nodrog: Man of the Year 1951 (Fighting Man)
[personal profile] nodrog

In Smog and Thunder, the Great War of the Californias

California was teetering on the edge of doom. Animosity between Los Angeles and San Francisco had grown out of control. War was looming in the hearts of men and women from Petaluma to Pacoima. Then, in early May, General Juan Gomez de los Angeles led his Southern troops in an offensive against the Bay Area. Once the Battle of San Francisco began there was no turning back . . .

In Smog and Thunder is a mockumentary about a California civil war set in a vaguely recent past. The Great War of the Californias was the ultimate calamity in a state strewn with calamities. Based on the paintings of Sandow Birk, this film explores the history and the stories behind California's tragic conflict. The paintings, propaganda posters, and etchings convey the intense hatred that had built up between the two great California cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco. When the powder keg ignited, the state was quickly consumed by this horrible war.

In Smog and Thunder tells its story through the humble words of the soldiers and citizens who lived through it: infantry privates, civilian yuppies, traffic reporters, colonels, generals, and gardeners. Our crackpot historian, who smooths over war crimes with juicy gossip, leaves you feeling confused and inferior. This grand procession makes you laugh and breaks your heart, but still leaves room for lunch.

Major General Juan Gomez de los Angeles
Growing up near Elysian Park, Juan Gomez de los Angeles dreamed of playing baseball for the Dodgers, but his pitching arm got him no further than varsity baseball at Marshall High School. Gomez had become a site manager for a small construction company before he was summoned by a higher calling. Major General Juan Gomez de los Angeles had only been the Supreme Commander of the Southern Army for six months before he led his troops into its offensive against the North, which he held no love for. In his teens Gomez lost his virginity in an unsatisfying manner in San Francisco at a Grateful Dead concert and had despised the city ever since.

Commander Rebecca Jordan
Rebecca Jordan left her childhood home in Fresno to fulfill her dreams in Hollywood. By the time the game show on which she worked as a scantily clad letter turner was canceled, she was through with dreams, so she hopped on her Aprilia motorcycle and headed north. The experience she gained driving all over L.A. to auditions proved to be a helpful tool when she led her Northern troops on the largest mobile assault in California's history. Although she was feared for her ruthlessness, she always maintained er professionalism and kept her cool...
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… I told my friend [ profile] heddychaa that I would have great difficulty writing a history paper nowadays, because the temptation to take creative license and produce a meticulously formatted, annotated paper on an aspect of history which never happened would be overwhelming…

i.e. “Flashpoint: The District of Columbia and the Long Drumroll,” about how the strategically situated, Smithsonian-curated historical preserve with its Casa Blanca and never-completed Capitol Building evolved into a giant flea-market, black-market haven and espionage free-for-all during the decades-long cold war between the Union of Federal Socialist States and the Confederate States of America… I could work that up. What the hell, it's more entertaining than writing about the Erie Canal.

[Or if I wanted to make a different point, write an excruciatingly tedious, dull as lead paper on President Douglas Broadtree Landis, eighth President of the CSA, the Chester Arthur of his day, about whom nothing noteworthy could be said or ever was… but the paper would be meticulously formatted with a full (pseudo)bibliography…

Crossposted from my journal.

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“July 20, 1948 - the National Council on Astronautics, or NCA, has been brought into being.”

Video )

“For the eyes of the entire world now look into space - to the realms of low and high Earth orbit, to the Moon, to Mars and the other planets - and to the stars beyond.

“And we have determined that we shall not see any of it governed by the hostile flag of a repressive regime, but by a flag of freedom, peace, and of boundless enterprise born of exploration for the sake of all mankind…”

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Worlds of the Imperium

Brion Bayard, an American diplomat on assignment in Stockholm, Sweden, attempts to evade men he believes to be Soviet agents, only to find himself kidnapped by agents of the Imperium from a parallel world. Taken to the home world of the Imperium, he is introduced to the aristocratic members of the government, which rules most of the civilized world from London, having been formed by the union of the British Empire, which included America, and the German and Austro-Hungarian empires of Europe. He is impressed by the commitment to duty of the Imperial officials he meets and drawn to a particularly noble lady…

Sequel: A vastly better book )

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A recent post by a friend reminded me of an alternate-history angle that I want to use somewhere - what if Robert E Howard, storyteller with a photographic memory and experienced at Texas roughneck life in general and boxing in particular, had been tapped to cover the Spanish Civil War as a correspondent? For, like, money, y' know? (Hey, this was the 1930s. Times wuz tough.)

