Monday, November 14, 2016

Flag of the Aztec Empire

This is the flag of the Aztec Empire.  It comes from a world where the Aztecs defeated Cortez and his troops.  This was partially due to Montezuma II having a bit more sense and not being quite as superstitious.  Smallpox still ravaged the Aztecs, but due to the more limited exposed they were able to recover by the time the Spanish sent additional expeditions.  It soon become obvious that the empire would need to reform itself if it was going to survive the European colonization of the Americas. 

The first reform was the structure of the empire.  The provinces became much more centralized in their organization.  The emperor still ruled over all, but each province sent a group of delegates to represent the needs of the province in a special council in Tenochtitlan.  The priests and priestesses also began to slowly phase-out human sacrifice from the traditional religion of the Aztecs.  Trade relations were established with multiple European nations both to gain access to European technology and to play the various powers off of each other. 

For the next few centuries the Aztecs would be prosperous and would have good relations with their neighbors.  They provided troops to the Federated Provinces of Cabotia during their rebellion against the British Empire.  To this day the two nations remain close allies to this day.  The Aztecs also maintained good relations with the Incan Empire, which also managed to avoid European conquest.  The Aztecs went on to expand their territory to stretch from the American Southwest to the tip of Panama, and even managed to nab a few islands of the Caribbean. 

The next major wave of reforms occurred during the 19h century.  The Aztecs, much like Japan during the Meiji Restoration, underwent a Westernization process.  Though from the Aztecs points of view the term would more accurately be Easternization.  Industrialization began to take off, and Western clothing and customs were slowly introduced to improve relations with the great powers of Europe.  However, the Aztecs did not completely turn their backs on their traditional culture.  Aztec clothing still remains very colorful and incorporates many traditional designs, and nose rings are still somewhat popular for men and women.  More traditional clothing is usually reserved for special ceremonies and occasions, such as religious festivals and the emperor's birthday. 

The Aztecs also still worship their old gods, and many temples and shrines can be found throughout the empire.  On the other hand, secularism is on the rise, and many people only perform the old rituals out of habit and tradition.  What was once an empire known for its bloodlust is today known as a thriving center of technology and innovation.

The flag features the colors red and green, which are traditional Aztec colors.  The maze pattern is a common feature in Aztec artwork.  The red snake is the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl, god of the winds and one of the most important gods in the Aztec pantheon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Flag of Fascist Britain

This is the flag of Fascist Britain.  It comes from a world where the Central Powers won World War I.  Following the war Britain and France were placed under a series of harsh reparations just as Germany was in our world.  Britain didn't face reparations nearly as bad as France did, but nevertheless it put considerable strain on the nation.  As a result the Fascist Party, led by Oswald Mosley, began to gain traction.  The Fascist promised revenge against Germany and the Austro-Hungarians for the humiliation Britain had suffered following the war.  

A surprise terrorist attack on Parliament was the opening the Fascists needed to cement their control on the British government.  It has been speculated by historians that this attack may have been staged by the Fascists themselves; but whatever the cause it was enough for most of the British people to get behind the new government.  The Royal Family fled to Canada and set up a government-in-exile to oppose the Fascists.  

The British colonies typically had one of three responses to the coup.  Some happily swore alliance to the new government, others chose to follow the government-in-exile and a few declared their independence.  Although authoritarian, Fascist Britain wasn't outright genocidal towards minorities like France was.  For instance, there was at one point a bill in Parliament that would have severely restricted the rights of Jews, Catholics and Atheists.  Thankfully it failed, albeit just barely.  Fascist Britain can be thought of as more similar to Mussolini's Italy than Nazi Germany. 

Despite a grueling Second War World eventually the Entente powers were defeated by combined German, Austro-Hungarian, Japanese and American forces.  Before long the Mosley regime was overturned and the rightful government returned to the British Isles once again.  

The flag is a modified version of the English St. George's flag.  The black stands for Fascism and in the center is the symbol of the British Union of Fascists. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Flag of Coptic Egypt

This is the flag of Coptic Egypt.  It comes from a world where Islam was never founded.  One of the many consequences of this was that the Byzantine Empire continued to prosper for a number of years.  Eventually, however, tensions began to grow within the empire.  Egypt began to fell that Constantinople was giving them the short end of the stick a bit too often.  Egypt's main grievances were increased taxes and increased tensions between the Coptic and Orthodox churches.  

