Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Flag of the Socialist Republic of Korea

This is the flag of the Socialist Republic of Korea. It comes from a world where North Korea won the Korean War. With all of Korea United under a single socialist government this Korea never experienced the rise of Juche and the overall quality of life is much higher than in our world's North Korea. Having said that, quality of life is also much lower than in our world's South Korea. Over the years the government has begun to loosen its grip and liberalize, and each year sees more foreign in investors and business invest in Korea.

Relations between the United States and Korea were initially rather frosty, but in recent years things have begun to warm up once again. In the absence of a capitalist Korea, the United Sates has increased its military bases in Japan. In general, this Korea is comparable to our world's Vietnam.

Speaking of Vietnam, in this world Vietnam is still divided between a capitalist south and a socialist north. North Vietnam has proven to be a tiger economy and is quickly earning its place in global pop culture thanks to V-Pop music. South Vietnam, by contrast, has grown increasingly authoritarian and increasingly paranoid. The two Vietnams have technically been a war for many years, but no shots have been fired…for now anyway. 

Napoleon in Afghanistan: A Twilight Histories Map

My latest map based on the Twilight Histories episode Napoleon in Afghanistan.  It's set in the mid-19th century where among other things...

Napoleon was far more successful than he was in our world.  One of his biggest successes was his victory against the Russians.  Napoleon chased Czar Alexander and his forces across Central Asia for quite some time.  Eventually, the French army faced off against the forces of Britain and Russia in the Khyber Pass of Afghanistan.  It was a tough and gurgling battle, but ultimately the French prevails and dealt a crippling blow to the British by capturing India.  Unfortunately, Napoleon didn't get to enjoy his success for long as he contracted cancer and was dead by his mid-sixties.  Still, despite his early death, Napoleon managed to create a French Empire stretching from Portugal to Indochina.

While Napoleon was busy building his empire the United States was going through considerable turmoil.  The Embargo Act was never repealed and New England seceded from the Union.  Soon the United States found itself in a war against New England and Britain.  All went well at first, but then Thomas Jefferson was assassinated.  James Madison severely mishandled the war and caused New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to join New England.  By the end of the war New England was recognized as a sovereign nation and the area that would have been the states of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin Indiana and Ohio had become part of British North America.

Napoleon never wasted troops in Haiti and was able to retain Louisiana.  In recent times Louisiana has been granted a higher degree of personal autonomy, akin to the British Dominion system, as a bit of a trial run of giving other regions of the French Empire more autonomy.  Louisiana has a highly cosmopolitan culture with its citizens comes from across the French Empire.  New Orleans is very much the finical and cultural heart of Louisiana, and occupies a position not too dissimilar to New York during our world's 19th century.  There is a movement within western Louisiana to breakaway and become its own separate dominion.  Time will tell what becomes of this.

Following Russia's defeat by Napoleon many Russians, including the royal family, fled to Russia's possessions in North America.  Novorossiya has expanded to include much of the Pacific Northwest, and has opened its doors to many immigrants.  One of the most notable group of immigrants has been Mormons.  The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints originated in New England, but its members soon moved to Louisiana under the guidance of church founder Joseph Smith.  The Mormons sought to establish a nation of their own in sparsely populated upper Louisiana.  Unfortunately, it wasn't long before they found themselves in conflict with the French military in what would become known as the Deseret War.  Brigham Young, following Smith's death in the war, led the remaining Mormon's to southern Novorossiya.  The Russians allowed the Mormons to settle, but made it very clear they were not attempt anything like in Louisiana.  Novorossiya is culturally divided between a Russian Orthodox north and an Anglo Mormon south.

Latin America experienced several revolutions thanks to Napoleon.  Simon Bolivar received support from Napoleon and achieved his dream of a unified Republic of Gran Columbia.  Mexico is an empire that is ruled by a relative of Napoleon; on paper it's independent, but in practice it's very much a French puppet state.  The Portuguese royal family, as in our world, relocated to Brazil; Rio de Janeiro is the heart of the Brazilian Empire.  Argentina and Uruguay have fallen the British, eager for new lands following their losses to the French.  Chile has managed to maintain its independence thanks to its mountainous terrain.

