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The Two Georges

A stand-alone AH novel written collaboratively by Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss. Set in the year it was written, 1996.

The world of The Two Georges is one where there was no American Revolution, with colonial grievances being sorted out in the 1760s when the colonies sent emissaries to Britain and George III appointed a privy council to oversee the colonies led by George Washington. A painting by Gainsborough of George Washington being presented to George III is The Two Georges of the title, and symbolises the good relationship between the North American Union (as the colonies have become) and the motherland.

By 1996 the world is divided into the three major powers of the British Empire, the Franco-Spanish Holy Alliance, and the Empire of All the Russias. Germany and Italy are still divided. The Ottoman Empire and China have survived but are British protectorates. Japan modernised like OTL but remains a minor power, along with Austria, the Netherlands and Prussia. Although it is said that there have been no major world wars since the Seven Years' War, the NAU has still somehow expanded to take in the entirety of the United States and Canada of OTL, minus Alaska but plus Baja California.

Due to the lack of conflict and radical ideas such as republicanism, technological progress is between 50 and 100 years behind OTL, although partly this is a cultural thing: only the military use aeroplanes, as civilian travellers prefer the more sedate cruise of an airship. Televisions (“televisors”) are common in public meeting places such as pubs, but are rarely found in the home, and watching television is considered a social activity. Slavery ended earlier than OTL and by 1996 the NAU even has a black Governor-General and a black Tory Party leader, though there is more lingering prejudice than OTL against Catholic-associated groups such as the Nuevospanolans (Mexicans) and Irish.

The story deals with Thomas Bushell, an officer of the Royal American Mounted Police (and stereotypical divorced alcoholic detective) as he covers the case of the stolen Two Georges, trying to recover the painting before King-Emperor Charles III's royal visit. (Charles III is the son or grandson of Edward VIII, who in TTL did not renounce the throne). In doing so he investigates the Sons of Liberty, a terrorist organisation that wants America to be independent (their political wing is the minor Independence Party). At first the Sons seem to be backed by the Russians, but it later emerges that they are actually backed by the Franco-Spanish, who supply them with Russian-made guns as cover. The Sons attempt an assassination attempt on Charles III by booby-trapping the returned painting with a bomb, but this fails, and Bushell is knighted.

The Two Georges is very conservative with regards the butterfly effect, featuring many OTL figures long after they would reasonably still have been born with the massive changes to the timeline. It is also something of a cultural Britwank, presenting a world where British slang (e.g. lorries, lifts) dominates in America, ignoring the fact that even loyal colonies in OTL developed their own slang separate from Britain. The NAU is presented somewhat like a stereotypical super-Canada, with politeness, little gun ownership or gun crime, and so forth. Curiously, the culture of this world was partly designed by Harry Harrison, otherwise noted for doing the exact opposite in his prototypically Ameriwanked and anti-British 'Stars and Stripes' trilogy.

Rather daringly, Turtledove presented the Sons of Liberty as embodying the worst and most extremist aspects of America, including racism and nativism, although they also have a socialist element stemming from oppressed coal miners in Pennsylvania and Virginia. (The world is fairly steampunkish, with coal-fuelled dreadnoughts ruling the seas and everyone driving steam cars, so coal-mining is more important than oil-drilling).

OTL figures appearing in the novel

John F. Kennedy - New York businessman, womaniser and editor of Common Sense, a Sons of Liberty-sympathetic newspaper.

Martin Luther King Jr. - a knight and Governor-General of the NAU.

Richard Nixon - 'Tricky Dick the Steamer King', who owns a business empire selling steam cars (“steamers”). This inspired the name of the Richard Nixon The Used Car Salesman trope over at Tv Tropes (the trope is about ATL careers of recognizable OTL figures).

Diana Spencer - peripherally mentioned as being the subject of shameful photography of royals circulated as propaganda by the Sons of Liberty (though as it concerns the 'junior branch of the royal house', OTL's ruling one, it bites less well).

See Also

alternate_history/the_two_georges.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)