the October revolution, locking the process on a path that ignored Marx's original conditions and attempted to jump from feudal agrarianism to socialism without the necessary intervening steps.
  • Fascism's deformed state was caused by fighting and losing World War II. I know it was what the ideology demanded but it was still a historical mistake in this framework. The ideal would've been a mature form of Futurism before all the reaction crept in.

*The things I do for ancillary worldbuilding 😅
There's a reason the Cosmicist Manifesto explicitly has a glossary at the end 😂
It doesn't assauge @andry2806's critique that I'm too scholastic with my fictional ideology but here's a new development that occured to me out of the blue 😅

There's a reason the Cosmicist Manifesto explicitly has a glossary at the end 😂
Hot diggity dang. Now I am thinking about a scenario where the four stages coexist in their ideal hauntologies, whatever that might look like
But on that note, how does an "ideal" Socialism look like from this perspective? Since you only described the deformed state, but not an ideal one
Writing on the Wall: Leviathan Renewed
But on that note, how does an "ideal" Socialism look like from this perspective? Since you only described the deformed state, but not an ideal one
Sorry, thought that was implied. "Ideal" Socialism would've manifested in an industrialized country either before or immediately after the October Revolution in line with Marx's theories. Basically the turning point where deformation became inevitable was the failure of the post-October revolutionary wave to manifest.
Hot diggity dang. Now I am thinking about a scenario where the four stages coexist in their ideal hauntologies, whatever that might look like
Since they all have flaws that's certainly possible and since true utopia is a sucker's bet that world would have its fair share of strife and bloodshed but it would still be a pinnacle of sanity compared to all the crap we went through. Off the top of my head:
  1. Cameralism develops further in northern Europe and a series of lucky breaks coupled with better efficiency at scale allows an alliance of Prussia and Sweden to outcompete their neighbors, expand and get in on the ground floor of the imperial game. Bonus points if it gets imported into China and Russia and causes them to modernise ahead of schedule. Expect an earlier Sweden-Norway and united Germany.
  2. There's still an Enlightenment-inspired rebellion in North America (since the frontier has a consistent effect of eroding centralized command and control historically), this time between a New Prussia somewhere in the South and a wildy successful New Sweden that survived somehow. We'll give Chaos TL a nod and call it something like the Federal Union of Atlantis or whatever. Bonus points if it starts as a peaceful process of administrative devolution and they just end up making a clean break. Race blindness and socially beneficial landholding wouldn't likely be an initial feature but it would have to get there relatively quickly to meet the mark, so that's what happens. For the sake of wacky political labels we'll call this stage "Freiheit" or something 🤔
  3. Since there's still class stratification and worker exploitation in the wake of the inevitable industrial revolution "scientific" socialism still arises in the middle 19th century, though likely from a Brit or a Dutchman in this scenario. Say hello to the Union of Britain(-Denmark?), just not in the KR Syndicalist sense. France would likely be Cameralist (since aspects OTL caught on in France) so they're out, but maybe an industrialized Japan/some portion of India that wasn't railroaded by colonialism would be likely candidates too. Say hello to yet another allohistorical Societism!
  4. Since there'd inevitably be an industrialized world war an analogue to Futurism is likely, but I'm not sure where it would crop up. It would have to be somewhere the threat of communism is real or perceived, there's a lot of emphasis on history and tradition to be discarded, and they'd have to feel they lost the war in some profound if not strictly literal sense. Maybe the Chinese reforms didn't go far enough? With socialism/Societism growing on either side and the feeling they got the short end of the stick in a war against Kalmar/German Indochina or whatever they'd be ripe for it. Given the weight of history it's also likely to catch on in South Atlantis. Futurism is a cool name so I'm keeping it.
  5. Since all of these "ideal" forms would still have their own flaws and contradictions there'd still be a watered down Nihilist stage of some kind, but given better founding conditions the Cosmicism analogue would arise sooner and maybe just butterfly that entirely? It would fit the ideological model by forming in the the ideal organic Volksgeist process of the gestation of new Leviathan stages after all, rather than having to claw its way out of an ideological corpse world. Maybe Russia ends up reforming after each new model in turn*, some altered form of Cosmism takes root and then the UN analogue after *World War II allows it to spread organically? A history of more effective and centralized states would likely create a scenario where the *UN was more powerful to begin with.
In fact, you know what, I'm canonizing this since I'm suddenly so taken with it. Say hello to Leviathan Renewed, another of the Cosmintern shared world media properties 😂