Much of the Middle East is either under French control or French influence.  Oman has managed to maintain its independence by doing everything it can to suck up to the French.  Thanks to this tactic Oman has been able to begin establishing colonies in East Africa and is becoming something of a regional power.  There was a rebellion and uprising by Wahhabi Muslims against French influence in the region, but it we quickly suppressed.  Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire an Islamic Holy State was established around the region containing Mecca and Medina.  The French leave the Holy State mostly to its own devices, figuring that it's more trouble than it's worth.

The rapid expat ions of the French Empire gave China the motion it needed to being a modernization campaign.  The empire's cultural regulations were relaxed and non-Manchurians were allowed to practice their cultures more freely, which has led to an increase in the number of hanfu being made and purchased.  Industrialization programs are underway and China has even been able to negotiate for the purchase of several Philippine islands from France.  Meanwhile, Japan has opened itself up to the outside world and is also in the middle of its own industrialization.  The Japanese government has been reformed under a Meiji style restoration.  Korea is doing its best to prosper in the shade of its neighbors and is looking to start its own industrialization program.  Hawaii has managed to maintain its independence and is in the process of reforming its society along French lines.

The 19th century is without doubt a very French Century.  The French Empire reigns supreme and without challenge.  The British Empire has been thoroughly humbled and never quite became the great power that it did in our world.  For the most part the world has been relatively peaceful following Napoleon's wars of conquest.  Slavery has been phased out of most nation with the exception of the rump United States and Brazil, though the Brazilians are creating plans to do so.  Because of the size of the French Empire it is possible that Africa won't be colonized quite to the same extent as in our world.  Still, despite its success the French Empire is beginning to show strains and groan under its own weight.  It's possible that more regions will be granted greater autonomy like Louisiana.  Time will tell what will become of the world that Napoleon made. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Titanic Colony: Flags of Avalon

I always love it when I get to work with my fellow alternate historians, especially when there are flags involved in it.  So, when Zach Anderson needed a flag for the Republic of Avalon for his story Titanic Colony, I didn't just give one flag.  Instead, I made flags for Avalon as well as all of its provinces.  I've decided that I'll share them over here on my blog, but first we need a bit of background and context.

You can find Titanic Colony over on Zach's blog The Weekly Chrononaut.  Titanic Colony follows the passengers and crew of Titanic as they are transported to a world without humans by humans from the far future, and are supplied with a vault of resources.  It alternates between the first year and 300 years after the Titanic gets transported to the new world.  So, now that we've cover that, let's get on to the flags.  You'll notice that they've all got red cantons with white stars, as a reference to the White Star Line.

Here we have the flag of The Republic of Avalon.  The three strips represent the three decks of Titanic while the red canton and white star represent the White Star Line, the captain and the crew.  The stripes are blue and white to represent the waves which carried Titanic to its new world.

Here we have the flag of Titanic City. It is the capital of the Republic of Avalon, and is the first area of Avalon to have been colonized. Located where New York City is in our world. I got the inspiration for the flag based on the flag of the Star Tugs from the TV series TUGS. It looked so similar to the White Star Line Flag I figured it would be a nice little shout out, and I'd been watching TUGS when I made this. For those who don't know, TUGS was made by the people who made Thomas the Tank Engine, but is a bit more mature and slightly darker series, and obviously the main characters are all talking tugboats and other watercraft.

This one is the flag of New Eire, which as the name suggests, was settled primarily by Irish passengers and crew.  As such, I made it green and gave it a Celtic harp. 

Here we have the flag of Avalonia.  It has King Arthur on it because, hey, it is the republic of Avalon after all.  I figured Arthurian imagery would feature prominently on the flags.

This is the flag of New Cork.  The phoenix represents Avalon rising from the ashes of the old world, I figured that burgundy was a nice color to use for this one.

Here we have the flag of New Virginia. The infinity symbols represent The Eternity Project, those humans from the far future who transported Titanic to the virgin Earth and provided them with all of the supplies they'd need to survive. 

