Thursday, February 19, 2015

Flag of the Most Selene Republic of Luna

Before we talk about this flag I'd like to take a moment to thank Matt Mitrovich from Alternate History Weekly Update for all of the promotions and mentions he's given this blog.  Those we're very much appreciated and it's alway nice to see someone help get the word out about the blog.  And now for the flag.     

I made this flag after listening to Across the Terminator over at Clarkesworld Magazine.  If you haven't read/listen to it I strongly recommend that you do.  It's is an excellent story.  One of Clarkesworld's best stories.  It made me wonder what would happen if the United States and China were to colonize the Moon, and what if those colonies were to seek independence from their mother nations.  

The flag of the Most Selene Republic of Luna. Originally a collection of American, Chinese and assorted third party colonies on the moon. The colonies had been established at the hight of the Chinese-American Cold War in an attempt by both nations to one up each other, and in hopes that if things turned hot at least some humans would survive and repopulate Earth. Various other nations also contributed colonies of their own for various reasons. Although highly suspicious of one another initially, before long the colonies grew closer together and put aside their differences in the name of science, discovery and the greater good of humanity.

Unfortunately, Washington and Beijing didn't take too well to their colonies getting so chummy. Tensions hit and all time high when alien plant life was discovered deep within a lunar crater. Both nations ordered their colonies to destroy the samples lest the enemies gain a major scientific breakthrough. At this point the colonies, weary of the Cold War and more than self-sufficient, decided to officially sever ties with their mother nations and declare independence. The fact that many children of mixed parentage, and thus uncertain citizenship, had been born only served the increase the calls for independence.

The flag is a combination of the American and (republic) Chinese flag. Some had wanted to use the PRC flag, but it was decided the the sun symbol would better symbolize both the dawn of a new era and new nation. And after all, what difference did symbols of Earth have on the moon?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Flag of Japanese Siam

Well I've got some good news and I've got some bad news.  The good news is that I've been commission for another set of flags by Toixstory for a map of America based on her Excelsior map.  I've got to say I'm very excited about this.  The bad news that Ian the Admin has kicked me from for a week due to a member complaining that I dared to criticize Islam and suggest that maybe, just maybe, the Charlie Hebdo murders were caused by the violence, bigotry and hatred perpetuated by the Qur'an and Islam in general.

Anyway, enough about me, you came here for a flag didn't you?  Of course you did, and I've got one for you.  In this post we have the Flag of Japanese Siam.  

It comes from a world where Japan avoided engaging America during World War II and never allied with Germany and Italy. Among other things, this version of World War II saw the collapse of the Soviet Union due to Germany not wasting troops in North Africa and lasting till spring, and ultimately end with the allied atomic bombing of Munich and Dresden.  

Meanwhile, the Japanese managed to retain their colonial empire and got involved in a Cold War with the United States. Despite depicting itself as the a union of East Asian people's, in reality Japanese society is highly stratified; with pure blooded Japanese as the ruling class and all other ethnicities as second class citizens.

Recently, however, the younger generation is beginning to grow weary of their parents' society and are increasingly liberalizing. There have also been movement to grant more rights to non-Japanese citizens. At the same time, many in the international community are beginning to suspect that Japan has been less than honest about the atrocities that occurred in the building of their empire.

So it's basically the Asian version of Fatherland, or a variant on 2009: Lost Memories.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

PenJackson: A Traveler for Camp Half-Blood

Well, now that we've got the bad stuff out of the way we can move on to the great and the top notch.  My absolute pride and joys, as far as fanfiction is concerned, are Penjackson: A Traveler For Camp Half-Blood and The Adventures of The Silver Bullets.  We'll talk about Penjackson, my crossover between Percy Jackson and Pendragon, first.  However, we're going to need to cover some background before we get into that.

I'm willing to bet that most of you are familiar with Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or at the very least you've probably heard of it.  Conversely, I'm willing to wager that not all of you are familiar with DJ MacHale's Pendragon series; also known as The Pendragon Adventure and Pendragon: Journal of an Adventure Through Time and Space.  With that in mind, I'll do my best to summarize the Pendragon series.  