*In order: Catherine the Great begins importing cameralist systems, followed by a successful Freiheit-inspired Decemberist analogue velvet revolution and proper industrialization that sets the precedent for regular velvet cultural revolutions that install Societism, Futurism and eventually Cosmism in turn?
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I've been mulling over that new version of the ARC map I mentioned awhile back and I think I've got the new borders for the RCs settled in my mind's eye. Busy all next week but I'll try to get it mocked up sometime next weekend. Probably won't mock up a Protonga map, given that trying to figure out the borders of all those little islands with catastrophic sea level rise is a ton of work and my protagonist doesn't go there during the novel anyway 🤔 Here are the general name and border changes (complete with the new numbering) compared to the V1 map to give you an idea:
  1. New Nantucket is fine in size and shape, though since I'm starting from a clean base map the actual contours of the borders will likely be different.
  2. Caprona is in the same bucket as New Nantucket, expect minor changes in shape but not territory.
  3. Dakkar is going to get that little eastern archipelago from Xanadu, giving it a fitting vaguely nautiloid shape when paired with Karnak.
  4. Xanadu is going to get that tiny slice of coastline for that inland sea to its west.
  5. Leng is going to stretch from the far coastline of that little sea in a wedge shape that encompasses that coastal plain and the adjacent highlands.
  6. New Swabia gets the coastal mountain range but also gets the eastern third of the Riallaro coastline.
  7. Riallaro itself is going to get a name change, since I picked it when the region was going to be settled by Latin Americans in an early version god knows how long ago and now that it's going to instead be Warsaw Pact nations the pronunciation alone would be a nightmare, so instead I'm going with Kosekin.
  8. The old name for the capital district (Star City) will obviously be changed to the canon one (Karnak) in the legend.
  9. The Symzonia Territory/Tsalal is going to have a suitably blobby shape, encompassing that central mountainous region (home to the largest surviving glacier on the continent) plus that more or less isolated lowland patch to the northwest with the cluster of lakes in the middle.
I may recycle Riallaro, reducing Caprona to the name of the larger island in that RC and making Caspak the name of the smaller one, it would be nice to use both names since they describe the same island in the series they're from but I haven't made up my mind yet.

For the sake of further flavor I've decided to appropriate the four Luls from Green Antarctica (in the same position they're in in that TL) for the major gulfs/bays/seas exposed by the melting ice since the geography makes those terms a bit hazy and it can even be justified narratively since the ARC is naming features and internal divisions by sampling from fiction set in the continent and the TL exists as a novel that fills the Draka nich in universe. Those will be the only features named from that work, with lakes, mountains and other natural features given more conventional ones from other sources. For example, with the melting of the ice the Weddell Sea has been renamed the Altrurian Sea and the Ross, Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas have been amalgamated into a single Lemurian Sea.
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Antarctic naming conventions are weird all around, but to be fair I think I can justify such a thorough renaming regimen. For one thing, as the first proper civilization endemic to the continent, they see it as their right to change names for places that they see as pseudo-colonial impositions by the same states that surrendered their commitment to keep the continent as lowly exploited as possible and directly led to their ancestors being sent there (or fleeing overwhelmingly Northern-caused climate change) in the first place. It also "helps" that the deglaciation of most of the continent has also effectively wiped most features and regions from the earth. In that sense appropriating from cultural works set on the continent allows them to construct a connection to a backformed and sufficiently diverse cultural tradition without the geopolitical baggage.

At the same time they do actively memorialize the explorers who braved the continent and risked their lives even if they didn't keep the place names they inspired, with the widespread use of these "Antarctic" names also maintaining a living connection to the early years of Antarctic Cosmicism and the Revolution, where they were initially adopted as noms de plume and de guerre, respectively. Given the great cultural diversity of the founding population there's much more variety in names than you'd think given the practically tiny initial list of candidates to avoid the colonialist overtones of everyone having white people names. First, middle and last names taken from notable Antarctic explorers are not only mixed around but also transliterated into the various major languages or even traced back to their root words, translated and then built back up into new names depending on local norms.
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Alchemist's Cookbook: Antarctic Ecology and Cuisine
Home sick all this week, so not really feeling up to a proper update. That said, have some notes on the Antarctic ecology!

