"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.
A Horse of a Different Color: American Auntology
I'm a day late but happy Memorial Days! The blood is on the wall, zeitgenossen! Thought I'd take the time to lay out some of the (occasionally conflicting) goals of the Manifest Destiny! Party, since most of the others have goals and priorities that match up pretty well to existing parties and factions of parties but Manifest Destiny! is far more interesting IMO. After all, even without trying to coalesce around a presidential candidate what policy in common could regionalists and state separatists have with not one but four flavors of ethnic nationalist?

I suppose it's helped by their cardinal rule: "Anyone trying to drag the party toward crime, violent separatism or ethnic cleansing is a glowie", so the ones frothing at the mouth are safely kept on the outside and any of the ethnats or secesh with a head on their shoulders are forced to trade boots for suits and speak softly to bide time until the inevitable collapse and race war. For the sake of simplicity I'll lay out major goals from more to less realistic, or less to more committed, depending on your point of view, with each ideally building on the prior ones:
  1. Localism redux- Pretty straightforward, an emphasis on building local consciousness (though "among whom" depends on who you're talking to) and making state governments more responsive to voters and/or traditionally underserved regions of the states through things like referendums/redistricting and investment, respectively. This is where the party's emphasis on state and local office is dedicated.
  2. A Turtle Island longhouse- To better preserve treaty rights the tribes should form a representative continental body and push for changes at the state and federal level to achieve three major objectives:
    • Lobbying Congress and the states as a united front.
    • Gaining some form of direct advisory power within the Department of the Interior. This one gets the most buy in from westerners who despise the Bureau of Land Management.
    • Gaining administrative authority over the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service through a veto power over nominations to head them.
  3. A new Freedmen's Bureau: Several factions are virulently opposed to reparations in the form of actual cash dispersals for Black America but others see the longhouse idea as an inspiration for a similar system that could lobby Congress collectively and coordinate federal housing and job training aid already being dispersed to Black communities.
  4. The Bill of (States') Rights- A fluctuating list of proposed Amendments, the most commonly agreed upon version of which focusing on expanding the House to better represent small states, limiting the expansive interpretation of the Commerce clause to devolve more autonomy to the state level, and enshrining clarified rights to the formation of interstate compacts to solve regional issues. More expansive lists involve stripping authority from the Senate, especially combined with the next proposal.
  5. A (partially) decolonized America- Basically borderline impossible a single map attempting to better balance state populations and synthesize as many ethnic homeland and regionalist goals as possible without actively shattering the country, through the changing of state boundaries. Ideally it would be combined with the prior proposals to ensure the tribes aren't rolled over and the shift in Senate representation doesn't screw everyone. Proposed boundary changes include:
    1. Dividing Shasta (OTL Jefferson proposal) from California and Lincoln from Texas to satisfy the more libertarian northern California and Hispanophone southern Texas, respectively.
    2. Combining Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and eastern Washington/Oregon into the new state of Absaroka to satisfy the American Redoubt types, with a small slice given to the state of Sioux*.
    3. Admitting the New York, LA and Chicago metropolitan areas as states to prevent them from absorbing all focus in their respective states.
    4. Consolidation of the remaining Oregon and Washington into the state of Cascadia to give the regionalists half a loaf.
    5. Statehood for Puerto Rico and a consolidated collection of the Pacific Insular Territories in the form of Micronesia to finally allow representation.
    6. Consolidation of Arizona and New Mexico into the state of Aztlan to satisfy La Raza types.
    7. Consolidation of Utah and Nevada into Deseret to partially unify the Mormon Corridor.
    8. Creation of an Appalachian state combining West Virgina with slices of several other Southern states that are traditionally ignored.
    9. The remnants of the central southern states would be consolidated into Cherokee (eastern Tennessee/Kentucky), Chesapeake (Maryland, Delaware, and western Virginia, DC) and a unified Carolina.
    10. A New Afrika-esque state of Douglass in the Black Belt stretching from northern Mississippi through central Alabama and Georgia.
    11. Dividing South Florida from (North) Florida and combining the latter with the rump southern Georgia/Arkansas/Mississippi.
    12. A consolidated New England.
The proposals become less popular within the party as you go down the list, especially since some factions can favor one or two of the proposed new states in proposal 5 only a small minority is comfortable with all of them. For reference Melanesia would be the state with the lowest population (736,081), while with OTL parties but only 41 states the Senate would be divided 44(D)-38(R), give or take. Take away the city states and it'd be tied in a pretty amusing way 🤔

*OTL western South Dakota for the novel version of the map.
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Random scifi fun
Hey gang! Hope your upcoming holiday week is looking promising and as per uzhe the floor is open to worldbuilding questions! In other news I recently watched Scavengers Reign, not only is it fantastic but the cultists in the final scene look vaguely similar to how I was picturing the Nameless Priests! Obviously the future genengineers wouldn't make anything anywhere near as complicated as the biosphere in that series when they finally get to terraforming but there's all sorts of ideas for exotic organisms* to test the limits of theoretical constructed ecosystems.


-Traditionally the Phlogiston symbol of the Empire of Heliodromus also includes Paracelsus' three metals, with (clockwise from top) Sulfer, Mercury and Salt representing the three castes and modified from the three circles.