Pendragon follows the adventures of a boy named Bobby Pendragon, who discovers that he's a member of an organization of known as the Travelers.  Travelers use the tunnel/wormhole things known as flumes to travel to other worlds known as Territories.  Territories are other planets, located in other star systems, in other universes.  The Territories are part of Halla; all of existence, or the multiverse if you will.  Territories sooner or later reach a critical turning point, and it's the Traveler's job to insure that all goes well.  Or, to put in in Traveler terms, insure that this is the way it was mean to be. The Travelers are opposed by Saint Dane; an evil shapeshifting Traveler who wants to remake Halla in his twisted image.  

Each of the Territories is unique and has a different flavor to it.  Part of what I love about the books how this means there's something new to discover in each book.  We've Medieval and snowy Denduron, the tropical ocean world of Cloral, virtual reality addicted Veelox, jungle and cat dominated Eelong, the tribal warrior world of Zadaa, corporately controlled Quillan, and last but not least Ibara.  There are three Earth Territories, each representing Earth in a different time period.  First Earth in 1937, Second Earth in the present day and Third Earth in 5010.  The Travelers relate their adventures as a series of journals they send back to friends on their home Territories, known as acolytes.  

Now, at this point I feel I ought to warn you that from here on we're going to handle some potential spoilers for Pendragon, spoilers for my fanfic and possibly a few for Percy Jackson as well, so if you don't like that sort of thing I suggest that you stop reading this post right now.  

People who want to avoid spoilers gone?  Good, now then, let's get on with it.  Keep in mind, this was from a few years ago, there are spelling mistakes and the writing isn't as polished as my writing these days.  

So, my fanfic combining Percy Jackson and Pendragon is called PenJackson: A Traveler for Camp Half-Blood.  It follows Silena Beauregard, minor character and daughter of Aphrodite, as she discovers one night, after she meets Bobby Pendragon, that she is a Traveler.  How is this possible?  You see, there's been shifts in Halla.  Series of sub-territories have opened up; Territories within Territories, if you will.  As such, these new sub-territories have there own Travelers, and Silena is the traveler from Second Camp Half-Blood.  

This was the fanfic I really came into my own, and still remains one of the pride and joys of my fanfiction career.  It gave me experience writing from a female perspective, and I know it do sound a bit stereotypicaly girly at points, but Silena is a daughter of Aphrodite, and I had I made sequels like I intended that would have gotten smoothed out thanks to character development.  

I also feel I absolutely nailed it with the balance between the Pendragon and Percy Jackson elements.  The majority of the story is Pendragon with Percy Jackson elements added for flavor, while the bits set on Second Earth are Percy Jackson with Pendragon elements added for flavor.  The characters from both series find themselves in strange new worlds they don't fully understand, but they take it in stride and do their best to figure it out.  Both series serve to compliment each other without one overwhelming the other.  I also loved how I tied the series together with each other.  I had Beckendorf be from Stony Brook and know Mark, Courtney and Bobby from school.  I set the series after Battle of the Labarinth on the Percy Jackson end of things, and between The Quillian Games and The Pilgrims of Rayne on the Pendragon end of things.  

Besides monsters from Greek Mythology appearing across Halla, perhaps the biggest tying between the series was when I revealed that Aja Killian is a demigod; specifically, a daughter of Athena.  I figured she had the personality of an Athena-girl, and she always did kind of remind me of Annabeth.  Plus, her being an orphan let me conveniently avoid any issues with parentage.  Hey, if it happens on the Earth territories, why not on the other Territories?  

I had plans for at least two sequels, one titled Silena the Great and other titled The Half-Bloods of Halla (might have had to have split that one in two).  I got some of Silena the Great done, but I didn't like the direction it was going, and I never got around to fixing that.  We'll talk more about what could have been in future posts.  

Are there bit I wish I'd written differently and thing could could have been improved?  Is the writing not as polished as my writing now?  Sure, and there's spelling and grammar errors, but overall I'm very pleased with how A Traveler for Camp Half-Blood turned out.  At the end of the day, that all a fanfiction writer should really hope to achieve.  At the end of my day I could be happy with how it turned out. 