This is the flag of South Avalonia.  It has Excalibur, the sword given to King Arthur by the Lady of the Lake.  The sword he pulled out of a stone was a separate sword.  Like I said, plenty of Arthurian symbolism. 


This one is the flag of Columbia.  It was founded by defendants of the American passengers.  Just as people several generations take pride in their ancestors, I figured it would be the same here, and the flag reflects this pride.

The flag of Edwardia.  I went with a red, white and black scheme because I thought it looked really nice all mixed together like that.  It's named after Captain Edward J. Smith, the first High Captain of Avalon.  The crest represents industry and science, since I figured those would be emphasized.

Here we have the flag of Florida.  I figured red, yellow and blue were a good tricolor and the trident seemed like a good nautical symbol to have. 

This is the flag of Finium named for...well, we're still working on that part.  I went with a simple blue cross against a white background, because that seemed like a good simple design.

Here is the flag of Mississippia, it's a bit further from the rest of Avalon so I gave it a dragon as in "here there be dragons" plus I like dragons, so I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity. I made it purple, because purple is an underutilized color for flags.

Finally, we have the flag of Astoria. It's named after John Jacob Astor.  I figured at least one of them would feature an anchor, and Hope seemed fitting given Avalon's optimistic nature. 

Well, that's all of the flags I've got for this time.  I hope you had fun.  I collaborated with Lynn Davis in two occasions, so maybe I'll post the flags from those endeavors at some point.  And hey, who knows who else I might collaborate with in the future.  Until next time gang.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

Interview: Alan Garcia

I've decided that it's high time I started kicking this blog into gear and seriously committing to it. As the first step towards this I've decided to take inspiration from Matt Mitrovitch and Dave Rubin by interview several people whom I happen to admire greatly, or just anyone I think will be worth interviewing. To kick things off we're going to start with one of my favorite artists from DeviantArt, and one who's art has been featured here quite a few times: Alan Garcia aka Shinoharaa.

Also, side note, if you haven't seen The Rubin Report and all the amazing stuff Dave Rubin is doing then do yourself a favor and check it out. Anyway, let's all give a big Knowledge, Adventure and Wonder welcome to Alan Garcia.

Welcome to Knowledge, Adventure and Wonder. To start, tell us who Alan Garcia is, in your own words.

 Hello! My name is Alan Garcia, also known as Shinohara. I'm a 21 years old Brazilian artist (mostly digital) from Sao Paulo, and I work with anime webgames.  

A lot of what you do is vector work. For our readers who may not have heard of it, can you briefly describe what that is?

Vector artist is something like getting a low quality image and remaking it in a bigger resolution. I use my own style in a 8000x8000 resolution, using what I learned from another artists' styles, mainly from meshugene89 (meshugene89.deviantart.com/), that is my first inspiration.

Your user name is Shinoharaa. Is there any story behind that name?

Actually it should be Shinohara, but that was taken I create an account, so I put another 'A' hahahah. When I was a child, I need a nickname for my in-game character. For some magical reason I chose Shinohara and uses it until today. Currently, I only play with female characters with nickname Ayumi and Usuki, but between you and me, I think that wouldn’t be very much like an artist name for me.

What inspired you to be an artist?

My entire family is made of artists. My mother painted pictures, my brother drew on paper and my father worked with TV commercials. I remember watching my brother drawing Dragon Ball characters and I started too. But I was always bad at drawing something from my mind, so since I was a kid I put the original picture beside the paper and I copied onto the paper.

When I started play Naruto games, I was the one player who was boring with new ideas and layouts, but there were characters in the game that did not have good renders over the Internet, such as drunk Rock Lee, and then I learned in one day using the Paint Tool SAI and started making characters that had no pictures on the internet to use in the game.

With time I started to get better and people started asking me to do a specific character. With more and more requests, I began to see the future in the business and began to charge pretty cheap for the arts. When I received more than 20 requests and took months to finish all, I decided to raise the price, and fortunately the people have recognized my work enough to continue the requests.

I can say that I am very lucky to work on two things I like and still be able to connect both.

You're obviously a pretty big anime fan. Do you have any favorites?