In other news I'll never do anything with it but I had a random idea for a story set in the Separate Spheres shared world! It would basically start out with an Earth person arriving on a dual-mooned alien world in the grips of a quasi-feudal theocratic empire like John Carter. I have ideas for an Avatar-esque elemental system based on phlogiston that would turn out to actually derive from control of terraforming technology, and the story would end with the Earthling wresting control of the machinery from the descendants of the colony ship crew and opening up the broader system** to the Gestalt so that the lost colony could be properly reconstructed and incorporated. At its core the planet would only be inhabited in a massive rift valley with a dome over it and would be a hydraulic despotism divided into three basic partitions:
  1. Heliodromus would be the capital, founded at the base of a largely nonfunctional space elevator and controlled with an iron fist by the now decadent and hereditary admin/security crew caste, itself broken into seven levels with the Pater/Emperor on top. The symbol of the Empire would be the Phlogiston symbol, with the actual citizens of the upper caste represented by terra pinguis and alchemical Sulfur and able to use command access to the clouds of radiation scrubbing nanites to make things explode or suffocate people. Their general vibe is "Mithraics from Season 1 of Raised By Wolves".
  2. The "middle class" for lack of a better term is composed of the descendants of terraforming engineers, botanists and other life science unions turned guilds. They would have limited control over terra fluida, the "flesh" of the engineered flora and fauna as long as it's sufficiently nanite saturated and use it to produce crops and further the goals of atmosphere, ocean and soil creation. They'd use the symbol for alchemical Mercury.
  3. The dregs would be warrior nomads able to control the terra lapidea "calx" that is nanite-saturated soil. They'd raid the other two casts regularly, strip people to the bone with sandblasts, and be descended from a group of exiles that opposed the crew's shift toward hereditary despotism. They'd use the alchemical Salt symbol.

*They don't know how they'll make living gasbags able to survive in the Venusian atmosphere, for example, but they're furiously running simulations and experimenting with DNA to make it happen regardless.

**If I actually wrote it vagaries of language (and the fact that the animals are named after Burroughs' species) would lead the reader to assume that it's a partially terraformed Mars, only for the reveal at the end that it's an entirely alien solar system.
  • At its base it would be a dual-star system, with a red giant (Sol) orbited by several planets and beyond them a white dwarf (Luna)
  • The action would take place on the roughly Earth-sized but generally Mars-like Mithras, orbited by two moons (Cautes and Cautopates) that are larger and rounder than Phobos and Deimos.
  • Beyond Mithras we have the Tauroctonian System, centered on the vaguely Jupiter-esque Taurus and its five Mars-sized moons (Scorpio, Draco, Canis, Spica, and Corvus).
  • Last but not least we have Aion, maintaining the OTL affiliation of "the ringed body past the main gas giant" with "named after the time god", though Aion is a stable black hole with an accretion disk rather than a gas giant.
The fact that their generation ship was called the Plymouth led to the Mithraic naming conventions, oddly enough, since someone suggested it as a joke early into the centuries-long transit since Mithras was "born from a rock" but it stuck and took on a life of its own.
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Media Matters: Shards of Chaos
*I finally figured out how to make my Gargoyles idea work after digging into enough abandoned OTL concepts for the series! Strap in for a Disney superhero universe that doesn't actually have any superheroes in it!*

In the nineties Michael Eisner of the Walt Disney Company became fixated on the idea of acquiring an expanded universe property. OTL he would try and fail to acquire Marvel Comics, but here Marvel's ability to buy up DC Comics a decade earlier would stabilize its fortunes and put the newly-rebranded Ultra Comics far out of Eisner's reach. His grand plans for the company would not be in vain, however, and he would be able to finally snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with the creation of the Gargoyles expanded universe which would, through the creation of spinoff series and movies that never saw the light of day here, prove to be exactly what the Disney juggernaut had been looking for.

As it was here, the cornerstone of the new property would be the wildly popular Gargoyles animated series, which would still premiere in 1994 with relatively minor initial differences. The human lead would retain her original first name Morgan, for example, in a deliberate bid for "Morgan Maza" to evoke similarly alliterative comic book naming conventions. The core of the series would be familiar to our readers, with the Manhattan Clan of time-displaced gargoyles partnering with a Detective Maza to defend Manhattan and introducing aspects and characters like the Third Race, Xanatos and the Quarrymen that would become central facets of the shared universe going forward under the stewardship of series creator Greg Weisman.

The series would avoid the repeated Season 2 hiatuses and poorly conceived third season, instead dividing the former into two seasons of its own* and conceiving a final season we only got in comic form centering on the Illuminati. The original plan was to create a series of spin-off series to continue expanding the world, but changes in the media landscape would instead drive a hybrid approach, with a combination of ongoing (The New Olympians, Gargoyles: 2198) and limited (The Phoenix Gate) series released concurrently with animated movies and comic series set in the Gargoyles universe. Despite the aggressive expansion of the franchise it was originally self contained, with properties either rooted in the capstone series or in a spinoff that was, but that would change with the Atlantis franchise.

