Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Kaiser's Assassin: A Twilight Histories Map

I've got another classic map for you.  It's another Twilight Histories map based on the episode The Kaiser's Assassin.  So without furthur ado, let's get on with it.

Germany won World War I, or the Imperial War as it is known in this world. The war lasted from 1914-1915 just as many had hoped it would in our world. After the war Germany allowed the conquered nations to keep their own autonomous governments. In practice, however, these were mostly puppet governments with the real power residing with the Kaiser. Berlin and London are the financial and cultural hearts of the world. The many scientists, artists, musicians and architects who would have died in World War I have transformed German cities. Berlin has numerous Neo-Gothic and Romantic skyscrapers that are taller than those in New York.

All of Russia west of the Urals came under German occupation, but everything east remained nominally independent. The Czar still rules the puppet government of German occupied Russia. Free Russia, or the Republic of Siberia as some call it, briefly dabbled in communism, but a few failed crops later and the revolutionary government was replaced by a democracy.

The German Empire's runaway success took everyone by surprise, but especially the United States. Many Americans had hoped their nation would establish colonies to compete with the other Imperial powers. Germany's post-war success motivated the desire the spread a little bit of America throughout the world. Eventually, war was declared on Mexico, albeit on some very suspect reasons. The United States also invaded several nations in the Caribbean and Central America, but in those cases claimed they did so out of a desire to protect those nations from Britain and Germany.

The Austria-Hungary has successfully become more federated and is now known as the United States of Austria and Hungry. Austria-Hungry bought Italy's former colonies from Germany following the war. The colonies were supposed to be a stepping stone towards a greater overseas empire, but managing colonies turned out to be more difficult than Austria-Hungry had originally considered.

The Ottomans have also reformed themselves and have spent the last couple decades reversing their sick man status. The empire has embraced its multicultural nature thanks to the calls for reform and is far more diverse than in our world. As a result the empire protects the rights of all minorities within its borders.

China has once again become an empire under the Zhang Dynasty following a coup against the republican government by opportunistic politicians. The resorted Chinese Empire has also spent the last few decades reversing its decline and has quickly become something of a regional power.

Japan is also a rising power. Following the war Germany sold them Indochina and several islands of Indonesia. They have further expanded their empire by invading Thailand. Japan has recently been inching closer to war with the United States over disputed claims to Borneo and the Philippines. Foreign policy experts concur America could reasonably form an alliance with China, while Japan might be able to convince Germany or Britain to come to their aid. Either a cold war is forming or else this may become another flash point for a future war.

Although Britain stayed out of the Imperial War, several French resistance/terrorist groups were funded by members of the British government hoping to regain the economic benefits of an independent France. Ironically, when the Kaiser was killed at the Imperial Musical Gala it was by members of his own government eager for a war with Britain. The two nations went to war, but fortunately it didn't last any longer than the Imperial War had. There were still loses and those killed in the Anglo-Germanic War included JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Ernest Hemingway.

Culturally, the world is somewhat more conservative than our world. Without the horrors of the First World War the Romantic era never really ended in Europe. Jazz is very popular in America, but has only recently found an audience across the Atlantic. Jews are still viewed rather unfavorably and face discrimination, but nowhere near what they would have under the Nazis.

Speaking of which, Hitler is currently working at a coat hanger factory after having flunked out of art school. Meanwhile, Joseph Jugashvili is a priest of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Roma Islamica: A Twilight Histories Map

At long last a classic map has made it's way to the blog.  This was the first map I ever map that was inspired by The Twilight Histories.  This one was based on the episode Roma Islamica.  I got a lot of help from the episode's companion book.  And the rest, as they say, is alternate history.  Well, let's get on with it, shall we?

The Byzantine Empire fell in the 8th century rather than the 15th century. Without a powerful Christian buffer state to oppose it, Islam quickly spread throughout Eastern Europe. Constantinople became both the capital of the Umayyads and a major pilgrimage site that rivaled even Mecca and Medina.