I've been gushing enough, but you should check out PenJackson: A Traveler for Camp Half-Blood.  Next time we'll talk about the other pride and joy of my fanfiction.  See you then.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Pharaoh and The Sun

Thought I'd put out another map while I'm working on that post about my good fanfiction.  This one is an original of mine that I call A Pharaoh and The Sun.  It takes place in an alternate 17th century and among other things:

Atenism managed to last a few Pharaohs longer than it did in our world.  Despite this Egypt still returned to the worship of the traditional Egyptian gods.  However, Atenist are still a notable minority within Egypt and have managed to spread their religion to other nations.  Speaking of Egypt, they've continued to expand southwards.  The wealth of goods and minerals acquired by this conquest meant that even after Egypt's gold mines ran dry the empire was just as powerful as ever.  Egypt now controls an empire stretching from the Cape to the Nile Delta; as well as a canal connecting the Mediterranean and Red Sea.

The empire of Carthage, always a popular destination for Atenist escaping persecution in Egypt, was the first nation to convert to Atenism.  Without competition from Rome, and with the Greek Empire occupied in Asia, Carthage has thrived as a trading empire.  Despite some recent colonial loses to Ghana in South America, Carthage is remains fairly well respect in the international community.

The scattered Celtic tribes were united under a great warrior chieftain, known as Brennus, who formed them into a mighty empire.  The Celtic Empire has adapted many new technologies from its neighbors.  Most significantly, the Celts have developed a system of writing based largely off of the Greek alphabet.  Missionaries from Carthage ensured that it wasn't long before the Celtic Empire converted to Atenism.  Carthaginian shipbuilding expertise has allowed the Celts to establish colony along the eastern coast of North America.  

The Republic of Novgorod has benefited greatly from its alliance with the Celtic Empire.  As the Celts expanded eastward they were able to keep potential threats to Novgorod at a minimum, and trade between the two nations helps to supplement the republic's food supply during its harsh winters.  Novgorod is renowned as a center of culture and scholarship as well as being a regional trading hub.  Celtic merchants have also brought the word of Aten to the snowy republic.  

Judaism, and that's using the term somewhat loosely, is still a polytheistic faith.  The great temple of Jerusalem is dedicated to Baal and Asherah, but all of the gods and goddesses have temples of their own.  Judaism never evolving beyond polytheism meant that none of the Abrahamic faiths ever formed.  

Alexander the Great managed to live longer than he did in our world.  He not only sired plenty of heirs to his empire, but focused on centralizing and maintaining the empire itself.  The Greek Empire has gone on to expand into Central Asia and Italy, and is a major conduit in the exchange of ideas and goods between East and West.  Alexander's goal of reconciling the many faiths and cultures of the empire resulted in the creation of a new religion: the Diamond Path.  

The Diamond Path teaches that there is a universal divine essence which permeates all all things knows as The Truth.  The Truth is unknowable in its pure form, but it makes itself more understandable via four paragons known as the Father, Mother, Son and Daughter.  The four paragons were originally identified as Zeus, Cybele, Mithras and Isis; however they have since been identified with all the gods and goddesses.  The Diamond Path teaches that the various gods are merely mask that the four paragons wear to make themselves better understood by humanity.  The Diamond Path is followed by Greece, Egypt and the Norse.  

The Norse control Scandinavia and the British Isles as part of their Empire of the North.  They've long since given up raiding to become the dominant trading power of the northern seas.  The Norse began colonizing the New World in the 10th century, but they didn't start arriving en mass until the mid 14th century.  Their largest colony is Markland, located along the St. Lawrence river valley.  

Buddhism has found its way west thanks to merchants and missionaries from Bharat and Vijayanagara.  Buddhist have found moderate success in Diamond Path nations due to their willingness to incorporate local deities; and are treated with suspicion by Atenist nations because of this.  However, it was in the Empire of Arabia that Buddhist found the greatest success.  A merchant turned conqueror, in time known as Mohammad the Great, united the tribes of Arabia around a new religion combining traditional Arabian beliefs and deities with Buddhist teachings.  This new faith, known as Zensunni, has proven somewhat controversial among other Buddhist do to its somewhat violent origins.  