The problem is, the Spanish fracas started about one month after he'd put a bullet through his head. But the Italian invasion of Ethiopia was a going thing, and he might have gone there. (That would actually be more plausible; he'd be sent instead of the Hugh Jeego types who couldn't be bothered with such piffle.)

That would have changed the course of his life, and I seriously doubt he'd have died when (and how) he did.

Video )
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Doing some Wiki surfing this morning and have come up with a scary alternate history.

What If... Prague Spring had led to World War III?

We start in Hungary )

Interesting alternate, I think. Comments?


Jul. 17th, 2011 01:24 pm
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 I recently saw this version of Salome, and was surprised to find that it proposed an alternate history.

it was subtle, they never spelled out the alternate history, but just presented the result of whatever the divergence was.

The film opens with a text screen explaining that Julius Caesar was succeeded by Tiberius. This is really the only clue to what happened. What we have to suppose is that Caesar was not assassinated but reigned for several decades (presumably without launching his planned conquest of Parthia). Octavian must have died, perhaps in childhood, and it would be typical of Caesar to reach out to the opposition and elevate the Pompeian Ti. Claudius Nero to a high status, with his son eventually succeeding.

In the first scene of the film Tiberius interviews Pontius Pilate, who is introduced as commander of the ninth legion. Hints in this scene and later in the film show that he had been in charge of the conquest of Britain, several decades before Claudius actually took the Island. Pilate is made 'Governor of the East" presumably menaing of Syria. Strangely, he is not sent to Antioch as his HQ, or even to Caesarea where the procurator of Judea was HQed, but to Jerusalem. This is never explained, nor why Herod Antipas seems to be the ruler of Jerusalem. Salome had evidently been kept hostage at Rome for most of her life and is ordered to go back to Judea with Pilate. While in Rome she evidently fell in love with Tiberius' heir apparent. Now this is not Tiberius' son Drusus, nor either of his nephews Germanicus or Gaius (Caligula), but a certain Marcellus. Who this I cannot fathom, except perhaps Tiberius is foresahdowing the policy of the later '5 good emperors' and has adopted some competent individual from outside his family to make sure there is no succession trouble (perhaps in this time-line, Caesar had established a precedent by adopting Tiberius himself). But more strangely, this Marcellus and Salome are definitely convicned that the only possibility of a relationship between them is a full marriage. Salome asserts Tiberius would not allow it because she is a barbarian, though I would think the insignificance of her step-father's political position would carry more weight--though certainly any marriage of an Emperor in the early first century would have to be within the Roman aristocracy. For some reason, it never occurs to them that she could have become Marcellus' mistress without attracting Tiberius' concern or harming their social and political positions (a la Caesar and Cleopatra--although how that turned out in this time-line--and what happened to Cesarion--s never revealed). 

This pretty much covers the geo-political divergence postulated in the film, but it's filled with innumerable tiny references that show the world of the film is startlingly different from the world of history as we know it. I'll just mention 2 of the instnaces that stood out to me. When the single ship carrying Pilate and Salome approaches an unnamed port in Coleo-Syria (presumably Caesarea), one of the sailors shouts out "Land ho." Even if the ship had left sight of land to make a shorter crossing from Cyprus to the Levant, the ship would have paralleling the coast in sight of land for several days, so such a cry could never have been uttered. Although the ship they are in seems to be a pentekonter (cursorily small for such important passengers), it seems that some breakthrough in navigation, if not naval architecture, must have been made, allowing deep water passages to become standard. Another mystifying detail comes while the party journies overland to Jerusalem. Rather than using a road, traveling in coaches, and staying either in the oppida established at the end of each day's journey or in the houses of local aristocrats, they go overland, riding on horseback (Salome on a camel), and sleep in tents. During a night's camping, one of Pilate's aides saves Salome from being bitten by a gila monster. It is hard to imagine the divergence that brought these creatures to the Judea wilderness, but it must have come in the distant past (not even Caesar sponsoring a voyage of discovery that reached America could account for these animals running wild in the Syrian desert) and have had precious little follow-on effect since the time-line up to Cesar seems to have been otherwise unaffected.