Starring Eric Stoltz and initially released in 2001 to compete with the respectable success of Dreamworks Animation's Road to El Dorado and its sequels, Atlantis: The Lost Empire would have a longer runtime justified by the enduring popularity of the Indiana Jones franchise to properly accommodate sadly discarded creature encounters between the sinking of the submarine and actual arrival at the city, with lava whales, airborne cephalopods and other memorable designs developed by Mike Mignola. Successful enough to earn a sequel, Atlantis: Shards of Chaos revolved around the ancient war between Atlantis and the suitably Lovecraftian Mu and featuring a mercenary army under a surviving and vaguely steampunk** Helga Sinclair attempting to destroy Atlantis. The final scene would reveal Demona as the reborn Helga's benefactor and her mercenaries as the first iteration of the Quarrymen, firmly tying to two properties together in ways that would be further explored by the Team Atlantis spinoff series. Linking the properties would also help Disney in its plagiarism lawsuit over similarities between The Lost Empire and Nadia: Secret of Blue Water, though the recursively expanded lore of the Illuminati and Quarrymen drew parallels with the latter's Neo-Atlantis.

Originally unnamed but colloquially known as the Gargoyles Expanded Universe, the "classic era" of the Disney Connected Universe would stretch from the 1994 premiere of Gargoyles to the 2004 release of Gargoyles: The Bad Guys, though the franchise would continue in comic form after that interval and Weisman would spearhead a soft reboot/expansion of the franchise told through television in 2010. Persistent attempts to revive the DCU on the big screen screen would be optioned over the years, though the recent announcement of a Gargoyles film helmed by Jordan Peele and a live-action Atlantis television series under Guillermo del Toro has led to excited fan speculation that Disney might finally be getting into the live action cinematic universe game.

*Season 3 roughly corresponded to the World Tour arc of the original series, but with more recurring core characters and a bit less filler.

**Shards of Chaos was actually proposed and the cyborg Helga thing was part of it. I pulled the Lovecraft stuff from the Kraken in the otherwise forgettable sequel as a reflection of the higher impact of the Cthulhu Mythos in popular media TTL. There was also a plan to cross Atlantis with Gargoyles and the named spinoffs of that series were actually consider so I'm not just pulling this whole thing out of my ass 😂
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The trick would be balancing the much more fluid magic/science divide of Gargoyles with the Atlantis thing that it's all ancient technology 🤔 Since I love random lore creation I'll try to knit them together:
  • So obviously we'd have humans, gargoyles and the Children of Oberon as our main three races, with the last one explaining most mythical creatures as in canon. With my Mu addition we can make the whole conflict with Atlantis a magic/science war and go from there, with the Children descended from much more hostile and alien entities that were worshipped by and eventually destroyed Mu after they finished off Atlantis. Basically Oberon's tyrannical mother Mab if she was Shub-Niggurath but meaner. Tying everything to one of two sources (Third Race members/hybrids/magic or Atlantean technology) prevents the really messy metaphysics that crop up in comic universes and I think would nicely suit Weisman's tendency in the main series.
  • The Illuminati would be lorded over by a bunch of ancient sorcerous Atlanteans while the Quarrymen (which was usable from the otherwise underwhelming Season 3) would have the whole "hood and armband" hate group look, basically dividing features of Neo-Atlantis between the two groups and helping Disney in the plagiarism lawsuit that never ended up being brought OTL. The former would want to rule the world (obviously), while the latter would just be devoted to killing gargoyles, Children and aliens after evolving from Helga's anti-Atlantis mercenary army. The two would oppose the heroes but occasionally work together or fight depending on the plot of the movie or whatever and collectively filling the overarching villain niche that Hydra has in the MCU, for example.
  • Since Star Wars was a one and done none of the Weisman CGI shows would exist, with their niche filled by a 2D-animated soft reboot of sorts for the DCU that would streamline and modernize things a bit and be what's ultimately used to build out the live action universe. Basically think what his Young Justice series did for DC comics OTL if it had been tied into the DCEU movies in the same way Disney has done with Star Wars.
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Also I promised an update on the second (and third) Space Race(s) so that's probably next up on the block. I ended up spending an hour obsessed with how a Cytherean calendar would work given the day (225 Earth days) and year (243 Earth days) so Cosmintern plans for Venus will probably get a bit of focus at the end 🤔 As with most of their wildly ambitious science projects the reasoning for Venus over Mars would have a scientific, political and artistic rationale at the same time, in order:
  1. Venus is actually considered the most promising candidate for terraforming OTL, there's a band of the atmosphere where floating habitats are viable without importing any lifting gasses and the planet's atmosphere contains enough hydrogen that if extracted properly could provide some level of ocean and drinking water without being entirely reliant on towing in ice. The fact that it has a similar day-night cycle to Antarctica also doesn't give them pause for understandable reasons.
  2. Mars is seen as a boondoggle the nihilist powers are recklessly sinking money into given how much goddamn work it would take to make it liveable. The Cosmintern has a token set of (heavily armed and entrenched) settlements there, of course, but the current plan is that they're just seed crystal to spark a Cosmicist revolution once the planet's population reaches a comfortable size and the Arctic Council and its corporations have been safely contained to Earth after conveniently building up infrastructure there.
  3. The whole rationale for Cosmintern space expansion is to proliferate the human race and build grand monuments to the human spirit to survive after we're gone, and what's a grander monument at this stage than crafting the most hostile planet in the solar system into a second Earth?
I'll also go into the planning stages for the Porphyrios-class and the ARCH* Ultimatum, though there will also be lots of lore on the 21st century space programs! In the meantime and as always the floor is open for lore questions!

