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

“Heʹs out there, operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the
pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field
commanding troops.”

– General Corman on Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.

ʹBadass of the Weekʹ )

“Ungern looked at everyone with the eyes of a beast of prey”

a “very brave, but somewhat reckless and mentally unstable officer” )

nodrog: (Great World War)
[personal profile] nodrog

“Tales From a Parallel Universe”

Brad Ferguson's brilliant 1987 short story, “The World Next Door,” is set in a small rural community in Upstate New York that has managed to hang on by its fingernails through the twenty-five years since the Cuban Missile Crisis escalated into a full-scale strategic nuclear exchange that effectively broke 20th century Western civilization like a plate dropped on the floor.  Now, though, people are starting to have dreams.  Nightmares are common enough for obvious reasons, but these are different… 

People are dreaming that they, themselves, are living clean comfortable lives in a weird wonderful world, flying on jetliners (there is no aviation nowadays) and driving sleek futuristic cars (no cars either).  The narrator is the editor of the local newspaper, grimly stitching together his one (1) typewriter ribbon as it frays apart…  but he dreams that he's at the city desk of a real newspaper, where everyone's sitting at little green-glowing TV screens typing away and there's no cigarette smoke…  Their Halloween tradition is a bit threadbare, but this kid shows up wearing his Dad's souvenir Wehrmacht helmet and gas mask and wearing a dark blanket as a cape, breathing heavily and calling himself “Darth Fader”…  People dream of a spidery craft landing on the Moon, and a rocket called “Challenger” exploding in the sky…

Meanwhile, Elvis Presley shows up, with his sideboys.  Yup - he makes his living touring the country as a traveling musician (and Federal agent, basically a census taker, taking in the State of the Union as he goes along).  He puts on a show, performing some of his gospel tunes - and he was good at that - and a bit of rockabilly for old times' sake, and one new song that'd come to him just recently…

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And when all the brokenhearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be

For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be…

And the audience is absolutely in tears, and singing along. Which freaks everybody out when they realize it.

How it all turns out (remember, this is the 1980s) is that in “our” world, where the Cuban crisis went away, the superpowers have had thirty years to stockpile nightmare levels of nuclear arsenal, and they're right on the brink.  Like Jack Finney's earlier story, “I'm Scared,” the mass psychic pressure to get away is pushing through the boundaries of time -

And then the dreams stop, for everyone.  And everyone knows why.

I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white. 
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night. 
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world. 

The colors of the rainbow,
So pretty in the sky. 
Are also on the faces,
Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands. 
Saying, "How do you do?"

And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world. 

Yes, I think to myself,
What a wonderful world…

nodrog: T Dalton as Philip in Lion in Winter, saying “What If is a Game for Scholars” (Alternate History)
[personal profile] nodrog

        “I pledge my allegiance to the flag of the community of American, Soviet,
        and United Nations of the World, and to the principle for which it stands –
        a nation indivisible with others of the Earth, joined in peace, and
        justice for all.

"Amerika" Miniseries, 1987

Trailer )

This was an interesting effort, the like of which would not, I believe, be seen again until Amazon's adaptation of P K Dick's The Man in the High Castle

One of the better elements of interest was that the supposed “Soviet victory” was not a 1950s “Red Nightmare,” an instant 1984 treatment - on the contrary, the gerontocracy in the Kremlin were still losing just as they did in reality, the future becoming the present and slipping away from their withered aged hands.  Indeed, just as Jesse Jackson's demands for “reparations” - extorted from those who have never owned slaves and paid to those who have never been slaves - fell down precisely because it would act as a quitclaim and kill the white-liberal-guilt gravy train, so now the ongoing, inherent failure of socialism could no longer be blamed on “the capitalist West,” on the United States in particular, and the Communist Party was losing control everywhere, from Eastern Europe to the “administrative areas” of the conquered USA!  By the end of the story the local authorities, acting now as the lawful government of the new nation of “Heartland,” openly defied and overruled the local Party commissars and actively fought the post-functionally irrelevant UNSSU!  (Who didn't like letting go.)

Though the screenplay was written before 1991, it depicted an eerie parallel with the soon-to-be-real events in the now-former Soviet satellite nations of Eastern Europe.  The United States of America might not return, but the supposedly “downer ending” suggests the new, smaller, more easily accountable nations of its former territory might not have a problem with that!


As such, it is interesting to compare this to W Streiber and J Kunetka's Fifth Columnist agitprop novel Warday (1984), blurbed by such notable patriots as Sen Edward Kennedy and Dr Helen Caldicott and also describing life in America following a far more severe but still limited strategic nuclear exchange.  A more detailed review will have to await another time, but here too the impression is gradually received that global super-powers are a thing of the past, that the pattern of the future would be smaller, almost feudal nation-states to whom geopolitics is irrelevant.