The Abbasids, feeling the Umayyads had grown too decadent and forgetful of the teachings of Islam (and angered over how much money Mecca and Medina were losing to Constantinople) would go on to overthrow the Umayyads as they did in our world.

The Frankish emperor Charlemagne converted to Islam, both due to having several Muslim tutors in his youth and seeing that Islam would most likely become the next major religion. Charlemagne went on to declare Jihad against the Umayyads and anyone he perceived to be an enemy of Islam. After helping establish Abbasid power in the Middle East he went on to conquer the Italian Peninsula.

The Abbasids, realizing they'd inadvertently created a monster, had Charlemagne poisoned. The noble families of Rome, lacking a clear leader, established something similar to the senate of their ancestors. This led to the establishment of an Islamic Roman Empire stretching from the Pillars of Hercules to the River Ganges. Several Romans unwilling to convert to Islam, including the Pope, and several Umayyads, fled to Ireland. The Umayyads converted to Christianity and became the new ruling class of the island nation.

The Mongol Empire managed to last considerably longer than in our world due to the greater emphasis on central government. Although Tengrism is still the dominate religion, Buddhism is winning more coverts by the day. Missionaries from Ireland have ensured that Christians are also a small but growing presence in the empire.

The Mongols were able to successfully conquer Japan. Several Japanese fled prior to the invasion in hopes of establish a new Japanese homeland free of Mongol rule. They arrived in Mexico and quickly conquered several native peoples and establish a new empire combining Japanese and native culture and traditions.

Northern Europe (the parts not under Roman rule) is still pagan. The no alcohol aspect of Islam is somewhat hard to sell. This has prompted many Imans within the empire to reinterpret the rule that "no Muslim shall drink alcohol" to be "no Muslim shall drink alcohol to excess" to encourage the conversion of those territories. This has created considerable controversy within the empire.

Russia was established by Viking princes as in our world, and has served as a (somewhat redundant) buffer state between the Romans and Mongols after many years of passing back and forth between the two empires.

Britain has been balkanized (the in-universe term is "anglicized") between Rome, Ireland, Scotland and the Danish. The Midlands is more of less neutral territory and is the site of much cultural blending. Scotland is a mixture of Christians and pagans due to the work of Irish missionaries.

Several nations have experienced Industrial Revolutions including Rome, the Mongols, Mali and India. Srivijaya and Ireland are currently in the process of industrializing. Mali has remained strong and continues to expand. Though Rome initially wanted to conquer Mali they are now more than happy to have a fellow Islamic empire as an ally.

Srivijaya has become a major power in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Their empire has expanded and their trading fleets are found in ports in all corners of the world. The fact that they are primarily Hindu and Buddhist has caused some issues when trading with Rome and has lead to their alliance with Hindu India. They are also the primary trading partner (besides Japan-in-exile) with the Inca Empire.

Several powers are beginning to colonize the New World. The Vikings are expanding there colonies along the northeast coast of what would be North America. The Irish established a colony just in case Rome ever conquers them and to spread Christianity to the natives. They originally intended to settle around Massachusetts, but after discovering the Vikings were already there moved to Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay. Rome has also established a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi with its capital at New Alexandria (roughly where New Orleans in OTL). 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Flag of the Russian Philippines

Okay, I've got another classic flag of mine that is home on my blog at long last.  It first appeared on Alternate History Weekly Update, so without further ado, here is it:

This is the flag of the Petrines, also known as the Russian Philippines. It comes from a world where Russia built up their navy early on. This meant Russia could devote more effort and focus on their colonies in the Americas. Besides further colonizing Alaska, they also colonized what would have been British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California, though not without objections from the Spanish.

Eventually, after a chance discovery of gold, the Russians and Spanish went to war over California. It was ultimately decided that Russia would pull out of California, but in exchange would take some other Spanish land; with the Spanish offering the Philippines. As a result the Russian Philippines was born.