After a brief war Egypt was granted its independence.  Despite this Egypt retains good relations with Byzantium.  It also maintains good relations with fellow Oriental Orthodox nations Ethiopia and Armenia.  Egypt has traditionally been a hub of trade, and following its independence work began on a canal in the Sinai Peninsula.  Egypt established traditions ports in India and China.  It also established colonies in Australia, which is known as New Egypt, as well as a few minor colonies in South America.  

The wealth from its trade and colonies has made Egypt as very rich nation.  People and goods from throughout the world can be found across Egypt's cities.  Currently their something of an architectural fad based around reinterpretations of Ancient Egyptian architecture.  Egypt also has a reputation for having some of the best universities and centers of learning in the world.  It is a nation which honors its past while keeping a eye towards the future. 

The flag contains a Coptic Cross to represent Egypt's Coptic faith.  The background represents the sands of Egypt, while the blue bands stands for the waters of the Nile River.  The writing is in the Coptic Script and reads "Jesus Christ, Son of God".   

My First Publication with Alternate History Fiction Magazine

It's finally here after forever and a day.  The premier issue of Alternate History Fiction Magazine is out now on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks and Nook.  The print edition is available as well.  It's only $0.99 for digital and $15.49 for physical.  It contains my alternate history flash fiction story "Ghosts of Athens" as the very first entry.  So, as per usual I'm going to tell you a bit about my story.

I had intended for my previous story "Happy Dominion Day" to end up in this magazine, but due to a mix-up it wound up in The Wolfian instead.  They are both run by the same guy.  However, had the mix-up not occurred I probably would have never written "Ghosts of Athens."  This story takes place in a world where Persia conquered Greece, and by the present day Persia is still a major world power.  It follows a Greek tour guide name Fazrin who runs tours the ruins of Athens.  He meets a Roman woman named Victoria and the two muse on how history might have been if the Greeks had successfully resisted the Persians.

It is, admittedly, similar to "Happy Dominion Day" in that it features people from an alternate world hypothesizing about the history of our world.  That said, I like "Ghosts of Athens" better as I feel that it is more polished and better realized.  It is mostly alternate history, but I snuck in just a pinch of magical realism for flavor.  As usual with these situations I was paid approximately $0.00, but at least it builds reputation.

So there you go.  "Ghost of Athens" is, I would hope, a very enjoyable story.  There's also plenty of other great alternate history, steampunk, science fiction and fantasy stories in the issue.  Check out Alternate History Fiction Magazine today.  I think you're going to enjoy it.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Flag of the United Nations Mission in Cyprus

This is the flag of the United Nations Mission in Cyprus.  It comes from a world where the United Nations took a more hard-line stance on the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus.  United Nations task forces were sent in to protect Northern Cyprus against Turkish occupation.  At the same time, additional troops were deployed to protect Cypriot independence from radical elements within Greece.  Most critical of all, the UN Mission in Cyprus received military support from the United States.  It helped that the United States pulled out of Vietnam earlier than it did in our world, and thus wasn't quite as war-weary. 

Thanks to the United Nations' intervention Cyprus is a happily united and prosperous nation.  Greece and Turkey were both put on probation following the intervention in Cyprus, but they were eventually readmitted to the UN.  The United Nation would go on to institute reforms within itself following the events in Cyprus.  The main aspect of the reforms was that only true democracies would be given a voice in the United Nations; the organization would also take a great stance to promote democracy through interventions such as the one in Cyprus.  This stance resulted in fairer treatment for Israel and action against human right violations in the Middle East. 

The flag contains the light blue and white colors of the United Nations flag.  It also contains the outline of Cyprus and the nation's name in Greek.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Movie Review: The Martian

Back when I review the book The Martian by Andy Weir, I said that I hadn't seen its movie adaptation.  Well I am happy to say that I have finally gotten around to fixing that problem.  So without further ado let's take a look at Ridley Scott's adaption of The Martian.

In the not too distant future the Ares III mission to Mars has had to return Earth prematurely due to surprise dust storm.  Unfortunately, Mark Watney has been left behind because everyone assumed that he died during the storm.  Now it's going to take everything Mark's got and then some to stay alive, reestablish contact with mission control and get back to Earth.