*"Antarctic Revolutionary Commonwealths Host", since they think calling their space fleet a navy is lazy.
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Media Matters: The Shyamalan Twist
Yes I know I said Space Race was next but work has been busy and I haven't had the energy to do it 😅 In the meantime I did a deep dive on Avatar lore (the cartoon one) for a random idea so here's a short something on that. Disney rolled out Gargoyles to respond to Ultra Comics, so here's Nickelodeon's response to Disney. I won't put it in paragraph format but aside from some general changes in plotting based on what the creators have said could've been but the title should make it clear what the major divergence was for the franchise.

The Last Airbender (2005-2009)
  • Some character designs and characterizations are slightly different.
  • It gets more serious earlier on: the Kyoshi Island episode in Season 1 ends with the village burning to the ground while the group leads Zuko away and Azula's first real scene in Season 2 involves her incinerating an underling.
  • With no live action movie it gets the planned fourth season, called Harmony (or something), and involves postwar reconciliation and the Ursa search/Azula redemption they ended up expanding and putting in the comics.
The Legend of Korra (2012-2016)
  • Asami starts as an Equalist spy as originally planned, cue redemption arc and relationship drama.
  • Season 2 has the remnants of the Equalists feature in some role, something apparently cut for time, though I'm torn about having Amon straight up make a return somehow and absorb Korra's uncle's role/plan since the latter doesn't seem like a compelling villain.
  • There's a Season 5 basically adapting Turf Wars and Ruins of the Empire.
In the modern day the franchise is basically doing what's in the works OTL, with a live-action series and plans for a set of animated movies.
This post will also become the foundation of one on Regression in literature:
Sort of tangential to the normal goings on of the thread but I've had some ideas for a version of The Mirage that would be published in my Power Without Knowledge verse 🤔 It would basically be the same core concept of a perspective flip of the War on Terror with implausible parallelism that's ultimately the ASB result of a supernatural creature but the fact that the face of global terror is ecoterrorism rather than Islamic fundamentalism means I'll have to tweak the imagined world and metaphysics. I promised another update first on the main thread so I'll be working on it here and porting it over when it's done 😂

So far as I see it mirror universes, as stories with incredibly high parallelism, occupy a particular niche of my conceived "authorial compass of alternate history"*, but can be further broken down along which axis things are mirrored: personal/political alignment (depending on scale) or narrative causality. For example, most character-focused mirror universes (Earth-3, Shattered Glass) mirror across both, so good guys are bad guys and they still win all their fights, while most alternate history-centric ones (The Man in the High Castle, Bring the Jubilee) alter causality without changing the underlying morality or political orientation of the players. My Power Without Knowledge TL is the inverse, changing (political) alignments, though not in a universal binary way, while in the end the OTL international alliance structure is still stacked more or less identically. The Mirage, meanwhile, mirrors across both, with the US going from a (semi)secular democratic republic to a MENA-style collection of petrostates, theocracies and oligarchies and vice-versa and the international power balance is likewise mirrored.

Fitting for the TL it would be written in the Knowledgeverse version of The Mirage** would change alignment but not status, with what amounts to ecofascism as the dominant global political ideology casting down on a series of backwaters, rogue states and insurgencies identical to the existing ones in the main TL but for the fact they're industrialized and environmentally ruinous as opposed to Regressive or militant or whatever. The plot is largely inconsequential but would likely be similar to the OTL book and focus on government agents discovering evidence of the "real" world and falling down a rabbit hole. The backstory of the OTL book is irritatingly vague, with a POD in 1838 at the absolute latest but I think I can do better. First, environmental conservation becomes a right wing position as in the fantastic alternate history syllabus by Bulldogus I'm obsessed with and ultimately resulting in a new ideological umbrella combining Georgism originally adopted to counter socialism in the twenties with a(n occasionally deeply racist) strain of militant environmentalism— think a spectrum running from EBR's Geoism to @David bar Elias's Ecoism. Second, rather than have the Axis powers be the exact same with a fate changed by the existence of the United Arab States, I'll have them be Futurist, with more cultural libertinism coupled with a fervent drive to destroy all traditions and tendency get incredibly horny*** about industrialization. With those two changes in place I can work out the rest, so what follows is a series of lists of Great Powers, Futurist analogues to the Regressive strains I invented, and major global hotspots.