ANGEL BEATS! Oh, sorry. Yeah, I love the animation and the music from Fairy Tail, the characters from Sword Art Online, the history from many. I really like Naruto, maybe because I know every name on the anime. It’s like how some people know the name of every Pok√©mon for me hahah, but I admit I never watched entire classic saga. I saw only until the fight between Lee and Gaara. Yeah, I never watched Orochimaru invasion, or the famous Naruto and Sasuke epic clash on the Valley of the End, but I watched Shippuuden since the very first episode, every week, including the infinite fillers

But definitely I have two favorite animes: Angel Beats and Steins;Gate. Angel Beats is really fun, beautiful, exciting, sad but perfect! Steins;Gate, with issues about time travel and John Titor, holy shit, my mind blows up!

What can you tell us about the Brazilian anime fandom?

Well, I can talk about the players from the games that I work. They like everything, but they are crazy about the famous ones like Sword Art Online, Shingeki no Kyojin, One Punch Man, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach. You know, the main ones. Hehe!

What's a typical day like for you?

Well, I wake up 8am, go to work and back home by almost 8pm. I have from 8pm until 2am to do what I can. Play. Draw. Parachute jump. Anything. When I have a really big commission list, I try to focus on it, but without inspiration is really boring and it never ends, so I play something (STAR WAAAAARS NOOWWW).

When I’m inspired, sometimes I start and finish on the same day. But sometimes, if it’s a hard one, I can take 1 or 2 weeks, and that kills me.

What's it like making one of your crossover commissions?

I love it. I love the challenge of drawing it, and when someone comments that both characters have something in common, like the seiyuu. Btw, right now I’m drawing 5 crossovers that I always want to do, just keep watching.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m doing some characters that I always wanted to draw (secret), some Hot Spring ones (oh, I miss drawing those) and maybe some Disney ones (I love Disney hahah). Oh, and my brother told me to trying draw League of Legends Splash Arts in anime style. Well, we will see, hahah.

Any advice for aspiring artists?

DO IT! JUST DO IT! Don't let your dreams, be dreams! Yesterday, you said tomorrow, so JUST DO I---wait, that's not mine, LOL. Well, you draw bad? No problem. You need keep going, improve, learn. You just became better if you never stop! As the famous quote says, an artist never ends an art, it just abandons. Never is good enough, so you need to know when stop and start another, better than the first one. Try new styles, improve the same. Find your motivation!

Well it was really great having you over. Before you go, where can the readers find you if they want to commission you or drop a donation your way?

Thanks for inviting me! Just access my DeviantArt account Shinoharaa (shinoharaa.deviantart.com/) and keep watching my journal. I open the commissions for 1-2 weeks every time I finish the commission list


Thursday, November 19, 2015

My First Publication with The Moonlit Road

Hello everybody.  I'm happy to report that I have recently published my first story on one of my favorite websites and podcasts, The Moonlit Road.  The story is called Irwin Tarheel and the Fair Folk and you can read it now.  I think you're really gonna like this one...okay, maybe I'm kind of biased since I wrote it, but you should still check it out, along with all the other great stories from The Moonlit Road.

Now that I'm starting to get seriously published I think I'll follow in the tradition of Aliette de Bodard and Ken Liu and start posting story notes.  These will be short little blog post that hopefully will give you some insights into my thoughts and creative process for when I came up with my stories.  So lets get on with it then.

For Irwin Tarheel and the Fair Folk it's basically a retelling of the Japanese legend of Urashima Taro set, mostly, in 19th century Shreveport.  I noticed how similar Urashima's story was to that of stories involving the Fair Folk, those from the land of Faerie, and it seems like a pretty natural fit.  That and I'd also wanted to write story about faeries that were more like they are in old myths and legends.  I guess I really killed two birds with one stone here.  As for why I set the story in Shreveport, hey, it seems as good a place as any.  Plus, The Moonlit Road specializes in stories from the American South, and Shreveport, Louisiana is a thoroughly Southern city.        

So there you have it.  I'm very excited to get published by The Moonlit Road, and I feel this is just the start of many more great stories to come.  I'll keep you guys posted on any future developments, and I will see you all next time.