So how well does the plot stack up to that of the book?  It does an absolutely beautiful job of preserving and replicating the book's plot.  Sure, there were a few scenes cut here and there, but that was to make things more streamlined and better fit the medium of film.  The biggest changes were to a few character.  In the book Mission Control was run by Venkat Kapoor, an Indian-American man.  In the movie we have Vincent Kapoor, who is half-Black and half-Indian.  Originally, an Indian actor had been cast in the role, but he had prior obligations in Bollywood.  So they cast Chiwetel Ejiofor at the last minute.  

In the book minor character Mindy Park was most likely Korean-American, but in the movie she's played by a white actress.  On the more subjective side, Commander Lewis isn't necessarily described as ugly per say, but it is mentioned that Beth Johansson is the good looking one of the Ares III crew.  Personally, I thought that Jessica Chastain was better looking than Kate Mara, but that's just my opinion. 

Andy Weir has even said that he cried tears of joy during the first eight minutes of the movie because he got to see his vision come to life on the big screen.  Suffice it to say, he's very happy with how the movie turned out.  There's plenty of scientists who gave this film their stamp of approval, including Neil deGrasse Tyson himself.  It's really an accomplishment when you can get Dr. Tyson onboard with your film.  The Martian is easily Ridley Scott's best film to date.  

It even made it all the way to The Oscars and was nominated for best picture. It lost, but in The Academy's defense, Spotlight is a really good movie and more than earned its award.  That being said, The Martian did very well at The Golden Globes, BAFTA and the Critic's Choice Awards.  It even won best comedy, which is weird because it isn't a comedy.  Don't get me wrong it's very lighthearted and has many moments of comedy, but I wouldn't call it a comedy per say.  It is great that so many hard science fiction films are getting the recognition they deserve as of late. 

If I had one complaint it would be that the marketing campaign really did this movie a disservice. They made the movie look much darker than it actually is.  I mean, there are serious and dramatic moments, but on the whole it's pretty lighthearted.  Though I am happy to say that the misaimed marketing didn't effect the film's success in the slightest.  

I loved the practical effects involved with this movie, especially how much of it was filmed in Jordan's Wadi Rum desert for the shots of Mars' surface.  Though there were also plenty of soundstages in Hungry.   I also loved the way music from the 1970s was incorporated into the soundtrack.  Mark probably would have screamed his head off if he ever saw this movie, but I liked it.  The special effects were also really well done.  

I haven't been talking much about the actually plot, but I really covered most of that in my review of the book, so you can always check that out.  It is a really fun movie, the science is science is rock-solid and I'm glad I got to share this movie with my family.  Seriously, do yourself a favor and go rent this movie, or buy it if you're so inclined. 

This was a somewhat short and haphazard review, but I figured I should get something out after so long.  I do intend to review more movies in the future so be on the lookout for that.  Well then, that's all for me for now.  I will see you guys next time. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Flag of the United American Workers Republic

This is the flag of the United American Workers Republic.  It's ties in with the map I made called Red White and Blue, but Mostly Red.  It comes from a world where Theodore Roosevelt was assassinated early into his presidency and never instigated any of his reforms.  By the 1920s and 1930s socialist and communist movements had gained considerable traction.  Thing came to ahead during the Great Depression, and before long an all-out Second Civil War had broken out.  When the dust settled and the fighting stopped the United States of America had ceased to exist.  It its place rose the United American Workers Republic.  The new nation reformed American society along socialist and communist lines.  It granted equal rights to all citizens regardless of race, gender, ethnicity and (in time) sexuality.  

The UAWR fought against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during World War II.  It was also a key figure in the founding of the Japanese Workers Republic, the Socialist Republic of South Korea and the People's Republic of Taiwan.  It also supported socialist revolutions in Latin America, who retain strong diplomatic ties with their Tio Samuel.  America also provided support for Iran during their socialist revolution in 1954.  America took in several Jews to Alaska during World War II, so only two million were killed in the Holocaust.  Besides the territory that the USA does in our world, the UAWR also includes the Philippines, Cuba, Panama and Liberia.

Traditionally, the United America Workers Republic has been in a Cold War against the Russian Empire and the Franco-British Union.  In more recent times, however, the three superpowers are beginning to warm up to each other, and have become more like frenemies than outright hostile. On the whole the United American Workers Republic isn't necessarily better or worse than our America, but it is very different, and someone from our world might not feel very comfortable