As in OTL, the indigenous ecology of Antarctica in Power Without Knowledge was incredibly fragile and incredibly specialized, with climate change and invasive species quickly causing it to unravel horrifically once the ice began to melt. While most actual agriculture during the Macondo period was done through climate controlled hydroponics for the sake of sheer efficiency, the rudiments of a new biosphere continued to form through accidental introductions, deliberate experiments, and natural speciation. Following the Antarctic Revolution, the new regime would take to the project with zeal, using the rapidly shifting environment as a test bed* for the Corps of Discovery's terraforming techniques.

The sequence for the creation of the new biosphere mirrors the CoD's standard policy on terraforming:
  1. The soil biome was the most labor intensive to create given the sudden exposure of the Antarctic bedrock, but eventually a stable blend of engineered fungi, mosses, and carefully selected arthropods and invertebrates was found capable of generating the required volume of live soil. Alkaline hydrolysis is common in the ARC, so regular infusions of nutrients have helped the new soil to develop and support a broader ecosystem.
  2. To create the proper level of biodiversity the ARC constructed a series of climate controlled domes, each of which was stocked with live soil and a blend of highland and temperate/frigid zone plants and animals, potentially adaptive domesticates, and some specimens modified from the original biome. The populations were then observed, culled, modified, and gradually brought into sync with the Antarctic seasonal cycle and the predicted ecosystem of the region they were meant to inhabit.
  3. Once the broader soil biome and the artificial ecosystem were deemed sufficiently stable plants and animals were gradually released from the domes to expand into their new niches. By the present day true fruits are rare in plants, though berries, tubers, windseeds, nuts, galls, and edible shoots and leaves are common, while many animal species hoard during the summers and hibernate during the winters, though there are some** exceptions.
While the Antarctic culinary package originally made use of northern plants and animals, the success of the biosphere project has seen the gradual substitution of foreign ingredients with "home-grown" ones and the creation of new ones. For one example of the latter, have a look at Blue Tea, national beverage of the ARC and inspired by a drink of the same name from @Alex Richards' excellent but tragically short lived In the shadow of the Antarctic. Described as a blend of a tea brewed from a caffeinated shrub, a muscle relaxing berry, brandy and a mix of northern spices, it's kind of haunted me since I started thinking about it, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

In-universe it's helped by the fact that you can just have modified versions of common plants rather than ones that naturally evolved, so just substitute a real plant for its fictional derivative if you want to make it yourself. At its root, Blue Tea suggests to me a black tea toddy flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg and with an added muscle relaxer. The most obvious muscle relaxer would be kava, since that blends well with tea, but we run into issues of liver damage from the combined effect it has with alcohol. To get some of the taste without toxicity issues, maybe a bit of brandy butter to deepen the flavor and help sweeten the blend of strong black tea and naturally bitter kava? As a personal preference my version would also have tapioca pearls, as a bit of a nod to how carb heavy the Antarctic diet is IRL (and because I'm partial to the taste).

*Divides over terraforming praxis helped fuel the initial divide with the Tsalal, though it's a testament to the success of the project that they've been able to survive all this time as seminomadic pastoralists.

**The antipodean bear is active all winter. Despite its name it's actually a large wolverine derivative bred as an attack animal by the AET security forces.
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Eh, to be honest I was finding the grimdark dull and kinda-difficult to work with.

There's honestly more merit in looking at that setting without forcing the faux-Lovecraft elements in IMO.
Eh, to be honest I was finding the grimdark dull and kinda-difficult to work with.

There's honestly more merit in looking at that setting without forcing the faux-Lovecraft elements in IMO.
I suppose that's fair, it's part of why my Antarctic civilization only appropriates a term or two (and a delicious sounding drink recipe)
Alchemist's Cookbook: National Plants and Animals
Special thanks to DG Valdron's work on the ecoregions of a deglaciated Antarctica! It's been incredibly helpful for visualizing how I'd distribute plant and animal species in this ecology I'm building from the ground up. Based on that work I'm operating on the idea that the continental face of Dakkar would be a polar rainforest derived from seedstock from the Megellanic subpolar ones*, while the Midnight Coast split between Kosekin and New Swabia (plus the areas around some of the lakes elsewhere) would be marshland, and the islands and continental interior would be a blend/transition between scrubland or grassland depending on elevation and average rainfall/river levels. A variety of mosses would be common and a hybrid of Arctic and Alaskan Lupine would be basically everywhere, since it was integral to stabilizing the new soil.