Power Blocs and Major Members—
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization(Ecoist)
    • United States of America- Under the tyrannical rule of Ralph Nader and his Survivalist Party. Lots of clean energy and reforestation corridors but pretty racist. The technically not illegal opposition parties are in talks to run as a coalition but it's an open question of whether they'd be allowed to win or able to govern if they did.
    • United States of Europe- Started after WW2 by the US and Franco-British Union in a bid to keep post-Morgenthau Plan Germany down. 75 years on they have a unified currency and standing army (and have repaired most of the Futurist environmental damage) but the Germans are still causing trouble.
  • Organization of Positivist and Enlightened Countries
    • Union of Positivist Soviet Republics (Cosmist)- The Cosmists and God-Builders won the post-Lenin power struggle after he died later. The nation with the most developed space program.
    • Plurinational Bolivarian Technate (Technocratic)- Mostly just Venezuela, though partisans are active in Colombia. Considered a destructive rogue state by NATO and the West.
    • United Arab Republic (Ba'athist)- The OTL proposal included Iraq here so the entity was more balanced and didn't fall apart. They've been busily expanding south and east, toppling Arab monarchies/European colonies and pumping oil ever since.
    • National Futurist Underground (Quiverfull)- More a movement than a state, the NFS is an analogue to the Deuxit movement that recently voted Germany out of the Paneuropean Communities in the main TL. Obsessed with reuniting the three Germanies, reindustrializing, recovering from the postwar enforced starvation and rolling coal all over Paris and London.
  • Coalition of the Willing(Geoist)****
    • Integral Republic of Brazil- Basically an ethnocacerist regime busy reforesting the Amazon.
    • People's Republic of India- Attempting to recover after decades of the Franco-British offshoring their heavy industry there.
    • Geoist Republic of China- The new regime has its work cut out for it, the crash industrialization under the Five-People's Technate and its Celestial Bureaucracy was very fast and very messy. At least the one-child policy was canceled.
    • Republic of South Africa- Doing pretty well for themselves all things considered after Apartheid ended with a whimper instead of a bang race war.
Futurist Strains—
  • Cosmism is the dominant one, replacing Marxist-Leninism as the root ideology of global socialism. Not a straight inversion (since the USSR is even worse on the environment than OTL) but it's necessary as the first domino to fall.
  • Technocracy originated in the US (and even survived as a tiny designated traitor party for awhile) and formerly held sway in China as a Maoist analogue and though that regime fell it still has a devoted following in parts of South America. The rationale is the same as the above.
  • Longtermism is the natural inverse of Kaczynskian Anarchoprimitivism.
  • Quiverfull stuff is the opposite of euthanasia and contraception-obsessed Neomalthusianism.
  • Ba'athism is the major Futurist strain in the Arab world as an inverse of Nasrism. They obviously avoid the split they suffered OTL and are far more widespread but otherwise have most of the same OTL positions.
  • Effective Altruism is the analogue to the vaguely-Solarpunk sensibilities catching on among dissident American youth.
The Twist— Spoilers for the real book, but rather than the ultimate POD being a sincere attempt by a djinn to answer a wish that there'd never been an Iraq war even he in hindsight realizes he'd mishandled, it's an attempt by an openly hostile member of the fair folk deliberately exploiting a sarcastic comment in a bid to reforest the world and hopefully kill off the greatest possible percentage of humanity in the process.

*I've spelled it out elsewhere but for the sake of not wanting to find that post it's a binary compass with (causal) plausibility on one axis (ranging from ASB at one end and hard chaos theory/strong butterfly effect on the other) and (narrative) origin on the other (does the author begin with a POD and move forward or have a goal in mind and move backward?). Most TLs inhabit the murky middle but in general as the rate of parallelism increases it moves closer to "endpoint first, justified by ASB" in what would be the upper-right corner of the compass.

**The title would be the same, but the instigator of the change would insist that it's actually closer to a glamour.

***That's not even an exaggeration, Marinetti wrote incredibly steamily about the beauty and power of the internal combustion engine and the industrial war machine.

****A BRICS analogue. Ironically owing to Russia remaining communist and South Africa having a race war it doesn't exist in a recognizable form in Power Without Knowledge
Apologies for the paucity of attention to this thread and my other projects, the holidays have been a mad scramble as they often are and I'll try to make plans for more substantive engagement in the new year! Happy holidays everybody!
Walks in like nothing has happened

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, etc. etc. Sorry for the wait. I forgot about this post. Then I remembered it out of the blue for some reason. In the time since this was first posted, I do in fact have some questions I want answered!
Aaaaaaaaaaa how did I miss this? Reader engagement is one of my favorite parts about doing my own TLs!

1. What's the holiday season like in Cosmicist countries? How are traditional celebrations like Christmas treated in said countries? Is Santa still a thing in them?
Antarctic holidays are strange given their founding traditions— a much more benevolent* Krampus is the main gift giving figure of their Christmas analogue for example, he has a sort of musk ox look and rides an antipodean bear**. Most of the rest of Cosmintern keeps their normal holidays, though some particular ARC dishes and mores are making inroads and there's a lot of cultural syncretism between member Commonwealths.
2. Due to some recent events of much importance, tragedy, and controversy, what's the Middle East like? Who are the major players in it? What spheres of influence are most influential in the area?
In the present: it's basically the same as it is now, but Turkey and the PLO are observers in the Warsaw Pact and Kurdistan is recovering from (officially-concluded) Second Levant War. There are also recurring outbreaks of Nasrist*** Regression all over the place.

In the future Israel is a member of the Paneuropean Community and bordered on all sides by the massive Regressive confederation that has grown up in the Middle East and North Africa and is desperately trying to resist encroaching desertification. Turkey is part of the Eurasian Union.

3. Do you have any new flags that we can see?

That's all for this year @Born in the USSA, take care, and good luck on your future projects!
Thank you so much! Unfortunately my computer is old and money's a little tight at the moment, I'll try and tinker with something if I can get it working properly 😅

*Given his preexisting association with green he's associated with the growth and communal celebration of the height of Antarctic summer and his birch branches have flowers on them instead of being used to whip kids.

**They're bear-sized wolverines that were the result of a particularly stupid Macondo project. They're the largest Antarctic land predator but are thankfully relatively rare.