It might not take a nuclear war to bring that about; a deep and prolonged petroleum crisis could have much the same effect.  By the time it could be resolved people might not want to return to the way things were before.

nodrog: T Dalton as Philip in Lion in Winter, saying “What If is a Game for Scholars” (Alternate History)
[personal profile] nodrog

I remember these “New Twilight Zone” episodes so vividly.  It's marvelous that they're appearing on Youtube.  Here:  Let Cliff deYoung show you what a professional actor can do.

“He's a nice man, Mommy…”

“I wondered - how it would have been.  And I guess I wondered myself here…”

Video )

[identity profile]

Click for Larger Image

        The Fourth of July is observed in the Confederate States but not celebrated, for while
        G Washington, T Jefferson, E Rutledge et al were Southerners, and without them there would
        have been no American Revolution, yet it was England, who had tried twice to extinguish
        those damned rebels and their upstart “United States,” who came to the South's aid in the
        birth throes of that new nation and who have been a friendly power and trading partner ever
        since.  [Conversely and not coincidentally, Independence Day is celebrated
        religiously in the USA - and early in the 20th century was the occasion for anti-South
        rhetoric as well.]  The accomplishments of the Founding Fathers are given a respectful
        nod, but more than that would be tactless.

Click for Larger Image

[identity profile]

[For my friend [ profile] bobby1933, who remembers when the lamps were smashed out all over Europe.]

        …  It is no good using hard words among friends about the past, and
        reproaching one another for what cannot be recalled.  It is the future, not
        the past, that demands our earnest and anxious thought.  We must recognize
        that the Parliamentary democracies and liberal, peaceful forces have
        everywhere sustained a defeat which leaves them weaker, morally and
        physically, to cope with dangers which have vastly grown.  But the cause of
        freedom has in it a recuperative power and virtue which can draw from
        misfortune new hope and new strength…

        - W Churchill, 1874 - 1955

Click for Larger Image 

Video )

                “We have nothing to hide, and have many achievements we wish to share with

                “The war ended a long time ago.  We're asking that you give us the chance
                to show you how sincere we are, in wanting to bring the Cold War to a close
                too.  The Führer wants only peace, and friendship.

                “Isn't that what everyone wants?”

„Protektorat Europa” )

Video )

        Tolling for the nameless, nailed up on the crooked cross
        An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing…

        - B Dylan

* Sigrid & Marina are both married.  Ask me how I know that:  Their dirndl skirts are tied at the left side.  Were they tied at the center, they'd be schoolgirls; at the right, single and potentially available.  [Tied at the back, they're waitresses.]

[identity profile]

AlternateHistoryHub is an entire channel dedicated to 'alternate history'
and the 'what if'. Theorizing using historical evidence and facts, about
how things could have changed, had an event been different.

It's interesting enough; some imaginative scenarios.

- He mentions Operation Unthinkable

but not Dropshot.

nodrog: Rake Dog from Vintage Ad (Default)
[personal profile] nodrog

Without a doubt, one of the single most influential men of the 20th century - for better or worse, mostly worse - was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin.  Arguably the Muhammad of modern times, what he started reshaped most of the world in one way or another, and killed millions along the way…  Yet his effect was itself extremely improbable.  Had he been arrested instead of his brother - had he died of want in Zurich - had the Germans not found him useful, or had he not proved so - he would be entirely forgotten.

Read more... )

This community has been dormant of late - sharing in Livejournal's slow decline - but this is a real stem-winder of a question and well worth turning the lights back on for!

[identity profile]

Without a doubt, one of the single most influential men of the 20th century - for better or worse, mostly worse - was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin.  Arguably the Muhammad of modern times, what he started reshaped most of the world in one way or another, and killed millions along the way…  Yet his effect was itself extremely improbable.  Had he been arrested instead of his brother - had he died of want in Zurich - had the Germans not found him useful, or had he not proved so - he would be entirely forgotten.

Read more... )

This community has been dormant of late - part of Livejournal's slow decline - but this is a real stem-winder of a question and well worth turning the lights back on for!

[identity profile]

A sequence from Walt Disney's Fantasia (1940) - it was animated, scored, finished - then cut, and never seen…

Video )

A marvelous little mood piece that fits its music perfectly - of course.

nodrog: the Comedian (Comedian)
[personal profile] nodrog

“In America as in Europe State governments became insolvent phantoms making feebler and feebler efforts to collect taxes, and the Federal authority in Washington faded away...”

“Crimson Skies” was obviously inspired by this. )

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

The Fateful Encounter of Private Henry Tandey

The annals of history are full of fateful moments which scholars refer to as the great "what if's" of history, where if events had taken only a slight deviation the course of human affairs would have been dramatically different.

Such a moment occurred in the last moments of the Great War in the French village of Marcoing involving 27 year old Private Henry Tandey of Warwickshire, UK, and 29 year old Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler of Braunau, Austria...

Private Tandey served with the 2nd Battalion in South Africa and Guernsey before the outbreak of war in 1914, he fought in the 1st Battle of Ypres in October 1914, two years later he was wounded in the leg during the Battle of the Somme and when discharged from a military hospital in England transferred to the 9th Battalion in Flanders and wounded at Passchendaele in November 1917...