Gwanggaeto the Great managed to live longer than he did in our world and united the Korean Peninsula.  Taking advantage oft he chaos of China's Six Dynasties era, Gwanggaeto ceased the Mandate of Heaven and established the Goguryeo Dynasty.  Gwanggaeto expanded into Manchuria and Japan to eliminate any potential threats to the Korean Empire.  Recently, Korea has established colonies on the western coast of North America.  

The Khmer and Srivijayan empires have developed into minor trading powers.  Both nations are closely allied with fellow Hindu nations Bharat and Vijayanagara, and are the primary Pacific trading partners of the Mayan and Incan empires.  Though both Khmer and Srivijaya currently lack colonies in the New World they have sent expeditions to scout for possible locations.

The Mayan city-stated were united into a single empire by charismatic warrior king.  The Mayan Empire stretches from the Yucatan Peninsula to the central valley of Mexico.  In many ways the Mayan Empire can be seen as a more peaceful version of the Aztec Empire.  The Mayan religion places more emphasis on personal offerings of blood rather than mass sacrifice.  Overall, the traditions of the conquered tribes are tolerated as long as they pay tribute to the emperor.  The Mayans have developed an immunity to Old World diseases following an expedition of very lost Vikings landing on their shores in the 12th century.  

Though Egypt remains the dominate power of Eastern Africa, there are several notable empires in Western Africa.  Ghana has grown rich from the gold and salt trade; they also stand of as the center of learning and scholarship in West Africa.  Ghana has recently asserted its power on the world stage by capturing Carthage's former colonies in Brazil.  Meanwhile, the Ashanti Empire remains an economic power house despite its small size.  A more centralized Kingdom of the Kongo is a regional power further to the south.  Though all three are technically Atenist, they're willing to work with the Diamond Path nations if it benefits them.  

The international situation is complex to say the least.  Traditionally, Atenist and Diamond Path haven't gotten along with each other, and over the years there have been more than a few wars of religion.  Having said that, many of these wars were just as much, if not more so, due to secular concerns.  For example, several of the Atenist nations mounted a war to "liberate" Egypt from the followers of the Diamond Path.  However, this war was just as much due to Egypt having recently bared Atenist nations from using its canal.  Eventually, the war ended with the Atenist being expelled from Egypt.  In more recent times the number of wars of religion has decreased dramatically, and both Atenist and Diamond Path are beginning to grow more tolerant of religious differences. 

 Atenist are currently experiencing a schism between those who follow the traditional strictly monotheist version and those who want reform.  The reformers claim that just as rays emanate from the sun, so to do less divine beings emanate from Aten.  Praying to these beings is still forbidden, but praying through them, and having them intercede to Aten, is acceptable.  Critics say this is nothing more than polytheism in disguise; and polytheism is considered the worst of all crimes in Atenism.  Supporters, however, say that it is a great way to reach out to polytheist for conversion.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

On My Fanfiction: The Not So Good

Remember how I said we'd talk about my fanfiction sooner or later?  Well, that's what we're talking about today.

I officially began writing Fanfiction around my junior year of high school, but I'd been unofficially writing it, if only in my mind, for as long as I can remember.  One of my fondest memories is a little story I once came up with where Hiccup Horrendous Hodock III, SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar Anng all went back in time to meet young Genghis Khan.  I also remember another adventure where they went treasure hunting with Blackbeard.  Good times, but what about when I started writing down the stories?  

Like I said, I got an account on FanFiction my junior year of high school.  I still have that the account, but most of my old fanfiction have been deleted as I felt they weren't up to snuff.  Still, for all that they lacked I admit I still have a certain fondness for those old fanfics.  There are a few however, that I still regard as excellent despite certain faults they's still have, but that is a subject for another post.  

As for this post, we'll talk about those other fanfics I made.  Right off the bat I knew I was going to use Percy Jackson and the Olympians, one of my favorite series, but I also knew I'd be a crossover writer from the start.  Hey, why settle for just one series when you can have more than one?  Also, it's just fun to combine different series and see how the characters interact with each other.  My first attempt was a story combining Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.  This was probably one of the biggest mistakes I made in my fanfic career.  