But perhaps the greatest deviation form historical reality is to be be found in the film's ability to make Rita Hayworth appear bland and sexless.
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Personally I thought this movie was very well done. If you start worrying about historical plausibility you'll encounter turbulence - the Luftwaffe never bothered with Sanger's Amerika Bomber because they were looking east, not west; what they wanted was a Moskau Bomber!

There's also the problem that not one actor - no, excuse me, one (1) actor from the original film reprises his role. This is usually not a good sign.

But otherwise this is a fun film, right on the wavelength of It Happened Here.

Video )

"Philadelphia Experiment II" Outro

I gotta admit, that was a great ending--the part in Nazi Germany. It didn't make sense, but once he got there, who cares? The whole movie is just so they can do that scene where he kills Mahler's FATHER and so Mahler evaporates. Pretty cool effects. It's NOT terrible, I'm just not a big fan of time-travel flicks, they give me headaches.

All right, enough of that. I wanna remind you that next week we'll be in time-travel, as we start the ten-week course called "Joe Bob's Summer School" with the double feature of "Back to the Future" and "Time After Time."

But for tonight, you can stick a fork in me, I'm done. I'm Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that for every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.

© 1998 Turner Network Television, Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Legal/Privacy Notice about this site.

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“In the years after the war, country after country of the old Europe became part of the vast Nazi empire of das Grossdeutsches Reich…” - 'Fatherland'

Video )

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If I had the time, I'd very much like to write a follow-up to When William Came: A Story of London Under the Hohenzollerns. It's in the public domain, and it would be a fascinating alternate-history.

“Annexation had probably never been a dream before the war; after the war it suddenly became temptingly practical. Warum nicht? became the theme of leader-writers in the German press; they pointed out that Britain, defeated and humiliated, but with enormous powers of recuperation, would be a dangerous and inevitable enemy for the Germany of to-morrow, while Britain incorporated within the Hohenzollern Empire would merely be a disaffected province, without a navy to make its disaffection a serious menace, and with great tax-paying capabilities, which would be available for relieving the burdens of the other Imperial States. Wherefore, why not annex? The warum nicht? party prevailed. Our King, as you know, retired with his Court to Delhi, as Emperor in the East, with most of his overseas dominions still subject to his sway. The British Isles came under the German Crown as a Reichsland, a sort of Alsace-Lorraine washed by the North Sea instead of the Rhine…”

The United States are intact, as are the Colonial powers - even the “Angrezi Raj,” in very much a Peshawar Lancers framework. How would this 20th century play out? That world's AD 1950 would be interestingly different…

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This building, the skyscraper with a giant Lenin statue on top was never built.

It was projected on the 3-d construction plans as you can see on the image above but was never started, and some say it’s a big pity it wasn’t.

So one guy decided to insert this Soviet skyscraper in the views of modern Moscow to see how it could look like if it was built.

[See Palace of the Soviets]

I like the lattermost image, as it shows it in place, sure - but dark, with not a single light showing in the entire structure. Grandiose but derelict - the artist knows his Soviet architecture.

Livy 9.17.