Tandey was mentioned five times in dispatches and certainly earned his VC during the capture of the French village and crossing at Marcoing, his regiment held down by heavy machine gun fire Tandey crawled forward, located the machine gun nest and took it out.

Arriving at the crossing he braved heavy fire to place wooden planks over a gaping hole enabling troops to roll across and take the battle to the Germans, the day still not over he successfully led a bayonet charge against outnumbering enemy troops which helped bring hostilities to an end.

As the ferocious battle wound down and enemy troops surrendered or retreated, a wounded German soldier limped out of the maelstrom and into Private Tandey's line of fire, the battle weary man never raised his rifle and just stared at Tandey, resigned to the inevitable. "I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man," said Tandey, "so I let him go."

The young German soldier nodded in thanks and the two men took diverging paths, that day and in history. Hitler retreated with the remnants of German troops and ended up in Germany, where he languished in the humiliation of defeat at wars end.

Tandey put that encounter out of his mind and rejoined his regiment, discovering soon after he had won the Victoria Cross. It was announced in the London Gazette on 14th December 1918 and he was personally decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 17th December 1919, in newspaper reports a picture of him carrying a wounded soldier after the Battle of Ypres was published, a dramatic image which symbolized a war which was supposed to have put an end to all wars...


Hitler [wished] to have his best wishes and gratitude conveyed to Tandey by the Prime Minister, who promised to phone him on his return to London. It wasn't until that time Tandey knew the man he had in his gun sight 20 years earlier was Adolf Hitler and it came as a great shock, given tensions at the time it wasn't something he felt proud about...

Out of the millions killed in the Great War - how could he have known the difference that just one more would have made...

[identity profile]

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.

What if they never left?

Read more... )


Barry Malzberg wrote a very weird, atmospheric little story about an Apollo astronaut who has completely whacked out; it turns out that he'd fired the CSM main engines and launched back to Earth - leaving the other two on the Lunar surface, screaming and cursing…

[identity profile]

My paleontologist friend John says,

“As a fan of all things dinosaur-related, one of the things that has always intrigued me is why nobody has made a movie of Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz… .[It] definitely deserves to be a live-action movie in one form or another…”

So, let us summon our chronosynclastic infundibulum and send it spinning like a time tornado among the various worlds of If. Ah, here we are…

A few false starts )


So - what did moviegoers see, there in what Forrest J Ackerman called, “The Realm of Unwrought Things,” the world where films got made that in our reality never did, or never got far?

The best way - the only way, really - to show what might have been, is to show what was: What Joe Johnston and Bill Campbell (and James Horner) did with the title that WAS picked, the film that WAS made…

Video )

Bad marketing (and bad timing) sank this at the box office, though it has picked up a cult following since and there are even rumors that Disney will try again with yet another “reboot” project.

But I'd like to see Touchstone Pictures' Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (1991), just to see how it turned out.

[identity profile]

[ profile] lots42 writes:

This will only make sense to fans of the Infinite Crisis DC comic book series:

In the 'Infinite Crisis' novelization, there's an interesting change of pace. At the point Luthor notices a pleasing alternate Earth...the book gets into the thoughts of the readers.

For Luthor has spotted the reader and is, for lack of a better phrase, quite literally reaching for

What would have happened if the Teen Titans hadn't distracted him...?

I replied:

“This will only make sense to fans” - no, actually, I've seen that done many times in various speculative fiction stories. This is, after all, a world where none of these things has happened - whatever those 'things' might be. Refugees from the disaster or thwarted supervillains both would want to step through.

One of the more affecting uses I've seen was in Brad Ferguson's 1987 short story, “The World Next Door.” There, the impoverished residents of a community which has survived after a fashion ever since the Cuban Missile Crisis boiled over in 1962, start having these dreams - of themselves, living in a world they've never seen or imagined, where people sit in front of glowing TV screens to write and a spidery-looking American ship landed on the Moon… Elvis Presley, who'd survived as a travelling troubadour (and Federal intelligence agent, in effect), shows up and performs a song he'd written when he awoke, called “Let It Be” - and the crowd sing along… They still have things like Halloween, and a kid shows up in his father's WWII German helmet and gas mask with a grey blanket tied on as a cape, making heavy breathing noises, calling himself “Darth Fader”… People dream of this clean, amazing, well-fed world of Interstates and Internet and waken to their grim isolated subsistence lives feeling more and more wretched…

Written in 1987, the story has the disaffected-intelligentsia Fifth Column agenda ubiquitous in printed SF at the time: People were dreaming all this because Ronnie Rayguns and the Nukular Boogieman™ were about the destroy the world with the nuclear arsenals that had stockpiled in the twenty-five years since the Cuban Missile Crisis was averted (!!), and as in Jack Finney's earlier, similar story “I'm Scared”, that mass psychic pressure to get away was starting to affect the flow of Time.

The dreams stopped suddenly. Everyone knew why.


althistory: 'What If' - A Game for Scholars (Default)
The Quiver of Time's Arrows

April 2017

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