As a child of the 90s I listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks like many people, and I appreciate the impact Harry had on fantasy and children's literature.  So don't get me wrong, I like Harry Potter, but only as a friend.  Percy Jackson, on the other hand, I absolutely love.  I know Percy forwards, backwards and inside-out.  Basically, I'm saying that I know how to write a Percy Jackson story a lot better than a I know how to write a Harry Potter story.  So then why did I include Harry Potter?  To be honest I'm not entirely sure myself, but it was my first fanfic, so of course there was bound to be a ton of mistakes.  

The story itself was entitled Percy Jackson meets Harry Potter and King Midas.  As you can see, I got the naming convention from that old Scooby-Doo series where Scooby and the gang team up with the celebrity of the week to solve mysteries.  A lot of my early fanfics focused on being funny and humor.  As such, a lot of this one was devoted to the humor of Harry having ADHD, references to The Hangover and Tropic Thunder, Malfoy being ambiguously gay and a thespian, and Chiron coming out of the closet and kissing Dumbledore.  And all of this was interspersed with a plot to stop the Deatheaters from taking over Camp Half-Blood.  

It had it's ups and downs, and paled in comparison to my later works, but I like to think it was still pretty good for a first try, and that it brought laughs and put smiles on people's faces.  All the same, I did eventually get rid of it as part of a Spring Cleaning of my FanFiction account.

My next fanfic started out combing Percy Jackson and Marvel comics, but quickly degenerated into me railing against how much the Percy Jackson movie sucked and how much Chris Columbus had completely butchered a much beloved series.  Hey, it was a dark time for Percy Jackson fans.  A beloved series had just been butchered to the deepest pit of Tartarus and back by a man who admitted in an interview that he didn't even read the books; they just didn't care, indeed.  

I needed a way to vent and cope; we all did quite frankly.  Obviously, it too was on the chopping block eventually.  Another fanfic I made was basically Marvel 1602 but with Percy Jackson, Harry Potter and any other series I could cram in.  This one suffered from the inclusion of Harry Potter (noticing a pattern here?) and trying to juggle way to many series for my own good.  That and trying to cram way too many plotlines into the same story.

Another issue was that I had most of the nation's convert to either the Greek pantheon, Egyptian pantheon or some illy defined wizard religion.  I had the demigods represent the Catholic nations (Spain was, arguably, the Heart of the West at the time) and wizards represent the Protestant nations as an allegory to the European wars of religion.  As you can imagine, Christian readers didn't take it very well.  

For all its faults it had plenty of memorable moments.  I haven't actually deleted this one yet, but that is subject to change.  We'll wrap this up by talking about one last fanfic of mine.  This one, for all its faults, I just can't bring myself to delete.  I'm just too fond of it.  It's Percy Jackson: The Last Puppetbender.  Yeah, it's pretty much Avatar: The Last Puppetbender but with Percy Jackson references and with some of the jokes altered for the sake of differentiation.  

Sure, it was silly and there's spelling and grammatical mistakes in places, but it still puts a smile on my face when I reread it. I had a few other ideas over the years, Clone High with fictional characters, Percy Jackson vs. Day of the Barney, but I deleted them before they got too far.  

Now that we've got my not so good fanfics out of the way, we can talk about my pride and joys, but we will do that next time.  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Flag of the United States of Austria and Hungry

I promised you a flag and here it is:

 The flag of the United States of Austria and Hungry. It comes from a world where Franz Ferdinand survived his assassination attempt. Following the failed assassination attempt level heads prevailed and war was averted. However, this only delayed World War I, which occurred ten years later in 1924. The extra ten years of peace allowed the archduke or successfully lead an effort to federalize the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus, the United States of Austria and Hungry was born.

When the war did break out it ended in a victory of the Central Powers due to America and Britain never entering the war. Over time, the USAH became an economic and military power house; leading the fight against the fascist forces in France and Spain in World War II, and against Czarist forces in the Cold War. 

The USAH is a constitutional monarchy and each state (formerly provinces) receives equal representation in the National Assembly. This has allowed for a diffusion of ethnic tensions, and the diversity of different peoples is celebrated as demonstrated by the national motto "United In Diversity".

The flag is a combination of the old Austro-Hungarian flag, and thirteen strips, each representing one of the provinces of the empire.  For those of you who might think this looks a little to similar to the flag of the USA, I point you to the flags of Greece and Malaysia.