***As you may recall it's somewhat disingenuously called Eco-Ba'athism in the foreign press.
Hey all, distracted by a move scheduled for the end of the week but if I get a free window Sunday I'll try to do that 2nd/3rd Space Race chapter. Other stuff I want to get to at some point:
  • Captaaaain Plaaaaanet
  • That update I was talking about earlier about the impact of regression on media. Might fold it in with the above actually.
  • Obviously the 2016 election, since I've made you guys wait long enough 😅
  • An equivalent to the Watchmen TV Series combined with that cancelled Civil TV series about a Civil War in 2016 that TNT was too chickenshit to pull the trigger on. That's right hoes, this TL is getting a Martha Washington adaptation!
  • A Calvin and Hobbes analogue called Anton and Hob to reflect the different trends of the eighties moral panic during the Haig years.
While we're on the topic, any areas you might want to see expanded, either in an update if it's meaty enough or just as an authorial aside? I did have a fun idea for how to make some tweaks to the Canadian political landscape while I'm at it, since the inexplicably common idea that they'd remain stable and boring while America descends into lunacy is a fallacy. Plus it would give the post-Shatter parties a bit more impact if they were allied to parties/factions in Canada/Mexico while conveniently laying the groundwork for eventual North American union decades down the line.
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North American Lore Notes
As mentioned in the last post im considering some tweaks to Canadian political history to both discard the trope that they survive a collapsing US and to foster some cross-border political ties that'll eventually bloom into the North American Union. So, in order:
  • 1978 (Nov.)- The general POD for the timeline, with Harvey Milk surviving his OTL assassination.
  • 1979 (Jun.)- To strengthen his minority government, Progressive Conservative PM Joe Clark tosses some scraps to the small remnant of the Social Credit Party rather than completely ignore their requests for legitimacy.
  • 1979 (Dec.)- The Socreds don't abstain from the vote of no confidence in Clark, still losing support in Quebec for not delivering the goods but maintaining their small conservative Anglo constituency in the prairies.
  • 1986 (Aug.)- British Columbia Premier Bill Bennett choses not to resign, so his OTL successor Bill Vander Zalm never gets the opportunity to destroy the Socreds by association with his scandals.
  • 1993 (May)- The "Battle for Seattle", a mass protest of a corporatized and gentrifying Columbian Exposition in that city, a focal point of the crystalizing anti-globalization movement and the Manifest Destiny! Party.
  • 1994 (Jan.)- President Perot fails in his bid to slow walk the adoption of NAFTA, further inflaming the currents unleashed by the events of the prior summer.
  • 1995 (Oct.)- "Yes" wins on the Quebec independence referendum. Tensions mount but don't erupt into state violence, though a decade-long period of "encouraged" demographic sorting begins.
Though they'd never admit it Quebec is fairly middling as an independent country, and they've attempted to compensate by forming trade ties with other Francophone nations and have also bolstered several other ethnocultural secessionist movements* by their example. The Quebec branch of Social Credit has been stone dead since 1979 though thanks to my other changes the Anglo faction is booming after a fashion, having become the defacto separatist party in the prairie and atlantic provinces. More surprising is the strain of the movement that simmers in Quebec's northern reaches, chafing under the Fracophone yoke and hoping to secede to either rejoin Canada or form the center of a new indigenous polity alongside Greenland and the Northwest Territories. Quebec has no participation with Manifest Destiny!, though the three strains of Socreds are observers at the very least despite occasionally conflicting goals among themselves.

Some minor notes on Mexico, since I don't want them to be left out— the Labor Party (1990) and Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (1993) undergo a fusion, basically becoming Mexico's equivalent of the Citizens Party and butterflying several later parties with similar areas of concern. There's unfortunately also a pretty robust Kaczynskian Regressive scene in the country along with cartel problems and a steadily festering Synarchist reaction to all three.

*Mostly regionalist ones in the US but also Catalonia, Khalistan and others abroad. Some say the creation of Kurdistan had a greater impact on these sorts of splittist tendencies but it's a matter of debate.
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An equivalent to the Watchmen TV Series combined with that cancelled Civil TV series about a Civil War in 2016 that TNT was too chickenshit to pull the trigger on. That's right hoes, this TL is getting a Martha Washington adaptation!
I already imagine the Surgeon General sigma edits flooding the internet.
Apologies all, the move was more of a hassle than I'd like so I was only able to update The King in Yellow today, I'll shoot for an update on the Space Race(s) here tomorrow.
A Marathon Not A Sprint: Struggling to the Stars
While the precise end of the First Space Race is a matter of some scholarly debate, it was undeniably dead by the time Haig got into office. With the increasingly fractious international situation and a worsening global economy the superpowers simply lacked the resources and popular and political will necessary for thriving space programs. An ironic consequence of this was that the only nation actively pursuing new space-based projects during the late eighties was Iraq, though development of the nation's Project Babylon supergun system would come to a screeching halt with the capture of program architect Gerald Bull in the First Levant War. While the Perot Administration would pursue development of the International Space Station*, and with it the revitalization of the sorely-neglected space shuttle program, attention and investment would still flag, and it would be another generation before great power competition once again pushed beyond the atmosphere.

The start of the Second Space Race is commonly dated to circa 2018, a consensus made somewhat easier by a confluence of factors— aside from a global recovery from the economic crash a decade earlier, the period also saw the creation of the Space Corps under Buchanan and the fracturing of the shared purpose in space that had temporarily united the interests of the US, PEC and ROC. Each began pulling in different directions, announcing grand plans for space stations and probes that would be purely national concerns. Not to be outdone the USSR would announce its own competing projects, with the transorbital landscape only growing more crowded with the rise of an ecosystem of private companies eager to get in on the ground floor of the greatest gold rush in history.