As fun as an ecology of sloths, monotremes and marsupials would be, the locals aren't gods and that's too big a lift given the timescale, though there are a couple of wacky projects running around. To help puzzle it out I thought I'd lay out a list of Antarctic national plants, animals and other symbols:
  • Amphibian- Giant Siberian salamander, a derivative of the traditional variety that gets considerably larger.
  • Bat- None, the structure of their wings radiates heat too quickly
  • Bird
    • Aquatic- Emperor penguin** (native)
    • Terrestrial- Great Wulluweid
    • Airborne- Albatross (unofficial)
  • Crustacean- Antarctic krill (native)
  • Dog breed- Southron husky, a new breed that sheds copiously in summer, bulks up considerably in winter, and like the dogo argentino is well accustomed to people but can kill large animals defensively.
  • Fish
    • Freshwater- Salmon
    • Saltwater- Emerald rockcod (native)
  • Flower- Southron Lupine
  • Fossil- Kaikaifilu
  • Fruit- Cloudberry
  • Fungus- Plowshare lichen, a hybrid derivative from several natural species adapted to accelerate soil development. It's distinct from the fungus used to remediate the superfund sites.
  • Gem- Erebus crystal
  • Grass- Antarctic hair grass (native)
  • Horse breed- None, though there is a new species of alpaca.
  • Invertebrate- Vostok octopus, a particularly inventive and difficult experiment grown out of a monstrous and kinda harebrained Macondo attempt to commercially farm a variant of the Antarctic giant octopus. Given how intelligent and venomous they are it's a good thing they haven't adapted to riverine living.
  • Insect- Antarctic honeybee, a variant of the Carniolan breed with increased cold tolerance.
  • Kelp- Cochayuyo
  • Marine mammal
    • Freshwater- Baikal seal
    • Saltwater- Southern elephant seal (native)
  • Mammal- Kerguelen reindeer ("native")
  • Reptile- Painted turtle
  • Rodent- Wooly capybara, another wacky experiment, native to the Dakkar polar rainforest. They winter in the copious hotsprings of the region.
  • Tree- Southern beech
  • Vegetable- Greater Kerguelen cabbage, a larger domesticated cultivar*** of the native species.

*Themselves descended from the original Antarctic forests, so a doubly fitting set of imports.

**The loss of the ice really devastated the penguins, but the intense investment in coastal rookeries under the new government has helped populations finally stabilize. They've been able to spread up through the river system, but new predators prevents them from predominating the further from the new coastlines they go.

***There's also a wide variety of particularly cold-tolerant potatoes and other tubers that have been allowed to spread wherever they'll grow. From space Antarctica in summer is a lovely blend of deep greens and blues, but the massive added carbon sink is offset by the collapse of several other rainforests and grasslands elsewhere so global warming is still hell on earth.
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The RCs have their own versions of the list, and it's considered a point of pride in their continent-scale experiment that there's no overlap between them. The Vostok octopus is definitely the most outlandish concept, but it was inspired by a particularly over the top urban legend about a colossal ten-tentacled venomous monster octopus rumored to exist under the ice, so there's no way I wasn't keeping a version of it. Most of the actual work of making it was done under Macondo, though the ARC genengineers did add a tendency for nine tentacles as a bit of ideological flourish and the creature has pride of place on the Great Seal of the Revolutionary Commonwealths.
Novel-only Stuff
Also I figured out a capital city for my novel-only state of Frémont: a hypertrophied version of this little town I'm going to call New Troy. It's got good placement and river access, it's roughly equidistant between Omaha and KC, and with its larger metro area would be about the same distance from both Wichita and Grand Island to boot. Plus it was founded at the right time to butterfly Lincoln becoming the capital (Topeka's a year older but whatever) and New Troy is occasionally the state Metropolis is in so there's a nifty little Superman connect.

Frémont facts!
  • The state nickname is "The Bluebonnet State", but I'm lazy so it also has Kansas's anthem and Nebraska's motto, and blends their various state plants/animals
  • The University of Frémont is centered in New Troy but also has campuses in Omaha, Wichita and Kearney
  • Some of the counties are mashed together, so it has a nice clean 175 instead of a slightly ludicrous 193
  • I like Nebraska's electoral weirdness, so Frémont has a unicameral legislature and divides its electors by district popular votes
  • It has 7 representatives and electoral districts (based on current combined population and compared to the list)
  • Given its electoral vote situation and conflicts over police brutality, pipelines and indigenous rights all the parties* going into 2020 are hoping to pick up at least one electoral vote there!
  • It has a state flag that isn't terrible!

-America's Heartland

*Except Manifest Destiny!, since they don't contest the presidency. Since the state contains the geographic center of the lower 48 they are having their party convention there though, the only party to do so!
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