Jul. 3rd, 2010 07:40 pm
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17. Nothing can be found farther from my intention, since the commencement of this history, than to digress, more than necessity required, from the course of narration; and, by embellishing my work with variety, to seek pleasing resting-places, as it were, for my readers, and relaxation for my own mind: [2] nevertheless, the mention of so great a king and commander, now calls forth to public view those silent reflections, [583] with which it has oftentimes occupied my mind; and disposes me to inquire, what would have been the consequence, respecting the affairs of the Romans, if they had happened to have been engaged in a war with Alexander. [3] The circumstances of greatest moment in war seem to be, the number and bravery of the soldiers, the abilities of the commanders, and fortune, which exerts a powerful sway over all human concerns, and especially over those of war. [4] Now these particulars, to one who considers them both separately and collectively, must clearly convince an observer, that not only other kings and nations, but that even Alexander himself, would have found the Roman empire invincible. And first to begin with comparing the commanders. [5] I do not, indeed, deny that Alexander was a captain of consummate merit; but still it renders him more illustrious that he was single in command, and that he died young, while his affairs were advancing in improvement, and while he had not yet experienced a reverse of fortune. [6] For, to pass by other illustrious kings and leaders, who afford exemplary instances of the decline of human greatness, what was it, but length of life, which subjected Cyrus (whom the Greeks, in their panegyrics, exalt so far beyond all others) to the caprice of fortune? And the same was, lately, the case of Pompey the Great. [7] I shall enumerate the Roman chiefs; not every one of every age, but those very ones with whom, either as consuls or dictators, Alexander might have been engaged: [8] Marcus Valerius Corvus, Caius Marcius Rutilus, Caius Sulpicius, Titus Manlius Torquatus, Quintus Publilius Philo, Lucius Papirius Cursor, Quintus Fabius Maximus, the two Decii, Lucius Volumnius, Manius Curius. [9] Then follow a number of very extraordinary men, had it so happened, that he had first engaged in war with Carthage, and had come into Italy at a more advanced period of life. Every one of these both possessed powers of mind and a capacity equal with Alexander; [10] and also a regular system of military discipline had been transmitted from one to another, from the first rise of the city of Rome; a system now reduced into the form of an art, completely digested in a train of fixed and settled principles. [11] According to these principles kings had carried on wars; and afterwards, the expellers of those kings, the Junii and Valerii; according to these the Fabii, the Quintii, the Cornelii, and so too Furius Camillus, who was an old man in the earlier years of those with [584] whom Alexander must have fought. [12] Manlius Torquatus, had he met him in the field, might, perhaps, have yielded to Alexander in discharging military duties in battle (for these also render him no less illustrious); and so might Valerius Corvus; men who were distinguished soldiers, before they became commanders. [13] The same, too, might have been the case with the Decii, who, after devoting their persons, rushed upon the enemy; or of Papirius Cursor, though possessed of such powers, both of body and mind. [14] By the counsels of one youth, it is possible the wisdom of a whole senate, not to mention individuals, might have been baffled, [consisting of such members,] that he alone, who declared that “it consisted of kings,” conceived a correct idea of a Roman senate. [15] But then the danger was, that with more judgment than any one of those whom I have named he might choose ground for an encampment, provide supplies, guard against stratagems, distinguish the season for fighting, form his line of battle, or strengthen it properly with reserves. [16] He would have owned that he was not dealing with Darius, who drew after him a train of women and eunuchs; saw nothing about him but gold and purple; was encumbered with the trappings of his state, and should be called his prey, rather than his antagonist; whom therefore he vanquished without loss of blood, and had no other merit, on the occasion, than that of showing a proper spirit in despising empty show. [17] The aspect of Italy would have appeared to him of a quite different nature from that of India, which he traversed in the guise of a reveller, at the head of a crew of drunkards, if he had seen the forests of Apulia, and the mountains of Lucania, with the vestiges of the disasters of his house, and where his uncle Alexander, king of Epirus, had been lately cut off.
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 Just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt. Swoon. Super fun, stimulating, sometimes a little aimless and/or overly encompassing, but A+ for an interesting experiment. I loved it so much I may re-read it. Perhaps it could stand a transition to graphic novel? Will be reading his Mars trilogy soon, but first I have started on The Non-Local Universe by Nadeau and Kafatos. 
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 What follows are my criticisms of the alternative history sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy

In theory, speculating on what may have been is an excellent thought experiment, an interesting way of shedding light on the events that did actually occur. I got curious some time ago and decided to see what the world had to say about the alternative history of America. What would it be like if the history of the world was different than it turned out to be? What would the United States of America be like today if a person in the past turned left instead of turning right, if he dodged that bullet and shot a new bullet instead? If Hannibal used war chimps instead of war elephants? What if JFK wore a helmet? Would thinking about a possible America where Prohibition stuck on as permanent law help me to understand what was really happening during the actual prohibition? Specifically, I was interested in an alternative history where, somehow, Europe’s interaction with the Americas over the last 500 years was altered from the way in which we currently understand it. Would this enlighten my understanding of North America?

Click here to get to the Native America... )
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Here is a very brief discussion an a nice little alternative universe in which Sarah Palin is the asst. manager of the Wasilla Walmart:

And, since its Palin, here it is again:
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Video )

I'm getting a massive Fatherland/“Crux Gammata” vibe off of this. Who says we're not watching the Greater German Reich, circa AD 1980? It sure looks like it to me…

(Nein, sie haben keine Mikrophone. 'Lip synching'? Was ist 'lip synching'?)


… I had someone ask me what I meant by that remark. Read more... )


althistory: 'What If' - A Game for Scholars (Default)
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