The Second Space Race would continue on and off for the next fifty years, leaving a decidedly mixed legacy in its wake. While great strides were made in autonomous probes, for example, the dream of self-sufficient colonies on Luna and Mars, or of deep resource extraction from the Belt, would be undercut by shifts in national priorities, interruptions in funding, and several spectacular disasters, all as terrestrial resource scarcity drew focus frequently back to fighting wars the old fashioned way. There was a smattering of bases offworld, of course, but nothing that could remotely justify the hype or the money spent. The final nail in the coffin would prove to be the Hyperborean Wars, a set of conflicts over the now ice-free Arctic Circle kicked off by the massive destabilization of trade and vital resources caused by the Antarctic Revolution.

The Third Space Race began with the ARC acquisition of Easter Island, followed by the transition of the newly renamed island of Protonga into the nation's premier launch site. This was an inevitability born out of consistent ideological commitment to space-based expansion. The initial wave of Northern shock and horror was quickly replaced by a renewed commitment to the various space programs, if only to beat the Cosmintern to the punch, but the gradual expansion of the latter throughout the global south, combined with Cosmicist work on space elevators and lingering fractures and hostility within and between the Arctic Council members, would prove severely limiting to the Nihilist Powers.

In the narrative present the ARC and broader Cosmintern are devoted to three particular goals which will likely only accelerate with the predicted victory of the Maximalists going into the next Constitutional Convention:
  1. The threat of a Kessler cascade has been growing exponentially since our own time, with a sustained effort to clear the translunar space of debris before the sheer density of hazards makes sustained space operations impossible one of the few shared global priorities.
  2. The Porphyrios class is a derivative of the old Orion drive concept, exemplified by the currently under-construction ARCH** Ultimatum. Meant to secure an effective and efficient vehicle for extraplanetary colonization and to protect drone convoys towing resources sunward, the fact that several such craft would give essentially unchallengeable orbital supremacy in the event of a global war is a nice bonus.
  3. Although several colonies are being constructed on Luna and Mars to better contain the Nihilist efforts on those bodies, the true prize for the Cosmintern Standing Committee on Nondominioms is Venus. Quite aside from the fact that the gravity is closer to standard, you can get water without towing in ice and that the most tolerant atmospheric band for aerostats is rich in oxygen, there's also the matter that it has a similar day/night/year cycle to Antarctica anyway, so it won't be much of a shock to the first pioneers. Once the Porphyrios are built plans are underway to construct an electromagnetic shield at the Cytherean L1 Lagrange point and work from there.
As with practically everything else the Cosmicists do there's already been a lot of theoretical work done on how the culture of the liberated precariat can be adapted*** to these new worlds to complement the fanatical drive of the materials scientists and engineers making the projects viable. Only time will tell if these grand plans will prove successful, or whether the Nihilist death drive will spark a war and once again cause the incipient Space Age to crash and burn.

*With the Second Republic of China taking Russia's OTL spot at the table.

**"Antarctic Revolutionary Commonwealths Host", since calling your space fleet a navy is lazy.

***One fun aside I found— given the length of Cytherean sol (243 days) and year (225 days), the time when your birthday (for lack of a better word) lines up exactly with the time of sol you were born would be roughly 16.63 Earth years, so it's not hard to imagine that a sweet sixteen on Venus would be an incredibly important cultural milestone for the future colonists. They also have planned names for the continents if the planet is successfully terraformed generations down the line!
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Some notes on the Second Cold War
Despite its very high level of tensions and proxy wars the 21st century wasn't considered a Cold War as such, but rather a return to earlier models of multipolar Great Power rivalry, albeit with much higher stakes. The rise of the ARC and Cosmintern had a nice crystallizing effect on things, hence the Second Cold War label for the current conflict. As such, here are some handy notes to sketch things out:
  1. Despite the extremely aggressive space policy, the Cosmintern and the nascent Maximalist wave are not trying to spark a war, they just have spooky vibes. The human and environmental cost would be too high, so their current policy is aimed at moving quickly to secure an unassailable high ground, under the theory that the Arctic Council could be gradually reformed through economic means and eventually peacefully brought into the fold. Assuming they don't freak out and hit the button, of course.
  2. I'm considering moving some of the nonaligned nations into the Cosmicist camp early, since life at the tropics sucks really badly in the future and the Cosmintern is the only side offering a genuinely optimistic mass political program*. The Monrovia Pact (western Africa) and America Unida are the prime candidates, though the rapprochement with the Regressives in the big green swath across the MENA is still happening during the narrative present.
  3. Despite the fact that half the map looks like a wine stain and the rest is all blobby, the United Nations does still exist, though the fact that India and Brazil were elevated to permanent Security Council status to bribe them into helping contain the ARC blew up in the SC's faces when they had their own revolutions but managed to keep their seats. As you can imagine even less of consequence gets done**, though ironically the General Assembly is more representative than it is now, since aside from the fact that the member states of the various federations*** (and the various Regional Commonwealths) still have seats several indigenous groups and (more regrettably) corporations have seats too. The Cosmintern has subtly reinforced this trend (except for the corprocracy bit) since it'll make the conversion of these defacto subnational pseudostates into Regional Commonwealths easier down the line once the UN is abolished.
  4. Completely unintentional on my part but since turns out the Arctic Council was rooted in the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy of 1991 both sides of this Cold War have an origin point in the same year 😂 Anyway, despite how fractious they are when not presenting a united front at the UN****, the Nihilist powers do at least make some effort to work together to contain "Cosmicist aggression", mainly mediated through the Arctic Treaty Organization, a NATO successor created after the Hyperborean Wars to help "limit conflict", ie prevent non-Council members from getting any of the goodies. Members rely on cloak and dagger to jockey amongst themselves these days. It's not that crazy, both the USSR and the Russian Federation tried to join NATO OTL, and with the decline in (North) American power and their split with Europe they couldn't exactly say no this time.