The Russians encouraged people from many different nations to help settle their new colony both to provide labor and to prevent the former Spanish colonists (such as they were) from taking over. This would, over the years, lead to a blending of native cultures, colonial settlers and slaves from Russia's African outposts have the archipelago a unique culture like nothing before it. However, they never forgot that it was Mother Russia to whom they all, even if indirectly, were linked.

Flag of British Korea

This is an old flag of mine that I collaborated with an internet friend to make.  It previously appear over on Alternate History Weekly Update, and now it's here on my personal blog.  So without further ado, here it is:

This is the flag of British Korea. It's from a world where it was Britain, rather than America, which convinced Japan to come out of isolation. The British had intended to add Japan to their empire, but it soon became clear this wouldn't be feasible. The British, however, had been poking around Korea, which presented a much easier target, and thus British Korea was born. Side effects of this included a Spanish-Japanese war in which Japan took the Philippines, Guam and the Marianas Islands; as well as Japanese participation in the Scramble for Africa.

British Korea was occupied by the Japanese during World War II, but the British regained it after the war. The Soviets demanded control of Northern Korea, but the British wished it to stay unified. As a compromise, British Korea remained unified while Japan was split into a Communist North and a Democratic South. Korea officially gained independence from the British in the 1970s.

Also, since I know someone will say it, British Korea is Best Korea.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Flash Fiction: Paleontology Lecture

I'm still working one the first installment of the new Nile High, but while we wait I have a special treat for you.  I have an original flash fiction story of mine entitled Paleontology Lecture.  This actually isn't the first time this story appeared.  This was my entry in Escape Pod's flash fiction contest from about a year ago.  Overall, reception was reasonably positive, but not enough to advance me beyond Round 1.  Nevertheless, I'm glad I got to participate and see some of my favorite Escape Artists members critiquing something I wrote.  

I've shopped this story around, but I think it's best home will be right here on my blog.  There's no much more to add, I'll let the story speak for it's self.  Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments.  And now, I'm very proud to present, "Paleontology Lecture":

Hello, and thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to come to this paleontology conference.  Now, I'm perfectly aware that is quite the lovely day, and I apologize in advance for keeping you all cooped up in here.  I'd like to draw your attention to the fossil that is next to me.  This is just one example of a series discoveries very much like it.  It dates back to sixty-five million years ago, and is one of the oldest such specimens that has yet been discovered.

The first thing you’ll notice is of course skeletal structure.  Though a bit odd to our eyes it was quite common among creatures of the era.  The small size of the head has often been assumed to be an indication of low intelligence.  However, recent studies have concluded that these creatures may in fact have established some sort of society.  Ah, I see some of you rolling your eye-stalks already.  Do understand that I don't mean to suggest anything on the scale of our own civilization.  Rather, they could have at least built the rudimentary aspects of a civilization before they became extinct.

It is certainly humbling to think that these ancient organisms may have been starting civilization while our ancestors were still swimming in the oceans.  Now then, let's examine some of the other physical features.  You will notice the large eye sockets and reduced brow ridge.  Based on surviving members of this animal's class we have determined that mostly likely they were primarily nocturnal.  Their teeth are rather flat, which seems to indicate a primarily vegetation based diet. You will also notice the pronounced backbone; again, quite common among chordates.

There are several competing theories as to why these creatures were ultimately driven to extinction.  The presence of shocked quartz within the strata these fossils are found in does seem to suggest that an asteroid impact played some role.  The only other known source of shocked quartz is a nuclear explosion, and I think we can most certainly rule that out as an explanation.  Granted, the higher that average presence of radioactive particles within the strata does raise some question.  However, we really shouldn't throw our skepticism out of the window in favor of such conspiratorial ramblings.

As many of you are aware, these creatures are thus far the only known example of their genus that we have discovered.  This would suggest that they simply died out due to not being adapted to a changing environment.  Whatever the reason I am fully confident that we will find the answer in time.  If you'd like to see the answer faster may I suggest donating to my university?

Okay, bit of shameless self-promotion there.  I will now turn things over to the Q&A section.  Please raise your tentacles in the air if you would like to participate.