*And yes, the ARC is fully aware that actually correcting the climate catastrophe of the Cthulhucene will make their continent much harsher, but they're committed to their principles, confident in the ability of their society and ecology to adapt gradually and fully planning to have a significant segment of their population involved in the space colonies by that point.

**Except on areas of genuine common ground, at this point mainly the aforementioned space debris and unaffiliated pirates/terrorists.

***Many of which contain more members even factoring in their larger size, given a trend of balkanization afrikaanization within 20th century founding states without the component pieces actually leaving the broader alliances. Catalonia is an easy example in the PEC.

****Since together they hold four of the six permanent Security Council seats.
Trying to get my limited paint program to properly render my military insignia not only went nowhere but also ate up a huge chunk of my day so I'll have to settle for describing them unfortunately.


The ARC air roundel is used not only as a marking on the aircraft of the air wings of the Antarctic Revolutionary Army/Navy but also as a patch to differentiate pilots and support staff from the other members of their branch.


The ARA, ARN and Corps of Discovery use a modified version of the True South flag as their insignia, with the branches differentiated by the color used- feldgrau for the ARA, the above dark blue for the ARN and black for the COD. Recruits have no insignia and officer ranks below flag officers are identical between branches, while the ranks for each service branch are separated into 16 levels. I borrowed the Army/Navy ranks from Reds! and titles are divided "ARA/ARN/COD"
  1. Trooper/Seaman/Specialist- A downward arrow in the branch color in a white rectangle
  2. Corporal/Leading Rate/Advanced Specialist- The True South diamond in a bisected rectangle
  3. Sergeant/Petty Officer/Bosun- The above, with the addition of one gold band on the upper right and lower left edges of the diamond.
  4. Staff Sergeant/Chief Petty Officer/Chief Bosun- The above, with two gold bands likewise.
  5. Sergeant Major/Adjutant/Navigator- The above, with three gold bands likewise.
  6. Sublieutenant- The above, with four gold bands likewise.
  7. Lieutenant- The above, with five gold bands likewise.
  8. Chief Lieutenant- The above, with one gold band added to the upper left and lower right of the diamond.
  9. Major- The above, with two gold bands likewise.
  10. Lieutenant Commander- The above, with three gold bands likewise.
  11. Commander- The above, with four gold bands likewise.
  12. Brigadier/Commodore/Helmsman- The above, with five gold bands likewise.
  13. Major General/Rear Admiral/Rear Marshal- The above, with one gold star in the white portion of the diamond.
  14. Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral/Lieutenant Marshal- The above, with two gold stars likewise.
  15. General/Admiral/Marshal- The above, with three gold stars likewise.
  16. General of the Army/Fleet Admiral/Sky Marshal- The above, with four gold stars in the shape of the Southern Cross.
Also adding to this post I'm considering making the official Antarctic Armed Forces logo a version of the Cosmicist Party crossed pen and wrench, only the Antarctic Army and Navy replace the wrench with a sword. Pen and sword, in accord, as they say. The air wing roundel (in either feldgrau or navy depending on branch) and general rank insignia scheme remain unchanged, while the Corps of Discovery would use the roundel in black to differentiate themselves from the terrestrial branches.
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As another aside, while the North American Union* and the ARC have one seat each, the Eurasian Union of Sovereign Republics, PEC, BARD**, and the remaining Continental Commonwealths are each subdivided into units that have their own seats in the General Assembly even if they're very clearly ironclad singular units on the world stage. In the case of the ARC it's because it came about as the result of a single multifaceted revolution in an era of Cosmicist containment and only begrudgingly got a place at the UN at all, while the other CCs were technically revolutionary waves that seized several neighboring nations, confederated them into "trade blocs" and then tweaked their borders after. The EUSR basically did the old USSR trick, and though Russia only has one seat it's more solidly divided internally.

*Which includes the retcon-independent Quebec. Some in the four components still fly the original flags but aside from official state functions where they're featured that's seen as suspicious among the general population. Might tweak the flag to add a flur de lis to the blue stripe, equal in size to the star but the two of them adjusted so they're stacked and centered in the stripe. When I get my computer working might tweak a couple of flags 🤔

**I like the acronym but I'm suddenly less than taken with the name given this technical loosening of the international system. I'll work on it and get back to y'all.

As always the floor's open for questions about the timeline!
Did a post the other day in my King in Yellow thread about their version of cosmic horror fiction and it gave me some ideas for a post about Sutter's trashy novels! I'll probably do that one next but as I continually reiterate I'm open for questions because work is busy and I'm bored out of my mind 😂